Tuesday, 29 December 2009

January blues (and it's still only December)

Well, I suppose I've been waiting for this: the first lousy day, the first time I've had doubts about the new life I've chosen.
Not sure exactly what started it, except that I do hate this time of year, the limbo between Christmas and New Year's Eve. The excitement is over, the tree's drooping, everyone feels fat and hungover: the old year is finished, the new not yet begun.
A 24 hour vomiting bug hasn't really helped the mood, and ironically I think having had a brilliant Christmas this time (all sledging down snowy hills and rampaging children and good food and conversation)makes the comedown worse.
Normally I'd be in the office through this period, and to be honest it's the best place for me to be. The high point of today, however was trudging through the rain to the supermarket with a howling, thrashing toddler in tow (seems I'm not alone in the January blues).
Suddenly the fact that I'm living in a half-unpacked rented house, in a town where I know nobody, in a life turned upside down is getting to me. The only surprise is it took two months.
I do, admittedly, deserve a good slap for moaning. I had two calls today about interesting work (a radio programme, and a literary festival gig): the boy and I had a nice, soothing afternoon making cakes. I have nothing really to complain about.
But today's definitely been a reminder of the bleeding obvious: that there will inevitably be days when I miss my old life (or at least, am fed up with the new one).
So what to do about it? So far I'm planning to write this week off like a bad debt: spend it blitzing all the boring trivia (the annoying niggles I never get round to tackling, from the printer that doesn't work to the buttons I haven't sewn back on my favourite coat), and at least hit January with a clear deck. Which may just leave me clear to concentrate on the small matter of what I do with the rest of my life...


  1. I understand what you mean. My consideration of your choice, while thinking of imitating it, is growing bigger every post.
    I'd be sooooo glad if you would consider to contact me.


  2. I work in a location that involves hiring people from other countries and a big lifestyle adjustment. In my experience the worse of the blues hits 3-6 months after they arrive - after the novelty of the situation has worn off but before they have had a chance to acclimatise. For most it is just an adjustment phase, for a few it is an insurmoutable hurdle and they soon decide to leave. In other words I think this is a natural phase in all lifestyle changes, whether ultimately positive or negative.

  3. I hear you. I am in a similar situation. Downshifted this year and with two children (the younger born this year). In fact, I left my job, moved house and gave birth in the same month. The adjustment blues is a rite of passage I think. It will come to pass.

  4. This is a normal reaction. I went through this and it does get better. Moving is a huge adjustment in and of itself, not to mention adjusting to the life of the "at home" mom. It's a totally different life. It's great that you have freelance work coming to you, though. That's an incredible blessing! Happy New Year and all the best from the States.

  5. It's me!!
    Happy New Year, for a great 2010!

  6. That a lot of people are feeling the same way may not provide comfort but it's true. Through redundancy I got given enough money to give being a writer a go this year. It was great; a summer where I wasn't imprisoned in an office when the sun was shining, the freedom to finish the first draft of a novel and wanting to get out of bed to start days filled with writing. On days like the last two in London (constant rain, cold, shops jam-packed with psycho bargain hunters) I feel like I might as well be in an office doing picture research, the thing I now have to do to pay the bills now the freedom fund has disappeared. I read your parting feature again http://tiny.cc/eGLix and still think you made the right choice. But if you feel like flexing your cerebral muscles to avoid dealing with the 'boring trivia' I'd be interested in a former political editor blogging on whether diplomacy with China can ever be useful. Look forward to reading you in 2010, enjoy tonight.

  7. Thanks for all the reassuring comments - it's a relief to hear this is all entirely normal!
    Woke up to clear blue skies this morning for the first time in what feels like weeks and it's amazing how much of a difference that makes.
    Oh and PS Lee Mannion - sorry anglo-sino relations not my area of expertise but I think the China thing is part of a bigger diplomatic question: there is a real challenge coming to the UK's sense of itself in a world power, given our weakened economy, degraded military capability, problems in the special relationship with the US and the rise of China and India as superpowers. You might like my old colleague Will Hutton's book on China if you haven't read it...David Mepham at IPPR worth reading on China too