Walking around in the Chicago night with the friends I’ve made, I notice the smoke wafting through our group. I watch it draw out from the cigarette held between fingers and passed from one to another. I watch the smoke, how it dances on everyone’s shoulders and hair before vanishing into the warm air. It dawns on me then, nearly everyone that I’ve made friends with smokes. In my group of friends back home, almost no one smoke, and some are are even against smoking. They dislike the taste, the smell, how its scent clings onto thread, and how unhealthy it is.

A few blocks later, another cigarette is lit and passed around. I don’t smoke for all the obvious reasons. I find it unhealthy, expensive, and unnecessary. But then I can’t seem to explain those moments where in great stress, I think to myself about how I want to drop everything and get a pack. How in the heat of a moment, in the frustration of an argument, I just want a cigarette. I think that goes to show what kind of thoughts cigarette companies and the media have placed into my head. My boyfriend jokingly predicts I’ll start smoking in Chicago. I deny his claims but it does make me ponder on how an environment and its inhabitants can change a person and their habits. I start to wonder what kind of things Chicago will do to me and I wonder if any of these changes will be permanent.

We jay walk across the street to get to the train station. Two people linger behind, taking the final puffs before stomping the cigarette out. Where do all the stomped cigarettes roll to? At the party, everyone is smoking. I take a long time finishing my only can of PBR.

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Miranda July (February 15, 1974) is a filmmaker, artist, and writer. Born Miranda Jennifer Grossinger,  she works under the surname of “July,” which can be traced to a character from a “girlzine” Miranda created with high school friend Johanna Fateman, called “Snarla”.  Miranda July was born in Barre, Vermont, the daughter of Lindy Hough and Richard Grossinger. Her parents, who taught at Goddard College at the time, are both writers. In 1974 they founded North Atlantic Books, a publisher of alternative health, martial arts, and spiritual titles. Miranda was encouraged to work on her short fiction by author and friend of a friend, Rick Moody. Miranda grew up in Berkeley, California, where she first began writing plays and staging them at the all-ages club 924 Gilman. She later attended UC Santa Cruz, dropping out in her sophomore year. After leaving college, she moved to Portland, Oregon and took up performance art. Her performances were successful; she has been quoted as saying she has not worked a day job since she was 23 years old.

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