Saturday, 27 August 2011

A lawyer and the office cutie

It was early on Tuesday morning and the grey rain had begun to pour down on London. I walked into the office kitchen. He was standing by the window, tucking his soaking shirt into his trousers. I tiptoed behind him, trying to avert my eyes, and reached for the paper bag with my days worth of juice on the table beside him.
It's not the first time we'd met in the kitchen, but every time we met we just blanked each other.
Mark is hot - I mean, he's not just my office cutie, he is fantastically hot - but he works in a different department - a department which is not considered to be as sexy as mine - and departments don't mix in our corporate hierarchy. 

But this time I dropped the cool act and mustered up the courage to speak. The silence was too awkward to ignore.
'So, er, you got a bit wet then...'
He laughed, 'Yeah, it caught me unexpected',
I smiled and held my breath. He was standing at the other end of the kitchen, sopping wet. I couldn't take my eyes off him. I wanted to push him up against the wall there and then and fuck him.
'I was gonna take a shower but I don't think I'm gonna bother.
I laughed again, 'Nah, you definitely don't need a shower...'

Shit. I wanted to fuck him right there. He's so classically beautiful, all sleek lines and fresh skin. God I was hungry.

It's a shame that the different departments never mix socially or otherwise - it makes cross-departmental hook-ups very hard to initiate. I've passed him in the kitchen again since, but I've been such a puffy, bulimic bitch this last week that I couldn't bear to talk to him. I didn't want him looking at me. If I spoke to him, he'd have to look at me. So to my relief, we continued to ignore each other all over again.

I need - I have primal needs.

This week I had my first business trip for the company. I woke up to a beautiful bright morning in Copenhagen to find an email on my work Blackberry:
Exotic is one word for it! Top work with getting some experience out this side of the world, it will definitely speak volumes on your application.
Speak soon,
...I had called him exotic in my last email the day before. Well he's an exotic mixed race guy - I didn't lie. Aiden works for an International Law Firm and is currently out doing a seat in Singapore - hence 'this part of the world'. He'll be back in the greyness of England in a month, and as soon as he is, he has promised to let me know so we can meet up. The London Office of his law firm is just a one minute walk from mine in the Square Mile.
I've actually never met the guy, I've simply spoken to him once on the phone and exchanged a few emails. To be honest, I'm pretty amazed he's so keen to meet me - I had no idea I had it in me. I suppose it helps that my LinkedIn picture is deceivingly attractive. Men are men after all, and sadly I know how they tend to work.

So we'll see what happens with Aiden I guess. For all I know I'll meet him briefly, shake his hand and it will be purely business. I know he already sees himself as a bit of a mentor to me in my quest to join the ranks at a City Law Firm. In my little dream world however, he'll take me for cocktails and dinner at a glittering restaurant and turn out to be the man of my dreams. (I'll have to update you in a month or two to let you know which one it turns out to be...)
As for Mark - well, it's pretty incredible to watch me switch from shy and cold to confident and flirtatious. All I know is that I have to look my best to bring out that latter side of me. I have to stop throwing up and puffing up like a bloated toad so that the next time we're silently making cups of tea in the kitchen I can say hey and invite him out to lunch.
Easy right?
Fuck, everything would be so easy if I were just drop dead gorgeous.

So it would seem for the moment then that bankers are out of season. God knows what's happened to Harry, he's probably chained to some shiny desk up in his tower in Canary Wharf. I wonder if he'd be up for a booty call? Even Rob hasn't mentioned him for a while - I thought he might have been cheering for us at one point.

Ah Rob... I nearly forgot to write about this: it was a good job I left 'early' at 4am last Saturday night. At Monday lunchtime I learnt that Rob (who by midnight already had eyes popping all over the place he was so high) and the rest of the group decided to take a further cocktail of Class A drugs.
Now I'm a self-confessed drug hater - I knew Rob and Rihanna were big users and I couldn't care less about that - but having to see them in a disgusting state is... well.. it made me feel pretty sick to be honest. I'll never look at Rob the same way ever again. It made me want to puke to look at him on Saturday night. I found it foul and rancid. Even the fucking toilets stank of whatever shit people had been smoking in there. I couldn't escape it, it was horrendous, it was vile. I hadn't let any of that shit into my body and yet I still felt toxic and unclean, like it was managing to seep in through my pores and nostrils.
As we sat on the rooftop of One New Change that following Monday lunchtime, eating our salads, they told me all that had happened after I left. I left like the most boring and sober person ever, I felt like I didn't know these people anymore, I felt like so many of the bonds we had had were broken. And it's true, I didn't understand them - I just had no desire to do it - I couldn't think of anything worse than taking strange powders than make you retch and sweat.
But then I suppose I fuck my body up in my own little way and nobody understands me for that.

