Up, down, up

Hello, World Wide Web! It’s been a while. In fact, in the three years and four months since I started blogging, this is the first time that TWO WHOLE WEEKS have passed between blogposts.

I am, you will be pleased to hear, still alive.

When I last left you, I had just arrived home, upbeat, and full of shiny plans for the sparkly new academic year.

In good news:

I’ve finally, finally started writing my analysis chapters of my PhD. I’m making some actual progress. And, of course, it’s easier than I expected, and I don’t know why I’ve been putting it off for so long and I actually kind of love my PhD.

I have had a number of PhD-related realisations, but the most important one is that I’m doing this for me. I’m not doing a PhD because I desperately want to be a lecturer. I’m not doing it for my mother. Or for my supervisor. Or because I kind of have to because I’ve already spent three years on it and not finishing it would make me look like a right eejit. I’m doing this PhD because it matters to me. It makes me happy. And excited.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve read methodology books on buses and in bed. I’ve returned books to the library the day after taking them out HAVING ACTUALLY READ THEM. I’ve sat down and written and the words have come. And as I go, I’m having ideas to improve the chapters I’ve already written and ideas for chapters yet to be begun. It’s been incredible and it makes me hope so, so hard. I’m going to get this done. And I think I’ll be a better person at the end of it.

And this is for me.

In bad news:

After five years of having a car almost all of the time, it is no more. My sister, who owned it all along, has repossessed it.

The car was only about six months old when I first “borrowed” it and was in immaculate condition. Since then, I filled it with the ash of thousands of cigarettes, with the crumbs of hundreds of Cornish pasties and chicken fillet rolls, I’ve decorated its body with scratches large and small, I’ve burst two (three?) tyres, run out of petrol three (four?) times, needed a jump start at least twenty times, taken months to pass my NCT and spent hours getting lost in most counties of Ireland.

It’s in a better place now.

Of course, it’s actually a really a good thing that I don’t have the car. It’ll force me to walk more. And the car was the site of so many of my binges and so much of my life avoidance over the last few years that it’s actually probably a really good symbol of a new start that I no longer have it.

Because I have no car, I had to get the bus to visit my family in Cork the week after I came home from Russia. I told my mother I would come down on Tuesday. Any normal person, if they got up at 9:00 am in the knowledge that they were going to the other end of the country that day might have the common sense to get on the 11:00 bus. Or maybe the 12:00 bus.

I made it into town for the 4:00 pm bus.

The Aircoach service to Cork starts in Dublin airport at half-past every hour and then stops on Westmoreland Street on the hour and then takes about three hours to get down the motorway to Cork. I haven’t ridden the Aircoach since I got my sister’s car in 2008.

Things have changed since 2008. There was a massive queue at the bus stop. When the 4:00 bus pulled up, we could see that the bus was full with people from the airport. The driver got out and shouted for people with e-tickets to come to the top of the queue. This was when the madness started.

The people with e-tickets pushed to the front and then started shoving each other, as it didn’t seem as if there’d be enough room even for them. Everyone else started pushing and shoving too. It was like the bit of the concert when Justin Timberlake throws his sweaty towel into the audience and everyone rushes and stampedes to get it. As it turned out, there was enough space for one or two non-e-ticket people, but my shoving powers are poorly-developed, so I didn’t manage to get on.

I was a sort of relieved that I didn’t get a place on the bus because in the stampede I’d spotted someone I knew, someone I knew well enough to have a chat to, but not well enough to spend three hours talking to all the way to Cork. There truly is nothing worse than having to make small talk for three hours. Situations like this are one of the many reasons why I’d love to own a cloak of invisibility.

When the bus left, the back end of the stampede became the queue for the 5:00 bus. This was madness! I’d never manage to shove hard enough to get on the bus. If I could have afforded a train, I would have got one then.

Instead, I came up with a cunning plan. I boarded the next bus to the airport. This meant that I was in time for the 5:30 bus to Cork from the airport, which was the 6:00 bus from town, which got into Cork at about 9:20 pm, only twelve hours after I’d got up.

I found the bus very uncomfortable. Like planes, buses are not designed with the obese in mind. And there were no free seats. When people sat down next to me they discovered that my thighs took up much of their seat, that the contents of my jeans pocket jabbed into their hips, and that every time I inhaled, my chest expanded and my elbow nuzzled their nipples. Two different people sat next to me while the bus was boarding and stood up and found another seat once they realised what sitting next to me entailed. Eventually, a skinny teenage girl found that next to me was the only seat available. Luckily, she didn’t take up much space.

And luckily, my sister gave me a lift back to Dublin the following day, in the car I used to drive.

Bye bye, Little Car.

In good news:

The One Direction movie is out. I was worried that I mightn’t enjoy it. That it had been made for 12-year-old girls, and that I am not a 12-year-old girl and I would therefore hate it. Or worse, that it would make me hate the boys themselves and then I’d be in a pickle, given how much of myself I’ve invested in being a Directioner.

I was wrong. I didn’t hate it. Of course I didn’t hate it.

Having failed to convince anyone in my life to go with me, I went, alone, on Saturday afternoon. And it was wonderful. I actually freaked myself out at how much I cried during it.

