My own Bombshell Coach

It’s Project Connor’s eighth birthday! Happy birthday, blog!

It’s all going well. Not perfectly, but very well. I am still on the wagon. I have counted calories for three weeks and lost a nice 13 pounds. Not one binge in all that time.

I can already feel thinner. There is more room in my clothes.

One of my PhD supervisor’s favourite words was trajectory. He may be an educational philosopher, but he used the word trajectory as often as a NASA flight engineer. And I’m on a good trajectory now. The diet is no longer as difficult as it was when I last wrote here. I’m in the flow of counting calories now and I’m in a rhythm of moderation.

This should mean that I have a lot more money to spare. I’m no longer ordering pizza or Indian for delivery five or six nights a week. That’s a lot of money saved. Unfortunately, in my excitement at the extra money, I’ve done quite a lot of online shopping and spent it all at once.

I bought so many tickets to shows. My theatre rate had slowed down in the last few months, as my evenings had become more and more about food. But I work mere minutes from London’s Glittering West End and I’m damned if I’m going to waste it. Even if that means I’m going to see Bat Out Of Hell, the musical based on the songs of Meatloaf.  I went to two shows last week and I’m going to two this week and I already have three more booked for the coming weeks. So I’ve spent lots of money on tickets.

And on clothes. I’m the only person in my workplace who wears ties. It started with the ones I inherited from my dad and I’m enjoying being a shirt-and-tie-and-braces person a bit too much. I’ve started ordering ties from TiesPlanet.com – a whole planet of ties! And I also got a tie pin. Just one. So far. But there are so many out there.  Man-jewellery! I’m plotting so many ties and braces and shirts and tie pins. I’ve also bought a pile of new shirts from Jacamo, everyone’s favourite men’s plus size online clothing retailer that delivers on the same day if you live in Actual London like I do.

I’m sure lots of people settle on a personal style before they’re 37 years old like I am, but I love a makeover. Love a makeover. There is nothing that is more likely to make me enjoy a movie than a makeover montage. And I love makeover TV shows too. Queer Eye and What Not To Wear and How to Look Good Naked and all the others. Even the Canadian classic Style by Jury with its ‘Bombshell Coach’ (a dream job). And I’ve made over my own personal look quite a few times in the last twenty years. I think my willingness to change is partly due to the fact that fat people are encouraged to believe that their bodies aren’t real, that the ‘real me’ is the ‘thin person inside trying to get out’ and the person in the mirror isn’t actually who I am, so I never really look at myself and see ‘myself’, just a temporary version, while the real one is being repaired at the garage.

Anyway, I’m now considering giving away most of my more casual clothes and becoming a seven-day-a-week shirt-and-tie person, but only if I can manage to make the shirts and ties as whimsical and joyful as I want them to be.

It’s exciting. As are the shows. Yes, I’m wasting money, but I’m enjoying it.

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Breathing out

I’ve discovered the secret to making breathing more fun. I now lie in bed or sit at my desk at work and breathe out and am secretly pleased with my breath.

I read an article recently about losing weight. It was about where the fat goes when you lose weight. It doesn’t “turn into muscle”, as you really should know. A bit of it is lost through sweat and pee and poo, but not the majority of it. Most of it is lost through respiration.

That’s right, when you lose weight, your fat is turned into chemicals that you literally breathe out. Since I learned that fact I lie in bed, and I feel myself breathing and I feel like I did when I gave up smoking, where every cough was the sound of the smoker I used to be dying. When I’ve eaten within my calories for the day, I just have to breathe and the fat is exiting with every breath. My breath is the death throes of my fat.

And I have eaten within my calories this week, so I’ve lost 8 pounds in the last seven days, which is a nice start.

The first few days were tough. I missed evening bingeing. If I didn’t get home after work and immediately gorge myself, how was I meant to spend the evening? How was I to get to sleep if I wasn’t to eat so much that my body began to shut down? New time opens up for me when I diet. Meals no longer need recovery time. It’s good, but at the start it’s empty and scary and a bit too real.

I’m OK with my reality these days, but there are times when the similarity between alcoholism and overeating strikes me. I understand that urge to obliterate your free time. The urge to forget. I don’t drink a lot. When I want to ease pain or to forget, I just download the Dominos app and start ordering. (I don’t leave the Dominos app on my phone. Like a true addict, I erase the evidence the next morning and then download it again that evening when I need it.) I haven’t binged in a week. And that’s a damn good start.

I’m feeling those happy feelings again.