This City. I wanted to respect this world, I wanted to be at home here among like-minded people.
I guess I haven't seen anything yet. I guess there's more filth and revulsion to come.

As they talked, I stared out over the view of St Pauls, all the beautiful banks and polished suits, remaining tight-lipped and silent. I come here to tell you what I really think of all the things I see.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

"I'm not afraid of any conventional fears"

So it didn't really matter that Harry wasn't there in the end. All it meant was that it was a pretty uneventful night in which I drank far more than I needed and... well, nothing happened.

My friends have always expressed concern about my lack of fear in walking the streets at night, but I've been doing it for years. Sure, I've had to run off from a few shady characters, I've been jumped on by a licenced London Black Cab driver, I've searched desperately for a friendly taxi on dark streets I didn't recognise, but it says a lot about me really - and as I said in my first post: 'I'm not afraid of any conventional fears.'

We ended up in club called Fabric up in North London. It was gone 4am and I was done for the night. I vanished before anyone could start lecturing me. Naturally I hadn't eaten all day to ensure that my body was empty and at its thinnest, so my first stop was to buy food.
Alcohol impairs judgement : half a pizza, half a subway sandwich, a slice of cake, a packet of crisps and a tube of chocolate HobNob Biscuits which I mechanically fed into my mouth as I began my walk to find a bus to take me home. I didn't actually have a clue where I was, so like a tourist, I followed the street signs to Trafalgar Square where I knew I could get a night bus near to where I lived. It was now just after 5am - the night bus for my destination had stopped running already. I decided to get on the next night bus that came which took me to a destination that I recognised as being 'on the way' to where I lived and was woken up in the daylight when the bus terminated. I got off. Now I really had no idea in hell where I was. I felt the tears begin to well up in my eyes. "I just want to go home." I'd pay £100 for a taxi right now. "I just want to go home."
There was a bus station nearby and I recognised one of the buses which would take me to the next town to where I lived, so I took it in relief and made the final 15 minute walk to my front door, arriving finally at 7am.
All in one piece and at minimal price.

I felt the same emotions that I did when I woke up next to Harry three weeks ago - "I'm too old for this." This is not the life I want anymore. I would much rather have spent the weekend in the gym, reading books, cleansing my body and mind... I don't find this fun anymore - I'm not sure I ever really did.
I was pumped about seeing Harry - that's where the fun is for me - in the game, in the attraction, in the stakes and risk. But getting drunk and ruining my body? - it just feels like a completely wasted weekend. If I spend hours making myself look my best then I want to be in an environment where it can be appreciated.

Anyway, fact is, in a month I will not have time for much of a social life. It's official, I am going back to Law School (or re-starting Law School since I left without taking any exams). I'll be working full-time 7am-6pm and studying a full-time course (in the evenings). A controversial decision I know.
Anonymous commented a few posts back that I should do an MBA instead but for one thing, I would never get onto an MBA course at a decent university and for another, I'm not really sure that it's the path I want to take. One author of a Wall Street Novel reaffirmed Anonymous's opinion: "As junior bankers, whenever we were feeling low, we'd watch the junior lawyers and start feeling better. They worked just as many hours as we did, they made a lot less money, and their work was even more boring than ours." Even Harry told me, if I wanted to work for a City Law Firm, I'd work longer hours than him. He saw the horror in my face when he told me he typically works from 8am to 8pm. The only thought in my head was: but when do you have time to go to the gym?! Even though I wake up at 5:30am, I still go to the gym almost every day after I finish work at 6pm, and the thought of going a week without exercise is simply unthinkable to me.

