Posts Tagged ‘temptation’

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enter: 2013

January 2, 2013

I have found that writing a list at the start of each year has been a fairly successful way of realising at least some of my ambitions, as well as being able to look back at the previous year and seeing how far I have come. Since I started this blog back in 2009, each year has resulted in a lot of changes and accomplishments, which makes me incredibly happy!  So before I look at what I hope to have in store for 2013, I want to review my goals for 2012 and see how I did.

1. Learn to cook a new dish every month.

Tick… well, I got just over halfway before finally getting bored of this. I am just not one for cooking, and I really did not enjoy it. But after nine months’ worth of trying to make new dishes, I have learned some useful things and when I find myself in the situation of having to cook a meal, I can usually concoct something from whatever ingredients are in stock without resorting to a ready meal or pulling my hair out. So I think that that is progress!

2. Cut down on takeaways – to once a fortnight.

More or less! I think some weeks we do better than others, but we definitely have less takeaways than we used to. Hopefully we will renew our strictness with this rule over the coming year.

3. Move in with Toby.

Tick! This was one of the big achievements this year – we now are living together in our beautiful flat in Chiswick, and we are very happy.

4. Pay off my student overdraft.

Nope. Last time my car ate my money, this time the new flat and two wonderful holidays (to Paris and Prague) did it instead. But hopefully 2013 will be the year! Especially as I am being charged for using this overdraft now – so I’m fairly confident I will defeat it.

5. Learn Italian

Tick! In a couple of weeks, I will be starting my third term of learning Italian at the Italian Cultural Institute on Belgrave Square. My teacher Giuseppe is fantastic, and I really enjoy it.

6. Learn to sew

Tick! I think I learned this skill fairly early on into the year, and it’s been useful throughout. Now, I can repair holes and tears in tops, underwear, socks and trousers, and keep my wardrobe going a bit longer.

7. Finish my new album

Tick! Well, I finished 2526 – I had hoped it would be longer and wider in scope, but in the end the concept of the album dictated that I had to finish it in October. But nevertheless I am proud of it and I feel that the mood and quality of the songs represent another step forward for me musically.

8. Go completely digital with my music and film collections, and only keep physical copies of what I really love

Nope, not yet. I’ve managed to get all of my DVDs from Bristol to London, and the next thing is to get my CDs up here. I already sold a lot of the ones that I knew I didn’t want, but it’ll be easier to work out what I want to keep and sell once I have everything here in my flat, and can just put a pile aside for MusicMagpie or Cex or whatever. My iPod finally died in November after 4 years of faithful service, and though in previous years I would have had to run to the Apple store to buy a new one, this time I’m surviving with the (tiny) music library on my iPhone. Which I feel represents patience, maturity and restraint! As well as a concentration on what’s really important, and where my money needs to go. Eventually I’d really like another iPod but I can’t see myself getting one for another few months yet. So I feel that this aim is on hold for now – I’ll hopefully achieve it gradually, but in the meantime I prefer the tangibility of music and film purchases in any case. I am still learning to step into the future, I suppose!

5 / 5.5 out of 8 is perfectly reasonable, I think! And now, my list of goals and resolutions for 2013:

1. Quit smoking.

Toby’s never known me as a non-smoker, and I think it’s about time he did. It’s going to be difficult, and I don’t want cigarettes to have complete power over me to the point where I’m as much a slave to them having given up as I am being a smoker. I’ve already cut down quite a bit so now I just have to take the final leap. Going back to work will be difficult because I need the breaks and I will feel silly just walking around Notting Hill doing nothing, but I’ll work something out. I do enjoy a cigarette, and so perhaps every now and then I may have a cigarette socially – who knows. I’m trying to be loose about it at the moment, so that I don’t feel overly pressurised and that there isn’t a wagon to jump on / fall off of. But generally, this is the year I stop, and I know that I have the willpower (read: stubbornness) to do so. To muffle any temptation, I need to think of: the money I’m saving, my teeth not turning yellow, my blood pressure and life expectancy being improved, not smelling of cigarettes, and (most importantly) being healthy for Toby and showing that I value our love, life and longevity.

2. Pay off my student overdraft.

Third time lucky!

3 & 4. Get fit and toned, and write and record over half of my new album.