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Carrying a watermelon

I’m my own worst enemy. I decide something won’t be good and then I just don’t do it and end up retreating into my shell. Luckily, there are other people who won’t always leave me alone in my shell. One such was a visitor I had this weekend.

He booked tickets for us to go to a gig on Saturday night. I was dreading it. I don’t do “gigs”. I go to “shows”. I go to “spectaculars”. I go to “An Evening With…” I don’t go to gigs. I don’t want to meet serious men who smell of Guinness and wear leather jackets and get their heterosexual juice all over me. One of my mottos is that I only go to concerts where there are multiple costume changes otherwise what’s the point.

There would be no costume changes at this show. I asked my friend what kind of music it would be. I wanted to prepare myself. I shouldn’t have asked. He told me that the singer we were going to see was “really great, similar to Bob Dylan”.

Jesus.

I’m not saying Bob Dylan is the singer I’d least like to see live. But he’s definitely in my bottom 10. The croaking. The humourlessness. The aversion to beauty and glamour. The guitar. Oh god. I was going to have to watch a man singing and playing a guitar for a whole gig. I’m really not a guitar fan.

I think it all started with my big brother sitting on my chest or locking me in his bedroom so I couldn’t escape while he practised House of The Rising Sun over and over on the guitar and I was forced to listen. Or maybe it’s the way the guitar is so closely associated with the religious community I grew up in and the hymns of my childhood. Or maybe it’s the irredeemable heterosexuality of the guitar. Or maybe it’s the numerous house parties I’ve been to where all conversation has been blighted by some unwashed guy who we all have to listen to playing the guitar. Whatever the case, I’m not a fan of a man with a guitar.

I told myself it would be fine. I’m London Connor now. I say yes now. I don’t say no to life any more. Even if life is a man with a guitar.

And do you know what? The “gig” was great. The singer was really good.

He’d been in an accident with a snow blower and had hurt his fingers and couldn’t play the guitar. For a few songs, he had another guy playing guitar for him, but he turned it into a real variety show to accommodate his injury. There were readings and jokes. He played the piano instead of guitar. He had his little daughter come up and sing a song from a cartoon. Some friends of his (who were also my friend’s friends) and are West End musicians got on stage and he did a few numbers with him. Including a show tune!

It was a great night! There weren’t any costume changes, but nonetheless, it was a super concert.

Afterwards, it was decided we were going for drinks. I was a bit hesitant. I only knew one of the people there properly and I’ve got a lot worse at social events over the last few years. We tried a few pubs, but they were all either full or closed.

The two West End performers in the group rang their club to see if we could get in there if they signed for us. That’s right. Their club. A private members’ club. Not one of the awful ones for executives and bankers and Tories. A private members’ club for West End players! For show folk!

If I’d told Little Connor, who learned all the words to songs from musicals that no one else has heard of like Salad Days or They’re Playing Our Song that one day I’d be in a private club exclusively for those appearing in shows on London’s Glittering West End, he wouldn’t have believed me.

It was plush and swanky and there were twinkly lights and waiters who chilled your glasses and cocktails themed after big shows. Even a Stomp cocktail.

It was quite quiet there when we arrived. But soon after we sat down, the staff cleared a space on the dance floor for some newly arrived customers/members/superstars. They took to the dance floor. Real West End Stars! Dancing right in front of me! Close enough to touch! They were mainly just doing regular night club dancing, but I didn’t care. There were real showfolk and they weren’t afraid to twirl or to grind or to let their hips do the talking.

I sat and chatted to one of our group, a composer, who just happens to be working on a West End show. Imagine! Me!

In one of the most famous scenes in Dirty Dancing, Baby, played by Jennifer Grey, carries a watermelon for one of the holiday camp staff and sees all the staff in their free time doing their dirty filthy dance moves far away from the rich people and is enchanted and terrified and excited and rendered speechless, so that the only thing she knows how to say is “I carried a watermelon”.

That was me. I was Baby. And on Saturday, I carried my own watermelon.

*Fans myself joyously.*

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Poised on the edge of glory

I am unpierced. Unpierced for the first time in 13 years. In summer of 2005, in a rare moment of bravery, I had my left nipple pierced. I loved it! And in the summer of 2014, one piercing became two, when I got my right nipple pierced. They were very much part of me, and having taken them out, I feel like I’m missing a limb. Why did I take them out? Why did I let the holes in my nipples seal up?

