Early Show Update Update

This is getting a wee bit silly now… I've been postponed again. Should be Thursday morning now! Fingers crossed.

At the very least I have had a grand old time in this city. Today I soaked up the inauguration atmosphere in Times Square then guzzled orange juice and cold tablets in the hope of downgrading my nose from Rudolph Red by Thursday.

Now I just have to grovel to my boss again then go out and buy some more knickers!

Dinners with Bloggers

I did some quality blognobbing while in New York. Meeting bloggers always turns out to be the highlight of my travels. Aye, even better than the food!

When I started blogging in 2000 people would gasp in horror if you mentioned meeting Internet Folk. Axe murderers! Unwashed nerds! But now everyone spews their guts online so it's cool.

Gareth has come to enjoy tagging along, too. We rock up to our destination and he says with infinite patience, "Any appointments? What stranger are we dining with this evening?"

Seems Brooklyn is where the bloggers are at; we spent half our time over there. On our second night we met up with Pamela in Park Slope. We've been blog buddies for yonks and finally met at BlogHer last year, so I was dead chuffed to see her again.

We started off with a spot of neighbourhood window shopping. I fell in love with a robot sculpture in a hipster boutique – it had a ye olde box camera for a body and flash bulbs for eyes. But it was $600, dammit. We also rummaged through vintage clothing shops, in which I realised I'd need to drop at least another twenty pounds for vintage clothing to be really viable. Then I decided I couldn't be arsed and would just have to stick to H&M.

Soon we were joined by Michael, Pamela's dashing Scottish husband. Pamela had planned a fine evening of venue-hopping for us. First we went to a groovy bar for a drink. We seated Gareth and Michael together so they could yap in their wacko accents while Pamela and I gossiped about blogs and other important matters. Then we had some oysters! My very first and quite tasty.

Then we made a detour to Chez Pamela to say hello to her kidlets. I got to hold gorgeous baby Rory while three year old Calum impressed us with his toy crane-driving skills and jumping-off-coffee-table athleticism.

Next stop was dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The food was delicious and so were the margaritas. I forgot that tequila makes me completely rat-arsed, until I heard myself laughing in that horrible loud BWWAARRR HAARR HARRR table-slapping kind of way.

SundaeBy the time we moved down the street for pudding, the jetlag and alcohol combo had taken hold. My legs and brain felt wild and wobbly and I clung to Doctor G to stay upright. He didn't realise I was pished; he just thought I'd gone choc-o-mental because Pamela had brought us to The Chocolate Room – a chocolate boutique and dessert café. Hubba hubba. What a concept!

Michael had a selection of chocolates while Pamela, Gareth and I all went for the chocolate brownie sundae. Oh lordy, it was so good. A fudgy brownie with a slightly crusty exterior, delicious vanilla ice cream, deeply-chocolately-without-being-sugary fudge sauce, all topped with a plop of whipped cream. Oh. Yeahhh. I took a photo for you all, but in my excitment I blinded it with flash. There's a more accurate portrait on the Chocolate Room website.

This was washed down with a fine glass of port, #2 on the list of Drinks That Make Me The Most Spannered. Gareth had a seriously hardcore Black Chocolate Stout from his beloved Brooklyn Brewery. It made Guinness look like tap water – inky, thick and reeking of Marmite and cocoa.

It was a great ol' night. Pamela is such a good egg; so lovely to talk to. I quizzed her and Michael about how they met; a grand trans-Atlantic tale of romance, complete with marriage proposal on a rainy Scottish hilltop. Swoon!

Finally we said our goodbyes and Dr G and I jumped on the train and rambled all the way back to Manhattan. Weren't they nice, wasn't that cool, how about that chocklit, bless the internets, why can't we just do this all day long instead of WORK and all that?

Crikey it's time for bed, I'll wind it up for now. Hope your week is going well, comrades!

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.   

American Cycle

Gareth has decided that he prefers to remain an enigma, so I'm afraid it's back to verbose ol' me again!

My gut was sore from laughing at his entry; it took him all of twenty seconds to tap out yet he'd managed to distill seven years of public babbling and a lifetime of lard-related angst.

I'd been feeling self-conscious as it is lately, doing press for the book and sometimes being struck mute mid-interview thinking, What a ridiculous thing, to spend so much time going on about the size of ones arse.

But I'll keep on anyway, because I've been meaning to tell you about what was quite possibly The Greatest Day of My Life. Woohoo!

(Warning: I'm really knackered therefore beware of rambling and excess exclamation!)

You may recall my road cycling debut of mid-October – tears and trembling and brown underpants. It was a crash course of sorts, because the following week we were off to New York and I'd booked us on a cycling tour.

