How is it June already? Okay, let’s do this.
Delightful living conditions
At an antiques market in Toronto I bought some gilt rimmed glasses I do not need. That’s about the height of it for May. I stayed on top of the washing and have kept the place clean and aired. That’s a win, I’m counting it.
In May I did a bit of skyping, sent a lot of messages and caught up with some friends over email. I wouldn’t say I was a spectacular friend, but I gave it a shot. I helped a friend sort out her leaking washing machine by looking up youtube videos.
While I was in Canada I met up with some people I hadn’t seen in years. There are a few people in Canada who I was friendly with, but I didn’t want to announce I was there and demand to see them. Instead I announced I was in Canada and was delighted when some people got in touch. I was touched that they would go out of their way to see me, when I hadn’t seen them in years.
The first was a girl (well, woman, she has a family and a career and some amazing glasses now) who I lived next to in Oxford, but wasn’t actually friends with. Amusingly, we’re a lot closer now through Facebook – talking about home décor, Toronto sports teams and feminist comedy writing. It was so lovely to meet with her and actually get to know her now. We had some shared background history, but that was only a small part of the conversation.
The second was a couple who my ex-boyfriend and I were friends with. He’d gone to university with the husband and we would often have gone to dinner as a four. They moved back to Canada, where the wife is from, but as my ex-boyfriend wasn’t especially keen on people with children, they dropped by the wayside.
For all that my ex was difficult, he did have some wonderful friends and I was sad when he would lose touch with them. I felt a little awkward because I would still be friends with them on facebook. I’m actually still friends with most of them on facebook, even though he and I haven’t been together for years.
It was lovely to see them and delightful to meet their gorgeous, smart, funny children. It was almost as though nothing had changed. They also let it drop that he has since gone on to marry some woman (which was a surprise as he swore blind he never wanted to get married – not just to me, but to anyone) and were more than sympathetic when I requested another glass of wine. It was an odd moment for me- I wasn’t sure how to react. They didn’t need to be so good to me, but they were. They said all the right things, which were better for being true.
Both my Oxford friend and my ex’s friends are going to be in London this summer and I will make an effort to catch up with them.
There’s a saying about people being in your life for a season and I think it’s true. I think it’s also good to try and stay in touch so the seasons come round a little more often.
I did no hostessing in May. But I did go to the library and stock up on books for research.
Confident in the kitchen
The first half of May was spent in Canada eating doughnuts and pie. The second half has been spent trying to recover from Canada – at least an hour of my day is spent washing, chopping or eating vegetables and fruit. I don’t think I actually cooked anything that would resemble a “meal”, but I have eaten well.
Everyone is engaged or married but me. This isn’t true, but it feels true ENOUGH. On a good day, I think “fine, at least I won’t accidentally marry those people who should be married to someone else” and “okay, at least I’m not divorced.”
In an attempt to try something new, I booked some speed-dating events for myself, may flatmate and a friend. It’s really hard to MEET men-people if you don’t socialise with strangers. I’ve done it before and found it exhausting, but am willing to give it another go for the other two. That’s something, at least. I feel like I’m putting in the leg work.
I WENT TO CANADA ON MY OWN. That was pretty good. I navigated with maps and common sense (God bless the grid system! Why on *earth* don’t we have that?), I tried food I didn’t know, I played mini-golf!
Healthy Mind & Body
Well, obviously all the vegetables. I’m trying very hard after Canada to eat better (more F&V, only one treat per day, a lot more water) and to move more. I did a lot of walking in Canada (I basically walked everywhere, every day). I haven’t done spectacularly on giving my brain a rest or getting enough sleep, but I’ll work on it.
I also played tennis once, for an hour, with a nine year old boy and didn’t die. I forgot how much running is involved. It’s basically a marathon, right?
I have a stock of sunblock though, so Future Me is grateful for not being sunburnt.
Art and culture
CANADA, OBVIOUSLY with museums, art galleries, sites of historical interest, chipmunks, grocery stores and Tim Horton’s.
