Everybody’s bleeding ’cause the times are tough

"No matter what horrible thing you’re going through, when it’s all over it only takes three seconds to sum it up."

Bj Kada tagged me for a meme awhile back: What is something you’d love to say to your younger selves of 2, 5, 10 and 15 years ago?

The best thing I could say would be the above quote, which came from a Friend of Dooce. Basically – chill out pet, we’ll get through and laugh about it later.

I’d also tell myself to stop viewing the world through my fat goggles; that my size is not my most defining characteristic – but would I have listened? I think you have to experience all the wacky experiences and figure that out for yourself.

And a few other things…

2 years – 2006

  • Enjoy the 2006 MotoGP season while it lasts, because it’s going to profoundly SUCK from now on.

5 years – 2003

  • There are approximately 27 different shades of Scottish accent – they’re not all going to sound like Sean Connery.
  • About that vow you just wrote in your diary – how you’re ALWAYS going to wear sexy undies for your lovely new boyfriend and never let your standards slide? Ha ha ha, I say! And ha ha ha again!

10 years – 1998

  • Stop driving half a mile to uni. Walk!
  • Just because you work in the fish and chip shop doesn’t mean you have to eat all the fish and chips.
  • Generic cooking chocolate is not an ideal breakfast.
  • You’re not meant to feel permanently miserable, and you wouldn’t be a stinking failure if you asked for help.

15 years – 1993

  • The lyrics of Bon Jovi’s Keep The Faith album are not as profound as you might think right now.

Do you have any words of wisdom for your younger self?

Delirious in Dunfermline

Two alliterative blog entry titles in a row! Where and what shall we be tomorrow? Ecstatic in Edinburgh? Topless in Toronto? Maudlin in Madagascar?

So we’re back in the Dunny. We zoomed out of New York at Thursday 8PM and somehow six hours later, it was Friday 7AM in the ol UK. When I started writing this entry it was 3PM and I was determined to stay awake til 9PM at least, to assist my return to the land of the living! In the end I was up until 3AM, watching the US Presidential debate thingo. Then slept for twelve hours.

. . .

Nerves aside things went well at Harper Collins; they were all lovely people. It was great to put faces to names after emailling for so long, and now it feels real that soon the ol DG book will exist with color instead of colour, chips instead of crisps and ASS instead of arse. Actually I don’t think we changed the arses.

For a book nerd, it was brilliant to stickybeak behind the scenes at a publishing house. I got to visit Transworld in London last year and it was much the same – an endless maze of corridors, posters of bestsellers hanging proudly on the walls; wee offices with editors peeking out like Kilroy cartoons from behind vast stacks of books. Hella cool 🙂

. . .

Gareth spied these Wo/Men’s Health magazines on a newstand. How come the men see results in 8 days but the chicks have to wait 12?!



Nervous in New York

Hello dear comrades, it’s your trusty foreign correspondent again. I am slightly malnourished after a weekend upstate at a music festival where there was nowt to eat but gyros and candy bars, I shit ye not. Woman cannot live on rock and roll alone unfortunately.

The thing is, my stomach KNEW there was danger ahead. It said into me on Friday morning, "shauna, there is danger ahead. Go to the wee deli round the corner and get some fruuit and veg and sarnies or similar, otherwise I will be growling with pain and turmoil for the next three days."

"Aye right," I said. "we’ll be fine!"

But lo, the stomach knows all and the food was really bad and I paid the price. But the music was fab!

Now we’re back in NYC for one more day, lots to say but must go to sleep as I am meeting the lovely folks at Harper Collins tomorrow morning to talk about the us dg book which is out in December and if I wasn’t typing this on a telephone with one finger I’d tell you about my bundle o nerves and wondering if I should have spent the last six months getting totally svelte and glam and whiter toothed so i’ll be more impressive rather than saying "umm…I got an A- for my orange belt, will that help with our marketing at all?"

Hope you’re having a great week, luvvies.

Best wishes from my right index finger,

Dance Everybody Dance

Hello comrades! Lacking in imagination, we’ve come back to New York for our hols this year, combining business with lee-sure. I am tapping this out at snails pace on my phone, no links or cut n paste or edit… fark!

On the plane we got peanuts with five different kinds of sugar… Is that a world record?

We went to the park to watch the nannies and squirrels roam; a pug attempt to mount  labradoodle.

Back to the hotel at 6pm, 11pm back home, to rest our eyes Just For Five Minutes. I said to G, "what do you fancy doing now?" and he mumbled, "Dancing. Studio 54" and suddenly… it’s now 6AM!

Must’ve been tired. Such wild party rockets we are.   