I was watching Skyfall with the delicious Daniel Craig, and I decided that I want his body. Except without quite so much effort, and my face shouldn’t be as aged as his. But he’s pretty amazing, physically. At the same time, I also decided that my new music has to be made with heart and soul, and in this way it will show my evolution. Hence my new life motto for this year is “Body and Soul” – I will look after my body and keep fit and hopefully lose some weight and tone up, and I will make music that is vibrant and true.

5. To sing live at least once, in front of an audience.

Because I haven’t done it in a long time, and I miss it!

6. Write a novel.

I already wrote a chapter of a novel a few months ago, but it trailed off and I haven’t done anything with it since. I have been inspired by Toby’s brother, who actually wrote a novel and got it published on Amazon and everything. I used to love creative writing ever since I was little, and so it’s a natural progression in a way for me to write a book. Watch this space…

7. Learn to moonwalk.

I love dancing, and I was watching the documentary for Michael Jackson’s Bad album and it suddenly occurred to me that learning to moonwalk would be something really fun. The only setback to this plan is that the floors throughout our flat are carpeted. But I wanted a goal that was quite light-hearted and fun, amidst all of the seriousness!

8. Pass Italian exam in the summer.

At the Italian Cultural Institute, at the end of each term you can take an exam to get a qualification demonstrating your proficiency in the language. By the end of this academic year (i.e. in July), I will have finished the upper intermediate class if all goes to plan – and so I think it would be good to have a recognised qualification stating my ability in the Italian language. So this is something that I want to achieve too. At the same time, I am hoping that I will continue reading literature in both Spanish and Italian to maintain my fluency in both of those languages (if I have to sacrifice one of my languages, I guess it would be French.)

9. Teach Toby how to play chess.

We have a nice wooden chess set on our coffee table, and I can’t believe that Toby is so intelligent and yet does not know how to play chess. So I will teach him – it’s an important life skill and keeps the brain active and from being rotted by episodes of 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory.

10. Start saving up a deposit for a house.

I know, we only just moved into the Chiswick flat! Toby and I really like this area of London, and so it’s gonna be a long time before we can actually afford something here. But why not start now? This is something that will happen once I have finished paying off my overdraft (see number 2) but I hope that by the end of the year, I will have put some new money in my festering ISA that can be ultimately used for the deposit on a lovely flat or house.

Wish me luck, and good luck with your resolutions and goals for the year ahead!

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racism in a modern age.

June 20, 2010

I just got home from my nan’s.  For the second part of my journey, I took the number 6 from town to Kingswood, and while I was on the bus, a group of Somali women were having a conversation.  Suddenly, an English woman (I’m guessing about 55 years old; she was certainly older than my mother, who is 50) turns around and yells at them “Would you please shut up?!?!” After everyone looks up, shocked, she continues her diatribe: “Natter natter (with hand gesture), shut the fuck up or get off the bus.”  The women began to protest, but the woman just got angrier and nastier, and the Somali women ended up getting off the bus at that stop.  The English woman yelled after them “Fucking go home to your own country!” After a beat of shocked silence from all the passengers, the driver (who was mixed race himself) got up and challenged the woman.  “They are allowed to chat if they want, everyone here is just trying to get home, there is no reason to disrupt anyone else’s journey or otherwise YOU will have to get off the bus.” At this point, the woman went to get off the bus, and the bus driver said “Ma’am, you can take your seat, but please respect other customers because we all paid to use this bus, and please enjoy your journey.”  The woman sat back down, but then got off at the next stop (I wonder if she was not too bothered about getting off the bus if she was only getting off at the next stop anyway?), and the rest of the bus breathed a sigh of relief.

