I wrote some time ago that I despise blog writers who feel they should apologise for not writing, and I still feel that way. So I’m not going to apologise to you for not having written in over four months (a third of the supposed length of this project) because you know what, there’s been a lot of life happening in those four months. What I am happy to publicly apologise for is slacking off on the actual commitment to this project in real terms, i.e., not buying new things. I haven’t been going crazy at Zara or anything - in large part because until about four weeks ago I was essentially unemployed - but it’s the little, essential things it’s easier to make excuses over. Like: a few weeks ago someone (I honestly can’t be sure who but I have my suspicions) in my house threw out our bathroom bin. Fair cop, it was gross and too small. But they didn’t think to replace it. You just can’t have a house with two, currently three, female residents and not have a bathroom bin, that’s disgusting. After a week or so of hoping thrower-outer would do the logical thing and replace it, I caved and bought a $12 one from Kmart. It was probably made with the blood and tears of Chinese orphans and just being in Kmart was enough to make me feel sick and guilty. The overwhelming stench of plastic and preservatives honestly gives me a headache, and that’s before you factor in the hideous fluro lights, the children baying for blood in the toy aisles and the knowledge that the staff are being paid somewhere around minimum wage to put up with all of it. I just hussled in there one day after work, scooped up my bin and two lots of plastic coathangers (it’s really hard to get secondhand coathangers, OK?) and scooted out of there again.
It’s one of those situations where I know that better planning or possibly a little sacrifice would have enabled me to stick with my resolution. If I’d had the time or inclination to traipse around to every charity shop in a five km radius I might have been lucky enough to find something useable as a bin, or even some coathangers. Or I could be really frugal and say, “We’re not getting a bin in the bathroom til we’ve used up every single one of the plastic bags currently spilling from the bottom drawer of the kitchen,” and demanded that these be hung on the back of the bathroom door as bin-replacements.
But I didn’t do that.
Because a) if I’m going to spend hours in charity shops I want to be looking for something fun, frankly, and b) that’s gross. And most importantly, c):
I am not the only person my choices affect.
This is a very important thing to keep remembering when it comes to housey things especially. I live with other people who I want to keep happy, and they can’t be expected to give up things like bins just because I’m on some kind of half-baked crusade. That way madness lies, and also I’m about to ask them to start composting things, so I figure it’s important to pick battles.
There have been dozens of other little things along the way that I’ve made excuses about - and grey areas where I’ve taken the easy option - which I feel guilty about. It’s Shrove Tuesday today, the last day before Lent begins. Despite my only interaction with the Catholic faith being my Italian grandparents’ funerals about six years ago, I’ve given something up for Lent the last two years. In 2010 it was shopping and last year it was eating out. I was pretty successful at abstaining during the assigned period but not so good at keeping those habits up over a long period of time.
So this year, rather than give up something entirely new again for Lent, I’m reaffirming my commitment to this project, both in doing and in writing. I’m trying to decide whether I think it’s realistic for me to say I’m going to post every day, or whether I’d even want to if it was. I also have a very abortive attempt at a theatre blog floating around in cyberspace, which I’m not going to link you to until there’s more than one post up there. It’s just embarrassing.
If I can steer this post into slightly personal territory for a moment, 2011 was a pretty shit year for me. Most days felt like a massive effort, which I either didn’t make and then felt guilty about, or did make and then felt unrewarded for doing so. The period leading up to Christmas - finishing university, having to face The Rest of My Life as an Adult - was particularly heinous and fraught with much temper-tantruming and hiding in bed and feeling by turns thunderously angry and utterly, crushingly defeated by the world. 2012 was on the up from almost the very beginning - new, excellent, proper-paying job; some nice creative projects; a general sense that the times they were a-changin’. It’s still been baby steps though. Most days are a battle against the ridiculous expectation that I should be able to stay in bed and still rule the world.
Last night I had a bit of a snap. I can’t tell you why, it’s secret. But it basically involved me putting on an iTunes Genius Playlist based on Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT (all my hipster friends are now judging me for using Genius but I don’t care because this playlist was the best thing IN THE WORLD) and dancing like a madwoman in my bedroom while cleaning it, and in essence attempting to say “THIS SENSE OF THE BLUES IS SOMETHING FOR WHICH I WILL NO LONGER STAND.” I’ve been spending a lot of time recently thinking about the concept of effort and how we’re basically sold this big lie by The Meedja et al that you should just like be yourself and do what you want but at the same time your life should look beautiful and be impressive and probably involve many anecdote-worthy activities and accompanying grainy-but-attractive photographs, but not if you’re trying too hard to make it happen, no, then you’re a try-hard and try-hards are the worst. Also that you should be loved for who you are and whatever, and people who try to change you are the devil incarnate and probably trying to control your mind. Well there’s a grain of truth to that but there’s also the rather pressing issue of: what if you don’t feel like doing anything? What if you don’t feel like being nice, or interesting, or even, like, present? Or rather you don’t feel like putting in the effort it would take to be those things because you feel like if you were those things it would come naturally and seeing as it doesn’t you’re obviously not and should just give yourself up as a lost cause now, complete with unwashed hair and unread books and unwritten blogs, because hey, that’s just how you are OK.
Well, no. Not OK. Not OK at all really because then you just wind up hating yourself and trust me, that’s not much fun.
It’s taken me some time to be comfortable with the idea of putting in effort. Effortlessness is great as an aesthetic choice (see Moss, Kate) but not so much as a lifestyle choice. If I had to frame this in terms of “giving up” something, I’d say I’m giving up excuses: too hold, too cold, too hungry, too tired, too don’t feel like it. (Too poor isn’t an excuse, it’s a genuine reason, so sorry when I don’t come to every single gig you invite me to this month.)
They say it takes 21 days to form a habit; Lent is 40 days which means the habit should be twice as strong by the end. Fingers crossed.