So here I am, pondering my New Year’s Resolutions already. I have that coming to the end of the year feeling. I can feel things tapering off and down, slowing. I can feel a sense of new things, new starts, fresh chances. I like this feeling, since I have always ballsed up in some way or other, spectacular or small, with any manner of things in the past year. Always a fresh chance. (Bit like Monday’s too; only they lose that lovely fresh feeling due to slippage – being associated with the start of a working week, rushing, tube travelling and being crushed, having a very boring/stressful job etc – it clouds over the wonderful possibilities that all Monday’s COULD represent. Since New Year is a day a lot of us can take off work and actually have a think with (if we choose), then it’s more likely to be useful.
All the presents are now wrapped. (I have discovered that Stanley is going to hate one of his, due to a segment on breakfast TV this morning involving one half of the two people in one of the DVDs I got him. Oops. Well. This is what happens when he will insist on some surprises; they may be wrong! I shall watch it, even if he doesn’t.) The tree is up (more baubles, more tinsel, than a small plastic tree should ever have to bear, poor tiny now very gaudy thing). The Christmas cards are blu-tacked to the wall, and Fluffhead imperiously demands picking up every few minutes to have the pictures labelled again: reindeer, Christmas tree, other Xmas tree composed of Australian animals (he accepts this as completely normal), camel and sun, Santa Claus, different reindeer, frozen pine trees with snow, Christmas tree with carollers….and back to the beginning again. For a while.
So there’s a tidy feeling of waiting for one thing, with a sort of void before it happens. Hence, am reminded of New Year, as after Christmas has that same void of nothing following lots of anticipation and excess, also. (And though I bought less presents than usual this year and had to watch my money a lot, it really felt like excess anyway, as all that money could have gone elsewhere. But hey, I love to give presents, so there.)
Resolutions then. What do I want to change about 2012, for me, that I can do myself. (Don’t expect anything terribly profound or earth-shattering here.)
I will spend less out, pay off more of loans and debts, and actually start to save (no matter how hard this seems). This involves shopping in a more wide awake way, not buying pre prepared food things unless they are on special offer, or really will save the time they are s’posed to (as its convenience you pay for there, the time saving – so it’s a worthy deal some of the time). It involves NOT buying so many or hardly any books. (I don’t think I can buy none, unless we are suddenly peasants again and the currency is eggs and piglets and honey; in which case let’s hope I get a knock to the head and forget how to read as well, as I’d be a bit miserable with nothing to read if I was capable…) It involves getting to the end of the month and realising I am not skint due to astonishingly organised and unrelentingly discerning financial management; and resisting the urge to then buy (a) more expensive food, or (b) treats like …books or DVDs. I can see myself doing that hammy horror film thing, yelling and pulling out my own hair and fighting with my own arm, ululating in grief as I force myself to pay more off a credit card (I don’t have one of my own, I have one Stanley lets me look after as though it were my own), or add money to a savings account. For a rainy day, no…it seems we are already engaged in a bit of a financial Rainy Year, as a country and a continent. No – for birthdays, for Christmas next year, and for …ill defined emergencies. I shall try and get a higher interest savings account maybe. (I am only allowed the most basic of financial things in banks and building societies as I am a past naughty person; a terrible risk. Funnily enough, this applies to savings accounts as well as credit – people are worried at the idea of you saving with them though there is no borrowing involved. How weird.)
I have this vague poorly thought out Master Plan idea of being the Queen of Bargains, Coupons and Discounts next year. Not in the sense I will signing up to a million corporate internet sites that promise to send me free samples of things. Nope, not that into the idea of discounts and freeness. Hate spam mail, and the encroaching tide of endless data gathering about my shopping ‘habits’. That Annoys Me. Nope, I just mean: I will try and pay attention to my receipts at Boots and Tescos and those little coupon things disguised as another receipt. I caught hold of one 2 weeks ago and it promised a pound off a packet of nappies if I went back and bought them before a certain time frame. It was the ones I usually get, I saw no imminent end of Fluffhead’s need to pee in his pants, so I used the coupon next time I was there. Or the one that said I could have £3 off if I bought more than £10 of vitamins, which I was about to do anyway, so again, actually useful. Sometimes I ignore these, but not anymore. I will pay attention to vouchers and coupons and such that cross my path, and see if its economic to use them (as getting caught into buying something you didn’t need is dumb, regardless of how cheap it suddenly is). I will be lithe and awake and watchful for times when these offers apply to me. Since the price of fresh fruit and vegetables in particular, has gone up (round here) by definitely a third over the last year.
