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Short-term goals

The first almost-week back:
This is time where not much is going on. Time to take stock and gear up.
Do something epic for Ducki's birthday
Buy healthy food to get into the habit
Put books on the new shelves
Take worky books to work
Write a lecture
Have a go at writing or typing/editing some fiction
Go to a yoga class if they are running
Start the 30-day ab challenge on Jan 1 if not before
Join the sports centre ready for when their classes start the week after

The first full week back
Teach my classes like the epic classroom goddess I am rather than the knackered grumpyarse I was imitating at the end of term
Make it to aerial hoop one evening if possible
Go to at least one class at the sports centre
Write a lecture, or finish the one started last week

2015 in purview

It's a bit bittersweet really. About a year ago I was sat in the bedroom that was the site of much of Ducki's adolescence being periody, taking stock of my life and coming up with all sorts of things that could do with improving and ways of doing that. I spent a lot of time looking into options for getting fit in my local area. I made detailed plans for decluttering and tidying. And now, around a year later, I'm in pretty much exactly the same position. The bright spot is that I'm talking about a local area and house that I've been in for three months, not over three years, my arse not having taken quite so long to get into gear as it historically has after a move. So here are a few general goals for 2015, in the same spirit as last year's batch.

I have one paper that got rejected last year but has detailed reviewer comments on why - I need to edit the fuck out of it based on those comments and find other possible homes.
I have an older paper that still needs reworking - ideally this will be the year that happens, while the issues are still current.
I have ideas for two or three other papers, it would be great to get first versions together this year.
I have ten lectures to produce, so I should probably get a couple of them out of the way before the start of term and be a bit ahead when marking hits.

The more emphatic I get that things MUST HAPPEN in the coming year, the less seems to actually happen. So I'm just going to chill with this for a while and see how it goes.

I will join the university sports centre, at least for January, and make it to enough classes to be worth the membership fee. (Temporary staff can get monthly or three-monthly membership as well as longer periods, so I get to do this on a trial basis)
I will go to a yoga class at least once. The teacher I've had contact with lets newbies go to their first session for free, so I won't lose anything except time if it doesn't work out.
If the local acro group manages to get started again I'll go along more often.
There is a place in Southampton that does aerial hoop. It is on the other side of town from me, but I'll do my best to make it over there.
I'm tempted to try pole fitness at least once. The worst that happens is I'll get a workout I didn't wind up enjoying. Generally, though, I like forms of exercise that involve being upside-down, so it's worth a try.
I will try doing big weights at least once.

Unfucking and decluttering
I don't need to be as dramatic about the Reduction of Stuff as I did this time last year, but some is needed since my initial success was followed by a move to a smaller house.
There is very little point in arranging things around the storage we have now since the housing arrangement is pretty temporary, but I do need to get it so I can find things when I need them.
I need to mark out and expand the food prep surface in the kitchen, which means finding alternative accommodation for dirty dishes. I also need to make space somewhere to have the steamer out and in use. That will require shifting the recycling into the hallway or utility room. (The former would be nearer but involve moving a chair out of the hallway into the conservatory, which was its intended home until we found it was useful for sitting down to tie shoelaces, and I may end up putting the little foldy stool in its place for that purpose. The latter is further away but I have to go there anyway to get things out of the fridge. NB none of the houses we liked otherwise had a fridge in the kitchen. This was actually the best option on that score.)
I will get down to one drawer full of disposable sanitary towels and tampons rather than two, and not buy more until that is half empty. Even with a conscious effort to go reusable where possible there are plenty of occasions where I need to dip into these drawers (ooer).

I will frontload later work at quieter points so it doesn't get overwhelming at busier ones.
I will keep exercising in ways that do happy (rather than scary) things in my brain.
I will set boundaries with students from the start so they know that if they email me at midnight the response might take a while.
I will take time out for my sanity where necessary. This should be reasonably easy since my classroom time this coming term is pretty low.

2014 in review

Sometime about a year ago I was posting a whole lot of goals I hoped to achieve. Some were ambitious and some would look like no-brainers to most people. Some were location-specific and hence stopped being relevant over the summer. Some were supplanted in time/energy terms by the big fuck-off move we did at the start of September. So, it's been a mixed bag.

