Reasons why I don’t have kids #2

I can barely get my own sh*t organised.

Take for example, yesterday.  My first day back to work.  Understand that I had been on holiday since the 23rd December, I had also had a whole week back in Barcelona before I had my first class, which did not start until 2pm, TWO PM IN THE AFTERNOON.  At 1.45pm, I was running around the apartment in my underwear in a blind panic, like a chicken that had lost it’s head AND had a broken USB stick.  The USB in question, is the one I like to call ‘Bible’.  You can easily imagine the gravity of a situation in which the Bible is suddenly broken.  All manner of Hell is let loose and armageddon is not far behind (and not the cool kind where Bruce Willis turns up all guns blazing, re-establishes connection and delivers my documents out of the printer he happens to have in his Saving the World kit, while ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing‘ plays in the background).  I had a raft of printing to do and exactly minus 10 minutes to get dressed, get the stick working, do my make-up, pack my school bag – no really – go to the printers and arrive at work unruffled.

Admittedly, I was updating the blog.  I do take full responsibility.

…….. but, nonetheless, I was late to my first class of the term, in which my students, for the first time in their lives, were bang on time.

Now, imagine that scenario with two children of different ages, breakfast needs and schools, thrown into the mix.  Maybe some poo is involved, one is sobbing for no apparent reason and they are fighting because one has eaten the other one’s homework.  Oh no wait, that’s the dog.  Of course I’m exaggerating (a little) but anyway, my point is, it can’t be done unless you possess super human powers.  Which I don’t and that is my  ‘reasons why I don’t have kids’ #2.

*Cr*p, is that the time?!

Reasons why I don’t have kids #1

How I imagine I look

Me asleep………

I like to sleep.  This is a valid reason.

I like to sleep a lot.  And lie in at the weekend. And go out until the wee small hours with no military operation and added expense of organising sitters/overnight carers/surrogate mothers (or fathers.  No sexism here).  I like siestas when I’ve got a couple of hours between classes. Weekends are precious recovery time from the week.  I like to not set the alarm and wake up at 11am sometimes. I like to spend some Sundays in my pyjamas all day, watching movies, napping and only venturing to the outside world for a crap food stock up and maybe some cava.  (When I’m not drying out of course!)  Children do not feature in my daydream, funnily enough, of the image I have of myself as a latter-day Joan Collins, swishing around the flat in my marabou housecoat and mules sporting one of my stunning array of wigs, in a slightly fuzzy haze. Although I am quite sure that Joanie would never. ever,  in her life don a heart-print, Primark onesie.

Last year, I was chatting to one of my bosses about babies as the Director of Studies at his school was expecting.  As always, the automatic connection is made when women of a similar, certain age are involved in a baby conversation and he said the inevitable, “…and what about you?”  Now, I don’t know if I mentioned, I’m a whole 42 years of age.  I would have to be stark-raving, mad-barking bonkers to think about children now.  My response was swift and no thought was necessary, as I said, “Nnnooooo, I don’t think so”.  This response is always understood to be a knee-jerk to the fact that you think that you won’t ever find love in time.   Or were it not for the fact that your paths will never cross, you and Ryan Gosling are obviously meant for each other and so, with sadness in your heart, you will remain childless.  Or that you are ignoring that proverbial clock ticking loud and furiously inside your womb, followed by an optimistic, “oh, don’t worry, women today can have babies much later.”  Rather than simply being accepted as a well-informed, personal choice.  I know they can, modern science and medicine is a wonderful thing (Dr Robert Winstone is an awesome human being and secret weird crush of mine.  It’s his enormous brain).  And for women who haven’t been lucky enough, for whatever reason in earlier life to fulfil their dream of motherhood, this is fantastic news.  No doubt.

“If I met the man of my dreams tomorrow, I wouldn’t have a baby because I like to sleep.”

This bombshell was met with an audible gasp and a “Oh, what? You can’t say that, that’s not a reason.”

