the anti-dating dating blog: booze and me

The last time I drank, it was a genuine effort on my part to have a ‘sensible’ one. It came at the end of a four week long stint of visitors, leaving dos, ladies’ nights and birthdays. I’d been drunk pretty much every Wednesday night through to Sunday morning for the best part of a month. I was done. I needed a rest. I really wanted to go to this birthday brunch, but I really did not feel like drinking – it was the perfect opportunity to put elusive moderation into practice.

Instead, after easing myself in gently by making two lager shandies last almost two hours (a feat whilst at a brunch, it must be said), I suddenly, out of nowhere, slammed my foot to the floor. From 7pm, memories get hazy. By 8pm, I’d knocked back several vodkas during a short stop-off at my friend’s apartment and I was in a taxi to a bar I barely remember being in. At 9pm, my one remaining sensible thought was that I needed to get myself home. Immediately. I fear that I thought I was being smart by leaving the night well before it got out of hand, but in reality I was already beyond gone.

The next morning, texting from my bed, my body aching with nerves and shame, my friend and I pieced together the rest of the night via time stamps, call logs and taxi change. There was my cab ride home that took 20 minutes longer and cost 30% more than it should have done. There was the call to the man I am still pining after, mere seconds of our six minute long conversation in tact in my mind. There was the text to the (very lovely, but not for me) guy I’d dated last year saying we should hang out again, even though (despite him being very lovely) I don’t really want to hang out again. Then, later that day, there was the last-minute appointment with a doctor to get antibiotics for a UTI – unfortunately that hour is crystal clear and was pretty painful.

It could have been worse. I’ve had worse nights and worse mornings. There was no vomiting. I woke up in my own bed, alone. I had all my belongings and there were no McDonald’s wrappers on my bedroom floor.

But this time, something clicked. Something that said, this is enough now.

Deep down, I’ve felt negatively about alcohol for a while. I always drink that little bit more than everyone else, or am that little bit more hungover, or have the little bit more outrageous tale to tell the next day. I have never been a two-drinks-and-home type. Those people baffle me. If I’m drinking, I am drinking. I’m getting the first round in, I’m getting the bottle because it’s a better deal than two glasses, I’m staying for ‘just one more’, I’m always the last to leave.

And it’s getting in the way of the life I want to lead.

I was asked recently to close my eyes and describe my (idealised) perfect life. The home, the location, the job, the free time. None of my answer included spending my Saturday mornings hiding from the sun whilst my insides recovered from their latest battering.

Similarly, not long ago I reviewed my Dubai bucket list – a list I started shortly after moving here, which I’ve been ticking off and adding to ever since. It’s an interesting mix of day trips, outdoor activities and cultural experiences. Again, ‘get drunk and forget stuff’ does not feature once.

And so, I think I’ve come to the conclusion it’s time to give an alcohol-free life a go. I know moderation does not and will not work for me. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again. But right now, it’s easier for me to say no thanks than I’ll just have one.

why I moved to Dubai

Six months ago today, I moved to Dubai (yay, another Dubai-iversary for me! I won’t do this every month, I promise) and to this day I cannot tell you why. I guess the only answer I have is, why not?

At the end of August 2016, I got the text that kick started this whole thing: “Still not ready for a move?”

Still not ready for a move.

I’d mentioned it before, more than once. My desire to live abroad. But it was always …at some point. I guess it had become one of those things I said but never did. Something I’d get round to eventually. Eighteen months after my friend left the UK for Dubai, it took one simple question from a him to remind me that I’d been all talk, no action.

I’d never even been to Dubai. I’d never really had it on my radar, other than a potential place to visit for some winter sun with a free place to crash. Of all the places on my ‘I want to live abroad’ list, Dubai would not have even made the top 10, probably even the top 20. I’m not a Dubai-type (or so my old colleagues said). I struggled in the summer in the UK, I always got heat stroke, I hated air con. Of all the reasons I shouldn’t move to Dubai, the main one that I couldn’t shake on the pros list was, why not?

