07 March 2016


There is an odd persistence to winter in Birmingham. After the long February, we turned the corner, I thought, and the days were noticeably longer. And then I was sitting in the cafe with a friend and I looked out at the street and it was snowing again — heavy, thick flakes. We said goodbye outside, and then it stopped and I got in the car, the heater on full and drove back home to my freezing office and the guinea pigs, waiting to be fed.

It's like that, isn't it. The snow coming back when you least expect it. I've been drinking again, when I can, despite my desire to be thin. Whisky has no carbs, I learned, triumphantly. No carbs, so you can drink it and not feel bloated like you feel bloated when you drink beer. I had two shots at the Junction on Friday and then regretted that I hadn't ordered a nicer brand because Bell's is only eighty pence less than the better stuff. I could've drunk Japanese whisky. I walked home feeling like I hadn't gotten a buzz and wondered about the effects of a high-fat diet on the absorption of alcohol. I'm eating butter straight — that can't be good for the uptake of alcohol into the bloodstream.

We went to Costco the next day and I bought a litre of Bell's, which is cheap enough and although I felt slightly guilty about the indulgence, I've given up on the guilt because it doesn't serve me in any valuable way. All my money is spent the day I make it anyway, what does it matter if I take a bit off the top to get cheap whisky. We bought everything and it came to ninety-five pounds and some odd pence, and the girls ate half of a hot dog each, before throwing away the rest. Or not throwing away: Yoko took it home wrapped in foil to sit in the refrigerator for several days, and then throw away when the plan wears off.

I had a day of eating some carbs when I went to give blood the other day. I ate an apple. Two apples. When I had my initial consultation, the woman, Anita, said my heart rate was too low. Forty eight. She had someone else come in to check. Still too low.
I'm a runner, I said, but I can bring it up if you'd like.
And Anita laughed and came across the room to put both of her hands on my cheeks: I bet you can.

Anita got her first tattoo when she turned 50, she said and then the other one when her mum died, but she didn't want it to say mum
'You know your mum's name, innit.'
I said, Of course you do, and the machine, the one I was hooked up to, separating out my platelets and counting down the time in minutes, whirled away.
And then I said, Did it hurt, Anita?
Here and here was okay, she said pointing: but here was really nasty.
I said, I've heard that, yes.
Her daughter has a tattoo on her foot and rib cage.
Nothing major.
Right, I said, of course.
Her daughter went to Wolverhampton and now teaches in Birmingham. Her father, her daughter's father, was Iraqi, but they broke up before the girl could go to King Edwards School where she was going to go. No matter, though. She's done well for herself. She's playing the violin.

Again, it was cold this morning, but the sun is coming up earlier and I can forgive the coldness. I put on my gloves and went out running, down California Road towards Newman. I worked out, lifted and kept copious notes on my phone about sets and reps and weights. I worked all day, trying to sort out seeing a counsellor, in between lecture notes and meetings. It's time again, I've thought: all my friends are breaking up or have broken up, but I keep telling everyone it's not an option for us. 'I would lose my kids,' I say, and besides I don't have the energy for a divorce. I don't have energy for anything. Sign me up to talk to whomever will listen, I say, for whatever chance of a future there might be, the chance that passion and romance are not completely out of my life at thirty-three (which is the year Jesus died).

I ran home, and on the way back up California, there was a man walking a huge poodle that he didn't have control of. I ran past and just as I came by, the poodle jumped up at me. I stopped and pulled out my headphones, shouting, 'What the fuck, man!?' And the man, who was older and surprised, first shouted at the dog and then said to me, 'You surprised him.' No shit, I said and crossed the road, trying to get my heart rate back down. I'm angry, I wanted to say, incredibly, insatiably angry and there is nothing I can do about it. I didn't, of course, say anything: I was worried about myself. Put my headphones back in and got right back up to pace in five steps. Nothing stops us unless we let it.