How not to be lonely

Giac has left for Italy on Thursday which is five days ago, and he will be back on the 7th which is in eight days. This means I’m home alone for thirteen whole days. This is quite a big deal for someone like me, who jumps at every suspicious squeaky noise, switches one room’s light on before switching the other room’s light off, and generally is afraid of their own shadow.

I absolutely hate being home alone. My anxiety escalates to a whole new level. Plus, I feel lonely as heck (in spite of being a huuuge introvert). But mainly I have mini panic attacks over the stupidest things.

When I was younger and my parents went on holidays leaving me alone for like a month, instead of turning into a party animal, inviting all my friends over, trashing the house and getting smashed, I would pretty much never leave my room, envisioning the worst case scenario of me dying in the most horrible circumstances and nobody finding my rotting body for weeks. I would have a very hard time sleeping, ending up spending the night on Tumblr and eating cold pizza at 3am.

The things I’m normally terrified of include being murdered, being robbed, slipping on the bathroom floor and banging my head, having a heart attack, fainting, in fact having any medical condition that will lead to my death, leaving the gas running, setting the house on fire, chocking on food, locking myself out, not being able to open a jar and consequently starving to death, spiders.

Since I now live in Wellington I felt obliged to add “dying all alone in an earthquake” to the list.

These are all things that I genuinely believe could happen. And now I’m home alone with so much time on my hand and too much time to think and I haven’t freaked out yet but I know it will happen so how to cope?

I made a list.

  • Don’t oversleep
    I’m doing my best to get out of bet at 7.30 every morning, because if I snooze and snooze I end up wasting my morning and messing up my entire day. Being by myself doesn’t mean that I don’t have to stick to a schedule.
  • Stick to a schedule
    A.k.a. Carry on with your life.
    For some reason, the fact that Giac is away makes me feel like I’m on holidays a little bit. But the reality is that I do have things to do (job hunting, mainly), so I’m trying to stick to my regular schedule – which als0 means that I only have time to remember that I’m alone once the day is over.
  • Get dressed
    Even if I’m not going anywhere, the moment I get up I make a point of changing into something that is not my pyjamas. This helps me not to feel too sluggish and be more productive throughout the day.
  • Get out
    Even if it’s just for a quick morning walk, getting some fresh air is super duper important. I try my best not to be home all day. In fact, unless I’ve got something to do at home, I’d go to the library and get some stuff done there.
  • Shower
    It’s so easy to bask in my own filth for days since I don’t have to share my living space with anyone and I can avoid being around people. But showering reminds me how to be a functional human being, so I make sure I scrub myself head to toe at least once a day.
  • Brush your teeth
    As part of the personal hygiene scheme, brushing my teeth after every meal is also something I need to remind myself. Again, not being around people doesn’t mean that you can neglect your oral care.

(I am aware that these are very basic actions that anyone with a grain of common sense would perform on a daily basis without the need of a reminder, but you have no idea how easy it is for me to let myself go when I’m home alone for longer than two days.)

  • Keep yourself entertained
    So important! There’s nothing worse than being bored when you already feel lonely. Since Giac left I’ve been out of the house almost all day every day, sunbathing, picking strawberries, making art … Plus I’ve been going to the gym/running/longboarding every single day. If I keep it up I’ll be fit as heck when he comes back.
  • Eat
    Food is a big deal for me, because when I’m home alone I tend to either forget to eat or eat too much, and when I do eat it normally happens not at a table but standing by the kitchen sink, shoving cold pasta in my face straight from the tupperware. Not good. So I’ve planned every single meal I’m having until Giac is back, and I also prepped everything so even if I’m starving I’m not tempted to just eat plain bread but I’ll make sure I have a whole balanced and nutritious meal ready to go in the fridge.
  • Be home when it’s dark
    Not that there’s anything to worry about in New Zealand, where the average of homicides per year is 72 in the whole country (it’s 137 in London alone). But when I do have my mini panic attacks, they always happen when it’s dark. So at least if I’m home I know I can just go to bed, or make myself a cup of tea, or watch some funny YouTube videos, and feel safe.
    (Plus I’m blind as a bat in the dark.)
  • Treat yoself
    What better excuse to make yourself feel special than thinking you’ve been abandoned? Of course that’s not the case, but it sure helps justifying the fact that you’re eating at Burger Fuel for the third time in four days.
  • See friends
    No boyfriend = more time to spend with your friends! I don’t have many but I’m seeing them as much as I can. Especially those who are also jobless, so we can keep each other company heehee.
    Also did I say boyfriend? I meant husband. (Or roommate.)
  • Explore
    So many new places! I made a list (duh) of all the places I want to walk to or eat at or shop from, and I’ slowly ticking them off. You don’t need an excuse to go exploring but for me it’s more of another thing to do to keep myself busy, and have new places to take Giac when he’s back.