Yes it is.  I like to sleep and children don’t like you to sleep.  FACT.  I know this from the parents of my nieces and nephews who have been awake for approximately the last 10 years.

and THAT is my ‘reasons why I don’t have kids’ #1.

~ fin ~

Wrap it up, wrap it up <does that choppy neck gesture thing>.

It’s time.

Does anyone know how to end things well? Drop me a line. I’m never very good with goodbyes.

It feels right to end things here as the last two years have gifted numerous natural conclusions (except this fucking pandemic, apparently). We said goodbye to 2021, I’ve been in Barcelona 10 years, I picked up my Spanish residency card, turned 50, it was confirmed that the ol’ lady tubes have most definitely dried up, and I’ve written ‘75 Reasons Why I Don’t Have Kids’ posts. Nieces and nephews are in university and driving all over the UK for their jobs, for crying out loud! I hit a milestone here too, with 20,000 views. It’s not enormous, but for a complete novice, it’s a pleasing number.

All of this is relevant. And none of it. Put simply, now is as good a time as any.

A chronic case of waning inspiration has gripped me for a while now. Honestly, the last five years have sucked the life out of me and kicked seven colours of crap out of my confidence. In everything. For the best part of the last two years it’s been particularly tough to write anything vaguely interesting or funny (some of you might say that was the case for the duration of this blog). And that’s the thing – I didn’t care before, I just wanted to write something. But now I care. I suddenly feel very naked. It’s a horrible feeling. There was the brief flurry of the ‘Covid Months’ (which stopped once I realised it was becoming the ‘Covid Almost Two Years’ and I’d be writing about cake baking and TV series for infinity), but apart from that – not a whole lot else. Which is, I believe, not great for a blog.

Turns out, trying to write about life without a never-ending string of bad dates, drunken all-nighters and casual pick-ups as your fuel is about as easy as getting Boris Johnson to fess up to the number of kids he has. And with no exhibitions to see, museums to visit, and limits on travelling due to Covid, that leaves the inspiration pool pretty parched.

How about I tell you how much I love going to the art workshop and the colour combination I’ve decided on for my lounge? Exactly. Truth is, I’m boring as hell. A fact that I’m perfectly comfortable with, but does not make for great anecdotes – either here or in social situations, as my poor friends have come to realise.

Not being able to write should have come as absolutely no surprise. Last year, I started seven books, which now variously decorate table tops and support lamps and candles. You know what I could see through in the last quarter of 2021? Candyfloss. Light, fluffy candyfloss. This bizarre time we’re living, along with menopausal brain fog, has rendered it impossible for me to concentrate on anything that wasn’t vomited up by Sex in the City after it’d consumed 40 boxes of Laudurée macarons. Emily in Paris, I’m looking at you. Thanks for the froth… and hot French men. Enough doom scrolling already, I just want to barrage my senses with feel good. Can I get my love stories intravenously? There’s enough bleak news out there as it is, without choosing to ingest it too. I want to inject recue dog stories, kitten photos and air-whipped storylines directly into my eyes. Apart from cats on Instagram, there was the millionaire’s shortbread baking – of which I made approximately 13 metric tonnes. Reading a recipe was as good as it got.

So, rather than forcing it here, I decided to call it a day.

Writing under a “character” (of sorts) made it easier to put pen to paper. It helped me get past the ‘why the hell would anyone be interested in what I have to say?’. But the sudden and brutal self-consciousness that blind-sided me, also affected Anne.

I don’t know what’s next. This might morph into something else, it might not. If it were to develop into something else, that would involve finding my mojo again. I’m not sure that it just disappeared, I’m quite sure it actually died – a slow, painful death.

For anyone who read anything in these pages, I say a massive, heartfelt thank you. It genuinely made my day. One of the most enjoyable things has been seeing the long list of countries in which readers live. That was quite something. For those of you who followed the blog, I thank you for persevering and supporting me and adding your comments. You’ve all made it worthwhile.

For the most part, it’s been a hugely enjoyable part of my life. When it stops feeling like that, I think it’s time to move on.

