Andrea Mara

Official website

Using the good bath oil

There is so much advice in the world and there are so many memes with wise sayings, but the only one that has stuck in my mind resolutely for years now is “Use the good bath oil”. I came across it in a magazine a long time ago – I can’t remember now if it was in an article written by Nora Ephron or perhaps an article about her. But her words took root and have stayed on my mind ever since.

Sometimes I’m good at following her advice, and sometimes for long periods I forget. In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to use the good bath oil (which is a much nicer way of saying it than “live each day as if it’s your last” – something that isn’t very practical anyway; let’s face it, who’d do laundry ever again?)

Sometimes I take it very literally, and use my Molten Brown Bushukan bath oil. In fact, still on the literal side of things, I’m trying very hard to use the huge quantities of makeup I’ve been keeping for “good” ever since I read a new year’s resolution post by Behind Green Eyes – now I’m using the cosmetics I own instead of buying more, and it’s very satisfying.

And sometimes I take Nora Ephron’s advice figuratively, which is just as nice – having the slice of cake, drinking the extra coffee, saying yes instead of no, saying no instead of yes, telling the small boy it’s not worth going back to school after his eye appointment and watching his face light up. “I skipped school today!” he told everyone he met since. I hope he doesn’t say that to his teacher on Monday.( It was less than an hour!)

Last year, when I had some breathing space after getting my book to my publisher, I panicked about freelance work and took no time off. Afterwards I vowed I’d never make the same mistake again. So this week, having sent back book 2 edits and finished two features, I used some of the good bath oil – I met a (new) friend for coffee, my laptop and I relocated to my favourite café to sort of work, I went book shopping, I talked to actual people. Working from home means sometimes I don’t speak to another adult for 11 hours at a time, so this is a bigger deal than it sounds.

I’m going to Limerick on Sunday, for the announcement of the Kate O’Brien award. And I’m writing it here because it might be the only time I’m ever shortlisted for a book award. What if I don’t write it down and it never happens again and I wish I’d enjoyed it more, marked it more? So I’m marking it here (and choosing what to wear from the dresses I’ve been keeping for “good”).

And I’m using the metaphorical bath oil tonight – I said yes to dinner and drinks with my old work friends (they are not old, you know what I mean). I can’t wait. I have €16 left in my bank account to last till next Tuesday, but I feel like Nora Ephron would say go for it – catching up with old friends is a great reason to break out the credit card.

Speaking of which, I better go get ready.






Click the button below to sign up to my Penguin newsletter.