I love planning for a holiday almost as much as the actual time away. We’re going to France on Monday and I’ve honed my packing plan based on last year. We’re not bringing any suitcases because we are bringing our car and want to fit in as much wine as possible on the return journey, so we’re vacuum packing our stuff and bringing as little as possible. Other lessons well learned from last year include keeping the clothes to a minimum and washing halfway through, bringing the rainjackets to cope with unseasonal showers and wearing backpacks on the ferry to keep our hands free. My trusty Longchamp backpack will of course be coming with me.
Having dipped my toes into a more pared back wardrobe approach, I have limited options for my holiday clothing, but I have everything I need and I’ll make do. I learned from last year I won’t need any fancy clothes or shoes, and I don’t think I applied makeup the entire time so that’s staying home too.
Our decluttering has paid dividends in terms of holiday paperwork. Everything we need is directly to hand and there’s been no panic at all. I think I need to bring a little more of my enthusiasm for holiday planning to other areas of my life that could do with a bit more organisation.
I read this New Yorker article on the casual nature of sexual assault today-it was a slow day in work. I have mentioned to my husband that I don’t know a woman who hasn’t experienced some level of what can be called sexual assault, be it a ‘casual’ crotch grab or something more serious. He expressed surprise at this, and immediately went into what I term Defensive Not All Men Mode.
Naturally, this infuriated me. I know not all men are sleazy assholes who’ll casually grab the crotch of a passing woman or see a woman who’s had a few too many drinks and think she’s easy pickings or break into the home of an elderly woman to overpower and rape her. But women experience a vast and extensive variety of unwanted sexual attention, from an early age, and it becomes so normal that we’re trained not to class the unwanted hand on your posterior as an assault.
I know women who dismiss things like a casual hand on a breast and dismiss the harm this does in terms of how women are treated when more serious things happen. I know women will ask ‘what was she doing getting so drunk’ or ‘why did she go back to his place, what did she think would happen’. Prominent men like Todd Aiken tell me my body will shut that ‘thing’ (like my reproductive system works entirely separately from the rest of me) down if I’m raped.
I have had unwanted sexual attention. I have made bad choices about what I decided to term this attention. Sometimes I needed to dismiss it so it didn’t have a bigger impact on me. Sometimes I was told to chalk it up to ‘one of those things’ and I did because that’s what a lot of people do. But 20% of women have done this too. And I wonder about that 20%, and how they’re feeling and what they want to call what happened to them compared to what they did call it.
Many months ago, perhaps even a year or more, I got two sentimental items framed. The nature of the things being framed meant they needed large, quite bulky frames, and the framer told me the only way they’d sit properly on a wall was to buy velcro strips. I thanked him for the tip and brought the framed things home. Every time I saw them in various locations, from the tops of cupboards to dusty floors, in our car when we moved house and then on top of the wardrobes in bedrooms I’d sternly remind myself to buy those strips and get the things up on the walls.
I finally got around to ordering them and last Friday I hung five pictures within much less than the clearly stated 30 minute waiting period between sticking the strips to the picture and sticking them on the wall. The rooms look better, the sense of satisfaction from getting a long overdue job done was immense and I can highly recommend these little strips of velcro to anyone who needs a foolproof way of hanging an awkward item.
I adored the Babysitters Club (that’s how I’m styling it) books in school. I was a major reader anyway, but these books were in a league of their own. I spent my pocket money on them and swapped with friends to read the harder to get ones.
When I stumbled on What Claudia Wore over a decade after I stopped reading the books (yes, I can freely admit I reread them as a grown up person and laughed heartily many times at the crazy outfit descriptions and having an 11 year old babysit your children) it was such a fun read I would regularly spend more time than I should have reading about Claudia Kishi.
Then, I read about The Baby-Sitters Club Club podcast and I was beyond excited. My current work set up means I can listen to this while doing my tasks and suppress my laughter as I can confidently say my cubicle colleagues would not understand this even a small bit. I’m listening to episode three as I write this. It is hilarious.
We’re going on holidays in a few weeks’ time and I couldn’t find our cameras. They’re both at least ten years old and while they’re pretty basic they’ve served us well. While tackling all the decluttering that seems like a nearly endless process, I suddenly remembered I had loaned them to my mother and that I wasn’t losing my mind.
I’m not the best with technology and my efforts to get my head around uploading myriad phone pictures to a format whereby I can print them or get albums made is baffling, but I’m determined not to be beaten.
I’ve also decided to invest in a new camera. I don’t want anything too fancy (that is, expensive) because I can’t see myself making full use of it but doing the research into possible purchases is often half or more of the fun. I’ve had a good experience so far with Conns Cameras (no, that’s not missing an apostrophe) and I’ll keep an eye out for any bargains.
For some reason, I thought some dishes were really difficult to make. Risotto, for example, which is actually fairly foolproof and which is now a regular on our dinner menus during the week.
I have a glut of potatoes and for a long time I’ve meant to make gnocchi. One of the nicest meals I’ve ever eaten involved gnocci in one of our favourite restaurants, which sadly has closed and I’ve wanted to try to recreate it for a long time. So today I followed this recipe which looked fairly straightforward and to my amazement my gnocci turned out to be pretty delicious, when tossed in a pan with some melted butter, then into a bowl with parmesen with some chives.
I’m adding this to our food planning for the week. I need to be a little less fearful of mistakes, because some things are not as difficult as I had made them out to be. Next on the list may be pasta.
My decluttering and organising continues. Having tied up a lot of loose ends recently, I’ve been able to sort through paperwork and shred most of it. Our shredder is tiny, only handles four folded A4 sheets at a time and needs frequent breaks to cool down. This means plenty of in-between time for sorting through everything.
I found an old post office savings books in amongst the papers, and today I went to close the account and collect the 13 years of interest that had accumulated-a whopping total of 88 cent. I opened that account when I was eight and it was pretty exciting to have a little book that told me exactly how much money I had to my name at the time. This was one of many moments that sparked reminisces.
It’s strange how printed papers can throw up so many memories. Old credit card statements, contracts for loans I paid back over a decade ago and a few stray personal documents all made me take stock and while I wasn’t quite laughing or crying, it was an oddly fun trip down memory lane.
I’m almost done. Our small filing cabinet (which I was delighted to discover wasn’t beyond repair once I emptied it, wiped it clean and found a stray part to reconnect the wires holding the dividers in place) now has a place for everything. Our holiday documents are immediately to hand. Our house documents are easily reached. There’s no hidden bills or reminders of more foolish expenditure haunting it. It feels nice to be organised like this.