New Year’s Resolutions are the opiate of the masses. Once upon a time it was religion, as my ex-husband Karl Marx said, but in the here and now that opiate has become the much observed, under-critiqued system of the New Year's Resi.
That’s right folks, year on year we fall into the trap of constructed time — relinquishing our Decembers into the pits of spending, food, booze, fags, fisting and festive gifting, aggressively reassuring people, as you inhale your third burger-based dish of the day, that “you’ll be better in Jan” and “what’s another £66 scented candle as a thoughtless gift? I’ll think about the money in Jan!”
Well Jan’s here and, unlike many, I do all of the above while also disregarding New Year's Resolutions onto the trash pile that is marketing tripe (there you can also find: Protein World, Valentine’s Day and Gender Reveal Parties) and hence spend each December gaining impossible amounts of weight, haemorrhaging cash and smoking my lungs into oblivion. So in an attempt to rectify this, I decided to commit to a different resolution a day to see if any of them are what they’re cracked up to be. Spoiler: none of them are (except getting early nights — who knew?).
Why make January harder? It’s the first of the month and I’m hanging so deeply that I’ve spiralled into watching reruns of Next — MTV’s pre-social-media-app-extravaganza take on Tinder. The gay one is particularly savage. There’s loads of booze left in the house and it’s taking all my power not to toss back a stunning hair of the dog vodka, lime and soda. 3pm and all my friends start drinking. I start drinking but a honey and hot water (lol). As my friends get progressively more drunk to celebrate the dawn of the new year, I feel both painfully dull and oddly superior. We start watching Room Raiders (the one where prospective dates use a UV light to check if there’s spunk all over someone’s bed) and I think about ordering pizza or a kebab and can’t decide which. I order both. It’s 11pm and my friends open a leftover bottle of Vintage Moët that one of us got as a birthday present ages ago and have been saving for a special occasion. I can’t not have the Vintage Moët. So I have the Vintage Moët. Challenge One: failed.
This is harder than not drinking because I have this weird obsession that if I have money in my account I have to pace through it fast in order to rebuild the impetus to make more. It’s January 3rd and I have been invited out to brunch with a few friends, then to go check out the dregs of the sale at Selfridges. I accept because in order to test this resolution I actually have to be put in a scenario where I need to resist the urge. I order toast at brunch and a black coffee, which is the least I’ve ever ordered at a meal, ever. Feeling good, feeling rich. We trundle down to Selfridges, and when we arrive we go straight to shoes. There’s a pair of Balenciaga boots I’ve been wanting all season and they’ve gone down in the sale from £1,895 to £299. I am stunned. I try them on in a size seven — and they’re two sizes too small. I leave them and ask if they can maybe hold them for me. They say yes. I made it through the day spending only £12ish. I am stunned.
Obsessively thinking about the Balenciaga boots so I go back into town (it’s now the 4th) and buy the boots. I love them so much. They are, also, leather so I’ve fucked Veganuary. Nonetheless I try to eat vegan for a day. I go over to a friend’s for dinner who is also a vegan, but her mum is in town — her mum who is famously known for once skinning a dead rabbit and cooking it in a stew in the middle of a party — and has made herself and me a meat dish, not knowing I’m only eating vegan. I tell her and she literally takes it as a joke and laughs intermittently for the whole night at the memory of me going vegan. I eat the Bloody Mary beef cooked in the slow cooker and goddam it’s good. Turns out I need that beef.
Since I’ve failed on the vegan front I decide to go home early in the hope to get to bed before 11pm (my usual bedtime is between 1am and 3am — most of my work as a drag queen is at night and the rest of the time I spend socialising or watching niche YouTube vids). I do a face mask and rewatch Grace and Frankie (omg love it so much it’s like a warm bath). I’m in bed by 11pm. I fall asleep. I wake up on the 5th and am feeling like Irene Cara when she wrote "What a Feeling". Finally, something that worked! I wash my sheets to get them ready for another early night. So excited for bed already!
On the 7th I try to go a day without smoking. I tried this once before and lasted nine months but then I fell off a climbing wall and all I wanted was a cigarette and I had one and now I smoke 30 a day. It gets to 11am and I haven’t had one, but then I spend 20 minutes on the phone to my mum arguing viciously about why Alexandra Burke’s treatment on Strictly Come Dancing was most definitely grounded in racism and misogyny. I literally don’t even notice and before I know it I’m 16 minutes into describing structural oppression and I’m halfway through a fag. I don’t even care.
This is something I do think is incredibly important, although I think self-care has been somewhat coopted as a marketing tool for companies to sell you rose stanky bath salts and shit. When I talk about self-care I think it’s about allowing your body and your personality to do what nourishes it. For me, that’s watching videos of kinetic sand being sliced, taking care of my skin, and watching the Lifetime epic movie House of Versace or anything starring Gina Gershon (except 9/11 which was utterly tasteless). I decide to spend a day with my friend doing all of these things. This isn’t really new for me, but I do tidy my room first thing in the morning and I feel incredibly light and decluttered.
Once I got a £790 fine from HMRC for failing to complete my tax return, but then I sent them a letter which said, quote, “I’m a hapless drag queen who doesn’t understand the confusing online system set up by our government to actively exclude those who aren’t financially, computer or linguistically literate”. They honestly wiped the whole fee and paid me a rebate I didn’t even know I needed! I do my tax return in one evening, on the 12th, and decide to estimate my expenses in order to just get it done. I underestimate and now my tax bill is here and it’s ruined my January. I have an early night to make myself feel better, and my god do I feel better.
Stop saying well done to mediocre men
I realised that I’ve spent my life congratulating the terrible work of men; men whose work I can honestly top by doing a poo. So on the 18th, I went to see my friend’s show. It was bad and when he came out, instead of saying I thought it was “the best thing I’ve seen on stage in years” I said “what was the message?” He seemed pretty upset and then I felt terrible, so I said “I loved it though, and, like, does art even need to have a message?” Crisis averted but resolution failed. This is something I’m keen to continue but I’m working on ways to do it slightly more productively… Will report back.
See the world
I booked flights to Lisbon on 20th January, but I’m not going until March. I did, however, go to Gypsy Hill for the first time ever on the 11th and that was a hoot. Turns out you need way more flexible cash than I have so this one, like the above, is a work in progress. If anyone wants to take a drag queen to somewhere far-flung, I’m in.
Not losing weight
This is the big one. Every single year of my recallable life I have promised myself at the turn of the new year I would lose weight, having had a pretty dysmorphic and unhealthy relationship with my body and food all the way into my mid-20s. I spent the beginning of last year eating no carbs, a self-punishing choice which led to me fainting on January 31st just after I came off stage. I spent the year reading about fat activism and trying to take up more space with conversations about fat, and this year, for the first time, I looked in the mirror on New Year’s Eve and said “this year you won’t be obsessing about losing weight”. And so far so good — I’ve just eaten two sausage rolls and a croissant while editing this diary. And I’ve never felt fatter and prouder! That’s progress if you ask me!