So, why not? I have no mortgage, no boyfriend, no children, no dependents of any kind. I loved my job, but I was cruising in it. I wasn’t about to get promoted, or even moved sideways, anytime soon. I loved my hobbies, but I’d been running the same races and going to the same classes for a couple of years – plus there’ll always be there if I want to go back. I’d see my family less, which is horrible with a young nephew I’m now watching grow up from afar, but if I’m honest, I didn’t see them more than every couple of months when I lived in London anyway. Plus Skype is a wonderful thing.

When I was at university, we had the opportunity to study in New York for a semester. I might not have got accepted, and I might not have been able to fund it – but I didn’t even put myself forward for it because I couldn’t face the thought of three months apart from my boyfriend at the time. It took me a couple of years to realise how much of a regret that was, but when I did, I vowed that I would never not do something because of anyone else again. (Obviously, I will be there for my family and friends when they need me, but there’s a difference between loyalty and fear.)

The hardest thing was leaving was leaving my friends. I miss them everyday. But I didn’t see them everyday, and it would place an unfair burden on my friendships if I was staying somewhere because of them. Some of the friends I left are my soulmates, I love them deeply. Which is why I know that despite 3,500 miles, we’ll be okay. Different, but okay.

There’s nothing like emigrating to make you appreciate the intense passing of time. The past six months have sped by in a blur. I’m starting to feel less like a confused (and very pale) newcomer and more like someone that actually has a clue what’s going on in this crazy town. Plus I have the beginnings of a tan, finally.

But my absolute favourite thing so far: the only time I have worn socks in half a year is to workout. Normal socks are now literally redundant in my life. If that’s not a reason to move, then I don’t know what is.

turning thirty

A month today, I turn thirty.

So far, I’ve sort-of prided myself on being one of those people that didn’t freak out about this. I’m still not freaking out – I don’t think – I’m still really excited. It’s more that it is just… creeping into my consciousness a bit more than I’d like.

Maybe it’s because I’m now actually next in line of my friends, so it’s less abstract-thing-that’s-happening-to-someone-else and more real-thing-that’s-about-to-happen-to-me.

Maybe it’s because an ex told me he’s met someone new, the first new person since me. Always odd to hear, no matter how good friends you are now (which we are) and no matter how happy you are for them (which I am).

Or maybe it’s because I’m coming out the other side of a heartbreak. The first proper, painful one I’ve experienced in a while. The kind where I forgot to eat for a week and the most exercise I got was opening my MacBook to Skype-cry to my Mum. I knew it was coming yet it still knocked me sideways.

It’s annoying me that this should have any significance now. Would it hurt any more or any less if it was six months earlier or six months later? Probably not. But there’s nothing like being cleanly, totally, back-at-square-one single to make you feel vulnerable, scared and these days, also a little bit older.

Oh, but hang on, what better time to be celebrating my birthday by flying to Ibiza? Turning thirty in the happiest place on earth with my favourite people on earth? Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Put me in a bikini, hand me a beer, play me some house music. I’ll be in heaven. The countdown to the big 3-0 is on…

two months in the desert

So chums, it’s just been my two month Dubai-iversary (can I get away with that? Not sure I can…) Woo! Go me! Etc! And whilst at some point I might do a highly practical guide to uprooting your whole life and moving to a country you’d only previously visited for a total of 48 hours (if you feel so inclined), right now what I feel so inclined to do is to share some of the less expected stuff that’s happened to me in my first 60-ish days in the sandpit. I’ve really taken to calling Dubai that – factual, yet playful, I feel. Anyway…

Various car woes 

Until a couple of weeks ago, I had barely driven a left hand drive, had never driven an automatic and sure as hell had not been in a Nissan Sunny. Now, I do all three on the daily. As well as my many very successful trips – office, hardware store, garden centre – there’s also been:

