Chick Tick Three: Pulling focus

The year was 2011. My mental state was fragile. I was fresh in the throes of a break up, and while I’d never been skinnier, I was also prone to unexpected crying, incessant oversharing and occasional sleepwalking. It was rough.

There was a ball coming up. A ball I went to every year. And, in a decision which I’m sure was made just to TORTURE ME, The Ex decided he would go, too.

So.

I needed a dress. A dress that made me look HOT. That showed The Ex just what he was missing out on. A dress that took advantage of my food and sleep-deprived body. An, “eat that, bastard!” kinda dress.

In other words, probably NOT a dress I bought while drunk shopping.

I’ve told you a bit about drunk shopping before. Basically, you go out for breakfast with your best girlfriend, and have a couple of sneaky champagnes. THEN you go to your favourite store, and try on all the pretty dresses. You dance around a bit in said dresses. You might even pretend to be a fairy. And if you’re just tipsy enough, you put on a black, sparkly frock, decide you look amazing, slap down $300 on the counter, and stumble out of the store, boasting about your fashion genius, and sudden desire for hot chips.

Needless to say, I awoke the next morning in a cold sweat. Sober, and terrified. The shopping bag sat in the corner of my room, seeming to shine like a beacon. WHAT THE HELL had I bought?

I gingerly pulled the dress out.

And it was beautiful.

Well, thank God for that. “Good work, drunk Claire,” I thought to myself as I felt the tulle skirt, and admired the splash of silver and gold sequins. It was undoubtedly fun, but classy and a bit sexy at the same time. It showed off my legs and my collarbone, and my new, super skinny waist. It was truly gorgeous. I was beyond relieved. And a little bit excited. This dress was the one!

The next day I picked up a magazine. And saw this.

Bindi Irwin

Yep. Bindi Irwin. The daughter of the Crocodile Hunter. The then, 13 YEAR-OLD daughter of the late Steve Irwin. A girl named after a prickle. IN MY DRESS.

Now, if a celebrity has the same dress as you, you ideally want it to be someone classy, elegant, awesome. Someone you aspire to. Cate Blanchett perhaps. Gwyneth. Megan Gale. NOT A 13-YEAR-OLD ZOOKEEPER WHO HAS HER OWN KHAKI LINE.

I’m not going to lie. Come the night of the ball, “Claire vs Bindi, who wore it better” became a trending topic on Twitter.

So there I was.  Being compared to a C-grade celebrity teenager. Avoiding The Ex from the other side of the ballroom. Bemoaning the shortage of champagne (SERIOUSLY, IT HAPPENS EVERY YEAR). Feeling generally miserable.

When I heard my name being called from the stage.

Looking back, I think the Universe was feeling sorry for me.

I’d won the raffle. And first prize was a camera. An awesome, expensive camera with a twisty lens, lots of buttons and serious hipster credential.

And you know what? If you’re having a super crappy night in an unfortunate dress, carrying a giant, free camera home does make you feel somewhat better.

WHICH IS A HELL OF A LOT OF BACKSTORY.

Here’s the point to all of this: I’ve ticked another task off The Chick List. This week, I learned to use that very camera.

I went on a photography course in East London. I learned words like ‘aperture’ and ‘depth of field’. I took photos of bread and boats.

And books.

London books

Most importantly, I learned something I have long suspected: I do not possess an artistic bone in my body.

But I can tell a hell of a story, right?

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Chick clicks

One of my favourite things about this blog is finding out what people ask Google in order to end up here. For those of you who are actually looking for my blog, THANK YOU. I really, really appreciate it.

For the rest of you, I am sorry that my website does not help you IN ANY WAY.

But you know what? I’m going to try to help you, too. Below are my answers to some of the most Googled questions that (wrongly) lead people to My Chick Lit Life.

How do I dress up a brown brick house?

I am so surprised by how many people type this one, and end up clicking here. Do the previews of my rants about shoes and booze REALLY make you believe I’m going to be a renovation expert? Anyway, here’s my tip:

Paint it pink!

