The Edge of 40.

I turn 40 tomorrow.

I did hope that I would at least be able to wander the non essential shops by the time my birthday came around, but I think we all knew that was never going to happen. I wasn’t thinking about doing anything big on my birthday even if were not in lockdown during a global pandemic, to be honest. I’m not one for wanting to mark my milestones with a massive party or some other big event. I was getting the “what are you going to do for your 40th?” questions from some quarters when I was 37, for goodness sake.

I wish that I had managed to get a bit further with the “Things I want to do before I’m 40” list before old Rona came along, but I suppose it just gives me more reason to try and work on them again when all this is over (because it will be, my friends). In the meantime, I will spend tomorrow indoors, in the warmth, stuffing my face with cake and watching more TV than I should be doing. However I might decide to go for a walk too if it’s not too cold.

(Also what is all this about people in my country sharing themselves walking in the snow barefoot on social media? Why would you do that?)

When is the cut off point to wish people Happy New Year?

I’m thinking it was at least a week ago, but this is my first blog post of 2021, so I suppose I can get away with it. Just.

I hope you’re all ok at the moment. Me? I’m Ok, plodding on as best I can. To be honest, I’d be spending most of January at home anyway so I’m not too bothered by being in lockdown again. I did hope that it would have been loosened a little by February, mainly as my birthday is next month (and it’s a milestone one). It’s also my friend’s birthday as well a few days before mine and we usually meet up for lunch. Just as with Christmas, we’ll be exchanging presents through the post (that was fun – and expensive). We’ve said we’ll go away for a weekend once it’s safe to. In the meantime, the celebrations will be safe indoors and maybe on the other side of a screen.

A Public Service Announcement for the UK

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, especially not this year

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, I’m making it very clear

I know that you might have to stay at home

It sucks that you might have to spend it alone

But don’t be a dick at Christmas, especially not this year.

Don’t be a dick at Christmas if you can see your fam

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, no fighting in front of your mam

Don’t moan about what you did or didn’t get

Don’t throw the remote at the TV set

Just don’t be a dick at Christmas, no matter what your tier.

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, we know it might be tough

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, we’ve honestly had enough

Of you crying ”it’s all a conspiracy!”

”It’s all down to Bill Gates and 5G!”

Give it a rest, it’s Christmas! Shut up and have a beer.

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, I’m telling you one last time

Don’t be a dick at Christmas, leave the mistletoe and whine

Don’t brag about the size of your present pile

Don’t share it on Facebook, that’s just vile

Don’t spend all day scrolling on your phone

Don’t have a drink if you need to drive home

Sorry that you can’t go to the pub

Or have twenty people round for your Christmas grub

But please don’t be a dick at Christmas, especially not this year.

Spark Posted

One thing that I’ve found myself doing a lot since I downloaded Adobe Spark Post, is using it to put down my thoughts. Whenever I’ve felt stressed, or a random idea has come into my head, I’ve tapped it in the app, playing with all the various fonts and backgrounds until I’ve found one that suits the text.

Following the news regarding my home town of Manchester this week (as well as the government voting to not extend free school meals over school holidays), I made this. A simple graphic, with a message that is short and to the point.

You know he is. He really is.

Juvenile? Yes, but it felt so good to get it out of my head.

(If anyone in Greater Manchester or beyond wants to use the above graphic by the way, feel free to screenshot or save the image however you want)

Lockdown update part 4

Lockdown measures are easing a bit and many of the shops are opening again. While going for a wander around Primark or going to Greggs for my first cheese and onion bake in months is tempting, I think it might still be a while before I have the energy for a full on shopping trip. I don’t fear setting foot in a shopping centre, I’ve just become a whole lot lazier these last few weeks. I’ve also focussed more on getting the stuff I need rather than the stuff I want. Amazon, surprisingly has become a lifesaver for me the last couple of months, as I’ve found that things I would normally have got online from other suppliers have been much easier and quicker to get from them. I never knew that they sold certain toiletries until a near three week wait for a delivery from a well known health and beauty retailer at the height of the lockdown period forced me to source some of the more urgent items sooner.

I’ve been spending more time sorting stuff at the house, ahead of the final stages (hopefully) of the renovation. It seems like I find more magazines from years ago the more often I go. I mean, I did read a LOT of comics as a kid as well as anything that I could get my hands on bar the more grown up stuff. I’m just shocked we still had so many of them when I’m sure we were regularly recycling a lot of them up until a few years ago.

