Round 2

Life sneaks up on you. And sometimes you sneak up on you too.

This is the story of my last ten days, not my greatest ten days.

Last Thursday week, I was leaving work when I got a WhatsApp from one of my colleagues. It simply said “Pints. Come.”

I knew where the pints were being had. I didn’t need any more information. I went and there were pints and friends from work and it was lovely.

I didn’t plan on staying long.

Five hours and many ciders later, having been shushed by the barman for rowdily singing Cher’s Believe and Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive together at the top of our cider-soaked voices (I have found the right kind of London friends), I was in a Tube home.

I was very drunk. But my other job was waiting. I had 33,000 words to proofread by the following morning at 7:00 am. My main job pays my ridiculously high London rent. My proofreading job pays for everything else in my life. And a 33,000-word job was too big and too profitable to not get right. It was after midnight when I got home and I knew I had to sober up and spend at least two hours on this job.

I’d been so so good for weeks. But my drunken brain didn’t see another option. I ordered the Credit Crunch special from my local pizzeria. £10.99 for a box of wedges, an 8-inch garlic bread pizza, a 16-inch meat lover’s pizza and a litre and a half of Diet Coke.

The meal did the trick, sobering me up sufficiently to get the job done.

I fell asleep at 3:00 am, with a belly full of cider and pizza and wedges.

I was awake at 7:00 and I didn’t want to be alive.

How did I survive the next day at work? I ate my way through the day. It was OK if I binged today, I reasoned. The next day would be Saturday. I could sleep, recover and reset.

But the bingeing didn’t stop. I was all in. I woke on Saturday with so many good intentions. Fun things to do. Worthy things to do. Go to the cinema. Clean the flat. Get back into my book. Record a YouTube video. Go shopping.

I couldn’t face it. My Saturday went like this: I got up. I dragged myself to a shop, bought enough to food to feed a regiment and ate until I was too sick to stay up. I went back to bed and spent the rest of the day fitfully sleeping off the binge, telling myself Sunday would be better.

Bingeing has something in common with smoking. I remember when I was a smoker (seven years smoke free today!) I couldn’t sleep if I knew I didn’t have any more cigarettes. I’d go to a shop and buy a box of fags and that would be all I’d need. I wouldn’t actually need to smoke one. I’d just need to know that I had cigarettes in the house. Then I could sleep. A binge is the same. I don’t quit on my day while I’m bingeing. It’s the moment I decide to phone for the takeaway, or decide to go to the shop that I breathe a sigh of relief. Phew. I won’t have to face life today. I can just eat until I can’t stand up and then go back to bed, even if it’s just 2:00 pm.

This has been my pattern for years.

I thought I’d broken it. Four weeks into my diet and it was going fine. Not fast, but fine. But the binge has lasted more or less ten days now. Days at work are better, but not the evenings. And I visited friends and went to a show in lovely Newcastle last week and that snapped me out of my binge for a while too, though I was still a bit groggy most of my time there. But the rest of the time has been bad.

I think I’ve gained back most of the weight I’d lost. Possibly more than I’d lost.

And my weight is driving me mad. The constant and severe pain in my hips and ankles is just intolerable. I’m getting less able to move. After work today, when I was on my way home, I was so tired that I sat on a bench on the platform of Stockwell station while over twenty-five trains passed by, all of them going my direction. I was just too tired to get on any of them. I was there so long that two different Transport for London staff members approached me to see if I was OK.

I’ve kept myself going with five or six bottles of Coke Zero a day. I’m still doing both of my jobs. And doing them well. But life is getting harder.

So I’m starting again. Round 2 has begun. I know I can do this. I haven’t made all the appointments I’d promised to make with the doctor and the hypnotist and whatever else I could. I’m making those appointments. I’m calorie counting again. I’m walking again. I’m going to win.

And if I don’t win, what have I got to lose?

About sixteen stone.

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Feet before meet

[NSFW/TMI warnings ahoy! Absolute filth ahead.]

Men are entirely unreasonable beings. Since my voyage of queer self-discovery kicked into fifth gear with my arrival in London, I have learned many things. But I think the thing I have really learned is that men simply refuse to believe that I don’t want to have sex with them.

I had stopped my Growlr app from sending me notifications for the last few weeks. My levels of tolerance for getting messages straight to my phone from “bareback cumdump bottoms looking for a hung top” while I was at work/on the bus/ watching Netflix had worn thin. But yesterday, I was feeling in need of attention, so I turned notifications back on.

There were a lot of messages, one from a man with a cute smiley profile pic. We chatted briefly and it didn’t take long before we’d exchanged photos, had agreed to meet up that evening and had moved the conversation onto WhatsApp. Initially, he’d been very agreeable when he asked what I was looking for and I said I was just after a kiss and a bit of a naked cuddle and nothing hardcore, he said “Same”. (I’d been doing something much more risqué the previous night – more of that in a minute, but yesterday I was in need of affection, and not sex.) “Same” was exactly the answer I wanted to hear. But things took a sudden turn when he said “I need to see your feet before we meet”.

