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Archive for September, 2009

A Not So Little Anniversary

Today is a special day.  It is my one year anniversary of not smoking.  On Sept 29, 2008 I woke up, went to make some tea and in my half awake state put a nicotine patch on.  I had not planned to quit.  But I really wanted to.  The time found me.

I had smoked pretty much non-stop since I was 16.  I started while in school in Germany and after a fight with my non-smoking boyfriend – I met up with his cousin Claude.  She smoked like a chimney and in retaliation I lit up one tiny cigarette and was literally hooked from the get go. 

Over the years and living mostly in Europe, I have seen how smoking has gone from something very much accepted to a habit that actively repulses most people.  In Germany, Hungary and Holland I smoked directly at my work desk and was put out when I had to go to a meeting in a non-smoking room.  In London my hourly (at a minimum) cigarette habit became my sanity checks.  They were my quite moments to get a way from work or even relax enough so I could continue my creative tirade with gusto. 

Even socially I used the excuse to go out and smoke as a crutch to centre myself and find smalltalk things to continue conversations going.  Plus, its true that smokers tend to gather around each other in public and so I often met real characters outside while the ‘rest of them’ were crammed together in a room.  But my favourite moments were when outside on a busy street where I could watch people pass and just enjoy being a silent observer.

The addictive force though was more than then the simple act of smoking – it was how it felt.  I know it sounds slightly insane (but aren’t all addictions to some extent), but I loved inhaling my cigarette, the way the blood rushed to my head and watching the smoke dissipate when I exhaled.  The whole act of smoking is sexy in my books.  And there are days even now when I have to let my mind go through the act of smoking a whole cigarette – the touch, taste, the emotional hooks – to keep myself from begging a random stranger for a cigarette.  This kind of vision-letting-experience is a necessary release and a key element I think for getting myself through the past 12 months. 

So here is today.  12 months on.  I did it.  And if I did – really anyone can.  But the decision to quit has to come from deep within and each person has to find their own successful crutches (mine were frozen grapes that I ate so much of that my digestive system rebelled a few times – too much information I know). 

I am pretty damn proud of myself today.

S

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Hmmm

I had a lovely day cycling around Richmond Park with my friend David.  I will get pictures uploaded once I get a moment, but I had – during this whole process with work – decided to join (gasp) a dating website. 

Who should I happen onto with 5 minutes of joining. 

M

Charming.  And his pictures are pretty out of date or at least he looked nothing like that over the past two years that I dated him.

(Note after the initial shock – he is also mis-stating his age by 3 years.  What a surprise.  Not even a dating profile can be honest.)

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London Life #1

The City of London on a Friday night

The City of London on a Friday night

I moved to London the first time in June 1996 at barely 25 years old. After spending three and a half years in Eastern Europe, I was in awe of how everything worked. But the little things caught me off guard. I never had the right change for the bus, spent hours in the supermarket looking in shock at everything one could buy, developed an expensive taste for shopping at Harvey Nichols and had almost more than a few accidents walking across the street looking the wrong way.

And I went through probably my worse egoistic, superficial and money-hungry phase of my life. My friends were all the diplomat or very wealthy Eurotrash crowd. I lived initially in the Nell Gwen House, which alongside the Chelsea Cloisters, was where all expats City kids were transited through in Chelsea. Then I moved to Millbank, overlooking the Thames, opposite the looming MI5 building and next to the Tate. I spent my weekends skirting from parties to visiting exhibitions and doing girly lunches along the Kings Road.

The Mayor's Office from the Direction of the Guildhall

The Mayor's Office from the Direction of the Guildhall

I also worked insane hours and was so exhausted most days that I barely took off my clothes before getting up and doing it all again. I had thought in Budapest that I was pretty cool and so anticipated that the move to London would be pretty easy. Basically I was young, ambitious and not a little bit full of myself. So it was initially hard for me to fathom how mistaken I was. I walked into a job that I was woefully inexperienced for and very out of my depth in terms of the level of major corporate politics. Men would come up to my desk and insist I make them a coffee, my boss got me drunk on a regular basis to feel me up and I had a company credit card with no limit. It all felt so cheap, but filled with my own and the ‘jobs’ self-importance (can one even say that?) – I pushed on with a hunger that I have rarely felt before or after.

The Juxtepose of Old and New - Beauty and well Something from the 1960s

The Juxtepose of Old and New - Beauty and well Something from the 1960s

And I was so in love with London. The architecture, multi-culturalism, the music and art and the food … especially after years of shortages in Eastern Europe! For someone who left their small town at 16 with the sole aim to travel the world, it felt like I did not have to go anywhere to experience the world – it was just at my feet when I walked out my door. Its no wonder that every time I have left it for any amount of time, I was like a boomerang and bounced back.

Something inside me has lately wanted to re-explore the city. I feel this need to document what I love about it and share the many memories I have collected over the years. So alongside my many random ponderings, I hope you enjoy this series of London.

A Sculpture outside WestLB

A Sculpture outside WestLB

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