Ginger Ninja

I pre-purchased my Post-Grading Bacon on Saturday morning.

"Didn’t you do this before the Moonwalk too?" asked Gareth, "It’s like you’re a dog – you only get a treat for performing tricks."

Too true! The bacon before that was because I finally found a new job. The bacon before that bacon was because I’d turned in my book. But it’s bloody amazing bacon and it must be treated with reverence. Except for Saturday when I was starving and turned the whole lot into a toasty bacon, tomato and avocado sandwich. Hubba hubba.

I was concerned that Grading Day would suck without a bacon-shaped carrot dangling in front of me, but I pulled through!

Dacks I broke out my sexy new Official Fancy Trousers. Many times my pals had asked, "Why do you not wear the Trousers?" and I said snootily, "Because I haven’t earned them yet!" But as with the bacon I decided to seize the reward before I’d earned it and see if the universe fell apart. I only wish I’d bought them earlier – sure it looks like you’re storing a picnic lunch in your crotch but the bagginess is makes for free and easy kickin’.

The grading felt different from previous sporty events. With the 5K and Moonwalk I could zone out and fall into a rhythm once I’d crossed the start line – the only thing to remember was put one foot in front of the other. The grading was more like high school exams – so much information crammed into your brain; wondering if you could get away with writing the answers on your arm.

To prevent freak-outs, I broke it all down into chunks: three different belts, six different sections for each belt, then sparring at the end. A total of 19 components. We weren’t allowed to bring anything into the room with us except a bottle of water, so my spreadsheet had to be a mental one – I ticked off each chunk as we went through. Five chunks down, 14 to go! It was much easier to deal with that way. I calculated what percentage of the grading had been completed, percentage remaining; number of tasks cocked up versus tasks successfully executed. Etc etc etc!

I tell you what’s irritating: when you’re spewy with nerves and you can hear someone prattling, "I’m not nervous at all. I’m feeling quite relaxed and calm." Oh reeeeally now! In contrast, one of my mates was convinced she was going to screw up. My heart pinged because she’d worked so hard and there was no logical reason for her not to believe she’d kick arse. So I’d say after each panic, "You can do this dude! I’ve seen you do it a thousand times before."

Just saying those words out loud to someone else helped soothe my nerves. Throughout the four long hours of grading I’d mutter to myself, You have done this a thousand times before. You have done this a thousand times before. It pains me to admit that such cheesy self-talk bollocks was helpful.

Of course there were stuff-ups. The worst segment is like sight reading in piano exams – they yell out a random sequence of kicks or hand techniques and you’ve got to do them on the spot. ARRGH! It’s so hard to stay focused and not totally forget the instruction. I always seemed to be kicking with the wrong leg and doing the wrong punch at the wrong time. It was hard not to feel demoralised for mucking up but I kept up the chatter: That’s just one of 19, calm the hell doon!

I think Orange went the best – it was the hardest one, but by the time we got round to it we’d been going so long that the nerves had eased. For the first time ever I did the Orange set movement in a flowing fashion, without Rain Man-style mutterings!

The sparring turned out okay because I was mercifully grouped with my mates – we’d kicked each other plenty of times before so I didn’t feel scared. Finally I was calm enough to think about the moves and actually throw some, instead of waiting for the blows to rain down. About bloody time.

Finally the grading was over! OVER!

All twelve kickboxing dames gathered wearily before our Great Leader, where he informed us that we had all passed.

White belt!
Yellow belt!

And then our Leader actually shed a few wee tears, saying he was so proud of us and how much work we’d put in. Aww. It was a tender moment.

I didn’t blub, for once in my overly emotional life. I was too busy feeling euphoric and relieved and stunned. And wishing I hadn’t already eaten that bacon.

Judgement Day

Some people are born to perform and some people are just born. When I was 13 I entered the local eisteddfod, the annual music, dance and drama contest thingo. I was to play a song on the organ. I sat beside the Mothership, trying not to spew as I watched the adoring parents watching their virtuoso little shits.

Finally it was my turn. I walked out onto the stage, squinted in the spotlights, curtsied to the adjudicator, sat down at the keyboard, propped up my sheet music, splayed my fingers over the keys, then froze.

I don’t know how long I sat there baking under the spotlights; I can’t remember if I played a note. I just remember thinking, Nope. I stood up, scooped up the music and fled into the curtains.

I have a rich history of choking under pressure – public speaking, swimming races, own-goals and that time once again at the Eisteddfod where I had to recite a poem called Bullocky by Judith Wright and I strolled onto stage and said, "Bullocky… by Judith Wright " Then I froze and could not remember what came next. Bloody stinking Bullocky by Judith Wright. I still can’t remember what comes next.

