What is the first thing you are going to do once the lockdown is lifted?

Absolutely nothing.

This may sound sad as heck, but I am honestly having the time of my life being stuck at home. This may not come as a surprise seeing as half of this blog is about me moaning about being an introverted loner and all introverts have been banging on about how they have been self isolating from the womb so this is a piece of cake. But by God I am in total bliss. Not only do I get to stay home all day every day, I no longer have to come up with excuses or explanations as to why I chose to stay home all day every day. There is no pressure for me to do something fun on the weekend or on the public holidays. I don’t have to wake up early to catch the 8am train to work, neither do I have to trudge back home wearily at 7.30pm. My feet have not ached in weeks and my spirits are high.

Best of all, I have been cooking. Before the lockdown anyone remotely acquainted with me would have laughed out loud if you told them I was cooking everyday. Cooking was this exhausting banal task that I did not care for. Fast forward to today when I cook every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. A dear friend remarked: “Who knew it would take thousands of people dying for you to discover your inner chef?
That has been the one surprising revelation- I actually like to cook. I spent all this time thinking I hated cooking meanwhile I was just lazy and unmotivated. All the time and energy saved from not commuting has been channeled into trying out familiar and new recipes. Now I am no longer intimidated by cooking and I just take it step by step; Decide what I want, look up a recipe online, get the required ingredients and follow the steps. Eh voila! When I settle down to eat I am full of pride for this thing that I have created.

I have been off from work these past few days and it has honestly been so delicious. Not only do I not have to leave my room, now I don’t even have to do anything at all. Normally I would have driven myself mad stressing over how to spend this time off and putting undue pressure on myself to make the best of my time off, to really live, but now I can joyously indulge in the nothingness.

The other day I was eating banana bread (which I baked, of course) and watching a movie on my phone and I felt so overcome with happiness that I had to pause the film and just bask in the feeling. I am dreading the day that the lockdown is lifted and I have to return to my dreary routine. Will I have the desire to cook when I am returning home late in the evening? Will I want to do anything but sleep on the weekends?

In many ways this feels like a rebirth, and I am determined to hold on to this. Sure things could be better; I could have more space or at the very least a living room, I would like a kitchen all to myself; and it would be nice to be with family and friends. However things could also be worse; I have a room, I have food, I have entertainment and I have my health. All thanks be to God.

Once the lockdown is lifted I will like to have more brunches/lunches with friends, see more plays, have more sleepovers. Apart from that though, there is no pressing activity that I am longing for. I don’t party, my family is not here, and my friends live far away so I never saw them that frequently anyway. The main thing is for this atmosphere of fear to be removed, and of course for people to stop dying from this virus.

What are you looking forward to doing once things go back to “normal”?

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

My birthdays are usually nerve wracking and depressing because I never truly feel celebrated which consequently makes me sad. I don’t care much for attention on most days but on my birthday I want to be feted by my friends and family, to drown in love the whole month day, to wear a beautiful dress and be the belle of the ball. I have this idea of what I want my birthday to be, and also what I think a birthday should be and then I stress myself out and feel sad when I am alone on my birthday.

Three years ago, my birthday fell on a weekday and I took the day off. Of course I made no plans, despite talking incessantly about all the things I wanted to to. I had no one to do anything with because well it was a weekday. I was sad and emotional over what a failure my day was. Eventually at about noon I got dressed, put on makeup (my bright red lipstick), wore my oversized fashion sunglasses, faux fur coat and just went outside. Immediately I got out I felt much better. Though it was chilly enough for a coat, it was also deliciously sunny. I got on a train and went to a nearby city, visited a couple of museums, had lunch by myself at a Caribbean restaurant and then ended the day with a play (where I lost the battle against sleep). It ended up being a good day which I would have wasted by moping around. Looking back I was rather childish. If I wanted to be celebrated by others, I could have planned a weekend event and invited them to it no?

