She started at twelve, and it most certainly was continuing with a vengeance. The times I'd assisted her in the shop, I was morbidly fascinated. I'd tried once when I was ten, but it was gross, and I coughed like crazy before dumping it in the toilet in my best neighborhood friend's house before her mom found us out. What I was seeing now, in the shop, was the way I could have gone had circumstances been different.
On the bench, she rolled the blowpipe back and forth, working the bubble on the end with tools while she sucked on the cigarette. If she were working on something that required her to move faster to reheat the glass and work it at the bench, like, say, one of these Venetian-style pieces, the cigarette would have been holding her back big time. Every time she had to reheat the bubble, she would put the cigarette down on the bench next to her, burning end hanging off the edge, carefully walk herself out of the seat, pick up the smoke, and the blowpipe, on the way to the glory hole, and smoke it while she was turning the pipe in the 2000+ degree heat. Picture the reverse of the routine described above in bringing the hot bubble back to the bench to shape it with wet, burnt newspaper and glass tools, and you've got a hell of a portrait of stone-cold chain-smoking addiction. It determined how she worked. It may do so still...we were in college at the time.
Flipping through channels tonight, I happened upon this show, and watched with the same kind of morbid fascination as the lead singer of Modest Mouse proceeded to play the keyboards while smoking, sing some vocals to the song being played with the burning cigarette in his mouth, and then flick the still-burning butt behind him as he finished the song. Can't even remember what song it was - it played second fiddle to the blatant show his addictive nature was putting on. He launched into the next song with his guitar in hand and another bandmember on a different keyboard, but by then, I'd lost interest. Which was kind of a shame, since Guided By Voices apparently performed after them and I would have liked to check that out.
The more I try to wrap my head around the nature of addiction and the things people do in its grip, the more fascinated, horrified, and confused I get. Maybe Modest Mouse's music will get better if their singer will make his songs more intelligible by removing the butt from his mouth. Maybe the woman I saw smoking and glassblowing (is that ever a counterproductive set of working methods) found the sudden need to regain her breath and large amounts of her money in the process by eliminating cigarettes from her presence.
It all makes me happy I don't own a laptop. Otherwise I'd most likely be blogging every possible second of every day. And who knows how well that would come out.