I did not get a tattoo (needed to save money for the move), try out for roller derby (by the time my busy phase ended I didn't want to make a new commitment in Stirling), make homebrew, go to a climbing wall or do much of a range of fitness classes. I didn't do very much at all on the fiction front. The more hyperbolic I am about resolving to do that, the less I actually do. I didn't keep to the 3 coffee rule every day. I probably didn't load the dishwasher straight after every meal.

I did go to aerial hoop and acrobalance classes and keep going for several months. I did drastically reduce my clothing and book collections. I did give running another go, albeit not a serious one. I did buy and usually remember to take vitamins. I did submit two papers to journals, one more successfully than the other.

And I did things that weren't on the list because I didn't imagine them being likely a year ago. I found out I could write a lecture each week on something that isn't my research topic. I kept my shit together for a cross-country move with all the uncertainties that brings. I adjusted to a new living and working environment, neither of which are without challenges. I did my first large-scale lectures. I planned out a module from scratch for January.

And now it's time to figure out some new challenges!

Witness how anal I am (and why)

We have our housewarming in a few weeks - it was going to be Halloween but I ended up with a late teaching shift that day (my shifts suck every other week, but at least it isn't every week!) so we put it back to a week where I'm off on Fridays instead. It would have been doable on the original date, kind of, but combining 'let's have a party after work' with 'don't show up before 7 because I'll be in my underwear painting myself green' wouldn't work. ('If you show up before 7 I'll be in my underwear painting myself green' isn't an invitation I feel ready to issue to colleagues of two months standing...)

The backstory to my analness runs as follows: we aim to start the party pretty early and invite people to drop in after work. But I suspect things will also go on later than our normal dinnertime. I *hope* things will go on later than our normal dinnertime! So that means having some sort of food around, probably pizza and maybe chilli or corn chowder. Food means ingredients, some of them heavy. So, I have a list. It details the ingredients of the things I want to make, with little symbols for which things are heavy, which need to be bought especially, which can't be got in the shop I normally go to - you get the idea. Anal, and a few weeks premature. But it does enable me to buy the heavy stuff in advance and have it stashed away until I need it, and that's a big thing for me.

Obviously I seem anal. Ducki laughs at me every time because his idea of planning a party is much more last minute. But I like to be relaxed and in a good mood when I'm having people over, and not having to run to the shop for flour at the last minute helps with that. So, I'll stick with the list!


My attempts to be eco-friendly have taken a bit of a battering since we moved. We were spoiled in Stirling - food waste collections that included cooked and non-vegetable food, tetrapaks could go in the normal recycling, everyone got a free compost bin when the council stopped collecting garden waste last winter - I knew it was probably better than most places, certainly it was better than Nottingham when I lived there, but I didn't know how little some places had moved on. The main differences here are no food waste collections, high cost of compost bins and no collection of tetrapaks.

The food waste is the easiest to deal with. I cook smaller portions, especially of 'filler' foods like rice, to minimise the risk of needing to bin any. I tip coffee grounds out in the garden - the epic spider webs on the bushes right now suggest that someone is benefiting from the extra caffeine. I'm experimenting with which peelings and withered vegetables can be made successfully into stock - it should save a bit of money if I don't need to buy cubes or powder.

The tetrapaks, however, are a pain in the arse. I think they annoy me more than anything else that goes in the bin because I'm used to recycling them. Also, the main thing we get in tetrapaks is soy milk - other things, like fruit juice or chopped tomatoes, can be found in other sorts of container if you look around a bit. I wish I was a bit more business-minded, because this strikes me as a massive gap in the market - I can't be the only vegan who wants to cut down on landfill! Of course, my ideal would be reusable glass bottles - hell, if I was setting this up I'd deliver and collect the stuff with a handcart or bike cart, but I know that wouldn't be feasible. But I do need to look into making some sort of plant milk for my own use. (Ducki is more a creature of habit, but I'm sure I can get him to try some - ideally I need it to be cheaper than buying cartons in to convince him it's a good idea)

In the meantime, I'm trying to do a bit of offsetting - getting greener in other parts of my life. More careful not to get in a situation that requires plastic bags. Loose rather than packaged veg where possible, and from local markets or greengrocers if I can get to those. We are at least better off on that front here. Not letting things get dirty enough to need nasty cleaning chemicals. (so far the exception has been limescale, I need to get to treating that with vinegar, but it caught me unawares moving from a soft water area so I bought some of the scary stuff to get started) Not buying stuff, although I've had a couple of wobbles with that lately. Small victories are still victories though.