But the kickboxing grading tomorrow is going to be a different story! I have been telling myself this all week. The mind is so good at only recalling the SHIT TIMES but I know I have successfully done stuff in the past – recited poems beyond their title, collected shiny ribbons, savoured the smugness of victory.

We had our last practice at Wednesday night’s class and I completely froze up during the sparring and almost burst into tears – but let’s be positive! Let’s say I was just getting all the crapness out of my system in advance, so I’ll be entirely competent tomorrow.

Thanks to all you lovely martial artistes who wrote this week. You’re so right in that this is a mental challenge more than anything. I’m going to try to block out everything else in the room, concentrate like mad, listen properly to the instructions instead of my churning guts.

This time tomorrow night I’ll be on the couch watching the Indianapolis MotoGP and eating bacon and pass or fail, it will be DONE. Cannae wait.

The Oldest Trick in the Book

TwitDear Makers of Twix,

I consider myself to be a smart consumer and not one to be sucked into your marketing japes but today you got me good.

It was 11AM and I was twitching with the need for chocolate. I went downstairs to the vending machine in search of a small hit.

The Twix was singing to me –  one because it’s on my Totally Worth It list and two because the number on the label caught my eye – 142 calories. BARGAIN!

"Dudes! Did you know a Twix only has 142 calories?" I announced to my colleagues moments later through a spray of biscuity crumbs. "Rather economical for two fingers of chococaramel joy! Who woulda thought?"

NB: We’re not saddo office cliches who sit around obsessing about diets and thighs and whatnot, but at least seventeen times a week you will hear the phrase, You know, I am totally gagging for a chocolate. So the news of the reasonable-caloried Twix was well received!

Later on I was filling in my online food journal thingo and looked up Twix and it said 284 calories. What the hell? Then I realised it was 142 calories per 28 grams… that is, 142 calories PER BLOODY FINGER.

I can’t believe I fell for the oldest trick in the food packaging book: the Per Serve Nutritional Information. I’m known as the grizzled diet veteran with the nerdy blog but now I’ve made a dick of myself crowing to the comrades, EAT UP KIDS! Get your chocolate hit here!

I bet you have hidden cameras installed in the venue machine and you watch us from your sugar-scented headquarters, lipreading our delight, Wow only 142 calories! Then you pump your corporate fists and cackle as another sucker shoves in their 50p.

It’s not that I give a rats how many calories are in your Twix; it was a tasty diversion. I’m boycotting your product purely because you reeled me in with your shiny wrapper and made me feel compelled to prattle on about it like a tit.

The boycott is going to last at least two days. So there!

Dimwit of Dunfermline

Them’s Fightin’ Tunes

Fightnight She wore baby pink gloves, baby pink shoes and a baby pink helmet. She was all of six years old and truly fearsome.

Recently all the kickboxing girls and assorted partners piled into a minibus and headed west for Fight Night. We were there to cheer along two of the girls and our Leader in their respective bouts.

It was a busy card – they started with the tiny wee kids and went all the way up through the spotty teens to the fearsome grown-ups. Our team did brilliantly, but I must admit The Girl In Pink was my true hero. You would not want to try and steal her lunch in the playground. She came out with a face of pure steel, tiny gloves whirling like a windmill. Her opponent was a little boy and she truly kicked his butt.

I think I expected Fight Night to be all dark and skanky but it turned out to be thrills galore with a cosy family atmosphere. And far more civilised than my wee brother’s soccer games used to be. The parents were more encouraging than baying for blood. And the kids were so focused and respectful of their peers and their sport.

My favourite part of the night was the Theme Tunes. Everyone from the six-year-old whippersnappers to the creaky old guys got to have their Las Vegas spotlight moment – shadowboxing while the microphone dude gave a rousing intro, then strutting out through the whooping crowd as their chosen song boomed.

How bloody cool to be introduced WITH SONG. Just the ticket to get you pumped for a big occasion. I wish this could be adopted for everyday confidence boosting – I’d breeze through important meetings or dentist appointments if my entrance was preceded by a thumping tune. Kind of like Ally McBeal but less annoying.

All I’ve got to do is choose. I’ve been through all the Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath albums, lots of 70s funk plus assorted metal, but I just can’t quite seem to nail it. Right now the main contender is Girl’s Got Rhythm by AC/DC. Imagine if you will…

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiin the red corner… with the red hair and the red face… the lack of Wonder from Down Under… Shhhiiiooorrrnaaaareeeiiiiddd…

I am spewingly jealous of Gareth’s chosen song. It is perfection – swelling opening bars to build anticipation, mega chords for his moment of introduction, followed by the ultimate strutting rhythm. Just picture the swirling spotlights and baritone:

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiin the blue corner… with the blue eyes and the baldy heid… it’s the Doctor of Destruction… the PhD of Pain… Gaaaareethhhreeeiidddd.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller is Gareth’s all-purpose theme tune. He regrets not walking down the aisle to it. He wants to have it for his funeral, with the pallbearers dressed in wolf costumes and doing all the hand actions.

