Monthly Archives: August 2011

8 Minutes

When I was a baby, I sucked my thumb.

When I turned 9, I stopped sucking my thumb and started biting my nails.

When I got into University, I stopped biting my nails and started smoking.

When I stopped smoking, I started chewing on my lips.


It’s been almost 20 months now since I quit smoking, and let me tel you, I feel great.  My coughs are not as severe, I don’t get sick anywhere as much as I used to with respiratory issues.  My headaches are fewer, and I’m even getting into better shape.  For months after quitting even the smell of a lit cigarette nearby was enough to make me nauseous and run in the opposite direction.  I could barely stand to be near my brother and some of my coworkers, because they smelled of nicotine and ash.


That’s been better lately.  I’ve actually caught myself liking the smell of the cigarettes, not to mention the smell of nicotine on clothes.  It’s become almost a comforting smell to me, which is just bizarre.  And while I was working at the call center, I started to notice the cravings. Ever so slight, but sometimes, a group of people would go out for a smoke and I could almost feel myself wanting to go with them.  That was one of the other reasons that I stopped working there.  The smoke breaks were getting to be a temptation, the people smoking during those breaks were awesome and I wanted to hang out with them more.


But cigarettes are expensive down here. Crazy expensive.  But that’s not the only reason that I’m looking at the last 20 months and reevaluating where I stand, and why I’m happy to have quit and why I will fight my instincts and my need for something to do with my fingers until the end.   I saw a billboard the other day.  And while I’m not completely sure on the veracity of the claim, or the science used to back it up, it stated that every cigarette costs 8 minutes of your life.


8 minutes.  For every smoke. Every pack of cigarettes is 160 minutes. Every carton, 1600 minutes.  That got me thinking.  All those nights and days at the theatre, where we did nothing but smoke and joke around.  Those nights out at the diner where we could finish off a pack and a half easily.  Or at verizon or walmart where I could smoke a pack a day, maybe two days when I was cutting down.  I don’t want to even think about the money that I spent or wasted, but the time.  I mean.  All that time.  I’ve shortened my life significantly by smoking.


Now, I want to say that while I was smoking, I knew about this. I knew the health risks and the dangerous factors. I knew that I was taking a leap of life and limb every time that I lit up.  I knew it, and I didn’t care.  It was my life and I was going to live it how I wanted to live it. I was going to make my mistakes, hang out with my friends and bugger the future.


So what changed?


I found a future worth being around for.  I think this advert, and the thoughts that followed, effected me more now than they would have back then, simply because of where I was.  I was in the car, driving somewhere with Ee.  And I think of all the time in our life together, that I cheated us out of, by smoking.  Hypocritical?  Possibly.  Sentimental? Definitely.  But there it is.  Ee is the one who gave me the strength to try to quite, all those 20 months ago, the reason that I stuck it out, and now the reason that I won’t ever go back.


I want a life with this man. I want a future with him.  And our friends.  I want a chance to live a life and start a family and see my kids grow up and start their own lives.  And now, I kick myself, because I willingly cut off so much time from that dream on my own.  I have shortened my own Happy Ending.


This is not for me to post and get all preachy for others to quit smoking. I know that it takes time, and some people won’t ever quit.  This is for me to get these thoughts out.  8 minutes a cigarette.  assuming that I smoked a carton a week, which is not a big assumption, it comes out to just about 1.5 years that I smoked off my life.  Doesn’t sound like much, when you look at it that way.  but 1.5 years is the difference between your grandchild being born and not. Between your kid graduating from college and not.


Heady stuff.  I’m glad I quit.  I’m glad I have what I have. I’m grateful for what I have.  I’m just mentally kicking myself for that 1.5 years that I could have had.


So, we are underway for getting the next visa application together.  I took a bus trip out to Brown’s Bay today in order to get myself fingerprinted for the paperwork that the FBI needed.


There’s apparently so many steps in needing to do this.  First, I need to get a background check from the FBI that is no more than 6months old.  Considering that it takes the FBI 8 weeks to process the background check and then probably another 2 weeks to get it back to me, that’s 10 weeks, plus the week to get it to them.  So that’s 11 weeks from today, roughly.  So we’re looking at the first week of November for getting that information back.  Meanwhile, I get to run around to friends and family and get them to write up some statements about how loving and stable Ee’s relationship is.  Easy enough.  Next, have to get 2 passport sized photos taken, again younger than 6 months by the time that I send the application in. More evidence of a stable and conjoined relationship.


And then all of that gets sent into Immigration NZ, and the decision is another 4-5 weeks after that.  So, by hannukah, or at the latest Christmas, I should have an answer as to whether or not my next visa is approved.  This Visa will be most likely for 2 years, and then  a year into that I can apply for residency.   But, it’s still a 2 year visa, and that should open up more options for me for employment.  But enough about that, my adventure today!


Caught an earlier bus than I had intended, by virtue of me being absolutely paranoid about time and getting lost.  No worries though!  The bus dropped me off exactly where I thought it would and finding the police station was fairly easy peasy after that (just walk up the street…)!  Of course, I was an hour earlier than I should have been for the appointment, so I stopped into the little cafe right next to the police station.  They were rather busy for the middle of the week, which was kinda neat.  I grabbed a little pastry and a bottle of coke, although I later wished I had picked up something hot to drink.  Once I finished up with that, I headed to the police station and sat and waited.


