That is the only way I can sum up the past few days. It’s been a madhouse over here.
When my partner and I decided that I wouldn’t return to work after quitting my last job, that instead I would double up on my university load so I could graduate a year early, hectic was not the way I envisioned my days. I imagined a life in which I studied calmly, finished assignments early, wrote voraciously, kept the house clean and cooked wonderful meals. With so much free time, how could I ever run out of it?
Where does it all go? I wake up every morning at 5am, sit down at the computer then suddenly it’s 11.30. Then I make lunch and blink and it’s 4pm. I never seem to have enough time to fit everything in, I’m always rushing or late with something. It reminds me of that demeaning line that people say to unemployed homemakers, ‘But what do you do all day?’
There is no answer to that question. You just do stuff. You do stuff from the second you wake up til the second you go to sleep, and if you get time to have a coffee or scratch yourself in between, you count yourself lucky. Then something else lands on your plate. Like the fact that my sister and brother-in-law are in Asia, completely and utterly off the grid, and their housemate has had to be rushed to hospital for a lung transplant. She has been on the waiting list for so long that they obviously didn’t expect it to happen while they were away, otherwise I’m sure they would have made plans to be more contactable. I hope they would have.
Long story short, we are now babysitting their giant English Pointer, 30kgs of unrestrained energy in a streamlined body. She is absolutely the most needy creature I have ever met, and that’s saying something. She needs 10km walks and trips to the beach everyday, which fits in really well with my schedule…
At least I’m getting some exercise.
And just when I thought she was getting along a little better with our domineering and territorial cat, (aptly named Zeus), they had a little tiff in the backyard. Zeus hissed some curse words that I had never heard of, she must be getting in with a really dodgy crowd. She’ll be getting a stern talking to, if she ever comes out from under the house. So now I have one AWOL cat and one sulky dog, the perfect companion for a gorgeous sunny Saturday afternoon. I need a stiff drink.
So I did allude to the fact a while back that I was reading How To Be Idle, by Tom Hodgkinson. Oh irony! Thou art a cruel mistress. It might not surprise you to hear that I haven’t managed to finish this book yet, sadly, but I am going to tell you about it anyway. Why? Because it’s just that good.
Hodgkinson takes us through a well reasoned and well researched argument into why we should relax, and be more idle. The contents page itself is delightful, rather than chapter numbers we have hours of the day, as we are taken on a meandering journey, from:
8 a.m.: Waking Up Is Hard To Do
through to 1 a.m.: Sex and Idleness
through to 7 a.m. A Waking Dream.
Hodgkinson advocates the lost art of loafing, promoting sleeping in, skiving off work, napping, drinking and enjoying a hangover. This isn’t a frivolous or mocking piece of writing; though it is humorous. Rather, Hodgkinson supports every statement he makes by providing examples from history, examples which make our modern day life of go-go-go! seem unnecessary and slightly ridiculous. Every page of this book makes you ponder your own life, questioning your very morals and values.
Travailler moins, produire plus. The less you work the more you produce. Work expands to fit the time provided.
Yes, Mr. Hodgkinson, yes it does.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, unfulfilled or are simply on a holiday, grab a copy of this book as soon as you possibly can. It is a beautifully well written manifesto on how to reclaim your life, how to slow down and put yourself first and enjoy yourself while doing so.
And if I ever get a day to myself, I may actually finish reading it.
This is a short review because I want to squeeze in an update on the Paperbook magazine. It is coming along wonderfully, I have some absolutely fantastic work pouring in already. I just wanted to pass on some information for those people who are a little unsure of what it’s all about…
- Firstly, please please PLEASE don’t feel nervous or shy about sending work in. I am not a critic or a horrible editor, I will not under any circumstances tell you that your work is bad. Some people have commented that they need to gather their courage before sending something in, to that I say: Listen to the Dutch! Have a stiff drink! Write, draw or photograph something and email it to me, don’t pause to reflect! You will be glad you did.
- Just another reminder that the work should be original, meaning it should not have already been published on your blog. The reason behind this is that I really want this magazine to be fresh and innovative, containing fantastic work that no one will have read before. After the magazine is out, you can feel free to link it to your blog, write a post about your work or do anything else you want to with it. (Providing it’s legal).
- Send in absolutely anything you like, from a haiku to a short story (<800 words). There is no limit on room, because hey, I make the rules.
- There is no deadline to send your work in before. Hopefully this will generate enough interest to be an ongoing project, meaning I will be looking for new work on a continual basis. If you have a brilliant idea one night, and you go to write it in your diary, on your blog, on the walls, whatever, send it to me instead. It will look great in the magazine.
- I would love to get some artwork in the magazine, anything from pen and ink sketches to photographs of your paintings or sculptures. I have an artist on board already, but variety is the spice of life, or so I’ve been told.
Once again, I want to thank everyone who has re-blogged, re-tweeted, commented, emailed or otherwise shown support for this project. Stepping out on a limb like this is a huge challenge for me, but it is something that I am really passionate about and would love to see work.
So thank you, one and all, you are absolutely amazing and I would never have the courage to do this without you.
I need a drink.