Also, a Charity Shop Queen next year. There was a worrying time, for about 10 years before last year, when it stopped being cheaper for me to get clothes in charity shops, and I switched to supermarkets. This was because of 2 things. Firstly, said charity shops raised clothes prices, almost to a one. When I used to live in Paddington, I queried this in several shops. I said to them that they were pricing out of their shops the people who really needed to shop there: people on benefits, part time workers with no benefits from their jobs, students, and the elderly on state pensions. They were, to a one, completely unsympathetic (except in platitude terms), and replied that it is a Charity and Needs To Make Money. Which really Annoyed Me. So who is going to shop with you if you carry on this way, I said? Those ultra middle class people, who will be the ones left able to afford you? They are more likely to go to a proper ‘vintage’ labelled shop…not a charity shop, where some of the clothes aren’t washed before selling, and you can tell. Heh. Anyway – I argued a bit with some of them (and stopped giving them my excess books). Secondly, the supermarkets in particular got incredibly cheap in their own brand clothes lines (George at Asda, Florence and Fred and Tesco, TU at Sainsburys [my favourite, that one] etc). Massively cheap. I hate to think what blind children were stitching these cheap clothes in sweatshops somewhere. But this has ended. The supermarkets are still cheap, but not AS cheap as they were. And charity shops, due to everything else getting so expensive, are now looking cheaper as options again. Which means I shall go back to them. Am in a different area now, and like to think the rude volunteers at some of the shops in Paddington were simply bad ambassadors for their charities (its not like I got organized enough to email anyone at Head Offices for a proper explanation of price increases, other than the obvious, like rent). Plus, I always loved the seeking for treasure element of charity shops. You might go in there with a strong need for a pair of jeans, but come out with a brilliant jacket or two thick winter tops for under a tenner. (I do miss jumble sales, two thick winter tops for 20p…)
Following on from this, I want to rehabilitate my sewing machine. And get my needles and threads out. As I can’t really afford any news clothes (of any kind from anywhere) currently, I am getting lurid dreams when I lay in bed at night, of cannibalising my old clothes. I have, f’rinstance, a khaki green jersey top, V neck. With those annoying three quarter length sleeves that finish at the mid forearm. How cold I get when I wear this is an irritation to me. I have lots of tops like this, as they were very in for a while and it was almost impossible on my budget to find a proper length of sleeve! I also have a very impractical similarly stupidly sleeved top with loads of colours and bubbles on, a wild pattern. A nice green in there too, that matches the other top. What if I extend the sleeves of the first top with the sleeves of the second one, and then they will be the proper full length? It’ll be all patchworky and bright and happy and gypsyish – cool!!! I can extend the bottom too, as I find lots of tops are too short, they shrink up in the wash. It will also then be a one off, and all exclusive to me! (Uhuh, or a massive sewing disaster whereby I lose 2 tops! LOL. Well – we’ll have to see, eh?) Imagine, I could do loads of stuff like that. It’ll be like Pretty in Pink, where Molly Ringwald was a sewing goddess, and the bitchy girls at school laughed at her putting lace on everything….but who got Andrew McCarthy at the end????? (Swoon, still, after all these years. Still love him in St Elmo’s Fire, looking to the camera with those eyes, after being asked how he was by Ally Sheedy, who he loves in secret as she’s with Judd Nelson...yes, anyway, and he says: ‘Me? It ain’t easy being me…’ and slides those liquid brown eyes away…ahhhhhhhhh. Anyhoooooow…..)
Speaking of goddesses, sewing or any other, here’s the next resolution. Spirituality. I read a lot of it. I do think on it. I do rituals here and there. I say to myself that my life is too full of Fluffhead and Stanley and Saint Mum and Fry and reading books and replying very late to emails from friends and trying to write stories and DOING THIS (which does take about 2 or 3 hours a time then more to add links if I am going to, and check for typos etc etc etc), to actually be properly organised about it. Then I go around, complaining to myself that I don’t FEEL very connected to the earth, to my own Best Me, and to that intangible whatsity thing I have a notion I have felt before several times, and experienced another several, the effects of. I need to plan things to do, regularly. Regularly meditate, just for 5 or 10 minutes, cos that’s actually doable. Light my candles and sit before my regularly cleaned and seasonally organised altar and just do nothing but be there with it. See – this is the main problem. I have this awful sensation of TIME’S AWASTIN’ all the time! I find it really difficult to do nothing and just meditate, or rest.
This is a new thing, since the birth of Fluffhead. Since I did that at late 30s, and am now 40, I have this terrible feeling of hurtling toward the Rest Of My Life, which I feel will be shorter than the bit I just did. I used to be capable of say, taking a day off work for mental health (where I said I was sick physically of course, as people don’t get that your brain will explode if you see them again for another day and you must Be Alone for 12 hours), and just…Sleep for 5 hours, and then reading a book. Staring quietly out of the window for an hour at nothing in particular was easily doable also. I was sliding into a feeling of peaceful nothingness, calm. Mental quiet. Nowadays I get no time like that; and when I get a couple of hours I choose to try and do nothing with, my brain yells at me the entire time. STRIVING for mental quiet is no way to get it! Sliding into it, that’s how you do it. Distract self like toddler. (I have so much sympathy with Fluffhead; the amount of times I have watched his reactions to things and thought that I am still at that same exact stage of mental development. I want it now!) But I won’t get there if I don’t make time for it. I used to do this brilliant thing with Open University exams, told to me by a brilliant counsellor there once. She advised me, when I told her that I panic in exams and then freak out about the time I’m wasting that I won’t get back and it all feeds itself, etc etc…she said to simply make an exam plan with times, and factor in the panic. Like this: Turn over exam paper. Panic without being able to even read the questions (10 minutes). Read questions slowly and thoughtfully (5 minutes). The 2 essay questions (30 mins each + 5 mins for plan, which you do not strike through at the end, you leave it clear, so it will also be marked. In the plan, you just put the very simplest phrases of what goes in each paragraph of the essay – so the examiner can see your thought process and know you know the stuffage, even if you never get to complete the essay…etc). I need to be that regimented with my spiritual stuffs. As I have deadlines and tiny times. And factor in the yelling brain, the desperate ‘but there isn’t enough time!’ feeling. Just factor it in, and move along with the plan.
