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Purchases that keep on giving #4: Magazines

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Part of my magazine collection

At one time or another I have been intensely interested in learning to skydive, taxidermy, knitting, sewing, oil painting, kung fu movies, film noir, kalashnikovs, diamonds, poisons, the subprime market crisis, science, forensics, the causes of birth defects, cooking, makeup, serial killers, the periodic table, embalming and loads more. Some of those interests are enduring, some were fleeting. Time goes very fast for me when I am learning about something just for the sake of it, but aside from a few things, the interest generally wanes after that.

That’s why I absolutely love my magazine subscription to Stack. They send me a new magazine or two each month on a random topic, put out by independent publishers. The ones I’ve received so far have covered street art, boxing, interns, gay men, plants, bicycle riding, Los Angeles, music, film, graphic design, happiness and inventions. It’s like Christmas once a month when my subscription arrives.

It’s also a purchase, and it’s one I considered long and hard about cancelling when I started my year without spending. But it’s something I decided to keep simply because it brings me so much joy. There have been a few standouts since I started, and I wanted to share two of them because they’re doing an amazing job and I guess its hard to survive in as an independent publisher in the digital age.

The Plant

This was my very first one and it’s still one of my favourites. It’s a beautiful, full-sized glossy magazine that features interviews with gardeners, landscaping tips, recipes based solely on commonly-grown edibles, gorgeous photography, erotic plant-based fiction (not even joking), an in-depth look at a feature plant and advice on growing more and better.

It’s a fun one to flick open now and again, and fills me with a desire to be more wholesome and self-sufficient. And to get out of the city. Which is completely unrealistic for me because I lose my shit when a pigeon flies in my direction and don’t even get me started on insects.

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Works that Work: A magazine of unexpected creativity

Works that Work magazine aims to “publish articles that give you great dinner stories to tell your friends.” And they do. This is by far my favourite and I will get a subscription to it once my year of not spending ends. It’s only put out every six months, but the writing is of such a good standard and the topic is so broad that it could cover just about anything.

The issue I received had a fascinating long read on people who had lived through the siege of Sarajevo – the longest in modern history – and the way they had been forced to improvise to complete simple, every-day tasks. From hauling water up endless flights of stairs with no elevator to home-made thermos mugs constructed from salvaged boxes and bubble wrap, the people interviewed actually looked back on the time as one of the most interesting of their lives. Necessarily forced to develop a sense of community, people shared their inventions as quickly as they could and in a time with no conveniences, intermittent electricity and extreme danger, they innovated the most incredible things from the most unlikely materials.

There were so many other great stories in there as well: how the native Sami people of the arctic constructed dwellings that helped them follow reindeer herds across the tundra, how an entire city is constructed out of nothing every four years for the holy Indian festival of Kumbh Mela, and how the invention of a cheap solar lightbulb is changing lives in the Philippines.

My Stack subscription is a calculated spend that brings me far more joy than the 12eu a month price tag costs me. And it lets me peek into all sorts of interesting corners of our amazing world.

And by the way, if you’re like me and get crazy interested in things for a short time, you might also have felt like there was something wrong with you. I have always envied people who can sustain a deep, abiding interest in a single topic and find contentment in it. The people who always knew what they wanted to do with their lives. I’m still figuring it out, but I’m no longer punishing myself for all my interests. I’m learning to celebrate them, as I’m working my way through this book: Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. It’s a really liberating read for me and I feel much more at peace with my ADD and my broad array of interests.

And don’t worry, I didn’t buy the book. It’s something I’ve had on my shelf for a long time but have never actually sat down with. That’s another benefit of not spending, it forces you to shop your own bookshelf. And you bought everything in it for a reason, even if you haven’t gotten to it yet!

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Why I’m hibernating…and fine with it.

Photo Credit: Jethro Taylor via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Jethro Taylor via Compfight cc

I’m not that much fun to be friends with at the moment, I’ll admit it. I’m rarely saying yes to invitations, and when I do I am the first to head home. I’m not initiating anything, and I’ve all but stopped going out mid-week. Mondays are set aside for cooking, Tuesdays + Thursdays + Saturday mornings are for crossfit, and Wednesdays I’ve been trying to work on my novel. That’s not to say I am not missing everyone like crazy. And of course, I am still making time for my nearest and dearest. I’m just not being a party animal. There are several reasons for this, and while I initially experienced a great deal of FOMO and anxiety that no one would be there for me when I was ready to re-join the land of the living, I have gotten past that now and made peace with my hibernation.