SIGH.

But I’m a good sport. I don’t have a problem with foot fetishes. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? I’m fine with having my feet licked or kissed. I’m also fine with masturbating a man with my feet. Far better that a man would want to do something weird to your feet than that wants to do something weird to an actual orifice.

So, I hauled my right foot into my lap, took off my sock and sent the man a close-up photo. “Cool. Other one.” came the message in response. Another foot. Another sock. Another photo. I really am very accommodating. I asked what he wanted to do to my feet and he said he just wanted to make sure they were clean as he’d once been with a guy with dirty feet. I didn’t really believe him, but I didn’t push it. The conversation went on.

Even though he’d agreed that we should meet at his place, he changed his mind suddenly and started insisting we meet at mine. I don’t like bringing new men to my lovely flat. My flat is my safe space. It’s decorated whimsically and Connorishly, lots of colours and throws and pillows and knick-knacks and books and One Direction paraphernalia. Men who are attracted to men that look like me do not like One Direction. I pine for a man who likes Julie Andrews and Niall Horan, a man who wants to watch old episodes of The OC on a Sunday morning while we paint each other’s toe nails. But those kind of gays like skinny men. They don’t like me. The kind of men who like me like rugby and motorbikes and superhero movies.

The last guy I had back to my place was the silent Swedish guy. My main memory of being with him is him kneeling up on my bed, while I busied myself with his willy. But I wasn’t thinking about his willy. I was just thinking about what he was looking at up there, whether he was looking at the large portrait of One Direction dressed as 1950s sailors hanging above my bed or at the huge special annotated edition of Little Women I had on my bedside locker. What was he thinking? Was he judging me? Of course, I never found out if he was judging me, because our encounter was so silent, but he hasn’t been in touch again and I’m presuming it’s because he didn’t like my decor and not because of my absent-minded ministrations to his willy.

So I didn’t want to invite foot fetish man to my flat. It just feels too intimate, too revealing of myself. And I didn’t feel ready for that. He got pissed off with me and the conversation ended, so I didn’t get my cuddles and he didn’t get to cum on my toes, or whatever it was he was planning to do.

I was ok with that. As I mentioned earlier, I’d got some the previous day and wasn’t desperate for sex.

I was back with the kinky deputy headteacher. It’s comforting to know someone always wants me. And he seems to. And he’s kinky as hell, and that’s exciting, and I’ve got to the stage where I can trust him.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve taken to dressing more elaborately for work, with shirts and braces and ties and tie clips and I love it. Being undressed when you’re just wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and can be naked in seconds is exciting. But being undressed piece by complicated piece is exquisite. I recommend it highly. I think I now understand men’s love for women in elaborate, complicated and no doubt uncomfortable undergarments. There’s so much more unwrapping involved.

And yes, this guy’s flat stinks of poppers and yes, he did once try to put an actual dog collar on me and yes, he once put a mask on me. But, I looked around his apartment and saw a life. A note from someone calling him the best boyfriend. His sports trophies. The photo of his dead granny with her date of birth and death. The piano, with the sheet music for a Disney film in the music stand. What we do together is weird and I’m not sure why I enjoy it, but it’s certainly a part of me that it’s fun to explore and I’m glad he’s still interested. One of these days, we might even have a conversation, though that might ruin the magic.

Speaking of gay magic, last weekend was my first time at a gay club since arriving in London a year and a half ago. I’ve been in lots of gay pubs, but not a club, in spite of planning to at least a bajillion times. My people-phobia stopped me too often. But a colleague of mine insisted that I go with him and I’m delighted I did.

It’s a men-only (is that even legal?) bear-ish nightclub and I loved it. It’s like I imagined gay clubs were when I was a teenager and what they never turned out to be. Until now.

It’s a massive space – only in a city like London could you fill a club this size with this type of gay – and it’s a very sexual place, about half the men were shirtless. There was a lot of leather gear, men in sports clothes, men in kilts, men in all kinds of outfits. And it’s a place where men of all kinds of sizes are welcome. Strangers squeezed my ass. A creepy old man tried to come on to me. There were two dancefloors, one with dance music, and a somewhat more muscly, more druggy crowd and one with the best cheesy gay music ever, where the younger twinky types and the less muscly, flabbier men tended to be. I didn’t have a perfect night. I didn’t get kissed. I didn’t work up the courage to dance shirtless even though I wanted to. I got tired too early. But I haven’t known group happiness like I knew jumping up and down with fifty shirtless homosexuals who all knew all of the words to Call Me Maybe even though it’s 2018 and we’re supposed to have moved on as a culture. At the end of that song, I turned to my friend and said “I love being gay” and I really, really do.

Anyway, in other news, all the drinking that weekend didn’t impact too badly on this week’s weigh-in, another two pounds down. I think we can safely say that London Connor is back. 🙂

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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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