So, with enormous thanks and love in my heart – it’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from her. Goodnight.

2021 End of Year Review

From my end of year review 2020 – ‘As the weirdest year in our history (I hope) comes to a close, a tiny glimmer of light can be seen as vaccine programmes are rolled out around the globe. However, I am being cautious with my optimism. I’ve vowed to never say, ‘this is it, this is the year!’ ever again. I’m just going to let it roll over quietly, a seamless transition from ’20 to ’21 without recognition or celebration and keep my head down. I hope it’s going to be better. That’s as much as I’m willing to proffer.’

Anyone else have déjà vú?

Got to give it credit, it started with an impressive bang. On the 6th January, I celebrated Kings Day with a lunch at my bubble’s house. When I arrived home and got into bed, I thought I’d just quickly check out the news. I was still watching the Capitol riots as they unfolded in realtime at 3am.

We all thought, ‘ah, ok, we see where this is going’, took a collective deep breath and buckled up.

More Covid happened.

Two weeks later Kamala Harris was being sworn in as the first female Vice President of the United States. I watched it. It was pretty amazing. And shortly after that, Joe Biden quickly set about undoing as much of the angry Wotsit’s damage as possible, first by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. Dare we hope for a better year?

No. The answer was no.

When I woke to the Suez news, I thought, ‘that’s it, Covid really has shifted the space time continuum’, but it was just a container ship lodged sideways in the canal. I say just, but it blocked international trade for six days, sparking a global panic of a different sort. The gazillionaires shat the bed. Did anyone else start to feel the fragility of everything that we take for granted, or was that just me? The tiny digger that was deployed to dislodge the EverGiven became a metaphor for our times, our lives. Memetastic.

More Covid happened.

There was more high-profile willy waggling this year than you could shake a luxury sex toy at in the form of the billionaire space race. Because that was what the world needed most in these troubled times. Most of the news headlines were grabbed by Elon Musk (who, by the way and inexplicably, was named Time Person of the Year) and Jeff Bezos, the latter of whom gifted his mum a Lizzie Duke (look it up) necklace upon touchdown and, without even a hint of self-awareness, thanked his workers for enabling him to reach the edge of space in his rocket-fuelled penis. Those would be the same employees he fired for having breast cancer, cooked at 46º centigrade in US warehouses and forced to work during an imminent tornado. The same workers forced to break speed limits and pee in their trucks. Yeah, thanks, you guys totally rock! Pay rise and decent toilets? Fuck you! Later in the year, Musk, also renowned for his exemplary employee care and who also split up with the mother of E=mc2, launched the first civilian crew into orbit. Yeah chaps, excellent, really top notch. Just joust with your dicks and be done with it.

In amongst all of the not solving the world’s poverty, we mustn’t, of course, forget that handsy fraggle, Richard Branson, who himself also jettisoned to the edges of the earth’s atmosphere. There didn’t seem to be as much media coverage of this – could be that he’s not so much Bond villain, as pervy uncle lawsuit waiting to happen. Not so good for the clicks.

We don’t have the time or space to list all the times Boris Johnson lied.

Who had the gate of Hell opening up in the Gulf of Mexico, Captain Kirk going to real space, Armie Hammer wants to be a cannibal and Australian mouse plague and plague control snakes on their 2021 bingo card?

Almudena Grandes and Joan Didion passed away.

More Covid happened.

In UK royal news, Prince Philip died, in an exclusive Oprah Winfrey interview, the Sussexes revealed that there is racism in the ‘Firm’ (who’d have thunk it), they also had another baby, rumours continued to swirl around Prince William’s alleged affair, and Prince Andrew started sweating again on or around the 29th December. It’s a Christmas miracle! His lawyers also held ‘crisis talks’ the day of the Maxwell verdict. Because nothing says ‘I’m innocent’ like refusing to help the inquiry, doing a car crash interview (that could, by the way, be used as a case study for the “how to spot a liar” module of a forensics degree), being retired (from what, lord knows) by your own nonagenarian mother, trying to discredit the victim and instructing your lawyers to ‘crisis talk’ immediately after yer pal is convicted of sex trafficking minors. Totally innocent. Completely. 100%. Yep. Nothing to see here.

