Throughout school I was busy. I didn’t like most of the kids and the majority of the teachers so I threw myself into activities to avoid them. I had lunchtime music lessons and after-school rehearsals and spent free periods hiding in the practice rooms writing songs. I would leave school around 5:30 to get to a non-school activity later on in the evening and arrived home to do homework, revision, practise around 9pm, normally sleeping around 1 or 2am. Weekends were filled with dance and drama classes, and (as I got older) part-time jobs. Inevitably I got rundown, and every time holidays rolled around I would be very ill for the first week. I carried on this trend at university for the opposite reasons; I loved everyone there and didn’t want to miss a moment. I crammed as many extra activities, nights out, rehearsals and day trips as I could into my termly schedule before going back to my parents house for Christmas, where, like clockwork, I would be very ill for the first week. I never understood people saying “You’re so busy!” or “How do you fit it all in?” because there was never a time I was not busy or “fitting it all in”. I felt like I was doing a normal amount and everybody else was just doing less. Having finished education I decided to go freelance and I spent the first 6 months of the year attempting to work in a normal, balanced way: finishing at 6, evenings off, scheduled rest days, lunch breaks etc. It was rubbish. I just hate “downtime”. The whole idea of spending part of a day doing nothing seems like a massive waste of time and I just don’t feel like myself if my brain is not actively engaged. Watching TV, surfing the internet, reading magazines, having a bath and all the other “relaxing” activities either frustrate me and make me feel restless, or dull my creative impulses and make me feel like a braindead zombie. Consequently I returned to my old methods of running around like a maniac in August, and have been much happier and productive.
Until I got ill. Two weeks ago, I found out I had a lung infection and was given a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately, that week collided with two massive concerts I was directing, producing and performing in and so I got a lot worse and returned to the doctors this week. She told me I had the beginning symptoms of mild pneumonia and that I needed to stop working for at least a week, rest, eat well and take stronger antibiotics. I headed for my parents house and under strict doctors orders, I have spent the week doing my least favourite activity in the world: nothing. This is what doing nothing looks like.1. Crashing out on the couch in the conservatory. My Dad and I seem to take it in turns napping on this couch – I get my workaholic attitude from him and we are both night owls.
2. Watching South Park. I really dislike most popular TV shows (people are always surprised that I’ve seen ten episodes total of Friends and The Simpsons) but I love, love, love South Park. Bleak, bizarre, surreal, inventive, hilarious and often brilliantly topical comic satire. Genius. (I also love the even bleaker and weirder Monkey Dust.).
3. Changing the layout of my blog. 4. Re-reading my favourite childhood books and manga (please say I’m not alone in doing this!). Most of the books I’ve bought since my late teens have been passed on to friends or returned to charity shops, but my childhood favourites are still on my bookshelf at home.5. Discovering my favourite childhood series continued to be written after I’d stopped reading them and then buying the new titles from Amazon… don’t judge me, I swear I do normally read adult novels of literary worth. Besides I frequently recommend reading books to my pupils (one of them literally said “I didn’t realise there were other books than Harry Potter”) and what kind of irresponsible teacher would I be if I recommended books I hadn’t even read? (Side note: how different are the covers?!) 5. Not tidying my bed. I woke up the other day and mistook my cat bag for a monster. Also, this isn’t even my bed, it’s the bed in the spare room – I had to move to this one because my own bed was such a tip. THIS is my actual bed. How is it possible for a person to be so organised and have such a messy bed? 6. Playing the piano for fun. This is ‘Around The World’ from the musical Grey Gardens (no relation to Daft Punk).
7. Eating lots of food to help the antibiotics work. I normally get one proper meal a day (massive breakfast around midday) and some sort of salad/snack scenario for dinner, unless James is around in which case he forces me to eat meals like a normal person.
8. Playing iPad games (any recommendations?). I was consumed by Weird Park: Scary Tales – genuinely creepy and probably the worst most unsatisfying ending where almost nothing is explained. Terrifying. I also downloaded a game called Homer with a cute bird character; things were going well until the game asked me to get a parent to sign in and James said it was a game to teach children to read, something I have been managing for a while now. Oops…9. Attempting to not have mild pneumonia and to be a healthy person. The Clarithromycin ones are hideous – you have the taste of vomit in your mouth for hours after and the distinct desire to throw up.
So there you go! I hope you have enjoyed this personal insight into me being sick, I assure you had I done ANYTHING else of note this week I would have posted about that. What does your “doing nothing” look like?