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Sleep, Create and Rock Out Through Dreary January

Some ideas for enduring one of the longest, most disappointing months.

Dorothy Woodend 7 Jan

Dorothy Woodend is culture editor of The Tyee. Reach her here.

It’s January. The brief respite of the holidays is receding in the rear-view mirror, and there’s little to look forward to except people bitching on Twitter and re-watching Netflix films that you’ve already seen.

(Speaking of Netflix, where is the sequel to 365 Days, perhaps the worst Polish soft porn mafia drama ever made? I have to know what happened to these truly dreadful characters. But I digress.)

For those of us who can’t expect the thrill of being kidnapped by a horny mafia dude anytime soon (again, see 365 Days), here are a few ideas for easing the boring and blah January blues.

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Sleep through it

Hibernation is the only reasonable thing to do. Find a hidey-hole, curl up with a weighted blanket and snacks and dream for an entire month. Dreams are just so much better than waking life: not only can you fly, but sometimes aliens, zombies and your Grade 4 elementary school teacher show up. Sometimes all at once. I often have shopping dreams, where I wander into a store only to discover that everything costs 25 cents. An orgy of guilt-free consuming ensues.

Similar things happen with dreams about looking for apartments. In the dream world, a door opens onto a spiral staircase that leads to an interior greenhouse, a soaring space filled with greenery, parrots and exotic plants and creatures. Sure, these places defy the laws of physics, but when dream suites come with sunken tubs and cockatoos, how can one possibly turn them down?

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Go for a damn walk

This sounds overly simple, but sometimes simple works. Wherever you are, stepping outside your front door can do wonders for your state of mind. Not only will you get to see what other people are wearing, but there’s the chance of bumping into random folks and getting to yak about nonsense for a while.

A recent stroll along Point Grey Road in the Kitsilano neighbourhood was an eye-opening experience. It’s a full-on promenade along some of the most expensive real estate in Canada. The people on walkabout have the look of extreme wealth. Everyone, dogs included, dressed in matching Arc’teryx puffers with cool toques and sunglasses. The look is studiedly casual, in the West Coast luxe way. Rich people hold themselves differently, I’ve noticed, moving through the air like they expect it to part around them like an open door, and indeed it does.

If one tires of humans, there’s a plenty of other creatures on display. Head down to Jericho Park in Vancouver and you might see bunnies! Jericho is a veritable live action version of Watership Down at the moment. There are rabbits everywhere. It’s charming, a little freaky, and a worthwhile reminder that life goes on, in rabbit land at least. Horny bunnies are busily making more 365 days a year. Where’s their Netflix deal, I’d like to know.

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Bang Your Head

I know this is another obvious one but listening to oldies can take you on a weird time-travelling experience. Nothing opens up the worn old synapses like listening to a song that you haven’t heard in 30 years. It all comes swirling back, your teenage self, high on life and manic with unrequited love for some high school thug. Oh, Morey Howery, I will always loooooooooooooooooove you.

It’s all still in there, floating about, waiting for a musical cue to come knee-sliding onto centre stage. It only takes the opening chords of Van Halen’s "Jump," and I’m instantly back to a teenage slumber party that involved screaming along to the song while jumping on a trampoline. Perhaps a bit on the nose, but subtle is not the name of the game here, just the opposite.

If you’re swimming in the January blues, I have two words for you: well, actually one and a bit: Tenacious D. Jack Black and Kyle Gass’s duo has penned some of the dumbest songs, but they are strangely cheering. Sometimes you just need to rock out — metal, power pop, hair ballads, whatever your poison, as long it’s not actual Poison. Bang your head for a bit, at least you’re moving your body around, and even if you dislocate something it’ll be worth it.

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Make stuff

A lumpen ashtray, a papier-mâché hat, a collage, a finger painting. If you can’t summon the creative spirit, just move furniture around, anything that helps to disrupt old patterns and open a pathway to something new.

Nothing passes the time like full-on immersion in learning a new skill. Even if you suck badly at it, no matter, keep going. The very act of trying is bound to buoy the soul a bit. Although be careful what you start. In an ill-advised pastry making moment, I became so enraged I threw the entire batch of disobedient flour and butter on the kitchen floor and screamed like a banshee. Fury is better than sadness, but it’s also a lot messier.

Imagine something new

If none of the usual escapist routes are working, then it’s time to break out the big guns. Move to another country? Cut your bangs? Wear parachute pants? The answers vary from person to person. I keep thinking we, meaning we humans, are on the cusp of big change. How long can inequity and injustice continue before we junk the entire system? But what does something truly new look like?

Science fiction offers ideas, at least in the dystopic strain, but what do new utopias look like? It occurs to me that I haven’t seen one lately. Even films and television series that set out to depict the future seem beset with a certain poverty of imagination. Everything is mostly cruddy and zombie-infested, much like current life.

A new version of the future would be nice. Let go of those old “mind-forg’d manacles” that William Blake was on about and let your inner visionary out. Is a Star Trek civilization full of svelte folk in one-piece jumpsuits, or a neo-agrarian world full of sexy people in one-piece overalls? Surely, there are other worlds and better fashion options than these.

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Think of summer

Winter can’t last forever. Summer will come again. Cast your mind forward to your favourite place of warmth and light. Maybe it’s a pond filled with buzzing insect life, tadpoles, water striders, dragonflies and horny toads. A rich society of creatures, all going about their business. In this place, green with new life and throbbing with ordinary ecstasy, there it is, the invincible summer that Camus talked about, pushing back harder and stronger than any January sadness.  [Tyee]

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