But the reality is, once I start my law studies in the evening, my working day will extend to 9pm - not to mention the homework and assessments I'll be doing on my nights off. I'm not going to be able to live in the gym anymore. I find it ... honestly...I find the thought terrifying.
My life revolves around working out - I mean... that's what I do, that's my thing, that's my hobby, that's the thing I love more than anything - burning calories.
I'm afraid of not being able to exercise every day.

I'm running the London Half-Marathon in a month and although I've been working out consistently, I haven't been doing enough long runs and specific half-marathon training. This coupled with the fact that my gym membership usage is going to be significantly reduced come the end of September when I go back to Law School, means I need to be really maximising my workouts over the next four weeks. If I can just lose one stone in those four weeks - one stone - 6.5kg - then I could rest a bit easier. The last time I was studying I consistently skipped all my lectures and study lessons to go to the gym. I cannot let my obsession hold me back like that again, I have to learn to let go of the gym, I have to learn to eat without craving the need to burn it off.
It's a fucking scary thought. I'm going to have to let go of the one thing that gives me comfort and makes me feel good...

"All the women I've met from Magic Circle Law Firms are seriously hot."
"Yeah, I know, it's like a requirement."
"They're not nice though..."
I rolled my eyes and raised an eyebrow, "Why, because none of them would sleep with you?"
He pursed his lips together bitterly. "Yeah."

Well Harry, I'll be one of those women soon.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

That kind of love

I'm on the train home and the woman opposite me is eating a homemade sandwich from white bread. My face is scrunched up in disgust and I keep giving her snide glances as if she were a filthy person dirtying a spotless carriage. I can't help it. I'm a nasty person. I think she's disgusting and I don't mind letting her know that.
I'm so tense and angry that I want to stand up and smash my blackberry on the floor. I hate her because I can't eat a sandwich from white bread but I can still taste it and smell it so potently... oh so potently...

I'm a bitch at work too, I ignore people,
I wish I could be the kind of person that smiles and is cheerful and lovely to everyone.
I'm not. I'm so wrapped up in my own little world, so self-conscious, so tense, so focused on the fabulous act I have to put on for the next 'person who matters'.

If you don't matter, I don't care what you think of me, so you don't exist to me. I haven't got the energy to waste.
I hate myself for it. When the pretty boy from the other department walks past me, I don't smile and say hello, I look at the floor as if I didn't see him. People don't mistake it for shyness, they mistake it for rudeness.
I was the only one in my class who understood how Mr Darcy was misjudged with 'pride'.

At lunch today Rob told me Harry wasn't coming out on Saturday anymore. Family issues. I got back to my desk completely drained and devastated and stared at my 80 calorie miso soup.
What was the point?
I wolfed it down in one, not caring how vulgar I looked to anyone who noticed. I needed more food, what was the fucking point of starving and making myself look perfect if my target wasn't gonna be there. Without a second thought I snuck out to the kitchen and bought a chocolate bar from the vending machine - 330 calories, moments later sneaked back again to make a large bowl of porridge -400 calories.
My worthlessness surrounded me like a thick shadow. I had rendered myself and my body worthless without him to appreciate it; I didn't want to go to Rob's birthday because he was my friend or because I wanted to have fun - I wanted to go so that I could play a game and feel a shred of self-worth in the only way I know how - male attention.

I wanted to curl up and cry. No, I wanted to curl up with someones arms around me. I wanted to tell someone, I wanted someone, I wanted someone to feel a shred of love for me, spare a word, something, someone,
I battered through my routine on the crosstrainer after work, eyes scrunched up, wanting to cry but no tears inside me to fall.
I got home and ate again. As I stood over the kitchen counter, shoving piece of toast after piece of toast into my mouth, I knew what I was doing - I was trying to fill up the emptiness inside. I was looking for love at the bottom of a box of chocolates.

But all the money, all the shoes and dresses, all the success and reward, it all means nothing. Because what I crave and what I lack - what I have always lacked but never been able to fight for - is love.
I bend over the toilet with my fingers down my throat and just like routine, bang on schedule, I vomit everything back up. Routine.

Harry wasn't coming because his father was ill. A stroke. I don't know how bad he is.
All I know is that I lost that man in my life - father - so I understand. And even though I don't really know Harry, even though he probably thinks I'm cheap and worthless, I just want - more than anything - to tell him that I care and that I send my love.