  • The time I got a parking fine. My manicure got quite expensive that day. But it’s powder pink, makes me look tanned and is still going strong a week and a half later, so it was almost worth it. 
  • The time I got reversed into whilst – surprisingly – I was stationary and minding my own business. 
  • The time(s) I’ve almost run out of petrol. Yeh, you know when you’re doing 100kmh along a five lane wide road and you can just *feel* your poor car is about to give up the ghost? I didn’t like that. Not one bit. 
  • And my favourite so far, the time we drove to the desert to go camping, got lost, it got dark, we got stuck in the sand, my attempt at getting us out only buried the car deeper and we eventually had to flag down three passing men in a pickup to push us out. 

Various bird woes

If you follow me on Instagram, you might’ve seen that I acquired a somewhat unwelcome pet within a day of moving into my apartment. A pigeon (I called her Bob) decided to make my tiny balcony home, and laid two eggs. I freaked out one morning, removed the eggs (I know, I know, I am a terrible person), cried when I watched a panic-stricken Bob come back and have been racked with guilt ever since. Well, Karma (or rather, just Bob) has come back to get me, as whenever I now try to enjoy the view of the Marina in the early evening sunshine, she comes back and terrorises me off my balcony. I’m not even being melodramatic here, at the weekend she hid around the corner then took a dive for my head. She’s smart, that one. I’m also thinking about getting a cat. 

One really big iPhone woe

You know those nights where you ‘go for a couple of beers’ to round off your working week and end up getting in 10 hours later? Well, apparently they still happen to me, wherever I am living. This particular one (in which I also drank bright blue concoctions like I was 19 again – and wouldn’t have the hangover of someone 10 years older) resulted in me almost ruining my brand new pair of white leather pumps, leaving my phone in a taxi and spending the entire rest of the weekend watching it not move on Find my iPhone. Luckily, Dubai is the kinda place where people don’t steal stuff (sensible side note: it genuinely feels really safe here and it’s one of the things I’m really liking. Knowing that there’s pretty much zero chance of someone grabbing your phone out of your hand whilst you’re walking along is actually pretty nice. Or it’s ridiculous that that’s a ‘thing’ in London… but, whatever) so my taxi driver drove it back to me, and only asked for a very reasonable remuneration for his bother.

This isn’t to say I’m not enjoying myself. This is more of a handy reminder that whilst in my head – and on my Instagram – it was going to be all beaches, tanning, brunches and views of tall buildings (there has been a lot of that too), living the dream is also a bit bloody awkward sometimes. There’s loads more of this to come. I’m about to go into my first Dubai summer of 50+ degree heat and stifling humidity. Oh, and I haven’t even ventured onto Tinder yet. Brace yourselves.

quiet in the corner

Earlier this month, this blog of mine turned six years old.

Even typing that sentence, as I just have, on my actual MacBook, feels weird. Blogging doesn’t exist anymore, not like it used to. We’ve gone from no one having a blog, to everyone having a blog, to now – where it seems as if we’re back at a nobody again.

I’ve managed to write at least a couple of posts every year that this site has been in existence, but I’ve come within seconds of deleting the whole damn thing on several occasions. If no one writes blogs or reads blogs anymore, then what is the point of owning one? But then I remembered, that has never been the point. I’ve never written a word in the hope that someone else would read it (okay okay, apart from a handful of thinly veiled passive aggressive rants aimed at my evil ex, but there’s at least one more of those to come…) – it’s always been for my own self-absorbed interest.

I’ve never hit ‘delete’ because I knew there’d always be a point when I feel like writing something again. And lucky for you (or just me, when I read this back in a few minutes), that time is now.

Whilst everyone has migrated elsewhere on the internet and are busy abusing their ‘friends’ on Facebook, trolling ‘celebrities’ on Twitter and slipping into each other’s DM’s left, right and centre on Instagram, I’m going to use the relative quiet of this space here in the corner, to get some of my thoughts straight. It’s nice to have somewhere where there’s not quite so much yelling. Oh man, there’s just so much yelling.