I was shocked that in 2010, such blatant racism still exists.  Well, I am shocked and I am not; I’m not naive and I know very well that racism is very much alive and well, but I was shocked to be present at such an outrageous and blatant display of it.  I was tempted to say something myself, but at the same time it was not my place to get involved; these women are old enough and strong enough to defend themselves, and quite rightly the driver made a stand for his bus and for the passengers on it; he is running the service, not me or any of the other passengers.  I wonder however, if the driver had not said anything, whether I would have been brave enough to say something? Plenty of things sprang to my mind; to challenge her and say that if her problem was with the volume at which these women were speaking, then instead of yelling at them and thus making herself a hypocrite, she should just ask them politely if they could talk more quietly.  If this wasn’t the case, it would have exposed her own racism without saying any more (racism she already exposed with her parting comment to them as they got off the bus).  I felt like saying that if her problem was with the fact that these women were not English (I know this woman was English just by coincidence, as I saw her loudly supporting England at Rewind when I was out watching the game with my friends from uni on Friday night – she had memorable cuts and grazes on her elbow that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the same woman), then should I get off the bus too as I am half-Italian, and I would not be here if my family had not come from another country to live here?  Until she knows the story of these Somali woman, who is she to judge whether they have (on a journey which they paid for, just like the rest of the passengers) less of a right to be on the bus and talk on the bus than her?  If I were speaking to my friends in Spanish, French or Italian, would I be less entitled to talk on the bus than if I were speaking in English? Does the fact that my skin barely looks any different to an English person’s (I am a tiny tiny bit more tanned, but it’s negligible) mean that I am not as mixed-race, or as ethnically diverse, as someone with a different skin colour? Am I entitled to the same rights as an English person simply because I speak native English, have an English surname and my skin is light; in return for these rights do I have to sacrifice my own ethnic background in the process just to fit in?

When I lived in Spain, if someone had spoken to me in that way because I was speaking English on the phone or to my family, I would have been utterly outraged.  Are we literally rewinding back to the story of Rosa Parks on the bus in the USA, before Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement? It felt like it.  Another thing I wanted to point out was that, as a result of my colleague Clare’s presentation on breaking down cultural barriers in guidance, I know that Bristol is considered a popular (if that is the right word) destination for asylum seekers and refugees coming from all over the world, because it is considered a racially-tolerant city in England. This is my hometown, my city, and I am proud of that fact.  By demonstrating such a racially-intolerant attitude, this woman is not only giving a bad example of herself, but of Bristol as a city and of England as a country; in actual fact, she is making herself look stupid and only propagating bad feeling for foreign people, whatever their reason or length of stay in England, which in turn only reinforces cultural barriers rather than breaking them down.  We’re in 2010; this should never have been happening, but it should certainly not be happening in this day and age.  And so I felt that if I didn’t speak up on the bus at the time (and it turned out that it wasn’t my place, nor did I have to – quite rightly, the driver did so), the least I could do was recount the event on here and spread more awareness that these attitudes still exist in our country and are very much alive in everyday life and situations.  This needs to change, and this entry is my little contribution; in my forthcoming job as a Personal Tutor at Cirencester College, one of the things I may well have to do in both interviews and group sessions is work on challenging racial stereotypes and breaking down cultural barriers and misconceptions.

Funnily enough, only earlier my nan and I were discussing the nature of football fans (topical considering that it is currently the World Cup).  English fans, deservedly or undeservedly, have a reputation for being violent, thuggish and neanderthal-like throughout Europe and possibly worldwide.  At the bar on Friday night, there was a fair amount of brainless chanting, stomping and cursing; but then, England did play poorly and I suppose that if so many people are passionate about this, it amasses a certain amount of volume.  I personally don’t like that kind of behaviour, but in itself it’s not racist; it’s only when it either causes damage or turns nasty against other ethnicities, races or against people of other countries that it’s inexcusable.  Nevertheless, I believe in conducting myself in a dignified way at all times whenever and wherever possible; by living up to hooligan stereotypes, England fans only propagate this image of themselves nationally and internationally; it’s not vogue and it doesn’t do the country or the sport any favours.  What’s more, my nan made a very good point that why do many England fans only support England during the football; if they really liked football, why do they not watch or show any interest in the matches involving other countries? Is it about the sport, or is it about the country? If it is about the country, why act so intimidating when watching the football (as opposed to other sports)? Surely this only sends out the wrong kind of message, a bad example to everyone – that this is how England fans behave, and that this country accepts that behaviour as tolerable and normal for football fans towards each other, and towards other people both from this country and from outside it?  I know that there are plenty of people who support England in the World Cup who don’t act this way – a lot of my friends fall under this category – and if I were them I would be somewhat embarrassed and angry that this reputation precedes me.  Everyone is entitled to behave in their own way, but I really wish we considered the feelings and cultures of others more than we do.