So, why am I playing the hermit crab? Five good reasons:

1. I want to concentrate on my nutrition. Since cutting out all grains and really shaking up my eating habits about 8 weeks ago, so many great things have happened. The keratosis pilaris that I have always suffered on my upper arms is just gone. Gone. I can’t even describe how happy that makes me. My skin in general feels softer and just…in better condition. My tummy is rarely angry or inflamed, when that was essentially a way of life for me before. I can’t remember a time when I’ve felt so healthy! And although the scales say nothing has changed, I know that my body shape has. This is also due to exercise, but you can work out all day and if you eat shit nothing is going to happen. So I really want to keep cooking for myself and only eating food I eat. I want to get a good repertoire up and then just spend one night per week cooking for the whole week ahead.  This means it’s harder to join in on dinners out. And anyone who cooks for me can expect explicit instructions and a thousand insane questions (sorry Fais!). But it’s something I need to do. Something I want to do.

2. I want to concentrate on exercise. I love crossfit. I don’t think that’s a secret. What’s also not a secret is that I am shit at it (“Kelly”, I am looking at you, bitch). (PS that’s the name of a workout, not a person.)  But no matter how bad I am, or that I can only squat and dead-lift about a third of the weight that some of the other girls can, I simply love the feeling that the workouts give me. It’s not only physical but mental achievement. And this is something new to me. I have never before liked exercise. And I want to set aside my three times per week for it, with the devotion of a church-goer. So those nights too, I am unavailable. I am hibernating. And it’s something else I really want to do.

3. I want to save money. I’ll be honest. I am already totally over not spending. I hate my wardrobe. It’s coming into winter and I only have two jumpers. I might need to buy an item or two just so I have a full week’s worth of things for the office. I’ve done everything I can think of – sectioned it off into little capsule wardrobes that I rotate amongst, combined pieces I have never tried together before, tried to find any clothing swaps going on (none). I desperately wish I could just go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. But what I really want is to just pay off my debts already and be square. And the harder I hibernate, the quicker that will happen. So I am doing alternative things, like inviting friends to my place and cooking for them. Or meeting people after dinner if I go out at all. And trying to limit the amount of drinks I have when I am out. And trying my hardest to stay off the shopping websites. I think one trick I will try is getting some nice lipstick. I never wear lipstick but it makes people look really dressed up and as though they have made an effort. It might draw attention away from the fact that I am basically wearing the same black skirt each day…

4. I want to cut back on alcohol. Not cut it out. Never, ever cut it out. But just not drink so mindlessly. Not have so many nights where I can’t pull myself together for work, or where I waste a whole Sunday in bed recovering. Because I am shit at not having hangovers. I have already become much better at this. I haven’t really had a big night out in a long time. And I do want one, I will be back. But winter is a great time for me to be doing this. It’s dark early, the beergardens are closed, it will soon be holiday season and most of my ex-pat friends will fly home. So it’s a good time to be limiting my alcohol intake. Temporarily.

5. I want to finish this novel. I have had this idea in my head for about five years. And I just want to get a draft out. I know it will be terrible, I am prepared for that. But it’s the thing I want most in this life – to complete a book. To write. I mean, I do it all day at work, but to write something I would want to read. And it takes time. And it’s really hard. I’m currently on around 16,ooo words. I plan to spend most of tomorrow getting that up to 25,ooo. And then I am back on track to finish Nanowrimo by November 30. Of course, I realise that by “finish” I mean have the world’s roughest first draft. But at least it will be something I can edit. And at least I will be taking steps all the time towards my dream.

So that’s why I’m feeling ok with the fact that I am spending a little more time than usual alone. Why I am ok with saying no a bit more often. Come 2015, I cannot wait to launch and best version of me there is. To get back out and enjoy socialising a little more. But in the meantime, I’m working on my goals.