What would your fighting tune be?

Making the Grade

Kramerkarate Next Sunday is Grading Day at kickboxing! I’ll be performing tricks in an attempt to obtain coloured belts. Hiii-yah!

It’s basically like piano exams with violence – there’s the same angst and nerves and endless practice. I’ve done nothing but kick and punch and panic for the past two months. Okay, there was that one night last week where I just sat on my arse watching eight consecutive episodes of The Cook And The Chef and weeping for my homeland, but apart from that it’s all kickboxing.

Amazingly I didn’t sign up for grading because my friends were; I genuinely wanted to do it. I know I said I was taking a break from Big Goals after the Moonwalk, but I couldn’t resist this one.

It’s the first time they’ve done grading down at our fighting establishment so we’re able to do some fast tracking – that is, attempt multiple grades on the same day, instead of one at a time with many months in between. Initially I was just going to do White and Yellow but our Great Leader said I should try Orange too. I said okay, but admittedly that was because my friends were.

It’s been an intense couple of months. Holy learning curve, Batman. New kicks and punches, attack and defence combinations, competition techniques and set movements. Sure, the seven-year-old munchkins in the Kids class are doing the same belts as me but I’m old! I don’t absorb information as easily. Many times my comrades have nailed the moves after the first instruction while I stand there gawking at the syllabus whining, "I don’t even know what that means!"

But the training been a great kick up the pants, reminding me I do have some capacity for focus, patience and dedication. I made flash cards. I typed out the moves and stuck them on my cubicle wall. I have a copy in my handbag. I do mental run-throughs during meetings. I kick Gareth a lot. I even gave up my beloved MotoGP to practice for hours on Sunday. Gasp.

With nine days to go I’m not quite yet feeling competent, yet alone confident. I’m fairly okay with White and Yellow but Orange features the dreaded sparring. We’re told the purpose is not to win, but to demonstrate your techniques.  So far I’ve only mastered the technique of covering head with hands while begging for mercy.

The thing I’m really crapping my pants about are the set movements – this is where you do a whole bunch of moves in a sequence. The moves themselves are learn-able, but on Grading Day we have to do them individually, with the rest of the class watching!

I hate people watch me do stuff. I could never be into dogging, for example. That’s just too much pressure to perform.

We went through set movements at the end of my very first Advanced class. Then our Great Leader said, "Okay now we’re going to do it one at a time. Volunteers?"

I hid in the corner, fighting nausea as my mind played a montage called ‘Botched Music Recitals Of Your Childhood’. I did not want those Fighter Dames in the fancy blue pants watching me wobble through my moves. I prayed I’d be spared since it was my first class, but no.

Needless to say I completely arsed it up and wanted to diieeee.

"I heard you had to do your sets in front of the class," one of the gym lassies said to me a few days later. "Good on you! I could never do that."


"I heard you were totally nervous and white as a ghost and shaking all the way through!"

"Oh really now! Yes. Well. Somebody’s got to be the class clown, so it might as well be me!"

I was going to write about this much earlier, as I normally do with sporty ventures. But I’ve been so convinced I’m doomed to fail that I thought I’d keep it quiet, so you’d never have to know!

However I know that getting angsty thoughts out of the head and onto paper helps me calm down and start getting practical. So here I am with just nine days to go. Nine days to get my Left and Right sorted. Nine days to learn how to tune out the crowds and the voice in my head that whispers, you’re going to arse this up!

Deep breath… deep breath… ahhhh.

Why don’t you love yours?

Alison Channel 4 has a new series called The Sculpture Diaries, in which art critic Waldemar Januszczak is determined to convince us that sculpture is the bee’s knees of art forms. The first episode looked at the female form. He spoke with Alison Lapper, a British artist who was born without arms and shortened legs, the result of a medical condition called phocomelia. A statue of Alison, Alison Lapper Pregnant by Mark Quinn, occupied the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square during 2005-2007.

This is my clumsy attempt to transcribe a part of Alison’s interview that I really loved:

"… So many people, not just women, [say] ‘How can you love your body?’ I’m like, Well, why don’t you love yours?

I found that very sad, that there are so many people out there, because of the media and all the rubbish that gets thrown at us, [thinking] that we should all be like stick insects with lollipop heads. No thank you."