Two years ago, the familiar dread that heralds my birthday started again. I had spent a weekend in Paris with my friend and even though I tried to tell myself that was my birthday gift to myself, the fact was that I was not in Paris on my actual birthday so of course I was worried about the day. Listen, I nearly drove myself into insanity. I thought I had to have an event and invite my colleagues to it but of course I was stressed because 1) I was not particularly close to most of them and did not care to hang with them 2) I was almost certain they would want to come or find it awkward seeing as we were not close 3) I could not figure out what event they would be interested in (karaoke? escape room?). I was stressed the fuck out. I would be having a good time thinking about nothing and then thoughts of my impending birthday would infiltrate my mind and hello stress. If I sound like a nutter it is because I am. Eventually my birthday came around and I got dolled up, stopped by Krispy Kreme and bought three packs of doughnuts and took it in. Everyone was delighted to have doughnuts and they regaled me with a rousing rendition of Happy birthday. Later that day I had a last minute dinner with a few friends which was lovely.  They bought me a cake and a party hat and I felt so loved and happy. The next day my dear friend got on the train with her daughter and came to spend the night with me. She brought a card and presents; we hung out and it was delightful. The birthday ended up being amazing.

Last year, I decided to save myself the stress and start planning my birthday from the moment the clock struck midnight ushering in the new year. It dawned on me that I am the only one responsible for making sure I have a good birthday. Of course I must have always known this, but still on some level I seem to have expected some magic to occur and for me to be surprised with a fantasy day. It is ridiculous to expect other people who have stressful lives of their own to be preoccupied with me and my birthday, especially as I am not preoccupied with them and their birthday.

Armed with this new understanding, I decided to put together a plan of everything I wanted to do and then make it happen. See I have this nasty habit of over analysing everything and trying to predict people’s reactions. There were things I wanted to do but I worried myself sick thinking about whether my friends would be willing to do it or whether they would be willing (or able) to spend a lot of money celebrating my birthday. Eventually one of my friends said “just let us know what you want to do” and I did. I wanted to have a sleepover with my friends, have a nice meal in this fancy restaurant, and do some fun activity after. I told them this much and they did not complain or object. Those who could make it did and they were willing to spend whatever amount.

The day before my birthday I went out for dinner and a movie with one of my friends. I went to one of my favourite restaurants and saw a movie which I had been looking forward to watching. I went home happy and ready to usher in my birthday.

On my actual birthday, I took the day off from work and treated myself to a nice brunch and spa session. I got my nails done a pretty pink colour and felt so beautiful. Then I packed my things and headed off to my friends place for a sleepover. She ordered me dinner and we watched a silly film on Netflix.

The next day was my actual celebration- I wore the most beautiful dress and headed off to Sketch London, a place I had always wanted to visit in part due to its glorious pink room and surreal toilets (yes toilets). The food was delicious and we took lots of pictures. We then roamed around Oxford Street, eating street crepes and window shopping until it was time for our other event. Then we headed off to Swingers for some indoor golf which was a riot. Finally we sat and had dinner before heading back home.

The next day I packed my things to head back home but before then my friend and her boyfriend treated me to a nice lunch in a Lebanese restaurant. It ended up being an absolutely fantastic weekend- I did everything I wanted to do. I bought the dress I wanted, looked how I wanted, ate what I wanted and I definitely felt loved and happy. That was the best birthday in a while and I felt spoiled the whole weekend. I got back home on cloud 9, happy as can be and pleased that I finally had the birthday of my dreams and I made it happen.

My birthday this year was in lockdown and it was quite alright. Of course the stress of doing something was eliminated, thankfully. I woke up early went out to get myself some flowers and ice cream, made myself some brownies and had a virtual party with my friends. It was lovely.

What have I learnt from this? There is no standard birthday template; think of what you want to do and invite people to join you (if you want). Also important to note is that you do not have to do something! You can stay home and read a book in silence if that is what makes you happy.

It is so easy to feel unloved and sorry for oneself when really all you have to do is reach out. Sure it would be nice for people to spoil you but your happiness remains your responsibility. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and make yourself happy!