I found a sketchbook at the house from when I was about 13. Was reminded I did have a bit of drawing ability back then, even if it was mostly drawing cartoon and video game characters. My drawing skills are practically non-existent now (my sister was the real artist in the family), but I was always more into writing.

I’ve added more to my Spotify playlist because I was bored.

I’m looking forward to being able to go away again. Some might moan about “staycations”, but I love going on holidays in the UK. I admit I currently have limited options, what with having not renewed my passport yet. But even if I did have a valid one I’d still choose holidaying on home turf. It’s just how I am.

I miss my friends more than ever, but I’m feeling more hopeful that I’ll get to see them before the end of September at least.

I learned that another term for smartphone addiction is nomophobia. I’m not one to self-diagnose based on what I find on the internet, but…

My Life Story were a hugely underrated band. “If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?” should have been massive, as should “12 Reasons Why I Love Her” but I think we already knew that.

And that is about it for now. Hope everything is well with you.

Lockdown update part 3

Since the last time I posted:

I have been going out for walks nearly every day. Just getting outside for even a ten minute walk around the block has helped me a lot, mentally and physically.

I’m having to get used to blogging on a smartphone since I’m unable to get my laptop back from storage at the moment (long story). I still find it a bit weird, but it’ll do for now.

I’m thinking about doing a course on using Adobe Spark. I know the basics, but I’d like to know how to master it so that everything I create on it (like the image above) doesn’t scream “graphic design is my passion”. Thank God it doesn’t have comic sans, not that I would use it.

I said to my best mate that I hope I get to see her before Christmas. She answered “what year?”. Well, exactly.

Same friend also asked me if I was doing anything for my 40th next year. Mate, I don’t even feel 39 yet and it was my birthday in February.

I was nominated to do a Facebook challenge and I did it, Wouldn’t normally engage in any of those kind of challenges but it was about books so I gave it a go.

Expanded my list of people who can do one. The latest addition is people who post photos of beaches on social media to complain about people on the beach. It’s got to the point where I don’t know, or care if the photo was taken today or is a photo from years ago that’s being passed off as today. It’s ultimately about getting people outraged for likes and RTs. Bit sad really when you think about it.

I made another Spotify playlist because I was bored. I keep adding stuff to it when I’m bored, which is still quite often at the moment, as you might expect:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/53c5uIE1GFLA4zMojy9Qpp?si=u9IL3HhiSeym_6WQqc9VCQ

Have come to the conclusion that TikTok is just an app for videos of people doing the same dance routines to Blinding Lights and some Dutch song about MDMA and having sex with your dad (????)

Anyway, I hope that you are all keeping well during this time. How has your lockdown experience been?

Lockdown update

As of the 29th April, I’ve taken to writing a post by hand and posting a photo of it rather than typing it all out. Mainly out of pure laziness, but also because I don’t have my laptop at the moment. Here’s what I wrote:

In addition to the above:

I’ve started to crave Maltesers, Salt and Vinegar Square crisps, Haribo Starmix and Strawberry Hubba Bubba. Not together, obviously. Yes, I know I could go out and get them but I’m reserving my time out of the house for actual essentials.

I listened to the radio show of The Mighty Boosh on BBC Sounds. Now I’m wanting to watch the TV series again. Remind myself of the nights when BBC Three was actually on TV and I’d stay up to watch and admire this work of crazy genius (and, ahem, Noel Fielding. Well he was weirdly attractive).

I rate my mood out of five on most days as a two. Moving to a 3.5 later on in the day.

I need to get off twitter completely for a bit. Even reducing my amount of time checking it isn’t doing me much good.

Here ends the update. Hope you’re doing good.

Lockdown report

Aggretsuko. The cutest death metal head.

As of 21st April 2020:

I have only gone out of the house five times (excluding the times I’ve been in the garden) since lockdown began.

I have watched far too much Homes Under The Hammer.

I realised Aggretsuko is my spirit animal minus the singing of death metal at karaoke. I don’t do karaoke, but I have fantasised about screaming “YOU’RE A SHITTY BOSS!!!!!! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!!!!!” at former horrible managers.

I have taken part in a 30 day song challenge on Instagram. Normally I find these kind of challenges on any social media platform incredibly annoying but it is something to relieve the boredom. And it is interesting to find out what others I follow who are doing it post.

