Chain S̶m̶o̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ Reactions Part I

This is going to be a very narrative post, as today is a poignant day for me to reflect at some of the events that have occurred in the last 365 days.

The last 365 days, since gave up smoking.

To give you a little back-story, I had been a smoker for a long time. When I was eleven, I was good friends with my sister’s boyfriend’s little brother, who was around my age. We would steal a cheeky cigarette from his packet of ‘Skutlers’ [a local portmanteau used to refer to ‘skanky Lambert & Butlers’] while he was distracted shouting at Goldeneye 007 on N64 – which helps timestamp these events!

With our swag in hand, we would hightail to a dark, narrow, muddy and rarely-trodden pathway that meandered between two sets of back garden walls few streets away.

In our safely secluded place, safely distant from family who could catch us, and having also light-fingered the matches from the kitchen, we could strike up, ignite, and set about pretending to be ‘old kids’.

This was sporadic, and didn’t escalate into a regular habit, but whetted the appetite.

Zip forward three years to April 2000, and I go on a school trip to Italy. I’m a few months short of my fourteenth birthday, and it’s a socially challenging time. Puberty is starting to really open up, and the competition for who’s cool and who’s popular is getting heated.

Around bustling cities like Rome, Florence and Pisa, our every move was being watched with nervous intensity as the holiday mentors [teachers out of their suits] endeavoured to corral thirteen and fourteen year olds. The leash was loosened, however, in a small walled mountain town called Volterra.

As the town only had the one way in and one way out, there was little danger in us getting lost, so they let us explore freely. Combine this freedom with an increasingly contagious rumour that the legal age to buy cigarettes in Italy is fourteen… and the aforementioned social competition just got a little extra fuel to its fire.

Who was man/hard/cool/daring enough to try to get served?

Apparently quite a few of us.
At this, impressionable, socially awkward time, I was one the silly ones who thought smoking proved I was cool.

The addiction evolved from here.

So.

What is the relevance of these little vignettes from my childhood?

Purely to illustrate just how long smoking had been a part of my life.

January 21st 2010 I gave up. Just shy of THIRTEEN years later. When you consider I was twenty-three years old on said date, that thirteen becomes even more frightening, as over fifty per cent of my time on this planet.

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Chain S̶m̶o̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ Reactions Part II

So now it’s 16:15 on 21st January 2010, and outside Boots on Queen St, Cardiff, I’ve just stamped out my last cigarette. That near-thirteen year chapter is closed.

I turn and walk into Boots, and walk out with Nicorette Inhalators. Terrible, plastic devices with an aesthetic not dissimilar from a tampon. But they work. They absolutely work.

Before I digress further into the process of overcoming the addiction, the actual point of this blog is to tell you about some of the ways the decision to do so changed my life. And how some of them are very far from the standard changes you’d expect.

Area of Change #1 – Health.

At the beginning if 2010 I was the most overweight I had ever been. I was perilously close to tipping 17st the rare times I had the bravery to face the scales.

When I gave up smoking, I decided to take up running to make use of my lungs. When I say ‘running’… it was jogging with intermittent spells of walking holding in a stitch. But, you gotta start somewhere.

In February I joined Cardiff Dragons FC to play football, to marry fun and exercise.

By July/August, running, eating sensibly and a more positive outlook had brought me down to 13st 4lbs.

3st in 6 months was a huge difference. I felt a million times better with myself. I was still by no means skinny, or toned, but comfortably in the ‘average’ bracket, and began to feel attractive.

This has plateaued since, staying around the 14st mark as laziness and winter set in, which is still a marked improvement on this time last year. And giving up smoking got that ball rolling.

Area of Change #2 – Technology

Now this one may surprise you, but giving up smoking was my impotus to join the twenty-first century properly.

Having done a few calculations, I realised I stood to save around £150 a month not buying cigarettes. Having never made this disturbing calculation before, I decided the best way to register it in my mind, was to treat myself to something worth that much money, to see what I was throwing away.

Hello iPhone.

£90 16Gb 3GS on a £35 tariff, plus insurance = £135.

I saved £15.

And gained an invaluable new addition to my life.

Anyone who moves from a regular phone (in my case a Nokia N95 8Gb) to an iPhone will
attest just how epoch-making the change is.

I had finally joined the iPod generation, and anyone who knows me knows how much I live my music.
I had access to new music on the go with the iTunes app.
Apps to get me back into learning Japanese, help me manage my new jogging habit, boil the perfect egg…

I know it’s ridiculous, but I love my iPhone. And I only bought it as a present to myself for giving up.

Area of Change #3 – Social.

Now, here is where Chain Reaction idea comes in [finally].

Chain:
Give up smoking
§
Buy iPhone as present
§
Discover Twitter.

As a new iPhone user, and hearing it banded about on Radio 1 incessantly, 2010 saw my interest for Twitter finally piqued to the point where I got into it passed a few vapid musings here and there.