Most of this month was CANADA, so the culture was a little lower than usual back in London. The top tickets were musical and visual. First up was Space Spectacular the The Royal Albert Hall. I’m not musical. I wish I was. I’d love to like operas, but they mainly intimidate me. I like pop music more than I like classical music. I like something I can sing along to, you know. Something I can scrunch up my eyes to and tunelessly belt out some huge emotion. Classical music doesn’t provide me with much in the way of “my life as a music video” as much as I wish it did. Still, anything with SPACE in the title gets me in my heart. When I realised a lot of the pieces were from TV or films set in space, I was IN.
Needless to say, it was fantastic. I had a cheap ticket in the very very back row and I spent the whole time grinning. I mean, Darth Vader made an appearance and the audience chanted the beginning to Thunderbirds. Plus there were fireworks and lasers! I mean, it was F. A. B. Unsurprisingly, I also liked the straight classical pieces by Holst and two Strausses. It’s made me want to look into that.
Next up was Vogue 100: A Century of Style at the NPG. Stupidly I had assumed I would organise a ticket before it closed. Predictably, I did not. I realised that I had two days left to see it and all the online tickets were booked up. To work around the problem, I treated myself (and having just declared that I needed to save money, the irony of this was not lost on me) to annual membership meaning I could just waltz in whenever I liked. And so I waltzed the next day.
I love Vogue. It’s beautiful. It’s a chunky, glossy, value-for-money monthly publication that taps into the culture from which it is published – US Vogue is very American, British Vogue is very British. You could never confuse the two, or any of the international versions. The articles are about things I rarely encounter and the photographs are stunningly accessible art works. I don’t see it as aspirational, because I know I’m never ever going to buy Crème de la Mer (I like blue Nivea (and find it hilarious that a rumour is going around that they’re basically the same) and drugstore cosmetics), wear any Chanel pieces or travel to Monaco for a weekend of stylish glamour. Vogue problems are not my problems. And yet. There’s always something in an article to take away. An artist to look into, a colour to think about differently, a new designer to watch out for and see how their influence trickles down to the high street. Fashion fascinates me and Vogue is at the forefront of that. Visiting the exhibition and seeing the covers spanning the decades, reading the history behind the editors and photographers, coming up close and personal to iconic images (I’m not a massive fan of Kate Moss as a person, but WOW is she good at what she does. There’s a reason the “new Kate Moss” tag is bandied about but there never really *is*a new Kate Moss. She’s unique). I loved it with my whole heart.
Well, here I do feel like I made some headway. I came back from Canada aware that I spent a fortune. None of which I regret. This coincided with sorting out household finances for the flat. I have been incredibly aware of my account details this month. I now have a clear overview of my fixed outgoings and am trying to do my very best to bring down my variables.
I put everything on my credit card and pay it off each month. For the next few months, I am curtailing my spending (culture, travel and social events are exempt) to retrain myself and stop buying frivolous purchases because I feel stressed or in need of a treat.
I have a LOT of treats. My wardrobe is full of clothes I wear very little. I have a huge box full of cosmetics and beauty products that I have stockpiled. My snack box is insultingly large. It’s time that I actually enjoyed the treats I have, rather than add to them. It’s time I took a moment to appreciate the value of these things and the impact they have on me. To take a short break from constant consumerism (although, it must be said, that since doing this I have been at the library like free books are crack and I eye up free magazines like a truffle pig in a forest). Hopefully I will save a little money too.
To make sure I stick to this lofty plan, my friend Fee is keeping me in check. We’re both acting as accountability partners for each other. She has her thing, I have mine. Every Saturday morning, I will email her with a list of my spending, treats and near-misses for the week. Keeping a log has been quite remarkable already. It seems I go to a supermarket daily.
Walking has been the main relaxation technique, but I popped into a bookstore in Toronto and it reminded me that I find them very calming. I’d like to visit my library more and sit for hours there, but it’s exam time and so it is ALL DRAMZ AND LOLZ in there at the moment with hysterical students.
Urgh. No. Do I have to?
Urgh, again no. No time! I’ve made a lot of to do lists though…