So here we are, six days into a new year and a new decade. Are you well? Good.
I have my usual resolutions (Smoke, diet, job, house, girlfriend) and am uncharacteristically happy, which is strange.
I think I'm happy because a couple of days ago, Monday, I was profoundly unhappy, and this is its story.
I was profoundly unhappy because it was my first day back at work, and I was rather stunned to find that bullshit Cycle of Life inevitably repeating itself once again.
Christmas and New Year's bacchanalian excess was now over, and it was time to Man Up like a chump. I had spent the better part of two weeks force feeding beige junk into my yaphole like a particularly masochistic goose self-fattening my liver into foie gras. I had done so little exercise - often leaving my flat for the first time at 10pm, just to stock up on more pies - that doing nothing was making me tired.
When I did go out - New Year's Eve being a case in point - I'd done so much lazing around that I felt guilty eating crap and drinking in a pub. After all, I'd been doing that non-stop and far cheaper at home. I had my standard London New Year's do in a bar with Ed™ (now with added EdFriend!™), and such was my lack of imagination that we'd simply revisited the cocktail bar we'd gone to last year. Back then we'd had an absolutely fantastic time; the place had been full of friendly people - including women - and even the staff were shaking hands and introducing themselves. It was so good that we were in two minds about ruining it by going back this year, but ruin it we did.
The barstaff were just as friendly, still shaking hands and introducing themselves, except this time I realised they were doing it to everyone for the tips. And the women? There didn't seem to be as many around this time, and two of the nearest ladies to me had already sneered back.
Then a proper, bonafide miracle happened.
Lingering in a crush near our table was a cute, buxom brunette. She looked over in my direction and I caught her eye - or perhaps she'd noticed me trying to smoulder in the corner. These simple facts I can't remember now, but I do remember her stare that even I saw contained interest.
'Oh, jolly good,' I thought. 'Now just play it cool, you idiot, and don't blow it.'
Then it dawned on me that perhaps she just wanted our seats.
I chatted to the chaps for a bit, then casually looked up again. She'd been waiting, and our eyes met once more.
'Christ!' I blasphemed.
I tried to act cool, and resumed chatting to the guys. I was getting panicky now, as she seemed quite interested and I'd realised I'd spent two weeks eating myself into a nice pair of low self-esteem pants.
I looked back at her again. Yup, definitely wasn't imagining it.
Pity, really, as balls in my courts will generally be left on the ground.
I couldn't do it. Despite my cool demeanour, I felt pitiful and fat. When she looked at me all smouldery, I knew right away that whatever it was she found attractive in me was at best an illusion; at worst, a fraud.
Knowing I'd only ever disappoint, I was actually relieved when, post-chimes, Ed and Ian got up and walked out into the night. The brunette and I passed each other with blank stares. Another 20 minutes later and me and the guys were slinging sweet-and-sour chicken down our necks in Chinatown.
That, I could do.
Doing bugger-all for Xmas and taking advantage of the Buy-One-Get-One-Frees that dominated the potato snack shelves had taken its toll. But now it was Sunday night. The party was over, and work was soon to resume. I couldn't even begin to comprehend the monumental effort it would take just to wake up the following day.
Sunday night. Lousy night. I felt bloated and lethargic, and dazed from overwhelming underachievement. In moments like those, when the metaphorical noose is tightening around my neck... I like to kick the chair.
I don't know now what compelled me, but with mere hours of my holiday left, I decided to Googlestalk my French ex-girlfriend, Amira. I don't even know why she popped into my head. Perhaps because she was my sexiest girlfriend ever, and I was at my zenith of unsexiness. Yes, that was it; I wanted to feel better about myself as I sat in front of my computer with bedrash and a stomach pregnant with Pringles.
I typed her name into Facebook. It came up immediately, complete with a tiny picture that made my heart skip. I hadn't seen my French ex for years and now, there she was, all moody and pixellated, and with an intriguing new surname.
Amira, it appeared, was now married and, hammering it home for me in the picture, pushing a pram. She wasn't smiling either - although smiles were never her forte - and I was stunned to discover that she might now be a mother. She was hardly the motherly type. I also had to assume that she was still in England after all having married a Brit, what with that new surname and all.
So to cheer myself up, I looked at my previous New Years entries on this here blog. Two years earlier, I discovered in a typically introspective entry, I was making grandiose pronouncements about the coming year, and declaring that 2008 would be the year I quit my job.
That entry gnawed at my mind as I found myself fatter and sat behind my desk two days ago. The 'How was your holiday?' conversations lasted all of three minutes, and I was ordered, by implication at least, to just Get Back To Work.
To say I was miserable was an understatement. I fought to stay chipper. I reminded myself that I was now on a fabulous new diet (lettuce), and it would reverse all those unsightly new pounds, plus some. But oddly, starkly, as I thought about moody Amira and her new life (I sincerely thought she was too miserable for the UK, let alone marriage and motherhood), and as I dwelled upon what Could Have Been with the clearly mental brunette in that bar, and when I mused that two years earlier, I was blogging that I would be quitting my job for pastures new, it occurred to me that I have two paths:
These paths may end up being vast arcs that ultimately lead me to the same destination. That destination may even lead me nowhere but back to the beginning, where nothing has changed except for the passing of time.
Yet what dawned on was really quite obvious; even if my journey does lead me back to square one, even if it was well worth the ride or a complete waste of time, I can choose what path I take to get there.
One is dark, and miserable, and crap. The other is really rather scenic.