Annus Mirabilis


Things weren’t going particularly well for me as 2013 was coming to an end. From the start of this blog in April 2010 until the “Boys” moved out in May 2012, my weight had yoyo-ed between 20 and 22 stone. At the end of 2013, I weighed over 27 stone, the heaviest I had ever been. And I felt it and I looked it.

I had worked full-time for the month of November and it had nearly killed me. I found normal activities, like working from 9:00 – 5:00, physically impossible. I genuinely didn’t feel able for life and was worried for my future.

I hadn’t written a single word of my PhD, or read anything for it, in a year and a half, and felt genuinely anxious that I would never finish it.

I felt cut off from the world. My blog was offline, and I wasn’t writing a lot. I wasn’t working as hard as an Assistant Warden and didn’t feel I knew the students anything as well as I had the previous year.

Being resolute

In January, I had a real “now or never” feeling. I started a juice fast. I lost two stone in ten days. I started running again. I wrote 9,000 words of my PhD, breaking an eighteen-month freeze. I put my blog back online.

At my birthday in February, I didn’t dodge throwing a party like I had done the previous year. instead, I actually invited people out and they came out. I felt connected with the world again.

I was sorry that I didn’t keep living at that elevated speed, and the PhD slowed down, I stopped dieting and exercising, and I had to password-protect the blog as I discovered I had an online hater in Hall, but in many ways it didn’t matter. I knew I was alive again. And I knew I was capable of change. I wasn’t constantly “living at eleven”, as I’d promised myself I would, but I was doing a good seven or eight, which was excellent after well over a year of three or four.

In May, I finished my last year in Hall in a much more positive way than I had thought was possible earlier in the year and I was really happy with the appropriately emotional goodbyes I got to say there and the goodbyes that I got to say at the school where I had worked on and off for eight years in Dublin. I felt I managed to do both on my own terms and genuinely felt I was able to move on with my life, killing the disappointment that had been nagging at me since my first ignominious departure from that school and also killing the dread I felt that I may not ever be able to live anywhere but Hall. I knew I had a future, which I hadn’t really felt in 2013. (I promise, promise, promise that I will write my final post about Hall soon – it’s been in my drafts folder since the 2nd September.)

Around the same time, I submitted over 30,000 words of my PhD to my supervisor, more than doubling the length it had stood at for two years. I could see the finishing line.

And I also found that I had paid off over half my €30,000 debt to the bank. As a full-time student, I had managed to put over €16,000 into my loan account in three years.

Things were on the up.

The Summer of Love

And then I went to Slovenia. And while I was there, I didn’t write word of my PhD. But that was OK. I did something much more important. I found a man. And for the first time since 2007, went to bed with a man.

I knew I wouldn’t have to wait forever to have “relations” again, but I had assumed that the experience would be awful, that it would be a humiliating night with an unattractive fetishist that I would just do to get it done.

But it wasn’t. It was romantic and gentle and he was hot and exciting, and I did pretty much everything that I wanted. And there weren’t even many awkward moments because we always went home on the last bus and never had to wake up next to each other and he had a boyfriend, so we never had to pretend it was a “relationship” and it really couldn’t have been more perfect.

My confidence rocketed – I was already building up my body confidence with my frequent trips to the nude paradise “SaunaLand” and I ended up going to an actual naturist resort.

I came home from Slovenia, a Connor renewed.

It Keeps Getting Better

And then I handed in my PhD. (There will be another post on this soon too – I have my viva coming up, and the closer that comes, the surer I am that I won’t pass.) What matters is not the quality though. What matters is that I handed it in. I finished it. I remember going to the head doctor in College Health in Trinity and him telling me I was never going to finish. Fuck him. I did. I handed it in. And the finished product is bizarre. It’s very “Connor”, but it’s in. I did it.

And I started adventuring. I went to Italy, and it was a disaster, but I don’t care, because then I went to Vietnam. And I even tried having a new name. “Call me CoCo. Everybody does!” And it is an enormous adventure, and I don’t think it’s for me. So I’ll stay for a few months – get a real Asian experience, and then I’m off to Istanbul. I’ve been incredibly lucky with job offers.

Incidentally, using CoCo in a work context is just too exhausting, so I don’t think that will follow me to Turkey, but it’s been an awful lot of fun. That said, I still love that I changed my name for six months, and every time the IT guy at work calls me CoCo, little thrills run through my body. Everyone should change their name at least once.

And, in the last few weeks, I’ve started writing my novel. I can’t believe it. I haven’t really tried writing a novel since 2002, and the words are pouring out of me. This blog has made me a much, much faster (and hopefully better!) writer, and I love writing it. And it terrifies me, but I love it. It’s fiction, but it’s horrendously revealing (far more revealing than this blog, and that’s saying something).

And, being me, I have lots of secret plans for Istanbul too. I can’t wait. And I still have lots of Vietnamese adventures to have first!

And now it’s Christmas, and this has been my best Christmas in years. I can’t think of the last time I felt more relaxed in my parents’ house in Cork and didn’t feel restless to move on immediately.

2014 kicked ass.

My last Facebook status of last year was:

“2013 has had nice bits (and lovely people) but has mainly been dull/bleh/unmitigated crap. Luckily I have decided that 2014 is going to be The Year of Connor. I’m turning it up to 11. Happy New Year everyone! xoxo”

My last tweet of 2013 was:

“WOOP WOOP WOOP. I’m gonna take 2014 and kick its ass so hard it won’t know what’s happened to it. It’s my time, people.”

I love it when a plan comes together.

2015 will be a good one too. Happy New Year everyone!

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