In writing this, I have looked back on my life and realised that while I have had some doozies, I have also had some pretty great birthdays where people showed up for me. But of course it’s easier to remember the bad/dull times.

 

Film CLUB!

As I wrote in my lent update post, I did not achieve my goal of reading three books in forty days. Pitiful I know. But you know what I did do? Watch a shitload of telly is what I did. Yes siree. I watched all of the telly. I finished Netflix and completed YouTube. I watched a few classic films and finally got to some shows that have been in my to watch list for ages. I shall now talk about them below, in no particular order. This is not a review by the way.

Hustlers (2019): There was a lot of hype about this film, and I was largely unfazed until Jlo allegedly started generating Oscar Buzz for her role in the film.  *Tiffany Pollard voice* An Oscarrrrrr? Well then I had to see it. So when one day I went on Amazon Prime and say that Hustlers had been added I pressed play without a second thought.

Long story short: the movie was alright. Perhaps the people harping on about an Oscar were secretly mocking Jlo because I did not see it. She was a supporting character and for all the fuzz about pole dancing lessons there was really just one proper dance scene. The movie was interesting enough and that’s that.

The Stranger (1946): Oh how I love my vintage films. I came across this while searching Netflix for a TV show by the same name. Of course I was drawn to it as I am drawn to all old films.

The Stranger is about a Nazi Hunter who traces a suspected Nazi to some village. Said Nazi has pretty much erased his entire identity and is now married to the town Judge but is troubled by the arrival of this stranger.

I have two favourite scenes; the dinner party scene where the wife (I never remember names of characters) was having a panic attack after discovering her husband’s apst (well his version of it) and feeling choked by her pearl necklace. Her husband moved his hands towards her neck to help remove the pearls and she cried out in fright and snatched the necklace off, scattering it into pieces.

My second fave is more of a transition between scenes- when the Nazi hunter wondered aloud how the Nazi was going to explain away the corpse and the scene cuts to the Nazi saying “I was in school in Geneva…”. I literally bust out laughing. Of course these scenes mean nothing to you until you watch the film.

I knew the film was an Orson Welles one, and I watched the whole thing looking out for him. It was not until I saw the cast listing that I realised he was the main character! My image of Orson is as a plump jolly bearded man and I guess he was not always that way. The film also has my new fave Edward G Robinson. I was unaware of him as an actor until I saw him in The Man by the Window and erroneously assumed it was James Mason (another favourite of mine).

The Machinist (2004): I wanted to see this film for one reason only: to confirm whether or not Christian Bale’s extreme weight loss was necessary. I concluded it wasn’t.

The film follows an industrial worker who claims to have not slept in a year.  He has become very emaciated and unwell and begins to doubt his sanity.

The movie was good and I enjoyed it as much as any psychological thriller. I gasped in delight and disbelief when the mystery has finally solved. Still I felt the look could have been achieved without such harm to his body. I did not think his emaciated body added that much to the story for it to be worth it, or they could have achieved the look with makeup. Why the hell do I care though? He went on to play Batman right after for one hundred years so surely he is alright.

An excerpt from his wiki page:
Christian Bale strenuously dieted for over four months prior to filming, as his character needed to look drastically thin. According to a biography of Bale written by his former assistant, his daily diet at this time consisted of “water, an apple and one cup of coffee per day, with the occasional whiskey.

At the end of filming he was left with just six months to regain the mass to be ready for his role in Batman Begins, which he achieved through weightlifting and binging on pizzas and ice cream.

Insane! But it is quite remarkable that he had such willpower and was also able to survive, remember his lines etc on such a diet.

Shutter Island (2010): For the longest time I would hear people talking about Shutter Island and agree with them that it was a good film. I would wrinkle my nose in confusion when they mentioned Leo Dicaprio because I did not remember him in the film. You see, I had seen the horror film Shutter which I enjoyed and just assumed it was the same as Shutter Island. Yes, my brain works in wonderous ways. Anyway I was chilling with my boo Netflix when Shutter Island was recommended and I finally watched it.

