Monthnotes: January 2021

Total January

They say time gets faster as you get older, but January has managed to be the slowest month I’ve ever experienced. There has been no travel anywhere, few events, and I’ve been waiting out the time. I don’t know how other people are coping with this, particularly those in cramped accommodation, or unstable shared houses, or with no opportunity for income. We’re hearing promises from the government about a great summer, but it’s hard to put much stock in those. Life is just work, screens and staying safe.

Inspired by my friend Justin, I’ve been keeping a diary to help tell the days apart. It’s just a few lines for each day, noting what was remarkable about it. It’s helped to distinguish the days from each other, and has made life a little more vivid.

Work feels particularly strange at the moment – I’ve not seen my colleagues for almost a year, and I was only about five months into the job before this begun. The advantages of being in a permanent role are pretty much obliterated and I long to go contracting.

I’ve continued my maintenance dose of walking, with a target 11,000 steps a day. My total for January was a healthy 415,784, which is an average of over 13,000. I feel like I’ve been wasting my daily steps by not doing more interesting things with them. But some days it’s hard to summon the energy just to pace without trying to feel inspired too. I’ve considered starting running again, despite the bad hip, just to see if I can make my exercise more interesting.

After a long pause, I restarted Not for the Faint-Hearted, my now-online writing group. I feel like I’ve relaxed into this year’s sessions and have been enjoying them a great deal. At the end of the session, we each discuss a piece of culture we’ve enjoyed the past week, and the question has unearthed some fascinating passions.

I finished reading a good brace of books. Wintering by Katherine May has a strong book-of-the-year vibe to it. I also read Gideon the Ninth, and I’m still trying to work out if I liked it enough to invest time in the series. I loved Gideon’s smirking and inappropriate humour, and would be up for more of that. I’m going to wait for a while and see if I’m drawn back.

I’m still listening to audiobooks through an Audible subscription, although it seems to be mostly there as a fallback for when I run out of podcasts. The first audiobook I listened to was the stunning Beastie Boys book, and the others are having a hard time living up to that.

On the PS4, I’ve been playing Horizon: Zero Dawn a little, but that feels compulsive rather than fun. TV has included Wandavision, Rupaul’s Drag Race and the Mandalorian. I also managed a couple of movies: Pixar’s Soul had its message undermined by its provenance, and Chris Morris’s The Day Shall Come felt weirdly slight.

Via Kate, I’ve been getting into twitch. Listening to someone chatting over a video game is a good ambient experience. And, you know, the fact it’s streamed makes it a little better than me just being an old person who has the TV on for company.

While January has been grim, I’ve felt less lonely than I did in the previous lockdown. I’m making more effort to socialise on zoom and it is definitely helping. Being in a bubble, along with the simple act of sharing food, is also doing a great deal to keep me sane.

According to the almanac, we gain about 100 minutes of daylight through the course of February. We also have the start of Lent on February 17th. I’ve been trying to make use of festivals as calendar markers wherever I can. On that basis, Lent is a good thing. But do I need to follow a festival around giving things up, when we have already giving up so much?

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2 thoughts on “Monthnotes: January 2021”

  1. “The advantages of being in a permanent role are pretty much obliterated and I long to go contracting”

    I jumped into a perm role after nearly 4 years contracting after the
    start of the first lockdown, now I wish I was contracting, not least as there’s a massive hole in my business finances as a result of a couple of months of touch-and-go freelance work which bridged the gap..

    On the other hand, the thought of some paid holiday when the weather is a bit nicer and the restrictions a bit looser is a nice thing to look forward to..

    1. Paid holiday is great, but then so is deciding you fancy a month off, and not having to check with anyone. I’m really grateful for the stability of the job I have, but I went permanent to be part of a team. And that’s just not translating to the remote experience, sadly.

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