Friday nights

When I was a teenager I was already displaying a preference for spending my Friday nights home alone. I realise this is not the experience of most teenagers. I may well be the only teenager whose mother told her to go out more. 

I didn’t go out because I didn’t want to. I still don’t. I come home from work on a Friday night and I’m usually so tired that the last thing I feel like doing is going out and socialising. I prefer to pour a small glass of wine (in truth I’d prefer a large glass, but medications prevent that), eat something tasty, and watch a bit of mindless TV, then head to bed about 8pm with a book. 

It’s hardly the kind of Friday night that people think of when they ask “did you have a good weekend?” come Monday. But it’s my idea of a good time, and I’m the only one whose opinion counts in this situation. 

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Sick and home alone, part 2

No, I’m not talking about a movie marathon of that series, although watching movies is one of my suggestions for keeping yourself sane when you’re home alone and cooped up inside. 

Personally I prefer boxed sets of TV shows (I suppose I should get with the program and stream them rather than show my age by referring to “boxed sets”). But whatever the delivery mechanism, being in bed is the perfect time to watch your favourite TV shows without interruption or judgement. Plus the talking will make you feel like there’s someone keeping you company, if company is what you feel like. 

One great thing about digital life is that it enables living alone in a way that was difficult for previous generations. Heck, you don’t even have to leave the house and talk to anyone in order to get what you need. 

My current favourite thing is online grocery shopping.  When I’m too sick or too tired to go out I can get my grocery shopping done for me and either collect it or have it delivered. The latter is my preferred option except I feel so guilty doing it because the supermarket is only about .5km away. I’m sure they don’t judge but I’d feel compelled to explain that I have RA and I can’t lift or carry heavy bags … 

Being sick at home when you live alone isn’t a party, but it’s survivable as long as you have the Internet 🙂

What to do when you’re home alone and sick

One challenge of living alone is looking after yourself when you get sick. Just when you’re feeling at your lowest ebb you need the most from yourself. 

First off, be gentle on yourself. Do the absolute minimum to keep going, whatever “keep going” means for you. Drop all extraneous activity (which for me means any form of cleaning). Go to bed and stay there for as long as it takes. Get up only to feed and water yourself. 

Get a good tray. I have a bamboo one my father gave me for Christmas one year. It has deep sides and easy to grasp handles. This makes carrying food and drinks to bed so much easier. 

Call on friends if necessary. I’ve had friends drop off medications and food and they have been happy to do it. So don’t be afraid to ask. They know you live alone and don’t have an obliging spouse to do it for you. 

Stock up. Obviously this needs to be done in advance. I am an advocate of the Boy Scout motto. You’re going to get sick at some point, so lay in supplies. For me, this means soup. When I’m unwell I usually just want soup, so I keep on hand cans of soup and even better, frozen pouches of soup. These latter are delicious, chock full of veg, and very tasty. Microwaved in 5 minutes or so, they are perfect for days when even standing at the stove requires more energy than I have. 

Getting sick is no one’s idea of a good time, but a little preparation for the inevitable goes a long way towards making it bearable. Figure out what makes you feel better when you’re unwell, and make sure you have whatever you need before the bugs strike. 

Men friends and the single life

blog-coverAs you get older it gets harder and harder to make friends. Everyone seems to find this. When I was at uni, it was the easiest thing in the world to make friends – they were everywhere, and we already had so much in common. We were all at a similar stage in life and it was easy to share interests, activities and time together.

After uni, work became my primary circle of potential friends. But there’s no guarantee that I’d have anything much in common with the people I work with, or that we’ll be at similar stages in life, or have similar interests outside work. Making new friends seemed to get more challenging, more hit and miss.

Work has been the principal source of friends for me for many years now. I don’t do a lot of activities outside the house – I’m not a club or group joiner – so work is the one place where I come across significant numbers of people amongst whom I might hope to meet someone I get on with.

Many colleagues assume that because I am single, my number one priority is to find a partner. This makes finding men friends even more difficult.

Most of my men friends are people I have worked for or with. My last two bosses have been great, and as I now tend to pick bosses I like as well as respect, it is a perfect basis for friendship. However, this can generate tension with their wives. Their wives can be somewhat mistrustful when they start hearing about their husband having coffee or lunch with me, or going for a drink after work. There isn’t anything romantic about these social events, but it can take a while before that becomes clear to the wives.

So I have developed a few hard and fast rules for keeping these friendships as friendships. My number one rule is to never, ever act flirtatiously under any circumstance. This includes never responding to any attempt on his part to flirt with you. It’s easy enough to slip into flirtatious banter, even when it isn’t meant, but it’s dangerous. The flirting line may be a fine one, but once crossed, going back is difficult.

Not that I have any, but cleavage is a definite no-no in general around men friends. Apart from anything else, it’s totally inappropriate for work. No-one should be forced to confront (or have to avoid confronting) a woman’s breasts at work.

At some point, talking about some details of your personal life is inevitable if the friendship is to develop beyond water cooler chit-chat. This is a tricky time, especially if he starts along the lines of “my wife doesn’t understand me”. My approach is that if I want to stay friends with him is that I do not get involved in fixing this by being the woman who does understand him. On the one or two occasions I’ve been confronted with this, I’ve been sympathetic to his plight then offered suggestions about how he can fix things with his wife. By doing this, I’ve usually managed to make it clear that I’m not a plan B, and that if he has a problem with her he needs to talk to her about it, rather than me. This doesn’t shut down the sharing between us, but it does put it onto a different footing where he knows that I know he’s having trouble, but he is sharing that trouble with me as a friend and not as an alternative to his wife.

Of course, if you do meet someone at work who you want to get involved with romantically, well, that’s a whole other ballgame. One I’m not qualified to advise on. Other than perhaps to suggest that you go into it with the expectation that you may have to change jobs if it doesn’t work out.