The film is set in 1954 and it follows two US Marshals who are investigating the disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane (murderers et al).

Like the Machinist, it is a psychological thriller which I am thinking is my new favourite genre. Plus the film was directed by my fave Martin Scorsese.

Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020): This is not a film, but instead a silly utterly delightful funny as heck TV series. It is my favourite type of show; short and sweet episodes (each only 20 minutes long) chockfull of hilarious quips and ridiculous exaggerated characters. I watched the first episode a year ago and didn’t continue. Then one random day I woke up with a craving for something light and funny and I binged all five seasons on Netflix. I am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the sixth and final season.

PS: TV people, I need Moira Rose and Lucille Bluth in a show asap, with Karen Walker making guest appearances. Go on and make my life complete.

Erin Brokovich (2000): I only watched this because it seemed to be a classic film and Ms. Roberts won an Oscar for her role in it. I had it on my list for ages but would never press play because I was never really in the mood for it. Then it was referenced in Schitt’s Creek and I thought oh sod it I will watch it! and I did.

Julia Roberts plays a sassy single mother who manages to get a job in a law firm and then helps the firm win a class action suit against a large company through her tenacious nature.

Julia is so pretty. I like her face. The film itself is alright and the fact that it is a true story makes it all the more remarkable. I did not like the character-I found her brash but I guess it was necessary for her to survive. The film is not going on my list of favourites and I will probably never watch it again

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I watched a whole lot more but I either cannot remember them or they are nothing to write home about. More truthfully, I cannot be arsed to continue writing. What would I do without Netflix? To think that once upon a time I did not have an account *shudders*.

Au Revoir.

 

Nostalgia

Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present. The name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.-Midnight in Rome (2011).

I am consumed with nostalgia, drowning in it. The littlest thing triggers it and I am in that state for at least a few minutes. Sometimes I come across a song or video from the eighties and I am devoured. I think of how everyone back then, so carefree and young, is now old(er). I think of how my mother must have grooved to it in her youth. It is even weirder when it is something relating to another country. Why does this make me nostalgic? I ask myself. All it takes is one thing to set it off and I spend hours scouring for more. Everything is up for grabs- films, TV shows, newspaper articles, TV adverts. Gimme gimme gimme more.

Unlike some fellow nostalgics, I do not wish I was born in a different time. The nostalgia is not because I wish I was present back in those days. I think of my nostalgia as a consistent longing for home, whatever and wherever that may be. The “memories” just make me feel so homesick even when the thing has nothing to do with my literal home.

“The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”
― Milan Kundera, Ignorance

I think the whole thing has to do with an underlying sense of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction with life. The constant yearning for something else has to be due to a discontent with the present.

The other part of it has to be my intense curiousity. I want to know everything and I want to fully immerse myself in all the experiences (from the comfort of my bed). I cannot experience life in those times so I do the next best thing-devouring everything I can find about that era.

There is also my fear of time and aging. One day today will be the past; the days we take for granted will become the so called good old days that we reminisce over.

Of course there is the yearning for a (supposedly) simpler time and this is perhaps the chief cause of nostalgia. The good old days when we were young and carefree with no worries whatsoever. Back in the day when our lives were someone else’s problems and all we had to do was play and complain. So when something evokes the memory of this relatively blissful time it is hard not to feel a bit sad really, especially if the present is all too stressful.

I even get nostalgia-or something similar- the present. A picture of a comfortable couch is enough to get me in my feelings- the couch represents cozy which represents comfort which means home. This is the cause of my fascination with interior decoration-I don’t fancy myself as a decorator, I just really crave pictures of home; the airy rooms, the big sofas in cozy parlours, the warm soft beds, the laughter and so on.

All rounds lead to home. The never ending search for home. One day I hope to find it.

 

illusion that youth is happy

“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded. It looks as if they were victims of a conspiracy; for the books they read, ideal by the necessity of selection, and the conversation of their elders, who look back upon the past through a rosy haze of forgetfulness, prepare them for an unreal life. They must discover for themselves that all they have read and all they have been told are lies, lies, lies; and each discovery is another nail driven into the body on the cross of life.”
― W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

Lent update+Book Club!