On the 19th November, Kamala Harris became the first woman to have presidential powers. For a whole 85 minutes. What was fascinating was that America didn’t implode. You see that USA? Nothing. To. Fear. Something to bear in mind in the future, perhaps.

Can we venture that a little faith has been restored in justice by the high-profile convictions of Derek Chauvin, Kim Potter and Ghislaine Maxwell? Maybe.

We had the first volcanic eruption in La Palma in 50 years, record temperature highs and lows around the world, and Greece burned – but we needn’t have worried because numerous world leaders, and Jeff Bezos (?), travelled to Glasgow for Cop26 to solve the climate crisis over a lovely barbecue, in private jets.

As Greta Thunberg said, ‘blah, blah, blah’.

Omicron happened.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom – Almost 8.5 billion vaccines were distributed worldwide, NASA’s Perseverance Rover successfully converted some of Mars’s carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen (Elon Musk nearly died of boner, which might have been cited in the Time article), United Airlines flew the first passenger plane with one engine running on 100% non-petroleum-based sustainable fuel made from sugar water and corn, and researchers at Brown University successfully transmitted brain signals wirelessly to a computer for the first time, opening up boundless possibilities for paralysed people.

Donald Trump was banned from Twitter. We laughed for days.

The UK supreme court ruled that Uber drivers were employees not self-employed meaning greater protections for gig-economy workers.

Amanda Gorman exploded onto our radar, Bennifer reunited, there was more high-profile diverse representation than ever before, Simone Biles led by example by prioritising her mental health and Tom Daly charmed us with his poolside knitting at the Tokyo Olympics. Adele released her latest album (it was big news, so I should include it) and Beyoncé set a new Grammys record. ABBA RETURNED! BRITNEY WAS FREED!

Paris Hilton and Ariana Grande got married. Not to each other.

I turned 50, became menopausal, started art classes (god bless that sanctuary), doom scrolled endlessly, got vaccinted, made an appointment for the booster, watched the entire back catalogue of Sex and the City in preparation for the reboot (oof), meditated, walked, did every online creative workshop I could lay my hands on, wrote, had my first chat with an immigration lawyer, started to make my house a home and half read numerous books.

And now, the end is near, and so we face the final curtain… of the year. Or of life as we know it. Who knows. I mean, the radio bursts from unknown origins in space seem to be coming thick and fast now, maybe that’s what we can expect next. Nothing would surprise me. At all.

So, I leave you with this… as the weirdest year in our history (I hope) comes to a close, a tiny glimmer of light can be seen as booster programmes are rolled out around the globe. However, I am being cautious with my optimism. I’ve vowed to never say, ‘this is it, this is the year!’ ever again. I’m just going to let it roll over quietly, a seamless transition from ’21 to ’22 without recognition or celebration and keep my head down. I hope it’s going to be better. That’s as much as I’m willing to proffer.

Robot swimming summer jab: the Covid months pt. 15

I mean, what if we are nothing more than immensely sophisticated machines? Hear me out.

My programmed obsolescence appears to have kicked in. It’s a thing. Hi, face (and the rest of me), let me introduce you to gravity. Oh yeah, back, hips, you can’t bend now. Quick, deploy emergency pigeon and puppy pose. Hell, bring on the whole damn menagerie if it helps me to be as bendy as I was a mere four months ago. Ok, ok, a couple of years ago. Long gone are the days when you’d go out for the office Christmas do and, along with an equally flexible colleague, be photographed in each bar pulling a leg up past your ear, because you could. #GoodTimes. I dare not even think about doing the splits (my other party piece).

And I swear my eyes work differently. It’s like, before my birthday, they had a built in filter that rose tinted my reflection, and now the filter is fucked. I’m waiting for the upgrade. Is it coming? What button do I need to long press? And why are they so very small now? Who in the name of all the gods is that middle-aged woman in the mirror? So many questions.

