It that’s time of the year, when we turn away from days past with a muttered Well, I won’t be doing that again and look forward to the bright, blank pages of the year to come. Time to lay down a few markers so that when we turn away from days past in a year’s time we’ll know exactly what we should have been doing instead of playing Candy Crush and watching The Biggest Block Kitchen Bake-Off Survivor.
You know: New Year’s resolutions.
So, with a move to a new town in a new (hotter, redder, moister, farther away) part of the world on the horizon, it’s time to make this…… flee change?…… work to my benefit. Here are five resolutions for my upcoming year, to take advantage of my new-found status as the domestic-based partner in my marriage, and help allay Luscious’ fears that it’ll all come crashing down around our ears as she dies of work-related stress and I turn into some sort of obsessively masturbating, inanimate, Jabba the Hutt-shaped, couch-based life-form.
Five For Friday: New Year’s Resolutions in a Furnished Cage
1. Lose weight
Ah, the eternal resolution. Always promised, never fulfilled. I always start the year so well, and then– and this year is no exception– I end the calendar fatter and more broken down than ever before. The only thing is: this year, it seems that the health consequences of my obesity have become more critical than they ever were.
As of writing, I have over 110 kilograms packed onto my 5ft 10 frame. I’ve spent the last month coping with recurring swelling of my right leg below the knee– it’s been linked to some issues with processing salts, but let’s face it, the fact that you’re obese and your kidneys are struggling is a big fucking slap in the Hello? McFlyyyyys. I have joint pain. My lumbar is constantly stiff. Etc, etc, yadda yadda. I’m old and broken down, and very, very fat.
Fulfilling my day job often involves extended hours, and odd ones, to boot. By the time I get home, I’m usually mentally and physically exhausted. Finding the time, energy, and discipline to exercise and eat well has proven difficult. But I’ll have no excuse in 2018– I’ll be working from home, and the only job routine I’ll be following is my own. And I’ll be in a town with a limited set of distractions, where sport is the greater part of the social cohesion and entertainment offered.
Put simply, if I can’t develop an exercise routine and lose weight over the next 2 years, I never will.
2. Learn to play one song on guitar
Way back in the mists of history, when dinosaurs wearing Walkmen strode the earth, and somebody actually thought Hypercolor was a good idea, I bought myself a guitar and started taking lessons.
Understand: my father had left us, and we were living in proper poverty. Child support payments didn’t exist. My father’s lawyer bullrushed an agreement onto my mother whereby this man with a full-time job paid a total of $30 a month support for her two teenage sons. The DSS (Centrelink for dinosaurs) officer who was assigned to her fluffed her record so she could claim a ‘Widows B’ pension, because it gave her an extra 6 bucks a fortnight over the pension she should have been eligible for. At one stage, having not worked for over 20 years, the best job she could get involved stuffing potatoes into sacks. It wasn’t just once that we scampered into a shopping centre dumpster half an hour after chucking-out time to rescue a few cut-that-bit-off-and-it’ll-be-fine vegetables. Others may have had it worse, but we had it bad.
Amongst all this, I got a casual job teaching tennis at a local tennis school for a couple of hours on weekends. It was pocket money stuff, but it was something. With the 10% of my wages I kept back for myself, I eventually bought a bottom-of-the-range guitar, and half a dozen introductory lessons. I learned a couple of songs, started practicing, and what the hell: It was a great way to be something other than what I saw when I looked up at the life we were living.
Then my brother grew too ambitious, and graduated from pawning things he could steal without me noticing, to stealing my guitar. And the wind simply deserted my sails.
So, thirty-plus years later, I’ve gone back to it. Luscious bought me a beautiful Fender acoustic guitar for my birthday. It comes with 30 days of free lessons. I’ve borrowed my son’s Guitar for Total Beginners Under the Age of 2 kiddie instruction book. And I’m going to try again.
And this time I’ll stick with it. It’s my gift to me, in many ways: a chance to rediscover a love I once had, that nobody can (literally) steal away from me this time.
3. Rediscover my inner Renaissance
My father could do everything. Fix anything. Build all of it. He was just that kind of man– install a bore one day, lay a patio the next, follow up by rewiring the plumbing and rerouting the dilithium crystals through the toilet guttering on a lazy weekend morning.
When I was a young adult, just starting out after rebelling against everything he stood for in a useless arts degree kind of way, I started to learn the hard way how to exist in a rate-paying world. Every young tenant knows this story: lose the bond or learn to fix that burst pipe? Learn it is. Pay for the rental agency’s choice of price-fixing carpenter, or trial-and-error your way to rehanging that door? On with the trial! And so on, and so forth. By the time I was married to my first wife, it was nothing to me to perform the majority of minor house surgeries: I tiled, I fixed pipes, I installed shelves, I erected sheds. I was young, and starting out, with a basic toolkit and as much hope as knowledge, but I could make a fair stab at independent living when we had to.
Since then, the day jobs have become more time intensive, and the pay packet larger, and most of the time it’s been too damn easy just to call a guy. My family doesn’t believe I’m capable of anything. And while I yearn to get off the grid as much as possible and stop leaching money to everyone who has an invoice template and a sense of entitlement, I’ve lost whatever progress I’d made in that direction.
But now, I have 2 years of domestic living ahead of me, and they don’t pay teachers the same kind of money they pay grizzled veteran City co-ordinators. I’ve got a chance to regain my ability to fix, and build, and attain some semblance of independence from the roaming invoicers. Truth is, I might just have to become a capable man, again: one who can write, and draw, and nurse, and repair, and build and grow and harvest. One who can be trusted to bring order to his own world.
I’d like that. A lot.
4. Get my arts into gear
There was a time when drawing– particularly cartooning– was as important to me as writing has ever been. If you follow my Thumbnail Thursday posts, you’ll know how many ideas I was storing up, and how I was entertaining serious thoughts on the best way to maintain a cartooning career. And I was taking steps to improve my visual arts skills– not having studied it at High School, I was undertaking a visual design certificate at TAFE. I had a particular affinity for, and love of, scraperboard, and had entered works in a couple of small competitions. Even when I began to take my Lego hobby seriously a couple of years ago, the potential for use as an arts medium was inescapable.
I’ve been building steadily, honing my skills, practicing my draftsmanship and my layout and design skills. It’s an exciting medium, and I have a significant collection of materials. My Patreon page has cartooning rewards on a monthly basis, and I’m hitting the drawing board again with a sense of purpose. The Pilbara is home to the Cossack Art Awards , and a $50 million dollar-plus Arts Centre is about to open in the centre of the town we’ll be moving to.
It all feels a bit like it’s time, again, really.
5. Write, Write, Write
This is the big one, isn’t it? One of the major pillars of the flee change (I could get used to that term), and the core around which my entire lifestyle will revolve over the next two years. The truth is, my writing career has slowly fizzled over the last three or four years as depression, day job, health, and everything else have weighed ever-heavier upon me. All I’ve ever wanted to be, since I was 19 years old, is a writer. Luscious is taking on her own change of lifestyle, transitioning from domestic partner to full-time day jobber, to give me the opportunity to move in the opposite direction. I’ve got 7 major projects lined up for 2018 and 2019.
In a little over four weeks time we’ll be in our new digs, and it’ll PTFU or STFU time.
And, honestly, I can’t fucking wait.
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