Forty something days ago, I made a post stating my goals for Lent; what I intended to give up and take on. I was actually quite (cautiously) optimistic about these goals and for a while they did seem possible. Then the lockdown went into effect and everything went to hell. Yes I will blame this on the pandemic. I was going to reduce my screen-time but in fact my eye has been twitching relenting due to the unprecedented screen time (unless I am sleeping I am staring at a screen; laptop, phone, telly). I did manage to reduce my junk food intake and this is one aspect in which the lockdown has helped. I simply do not stock up on junk when I do my shopping and when I start getting cravings (quite rare to be honest) I simply go to bed. I have also managed to interact more with family and friends during this period which is truly remarkable.

One of my main resolutions, if you can call it that, was to read three books in the forty day period. I know that is a amateurish figure which makes it even more shameful that I did not achieve this. I read the first two quickly enough but then the lockdown began and my zeal fizzled out quickly. Usually I read on the commute to work and I find it almost impossible to read at home, not when there’s Netflix and YouTube.  I did try to start a couple of other books but they just could not sustain my interest. I did however watch quite a few films and TV shows, some good, some utterly forgettable. But first the books!

The two books I read are:

Something to live for by Richard Roper

I first came across this book in the newspaper and was immediately drawn to it as it dealt with loneliness which is my favourite topic. I bought the book with the expectation that it would end up the third book in my loneliness trilogy, the others being The Lonely City by Olivia Lang; and Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman. It did not live up to the hype but it was not a complete waste of time. Strange thing: I looked up reviews of this book online and apparently it also goes by How Not to Die Alone

The book follows Andrew, a 42 year old loner who works for the Ministry of Death.  He has no friends, save a few online fellow train enthusiasts,  and barely any meaningful human interaction. A misunderstanding 5 years ago during his interview becomes a full blown fake life that he has to maintain and live up to which proves rather hectic.  Then one day a new employee begins work and Andrew’s life slowly starts to change for the better.

His job involves clearing out the homes of elderly people who have died alone. He checks to see if they have enough money to cover the funeral costs and if they have any kin. In most cases there are no loved ones and the person is buried in a lonely ceremony with only Andrew in attendance. His job serves as a foreshadowing of what his life would very likely be like in the future.

As I said, the book was not a waste but I couldn’t connect to any of the characters and I did find it a chore sometimes. I struggled through some parts, was glad to make it to the end, and  once I dropped the book I was done with it and that’s that.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

I don’t remember when I first heard of this book but I must have because I was immediately drawn to it. Apparently this won a Booker prize (or was it a Pulitzer). I picked this up in the kitchen at work; people brought in books which were anyone’s to take as long as one made a voluntary donation. 50p later the book was mine.

5 seconds in and I was regretting picking it up. I struggled through a whole speech on “Fuku” and just when I was about to give up I realised that was just the introduction and I shuffled on wearily to the real beginning. The story follows the Cabral family across three generations and two countries; detailing the tragedies that befall them which is supposedly due to the curse or Fuku which has haunted them for decades.

Needless to say, the title is a misnomer as there is barely five wondrous minutes in Oscar de Leon’s miserable life. Oscar is  self proclaimed fat (and continuously expanding) virgin nerd who spends his whole life (literally) trying to get laid (hell, just a kiss even!). In the end Oscar is not even the main character of the book (in my opinion), and his story pales in comparison to that of his mother Hypatia Belicia Cabral (Belis). His mother’s story, starting with her parents, sticks more with me and that is what I remember the most. We are first introduced to Belicia through the lens of her children and she seemed to me to be an overbearing person and mother. Then the story moves on to her upbringing in the Dominican Republic and my opinion completely shifts. We get to see her as a person in her own right, not just a mother and it was hard to not be sympathetic towards her. I was lost in Belicia’s story and when the narration switched from Belicia to Oscar, I groaned internally and just trudged on until we could get back to her. Goodness gracious, the suffering she had to endure and she was not even given the courtesy of a happy ending. Spoiler: there are no happy endings in this book.

