Introduction to the Rockstar Dinosaur Princess Pirate

When I was 5 I wanted to be a rockstar dinosaur pirate princess when I grew up.

30 years later I am none of these things, although I was briefly one for a while and one out of 4 of such lofty goals ain’t bad.

2014 is the year I will be closer to 40 than 30 and this makes no sense to me whatsoever. When I was 5 and had my rocking giant lizard corsair dreams 40 was so incredibly old I couldn’t even imagine ever reaching it.

2013 was the year I quit roller derby – the only hobby I’d ever truly stuck with – and it left a gaping hole in my life that I soon realised had, pre-roller derby, been filled with drinking, partying and general excesses. I made a list of things I wanted to achieve in the yawning chasm that became my spare time. Here is that list:

  • Learn to sew. Start with cushions, end up with dresses
  • Learn Sign language
  • Start writing again

It’s not a big list. And for the 6 months after roller derby I did nothing with that list other than make a half hearted and not terribly good cushion out of a roller derby t-shirt and ask a friend if I could borrow a sewing machine, which is still sitting in her hallway months later waiting for me to pick it up. The knee injury that hastened my retirement from sport became an excuse to do nothing and eat everything and my weight slowly crept back  up to a level it hadn’t been at since a year on Weightwatchers back in 2002. I let life slide along, not entirely miserable but not exactly happy either. I started to feel like I was somehow participating in my life but not really living it; going through the motions but not really taking part.

Then New Year’s Eve 2013 happened. I don’t quite know what happened – but the short version is I had a horrible drinking experience. Possibly the worst of my life (and I have had some pretty horrible drinking experiences in my time) which lead to much sobbing, several panic attacks, a three day (at least, I’m still living it) hangover. It nearly ended my relationship. It’s a blessing almost that I don’t remember exactly what happened while drunk, but what I have been told makes me very sad indeed. Both the dreadful things I did and said, and the wonderful things that happened that I cannot remember. It made me really think about my relationship with alcohol, and how it has impacted on so many parts of my life.

I have a number of friends doing dry January, which I’d never even considered before. I’ve always been of the belief that January was miserable enough without denying yourself the best escape from that miserableness. But then I re-evaluated that statement. What it is about alcohol that makes it so important in my life? I mentioned to a few people I was considering going off the booze for January, and possibly longer. Reactions were a mix of horror, disbelief, condemnation and ridicule. This only made me think more about how alcohol – in particular social drinking – has taken on this huge significance in my life and that of my work colleagues, my friends and my family. How the act of not just drinking but of *being drunk* is tied up in my psyche. I want to really think about this in 2014 and unpick it.

So back to The List. It has grown, and changed.

  • Learn to sew. Start with cushions, end up with dresses
  • Learn Sign language
  • No drinking for 3 months – re-evaluate on 1st April whether I want to stay off booze for a further 3 months
  • Start writing again – and document my attempts to do all of the above

New Year’s Resolutions can go so horribly wrong, especially when you announce them to the entire world. It remains to be seen whether I will wake up in a pool of my own dribble after a massive bender in two weeks’ time, whether that sewing machine will remain in my friend’s hallway and whether my knowledge of sign language will be limited to the alphabet.

Possibly the hardest thing will be getting into the habit of writing weekly. I can’t even promise that my weekly posts will be about The List – I have a tendency to get an idea or a rant in my head which has to come out – so future posts might even cover feminism, politics, society, animals, the weather or whatever it is that has made me think or feel or cross or cheerful that week. I am open to suggestions.

So to sum up, just as I am not the  Rock Star Dinosaur Pirate Princess I aimed to be when I was 5, this experiment of mine may turn out to be something quite different than where it started – with The List. But much like those intervening 30 years, it could also turn out to be just as interesting.