But they are such lovely, lovely boys. Good-looking, but also good-hearted. They clearly really like each other too. It was just so uplifting. And the 3D concert scenes were so phenomenally well-made that it was like I could reach out and touch them. I adored the film and left the cinema on a real high.

I liked it so much that I went again on Sunday. Alone again. But I didn’t care. I was worried that I’d be bored, having seen it just 24 hours before. I wasn’t bored at all. And again, I was uplifted and emotional.

Those 5 boys are real people in my life. It’s strange. I’ve been a fan of various people before. At different times in my teenage years, I was totally obsessed with both The Beatles and Pulp. But that was a different type of obsession and neither ever sent my heart racing. As an older teenager, I did become an avid Robbie Williams fan. This was before YouTube and you couldn’t just see your idols any time you wanted, so every time Robbie came on the telly it was an occasion. I remember literally jumping around my kitchen as a seventeen-year-old with excitement because Robbie was being interviewed on telly, or because there was footage of him being shown singing Old Before I Die at some concert in England.

And whatever I got from Robbie then, I get from One Direction now.

I can’t help but psychoanalyse myself. I have a constant fear of being rejected by men.

I remember being beaten up in primary school by a boy who was three or four years younger than me. He had me on the ground and was kicking my head. Does it come from that? I was rejected, ostracised and bullied by the boys I lived with every summer I spent in the Gaeltacht learning Irish. Does it come from that? In the religious community my family was part of, I used to hang around with the girls and I could never think of what to say to the boys.

Of course I have male friends, but I can never rid myself of the feeling that they only tolerate me because there’s no football on and there isn’t any viable female company available.

And in One Direction I’ve found five bubbly, good-looking boys who I can spend as much time with as I like, but they can’t reject me because we’ve never met.

But maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe I just like them because Live While We’re Young is an absolutely banging tune and because Zayn is the most beautiful man to ever have walked the earth and will eventually realise the error of his ways and marry me.

I know that I had to take my contacts out when I came back from the movie after the second viewing. If I cry too much, my contacts get all gunky and I can’t see a thing.

I have started wearing contact lenses again. But don’t worry. I haven’t completely abandoned the hipster glasses that I bought in a haze of image-overhauling last year. I have had the prescription lenses taken out of those glasses and replaced them with clear glass. I can now have my spectacle-cake and eat it. I can wear both my contacts and my glasses at the same time. I have what I get from glasses: a “frame” for my face, something to hide the bags under my eyes, a fashion statement on my face, but I also have what I get from contacts: 24-hour vision, ability to see while exercising, while shaving, in the rain. It’s a win-win. Disclaimer: I realise I am a ridiculous fashion victim. Note: I still have the other pair of glasses that I bought this time last year, so I can still wear prescription glasses whenever I need to.

In bad news:

I’m so broke. So, so broke. I have no scholarship, no studentship and no grant. I have no rich relations. I have no savings. I have €23 in the bank. Aargh!

I am going to Istanbul for a conference next week. The university should refund my costs but I can’t afford to pay what will eventually be refunded. My friend who is also going is staying in a 4-star hotel. I’m sharing a bedroom in a hostel with seven other people. My friend says he’ll let me visit his hotel on one of the days we’re there. It’ll probably be something like the scene in Great Expectations, when Joe Gargery visits Pip in his posh London house and doesn’t know what to say or do because Pip is now a gentleman and Joe is just a blacksmith.

So spread the word. Connor needs cash.

In good news:

I’ve returned to Overeaters Anonymous.

I didn’t binge an awful lot in Russia. I didn’t eat particularly healthily, but I didn’t tend to binge.

However, when I got back to Ireland and real life kicked in, I plunged back into food in a ridiculous way. I took three days off from life last week and did nothing but binge on food. I avoided social occasions and missed three different parties. And ate instead. I didn’t go to college, in spite of my exciting new start. I didn’t try and find some work or try to negotiate with the bank to find some money, in spite of being broke. I just ate. For three days.

And it has to stop. I’ve been to three OA meetings. And it does help. It gives hope. There are people there who know where I’m coming from. People who have done what I do. People who now abstain from compulsive overeating. I can be one of them. I still need to get over the religious element, but I will.

And it’s helping me already. It’s giving me comfort and hope for the future. I haven’t had a pizza or a biscuit or a chicken fillet roll in four days, which is a long time for me.

I’ve only had one binge in the last four days. An exceedingly silly one. One that makes me smile.

I started poking around my kitchen cupboards, desperate to find some food. There was nothing really bingey there. However, there was a mix for making fruit scones that I’d bought ages ago. You just have to add milk.

I turned on the oven. I mixed the milk into the scone mix. I don’t have a baking tray, but I do have a big roasting tin, so I just turned that upside down and smeared the dough across the bottom of the tin. I was only making this for me, so I didn’t bother to roll it out evenly and cut out eight scones. I just plonked the whole messy mix into the oven.

15 minutes later, the Superscone was born. A giant blobby scone-cake-type thing, stuck to the bottom of a roasting tin, eight scones in one, giant and hideously misshapen, mutant scone.

And that was my dinner. But I didn’t ring for a pizza. And that’s enough of a victory for me for today.

I’ll get where I want to go. I know I will.

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