A final anecdote, in case I sound holier than thou – I’m not perfect.  When I was 12 years old, I once used a racial slur – I am ashamed to say.  Even more stupidly, it was towards a friend of mine whom I had known for 7 or 8 years by that time; he was acting in a very irritating way during a DT lesson, and out of sheer frustration and for pure shock value, I told him to “shut up you Paki”. Now, I am not racist nor have I ever been – so why portray myself in that way? Even though I was a child, I knew better before and after that event, and yet I did it. It had the desired effect, but I belittled myself by doing it, and my friend (to his credit) handled it very classily by laughing and saying in response to my immediate apology: “Um, no offence taken because I am Indian so that’s not what I am”.  His response made me feel all the more ashamed because not only had I attempted to use a racist expression in order to shut him up, I had used it in an incorrect context; it showed up my foolish behaviour for what it was.  Our friendship did not suffer for it; in fact I believe that the event was all but forgotten by breaktime, but it taught me a valuable lesson: that kind of behaviour is never acceptable, never appropriate, and never necessary.  I apologised profusely and he forgave me, but even recalling that incident makes me feel ashamed 12 years on; I was old enough to know better, and the lessons I learned as a result of that event are the redeeming factor; I have never thought or acted in that way since, and I am now in a position of responsibility to challenge others who do so. During a practice day, I successfully challenged one young person’s attitude to immigrants and the labour market; during my job at Cirencester, I anticipate doing this kind of thing more.  In this blog entry, I have also tried to challenge this behaviour.  Thankyou for reading.

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brokenhearted.

December 2, 2009

How do you stop your heart from breaking?

Ok, I might be being a bit melodramatic.  Basically, I did what I said I would never do, and after some other revelations, the time was right to tell Mike how I have been feeling about him.  Because of certain things, I was almost positive that he would take it well, and I tried to explain it in the right way – basically that more than simple sexual chemistry (though there is some of that too!), there’s such a strong friendship bond and attraction there. I think he’s amazing and I admire him so much.  He’s probably not the best looking guy in the university, and he’s 11 years my senior, but he ticks all my boxes, if you like.

Of course, he took it maddeningly well and was really flattered, but also understood (he is a dream friend, and he’s coming to the tattoo parlour with me tomorrow).  He said that if he were available (i.e. not straight and not married), it would be me and him, and he also said that if he were available, chances are that I would not like him in the way that I do! I don’t know if that’s true – it’s all “if only”, and as much as my whole feelings for him are based on “if only” statements, there’s not much to be gained from pondering that overly much.  I understand why I look up to him so much – he’s got a loving wife and a beautiful little son, and he has common sense and decency as well as a fit body (he’s putting weight on but he carries it well).  I could go round and round in circles explaining how much he means to me, but basically whenever I’m not around him, I miss him and wish he was there. Although I don’t always feel it, I guess I’m quite an independent and capable person and sometimes that gets a little draining, and I know that he could look after me and keep me safe and it would be ok not to be 100% together around him all the time, because he understands me and he understands life.  On a very human level, we really do click.

There’s only so much I can say on the next bit, in the (extremely unlikely) event that the wrong person reads this, but Mike likes someone else more than he should.  And that someone else seems to like him a little bit too.  I could see it coming, and I’m not surprised.  Nothing is going to happen, because of marriages and families and love and loyalty, and I am 90% sure that nothing will happen.  After all, we said that these feelings will probably pass (although not quickly enough in my case) and it will all be fine – there’s no sense in ruining relationships both within the people on the course, and the families of those people.  But now my jealous streak is coming out, silly as it might be.  For two reasons: a) I saw Mike first, he’s my best friend and nobody else’s.  We connected first and we are the leadership couple (HBICs, if you like).  Nobody is coming between that.  But more importantly (this is the heartbreaking bit), b) even if I had a chance, in an alternate universe, I am not the one Mike would choose.  This isn’t news to me – he’s a straight married man.  But however much I already knew this, and however much he says “If I were gay / if you were a woman, you’re so gorgeous and amazing that I would be so into you and you would be so out of my league, you wouldn’t give me a second glance!”, it hurts me.  That now, I have this added role to make sure nothing inappropriate happens between them. Just in case the world tips on its axis and they can’t stop themselves (again, extremely unlikely), now I have to do it.  And all the time, I’m sitting here (and Mike now knows this is the case!) with my own feelings and heart and love (yeah I said it) and I have to be the rational one, all the time thinking “even if you were going to give into temptation, it wouldn’t be with me. Why can’t it be with me?!??” It’s simple sexuality, and there’s nothing I can do about it, but it breaks my heart that even in a million years, it would never happen for us.