I have more evidence of my theory. If you like your evidence like Trump supporters at a StoptheSteal rally. I went to the gym with a friend last Sunday, to spend time in the pool and use the spa facilities. We did an aqua class (fitting) with weird foam weight thingies. I enjoyed it, I thought I did ok, given I’d done sweet FA for the best part of 18 months, and I WAS IN LOVELY, GENTLE SUPPORTIVE WATER. The excruciating pain I experienced in my right shoulder and back during that Sunday night made me vow to always, from that moment forward, have drugs that could fell a horse in the house. I’m still suffering. What’s that all about? It was the bloody pool.

So, I guess I’m still waiting for those superpowers to kick in, eh Pfizer ^side eye^.

Last month my niece and nephew turned eighteen and I have informed them both that they must stop now, right where they are. Any more age is not possible for them. Stop it! When I spoke on the phone to my nephew on his birthday, a full grown bloke answered, and when my niece was explaining about her uni plans, I had a violent flashback to when they were both just bumps, which was like, a millisecond ago. Time, aahh time – I’d like to write something poetic about it. But I won’t, because it goes too fast and I am not at all happy about it.

It seems quite fitting to round off these Covid Months posts at number 15 (why?) and with the vaccine. The 25th of May was D-Day, or V-Day; and smooth as you like. An orderly queue – unheard of in any other situation – 10 minutes, in, registered, spaced, jabbed, out, breakfast at the cute little cafe behind the geography faculty vaccine centre during the 15 minutes we had to wait afterwards. Job done. I wasn’t sure, however, how reassuring the art was on the path where we were queuing. The staff were efficient, friendly and informative, and explained that I only need one dose as I had the virus last year. I don’t know why that should be good news, as I fear needles less now than I ever have in my life after this last year; but it was.

I felt like I did my little bit for the cause. Like, by allowing someone to stick a needle in my arm, I somehow contributed my tiny part in a monumental historical moment. Humour me.

We’ve been able to ditch the masks in the street since the 26th of June, so it does really feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is closer. I hope it’s not an oncoming train. Although, I have come to actually love the anonymity of masks, just as I enjoyed lockdown. Maybe a little too much. As with Zoom calls, everything in view is in order; good eyebrows and mascara – check, everything obscured – train wreck. So, it seems, my feral days are having to come to end. #SadTimes In preparation for the pool, I did a year’s worth of lady maintenance in twenty-four hours (it took that long), and now I’m re-learning how to apply makeup – with my aged misshapen claws. Le sigh.

Another month has passed, summer is here, teaching is winding down and socialising is cranking up. I’ve recently enjoyed the opening of a new art exhibition and a flamenco concert. Whoa there, Pank, steady on, you crazy hedonist.

Hey twenties me, you’ve changed.

Is it a good time to start feeling optimistic? *I think that, finally, it is.

*This statement, of course, inevitably spells disaster.

Slowly quickly urgent fear: the Covid months pt. 14

It feels like an age since my birthday post. A little more than a month has passed since I turned fifty and I haven’t written anything here because I’ve been panic signing up for and participating in every writing and art course, workshop or IGLive/Zoom event available in a desperate bid to give myself purpose.

The big FIVE UH-OH took off its beautifully embellished leather glove and gave me a fruity slap around the chops with it: about time and life and reason and any other existential crisis you could possibly think of. I’m still feeling its intricately beaded sting on my cheek. I’m late, I’m late for a very important date – with all the things I shouldn’t have been scared to do for all my life or hid away because they were ‘just a hobby’ or ‘just a silly thing’ – or just didn’t do because I wasn’t disciplined enough.

