Monday, 5 May 2008

A Dull Boy Lost in Magazine Clutter

I’ve been a failure as a blogger and must rectify that and many other things. I seem to have become a lifeless person, a female dull boy. I have a place full of fun things to do and play with, projects to delve into, a head full of things to write, but I just don’t have a spare second to do anything, no me time. Is this because I have 30 children? No, thank God. That’s the mystery; apart from an elderly and infirm furball I’m caring for, I only have myself to look after, and I seem to be doing an awful job.

Basically, I spend every waking moment either doing work for my job or struggling under the weight of the burden that I need to get work done, and I don’t have the sort of job that should require that. I used to thrive on being a workaholic but now I’m exhausted by it and left longing for some free time. I even once considered calling in sick just so I could carry on working uninterrupted on professional stuff that day and not feel such a failure turning up at work having not finished what I needed to have completed overnight. But I’m not the sort to call in sick when I’m not sick; I barely call in sick when I am.

Never mind the stress and the fact that sleeping most nights now means nodding off accidentally on the sofa with my laptop in my lap, and waking at ungodly hours in a panic and continuing to work in a sleepy drug-liked state. The novels in my head aren’t getting written, the concerts and plays and art shows I used to take in regularly are being ignored, friends and even their e-mails are long neglected, so I really need to get my life together.

I recently realised that I don’t even read books anymore, despite being a voracious reader as a youngster and now living in what could easily be mistaken for a Borders warehouse, or more of an HMV warehouse these days, with most of the many DVDs I’ve ordered over the past year remaining unwrapped, and the newer of the disturbing number of CDs standing silent. Wouldn’t it be great to take a year off, work on fun life projects and watch movies, play music, read and write, without the stress of work demands and commuting? What gets me through the reality is focusing on the ‘fact’ that I will win the lottery on Wednesday, or when that doesn’t happen, then on Friday, or on Saturday. If I didn’t count on that, I wouldn’t be able to cope with work right now. I don’t always buy a lottery ticket, but that only marginally reduces my chances of winning. I’m no fool, I know it won’t happen, and I’m not the extravagant sort who would buy helicopters and party hard with my winnings anyway. I’d contribute to the list of charities I’ve compiled for such an occasion, help my struggling family members and any friends (or strangers who touch me—definitely not literally) who need help, and possibly get a property in town (if I win billions and can thus afford central London property) so I can get out to the concerts, art galleries and theatre more easily. Principally, I’d give up work for a couple years, write down the novels in my head and work on other projects, and then get another, less stressful occupation of some sort.

In the meantime, I am surrounded by clutter that I never have time to tackle, but I always manage to add to it with enormous ease. The laundry is done regularly but then folded on enormous ever-increasing piles on chairs in the bedroom. I haven’t vacuumed for an age as it’s not a priority when I have a work deadline in the morning and I’m not expecting company, and my cat and I can cope just fine with our hair covering the carpeting. I’m not very domesticated anyway.

I do seem to have some sort of crazed inability to stop bringing magazines into the house as though they’re stray cats in need of a loving home. I don’t have the time to read the ones I subscribe to, but get very excited with their arrival, although I then just flick through and fold up the corners of pages that I hope to come back to one day when I find time for a proper read. I subscribe to loads: Time Out, Radio Times, Word, Mojo, Uncut, Q (have been meaning to cancel that one for a few years), PC Advisor, DVD Review, InStyle (to prove I’m female), and some membership magazines such as the RSPCA. I'm thrilled when they appear but barely have a chance to look at their covers to judge them.

So with all these unloved litters of magazines at home, why did I go to Smith's yesterday and bring home the Sunday Times (haven’t read Saturday’s yet), the Independent, Acoustic magazine (well, it had homeboy James Taylor on the cover), Record Collector, Private Eye, Spectator, Scientific American Mind, PC Pro, Personal Computer World, and Writing magazine? What is wrong with me?

Incidentally, I can’t recall ever actually having read a Writing magazine. I buy them because I’m drawn to the promises on the cover. ‘Win over a top agent’. ‘Get your novel published with a big advance’. ‘Turn your ideas into hard cash.’ Never mind that I’ve not had time to write down the ideas in my head, which would take many months to thrash out properly. I’m sucked into these sentiments, buy the magazine, never open it, but never feel I can throw it away. It’s the same way that I buy fitness DVDs, sit them on the coffee table, and when I find I’ve not lost weight for some reason, I order another fitness DVD….although no doubt if I actually watched the first one or actually did the exercises it guided me through, I would have a chance of getting into shape.

This crazy compulsive magazine hoarding means that I have a scarily massive stack of magazines and newspapers in my home, but I can’t just throw them all in the recycle bin. First, because that would make the recycling lorry tip over and crash. Second, because that would be throwing an absolute fortune in the bin, if you figure that, say, the PC magazines are usually about £5 a shot and I have a bazillion of them (so, to save you doing the maths, that would equal £5 bazillion). Third, when I try to speed-plough through them the night before the recycling is collected, I am always thrown by how enormously enjoyable they are, so interesting, full of recommendations to make me healthier, make my computers run better, make me discover some music that will change my life….So the gigantic towering, wide wall of magazines remains. Pretty soon I will become W H Smiths, and they will become an empty shop unit save a few lad mags loitering on their shelves.

Consequently, one of my big fears now is that, if I were ever to go missing (God forbid) and the police came into my flat to search for clues, I can see the press reporting that I was some sort of crazy lady who collects rubbish, when really, I was just about to clear it out….Honest, if I could just have a day off work where I’m not doing work, then I’d get through at least part of the magazine tower, clear the stacks of bills and post that need attention on the coffee table, find somewhere in my bursting wardrobes to put away the clean laundry alps in my bedroom, and start living slightly more like a human again. No doubt, after a few months, the police would find that I actually had been in my flat all along, not kidnapped, but perhaps buried under an awful lot of Stuff. Stuff that I was going to get to sorting soon, honest…..or have my maid clear after I win the lottery tomorrow. It could happen. Yes, it could; it will have to!

Anyway, I fully acknowledge that I need to get my act together and write down the millions of things I have in my head and on my (recently stolen) USB drive, and stop stockpiling ideas like I pile up magazines. I must work through them all and be less of a ‘dull boy’ and a more frequent, briefer and better blogger. Maybe there’s a self-help DVD, a Dummies Guide or magazine I can get that will show me how to accomplish that…...

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