I got three letters from the hospital on the same day (two of them being the same letter). One was the dreaded letter telling me I was in the “at risk” group with me having a long term health condition and saying I should shield for 12 weeks. The other letter(s) were from my consultant which included a form to self assess my level of risk. The higher the score, the higher the risk. My score? 0. Therefore I don’t have to fully shield and can follow the social distancing protocols. Yes I’m confused, but thinking about it I’d rather have got the letters than not. It shows they’re looking out for us.

My anxiety has been through the roof.

I am grateful to live in the time of video calls and messaging apps.

I’ve reduced my twitter consumption if only to stop myself from getting upset and angry at 5G truthers and all other assorted idiots that are in overdrive during this time.

I’ve also reduced my Facebook time for the same reason. Thankfully, I don’t have many friends on there and the majority of them don’t engage with that kind of nonsense.

I believe Disney + came along at just the right time. And yes, The Mandalorian is magnificent.

I’m still meh about Killing Eve.

I downloaded Disney Sorcerer’s Arena on my phone. I deleted it after two days as it drained my phone battery faster than Fallout Shelter did a few years back. Good game though. That reminds me, I need to get a new phone when this is all over.

I also downloaded Incredibox. You have to pay for it, but it is a fun little app.

Been using Noted to empty my head of thoughts. Some potential blog material which I might share, then again might not.

I wrote about lockdown and ended up turning it into some weird poem that I’m kind of equal parts proud and embarrassed about.

My skin has gone bad.

I’m more tired than I’ve been for a while.

I’m doing my best to hold it together.

I hope you’re coping well.

A letter for whoever needs this right now.

Hi,

I hope this finds you well.

I know that right now things seem more than a bit weird. You might also be finding it a tad overwhelming at the moment, what with the near constant stream of information (and misinformation) that is coming through every day from media outlets. It’s natural that you will be worried about your friends and your family, especially all those who are at high risk. I know right now my own priority is ensuring that myself and my own family are safe and healthy.

If there is one piece of advice I can give to you in a situation like this is, don’t stress yourself out. Stress doesn’t just affect your mental health, it puts a strain on your physical health too. It can impact on your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and other illnesses. So even if you don’t pick up coronavirus, you could still pick up something else. Be aware of what’s going on, keep yourself informed, keep washing your hands (it’s very important), but please don’t let your attempts at protecting yourself from this virus mess up your health in other ways. It really isn’t worth it.

In the meantime, if you’re feeling a little more anxious than usual at the moment, take time for yourself as much as possible. Also:

Mute anything or anyone on social media that is posting negativity. Better still, take a break from social media altogether, it works wonders.

Restrict your news consumption. Having BBC News 24 on all day when you’re already feeling down will just make you feel worse, as will following news sites on twitter all day. Check the news once a day, any time apart when you wake up or before you go to bed. Maybe even get a newspaper (yes they still exist) just avoid the S*n or Daily Fail.

Try a mindfulness app. I’ve found that using Headspace has helped me a lot when I have had bouts of stress and anxiety. I particularly recommend their sleepcasts if you’re having difficulty sleeping.

Sleep well. Eat healthily. Exercise. Read. Listen to music and podcasts you love, or discover new ones to enjoy. Watch your favourite films and TV. Play games. Have a go making that thing you’ve said you wanted to make but have never had the time to. If you are having to self- isolate at this time, now you’ve a chance to do it.

Be kind to your body and mind. Remember life still goes on, just in a different way from what you’re used to.

Take care.

I did have a title for this.

Procrastination is not something I want to do. But I’ve been doing it even more so of late. I just can’t get myself motivated to do anything that I know needs doing . Maybe it’s down to currently having a lack of a routine. Maybe it’s down to my body getting used to being relaxed after such a long period of rushing around, being stressed and not having a chance to have a break. I don’t want to feel like I’m putting things off, I do want to feel like I am doing something necessary. Besides I promised myself that I wouldn’t be a lazy get.

Last week I created a list in my journal of tasks for the week. I had about three tasks for each day and I marked off each one I completed. Admittedly, I had more incomplete tasks than completed, but it was better that I managed to attempt some of them than none of them. That I made the effort to compile a list was also an achievement, I suppose.

How do you try to avoid putting things off? And how do you try to keep yourself busy?