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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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?

Forward, backward

So, things aren’t really going to plan in this chick lit life right now.

A fortnight ago, things were barreling ahead. The warmth from home was still in my bones. I was optimistic, excited, refreshed. And I finally, FINALLY had some work.

When I started this chick lit adventure, getting a job was the least of my concerns. I just imagined it would fall in to place. I’d wear fabulous outfits, write some press releases, make fun, interesting friends, and head out for post-work drinks every Friday night. The job would be the background to my new, exciting London life. Just like in the books.

But getting a job has been harder than I ever imagined. I’ve spent six months applying for jobs that I can do with my eyes shut, jobs that pay half of what I made at home, and NOT EVEN GETTING A REPLY. It’s been a massive dent to my ego. And without a job, it’s been hard to settle in. It’s been hard to meet new people. And it’s been REALLY hard to afford to buy wine.

But a fortnight ago, it all started to happen. I went back to work in a newsroom. I got to pull out my favourite frilly pink work heels. I was carrying a notepad and pen again. I got to wear a lanyard around my neck, and say smug things like, “Sorry, got to get to bed, I have WORK TOMORROW”. And for two, glorious weeks. I EARNED SOME MONEY. It was awesome. Suddenly, I was thinking about shopping for new clothes. I started planning my next mini-break. And I started to make some new friends.

BUT.

After two weeks as a freelancer, turns out the company I was working for doesn’t want to hire freelancers any more. It was a total, unexpected kick in the guts. And now, I find myself back to square one. Jobless. Job-hunting. Filling out endless applications forms. And watching my savings dwindle away.

Of course, just as unemployment has hit again, I’ve been struck by my latest London cold. I swear, sometimes I think I’m actually allergic to this city. So I’ve been lying in bed. Wallowing. Feeling totally, pathetically, sorry for myself.

“WHAT HAVE I DONE?” I wailed to myself yesterday. “Don’t I deserve to be happy?”

And then, I had an epiphany.

You know those chain emails you used to get? Those ones that talked about how important friends are, blah, blah, blah, and then warned that if you didn’t forward to seven, eleven, whatever number of people, you would be CURSED FOR LIFE?

Well, I never forwarded them. The over-confident, cocky 20-something that I was, I thought that I was immune to computer curses. I didn’t think that a bullshit email could really have any impact on my life.

HOW WRONG I WAS.

You know what, I never ‘like’ those cause pages on Facebook either. Heartless person that I am, I never click to show that I hate cancer, or love the armed services, or support gay marriage, or want someone to name their child ‘iPod’. What a fool I’ve been!

Well, the lesson has been learned. Maybe, just maybe, if I start being a better online citizen, some good luck will come my way. I’m gonna click everything, forward everything, like everything. And when stuff starts to go right, I’ll know who to thank.

‘Like’ this, just in case. You can never be too careful.

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?

FootNote

By now, you must know how I feel about pink shoes. To me, they are the prettiest, happiest things in the whole world. When I’m wearing my pink shoes, I get an extra bounce in my step. They actually improve my mood. It’s weird and makes no sense, but I totally and utterly love them.

At last count, I had 24 pairs of pink shoes. Ugg boots, thongs (which might mean something very different to my US and UK readers!), sneakers, slippers, I have them all. But more than anything, I have pink heels. So, so many pairs. It’s ridiculous – they’re not even that different. They are ALL enclosed. I don’t even mess with the shade – they are ALL hot pink. But to me, each and every pair is unique and special. Some have sequins, some have frills. I love them all.

What I am far less excited about, are what lives inside the shoes. My feet. But they are the stars of a special post over at Toemail. Go check it out! It’s worth it, I promise you. There’s even a butterfly!

While you’re there, check out the rest of the site, and let me know what you think. I’m PRETTY SURE it’s a cute idea. I’m hoping it’s not a go-to spot for creepy men who like feet.

Foot & mouth

I’ve been here just over a week now, and I’m really starting to feel the London love. It could be the sunny weather and the centuries-old architecture. It could be the adorable little girls with English accents I hear singing on the tube. Well, all of those things are playing a part. But the main reason I’m starting to feel happy here, is my feet.

Before I arrived, I fantasised about the stylish outfits I’d wear while swanning around London. I’d stop double-decker buses in their tracks! My more sensible friends warned me that style wouldn’t cut it. Shoes, they told me, had to be flat and practical. So, I took their advice on board. I bought the most gorgeous, sequined flats you’ve ever seen, and a cute pair of sandals for all the picnics and garden parties I’d be immediately invited to. I was London ready!

Well, they lasted two days. Two days before my feet were in absolute agony. Gorgeous sequined flats do look wonderful, but it turns out they’re not cut out for long walks to the tube, seven flights of stairs down to the platform, seven flights of stairs back up, and then the walk to wherever you’re going. And cute little sandals offer little support as you wander aimlessly around London, wondering where the hell Buckingham Palace is, but refusing to consult the map, in case anyone realises you’re lost.

So this week, practicality won. I sucked up the little dignity I had left, waved farewell to my fashionable ideals, and bought myself some sneakers. Pink, of course. They break every style-rule I’ve ever adhered to and make me look like an awkward 14 year old girl, but my god, they are comfortable. Like pillows for my feet!

So I was taking the tube home tonight, enjoying my well-supported feet and generally feeling pretty good about things. Standing in front of me were a couple, holding hands and smiling at each other. Lovely, I thought. The man – let’s call him Beardie – leaned in for a kiss. The woman – let’s called her Blondie – gave him a quick peck and laughed. I swooned. Romance! On the Underground!

But then, it started to get weird. Beardie kissed Blondie on the cheek. Then, he kissed her on the eyelids. Weirdo! Then, and I am not kidding you here, he started to lick her face. That’s right. HE LICKED HER FACE. ON THE TUBE.

I was appalled. But like a car crash, I could not look away. When Beardie began sucking on Blondie’s nose, I started to wonder if he was going to eat her face right off. I mean, there’s public displays of affection, but a public display of cannibalism? That’s surely not OK!

When he started chewing on her jumper, I began laughing out loud. And here’s what I learned on the tube tonight – licking your girlfriend’s face? Acceptable Underground behaviour. Laughing out loud while standing by yourself? Crazy, apparently.

And if public face-licking is some weird British dating custom, book me a flight home, stat! At least I’ve got comfy shoes for the trip.

Prologue

I’m not the world’s most adventurous person. I don’t have a tattoo and I’d never jump out of a plane. Let’s face it – I haven’t even tried tuna (it smells bad, OK?).

So when I decided I was going to quit my awesome, stable job and move to London for a year, people were surprised. Perhaps me most of all.

But the fact was, I needed a change. Last year sucked. I had my heart broken and found myself morphing into some sort of sad couch potato, watching hours upon hours of Gossip Girl and eating sliced cheese for dinner. I was so busy feeling sorry for myself it took me months to realise I’d been handed an opportunity. No one to tie me down, no one to tell me what to do. No one to consult if I wanted to pack up my pink shoes and have my very own adventure.

So now I’m taking charge. I’ve got a ticket booked and my passport ready. It’s the stupidest, craziest thing in the world but I’m going to do it. Even if it’s awful. Even if I end up starving, lonely and crying myself to sleep in sub-zero British temperatures.

It’s like the start of every good chick lit book I’ve read. Heartbroken girl off on a scary and exciting new adventure. Will I meet a host of zany characters? Probably. Will I embarrass myself in dozens of awkward ways? Absolutely. Will I meet the man of my dreams??

You never know… I might even try tuna.