This morning I woke up and decided to stop smoking. It lasted about an hour and a half, and I was surprised by the grit and determination I felt billowing out from inside me. I will stop smoking. I will become one of those rosy-cheeked, healthy, wholegrain girls who sits there calmly, watching those pathetic smokers cobble together their anemic roll-ups, and think to myself "God, I'm glad I'm not an addict. I'm glad my lungs are like pink marshmallows." But then, I started thinking about the harsh realities of giving up, and it frightened me. Still, I have a very thorough knowledge of the electronic cigarette industry now, and I think on that terrible day when I do have to give up (perhaps if ever I conceive a child, or when the doctor tells me I have the beginning of some kind of awful smoking-related disease, or when the social pressure to stop becomes too unbearable), then electronic cigarettes will be the way forward for me.
In other devestatingly exciting news: I cut my own fringe. Goodbye trips to the hairdresser, hello preserved bank account and dignity. I don't want to shell out for a few millimetres of hair, nor do I want to sit in a chair staring at my own face under harsh lighting, revealing every fine line and clogged pore, whilst two hot 16 year-olds in black catsuits grab handfuls of my hair, screeching "What is this? What *is* this? Do you use conditioner? Do you know what that is?". Surprisingly easy to do, cutting your own fringe, once you get past the idea that with just one small movement, you could gouge your own eye out. It's like when you're looking over a bridge, and think to yourself: "What if my brain suddenly rebels, and I throw myself off, without wanting to?". I went to the Aran Islands a few years ago (wonderful, by the way), and there's this cliff you can look over:
You have to crawl to the very tip, get down on your stomach and hang yourself off the edge, and look at the black waves crashing against these giant rocks, and there is that moment where you're inexplicably drawn to destruction. Same with having scissors near your eyes. Or maybe that's just me.
Anyway, here's a picture of how I did:
So here's something you might want to try, if you're the sort of person who enjoys frivolous, pointless stuff that's pretty (I know I am). Lavender scent bags to put in your wardrobe. Free to make, satisfying, and makes your clothes smell really nice.
The other night, under the cloak of darkness, I embarked on a midnight trip to go lavender harvesting, dragging my flatmate with me. If you live in France, you're never too far from some lavender, even in the gloomier regions. My local lavender patch is situated across a massive congested bridge, on the side of a roundabout. So that's where I headed. The time of day meant I wasn't afraid of the flower police descending on me and arresting me for theft (although let's face it, they let their dogs shit all over the place, so don't tell me taking a few flowers is destructing my community, please), and as such, had the pick of the crop. You'll need to pick a few stalks of the stuff, try and find ones that are plump and laden with flowers (obviously). Pick them off with a fair amount of stalk, you'll need those at the later stage. I also passed by some wild roses and took one for good measure. This is the sort of thing one might have been burned alive for, a few centuries ago. Those poor witches. Murdered, for creating pot pourri.
Next step, be as gentle as possible with them and get them home. Ideally, you should try gathering them at the end of a warm, dry day. I got mine after a thunderstorm. Get two sheets of newspaper, and sandwich the lavender between them, gently pressing to dry. Leave them to dry a little, say for an hour or so.
elastic band. Now, I was that annoying kid who used to burst into the classroom ten minutes late, skulk over to my seat, and eyes lowered, flushed, would frantically and pleadingly badger my neighbour for a pen. I never had my books, or my gym kit, or a ruler, much to the irritation of classmates who got sick of bailing me out, and my mother who thought the teachers would assume she was a bad parent. So - if you're anything like me, you won't have an elastic band casually lying around waiting to be used, perhaps in a stationary drawer, or in a special box marked "elastic bands". In which case - use a hairband. Gather the lavender in a bunch, tie it together with the band, and hang it up to dry somewhere darkish for a few days (should be something like 8/9/10 days, I get impatient and call it quits earlier). If you're using rose with it, just leave it to dry up on the newspaper - rose petals dry much quicker anyway.
When your lavender is dry, take it down, let it fall apart (cut up the stalks as well), and put it all in whatever you want to go in your wardrobe (I have a lace bag I made awhile ago, but you can also just cut the toe off a pair of old tights, and use that with a bit of string around to close it - works well!).
In other news, I am now one week away from being allowed to move into the student residence. Two days ago, I contacted good old Yannick (you remember him!), saying "Hello Yannick. It's me again. Now I *really* need to know my address, as aside from actually needing to move in in 7 days time, my landlords here and my bank want a forwarding address. I also need to know how much the rent is, and how to get the keys. I will be staying in a hostel whilst waiting for the room. Thanks for all your help." Almost instantly, I get an email back: "If it makes life easier for you, perhaps I can ask the residence if you can move in a few days early?". My heart leaps: you absolute STAR! I reply saying that would be fantastic, but I understand if not possible. And then....well, then I heard nothing at all, and as I say, it's been 2 days. Yannick, you old prick tease!