It’s May already. How? Jesus Christ life is fast, isn’t it? The feeling and the reality are at odds. I’ve been going to the art workshop in Gracia for two months. The first few sessions were mortifying because there were three other actual humans in the room including the teacher and they could see me and my work. Now I can’t get enough of that environment. Get me in there with the paint and the canvas and the chat and the music. Inject it straight in my veins. Let me slap water and colour around for two hours and watch me skip down the road on my way home afterwards. I can’t believe it had to take me arriving at a half century for me to finally say ‘fuck it’. Do it and get it out there. Don’t worry about what people think, that’s not important. It’s not arrogant or big-headed or full of it or pretentious. It’s quite simply you enjoying something.

*Feel the fear… and set up an Instagram page for your art. I mean, come on! It doesn’t get braver than that, does it? #LiveLaughLove #Brave. Feel the fear… and offer yourself for an Instagram live chat and read some of the words you wrote during the morning writing workshop you were participating in. When I say you, I mean me. It’s all a bit terrifying but I’m forcing myself past it. It’s deeply uncomfortable, but I have to do it. Time is ticking on. Read about art, see art, do art, eat, sleep, repeat. Put pen to paper (yes, I am that old), get it down. Why. Fucking. Not? Write nonsense here, write nonsense in your Frida Kahlo notebook, write nonsense on your dilapidated laptop that’s about to croak. Enter competitions. In the words of the great soothsayer, Nike’s marketing team: Just Fucking Do It. I might be paraphrasing.

Instagram @nia_50_art

I admire greatly those who know what they’re about from an early age, because that’s so far removed from how I was. I think they’re absolutely amazing. But I do have my new sense of urgency and that’s something. Time is very much of the essence and I need to do it all, so that eventually, I can at least be at peace with myself and my tiny contribution.


**I have not been given a definitive expiry date, although I understand how it may very much seem that way.

Ah crap, I’m (almost) fifty: the Covid months pt. 13

This time next week I will be fifty.

This ⬆️ is as close as I ever want photos to be from now until beyond forever. A selfie, through two lenses from the shoulders up and always, always, ALWAYS in black and white.

Apart from that, far from melting down about it, I am just overwhelmingly resigned. I can’t, apparently, stave off time. Anyone have a handy wormhole?

As I approached forty, all hell broke loose. I don’t know why, because looking back now, I was in a pretty tasty situation. I had a job I loved and a good professional reputation. I was at my personal best with regards to confidence, and emotionally, *pretty solid. My body was good – recently confirmed by the photos my ex returned to me – 10 years after we split up and now he’s a dad. Seemed like the right time(!) I was genuinely surprised and sad I hadn’t appreciated it as I should have when I had it. I was living with my hot boyfriend in a nice flat and travelling as often as possible. I started crying a month before and more or less didn’t stop. Given the above, it was completely irrational. I just couldn’t compute the number. ‘But… it’s FORTY.’ Incredulous. The night before the big day, the other half suggested going for a walk to get some air as I was crying at the dinner table. Again. On the way to the Albert Dock in Liverpool, I broke down on the corner of Thomas Steers Way and Custom House Place, sat on the floor unable to walk another step and sobbed. No rhyme. No reason.

Roll on ten years that went down faster than Prince Andrew’s zipper in a room full of teenage girls and the heavy weight of existential dread looms large again. However, this time it’s different. At forty it kept donging in my ears like an almighty gong formally calling me to eat at the table of middle age – F O R -T Y, F O R -T Y, F O R-TY. This time, it’s a repetitive question in my ear, ‘what are you for? I mean, like, actually for?’ This voice is the one I fondly refer to as ‘the cunt’. The cunt doubts everything, questions every action or decision (or thought, actually), causes me immeasurable anxiety and sometimes likes to remind me that, ‘if the next ten years accelerate at the same rate as the last ten, you’ll be 120 in the blink of an eye. Oh, and you’re a useless dickhead.’ Cunt.

What’s it all for, this…^gestures wildly around at everything^. That question is not specific to fifty, by the way, but it’s very much amplified at the moment.

I’m now making my flat a home. About time, some might say. (But why?) I actually have a flat for more than a nanosecond. About time, some might say. (But why?) I’m investing my time and the little money I have in more worthwhile and enriching things and pastimes. And for the love of Christ, trying to save. Finally. About time, some… have said. (But… Ok, I know the answer to that one.)