The book is confusing in parts as it switches between time periods and narrators and point of views. One minute we are reading about things from Oscar’s point of view and the next Oscar is being spoken about in third person and I have to figure out who is currently speaking. The pages also feature long footnotes (some of them almost cover the entire page) in which the author provides explanations and historical facts for a reference made in the text. The book is heavy on colloquialisms and slang (Spanglish) that may leave you lost as a non Spanish speaker or maybe even as a non Dominican. Sometimes I googled the words but other times I couldn’t be bothered and just read on. There’s also lots of Sci-Fi/Anime references that I did not even bother exploring further. There is the gratuitous use of the N word with an er which was a bit jarring at times.

The book taught me quite a bit about Dominican history, particularly the dictator Trujillo who I had never heard of before. I also learned of the Mirabal sisters who were assassinated because of their daring opposition to the regime. The parts about Trujillo got my blood hot! I detest dictatorships; it is so unsettling how one person, unremarkable in every way, can hold an entire nation to ransom. I always think that this one person is only powerful due to the system supporting him, he himself is nothing. If the police and army and really everyone could have said fuck you and stood with the people instead, he would have been gone a long time ago. But things are never that simple.

Fuku or  family curse is a running theme as it is credited for all the evil that befalls the family; from Oscar’s grandparents to his mother’s unfortunate life and his own consistent bad luck resulting in his untimely demise. There is also a lot of violence, so much that I had to skip over some of the descriptions.

It is a good book, well written and it stayed with me. There is a lot of depth to the characters which is perhaps why the book is quite memorable. The book is not perfect but it was a pretty good read. When I think of the book it is Belicia that I remember, not Oscar and his jargon. My favourite parts of the book are the chapters that took us back in time to the DR and I did not care much for the New Jersey part. That’s interesting; I liked Belis as a young woman in DR but did not care for her as an adult (and mother) in New Jersey.

That’s all folks! I hope to read more books but that seems less likely everyday. There is just so much to watch on TV.

PS: I googled the book to see what others thought of it and was surprised to learn that the book is narrated by Yunior- a character which was introduced randomly (I thought). He is Oscar’s roommate at some point and his sister’s on and off boyfriend. I guess that explains the vulgarity and explicit nature of the narration.  

 

 

Self Care!

“Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself – what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing. Recreate and repeat.” ―Warsan Shire

Self care is all the buzz now-a-days. Social media is full of advice to take out some time to really focus on yourself, and for the most part this usually includes all the wonderfully indulgent things from soaking in a warm bath to face masks, massages and mimosas. Though it runs the danger of being yet another trite social media word, it is a much needed message in this hectic age; stop and take care of oneself.

Self care of course goes beyond the luxurious baths and brunches. It can be removing yourself from a situation that causes you anxiety. It can be turning off your phone an hour before bed (highly recommended) and also going to bed earlier. It can be staying in bed all day doing nothing or getting out of bed early to be productive. It can be playing dress up with nowhere to go. It can be reading a book while sipping tea (rather than spilling it).

How do I self care? I wish I could say I always make the right choice- Oh I put on some slow jamz and read a book while sipping on camomile tea infused with honey and ginger and waiting for my tea tree oil facemask to set. In reality I spend most of my free time staring at my screen until my eyes burn and then I go on to have a restless punctuated sleep. In fact this lockdown has been terrible to my eyes as I spend every waking hour in front of one screen or the other without the usual break (usually in commute). My poor eye has been twitching for weeks now.

I really should take care of myself by putting down my phone, turning off the computer and TV and just revel in the peace and silence while giving my eyes a break from the glare. This is what I should do, but will I? It is especially hard when one lives alone: technology becomes a substitute for other humans; the television and phone help keep me company at the detriment of my eyes. Which is why I am now here wearing oversized sunglasses in the privacy of my room.