The kind of love that one human instinctively feels for another when they need it most.
That's all.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

I nearly had a breakdown at work on Tuesday - nearly. I overcame it by eating a bowl of porridge (damn fucking weak).
I sat at my desk, mid-afternoon, feeling the anxiety building up in me. My head was reeling, I was so hungry - no I wasn't - I just thought I was hungry - all I'd had was juice and a bowl of vegetable soup - I wasn't hungry. Then the panic set in. Panic about what I'm not sure. I had to get rid of the fat - but how? How! Shit, shit, shit.
I was sitting at my desk completely still and yet completely frantic. I had work to do; I had to eat. I stole off to the kitchen and made myself a bowl of porridge, taking it back to my desk to slowly feed it into my body as one would feed a pooly child their medicine.
Crisis averted.

The highlight of my day is often - believe it or not - lunchtime, when I get to stroll around the City with my two best friends in the office, Rob and Rihanna. It's the highlight of my day for the laughter and banter and gossip. Yes, lunchtimes make me smile, even if all I have is soup. But on Friday, with both my firends out of the office, I wandered the noisy streets alone... trying to find a soup that I could eat... wringing my hands, scruitinising the food nutrition labels, walking in and out of every eatery... until I found my way back to the office empty handed.
I felt sad... that I was still so controlled by... whatever this shit is

So, Saturday is Rob's birthday. A number of work people with a number of his friends from uni and home, all in one of Chelsea's hotspot nightclubs. Harry, of course. Harry.
The object of whatever this shit is not Harry, he is just my little excuse to be extreme in my restriction and exercise. I've put "Harry" on a little pedalstal to give me something to strive for, something to convince myself that all this hunger and hours in the gym are necessary. Because I cannot lose the game of Harry, I will not lose. I will not lose. I enjoyed playing this game too much.

"An investment banker is at stake."
That is how I persuaded myself to buy this £160 dress yesterday.

I don't need it. I have more dresses than I know what to do with.
I'm stupid and materialistic and immature.
Stupid girl.

And yet, for this guy, or for whatever I have decided he stands for, I throw my money away on an expensive new outfit, on hairstyling, waste my hours away starving, sweating in the gym.
And what if Harry doesn't want me? What if I go home alone?
I don't know, I don't know. I've put everything into ensuring I look flawless this coming Saturday. It has to mean something.

This all HAS to mean SOMETHING.

And how did I become so reckless with money? The girl who comes from simple roots, who grew up on the humble streets that have been burning in the riots last week.
I started working part-time when I was 16, I've never not been earning money since then. I couldn't.
I grew up without a penny for frivolous things, I was never allowed anything nice, anything beyond basic necessities.
And so now that I have a good job and earn enough money, when I want something, I buy it. I dress myself in clothes that make me look like I come from the wealthy side of London. I even lost my accent, polished my vowels up, softened the image. I feel disconnected from the teenage girl that stood at the bus stop, one of the locals. I feel completely out of place, I stick out like a sore thumb there now, I see poverty, I see the rioters in their hoodies and trainers, I see the girl at 16, I see the girl at 23 - unrecognisable and alien.

My home is Central London now, places dripping with wealth and glamour, Oxford Street and Kings Road, Cheapside and Bank, a home that's a thousand miles away from the place I grew up, an outer London Borough dripping with deprivation and violence.
I am not ashamed of my roots, I am ashamed that I have so proudly cut myself from them.

Stupid girl.

I've put so much pressure on myself for Saturday now. This week is going to be tough, I intend to juice fast which is just as well because I wouldn't let myself eat even if I wanted to.
This pressure is ridiculous.
All for one investment banker,
all for the Game,
all for the fun and adrenaline of putting on a show and rolling the dice

and I know what the stakes are: shattered glass everywhere

Sunday, 7 August 2011

'The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting'

Thank you to all the old followers of my previous blog for joining me in this new chapter, and welcome to all those who are starting this new journey with me.

