Seesaw summer

You guys. It’s been a ROLLER COASTER.

In the last few weeks:

I worked so many consecutive double shifts at the restaurant that I set a new world record. There were celebrations, and free cake.

I replaced ‘regular’ exercise with ‘secret pelvic floor workouts while standing in a restaurant for a record-breaking amount of time’ exercise.

…In unrelated news, I seem to have gotten fatter.

I decided it was all too much and I should move back to Perth.

I decided I was being ridiculous and decided to stay in London forever.

I applied for a job in Perth, decided I was definitely going to get it, and starting packing.

I missed out on the job, cried a lot, and decided to stay in London forever.

My family came to visit and I lived a London summer dream – Boris biking on the Thames, afternoon tea on a rooftop, a Harrods picnic in Hampstead Heath and endless Pimms in the sunshine. I fell in love with London.

…In unrelated news, I seem to have gotten fatter.

I went to Spain and lived a Spanish summer dream – jamon in a cone, swimming in the Mediterranean, paella, jamon on a plate, sangria, Gaudi genius and jamon in a roll. I fell in love with Spain.

…In unrelated news, I seem to have gotten fatter.

My family left and I descended into a tragic, fat, PMS-enhanced depression. I consoled myself by eating all my Aussie chocolate. And all the Shapes.

…In unrelated news, I seem to have gotten fatter.

I asked myself the tough questions. Why am I in London? Do I WANT to be here? Is the pollution, the public transport, the pitiful wage and the long hours worth it? Do I need to be this painfully long distance away from my family and friends?

And I decided. For now, I do.

So. I got myself together. I did some exercise. I applied for some new jobs. I organised some new adventures. I sat in the sunshine. I wrote to you guys.

London, you confusing, terrifying, wonderful city, I’m still here.

Let the chick lit life continue.

Here comes the sun

I’ve got a problem. And it’s pretty serious.

I guiltily confessed it to my housemate on the tube this week, glancing around so that no one could hear.

“I think I’ve lost my mojo.”

“Your mojo?”

“Yeah, my mojo. My sparkle. My shiny….ness. Basically, I feel like a big dork.”

And I do.

It’s been a gradual thing. But the confident, flirty, interesting girl who got off the plane in London all those months ago seems to have lost her touch.

None of my clothes seem to look as good. My makeup seems wonky. My stories aren’t as interesting. On Saturday night, it took me an hour to get served at a bar. AN HOUR. NO WOMAN SHOULD BE FORCED TO WAIT AN HOUR FOR A MARGARITA. And as soon as I’d drunk it, I decided I’d rather be reading a book instead, and went home.

Walking back to the little brown brick house, I pondered my situation with increasing anxiety.

What is wrong with me? Is this what happens when you get old? Is my face starting to LOOK old? Is it wrinkly? Oh God, is all this thinking GIVING ME WRINKLES? OK, hold your eyebrows still. Maybe it’s that I’ve been single too long. Have I lost confidence? Have I forgotten how to talk to people? Have I lost the power to charm men? That’s it, I have! Oh, why did I WASTE the power when I had it? Think of the THINGS I could I have got if I’d used it wisely! I could have DIAMONDS! And they would DEFINITELY distract from the wrinkles. I AM A HIDEOUS, WRINKLED, DIAMOND-LESS MONSTER THAT NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE!

Fortunately, back on the tube, my ever-wonderful housemate was there to stop my pity spiral.

“You haven’t lost your mojo. You’re just dealing with your first London winter. You haven’t seen the sun in four months. You’ve been shivering since August. It rains every day. We’re all used to feeling like crap for half the year, but we have the good sense to stay inside and drink wine. It’s just you, trying to pretend everything’s good when the winter is trying to beat all the joy out of you. Just hide under your doona, and everything will get better in April. Or May. By June, definitely. We will definitely see some sun in June.”

JUNE?

It’s too much to bear.

Which is why I write to you from Changi Airport, Singapore, halfway home to Australia.

I AM going back to London. But I’m just taking a little break in the sun. A few weeks to hug my cousins, drive a car, eat potato salad and not have to deal with black snot (one of the more disturbing aspects of London living).

Who knows, I might even find my mojo.

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.

The Chick List

One of the best things about writing this blog is the fact that I can read as much chick lit as I like.

Once upon a time, chick lit was my guilty pleasure. When book shopping, I’d always force myself to buy a ‘serious’ book. It was usually award-winning, and usually excellent, but guys, reading it was HARD WORK. The prose was always beautiful, but vague and convoluted. The characters were usually terrible people. The ending never satisfied. I was culturally enriched, but secretly more excited about the OTHER book I’d bought myself – the one with the beautiful pastel cover, featuring a picture of a shoe, or a handbag, or a dress. My reward read. Where the main character is flawed but lovely, the dialogue is current and witty, and while they’ll face some obstacles along the way, the main characters will always get a happy ending.

Now though, chick lit counts as research. If it’s not pink, I won’t even buy it. On the tube, I proudly hold my chick lit novels up for all to see (even though they have the most ATROCIOUS names – ‘Where Rainbows End‘? ‘The Brightest Star in the Sky‘? Come on, Marian Keyes!). If anyone asks, I can tell them I’m working!

And now, all the reading’s paid off. I’ve found some book-to-life-life inspiration!

Even from the title, I knew this book would be a good one – Lindsey Kelk’s ‘The Single Girl’s To-Do List‘. It’s a great read. Charming characters, gorgeous, muscly men, a painfully realistic break-up, and a journey of self-discovery. As the title suggests, the main character, Rachel, and her friends put together a ‘to-do’ list to help guide her through her newly single life. Scrawled on a napkin, Rachel’s list includes:

  • Get a makeover
  • Start an exercise regime
  • Bungee jump (or similar)
  • Find a date for Dad’s wedding
  • Get a tattoo
  • Write a letter to the ex
  • Buy something expensive and selfish
  • Travel somewhere new
  • Contact your first crush
  • Break the law

Frankly, I think a couple of these ideas are terrible. A tattoo? No way. Write a letter to your ex? Just move on! But the book did make me wonder if it might be that simple. Write a list of things to do, check them off, and find true love.

Strangely enough, before I left home, I did start a list of my own. I hadn’t looked at it in months, but inspired by the novel, I took a look at the quick list jotted down on my iPhone under, ‘London life list’. Here’s what it said:

  • Dye my hair red
  • Buy Doc Martens
  • Wear scarves
  • Learn to use my camera

Yes, it appears that three months ago, I had a secret longing to turn myself into some sort of moody, gothic artist. Where did that come from? I’m not even sure I like Doc Martens!

But you know what? I’m inspired. I’m putting the lists together. And I’m going to see them through. Here’s my very own Single Girl’s To-Do List. My Chick List.

  • Dye my hair red
  • Try a new (and preferably strange) type of exercise. Tai Chi, capoeira, handball, something like that
  • Take a photography course (and put some pictures on the blog)
  • Buy some Doc Martens. And wear them
  • Go speed dating
  • Buy something expensive and selfish
  • Take a trip on my own
  • Make pastry
  • Try tuna
  • Break the law

Some of these make me nervous. The thought of eating smelly fish is downright terrifying. Will the list make me a better person? Will it help me find true love? Or am I just setting myself up for a terrible new look?

…I’m calling the hairdresser right now.

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.