I rode my bike in today. I woke up several times in the night (Dear blackbird outside my window. 3AM is NOT a good time to be singing. What is wrong with you? Please die. Love, Kate) and in the back of my mind each time was the thought that I had been determined to ride in. And I felt very very whiney about it. And when my alarm went off, I felt even more whiney.
Then I enforced my new rule for days when I plan on riding in: get up, have a shower, get dressed, have breakfast. If you still feel too tired or sick to ride in, then you may change out of your riding clothes and go catch the bus that smells of pee. But only then. I find that the difference in the state of tiredness between being in a snuggly bed and being up and fed and bathed is enourmous. A lot of the reason I continue to bus instead of biking is inertia – if I bus, I have to do less, I have to think about less, I have to negotiate things in smaller chunks. But actually, biking is a lot easier, especially on the way home, when the bus is almost always late.
And what else exactly am I planning to do with my time and energy that it’s so important to conserve it by taking the bus? I have been reading the Extreme Frugality posts over at the now-defunct Gourmet magazine. I am fascinated by it. This one in particular hit on something that I have been trying to articulate. It’s not just about what you spend or how. It’s about why. That goes for energy as well as money. Why are you willing to pay extra for that item here, when you know you could get it cheaper elsewhere? Why are you willing to pay for a bought meal when you don’t have to? Because it’s less effort – in that case, how much less effort, and is it really worth the extra money right here and now? After all, money is completely imaginary. It’s not worth anything, except as it represents goods and services. And if those goods and services are worth, to you, swapping hours of sitting in front of a computer, or standing serving customers, or whatever it is you do to get that mulah, then go ahead and swap it if you want! But make sure it is worth it, first. I remember when I was working nightfill and at uni. I saw a top I wanted. I wanted it a lot. I wanted it bad. And then I calculated that it was worth two whole shifts at work. It was really easy to walk away from after that. These days, it’s too easy for me to dissociate what I do all day with getting paid. That means I am a worse worker, and a less thoughtful consumer.
On Monday I had boiled some eggs to take into work for snacks, but on Tuesday I forgot to take any with me. All day I craved eggs. I looked at smitten kitchen and the kithcn recipes, and made lists and printed out things to try with the good (and excited!) intention of eating better, shopping better, planning better. Having food that is delicious and easy, and putting the time into some slightly more fiddly meals, because it’s worth it. And ALL DAY I craved eggs. Then I went home and my sister had made mac and cheese – Jamie Oliver’s recipe from The Ministry of Food – and we ate that at the table together. (I shoved a boiled egg in beforehand.) This has happened about twice, the whole time we have been living together. Then we did the dishes together before going off to our seperate pursuits. It was lovely beyond words, as was waking up to a sparklingly bare kitchen. This never happens!
And now the fridge is filled with meals for the next two days, and I have planned two big shopping expeditions – one to the supermarket and one to the central markets for fruit and veg – to stock up on essentials and do a big haul of goodies. I’m feeling moderately pleased with myself. Not a bad start to the new year.