At first it seemed like a crafty way of disposing of Gareth for a few hours so I could do some shopping, but then I decided I wanted in, too. Sure I have no peripheral vision and I cannae hand signal but I've done twenty minutes on a Scottish country road… LET THE MUPPET TAKE MANHATTAN!

We assembled at a bike shop near Union Square – me and Gareth, three chicks from Kansas and a Melbourne lad with wholesome soap star looks. The two tour guides helped us chose a bike. I'd hoped they'd all be pretty pink ones with baskets on the front, but it was a random tangle of scary Sporty Ones. Where was the BELL? How would I cry for help?! My beast had a terrifying 21" frame with a really high crossbar. I called it the Crotch Masher 2000.

There were two guides. They were former couriers, with that lean sculpted-calf appearance that, if a pathetic amateur, might leave you intimidated and tugging at your husband's sleeve, "If you ride off on me, I'll KILL YOU!"

We were told to keep in line behind the front guide and he'd make hand signals telling us when to go or stop or slow down. Nae bother. As we set off I kept my eyes glued to the guide in front and totally blocked out the fact I was in New York otherwise I would have vomited. I couldn't look anywhere but straight ahead and I couldn't change gears because they were twist grip gears and I never knew there was another kind of gear!?

But after five or ten minutes I calmed down. I looked up at a street sign and it said 5th Avenue and I thought Hee hee heeee I'm riding down 5th Avenue! Then a bus whooshed up beside me and I could feel my ribs rattle. The adrenaline kicked in and I spent the next five hours in a state of joy and delirium!

Some highlights:

  • Brush with death in the West Village! As we approached an intersection I caught sight of a pet shop with a windowful of tiny yapping dogs. "GARETH, LOOK AT THE DOGS!" I yelled and sailed on towards them, at the same time Gareth yelled, "SHAUNA, LOOK AT THE TRUCK!" Luckily the truck had good brakes and the information is now branded on my brain: Americans drive on the right.
  • Bruising my lady parts every time I dismounted gigantic bicycle to take another squinty Holding Camera At Arms Length Shot
  • Bruising lady parts due to inability to ride in anything other than a straight line therefore barreling through every pothole in the Meatpacking District
  • Powering along the Hudson River Greenway – sweet merciful taxi-less bus-less cycle path!
  • Riding across the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was setting and laughing in deranged manner, I can't belieeeeeve I'm on the Brooklyn Briiiiiidge on a biiiiike!
  • Dismounting on Bridge then looking back to see the skyline lit up and falling in love with New York for the 457th time that week
  • Zooming past the Supreme Court building and making the DUN DUN! noise from Law and Order
  • Weaving in and out of traffic in Chinatown, teeth chattering in terror, completely overwhelmed by all the crazy honking and colours and chickens but loving it!
  • Scoffing dumplings and sesame pancakes at a nice hole-in-the-wall type of place
  • Riding down a grotty little street that could have been anywhere in the world then looking up to see the Empire State glowing in the distance!

So this happened two months ago and only now can I talk about it without getting teary and/or giggling hysterically. I know people ride bikes in cities all the time; my Amazing Adventures may be your tedious commute. But I had never felt so deliriously happy in all my life…

(even during the last half hour of the tour, when the guide that was supposed to stay at the back of the group drifted forward, leaving me and the Old Lady of Kansas to swear and scream and dither when the lights went amber, as to whether to stop and get left behind or go forth and pedal to our deaths)

… I suppose on some cheesy level it was a bit of a Wow I used to be welded to the couch now look at me moment but more it was so deliciously surreal to see places that you've only known from the telly, while on a bicycle, when you used to ride over sheep poo in Australia. It just makes my mind explode sometimes, life and all its possibilities. Now I wish I could go back to every city I've ever visited and see it again from a two-wheeled perspective.

Bagel Belly

Here I am back on British soil. Damp, dark British soil! But it’s nice to be home. While we were away, the leaves were busy morphing into even toastier shades of gold. Those leaves still left on the trees, that is. Bare branches against a grey sky are always a beautiful sight, anyway.

So, I LOVE AMERICA. It always shows us a good time. The people are glorious. I want to go back nnnnow! I can’t decide if San Francisco or Chicago or New York is my favourite city so far. I think New York has the edge right now; I still feel so hyper and exhilarated and grinny. It’s like those dizzy days when you first fall in love and everything in the world suddenly seems more colorful and sexy. What a town!

But now I’m thinking of all those other unexplored states. In my alternative lottery-winning fantasy life, I have jacked in my job and I’m driving around America for months and months in an obnoxious tank of a vehicle until the immigration people kick me out. Look out people. Toot toot!

. . .