Having recently gone vegetarian again (after having done it twice before, each time for 2 years), I have all these healthy eating ideas for next year too. I’ve been reading my recipe books and marking the recipes easy to do, quick to do, and above all, cheap to do. I’ve looked out all my exercise DVDs, and sold the ones that won’t do, and accumulated a few extra ones (2nd hand, cheap cheap cheap!). So the routine next year will be Iyengar yoga (to add to the Hatha yoga I’ve done for a few years with varying regularity), some pilates and other stretching, and some basic beginner cardiovascular bounce about in the living room stuffs – as I am so unfit since Fluffhead. (Unless you count the massive biceps I have from carrying him about?!)
I’m hoping all these things will tally together: I’ll be happier and calmer from knowing I am doing the best I can with the housekeeping money I get (I am managing on less than Fry gets on Jobseekers Allowance per month, and I’m taking care of 3 people’s entire food, medicine, toiletries, clothes, babyfood and nappies on this; and any travel I may do). I’ll feel virtuous and slightly buoyed by knowing I am building up savings for emergencies and birthdays/occasions etc – a safety net is always a good feeling. It will be very small, but even trying is worthy. And obviously, being fitter will help health and mind; being vegetarian will (hopefully) make me as slim and as clear in the head as it did last time (careful of the cheese though, when I’m Sherbet…). And I’ll feel calmer and more ALIVE from prioritising spiritual things, and connectedness work. It’ll basically be like Eat Pray Love without the international travel, money, superbly conversational writing skills, people to chat to and acquiring of new squeeze. (Note to Stanley, who never reads this, but just in case: very happy with you as my squeeze!)
Discipline. That’s actually the key to all this. Organization and Discipline. I am going to become my old acupuncturist, the German Joska! He was great. A model of everything I am listing here that I would like to be. (Except sewing; but hey – he could do acupuncture, he had skills!) He was slender, fit, spiritually connected to his idea of Everything, intelligent to a scary degree, and powerfully vegan (and had the best smelling breath of anyone who ever breathed on me – that’s HEALTH for you).
So that’s the plan! Best laid plans and all that. Care to accompany me through the Romp of Whatever Reality Turns Out To Be, next year?!! I could do with the company…come on, you know you want to hear about how I might slip up and eat too much oily pizza which I really couldn’t afford to pay for, while I relax watching soul suppurating Lewis on a DVD I shouldn’t have bought because I twisted my ankle exercising after all this time on the very first go because I was all over enthusiastic? You know you wanna…
 …like in Survivors, the proper 70s one, when they got the barter economy going. If you haven’t seen it, its very good, try to see it. SO many thought provoking topics in it, not least the one in the last series where Ian McCulloch (that staple of 70s horror, here captured just before he went off to be the Euro-horror god with Fulci and others that he was to become) became a sort of king figure to the remaining peoples of Europe, as they went beyond local societies and started trying to re-start an infrastructure country and pan Europe wide. Oh, the theoretical arguments Stanley and I had during those series’….We often had to pause the DVDs so I could argue with him at length. (He was always wrong, of course! I said there should be no king figure it was a retrograde step; he saw why it was needed as a morale booster, a figurehead. I said they should keep their new communities small, as globalisation had created so many problems, let the rot come in its own time, I said…he disagreed, pointing out the many good things that had indeed come with globalisation, eventually.) If you fancy heavy late night arguments about politics and economics and farming methods with your spouse – by all means invest in this brilliantly well thought out original. ESCHEW the crappy remake!!!
 I apologise to anyone reading this who is now bored – first money, then charity shops, now sewing…or anyone who has money, and finds all this talk of squirming round the edges of things because of money tacky. Or do I apologise? Do I just say get lost and go and read a different blog?! Or the FT – check your investments! Ok, that last was tongue in cheek; I WISH I had investments – I have a dream of opening a bank account with The Co-Operative Bank and doing ethical shares and stocks, and having a ‘portfolio’. But only the ethical stuff. No gambling with people’s lives for me, that’s cruel, irresponsible - immoral. And I don’t say that about many things.
 Yes, St Elmo’s Fire WAS a good film, shut up!