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.

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?

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.

Flying solo

It’s easy to spot the single girl at the airport – she’s the one wheeling all her luggage into the toilet cubicle with her.

Traveling solo is no easy feat. First, there’s the tear-soaked family farewell, before taking a deep breath, hoping like mad you haven’t forgotten your hair straightener – or your passport – and walking off, alone, through the international departure gate. Then it’s just the simple task of sitting in a tiny seat for the next 20-plus, hours, watching back to back crappy rom-coms (yes, New Year’s Eve did suck just as much as I’d hoped) and praying desperately the girl sitting next to you might get up for a pee soon, so you can go too.

Needless to say, it was an economy ticket. I dream of one day being told I’ve been upgraded to business. Imagine, spending the whole trip being waited on, sipping champagne and lying down flat for a sleep! Hobnobbing with celebs and smirking at the cattle class passengers as they walk past! Friends have told me it’s happened to them. Even my beautician back in Perth had a story of a kind lady at the check-in counter granting her an upgrade. But how do you make it happen? The only thing everyone seems to be sure of is that you can’t wear jeans. No denim, instant upgrade. Bull, I reckon. I’ve made the less-than practical choice to wear dresses for all my recent trips, smiled winningly at the check-in chick, and been rewarded with diddly squat.

Which brings me to my prevailing thought of the trip – it is impossible to look good for a long-haul flight. Well, impossible for me, at least. I got on that first plane with my hair straight, some makeup on, even a funky little scarf to brighten up my outfit. Twelve hours later, with the first leg done, my skin was flaking off my face, my hair was defying gravity and the scarf was abandoned in the wake of alternatively searing and freezing temperatures – though my outfit was dressed up by a nice smear of something that the flight attendant assured me was scrambled eggs.

As everyone knows, it’s at this point, when you’re looking your absolute worst, that you run in to someone you know. Usually someone you’re desperate to impress. In this case, a popular girl from my high school, who I hadn’t seen for more than a decade. She looked great, of course. As I self consciously tried to smooth my hair and cover my dress, I grinned like an idiot and talked loudly to try and distract her from my state of appearance. Only later, in the toilets at Dubai, did I realise I’d had a massive bit of food between my teeth the whole time. Awesome.

Seven hours and another three rom-coms later, I finally started the descent into London. The descent into the unknown, really. No job, no family, no idea what’s coming next. I was hit by delirious, exhausted panic, wondering what the hell I was doing and wondering why my hair had gone from sticking up, to being plastered to my face.

But I’m here. Jet lagged, scared, and just a little bit excited. The Spice Girls sang last night. The sun is shining (though I hear it might rain later) and cute British children are playing in the park across from where I sit.

Let the adventure begin.