2020: A Review

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that 2020 has been the weirdest, craziest, scariest, most existentially-challenging, emotionally-draining year of my life.

A lot of bad things have happened and, at times, whilst caught in a Matrix-style existential mindset, I’ve become convinced that I’ve probably been living in an unpublished Lemony Snicket novel without being aware of it.

I mean, at least the Baudelaire kids were allowed to move between households…

The whole year has felt like an extension of that strange period between Christmas and New Year when you lose all track of time and end up eating an excessive amount of chocolate whilst engaging in a nostalgic Julie Andrews movie marathon because you’ve forgotten your purpose in life, there’s nothing else to do and at least Julie seems happy about things.

It takes one crazy year to mess with both the foundations of society and the concept time itself and it’s a bit weird to think that it’s coming to an end, almost like stepping out of some surreal alternate reality.

Months, weeks and days have melded into one another and become one long unstructured mass of time and, looking back, it’s hard to believe that I’ve achieved anything or done anything significant.

As a result, I thought it would be useful to write a post to remind myself that I have done some things this year, aside from of sitting on a sofa in my oldest tattiest hoody, staring into the existential abyss whilst stoically making my way through a family size bag of Doritos.

LIST OF 2020 ACHIEVEMENTS SOME THINGS I’VE DONE

  1. Survived 365 surreal, weird, stressful 2020 days.

2. Watched several of Boris Johnson’s ‘addressing the nation’ speeches and only considered punching the TV once or twice (exhibiting considerable emotional control).

3. Recovered from a spiraling Amazon addiction after realising that buying loads of things to help with stress (candles, incense sticks, meditation journals etc.) was only making me more stressed about the state of the high street and also the state of my bank account.

4. Managed to keep in touch with most of my friends, despite being confronted with my own face on Zoom more than I would have liked.

5. Didn’t shave my legs for the entirety of Lockdown 1.0.

6. Didn’t wear a bra for the entirety of Lockdown 1.0.

7. Briefly considered wearing a bra when going to the supermarket…

8. … and then didn’t (I’m sure that’s feminism or something… and by ‘something’ I mean extreme laziness).

9. Became closer to nature by taking lots of relaxing walks in the park.

10. Became closer to my dogs by taking several distinctly less relaxing walks in the park.

Swan was angered when Jessie made a unconsidered attempt chase it in what was potentially the most terrifying moment of my life to date.

11. Ran out of perfume and avoided buying more from Amazon by discovering a cheaper alternative.

12. Learnt to juggle (3 balls, not general life responsibilities)

13. Shaved my brother’s head and briefly considered becoming a barber. #RethinkReskillReboot

14. Resisted a sudden impulsive urge to shave my own head whilst bored and looking for something to do.

15. Briefly tried to eat more healthily to counter an increased amount of sedentary sofa time but then decided that it was a difficult time and I deserved to treat myself.

16. Did yoga like 10 times and only broke one item of furniture in the process.

17. Discovered a brand new way of burning calories.

18. Discovered a new comeback that has proved useful for whenever I get yelled at by groups of youths in the street.

19. Got bored and built a really tall tower out of used toilet rolls.

I mean, it looked a little bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa before it fell on top of me so it was basically like being on holiday.

20. Took up mindfulness and meditation and stuck with it even though my body seemed intent on conspiring against me.

21. Survived several mental breakdowns.

23. Had more time to write and draw (it may have been an awful year but at least I’ve got a few decent cartoons out of it!)

All in all, I may have entered 2020 with a fresh rush of energy and a resolve to strive to become the best version of myself that I possibly could be. And I may now be ending it by dragging a significantly less impressive version of myself towards the finish line.

But, all things considered, I reckon that is the biggest achievement I could have hoped for.

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I Think I Might Be A Background Character In My Own Life…

When I was younger, I used to have a very vivid imagination and spent a lot of time immersing myself in fictional worlds.

When I watched films like Lord of the Rings, I always identified with the main protagonists – I thought I’d be brave and courageous like Arogorn or Legolas or loyal and determined like Sam.

I guess I assumed that when a great crisis came along that threatened the entire world, I would grow up to be one of the heroes at the centre of the action, facing the threat head on.

However, as I’ve progressed into adulthood, I’ve come to realise that the person that I perceive myself to be doesn’t always match up with the person who I actually am in reality.

For a while now, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that I might actually be one of life’s generic background characters and, if anything, the coronavirus pandemic has served to confirm this.

Nowadays, I’ve drastically lowered my expectations.

If I were a character in Lord of the Rings, I wouldn’t be Frodo or SamWise Gamgee – I reckon I’d be one of the bog-standard Hobbits that sat on my arse in the Shire whilst shit went down, progressively making my way through multiple meals a day with no real idea of what was going on.

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This is a more accurate representation of how I’ve spent my days in this time of national crisis.

Sitting at home with my thoughts is challenging in its own way.

Whilst I may be feeling powerless to change external circumstances, at the beginning of April I decided I could still adopt the mindset of a hero and work on myself so that I would exit lockdown feeling more physically and mentally robust than when I entered it.

My childhood protagonist complex kicked in again and I had visions of myself effortlessly holding my body in strenuous yoga positions like Luke Skywalker in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.

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However, if you’ve read my previous blog post, you will know that my attempts transform myself into a zen yogic goddess weren’t particularly successful…

As the days and weeks have melded into one long strange expanse of time, my self-disapline has run off with my sanity, leaving me with a physical and mental state that more closely resemble Jabba the Hutt and that weird crazed rat creature that hangs out with him.