The walls, the doors, the windows, everything. Pink is the best! It makes you happy and crave sugar all at the same time. Imagine, the whole of London, pink-ified. It would look like Barbie-land!

A cat bit my chick

Oh my God. Chick, like your girlfriend? Or chick, like you have baby chickens in your house? Either way, I AM CONCERNED.

We’ve already discussed the danger of cat rabies in much detail on this site. It’s a real thing, apparently! So get that thing CHECKED OUT. NOW.

Cake with pink slippers and lipstick

You are a genius. MAKE THAT CAKE.

Australian girls and the consumption of champagne

Please, PLEASE do not use me as an example. I would hate for my obscene love of bubbles to reflect poorly on my home nation. My relationship with champagne is so skewed, I ACTUALLY believe a glass of prosecco can cure an oncoming cold. And I actively rage against the concept of a Bucks Fizz. Why dilute the champagne happiness with orange juice? I don’t care if it’s 10am, that is WASTEFUL.

Fear of moustaches

We should all fear moustaches. They are hairy and scary. Thank you for Googling this. I now know I am not alone.

Why is Ireland so obsessed with potatoes?

Because potatoes are the BEST. Duh.

My Doc Martens are making my pants bunch

Oh, that sounds unfortunate. Did you know, in England, ‘pants’ means knickers? It’s been a problem for me, as someone averse to wearing pants. And by pants, I mean trousers, slacks, jeans etc. I find them restrictive, uncomfortable, and not nearly as pretty as dresses. But when I tell someone here I don’t like wearing pants, they get all gross and leery. Where are YOU from? ‘Cos if your shoes are somehow making your knickers bunch, you have a real problem.

Pink shoes with butterflies on them

Don’t buy them. They sound terrible.

Spice Girls themed dinner menu

May I PLEASE come to dinner?

Who is the girl in the pink pants story so far

I really have no idea what you’re talking about. And why not dabble in question marks? Punctuation is FUN!

How do I get my chick to experiment with other girls?

Despite your appropriate use of question marks, YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON. If my blog could punch you, it would.

A whole street that is naked

You are similarly terrible.

Single bed sex

Seriously?! This comes up EVERY DAY. There are thousands of people typing this into Google, and ending up here. It’s the biggest driver of traffic to my blog.

Guys. I am going to tell you once and once only, if you think there are special rules for sex in a single bed, YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. IT IS STILL A BED. THERE’S JUST A LITTLE BIT LESS SPACE. If you were looking for instructions for shower sex, or I dunno, SEX IN OUTER SPACE, I understand the need for a little bit of Google help. But sex in a bed a little smaller than a normal bed? COME ON.

Googling My Chick Lit Life

This post is just going to drive more crazies to the site, isn’t it?

Girl talk

Another week goes by, and Facebook informs me that ANOTHER friend is engaged. ANOTHER friend is pregnant.

Me? I’m still single. I’m still working on the job thing. I DID eat some pretty life-changing gelato last week… but still, it feels like I might be falling behind.

Fortunately, one of my new London friends has diagnosed my problem:

Apparently, I’m too girly.

Now, for those who don’t know me, here’s a brief rundown: I wear a dress every day. I wear pink shoes every day. My tights are covered in love hearts. I sleep under a floral doona. And the following items in my life are pink: my toothbrush, my hairbrush, my mobile phone, my iPad, my hair straightener, my drinking cup, my cutlery and my handbag.

Now I don’t want to brag, but having a signature colour is actually a GENIUS idea. People just buy you things all the time! In my life, I have been gifted countless pink things just because someone saw them and thought of me: bottles of pink nail polish, cute pink bags, pink measuring cups, a pink computer keyboard, a pink bin… my ex-boyfriend even gave me a pink car cleaning kit!

I know. I really should have dumped him.

ANYWAY, I’m a girly girl. And there shouldn’t be a problem with that, right? Doesn’t every man want a woman who will bake him a cake, while wearing a full circle skirt and pretty pink shoes? A woman who will keep the house full of pink flowers and her glass full of pink champagne? A woman who dresses, well, like a woman?