I think, I, I think I’m settling down, and before you even think it, this expression has NOTHING TO DO WITH MEN. YES, I AM SHOUT TYPING. Do not ask me about men, my thoughts on men, my feelings about men, men in my life or lack thereof, just because I said I’m settling down. It may come as a surprise, but life also happens without them. If you value your life, see previous post. It’s possible to do this without external help. Although, I should probably acknowledge Merlin cat here, of course. I do have a little responsibility. It’s furry and quite bitey.

Now what though? We reach these milestones and then the next day is the same as the one before. It’s a bit like New Year’s Eve, innit? Just a little stiffer of joint and fatter of arse.

Is that it? Do we just keep trundling on, doing stuff until we die? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not depressed or anything like that, (I don’t think), I’m just genuinely, deeply curious. I’m still trying to work it all out.

And with that cheery thought, I will ring in this new era a calmer, quieter version of myself. On the day, I will lie-in and have a decadent breakfast (not so different, as it’s pretty much what I’ve done throughout the pandemic – eat. Eat and eat and eat. I’ve eaten as if the confinement is forever and I won’t see actual humans in the flesh again). Champagne will be involved. I will take my book somewhere sunny and socially distanced and try to relax and let go of the everyday nonsense that goes on in my bonce. Just for the day. I will speak with family and friends and watch a movie and a couple of us will go for lunch the day after. Life’s simple pleasures. For the most part, this is the way I have spent birthdays since 40, when I last organized actual dinners and gatherings for myself. But I’ll appreciate the crap out of this one.

I look forward to the next step and to being more conscious of being conscious. Because, let me tell you something my friends, time flies, and it seems to go quicker with every passing year – and, if I have learnt anything at all in all this time, it’s to not simply drift through the next few.

*I say ‘pretty’ because it’s true that the year before, my boyfriend drove me to drink gin in a tin most nights with his constant online chats with attractive blondes and secrecy about his whereabouts and I once considered a stake-out of the salsa club. I’m only human.

Valentine Galentine blah blah blah: the Covid months, pt. 12

You know who I felt bad for last weekend? The Instalovers. I mean, is it even Valentine’s if you can’t competitively post images of every little detail? The perfect dinner, the flowers, the present(s), the weekend away, the proposal. Is it even love if it’s not on social media.

I think it’s the first time I haven’t posted actually on Valentine’s Day since I started this blog and it felt quite liberating. OK, that’s trite, I haven’t been held captive in a basement for most of my life and am now savouring my first trip to the corner shop for milk, but for the purposes of this blog, it works.

I wanted to let it slip by this year. Unnoticed, unimportant. In the grand scheme of things, it kind of is. Apart from exchanging a WhatsApp with a friend to say, ‘love you’, there wasn’t any reason to mark it and we say that all the time. If they hadn’t sent a message, I probably wouldn’t have remembered.

I bought myself some flowers the day before, as I sometimes do anyhow. And life continued.

With an impending significant birthday and a few months of unsuccessful dating towards the back end of last year, I got to thinking (for fear of sounding like SaTC) – maybe now is a good moment to just let it go and get on without it. Without someone else, without thinking about meeting someone else, without endlessly trying to meet someone else. How many hours do we waste, have we wasted? Probably years, when totalled up. I mean, come on. What have we missed? What have we not appreciated about ourselves and life in all that time of focusing on trying to get another human into our lives.

Listening to the hilarious podcast Don’t Take Bullsh*t from F*ckers before Christmas, in one particular episode (I can’t remember which) Greg Behrendt said, ‘I got a lot of respect for people who date into their forties. I mean, just be alone, be with yourself.’ I paraphrase. But it really kicked me in the ass. You’re right. What the hell are we doing? Sure, I love being in love but it sucks too much time and energy trying to find it. Let’s face it, endless dating just sucks.

Why is it the topic of every freakin’ conversation? I hope you can hear my exasperation.