Very nearly an epic fail on the book front. I thought that since the removal company will pack anything we haven't (and it doesn't affect how much the whole thing costs) I could leave the remaining books on the shelves and focus on other excitement like cleaning the cupboards. Riiight. Of course I then remembered that one of the still-full shelves contains the dirtiest books I have. Use your imagination. Suffice to say there's a reason the shelf is at the back of a room no-one but me usually goes into. Then while packing the mucky stuff and resisting the temptation to read all of it for escapist value I realised the same shelf also contains the more lurid books I have about the Nazis. Epic. Wonder what else I've missed to give the movers a dodgy impression of me.
You know when you don't put a number on something because you hope with all your heart that it won't have multiple installments, even though your head is telling you it will run and run? Yep, that's me with the mouse poo and so many other things, which is why my blog posts often have 'part lostcount' or 'part randomnumber' or similar.

Our large corner sofa went to its new home yesterday. That was a total 'interesting time' in itself since even in two parts it was a struggle to get the thing down the hallway and out of the door. It came with the house, so we hadn't been involved in bringing it in to start with, hence no inside knowledge except a general assumption that it would somehow fit. I felt stupidly emotional about this given that I didn't like the thing much in the first place, I guess it was just a really obvious sign of change. Now we have a big empty space in the living room.

Cleaning the aforesaid big empty space was not fun. In addition to the literal crap the mice had left us, there was also a fair bit of debris that had gathered over the years. Bear in mind that the sofa was in place when we got here, so I have no idea how long it was since that patch of floor was cleaned. I feel quite happy to have that over with. Whatever was under there would not be as bad as what I have imagined in my darkest moments.

Getting the sofa out made one of my 'hidden corners' (an UFYH standard) a whole lot less hidden. I'd had a little table for my computer, a smallish bookcase to tidy random papers onto, and a little pile of things that didn't really belong anywhere else. And I suspect that wall was where the mice had their main 'run', so obviously I was expecting a lot of shit to emerge when the stuff was moved. I wasn't 'disappointed' (word used in the loosest sense)! UGH. But it's done now, and one less thing to be scared of doing. Also more fuel for my desire never to let things get that bad again.
Let's face it, sanitary towels and tampons are kind of expensive. This is especially the case if you want good ones that absorb rather than, well, the alternative. If you menstruate you've probably been there. Of course if there is something a chunk of the population, especially one with relatively little power, need on a regular basis in order to live a vaguely normal life, there are going to be arseholes profiting from that.

At some point in my life I twigged that 1) cheap crappy pads were a false economy, 2) running out of such things sucks, 3) going out to buy more, even when living next to a city centre rather than in a remote village, isn't desirable when in enough pain to make an ordeal out of walking to the bathroom at home. And also 4) however much you love your mooncup there are always situations where it isn't practical to use it. So, I started stocking up on pads and tampons, buying the decent ones when they were on special offer, so I always had some around.

Then I moved house. Then I moved house again. And again. And each time things got mixed up and the little stockpiles of blood-catching supplies ended up hidden and not available to use when needed. So I bought more. And more. And let's get some more when they're on a great offer. And let's not find a consistent place to store them, and let's occasionally lose a new packet or two under other things, and then buy more to have some to hand. Rinse and repeat.

This is the easiest hoard story to write as it is one of the things I feel I have under control, in the sense that - unless I excavate another large stash, which I'm quietly confident won't happen since I've been through all the places they might hide - now fit in two small drawers. The blessing here is that I have enough of these things to last me through the months when I don't have much income - hopefully since they're light and hence can be moved in the drawer unit I'll be able to find them easily in the new place.

To-do list, post-move version

This is one of those lists I'm putting out in public to hold myself to account.

-Sort my living space out before teaching starts
-Scope out my office setup and aim to spend part of each week working there
-Go to a veg/an group meetup scheduled for a little over a week after we move in
-Go to outdoor acro the first possible weekend
-Join the public library - there are two in easy walking distance
-Explore the nearest market, about half an hour away, on the first available Thursday
-Put in research time during the 'off' weeks from fortnightly teaching
-Make as much effort as possible in semester 1 to frontload some of the massive pile of work my semester 2 module will need. Avoid the lecture-writing bootcamp of May-July just gone by having a few lectures stacked up in advance.
-Continue Reduction of Stuff effort, especially with clothes and papers
-Not buy any clothes in the first semester unless some essential item completely disintegrates
-Not buy any new (as opposed to secondhand) clothes except those where hygiene demands it.

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