January 13, 2013

All The Breakfasts I’ve Had

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  1. My father asks how many wheat biscuits I want then puts them in a bowl for me.
  2. I select my own cereal from a range of cereals that my parents allow me to eat (bran flakes, bran flakes with a variety of nuts and dried fruits, wheat biscuits) and prepare it myself. I often overestimate how much I want.
  3. At some point during puberty I begin to drink cups of instant coffee. Following my father’s example I drink it black. I also keep a few of my compact discs adjacent to my parents’ compact disc player. I use this compact disc player to listen to my compact discs. The entrance of another family member often halts this.
  4. I start drinking decaffeinated coffee following the advice of a psychiatrist. Apparently caffeine may aggravate some of the symptoms I experience.
  5. Waking up early makes the caffeine ban harder. I eat six wheat biscuits. In the mornings I think about the recent deaths of people I knew well. I am unhappy. I gain weight.
  6. I move away from my parents’ house and begin to eat only single varieties of cereals. I start eating a budget brand of wheat biscuits. I begin drinking caffeinated coffee again. I periodically run out of budget wheat biscuits. When this happens I go to the nearest supermarket and buy whichever cereal is cheapest. Generally it is something with a lot of sugar and expensive colour packaging on the outside.
  7. I begin to experiment with different varieties of milk. I buy full fat (four percent fat) milk on the basis that it is the same price as semi-skimmed (two percent fat) milk and skimmed (zero point one percent fat) milk but has more calories. I begin to buy skimmed milk in an attempt to lose weight but tell friends/flatmates that it is because I like the colour (red) of the packaging (I do).
  8. I attempt to limit caffeine intake as symptoms create problems for me with my girlfriend. I place increasing trust in the idea that caffeine is to blame for all our relationship issues. My lack of caffeine consumption becomes something that we both rally around, as if the two of us can battle my mental health problems. The two of us create increasingly complex systems to keep me in “normal mode”.
  9. A brief period of living with girlfriend. We decide to allow me one cup of caffeinated tea in the morning. Concerns about money lead to me instigating an unpopular “porridge policy”. Fond memories of girlfriend disdainfully, almost daintily, scraping off the top layer of oats she had coated in sugar. The “porridge policy” ends when I get drunk and gather my belongings and get on a train.
  10. I return to selecting from cereals my parents buy me. Again, mostly wheat biscuits. My new therapist informs me that not drinking coffee could be an example of hypervigilance.
  11. I move into a new flat with an old friend. I see little of the old friend as his girlfriend has a nicer flat. I follow my therapist’s advice and begin to drink caffeinated coffee, usually freshly ground. My flatmate introduces a coffee machine to the flat. I pass through a brief phase of eating two slices of white toast (made from cheap sliced bread) with margarine. This is accompanied by a double espresso and a glass of tap water. The coffee is mostly borrowed from my flatmate. I feel resentful that my flatmate has a girlfriend. I go to the pub with my flatmate after we drink all the beer at his girlfriend’s. I tell him to break up with her so we can relive a (non-existent) period of many casual, somewhat competitive, sexual encounters. We leave the pub and walk back to her place across the golf course. I think it’s misty and dark. I think I fall over. My flatmate tells me he has already tried to break up with his girlfriend. I don’t remember how he relates the scene. I see blades of grass lit by street lamps and then his girlfriend threatening to stab herself with a knife as my flatmate convinces her he was only kidding about wanting to break up with her. The police turn up but I can only see a solemn-looking, costumed policeman removing his hat outside her door.
  12. I resume a period of selecting which cereals I want to eat from my parents range of cereals. Symptoms of mental illness are continual as I struggle to accept the death of my flatmate’s girlfriend. Choice of both cereal and hot drink is predominantly determined by my parents again.
  13. I return to the flat. Breakfast as a definite meal ceases to exist. I express my feelings towards the futility and absurdity of existence by eating non-breakfast foods at breakfast, i.e. pasta, cold pizza. A violent sense of apathy.
  14. Temporary return of flatmate leads to “fakon” (vegetarian bacon) being cooked for his breakfast. My morning routine consists of vomiting then drinking a large mug of black coffee. Technically breakfast tends to be pizza bought from the supermarket under our flat, consumed around four p.m., accompanied by large quantities of the supermarket’s own brand lager. Generally we both buy a pizza and a box containing ten cans of the supermarket’s own brand lager. We eat this on the sofa while my flatmate plays video games.
  15. After my flatmate is taken back to his parents’ house by both our fathers I resolve to re-establish a proper breakfast routine. Settle on two bananas, two double espressos, one large glass of tap water.
  16. Breakfast research online leads to me reverting to “porridge policy”. I begin to drink tea with the porridge, feeling black coffee throws the porridge’s blandness into too harsh a relief.
  17. Research online into being physically desirable leads to a period of veganism. “Porridge policy” remains intact although altered by the use of soy or hemp milk both on top of the porridge and in the tea.
  18. Move flats. Veganism quickly begins to seem unsustainable and antisocial now that I am no longer living alone. Revert to breakfast sixteen.
  19. Meet you. Buy honey from shop. Think to myself “at least one honey is having breakfast with me” and then imagine you in a nineties urban music video wearing the leopard print fur coat you are currently wearing and a gold lamé swimsuit. TC mark

JDA Winslow

JDA Winslow is an artist and poet. He blogs here and tweets here.

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