It’s because I’ve gained so much weight in the last few months (basically since my last visit to see my dad in September before he died) that my piercings were getting squeezed out. They had both, separately, moved and caused blood and pus to issue. That’s not a good sign. My own fat expelled my piercings. I’m like a character from a horror film. Or possibly a comedy. Or maybe a horror comedy.

I never expected to keep the nipple piercings for life anyway. Although I suppose everyone else thinks of me as fat, I always think of me as someone who is temporarily fat and is going to be thin soon. And therefore I’ll need loose skin surgery after I lose all my weight. And I know that for loose skin surgery, they have to hack off your nipples so they can sew them back on to a less saggy place than your old boobs. And I always presumed the surgeons would insist on me taking the piercings out for that process.

I’ve gained over four stone, so I’m up to 27 stone 4 pounds (173.7 kgs/382 pounds).

Everything is uncomfortable. Even lying down. If I lie on my side, the weight on my hip is too much. If I lie on my front, my lower back hurts. If I lie on my back, my back hurts, and also I can’t lever my weight upright again.

I don’t fit in places. I no longer fit in a Tube seat that has arms, so I just have to stand. I have to walk sideways through Tube turnstiles.

Nobody ever tells you that one day you might be too fat to use a urinal. I am.

So, here we go again. Starting tomorrow, my diet starts again.

I’m throwing everything at it this time! (Again!)

I’m calorie counting, using the My Fitness Pal app. I considered something more restrictive – and read a lot (again) about various low-sugar/low-carb options, but I’ve never lasted long on them before and have always lasted longer on diets where you restrict the amount rather than the type of food you eat.

I’ve also registered with the NHS. I’m going to see a doctor, and maybe a counsellor too. Not that medical professionals have ever helped me before with my weight. In my experience, their main tactic tends to be trying to scare you into losing weight and to give you super basic advice like drink less beer and don’t eat jelly babies. I’ve also been on Groupon and booked a cheap hypnotherapist and I’m going to get the weight hypnotised off me. (I’ve also booked a cheap colonic hydrotherapy session on Groupon – that’s what “Dr” Gillian McKeith used to always make her “clients” do on You Are What You Eat.) (And if you think I’m not going to write a blogpost about getting water pumped up my bum, then you don’t know me at all.)

Also, I’m not just going to be blogging about it. Because I’m a social media whore, I’ve started a new Instagram account. It’s going to be over-the-top – it’s www.instagram.com/theweightlosshomo – follow if you like!

I’m going to get there.

By the way, I was sick for four weeks and gaining weight and stopped running. I’m not going to be able to do the Stockholm Marathon in June like I promised. I already had the flights booked, so I’m just going to have to But fear not, I’ve already registered for the Dublin Marathon in October. Training starts again this week. I think the Dublin Marathon is fitting. I tried it in 2010 and failed, but 2018 Connor is different. London Connor is different. And he’s back.

 

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Impulse purchase

Being sick sucks. I’ve somehow managed to get a four-week cold that got worse every week. I had so many plans that just went by the wayside. I’ve basically spent a month doing nothing but working, coughing and sleeping. I’ve wasted theatre tickets that I’d paid for and just didn’t have the energy to go to see the shows and I’ve refused social invitations and slept and not got better.

On Monday night last week, I woke up in the middle of the night, confused and feverish. And in one of the more over-dramatic events of the last while, I fainted while peeing. Another first for Connor. Then, last weekend, my glands hardened up and one side of my face ballooned to three times the size of the other.

I finally went to a doctor yesterday. Going to a doctor for a cold seems a bit excessive to me, but I guess this was an unshakeable monster of a cold. The doctor confirmed that I did indeed have a cold (and was somewhat dehydrated) and had some bronchitis. She gave me some antibiotics (free ones – I love the NHS!) and sent me on my way.

Two weeks ago, I got an ad via the Growlr app, telling me that there was a “Bear Carnival” happening in Gran Canaria. Now, I’m no fan of bear culture, and its obsession with macho, hairy, sweaty sex and its obsession with beards and checked shirts and rugby and Marvel movies. But, in most taxonomies, I am a bear. And I guess I should be putting myself “out there”. I booked flights for a three-day visit to Gran Canaria on a whim, presuming I’d be over my cold by the time I left. As it happens, I’m on the train to the airport now, I’m still coughing and spluttering and my initial vision of me going to “bear pool parties” and “bear sex parties” has basically been replaced with the idea of sleeping in the heat until I stop producing quite so much phlegm.

Whatever I do, I’m sure it’ll be interesting. I’m staying in a “gays-only” development, not one of the official Bear Carnival accommodation blocks, because they were full, so just one for gays in general, regardless of their bearishness. I don’t know what a gay hotel is like. I’m rarely in male spaces. Will it be like secondary school again? Who knows! Watch this space!