And, well, if you’ve been following the rampant tweeting of @kinkitsune in the last few months, you’ll know what an epic change this has made.

Area of Change #4 – Sex/Relationships Part I

Give up smoking
§
Buy iPhone as present
§
Discover Grindr

Thanks to Stephen Fry, this was one of the first things I searched for in the App Store.

My gaydar is terrible. I figured, who needs one when you’ve got GPS?

Now, my relationship with Grindr is a very restrained one. It’s not about simple hook-ups — it’s about actual networking with local guys. Grindr sourced me 17 dates in 2010 from Feb-Aug, which had surpassed the number I’d been on in the two preceding years.

This vastly improved by confidence, and my comfort in a date scenario.

And, of course some of those dates turned to second dates, and a few to third dates, and a couple to sexy times.

Obvious bonus there.

Area of Change 5 – Sex/Relationships Part II

Give up smoking
§
Buy iPhone as present
§
Discover Grindr/Twitter
§
Find first decent boyfriend in too long

The boyfriend in question, who is now sadly an ex, only fell into my life via the above chain of events.

Proof of this, is that we did actually meet 2 months before we ‘met’, in Wow, Cardiff as he and his friends were out celebrating a birthday. And this meeting ended in me kissing his celebrating friend as one of his “I need to kiss one boy for every year I’ve lived!” plan.

Cue a Grindr profile pic in June/July with St. George’s cross on my face. Conversation starts about the World Cup, and football in general.

Then numerous conversations on Twitter. Then a few beers and a movie, just as mates.

Then dating.

Only happened because I gave up smoking, bought an iPhone, and got into some social networking apps.

Area of Change 6 – Alcohol Consumption

Apparently not buying cigarettes for a year has saved me nearly £1800. As I have NOTHING to show for that, I can only assume I drunk it. Oh well!

Pretty mad to see how that one decision influenced key events in the year that’s passed since.

I’m now wondering, what the epoch-making decision of 2011 going to be..?

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No, turns out the grass is definitely greener on the East side.

Following on from my last post, turns out it took all of 7 days to work out where I want to place my bets.

Of the two nigh-on perfect men fighting in my head, one has come out very much on top.

By limiting communication with both, and not seeing either in person, the clarity has come from who organically occupied the most time in my head.

And it turned out not be a hard fought battle at all really. There was a clear winner for a while – I was denying it, I suppose, out of loyalty to the initial combatant.

The last week has seen me regress into an adolescent stupor. Leaving all the sensibility and maturity my 24 years have earned well and truly forgotten.

Distracted from everything – be it work, play, or something in between – and praying to the loading circle of Twitter that a new message would come through from the only one whose 140 characters matter.

That, my friends, is a good old-fashioned crush.

That irritatingly wonderful state of mind that forces you both out of rationality, but also out of your comfort zone and into an area of amplified thoughts, deductions and emotions that don’t seem to belong in an adult mind. And yet you can’t stop it.

And you know what?

I wouldn’t have it any other way ; )

Onwards and upwards now, I guess! Now we know where the greener grass is laid.

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But that grass looks just as green as this bit…

Hi world!

My name is Chris, and I’m a 24 year old digital artist living in South Wales. I say this now just incase it becomes relavant in the near or distant future. Oh, and I’m gay – so spend as much time making stuff pretty as eyeing up men who don’t need any help with that.

As this is one of my very favourite pastimes, it will no surprise to you when I confess I’ve spent the last month and a bit eyeing up one very handsome guy in particular. Who then turned out to be charming, funny, sweet and everything you could ask for.

I’ve spent a healthy part of the last two years flitting from decent date, to one-night-stand, to casual repeater and back again. This new one was the first with potential to get under my previously impenetrable skin.

The sad thing is, it took just one unexpected “yes” to an offer of some shared drinking time, and I could already feel him somewhere no-one had gained access to in a LONG time.

My head.

Regressing straight back to an immature child, I have been plagued by an adolescent crush ever since. Which actually felt nice. Like a reminder of being human and how nice it feels to share that spark.

Now though, a mere 2 dates [and a few half dates] later, a fat spanner has been thrown in the works.

As with buses, trains, or any given cliché, I’d been waiting so long the proverbial ‘two’ have come along at once. The problem is by some sick fluke, this new contender is not only just as lovely in every way, but has similarly found his way into my head after an almost uncomfortably short amount of time.

It is supremely rare anyone has this effect on me. And the fact two are currently duelling in a ‘loveliness’ competition in my head, is fate being a right ****.

I guess my question is; what the hell do you do when there’s nothing to call between two utterly perfect combatants?

Eeny-meeny between two of the nicest guys you’ve ever met? Thereby showing them no respect at all?

See if you can ride out getting to know both until there’s a clear winner, knowing then that you’ll be contrasting them while conversing rather than judging purely on their own merit?

It’s about now I wish I were colourblind, so that I had an excuse at least not to be able to differentiate between the perfect greens on both sides.

Sigh.

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