So the last time I went out with this new London friend, I dressed as I normally do. Vintage floral dress, patterned tights, pink lipstick, bag and sparkly pink shoes.

Thing is, Londoners aren’t so into dressing up.

For London girls out on a Friday night, it’s Casual City. They wear jeans. And flat shoes. And minimal makeup. They’re effortlessly cool.

In comparison, I look like some sort of Drag Queen Butterfly.

Or, according to my new friend, whispered in scandalous tones:

“You’re confusing the men. You look like you’re trying way too hard to prove you’re a girl. They all think you’re a LESBIAN.”

Ah. You win some, you lose some. Any ladies out there looking for a woman who can bake?

Sugar & spice

The hen’s night was in full swing when disaster struck.

Champagne had been consumed. The karaoke machine was blaring. And evil presented itself in the most unlikely of guises.

The Spice Girls.

Now, I unashamedly love the Spice Girls. Their songs are super catchy. Their harmonies are great. I consider the fact that none of them can ACTUALLY SING as further testament to their genius. And “if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends” is honestly one of the best pieces of relationship advice I’ve EVER HEARD. Seriously, I quote that all the time. Girls, if your boyfriend doesn’t make an effort with your friends, DUMP HIM! The Spice Girls told you so!

Now believe it or not, the Spice Girls are causing a lot of tension in our little brown brick house at the moment. And yes, I know this argument is about 20 years out-of-date. But the boys insist they hate the Spice Girls. And us girls LOVE them.

Now I reckon there are two types of people in this world: people who say they love the Spice Girls, and liars. Come on! EVERYONE LOVES THEM. I defy anyone to keep still during ‘Stop’, or ‘Spice World’ – it’s physically impossible!

But the boys won’t cave. We have had full-blown shouting matches in the house. And this is a group of people who haven’t had a single tiff about rent money, or the washing up, or who gets the smallest room (though maybe I should have piped up about that one). But if one of us girls dares to put on ‘Viva Forever’, shit goes down.

So, after years of dedication to the Girls Spice, it seemed unfair that they were the cause of my downfall at the hen’s do this past weekend. But here’s what happened. ‘Wannabe’ came on. We all squealed. I jumped up next to the bride-to-be to sing with her. She thought she’d share the mic. And when it got to, “I wanna HUH I wanna HUH I wanna HUH I wanna HUH”, she enthusiastically smashed the microphone into my mouth.

The good news: I still have all my teeth.

The bad news: there was a lot of blood. And two days later, I look like I’ve been in a bar fight. My fat lip is spectacular.

But you know what? It’s just a small battle wound in a long war. I’ll wear it with pride. And when I’m awarded some sort of Purple Platform Sneaker in honour of a lifelong commitment to Geri, Victoria, Mel B, Mel C and Emma, I’ll have a hell of a story to tell.

Now, listen. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.

Really happy. New year.

I haven’t written in 13 days. And I don’t have a great story to make up for it.

I DIDN’T drink so much champagne at New Year, I had to be hospitalised, and have now emerged from rehab, sober, skinny and preachy.

I DIDN’T kiss a mystery man at midnight, fall in love, and run away to Greece for a two-week fling.

I didn’t even resolve to stop writing such self-indulgent rubbish, and spend a fortnight writing a worthy, world-changing novel.

Nope.

I’ve had my family in town.

It’s been really, really great. I am beyond happy to see them again. I am eating three square meals a day. I’ve done the Harry Potter studio tour, taken mini-breaks to Suffolk and Nottingham, and tried just about every cupcake in London. It’s awesome.

But it’s not very blog-worthy.

I am not getting drunk. I am not flirting with boys. I am not making questionable life choices. I am not sitting on the tube, wondering what the point of it all is. Or just watching people lick each other’s faces.

I’m just really happy. And it’s great.

A hairy question

He was friendly. He was flirty. He was American.

But he had a moustache.

