The Contaminators

I believe I’ve shared my plight over smoke filtering through my apartment in the post ‘Drips and Drabs’ that without sounding too dramatic, is ruining my life. Last night the smell woke me at 2 am with a headache that 3 Extra Strength Excedrin couldn’t cure. I ended up, out of sheer desperation, hanging my head out the window.

An architect I know was kind enough to come over to see what can be done and it’s amazing what I’ve learned. Smoke does not come through plaster like I thought, only holes like heat vents and spaces on top or below a door; even through a light socket it can seep in. Apparently for a nominal fee one can caulk and put weather strips up and around that should help so there’s hope in sight I’m grateful to say, but this brings me to my theme of the day…


After having it compromised in my own home, air is something I’ve really become aware of. This morning for instance after all the rain we’ve had, it smelled so clean and fresh it felt as if I was running in Iowa. I took such deep breaths that I actually got dizzy. After sleeping in that stench it was exhilarating being outdoors forcing myself to come back in.

It made me conscious of the fact that we take clean air for granted.

Yesterday it had gotten so bad in the afternoon for the first time in my life I went and wrote at a Starbucks waiting in line for a free stool. How humbling watching someone take their sweet old time slurping their ‘Venti macchiato’ while steam was coming out of my ears. I hate writing in public. I need the peace of home to pen anything worthwhile, but I couldn’t stand the smell one more minute.

Right now I have every window open and I’m wearing my Barbour. It looks as though I’m constantly leaving.

I’ve lit so many scented candles you’d think I was conducting a seance.

I’m concerned if this problem continues my voice is going to change. Go ahead and laugh, but how would you feel if suddenly you started to sound like Tallulah Bankhead?

I know many people loathe Mayor Bloomberg for his smoke laws, me included, but you know what? I’m beginning to see his point. At first I felt, even as a nonsmoker, he was fucking with our Bill of Rights saying we can’t even smoke in the park anymore. How dare he, I thought? The irony is that’s a big open space yet the law states, as my next door neighbor who I’d like to string up by her Manolo knock-offs so reminded me in a snotty little note, ‘one can do whatever one wants in the privacy of one’s own home.’ Well, that’s fine and dandy but even if it’s making someone else sick?

Now I’m behind the Mayor all the way since from what I hear he’s trying to change that.

Don’t you get it, that one smoker out there reading this?

Secondhand smoke kills?

My friend Jackie, who I loved so much after never smoking a day in her life, died of lung cancer from merely being around it. Remember Dana Reeve married to Christopher Reeve? She used to work in the cafe downstairs; what a nice girl. She too died from secondhand smoke from all of the clubs she sang in throughout her singing career. The ‘no smoking in bars’ law didn’t change soon enough for her.

It’s not a myth folks.

Have you ever seen anyone die of lung cancer? It ain’t pretty I assure you.

As you can see I’m upset but I urge you today to be aware of the air that you breathe. It’s taken this situation of mine to jolt me into realizing how sacred it is.

I’m thinking of checking into a hotel so my lungs and I can get a good night’s sleep. I think I’ll bill my 2 neighbors.

The fuckers can split it.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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11 Responses to The Contaminators

  1. Vasca says:

    Smoking is hazardous to health…smokers eyes are so coated they don’t read and they don’t care! Sad part is, it’s not just deadly to the smokers but to all the innocents who are put down by it…grrr. People, stop!

    I hate being somewhere minding my own air…when from two aisles (or more) away, I am hit with ‘nicotine #?’…so stale it lost its own number!

    It’s like ~ well, smokers wear this cloud thing and it not only goes where they go, it impolitely and dangerously suffocates the wonderful fresh air I love…we love. Put it down and out.

    Happy caulking, Susannah


    • It’s clear so many people feel the way I do. I also wonder why smokers aren’t more frightened by what it’s doing to their lungs. They just don’t feel illness could ever descend upon them.

      In any event, I will caulk my little heart out. Thanks for writing.



  2. kerrycooks says:

    Last night as I was walking home from work I was behind a smoker by about 40 feet. I could STILL smell the horrible stench and spent the whole walk muttering and giving them the evil eye.
    So this is another thing I completely agree with you on! If I were the leader of the world (vote for Kerry!) I would give smokers a choice – give up, or go and live in Greenland with all the other smokers. Let them breathe it all in!


    • I’m glad that I’m not alone in this. I feel a little guilty posting such a rant. I’m just at the end of my rope with it. If it were the other way around I would do anything in my power to make it better. On top if the smell and discomfort I have 2 neighbors who couldn’t care less.

      I’m naive. I still believe in ‘Love Thy Neighbor.’

      Please make more pancakes. They cheer me up.



  3. D. D. Syrdal says:

    I can smell smoke from cars around me in traffic. With my windows up. Smokers have no sense of smell anymore (well, they have some, but it’s greatly diminished, as is their sense of taste). That’s why they don’t believe non-smokers who tell them they can smell the smoke from 50 paces. When I smoked, I couldn’t tell either, and didn’t believe others could. They think it stays right by them, which is why they don’t understand how smoking outdoors can bother anyone.


  4. Ted Jonathan says:

    And one must walk a gauntlet of smokers stinking, as they are forced to take their puffing outdoors. Death to smokers!


  5. Joe Spier says:

    I feel for you. I must be horrible to smell smoke in your home that’s not yours. It amazes me how smokers feel put upon when they are asked to put out their cigarette or move when they are worstening the breathing air aound us. Very inconsiderate!


  6. Jeanette Hamilton says:

    There is nothing as foul as the smell of cigarette smoke to a non-smoker. I can’t imagine the horror of having to smell it in my own home, day after day. Here’s hoping the caulking helps, at least a little.


    • Thank you, I appreciate that. A gas mask might be my next move. Just now I went to the library and a man was sitting near me reeking of Winstons and I got so angry that I moved my seat. Smoke seems to be following me.

      This too shall pass, I hope.

      I’m excited about one thing, I had a friend who smoked and she’s decided she doesn’t want t be friends anymore and I’m just so happy. One less smoker in my life. It used to drive me crazy.

      Thanks for your empathy.



      • Katherine Boyle says:

        They’re such selfish fuckers. I don’t care if they want to kill themselves and make themselves stink like fuck, but it travels! They shouldn’t inflict it on others. I keep imagining your gorgeous clothes and linens being contaminated by the stench. Grrrrr!!! Not to mention your lungs.
        Good luck with the caulking!


      • My goodness! Have you thought of practicing law? You’d make a great litigator. Yes, it’s a pity they don’t care but as a friend reminded me, it’s New York not Oklahoma.

        Thanks for writing.



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