Fun fact: The first night I was by myself I locked the door with an extra door chain just to feel safe, then found out the next morning that I’d left the key in the keyhole outside the whole time.

You consume me

Moving to New Zealand has changed a whole bunch of things in my life, one of them being the relationship I have with my possessions.

Life in the Southern Hemisphere is very different from my previous life in London. One of the biggest differences is the impression I constantly have that time has stretched. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t have a job, but at the same time it’s also true that life is so much slower here, which makes me think it’s ok for me to literally take my time – do things at my own pace, don’t rush, and take it easy.

giphy-2

In the past months, I’ve had a lot of time to think. This is not necessarily a good thing, however – if I manage to not let my stress and anxiety creep up and overwhelm my poor synapses – it also means that I can do a lot of research on things I’m passionate about and reflect on my actions and the impact they have on my surroundings and on my own life.

I’ve obviously been very much into the whole Zero Waste thing, minimalism, and downsizing my material possessions. One thing I’ve learned is that the whole point of simple living is finding what’s important to you. Simple living for me doesn’t mean to only own two pieces of clothing and a pair of chopsticks. Minimalism and downsizing don’t have to be synonyms with depriving yourself of anything. To me, it makes sense to get rid of anything that doesn’t bring me joy or that doesn’t serve me. If it’s something that I feel it weights me down or it stresses me out, I’ll get rid of it.
But at the same time I’m also incorporating more things into my life, I’m purchasing things that I believe will make my life better and me happier.

My goal is to only own things that I love and that are functional to my lifestyle.

Since we moved into our apartment about four months ago, I’ve been into my wardrobe at least once a week if not more, staring at all my clothes and trying to decide what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to chuck.
I have been chucking (by which I mean, donating) at least a third of my clothes. (This is a lot, considering I had already downsized quite a bit before moving to New Zealand altogether.) What I donated were things that I never wore, that didn’t fit me, or that I didn’t like. What is still in my wardrobe are things I love, things I wear all the time, and things I’m emotionally attached to (which I’m ok to keep, by the way).

However, the other day I went shopping for some clothes. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping for clothes. I’ve never particularly liked going shopping, which is proved by the fact that a good part of my clothes I’ve had since I was in high school (yeah, they still fit). But this time I went because I realised that after my wardrobe cleanout I was left with mismatching clothes and I was missing some good quality, durable staples.
For example, I’m all set for summer weather (which is ironic, considering I haven’t been living in a place where summer is a thing for the past five years), but I’m very unprepared for winter (which is double ironic, for the same exact reason). So I set off to go get myself some warm fluffy jumpers.

Now. This shopping experience was nothing like I’d ever thought a shopping experience could be like.

giphy

I’ve never been so conscious about what I was gonna buy. There are two reasons for this.
The first one is that I recently watched The True Cost (you can read my thoughts about it here) and I’ve decided I’m never ever going to buy anything that comes from unethical and unsustainable suppliers. The second reason is more subtle and complicated.
Since about June last year, I’ve had to be very VERY careful about all my expenses.  I’ve always been quite penny-pinching, but travelling and being jobless really takes stinginess to the next level. Obviously not having money to spare completely changes your perspective on the things you can afford to buy. Plus living off the same two outfits for four months makes you realise that yes it is boring as hell, but you really don’t need that many clothes or that many things in general, for that matter.
Since I moved to New Zealand, my attention has shifted from what I want, to what I need. So much so that even when I finally had some money to spare and I could finally afford to go shopping, I realised I wasn’t feeling that thrill of buying things that I was expected I’d get after months and months of restriction.