My Saturday night is now nothing but a boozy blur. But here’s what I remember. Some girlfriends and I drank champagne. We went out for dinner. We drank more champagne. We told funny stories and laughed hysterically. We drank more champagne. We had deep and meaningfuls. The restaurant closed. We found a bar. We drank more champagne. We cried and hugged each other. The bar closed. We found another bar. Decided, sensibly, that we didn’t need any more champagne.

So we ordered margaritas.

We danced. We drank more margaritas. Someone fell over. And when I reached the point where I needed to hold one eye closed to focus properly, Moustache Man suddenly appeared.

From what I remember, he was lovely. Outgoing, interested, confident and charming. New to London, and keen for adventure. Sympathetic to my lack-of-focussing-ability. A potentially perfect leading man.

BUT.

HE HAD A MOUSTACHE.

Now, you need to understand – I really, really hate moustaches. To me, they are the ugliest, dirtiest things in the world. A clean-shaven man? Lovely. A guy with a bit of stubble? Perfect. Sporting a full beard? Hot. But a moustache? Gross, just gross. Hairy, scary and (I don’t know why), but kinda pervy.

For me, November is a terrible month. As Movember takes hold, good-looking men all over the place are suddenly afflicted with a hairy upper lip. It’s terrifying!

And that – especially for a girl looking for love – poses a major problem. If you meet a moustached man in late November it COULD be that he’s a charitable, fun guy, out to raise some money and have a laugh. The moustache could be gone in days, revealing a handsome, clean-shaven Mr Right. Or, he could seriously think a moustache is a good look and HAVE ONE ALL THE TIME.

It’s a difficult time for a moustache-fearing girl.

Bring on December 1!

Here comes the bridesmaid

I’ve received two proposals since I arrived in London.

My first happened on a perfect summer’s day in Stoke Newington. The sun was shining. I had a bag full of new books and a belly full of cake. I was truly, deliriously happy. Unfortunately, the proposal came from a complete stranger.

“Can you spare some change?”, he asked, from his blanket on the side of the street. I gripped my bag tightly, smiled and politely declined. My beau peered keenly through his matted hair, looked me up and down and asked me the next, obvious question – “Will you marry me?”. Well, of course I was swept off my feet. We got married there and then, have bought a beautiful new box to live in, and are raising a litter of stray dogs.

Not really.

My second proposal arrived in the mail this week:

I received this beautiful gift from one of my very best friends, along with a card and message that made me cry. It’s the second time I’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid for one of my girlfriends and it’s a job that I love – not the least because I get my makeup professionally done, get to hold a bunch of pink flowers and am contractually obliged to pose for many, many photos.

Of course, I accepted the proposal with happiness. During a long text exchange with my girlfriend, where we discussed colour schemes, dress cuts and cocktail arrangements, I asked her about her plans for the weekend. Here’s what she texted back:

Having breakfast at the markets with another couple, then going to a native plant sale.

Here were my plans for the same weekend:

Friday night: Wear a really short skirt, get drunk and flirt with boys. Saturday: Stumble out of bed by midday, eat some bacon. Sunday: Play drunk Monopoly.

I was struck by a startling, worrying epiphany: my friends are growing up. And I seem to be growing down. In the three months since I left home, my friend has got engaged, AND bought a house. I have moved into a share home, stocked my cupboard with Berocca, and have decided I can legitimately wear Converse to a bar.

What’s going to happen when I get back home? I’m scared I’ll call my friend for a spot of ‘drunk shopping’ (an awesome game we invented where you go out for a champagne breakfast and then try on all the dresses in a store. It’s fun. You end up with a lot of dodgy purchases) and she’ll tell me she’s too busy darning her husband’s socks. Or renovating the kitchen. Or, GOD HELP ME, looking after the babies. Twins, because that’s where my nightmare-ish imagination is taking me.

It’s not that I don’t want good things for my friends. I do. But am I in danger of being left behind?

I’m on my way back to Stoke Newington. Maybe I should accept that proposal after all.