I began the new year stumbling home from a friend’s house, drunk. When I woke up, I felt sick. I put it down to the wine from the night before. It wasn’t the wine. I spent the next 36 hours in a hell of dramatic diarrhoea and vicious vomiting.
As I slowly became myself yesterday, it occurred to me that I needed to clean the bathroom of infection, that I needed to unpack – having only returned from Cork on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, that I needed to get ready to write something for my PhD – my next meeting with my supervisor is coming up in less than three weeks, that I needed to work out a budget for the coming month – I have about €80 to last me until March, that I needed to get back on the diet and exercise treadmill, that I needed to stop smoking again, that Connor had a project to finish.
Instead, I turned to the internet. As I lay in my sickbed, it crossed my mind that I knew what a jive was, but that I was never very clear on what a hand-jive is. I decided to learn.
I practised over and over in bed. Then I stood up and tried in front of the mirror. I wasn’t that impressed with myself. I’ll never be Danny Zuko.
I then idled for a while over a number of Eurovision videos. This of course led me to the Never Mind the Buzzcocks Eurovision Special from 2002.
This led me to the dangerous discovery that pretty much every single episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks ever is on YouTube. Having watched for about three hours, I came to the conclusion that I preferred the Simon Amstell years to the Mark Lamarr years. I have no idea how controversial this opinion is, but nevertheless it led me to have an argument in my head with an imaginary Mark Lamarr supporter. I had broken my argument down into three discrete sub-arguments. It was an enjoyable debate and I won every time I replayed it. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down my argument, and it is now lost forever.
In the Eurovision Special mentioned above, Terry Wogan sang Delaney’s Donkey, a song I hadn’t heard in a long time. Now, I’ve often thought that I should have a party piece, and that I should know more Irish songs. So I listened to the song a few times, and considered learning it off by heart. I pulled up the lyrics and sang along for a few minutes.
Eventually, I decided this wasn’t a very productive use of time, and I abandoned this project. I can get a party piece another time.
I watched a few more Never Mind the Buzzcocks episodes.
Eventually, I decided it really was time for action. It’s not a new plan. It’s the same plan it always was.
1. Quit Smoking. I hate cigarettes. I really do. And I can’t afford them anyway. I have fourteen left from the haul my brother brought back from the States. When they’re gone, I’m a non-smoker. I’m not going to beg on the streets for fags, and I’m not going to go into debt over them. And I’m not going to hack up any more phlegm.
2. Diet! Diet! Diet! I’m going to be a thin person. I’m giving myself 18 months to my goal weight – I will be eleven stone by June 2012. Chicken fillet rolls with mayonnaise and cheese are not worth dying for, and the chaffing, discomfort, ugliness etc aren’t worth it either. I will be counting and noting calories.
3. Exercise: The Cork marathon is going to happen this June. I’ll get on the treadmill until I can do thirty minutes running. Then I will follow a decent three month programme properly. I’m also going back to my 100 push-ups and my 200 squats, neither of which I finished last year. This year, I’m going to be the guy who finishes stuff, not the guy who doesn’t finish stuff.
4. Get out of debt: I will have to negotiate my loan repayments down, but I am going to control my spending and get myself out of debt by the time I’m due to finish my PhD i.e. June 2013. I will clear my tax bill this year and I will find some bloody source of funding for my PhD.
5. Be a good student: For years, I have wanted to be a student again. I am going to spend forty hours a week on this PhD. I am going to finish on time. If I have to work 40 hours a week to survive, then I’ll just have to do 80 hours a week. The fitter me will be able for it.
6. Finish every day having achieved something. No more going to bed saying, “Yerra, fuck it, I’ll do it tomorrow”.
I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways.
My 2011 anthem: