Thirteen days since I last wrote – I think that might be a record.
Here are some of the things that happened in the last thirteen days:
One. The President of Ireland confounded my mother’s expectations and did not hire me to be his speech writer.
Two. I broke Griffith College. I was working there for one evening when I stepped on a stair and went right through it, much to the amusement of the assembled students who I was about to give tests to and who all saw me breaking their college. Luckily it was the bottom step of the stairs and I didn’t break myself too.
Three. I spoke at a conference in UCD on Friday. And I kicked ass. I really wish I could get a PhD just from conference presentations. I’d get it done in no time.
I don’t know UCD well. It’s a massive suburban cement university. I parked there at 10:42, thinking I’d be in plenty of time, as I was due to speak at 11:00. I got completely lost. The campus was relatively deserted and the maps were confusing and every building looks the same. As 11:00 came, I was scampering across a field between two cement edifices, sweat dripping off me, worried that I wouldn’t get to speak. All I wanted to do in the world was get out my phone and update Facebook to say that I was lost in UCD, because I’m a publicity whore, but I was mature enough to keep on hunting for the building and not “waste” time on Facebook.
The conference was in a building called “Roebuck Castle”, which isn’t in the slightest bit castle-y. It looks more like a school where hopelessly naughty Victorian boys were sent in the hopes of reforming them. It was only 11:05, so I wouldn’t be too late, but I couldn’t find a front door. I found a courtyard area, where I imagine the Victorian troubled youth would march in the drizzle and found a door there, and found an office, and was told that the School of Education is actually in the building next to Roebuck “Castle”. I didn’t get into the room where I was presenting until almost quarter past eleven. Someone else had gone first. Of course, my room was the busiest one of the conference panels and no seats were left, so the Chair made sure my entrance interrupted to the maximum extent possible by giving up his seat to me in a noisy and magnanimous gesture. When I eventually started speaking, I apologised to the speaker who had had to go first because I was late, and who I had interrupted when I had come in. Of course, while apologising to her, I got her name wrong. Of course.
Four. The Wanted’s latest song, “She Walks Like Rihanna” started getting radio play about two weeks ago. I never thought much of The Wanted. Two of them are fairly hot, but their songs are boring and they’re no One Direction. Also, I have to hate them, because I’m a committed Directioner, and Directioners aren’t allowed to like The Wanted, especially because Tom from The Wanted is fairly constantly slagging my boys in 1D off. One night, I had many FEELINGS when Tom from The Wanted tweeted Louis from One Direction and called him gay. I still haven’t fully processed my FEELINGS about that night. So, obviously, I hate The Wanted. Except, except, I really, really like their new song. Like really like it. Like listened to it on repeat for six whole hours. It’s the perfect pop song. And I know it’s OK to like a song, and I know I’m thirty-two and a quarter years old, but I have genuine feelings of guilt every time I get excited when it comes on the radio. It’s too awesome not to like, but I’m still a Directioner. 100%.
Five. Last night was the Eurovision Song Contest. The Eurovision is my Olympics, my World Cup, my Champions’ League, my Oscars, my Miss Universe. I was in the Eurovision, part of the interval act, when I was 12. I sometimes consider making this the headline of my CV. I remember watching last year’s Eurovision alone in Cunningham House, sulking, because all of my Boys had left the previous day and dreading the summer that was coming. Last night, I was in a much better mood. Unfortunately, Ireland came last, but they did have sweaty bodhrán players, so that kind of made up for it. And it was a wonderful, wonderful show. The highlight was one of the interval acts, a song about Sweden, sung by the host. It had everything. And I mean everything. It had a RECYCLING DANCE! And DANCING MEATBALLS! And it had A SEXY GIRL DANCING IN A MARTINI GLASS FULL OF MILK! It had a GAY KISS! It had the line “OUR MEN DON’T HAVE TITTIES!” And it had a JOKE ABOUT QUEUEING! It’s my favourite thing ever to have happened on television.
Six. I am once again tax compliant, having finally paid my tax bill, which was due last October. Whoop whoop!
Seven. On Wednesday, I marked my second full year as a non-smoker (I gave up the morning after Eurovision 2011). I remember thinking I would never really give up smoking. In this post, I write about sitting on the toilet, smoking and hating myself. In this one, I spend a Saturday night hunting around Ljubljana for a fag, and rescuing my lighter from the rubbish. And in this one, I walk the streets of Dublin bumming cigarettes from strangers. I genuinely believed I would never really give up. I hated cigarettes and I just kept on smoking, even if it meant going into debt (and I was spending about €70 a week on them), even if it meant I just kept hating myself more and more.
And then I just stopped. And every day since then I’ve never started again. I’ve badly wanted a cigarette at least twice a week for the last two years and I haven’t had a single drag. I sometimes lose faith in myself and lose faith in my willpower. I sometimes think I’m the weakest person in the world and a slave to my worst impulses. But I’m not. After years of self-hate, I gave up smoking and I can do anything. Anything.
Eight. If I can not have a cigarette for two entire years, I can also not eat a large pepperoni pizza, a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits and two litres of milk for my dinner every night. I know I can.
One of the reasons it took me so long to write this post was embarrassment. My last post was all rainbows and hope and wonder and new diet and new me. And it lasted three days. I cracked under the bread cravings and had a pizza. And then a sandwich. And I’ve been bingeing ever since.
But if I can beat cigarettes, I can beat bread. It’s never too late.
Nine. I did better with the running. Much better. I was feeling fitter and better about myself. (Here is the TOO MUCH INFORMATION KLAXON, you might want to turn away now, or skip onto the next point.) I was on one of my runs a week ago. It’s not that hard – the Couch-to-5K programme starts with very short jogs, that I should be well able for. But on my last run, I really felt it, and by the end of the run, I was bleeding from two different orifices. I know I’ve been talking about exploring my female side, but as I took off my blood-soaked underpants, I knew that wasn’t what I meant. I said about a month ago that I’d go to a doctor. I still haven’t gone, but I definitely will now. (I don’t get on with doctors. I’ve written about this before here and here.) As well as the bleeding, I have an array of physical health problems that are making day-to-day life very difficult. This can’t go on. I haven’t gone for a run since. Just in case.
Ten. But I haven’t given up hope. I spent much of today watching Susan Boyle’s first audition on repeat on YouTube. I see Susan in myself. I see myself as an unattractive laughing stock – and I know I shouldn’t, but just because I know I shouldn’t, it doesn’t mean I don’t. And I love that video – the start with her ridiculous waddle, her insane “sexy” hip thrust, the girl in the audience rolling her eyes, and then she starts singing, singing about a dream and everything changes. And then she hits the high note, and Amanda Holden jumps to her feet and the audience goes mad, and Ant of Ant’n’Dec shouts something in Geordie and I start crying. I know I’m Susan Boyle. I know my dreams will come true. In spite of whatever awfulness both myself and the world piles on top of me. I hope I don’t have to wait till I’m 47.
Eleven. And another year in Hall is coming to an end. The ducklings in the pond are beginning to look like actual ducks, and all my lovely undergraduates are leaving. Hall has been a constant in my life this year, a Pole Star, and I love it. I feel far safer here than I do at work, or in college, or in my parents’ house. All the undergrads are leaving over the next five days. And I’m pretending not to see the parents driving up to collect their children. I’m pretending it’s not all ending again for another year. And the last two of my Boys are leaving Hall forever. And yes, I’ll have to move into the horrible block where I lived last summer again, but at least this year, I know all the other Assistant Wardens and staff. And everyone leaving is an excellent chance to start again. I have no doubt I’ll be emotional on Thursday and Friday, but then everything will start again. It’s the perfect chance for re-birth.