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Being Queer

[NSFW, but not in the way my NSFW posts are usually NSFW. And there’s definitely a TMI paragraph towards the end.]

Compassionate straight people say things like “a gay guy is the same as a straight guy except instead of liking girls, he likes lads.”

That definition has never really worked for me. First of all, “lad” is not a word I use. It has a sporty heterosexual feel to it, like “bloke” or “mate”. Secondly, I know it’s important that straight people need to see how we’re similar to them so that they don’t jail us or put us to death or whatever, but that definition doesn’t describe me.

Even as a child and young teenager, I was aware that all books and movies and TV shows and life around me tended towards the same conclusion. The main aim of all humans was to end up getting the girl or getting the guy. And I knew that wasn’t for me. I knew it.

I was speaking to another gay recently and he said that he knew he wasn’t into having a girlfriend long before he started having feelings about other guys. I get that. I felt the same. The choices presented to me as a child didn’t seem realistic for me.

I’ve written before about the culture I used to identify with as a young teenager. I would repeatedly read the passage in Little Women where Jo rejects Laurie and I would make myself cry as he rowed off in a rage. I loved her decision that she didn’t need a man, that she would be alone and she would care for her sisters and she would write books. I found that very appealing. I similarly loved the character of Mrs Anna in The King and I. She was a widow and had no intention of finding a man. I would sing Hello Young Lovers to myself, pretending I was Mrs Anna and all my loves were in the past and it seemed so fitting. The first time I remember crying at the TV was when Selina left Home and Away in the mid-90s. She left a message on Jesse’s answering machine, explaining why she couldn’t be with him.

Do I know why I identified with these women going it alone? No. But I know my identity wasn’t shaped by falling in love with men. That happened too. But it was mainly a matter of knowing that I was apart. I was separate. The life of the majority wasn’t my life.

My mother’s concept of a good life is one where you have children and you love them and you raise them well. And she’s not alone – all culture and society suggested the same to me. She doesn’t know of another way of living a good life. Not being married with children is a wasted life for her. Being queer means having to find a new way to live a good life.

Being gay isn’t simply a matter of being the same as everyone else except preferring penises to vaginas. It’s about being completely lost in your culture and in your family and in your country and in your sense of what it means to be a person and to be a good person. That’s why I think I prefer to be queer than to be gay. Because this identity thing that I’ve somehow found myself with isn’t just a variant of mainstream sexuality. It’s its own thing.

I’ve got better at “being gay” since I came to London. I’ve met up with so many men and I’ve been with more guys in the last year than I was in the entire 35 years before that. I’m getting better at it. I’m no longer unsure of how to kiss. Although I don’t think I’m very good at it. No man has told me that I am anyway, and as a millennial I need constant affirmation and likes to know I’m doing the right thing. But anyway, I no longer feel like breaking off every kiss midway through to ask if I’m doing it right. I’ve got better at the whole being with men thing over the last year since I moved here.

Do I like it? Yes. Mostly. Kind of. I was telling a friend of mine about the creepy guy who I met up with because he wanted me to squash him. My friend asked if I’d wanted to meet him and I said no, but that I had a blogpost to write. He was a little shocked I think. I do want to try new things. And there’s definitely doubt. A lot of it.

What do I like? I like men seeing me. As a fat man, I don’t feel like people look at me. They tend to avert their gaze because my body is so unpleasant to look at. So I love when a man really looks at me and appreciates what he sees.

I like to be naked with men and to hug and squeeze. I feel euphoric after I get with guys. Even gross guys. I have two theories to explain this euphoria. One is that I’m starved of affection and touch, that I have “skin hunger” and that these encounters with men allow me to drink up all the affection and body contact that my body has been craving for so long. My other explanation for the euphoria is that I spent twenty years believing I was just too fat to be loved and now that it’s happening I can’t quite believe it.

Do I enjoy the actual sex? It’s ok. I don’t think I like it as much as you’re meant to. There are certainly plenty of times when I just wish he’d hurry up and come so we can cuddle and chat. I find it singularly unpleasant when a man touches my penis and I discourage it, which I know sets me apart from the average man. There are times when I’m lying there and wondering if I’m asexual, or if I’d enjoy it more if I had a vagina and the whole affair was a bit more comfortable. And then there are the men who expect me to come too. Which is awkward but which I can manage if I close my eyes and imagine someone else instead of me being there. As I’ve written before, I was never a character in my own sexual fantasies when growing up. I was just too fat and sexless to be a character in my own fantasies so even now I have to imagine I’m not there in order to come. I know I’m not the only one. My most significant partner since arriving in London, Train Platform Boy, told me about his long-term ex, an obese man who could only ever come when they were together if he was watching porn on his phone at the same time.

So I’m at this intersection of fat and queer and I have all this Catholic guilt to deal with and I’m not even sure I want the non-sex parts. I mean, I do like the idea of softening up and allowing a man into my life. But I romanticise my lonely life too and I pine to be alone when I’ve spent too long with other people. I’ve lived alone for most of the last fifteen years and I would find that very hard to give up. I don’t want someone knowing what time I get up or how often I go to the loo or what I eat for breakfast and I don’t want someone else squeezing my toothpaste in the wrong part of the tube or moving the milk in the fridge.

I do like some of the things couples do though. A lesbian couple I used to work with told me about how they were reading The Hunger Games aloud to each other, taking a chapter each in turn. This sounded like the cosiest, most loving proposition I’d ever heard. And I’m also jealous of a gay colleague of mine, who watches RuPaul’s Drag Race with his boyfriend and the idea of having someone to shriek at drag queens on telly with sounds really lovely to me.

But if I’m honest, I’ve got no idea what I want. I’m confused, which you’re not meant to be at 37, but I am. And I think that’s why I love the life I’m living. I’m open to trying things and being confused and seeing where I’ll end up instead of being closed in fear as I was for so long. I’m having some unpleasant experiences along the way but at least I’m having them. Living is an awful lot better than not living, and I intend to keep it up.

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Pre-Valentine

Like, can I just make a standard NSFW disclaimer? Project Connor has morphed into Project Connor XXX now. Maybe I should give an SFW warning on the non-sexy-time posts. Anyway, this one isn’t awfully NSFW. If you survived the last blogpost, this one should be fine.

After my awful, awful man-who-wanted-to-be-squashed, I knew the next man had to be better. And he was.

One night, during an interval at the theatre, I was having had a good day, and feeling totally head-over-heels in love with London again. I opened Growlr to see who was online. I got chatting to a few men, and started arranging to meet one of them. He didn’t say much, but he politely asked me what show I was seeing and whether I was enjoying it. Sometimes, while all the other men are asking you for photos of your bottomhole, a man asking you about your life is just lovely. We didn’t have a long conversation or anything, but we established that he was from Sweden and would be up for “kissing and naked cuddling and nothing too kinky” the first time. Phew. That was exactly what I needed.

On Sunday afternoon, we were due to have our naked cuddle. I sent him my address and changed my bedclothes. It is wonderful to have a man over from time to time, as it forces you to wash the sheets.

He arrived. He was a rarity. Someone who was better-looking in real life than in his photo. I gave him a glass of water and asked him his name. (It is at moments like these, when we’ve already agreed to get naked together and he’s in my house and I find myself not sure of what his name is, that I really realise that my life is different from that of the straights.)

We kissed on the couch and I took him to my bedroom. He was of East Asian heritage and Oh My God, the break from the monotony of sweaty, hairy, white lads was a delight. It was really lovely. Initially, while he needed to get off, it was a bit more than cuddling. In fact, I nearly dislocated my jaw because hashtag-not-all-Asians.

But after he was done, I was determined. I told him he was going to lie under the duvet and we were going to cuddle for a while before he left. And he obeyed. My needs are few.

I love a cuddle. I love body contact. The rest is fun, but the cuddle is the pinnacle. The safety, the anchor, the comfort. I was cuddle-deprived for far too long in my life. More of this in a minute.

Did I like my Asian Swede? Sure. He had lovely skin. He was attentive and kind. He stayed for the cuddle without objecting.

But we have no future. In the ninety minutes we spent together, he said almost nothing. All I remember him saying is “Yes”, “No”, “OK”, “I’m close”, “Do you want it?” and “I can’t wear contact lenses. They just fall out of my eyes.”

I need a man who says more than that. So the hunt goes on.

But I’m in the game. For so long, I wasn’t. I’m turning 37 next week. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. For the first time in my 36 years, I could actually spend Valentine’s with someone. I won’t, because I don’t want to. But I could. I really could. It’s really unbelievable how much my life has changed and is changing.

I’m a simple creature and small things make a difference. And sometimes it boils down to the fact that the security I get from the availability of man-cuddles makes me feel safer and makes me feel braver. ❤

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