I made a mental note of the shops I wanted to visit (all second-hand, independent retailers or shops that sell sustainable brands). Then I established my priorities: I would only buy things that are functional, multipurpose, good quality, and that I really liked. Finally, I set myself a budget.
With all these goals in mind, I set off for the most successful shopping trip of my life. I didn’t find everything I wanted (I’m still on the hunt for a pair of black jeans and some good winter jumpers, which is going to be tricky considering it’s summer in New Zealand), but I’m so glad I managed to only shop in second-hand stores, I stayed well within my budget, and I’m absolutely in love with everything I got.

Ideally I want to get to a point where all I have, I love.

linus-blanket

I am so excited and amazed by all the changes I’m making in my life, for the better. I love the fact that I have so much time to do research and understand what’s becoming more and more important to me. I’m learning new values setting myself new priorities. And I’m very proud of the person I’m becoming.

Book review – The Girls

WARNING! Minor spoilers.

FullSizeRender (5).jpg

On my bedside table: The Girls by Emma Cline

Why I picked it up: This novel came out when I was still working at Hachette in London and I remember a bunch of colleagues praising and applauding it. I was immediately intrigued by the cover (although the US version is better than the UK one, in my humble opinion) as well as by the California/summer/Sixties/hippie-ness aura around it. I knew it was getting brilliant reviews but I wanted to wait for the paperback, as I don’t particularly like the hardback format (plus they are too expensive). But then we moved to New Zealand and I wasn’t technically allowed to buy books, so I postponed it again, until I got a library card here in Wellington and saw they had a copy in the Bestsellers section. I grabbed it straight away.

What it is about: The novel is set in Northern California and the story is told by the point of view of Evelyn Boyd over two different time periods, the present and the summer of 1969. Present-day Evelyn seems to be dragging the remains of her teenage years loneliness with her, as she house-sits for an old friend and is reminded of her obscure and troubled past by a couple of teenagers’ remarks. This gives her the change to bring back to life her fourteen-year-old self, loundign around on long summer days and jostling between her mother’s ever-changing boyfriends and her own lack of friends.
But everything changes when she stumbles upon Suzanne: barefoot, filthy, long wild haired, stealing toilet paper from the local store. To Evie, she is the epitome of freedom. Suzanne exhales an incredibly attracting energy that Evie can’t excape. She becomes obsessed with her, until Suzanne takes her to the ranch – this excluded, dilapidated commune inhabited by an extensive group of other girls and kids and run by Russell –somebody who you will immediately dislike if you’re a woman reader, but who the girls in the book seem to adore. Evie is irremediably drawn into this circle of nonconformist, anti-establishment people.
As the story progresses, for us outside spectators it becomes more and more clear that something is going terribly wrong. But for Evie, desperate to feel accepted, living at the ranch is her chance to finally be part of something. As she retracts more and more from her old civilised life and gets more involved in what seems to her a new exotic world, everything around her starts to crumble, until the cult reveals itself in its true deadly essence.

Would I recommend it: Holy moly yes. This book is such a page-turner. When “the murder” is first mentioned, it came as a total surprise to me. Although it was clear that something was going to happen to break the placid flowing of events, I personally wasn’t expecting anything so dramatic. (But I’m also terrible at predicting anything at all, for that matter.)
However, I feel like the killing is nothing but a minor part of what the author really wants to project. What stuck the most with me is the general feeling that the novel conveys, which is more about the loneliness of growing up without points of reference, in a disrupted family, and with a desperate need to feel loved and to belong. Emma Cline is brilliant at developing a story where the pages are heavy with almost tangible sensations that require your whole body and senses to step into play: when you read you can almost feel the summer heath on your skin, the earthy smell of oaks and pines, the dirt between your toes.

fullsizerender-1