Another lady there and I got into a conversation about this place called “Martha’s Backyard”.  Apparently they sell all kinds of imported american goodies.  like Pop-Tarts and lucky charms and kraft Mac& Cheese.  Definitely going to have to see if I can make a trip out there sometime soon. A box of lucky charms sounds awesome right now.  She was there to report an attempt to pass on fraudulent travellers checks by somebody over the internet.  She was looking for a new flatmate, this guy contacted her and said he needed a place for a few months.  She asked for payment in advance, he sent through some traveller’s checks for more than the amount agreed on and asked her to send the extra money back to an address in the UK.  Well, the checks were forgeries and she would have been out about $2000NZD.  Eek!  But she caught the gimmick and brought them into the Police to make them aware of it.


She got all sorted, the police called INTERPOL and gave them the head up and she went on her way.  And then it was my turn to be Fingerprinted!  I had brought all the paperwork that was needed (which the technician was happy for, because it made his life easier), filled in all the stuff that I could (he was also so very pleased about that), and then we got to the fingerprinting.  Want to know something neat?  he asked me to look at the wall, not at the fingerprint card, because apparently when you look down at the card, it tenses your fingers and that can mess up the prints.  Neat, huh?


So, after that, he took a statutory declaration from me for my election paperwork (how cool! I brought the papers with me on the off chance that there was a notary in town, and he said he could notarize it for me), and I headed off to the postshop.


Got everything boxed up and sent out, the paperwork for the background check, and the request for my absentee ballots.  And then I wandered around the shops for a bit, stared at the bay and Rangitoto, and then went to catch the bus.  Turns out, I was waiting for the wrong bus.  That’s ok! I had extra time, so I headed back to the music store that I had seen, independently owned, and shopped around.  Bought myself a new Amici CD (well, new to me, it was from their 2006 NZ tour), and a present for my brother.  A kiwi singer who is trying to get himself started.  I picked up his sample CD for my brother, since the guy behind the counter said that the guy was kinda pink Floyd-y.  So I’ll send that off to the brother for his birthday and see what he thinks.  If he likes it, I’ll see about picking up the guys full LP when he releases it later this year.


After that, it was time to run and catch the bus and head home.  Note to self: Catching a bus on the way home after 3pm, silly idea.  The bus was soon stuffed with schoolkids, all heading home from school.  Luckily I had sat right near the doors so I was able to pour myself out of the bus fairly easily.


And now, time to make dinner (soup) and relax for the night.


A good day and plenty accomplished.


I’ve yelled at myself something fierce lately.  Trying to get myself psyched up for writing again.  And I knew it all was going to start with a blog post, or seven.  But which one?


Do I sit down and write about how great it was to be working where I was working, but how fantastic it is to not be there anymore?  Or about the fantastic people and coworkers that I had while on my brief stint there, but at the same time, how grateful I am that I’m not there anymore, and can sit with myself and my thoughts?


How about I write about how horrible I’ve been at the physical fitness stuff, and how I’m still hovering at the same weight, which granted it could be worse, but I was going to get myself moving.  I can tell you that I am in much better shape than I was when I first set foot on kiwi soil.  I nearly died while climbing and walking the trails at Piha beach, but I actually made it through two days of fairly intense (for me) walking while in Rotorua.


What about that trip to Rotorua?  Do I just post a bunch of photographs and give a brief overview of the trip like I did when we went to Piha, or to Manganui?  It was a fantastic trip, and the scenery was breathtaking, the food delightful, and the time to unwind with Ee was superb. And even the pain from the walking and climbing was a sweet pain to me, near tear jerking, but sweet.


And food! What about food?  I have been cooking lately now that i’m not working.  And I’ve made some interesting things.  Including my own version of pierogies!  I really should write about them too!  The soups I’ve made, the sauces, the dumplings that we’ve cobbled together, all very intriguing topics for conversation!


And my goodness, I turned 30!  What a momentous occasion, a glorious day, a rather anticlimatic hump.  no really, it wasn’t that traumatic.  Other than I can now say that I’m 30 with a straight face without all of those preceding words, “I’m going to be turning…”  No, no more future tense for me.  I am 30.  And it kinda feels nice.  But at the same time, now I get into a whole bunch of other things. Like where am i going now that I’m here. What happens next in my life.


So where do I go from here?  I’ve got some work experience in New Zealand, but what happens next?  I know that I don’t want to work in a call center again, but I know that I want to work.  But what do I want to do?  I’ve toyed with the thought of part-time work, since I do enjoy being home and being the ‘housewife’, but I also like having my own money.  And having my own money would lead to a whole other world of things.  I’ve been looking at bigger flats and a car of my own.  I’ve almost given up on the vague dream of having a scooter, since that would be impractical, both due to weather concerns, as well as potential offspring.


So yes.  This is what I’ve been thinking, and so many choices actually leave me paralyzed a bit.  I’ll work on getting around to most if not all of the topics above, eventually.  I just need to make a list and then work down them one at a time.


So I am not dead or missing, just busy, happy, and overwhelmed.  Also, look forward to posts detailing the process that I’m going through in order to get my next visa.