My age is creeping up on me. I will 24 in a few weeks.
"I'm too old to do shit like this," I told Harry when I woke up in his bed a week ago. It's true, I am, it's not the life I want to lead anymore - it never was.
The problem with me is that in all my 24 years of life, I don't think I've ever learnt any lessons from my multitude of mistakes. I am disappointed in myself, because I know that Harry will become one in a long line of men who wanted a piece of me, but didn't want all of me - and like all the men before him, I will blindly continue in my teenage fantasy that he will put a ring on my finger.

- Ok I don't want to marry the guy after having spent one night with him - but it doesn't mean to say that I haven't thought about him every day and obsessed about when I will see him next.

It's Rob's birthday in two weeks, and although he hasn't confirmed the plans, as one of his best mates, it's pretty much a dead cert that Harry will be there.
This has sparked off the player in me - the Game player that is.
I mentioned the Game two posts back, and here is a prime example. A target, a strategy, a challenge: Harry, starve, get the guy.

The foundations of my eating disorder grew out of these little games I played - the challenge of attracting a new man, the thrill of squeezing into a brand new dress, the adrenaline of looking my best and winning. I've never been able to starve just for the sake of it, I have to have an end goal in sight with a prize to win if I can be thin and beautiful enough.

And I love it. I can't say I don't love it, because I do, I love it so much. I live for this.
It's fucked up, I know, but... I love it.

Game plan until Rob's birthday: Week One - Vegetables and Juice, Week Two - Juice only.
Yeah I'll probably have one or two patchy days, but I'm going to love every second of it, buzzing off the energy of knowing that in two weeks I'll be wearing that dress, making Harry's head turn, thinking only of that end goal to get me through.... and when it all comes crashing down, well, then I pick up the shattered pieces and sick myself back together again, wobbling precariously until another target promises me another exciting challenge.

I've started reading 'Liar's Poker', which is about a trader's experience working for Salomon Brothers Investment Bank back in the '80s. I've read other books of a similar genre before and was disgusted at the caricatures I found between the pages - and although I know these monsters do exist in those high-rise glassy offices, I also seem to have convinced myself that such sickeningly greedy and immoral fat-cats are so rare they are the stuff of legend. Perhaps I am too naive.
The curious cat in me wants to dig down deeper into this world. I want to meet more of them, I want to understand their culture, their mindset, I want to see that they are human...
truth be told,
I want to be a part of it.

So I have this job, and it's great. I get to travel across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa meeting clients, I get to learn about trade and investment, I get to talk with Senior Economists, Strategists and Policy Makers, I get to understand how the players play risk and ratings in their card games to build empires. And sure, I absolutely love it.
I jump out of bed at the crack of dawn wired for the start of another day. I can't believe it. I used to be impossible to drag out of bed. Of course there are shitty boring parts to the job as well, but it's not enough to hinder my energy.
But... who am I really, what do I do?... I don't work for an Investment Bank, I don't work for a City Law Firm, therefore I am nobody.
In my opinion, because I am neither a banker or a lawyer, I am nothing. I have not made it.
This job, for which I worked so hard for and for which I feel so incredibly blessed to have been given is just a stepping stone to where I eventually want to be.
All I ever dreamt of since I was a little girl was 'making it'.
But I fucked up my life, I concentrated too hard on having fun and looking my best while the graduates who have now passed through the gates of these prestigeous institutions were concentrating on completing internships and winning academic prizes.
Losing years of myself to depression and an eating disorder was unfortunate. But I can't change the past. The way I look at it now is simply that I just have to wait a few years extra before I too can pass through those gates of success and status. This job is my stepping stone.

But the job itself is not enough. I have a 2:1 Literature degree. Even with the experience I will gain in this job, my degree means that in the world of big-swinging dicks I am qualified for nothing. So I have to go back and study part time. As much as I'd love to study Finance and get myself into an Investment Bank I know I don't have a good enough head for figures. So I'm going back to study Law and to get myself into a top City Law Firm and maybe once I'm there I can specialise in Banking and Finance Law.

Everything is in the right place now, everything is in the right place.
Harry has spurred me on in this game too. Because deep down, I know he'll reject me, and in a few years time, I want to meet him again across a boardroom table and look him in the eyes with a look that says: You thought you ran this City and could walk all over me - but anything you can do I can do better.

I have so much to prove.
to everyone

Is it a game or is this my own personal war?