In days of yore, I always came back from holiday and filed a report en blog re: What I Ate Abroad, often footnoted with loathing and remorse. But these days it seems I can be let out of the country without gnawing everything in sight. In fact I was so overcome with excitement and delirium (or drink?) in the first two days in New York that – gasp – I lost my appetite. We had dinner with a friend on the second night at an Argentinian place and I barely nibbled a third of my main course. Then when the manager presented us with a free mega platter of spectacular desserts and I all I could muster were a few idle bites. There just seemed to be too much else going on to bother with food. All those sights and sounds and craziness!

But by day four the stomach was back! I made my way through my Things To Eat In NYC list. Things I’d read about in food blogs, mostly, like famous cupcakes and pizza and burgers. But I was very modest and had just one of each of those things, instead of multiple sortees. A much better way of doing things, methinks.

(TANGENT: Every time I ate my lunch in a New York park, I would casually fluff my hair and look around in the hope of seeing the Elastic Waist dears filming an episode of Are You Out To Lunch. That’s where they ask random punters to guess how many calories are in their lunches. It’s my favourite thing on EW, and not just because the Nutrition Data Center guy is foxy. ANYWAY, despite sending ESP messages and thinking very hard about the calorie content of my Shake Shack burger and making sure I didn’t get it all over my face, etcetera, I didn’t see Sarah and her microphone. Hehe.)

ANYWAY, methinks I’ve gained a bit of lard. It is so bloody annoying how small my threshold is. Despite being choosy and walking a bazillion miles a day, I was still eating far more than I would at home. And a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast at the hotel each day is far more stodgy than I’d normally have. But bloody delicious, mind you 🙂

After five days of bagel brekkies I could feel my UK size 14 jeans clinging unpleasantly to my thighs and belly. This was the same day I tried on a size 10 US petite dress and it was too big… so that ego trip didn’t last long, mwahaha. (And I really liked that bloody dress too. I thought if I crossed my fingers and stared hard at it, the power of my mighty thoughts would make a petite size miraculously grow long enough to cover my podgy knees… WRONG!)

So now I am back home and faced with the task of getting back to normal. And all I can say to that is (Homer Simpson voice) – BORRRRRRRING! There is nothing more tedious than that Home From Holidays thing, where you realise the fun is over and you have to plan the meals and order the groceries and wash your skanky clothes and resume your exercise routine. Life… it keeps rolling on!

My exercise routine has been pathetic for the past few months – sporadic heroism of bike rides and mountain climbs with very little everyday grunt sessions in between. So I am going back to how I did things earlier this year – before I descended into Manuscript Deadline Hermit Hysteria – and that’s the good old Weekly Exercise Plan. It starts on Monday evening with a return to kick boxing class. I booked in this afternoon. I am committed! Woohoo!

This weekend may involve some walking and weights but mostly socialising because I turned 30 yesterday! I grow old, I grow old. But thirty feels good, I tell you. At the start of this year I was still obsessed with the idea that I had to get a certain number on the scales before I turned 30 OR ELSE I would be the biggest loser in the universe. But writing that darn book made me look long and hard at my life helped me let go of that freaky dieting mentality for good. So I say let’s dive into them thirties with a delicious sense of sanity and joy and pride and healthiness for living in this ol’ body of mine.

This entry was brought to you by the letter J for JETLAG!

It’s A Wonderful Town

Hello lovelies, I’m in New York and it’s 12.46AM, also known as 5.46AM in the good ol’ UK and extreme delirium has set in. I’ve had far too much to drink tonight but just wanted to say HELLO! Thank you for your kind comments on the last entry; I really didn’t want to post something so blue but it’s always such a relief to be honest because once you turn these eelings into words they always feel so much easier to sort out. And a change of scenery has been bloody marvellous too!

ANYWAY, whoa. Too much delicious, rosy red wine tonight! I’ve been blogging about our day at WNP and hope to keep doing so during the trip instead of taking six months to write Wot I Did On Me Hols, dodgy wifi connection pending. Hope you are doing fine and dandy! 🙂

Across the Pond

Have you ever been to New York City? Fancy sharing your ideas or tips with two hapless foreigners? I know I could get on the Goog but asking real people what to do on your holidays always gets better results! There’s an entry over on my non-fat blog where any scraps of information will be gratefully received!

Tote-leh Oarsome

Marg_2 It only takes a few days in a foreign country to start picking up on their lingo. Thus after just a week in Chicago I manage to absorb the word "awesome". I thought Americans only said that on the telly but many folk I met used it frequently! So now I’ve been saying it, except my accent is rather screwed up these days so I say totally in a vaguely Scottish way ("tote-leh") and awesome in an alarmingly nasal Australian way ("Oar-some. Mate!").

Anyway, I’m not going to keep banging on about BlogHer because I’m sure it must be tedious to read, but I just wanted to preserve in writing about two more OARSOME people I met.

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