For all my adult life, when I wasn’t involved with someone (which has been most of the time since 30), people have asked me, ‘are you involved with someone?’ or, ‘are you looking for someone to be involved with?’ Also, guilty as charged. I asked me that too.

I was recently chatting with a friend on Zoom and opened with an ‘I’ve got news.’ (at the moment, that could literally be putting a bra on or getting up without uuffing). The response? ‘You’ve met a man?!’

No. I haven’t. I’m starting art classes. Jesus Christ.

Different friend, ‘You look good. Have you met someone?’ I probably look half okay because I’ve had a quiet year (you know, like most of everyone), I take my makeup off with coconut oil and sometimes go to bed at half-nine. I say sometimes, I mean 90% of the time. Don’t judge me, it’s *Covid times.

Father, ‘And what about your love life?’ Man alive, dad, you, particularly, must be fucking sick of asking that question. On a regular year, it’s, at best, sporadic, add a raging pandemic to the equation…

So, as I hurtle towards my sixth decade (that’s another post for another day) I have decided to focus on filling my life with things that bring me joy and not waste another minute writing another dating profile, scrolling through another collection of faces, wasting another penny or hour on a dead end date.

What I want is to fill my life with exhibitions, books, live music (when we can) art, writing and dance classes and workshops… how terribly genteel.

Get my agent on the blower, I’m ready for my part in Bridgerton now.

*to be honest, this will probably continue beyond the current crisis. I bloody love 10 hours of sleep.

Thrifty Fifty New year Dance: the Covid months, pt. 11

So, 2021 is here. Not much different to 2020, is it?

And that is why I don’t do New Year’s Eve. On any regular year I’m not a big fan of la nochevieja as it always feels so hopeful and I’m always gutted when I don’t wake up in my thirties, in my own masía with a comfortable bank balance on January 1st. So this year especially, I could not. be. in. the. slightest. bit. arsed. about. seeing. it. in. Fuck that. Apart from that, this year it felt inappropriate to ‘celebrate’, even in small numbers. I think my sudden conservative sensibilities have been brought on by binge-watching Bridgerton.

For years I’ve enjoyed making my way home before the big night, to enjoy a bit of meditation, light some candles, prepare something nice to eat, have a glass of fizz, reflect on the year that’s passed and think about what I want for the coming year, maybe write some notes, a list, a little incantation. Last year, I was in bed by 10.30pm.

I’m glad I did that.

By January 6th, 2021 had said ‘hold my beer’.

I have no resolutions this year. My failures in years passed simply provided me with a giant stick with which to beat the crap out of myself. Do I have some realistic goals? Yes.

Turning fifty in March without having a breakdown is one.

For a month before my fortieth, I couldn’t control my tears (maybe it’s not a Covid thing after all) and questioned myself and my achievements every waking moment. The tears would start without warning. The number 40 was like a sledgehammer thwacking my skull persistently. Panicking, I had nude photos done; physically, things were still impressively perky. I also sat down in the middle of the street one evening to sob during an after dinner walk with my partner; mentally, things were not. These last ten years have flown, ^takes several deep breaths^.

Along with staying sane during the next few weeks, my projects for this year are to keep a dream diary, they’ve been pretty wild recently, be more creative with my photoaday habit, finish the six books I didn’t complete in 2020 (concentration was at an all time low last year), read more, paint more. One very valuable lesson to come out of 2020 was taking care of my money. Finally. So keeping that in check is a priority. Maybe even saving a little. Imagine. So far, so good. I AM GOING TO SIGN UP TO DANCE CLASSES AS SOON AS IT IS SAFE. Yes, I’m shout typing. I miss dancing. And live music. And both together.

I think just taking one day at a time is good advice and a good start, and at the end of each one, saying, ‘ yay! I got through it.’ Lord knows, even that’s a challenge. Giving ourselves a big fucking break from putting additional pressure on ourselves, while the world around us is still burning, might just help too. It’s what I plan to do.

There are 51 weeks left of this year, folks, go easy on yourselves.