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My Lockdown Yoga Experience

I have been finding social isolation quite challenging mentally so I recently started doing yoga in the hope that it would help me to reduce my anxiety levels.

It is quite easy to do yoga from home – the internet is full of videos featuring yoga instuctors serenly moving their bodies into various positions whilst radiating inner calm.

Unfortunately, these yoga instructors recorded the majority of their videos before March 2020 when the future seemed as solid as their core muscles.

After two months of lockdown, I have neither the abs nor the sense of security to replicate such serenity.

For me, ‘developing a practice’ has consisted mainly of manically jerking my body through each position in a vain attempt to restore some semblance of inner zen.

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It turns out that praciticing yoga under lockdown conditions isn’t easy.

I think that yoga was probably designed to be practiced in the mountains or other areas of vast natural beauty whilst listening to the sound of the wind moving through the trees or the waves rushing up against a pebble beach.

It is slightly more difficult to conjour up a sense of profound internal peace in a 4×3 metre room in your parent’s house the middle of Liverpool to the sound of your brothers using the nearby toilet and your mum playing a particularly intense game of Words With Friends in the opposite room.

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That being said, yoga has helped me become more physically attuned to myself and more aware of how my body relates to the space around me.

However, this is predominantly because my room is too small and untidy to accomadate pretty much every single yoga move and my ability to enter into a state of seamless yogic flow is often compromised by inconviently positioned items of furniture. img_0553

I guess I hoped that my body and mind would blend together in some sort of peaceful holistic spiritual cocktail.

Unfortunately, my spiritual cocktail seems to be one of those cheap mixers you buy on a night out at uni – you’re not sure exactly what’s in it but you end up downing it anyway whilst your flatmates chant at you.

All in all, I would like to say that lockdown has transformed me into a fully fledged zen yogi but, if I’m honest, I have pretty much resorted to repeating postive mantras to myself from my favourite position of all. img_0550If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

If You Look For It, I’ve Got A Sneaking Suspicion That Loo Roll Actually Is All Around…

One month into quarantine and self-isolation is really starting to get to me.

I know this because this weekend I found myself watching classic Christmas romcom ‘Love Actually’ in April.

You know you have too much time on your hands when you find yourself watching a young Thomas Brody-Sangster legging it across an airport whilst crying into a bowl of Doritos because you’ve got bugger all chance of finding yourself in an airport departure lounge for the foreseeable future.

I’m finding romcoms quite difficult to watch in general at the moment because they really drive home the fact that my own love life has taken a massive nosedive since lockdown started.

Finding true love is hard enough in regular life, let alone when your search has been somewhat impeded by the fact that you’re confined to your house 24/7 and spend the majority of your time in sweatpants and your old school leaver’s hoody from 2012 – needless to say, I’m not exactly exuding irresistible goddess vibes at the moment.

Times just aren’t as exciting as they used to be but I suppose we all have to remain mindful and make sure that we’re still appreciating the small things in life.

For instance, we currently have an adequate supply of loo roll in the house, something that would have seemed inconceivable this time last month.

After all, in the words of Hugh Grant, if you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspiscion that loo roll actually is all around…

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I Think I Might Be A Modern Day Shakespeare…

Towards the beginning of the lockdown period, I read a few articles claiming that Shakespeare wrote the entirety of King Lear when he was in quarantine during an outbreak of plague.

At the time, I thought it would be fun to spend a bit of my own quarantine writing a blog post exploring how some of Shakespeare’s theatrical masterpieces would have been different if he’d composed them during the current Coronavirus lockdown.

Perhaps I was hoping that this period of self-isolation would inspire bard-like levels of productivity in me and that I would be rattling off blog posts at an unprecedented rate.

Unfortunately, it has taken me a grand total of three weeks to get round to writing this blog post and, while it is perhaps no longer as contextually relevant as it would have been back then, here are three of Shakespeare’s plays reimagined in a modern day context. 

RICHARD III

Richard III focuses (unsuprisingly) on Richard III, who wants to become King of England.

As the plot progress, Richard commits various acts of atrocity and decieit in order to eventually secure the throne for himself.

However, towards the end of the play, Richard is forced to revaluate his life priorities and the kingdom that was once so important to him suddenly becomes less significant than a simple horse.

In modern society, we have also had to reevaluate our priorities in the face of a national crisis.

In fact, if he existed nowadays, I reckon Richard would have also found himself worrying about things that were previously completely inconsequential, albeit in a slightly less dramatic, more mundane way.

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MACBETH

The plot of MacBeth is kickstarted by a meeting between the titular character and three witches, who act as a catalyst to steer MacBeth onto his path of murderess ambition,

Had the play been set in modern day Scotland, it’s likely that the witches plans to meet MacBeth on the heath would have been somewhat scuppered by social distancing regulations.

The opening scene of the play wouldn’t have had the same ominous, spooky effect if the witches had instead been forced to arrange a Skype call to discuss the logistics of bumping into MacBeth in the local park by timing their allotted exercise walk in coordination with his.

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That being said, even if the witches had been unable to meet with MacBeth, Lady MacBeth still would have probably ended up manically washing her hands, not to shield herself from all-consuming guilt, but to protect herself from an all-consuming desire to touch her face.

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ROMEO AND JULIET

In some ways, Romeo and Juliet already lived under a kind of lockdown scenario and, had they lived in 2020, I’m sure the Capulets and Montegues would have had absolutelty no problems remaining 6 feet apart from each other at all times.

However, it would be perhaps be slightly more difficult for the titular characters to replicate the same intensity of passion that made their love affair so iconic if they had been forced to conduct it over Instant Messenger.img_0525

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