Still sometimes I do indulge myself. These are my self-care tips, and by that I mean these are things I would like to be doing but can’t seem to sustain.

Looking up expensive apartments that I cannot yet afford: Very few things make me happier than fantasising over the house I would one day like to live in. A picture of a comfortable couch is enough to set me off for a few minutes. I could spend hours looking pictures of people’s living rooms, watching apartment tours on youtube, following the interior decorating trend on social media. Sometimes I even go on the Ikea website and screenshot pictures of the furniture I like. It may be weird, but simply looking at the pictures invokes all sorts of feelings in me; nostalgia and a longing for home. I like all the staged instagram pictures of people in bed with cozy socks and a cup of tea. I long for a cosy flat of my own-with a lovely parlour, a luxurious bathtub, a balcony, and a garden. Until I have my own I shall live vicariously through everyone else.

Reading cozy blogs: Hygge was all the rage that year, and of course I paid no attention to it until recently. Now I realise that I have been in pursuit of hygge all along- that cozy contentment- and I cannot get enough of it. I like reading those lifestyle blogs which drip coziness in each sentence- “I snuggled in front of the fire with a steaming cup of mint tea.” Of course it would be better to actually practice hygge rather than just reading about it. I would like to have breakfast with a view on my balcony, and snuggle in front of the fireplace on bitterly cold nights and soak for an hour in a nice tub. For now I try to make myself as cozy as possible in little ways- making myself breakfast and eating it in bed while watching television. I buy myself flowers and art for my room to make it more homely and cozy.

Treat yo self!: Spend money on yourself yes. It is good to be prudent with money, but sometimes you do need to treat yourself to some goodies. Buy that coat that you have had your eye on. Treat yourself to brunch. Buy the dress that makes you feel beautiful. Book yourself a spa treatment just because. Do not wait for a special occasion, just go ahead and treat yourself. Terms and conditions apply-Do not blame me if you spend your rent money on a spa treatment and are now homeless.

Be more organised aka be nice to your later self: Sometimes is self care to be a little disorganised and spend the day relaxing rather than organising. Still, disorganisation can lead to stress and anxiety. I have spent so many mornings stressed out because I am running late to catch the train and I still can’t figure out what to wear. Sometimes in a temporary moment of sanity I set out my clothes the night before and it makes such a difference. Be nice to your later self and make things easier for her. It is easier to think tomorrow will deal with itself and then when tomorrow does arrive you are stressed out to the max, wishing you had handled it yesterday.

Taking the time to clear out and clean your room is also self care. The cleaning process itself can be calming (turn on some music or a TV show as you do this) and afterwards you are left with a nice clean space which is calming as well. I like to do a thorough clean and declutter and then take a nice hot shower after. Then I can lie in bed and just relax, feeling rejuvenated and happy.

Eat well: Of course it can be self-care to stuff your face with ice cream and chocolate, sometimes it is absolutely necessary. However eating junk all the bloody time is bound to make you feel bleh and icky and that is just not groovy (lol what?). This does not mean you should start drinking celery juice (although I have heard it is good for you) but just be mindful of your diet.

Mindfully engage your time: Time goes by so quickly; one minute it is 7am and in a twinkling it is midnight. It is easy to feel down if you feel you have wasted the entire day. Self-care must be planned into your day rather than just passively meaning to do it. I have so many face masks that I keep planning to use but then I wake up and fritter away the day until it is time for bed, and I postpone it to tomorrow and again and again.

The bottom line is this: do more of what makes you feel happy. There are women who have put on full makeup (false eyelashes included) everyday of the lockdown, and while there might be discussion to be had here about self esteem and social media and keeping up appearances, if it makes them happy then why not? Spending days on end in various pyjamas feeling and looking raggedy can be depressing. Once in a while if you feel like it, get dressed, style your hair, spray perfume and make yourself feel good.

So long chaps! Be sure to take care of yourself. I have baked some brownies and will now devour the whole thing in the tin with some strawberry cheesecake ice cream, right after I paint my nails bright red.