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Slow Going

The decluttering is coming along slowly. I know slow progress is better than no progress, but I still feel bad about how much I end up keeping. I managed to clear out about half of my goth-y clothes and took them to the donation bin, but I couldn't bear to part with the rest so they're now bagged up and just sitting in a corner mocking me with my failure.

I did get rid of a load of old sixth-form college work, so that's a success. I glanced at some of my physics notes and wondered how on earth I ever understood any of it in the first place. It's definitely not anything I'm going to be using again! And as well as my actual work I'd also kept pretty much every piece of paper ever given to me so, you know, if anyone is interested in applying to university in 2002 I have a lot of literature that could be useful to you. Although you will have to go through my recycling in order to get it...

I also threw away a lot of plastic toys and action figures, mostly ones that I bought while at university for the photo story that Sarah and I had a lot of fun planning out and coming up with ideas for but never actually finished. I did feel sad throwing them away, but it's not like I've got any use for them any more. I hold on to so many things from my past that I don't need or even want any more because for some reason it feels wrong to get rid of them. Almost like I feel I might suddenly return to the me of fifteen years ago and suddenly have a desperate need for that stuff again.

I think that's actually a big part of my problem. There's so much stuff I feel like I have to keep cos past-me needed it. I just have to keep reminding myself that past-me is me and if I don't need it now then I don't need it.
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Turing Challenge

To celebrate Alan Turing being the face of the new £50 note, GCHQ have released a series of puzzles called The Turing Challenge. They call it their toughest ever puzzle but that's clearly a lie. I have the GCHQ puzzle book and most of the things in there make my brain hurt, but I raced through the first ten of these. Number 11 took a lot longer and I'm still a bit annoyed about it. And then number 12 had me raging about how pre-decimal coinage makes NO SENSE and I ended up having to reverse engineer some of the answers cos I'd never even heard of them! Still, it was a lot of fun and I loved doing it. And now I can feel smart and accomplished. Yay me!
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One Year Later

Today marks a year since the UK went into its first lockdown. A lockdown anniversary, if you will. I remember going into work and not knowing what was going to happen but still thinking that this would probably all be over in a matter or weeks or months at the most. It was such a weird and eerie time back then. Almost everything shut, long queues for people to get into the supermarket, people panic buying pasta and toilet paper, customers decked out in gloves and aprons. It felt so different to this lockdown. Back then you could really imagine the world was ending, but there's a lot more normality this time. Still a far cry from normal, of course, but closer to it.

I still don't know how long it will be before things get back to truly normal, if indeed they ever do.

And I don't know when I'll get back to normal, or what that will even be for me. I was never hugely sociable before but I did love the trips that I did take and I worry that I won't even have those any more.

But who knows. No one can say what's going to happen. Things might go back to normal and I'll be posting about my upcoming holiday this time next year. Or we could have a third wave and I'll be marking a second year of lockdown. Who knows?
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Happy Lunar New Year (of Decluttering)

Happy Year of the Ox everyone! It's my mum's year! We were talking about the Chinese zodiac at work on Friday and I discovered that my colleague is a pig like me so I looked up what characteristic we're supposed to have. Apparently I seek out social situations whenever possible and will stay up all night cleaning a messy room cos I'm so organised. You know, I'm getting the feeling that it's almost like astrology might not be entirely accurate...

Speaking of organisation (or lack thereof), I am continuing on with my decluttering mission. At the moment I'm trying to empty out cupboards and drawers of stuff that's been sitting in them untouched for literally decades. Then I'll have space to put away the things I actually use that have been cluttering up other areas of the house. I am slightly worried that by putting the new things away I'm condemning them to the same fate of being forgotten for years though. I have a real problem with object permanence and once something is put away I often forget it exists. So my plan is to try and put absolutely everything away so I have to go and get things when I need them. My hope is that, by doing this, I'll keep the items and their locations alive in my mind and will be much more efficient with my use of space and storage. Of course once this is done I'm going to have to keep on top of it and be careful not to leave things out cos I know myself, I'll just end up using those things again and again and forget everything else.

Having said all this, I'm almost doing the opposite with some items. Often when I get given something as a present or bring it back from holiday I'll think it's too nice to use and should be saved for a special occasion, so I'll put it away to keep it safe. But that's stupid cos then I end up forgetting about them and never using them and they goes to waste. I don't want to re-clutter the place with these things, but I do want to put them in locations where they I know where they are so they can be seen and used, rather than shoved in a box at the back of a cupboard doing nothing.

I have far too many cupboards full of stuff that's doing nothing.

One area I'm really struggling with is my clothes. The logical part of my brain says I should just clear out my wardrobe of all those goth-y clothes I haven't worn in ten years and probably never will again, but they're just so pretty. I also have other things that I haven't worn in so long but every time I go to get rid of them I start thinking that I might want them in the future. I have finally made myself throw away things from my childhood that would obviously never fit me again but I kept cos of pointless sentimentality, so that's progress at least.

Other examples of progress include getting rid of boxes that I've held onto for years for no good reason and throwing away my soap collection. When I was a kid I collected different shaped soaps and I kept feeling like I couldn't get rid of them cos they'd been so important to me in the past. But they were just old soaps covered in dust taking up space that I could use for other things, so in the bin they went. (I did consider using them as actual soaps so they'd at least be useful, but they were really old.)
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The promised snow arrived yesterday and looked very pretty. The promised sleet did not follow so there was still a white blanket over everything this morning. Apparently we're due more next weekend as well.

