It’s cold outside and I’m recovering from a horrible cold that I brought home with me from Scotland after being up to Edinburgh to see the man’s parents and family (and to catch up with some of our Scot friends). The whole trip went far too quickly which reminds me how fast January has skipped by. Well, more like dragged by because it is never my favourite month of the year – the xmas decorations get pulled down, you’re left with a bloated feeling with sugar cravings and you want to get out more but it’s *too cold*.

Right now, even with the heating on, my feet are freezing and I’ve got a bit of a brain freeze – general lethargy, I think. My OU work has slipped again, and I have to say that doing poetry in January is not inspiring. I would rather be doing fiction again. Or life writing. Anything but line and voice and stanzas. Thinking about poetry in form is actually quite debilitating because it makes your focus change towards restriction rather than writing down what you’re thinking and feeling about something. I also find some of the exercises in the textbook a bit boring at the moment. Which is sort of leading me to drop by the wayside with writing. Not good, but I guess since I’ve been ill, at least I have an excuse.

Edinburgh was okay, but too much money was spent on buying late xmas and birthday presents, going out for meals (only two, I hasten to add), and general stuff. Despite that, I’m still feeling optimistic at the moment since I’ve just been paid and am determined to keep track of every penny this month. I want to see how much I can save by being vigilant and trying to avoid temptation, no matter how much I really really really like that lovely stripy blazer at Dorothy Perkins, and the growing list of books and dvds I’ve got my beady eye on. I’m trying to block myself from becoming too attached to the images on my computer screen. Must not look at ASOS website or Amazon or Dorothy Perkins.

I have finished Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and recommend it – it was funny and bizarre but definitely worth it. I’m now reading Dear Fatty by Dawn French – she is a bundle of laughs and a very inspiring person. Her book sort of sucks you into her world and way of seeing things. I really identify with her zany outlook – she makes me realise that it’s okay to be silly, that laughing at stuff and mucking about is part of the joy of life. If we’re all too serious (and bloody hell, there’s too much to be serious about in this life), we run the risk of being overrun by depression and pointlessness. I don’t know, I always thought that Britain was pretty good for comedy and stuff, like it’s part of our general Britishness (along with the ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality). I’ve pretty much nearly finished her book already, and feel a bit sad that it’s nearly over. Of course, I can always go back and read it again for more laughs or watch some Vicar of Dibley!

Why is it that right now our world seems overrun by the need or desire to acquire things? Plus we have to pay for these things, one way or another. There’s the desire for that lovely pair of shoes or that interesting book or something, but that terrible guilt and indecision because we know we won’t thank ourselves later on when we really need that extra £10. This seems to be my problem – I already have too much stuff but seem to always be on the lookout for more stuff. Of course, we do all know that it’s ‘capitalism’ but why do we all sort of end up justifying our purchases then chasing happiness again a few weeks or even days later?

I know that things can’t give you happiness, but maybe the kind of happiness they do give you serves to distract you, even if just for a little while, from what’s going on in the world. Is it all a sort of mind numbing or anaesthesia for the masses? Buy this and you won’t have to think about where it comes from, who made it, and whether they are happy. I know that I sometimes wilfully conveniently forget that the things I have are made by someone else, and perhaps they are not living or working in the best conditions. I feel like, most of the time,  our lives are so far removed from the realities of life – our surroundings, our planet, our physicality. When you’re not a child any more, the world becomes smaller. Or maybe that’s just globalisation?

Then again, I think it’s easy to condemn capitalism without thinking about how, sometimes, things do connect us to the wider world – like the internet, for example. Books are the sharing of ideas, of ideals and information, and I for one, am glad that I can buy a book and support someone else’s ideas and imagination. I love clothes and make up and stuff, but in the end they are only superficial because most of us have so many items of clothing. They cease to just become something to wear, and become more of a leisure/identity thing. Whilst other people would love to have warm clothing, and don’t, because they can’t afford it.

So, I kind of feel like maybe the reason I, personally, sometimes feel so unhappy about money is because my feelings are too easily swayed because I can’t buy something. Yet I know that if I buy something just like that, it won’t be worth it because I won’t have waited and thought about whether I really need it or think it will make me truly happy. I do like to have things around me – but again, I know that it’s important to be careful about where you buy them from and if the person or people who made it really got a good wage. I have no idea if being in a recession has made people think more carefully about where they shop but everyone is looking for cheaper goods, which probably means people are losing out on wages somewhere.

To be honest, I think people talk too much and don’t think about how to solve these things. What will make people’s lives better? I’ve always felt that community and friendship and stories and love are the best things in life. Yet so many people are unhappy because even though they have love and family, they think not being able to afford the latest gadget or dvd is the worst thing ever. When my sister, mum and I went to New York a few years ago, we saw a desperate, begging woman on the street, with just a bin bag to cover her, in freezing cold night temperatures. It was so quick, just as we were rushing past, but her face has stuck in my head, and it was the first time I had really been shocked by extreme poverty (we did tell a homeless shelter stall the next day that we had seen her and told them whereabouts we saw her). I mean, even though there are many many homeless people in Britain, I have never seen someone as desperate. I know, I’m pretty sheltered, I guess.

Anyway, the reason I was thinking about all this is because I know I complain too much sometimes, and think I should be more thankful. I have a roof over my head, and family. Life is okay, and I will eventually find a job that I enjoy doing, and write my novel (or two) and maybe get them published by someone. Maybe the secret to happiness is to share with people and learn from each other. If you can’t afford to travel or anything, it shouldn’t matter too much because eventually, one day, you will be able to save up and go. It’s just that right now, you have to have something to focus on, whilst you dream. Dreams are important.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt.

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