Obviously, this makes things easier for me in the long run, because I’m not going to have to restrain myself that much because I know that it would never happen. (I have a feeling I’ve said that phrase quite a lot in this entry – I apologise!)  I’m single, a free agent, and I don’t have anything at stake.  But fuck the long run – this is me right now, and right now I am having these intense feelings and desires and although they’re totally inappropriate, I can’t help them and I can’t help the admiration that I feel, nor the fact that whenever we’re not together, I call out for him and my thoughts never stray from him.  I can’t stop being jealous of Mike and other person, because even if we are best friends, that is all we will be – never mind that that is all they will be too, and we are closer than the two of them anyway.  But why is that not enough?  Why is friendship never enough?  Why is my heart involved?  I wish I could put my heart in a box and stop it from falling apart.  I guess it makes me cherish just how strong and close our friendship is – I certainly appreciate the man he is, and that is why I admire him so much.  When I’m 35, if I have what he has, then I will consider my life a success (he’s not perfect, but he has accomplished a lot of what I seek to).  But what if I never find someone like him? I know I’m pondering what I said there’s no use in pondering, but I just wish things could be different.  I just wish that I could be rational and not have to deal with my heart pangs every time Mike flirts with someone other than me, even though it’s all harmless.  I wish he could hold me tight and promise he would never leave.  I wish a million futile things, and I don’t know what to do about it.

How do you stop your heart from breaking?

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quiet storm track walkthrough (part ii).

October 31, 2009

(clicky) Quiet Storm (album download) (clicky)

Without further ado, let’s go on with the show!  Here’s part i of the walkthrough, covering tracks 1-6 of the album, if you need to read.  Once again, please enjoy and you can download my album at the link above / at the bottom of the page if you haven’t already! 🙂

7. Touch Me

This was the first single off the album, and it samples “Nobody But You” by Cassie and The-Dream.  I added some more drums and extra instruments (like the piano line) to give it a little extra kick.  Sonically and lyrically, it’s a little bit lighter than the songs which have come prior, because I didn’t want the album to be too heavy all the way through.  Life isn’t like that, and we all need to have some fun and not be so serious sometimes.  The theme of this one is about liking somebody  and having a crush on them, and just being flirtatious and wanting to have a good time with them – letting whatever happens, happen!  After a comment from my friend Emma who heard the song today, it’s interesting that none of the songs on the album have any relation to anything that’s happened in the last couple of months (I finished writing and recording the album at the beginning of September), because this song lyrically is more than a little appropriate right now. 😉 It’s also an unofficial part 2 to one of the very first songs I did, called “Reach Out”.

8. High Fashion

With “Touch Me”, this portion of the album is the ‘uptempo / club ready’ section, the part of the night when you just want to dance, have a good time and feel fierce.  I was inspired a lot by working at the Perfume Shop and being surrounded by a lot of luxury or designer brands like Prada, Gucci, Dior, and how tempting and intoxicating that whole world is.  For me, designer is increasingly a natural fit, though I try not to be snobby with it – I want my jewellery and accessories to feel special to me, not a normality.  But I like the authenticity of real designer, real luxury items – “I’m a real boy / I like real things”.  Originally, I envisioned the song being a midtempo like “Hook Boy”, but the lyrics have a bit of swag and confidence and I fell in love with a Garageband sample which was very poppy and uptempo – this is the poppiest song on the record, in my opinion.  I also enjoyed shouting out my half-Italian heritage, because my favourite designers are almost all Italian (Christian Dior is the exception) houses.  In short, the song’s message is that fashion is more than just what you wear, it’s a part of who you are and inherent in your attitude, outlook and all sorts of things.  And I honestly believe that.

9. Theory (Interlude)

This one’s a spoken interlude just explaining why I enjoy wearing designer items, and what things like that mean to me.  I do feel special with the right necklace on, I won’t deny it.  But I also think that looking put together is both a savvy self-promotion, and a convenient barricade between the outside world and the vulnerability I keep inside.  This interlude just explains that.