In news that will surprise precisely no one, I haven't made much progress on my New Year goals. But I have been making a lot of progress in my mission to declutter the house. I'm very much a packrat, a trait which I inherited from both my parents, so our house has an awful lot of stuff in. I cleared a lot of it a few years ago after Dad died but it's piling up again and I need to do a better job of letting go of things that I haven't used in years but for some reason convinced myself would be useful or important some day. I think I'm finally getting there now and I'm feeling quite good about it. I just hope I can keep up this momentum and not fall back into old bad habits.

Work has been quiet recently, which isn't surprising, so my hours have been cut right down. I'm actually quite happy about that at the moment cos it means more time to focus on the house but I hope it's not going to be permanent. I'm not too worried yet cos this has happened before and my hours always go up again, but I will admit to being slightly concerned considering what's happening to a lot of people and businesses right now.

And finally, it's Burns Night so I'm enjoying a wee dram of whisky. And wishing I could go back to Scotland again. I love Scotland.
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Well, so far the first day of 2021 is going pretty well. Work was fairly quiet with no problems or horrible customers. Possibly because most people assume we'll be closed New Year's Day. Which, to be honest, I think we could be. It would make us all a lot happier too.

This is the point where I look back at the resolutions specific goals I made for myself this time last year and have to admit that I have failed every single one of them in every single way.

1. Find a form of exercise that I don't hate. I'm sorry, I just hate exercise. I could say I was hampered by the gyms having to close, but if I'm honest with myself I'd have been too scared to go anyway.

2. Post all of my 2019 365 photos before the end of 2020. Did I post a single 365 photo last year? No. No, I did not. I don't know why I keep procrastinating this so much. Possibly because most days I took quite a few pics and I'll have to choose which ones to use and, as we all know, I am forever paralysed by indecision.

3. Finish reading all the books I've got on the go right now (Furiously Happy, Wild Magic, The President is Missing, A Dance With Dragons: Dreams and Dust) before the end of 2020. I did not finish a single one of those books. But I did read bucketloads of fanfic. Of which I also have multiple stories on the go at any one time cos I keep starting a new one before I've finished the old.

4. Post the fanfiction that I'm currently working on. It is still not posted. It is also still not finished and, as with everything else on this list, I have made little to no progress on it in the last twelve months. I did start writing three other fics though, which is not at all helpful for this particular goal.

So there we have it. Total fail. I feel like I should be able to blame 2020 for this. Everything about that year was just crazy and I don't think it should count.

Actually, yeah, that's what I'm going to do. 2020 doesn't count and I'm trying again. Here are my New Year's Goals for 2021:

1. Walk more. (I'm never going to like formal exercise, but I do enjoy walking around places. Especially if it's a good place for photography. Hopefully it won't be long before I can travel again too.)

2. Post all of my 2019 365 photos before the end of 2021. (I'm not giving up on this just because it's two years ago now.)

3. Get back into reading books and finish all the ones I've got on the go right now. (I do love fics and I'm not going to stop reading them, but I should try and branch out a little. Get a bit more variety in my reading habits.)

4. Post the fanfictions that I'm currently working on. (Yes, all of them. Probably won't happen but I can try. I need to make myself sit down and actually focus on writing though, which has been difficult lately.)

So there we have it. My goals for this year. Hopefully I will do a better job of achieving them this time around!
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Good Riddance, 2020

Only a few hours of 2020 left now and I think it's safe to say that we'll all be happy to see the back of this dumpster fire of a year. I know that things won't magically change overnight, but I'm still hopeful that 2021 will bring better things. Eventually. Maybe.

Normally I try to stay up until midnight to watch the London fireworks on TV, but they're not having any this year. Apparently they'll be showing the highlights of 2020 instead, which I assume is just a 30 second clip of Captain Tom Moore walking around a garden. I'm working tomorrow morning and I'm genuinely considering just going to bed at my normal time this evening. It'll be the first time I haven't stayed up to see the New Year in for as long as I can remember though, which feels a bit sad. But doesn't that just perfectly sum up 2020?
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Merry Christmas!


Christmas Selfie! =D

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. Mum and I are enjoying opening presents and drinking Bucks Fizz. She hasn't yet reached the one with the now-traditional puzzle to solve, but it's not far away.

Also, because I am that unfortunate combination of vain and ugly, I took multiple pics trying to find one I liked for the selfie at the top of this entry. In honour of that, have three more where I don't completely hate my face:

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Merry Christmas!
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One More Sleep

I have eggnog in my glass and Muppets on my TV. Happy Christmas Eve everyone!

Also, I came so close to winning Whamageddon this year thanks to the sound system being broken at work, but they fixed it just in time for me to fall at the final hurdle. Alas!
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Tiers and Tiers

Greetings from Plague Island where the government has well and truly scuppered everyone's Christmas plans. To be honest I'm not hugely surprised, it was always going to be a bad idea to allow three households to meet up for five days, but I am disappointed. Mum and I weren't ever planning on having a big gathering, we just wanted my brother (and his partner if she didn't have other plans) to come round, but they're in Tier 4 now so aren't allowed to go anywhere.

We're still in Tier 2 at the moment, but will be leapfrogging Tier 3 to join them in Tier 4 on Boxing Day. The main consequence of that being I'm going to get shouted at again by loads of customers who don't watch the news and think the shop being collection only is some sort of personal attack on them. So that's something to look forward to.

I'm still trying to embrace festive spirit though. I've watched Christmas episodes of The Nanny and Lois & Clark, along with The Princess Switch: Switched Again, A Knight for Christmas, and The Man Who Invented Christmas. I'm working until 4 tomorrow but am still hopeful that I'll be able to fit in the traditional viewing of The Muppet Christmas Carol afterwards.

The presents are wrapped and under the tree, even the ones that won't be opened for who-knows-how-long, there are mini reindeer lights around my laptop, and I'm drinking a spiced orange IPA. In many ways, it feels wonderfully Christmassy and I'm doing my best to hold on to that feeling.