A year in sensible shoes

I can’t believe it. I’ve been in London A WHOLE YEAR.

Well, aside from the month back home. And all the little travel adventures. But much like an anniversary in a relationship, you pick a date AND STICK WITH IT. And for me, it was a year ago this week that I stepped off that plane at Heathrow, my body clock in limbo and my emotions high. I had no job, no clue, and a very inappropriate selection of shoes. In fact, at that point, the only thing I was sure of was that I needed a taxi, STAT – the Spice Girls were due on stage at the Olympic Closing Ceremony – and I NEEDED to be in front of a telly.

And for a girl whose entire life-plan at that point was based around watching five girls look slightly awkward on double-decker buses, the year that’s passed doesn’t seem that surprising.

It’s taken me A YEAR just to be gainfully employed. I live in a laughably tiny cupboard-above-the-stairs. I walk an obscene distance to the tube every day. London has given me a weird rash. I spend a lot of my working day covered in mayonnaise (which you THINK might help the rash, but no). And I STILL haven’t met Mr Right.

In the books, they all live in fab apartments in Notting Hill and Stoke Newington. They have glam jobs in fashion and marketing (which, for the record, DO NOT PAY ENOUGH FOR SAID APARTMENTS). They stumble across the good-looking, aloof Darcy-type in a supermarket, or at a trendy party, or (SHOCKER!) he was there for her the whole time. They all have enviable hair. And no contact with mayonnaise of any kind.

Yep. So far, life is not quite the chick lit dream I envisioned.

BUT.

Stuff is happening.

Just this week, I got another new job. Yes! Finally, I have that job fannying about with press releases I always dreamed of. Just like those chick lit girls!

(Don’t worry, I’m keeping the hot dog job too. I would never want to deprive you of hot dog stories, and all my condiment-related gags. Prepare for more SAUCY material!)

My social diary is looking impressive. Yes, I know that in the books, when our heroine arrives in a new town, she is quickly adopted by a host of zany characters. But in real life, where people are busy, and have no money, and have to spend half an hour on the tube to get anywhere, making real, new friends takes AGES. Lame, but true.

I’ve been shopping. After a year of scrimping and saving (oh, OK – spending my money on wine), I decided, finally to treat myself. I bought The Prettiest Dress In The World. And as pathetic and stereotypically female as it may be, buying a new dress really DOES make life better. I’ve been sleeping with the shopping bag beside my bed for a fortnight.

And while a job, some friends, and a dress doesn’t seem like a whole lot of achievements for a year (in the book she would have done this by page four) – in real life, in a brand new city, it’s something to be bloody proud of. Life moves a little slower in the third dimension.

To summarise my year, á la Bridget Jones:

Weight gained considerable (mainly cake and wine), weight lost considerable (walking an obscene distance to the tube), countries visited 6 (v.g), trips to the gym 0 (but surely the walking counts?), blog entries 39 (not bad),dresses bought 1 (v.g), hangovers 15+ (ugh), haircuts 3 (too poor), jobs 3, boyfriends 0, breakdowns 2, shoes bought 3 pairs (but all very practical).

Not the dream shoes, but the ones that've got me through.

Not the dream shoes, but the ones that’ve got me through.

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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.

This should come with a health warning

I awoke from the kind of deep sleep that only seven margaritas can ensure. Head pounding and mouth dry, I forced one eye open as I reached out desperately for a glass of water. Suddenly, I jumped. Was that a spider on the pillow beside me? No, just the set of false eyelashes I had carefully glued on just twelve hours earlier, but evidently decided were too hard to remove when I staggered in to bed at 4am. As the memories of the night before came flooding back (did I really slow dance with a guy who looked like first-year Ron Weasley? Did I really just laugh and dance on when someone vomited on my foot?) and the hangover well and truly kicked in, I was struck by a worrying thought – this chick lit experiment might not be so good for my health.

To be honest. it’s a thought that’s been growing for a while. When faced with any decision, I find myself asking, ‘What would Bridget Jones do?’. Should I have that extra drink? Of course. Should I eat that entire cake? Absolutely! Should I flirt with that rude, arrogant man? For sure! It’s the only way to get Mr Darcy in the end!

The problem is, I can justify just about anything if I think it’ll make good material for the blog. Which is why my weekend was lost to several bottles of wine, a generous helping of tequila, a bag of lollies and the drunken abuse of a taxi driver who let another girl into his cab, AFTER I HAILED IT.

Bridget made it seem glamorous. But can this much eating, drinking and flirting really end in anything but obesity, alcoholism and cold sores?

Only one way to find out…

Sex & the single bed

When I moved into my house, there was one small problem. ‘Small’, being the key word. My criminally tiny bedroom, which has since been affectionately renamed ‘the cupboard over the stairs’ (can I reference Harry Potter in a chick lit blog?) was furnished with a single bed.

Yes, I am single. But does my bedroom really need to rub it in? And what are my chances of meeting (and wooing) Mr Right with just 90cm of bed width?

Before I go on, a disclosure. I know it can be done. My ex-boyfriend was the proud, 28-year old owner of a king-single bed. We made it work. But that boy-sized bed should have set my alarm bells ringing. Any guy who is happy sleeping in a single bed, in his Mum’s house, with a ninja turtles poster on the wall and a lego castle on display is not going to ask you to marry him. I know that now. Let’s move on.

So, this week I’ve been looking to the books for guidance on how to live my chick lit life. I bought Milly Johnson’s ‘An Autumn Crush‘ – a great little read about new flatmates, living in England and finding love in the fall. Perfect! Well, without giving too much away, two of the characters only realise they’re in love after falling into her bed in a state of drunken passion.

It got me thinking. Would that have worked with the single bed scenario? With two people that drunk (and her on the curvy side), would they even have both landed on the bed in their drunken state? Let alone enjoyed the bonk-fest to follow?

With literary evidence to back me up, my decision was made. A double bed was ordered. And yesterday it arrived! I now have about a metre square of floor space left and I can’t open my door all the way. But it’s wonderful! Last night I slept spread out like a starfish, luxuriating in all that wonderful, delicious space. I’m even blogging from my bed right now!

So the man for that scene of drunken love isn’t here just yet. But at least now, the furniture is in place!