10. Armani Earrings

Can you say “SWAG”?!? I love this song, the lyrics were so much fun to write (and I challenged myself to include lots of polysyllabic words, because I’m a literate boy!), and this is my rap song!  Rapping is something I’m seeking to improve at, and I liked my flow on this song a lot.  I wanted to honour my Armani studs (my signature look), which have paid for themselves in compliments alone! Originally, the whole thing was rapped, but I’m a singer and not a rapper, so I made the bridge and final chorus more melodic, which ended up adding to the force of the song, rather than detracting away from it.  I love the bassline, which was inspired by a HOT track I saw on youtube, by Tila Tequila called “I Fucked The DJ” – it goes hard!!  I also shout out one of my favourite CDs back from when I was a teenager, which was Tatyana Ali’s Kiss The Sky.  Originally, “Armani Earrings” was supposed to be slightly slower, with a more gangsta beat, but once I heard that song, I knew that I wanted that kind of sound to make my song really club-ready – it took a little while to get it right, but I love this song now.  Although I don’t really believe that my boyfriend is more expendable than my bracelet, it’s fun to sing!  And it depends on the boyfriend 😉

11. Quiet Storm

There’s a reason why this song is the title track of the album, and why it’s slap bang in the middle – for me, this is the centrepiece of the whole record.  Production-wise, I’m so proud of it – the stuttering beat and the mysterious piano really embodies a night-time jam. I was inspired on this track by Danity Kane’s “Right Now”, Jennifer Lopez’s Hex Hector remix of “Waiting For Tonight”, and Lil’ Wayne’s “Got Money” – that’s the “tick tick boom” lyric explained for you!  The guitar solo in the middle (and the heavy breathing shots) emphasises sensuality and sexuality, and the song is just about being in this perfect moment surrounded by a pounding bass in the middle of the club, just seeing somebody and being irresistibly attracted to them to the point where everything melts away.  So it’s very sexy, very captivating, very seductive, but also very mysterious and nocturnal.  It’s about love and attraction being a force of nature that is literally more powerful than music – and if you know me, you’ll know just how powerfully I feel music.  I wanted a song that I could dance to in a club, that I could chill to and feel the lyrics, that I could wind to on my patio at night.  And this song ticks all those boxes for me, so I wanted this song to be the album’s signature track and indicative of all that I wanted to achieve with this project.

Part iii coming soon! Hold tight 😉

(clicky) Quiet Storm (album download) (clicky)

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temptation.

August 9, 2009

I am watching Desperate Housewives on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and the current episode is rooted around the topic of “temptation”.  According to Mary-Alice’s narration, “the best way to get over one addiction is to replace it with another”.  I have always had an obsessive personality (I used to collect everything concerned with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then dinosaurs, then Power Rangers, then the Spice Girls…) but I seem to have it under control as I’ve grown older and learned to balance my pleasures with other commitments with responsibilities.  However, sometimes my temptations or vices play on my mind more than they perhaps should.  Being responsible all the time is impossible, and on this lazy Sunday afternoon, I have been internet window-shopping looking for new jeans, a winter coat, jewellery (in Desperate Housewives, I am without doubt the male personification of Gabrielle)… So I thought it would just be interesting to list my current vices so that I know what I am dealing with.

Designer labels.
When I was younger, I didn’t have as much money as I do now, because I was too young to have a job and I used to enjoy saving my money (oh how the times have changed).  I always wanted to look good and have nice clothes, but my motto was to buy cheap things that looked expensive / classy.  Looking through my wardrobe now, not only do most of those clothes not fit (I have lost a lot of weight since then), but some of these items are a little bit style-less.  I never wore garish colours or anything particularly unflattering, but I have grown and learned that the only real way to look classy is to dress with class.  That doesn’t always mean having designer clothes, but when it comes to making clothes, designers do know best.  So little by little, I’m acquiring a nice little
collection of designer jewellery and accessories, as well as a couple of designer tshirts.  I’m looking to expand this collection because I’m growing up now and I want a wardrobe which says that I am professional, sophisticated and classy.  That is the image I want to portray, because that is what I aspire to be.  So little by little, I’m upgrading my fashion game so that as I get my life together, I will have my look together also.

Cigarettes.
I feel a lot guiltier about this than I probably should.  I smoke on average probably 4 cigarettes a day, so it’s not a serious vice or anything like that. But being a singer, I know that it could potentially damage my voice (though it hasn’t seemed to yet).  I got into smoking during my year abroad in Spain, then I came back home and gave up over the summer, then I started again at Christmas, I stopped again, started again and then once I rejoined the Perfume Shop family of smokers, I kept it going.  Since I finished work, I have generally cut down a little bit but a lot of my friends reprimand me for my habit.  However, I do enjoy a cigarette – it passes time while I’m waiting for the bus, it gives me something to do on my breaks at work, and it is delicious when I am out drinking or clubbing with my friends.  But I think my favourite cigarette is my “midnight cigarette” where I creep out onto the patio once the house is quiet and night has fallen, put my ipod in and listen to music while I smoke.  I find myself thoughtfully thinking of all sorts of things, gazing at the moon and stars (unless it’s raining) and just grabbing a bit of piece.  So I feel that as long as my consumption doesn’t increase, I’m not looking to give up my little bit of smoking just yet.

Attracting crazy men.
Since university, I have discovered that I possess the talent for attracting people with a multitude of insanities.  Whether they be struggling with depression or serious health issues, or they want to know my every move and can’t keep their hands off me, I seem to live in this strange dichotomy between believing that I’ll never find someone for me, and seeking out people who clearly aren’t very compatible with me.  I have my head screwed on when it comes to giving other people decent advice, but whether I’m starting up something with a man who could soon emigrate and has a boyfriend who is apparently a little jealous of me, semi-dating a man who one minute doesn’t have the energy to communicate with me let alone meet up in person, and then the next wants to make innuendos at me and know exactly where I’m going and whom I’m seeing, or deciding to block a guy who just won’t leave me alone by text or on msn, and buys me gifts after one meeting, I just seem to know how to pick ’em.  Where are the sane ones?  Do I attract drama by default?  My colleague Louise told me that I need to take a long hard look in the mirror and then go and aim higher and be more confident in myself.  Maybe that’s the key, but then I also think that the sooner I can move away to another place with another attitude, atmosphere and fresh crop of potential suitors, the sooner I will find someone more like-minded and suitable.  My desired destinations currently include Brazil, Hawaii, Italy, Spain (haven’t narrowed down any cities yet) and Romania.  Any other recommended areas?

Starbucks.
Since sixth form, when I gained the luxury of free periods, I have fallen in love with Starbucks.  I always meet friends there for coffee, and I spend entirely far too much money there in the process.  You know when you spend too much time there because the baristas recognise you, and predict what you are going to order (I always respond to this with “Actually, I want *drink I never usually order*, I fancied a change!” because I find being considered predictable a fault).  During my last term of uni, I spent practically every day in there meeting friends in a bid to escape finals revision.  It became an expensive habit, and yet I can’t resist it.  I have learned to always order skinny drinks (it nearly halves the amount of calories!) and get filter coffee refills on hot drinks, to make my money go farther.  But I love the appeal of Starbucks – it has a relaxed, intimate atmosphere where the decor is just dark enough to convey privacy, the drinks are deliciously sweet enough to keep me coming back for more, and it’s a perfect venue for reading a book by myself for a couple of hours, a date with a new man, or (most commonly) a social event with friends where we can share problems, stories and trivialities alike.

Spending money.
A lot of the above categories are an offshoot of this one.  Of course, nobody can live without spending money.  But I have a genuine talent for it.  Jewellery and fragrance with high price tags, coffee which always tastes better when someone else has made it, little packs of cigarettes, rounds of drinks and bus tickets all add up and somehow I make my way through my funds.  I am not so bad as I used to be, because I have changed my spending habits somewhat (instead of buying lots of small purchases such as CDs and DVDs often, I now save up for larger things such as clothes, jewellery and accessories) – but I still appreciate the healing powers of retail therapy.  Here is a good test: find a catalogue and open it at a random page of clothes.  I guarantee you I will automatically be drawn to the most expensive item, even without knowing the prices beforehand.  Unfortunately, I don’t really see myself being able to give up this addiction, because prices only seem to go up and my aspirations only seem to go higher and higher.  But hopefully I can raise my earning power to keep up with them, because I would rather raise my game than lower my ambitions. Currently, I feel that I have all my temptations under control, so that they give me pleasure without taking over my life – and as long as I keep myself balanced, like everyone, I can afford a little vice. 😉