Monday, 20 July 2015

I'm sorry but you appear to have a vagina.

Throughout my childhood, I wasn't even aware that were gender stereotypes or things girls can't apparently do. On a Saturday morning, my sister would go to gymnastics and I would go to football practice. Although that could've simply been because I really did suck at gymnastics and given my dad was a coach, it was probably highly embarrassing for him to have me anywhere near the gymnasium. Apparently I've never been one for grace and control.

When I was growing up, I was never once told 'you can't do that because you're a girl.' Apart from maybe when I wanted to learn how to pee standing up. But now with the invention of shewees, I've even mastered that art (although I doubt my friends who had to witness the 'mastering' would agree). Equally, as far as I know, my younger brother was never told 'you can't do that because you're a boy'. He wasn't even told this when we were playing fancy dress and he would claim first dibs on the best dresses. If I'm  honest, he really did rock a frock better than my sisters and I did anyway.

Throughout more recent years, I have been fortunate enough to make great friends that do not conform to gender norms either. My best friend went to Scouts instead of Guides when she was growing up and now she is a boss bitch in the world of science (which is good because I'm planning to live in her garage conversion when she finally qualifies as a surgeon). My male friends would never exclude me from an activity because I'm girl, but that might mainly be because I often don't give them much choice. Nor would they ever censor their conversations because they are around a girl. But if they are censoring their conversations, they should all definitely be in jail.

This summer, I'm working and travelling in America and I've often read that you're more likely to learn if you travel on your own. They were right. I've learnt that I was extremely lucky to have a childhood where gender norms were irrelevant. I'm fortunate in that it's taken me 23 years to truly experience for myself how different things can be when people realise you do in fact have a vagina.

For the first time in my life, I've been questioned about my abilities to do a job because I'm female. Having to persuade someone that my lady arms can carry things is probably the most ridiculous thing I've done recently (and I ended my 4th of July celebrations by walking into a lake on my own and trying to part the water like Moses). I've also been excluded from adventures and conversations because I'm female.  When discussing this recently with a friend she replied with, "I love proving boys wrong." This friend spent a few months last year killing poisonous fish in Yellowstone National Park. Yes, she is a total badass and it's insane that there is a need for her to prove any guy wrong due to gender stereotypes.

Oscar Wilde suggested that women have more fun because there are more things in this world forbidden to them. Even though I probably love to have too much fun, I'd much rather have true equality and acceptance for my vagina and puny lady arms.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Short shorts and a flimsy bikini.

Sometimes it pays off to ignore the fact that there's a high chance you're probably gatecrashing a 'lad's day out' and just get in the back of their car. If I hadn't, I'd have just spent the day on my own in the shade (I'm probably paler than some corpses). Instead, I got to spend the day playing at the beach (yes, I'm aware that I'm probably too old to use the verb 'play').

I managed to resist the urge to suggest typical car games throughout the entire car journey because I now finally understand that not everyone shares my love for organised fun. Once we finally made it to the beach, we headed straight for a dip in the sea. Almost immediately, my friend traumatised most of the children there due to a strong wave and very short shorts. Sometimes, in order to benefit the general public, it's important to accept that you have actually grown since you were fourteen years old and buy bigger swimming shorts. 

After mocking my friend, I followed pretty swiftly with some indecent exposure of my own. It turns out that bikinis aren't really designed for waves and karma really is a bitch. It's also not that easy to readjust a bikini whilst  you're being hit by more waves. Ultimately, I spent a lot of my time in the sea looking like a beached whale trying to recover from a very unappealing strip tease. Maybe next time I should just avoid this problem and bring back swimming costumes from the 1920's. 

Once we had swallowed enough salt water and filled up on questionable Mexican food, we decided to play a round of crazy golf. Although I'm not sure if it counts as crazy golf if the crazy simply comes from having to walk through a plastic cave mid-round. In fact, the craziest part was probably when I bent down to pick up my golf ball and half the Atlantic Ocean ran out of my nose. Apparently my brain cannot store my own telephone number but it can store a vast amount of sea water. Even my own body is out to mug me off.

After heading back to the Sea and continuing to traumatise the other tourists with our various indecent exposures, we decided to head home. There's only so long you can spend pulling up your bikini before you become at risk of being arrested. I might be a fan of Orange is the New Black, but I don't think prison life is quite for me.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

How to make friends and embarrass them instantly

I'm not known for giving out reliable life advice but I think it's safe to say that when you've just met a group of people that you'll be spending the whole summer with, you should probably not start your night at a bar that serves 99 cent sangria (especially when the cheap sangria actually contains alcohol). Even though it sounds like a gem of a bar, it's probably more of a social error when you're with people who aren't yet aware of how much of a liability you can be. After less than a mere 5 dollars, we were all lured to an Irish bar with the promise of karaoke. Again, this probably isn't an activity to do with people you've just met. Sometimes sharing really is too caring, especially when your voice makes sitting next to a screaming baby on a plane seem like a good experience.

After little persuasion, I agreed to sing Sean Paul and Blu Cantrell's Breathe because I'm convinced that my previous years on sing-star have enabled me to perfectly impersonate the Jamaican rapper. To my disappointment, it was only the lyrics for Blu Cantrell that were displayed. This meant that I spent the entire song repeating the word breathe in an awful Jamaican accent whilst my friend (who actually sings in a gospel choir) took over. Even though I was only singing one word, the man managing the microphones still deemed it necessary to turn my microphone down.

The man's efforts to silence me did not stop me from trying to launch a depressing solo career with a horrendous version of Stacy's Mom. I knew I would have to make up for my lack of singing talent with a strong stage presence. Luckily, my gospel singing friend is a good sport and held my sunglasses so I didn't have to worry about holding back. Although I probably should have held back on the head-banging given all I achieved was a lot of judgemental looks and very big hair. The only person that seemed slightly impressed by my performance was Steve the local pirate.

After exhausting my collection of questionable dance moves, I agreed to go home. I was pretty surprised to walk out of the bar and find that my bicycle was missing. Turns out that whilst I had been flaunting what my mother gave me, someone had decided to take my bicycle out for a joy ride. Luckily, the joy rider had left their iPhone 6 behind so I had a way of bargaining the return of my bicycle. Apparently people in Maryland either suck at committing a crime or just have a really generous guilty conscience. Either way, my bike was eventually returned to me.

Before I knew it, I was at the front desk of my living quarters in my pyjamas asking for directions to the snacks. Despite it not being a great night for first impressions or my waistline, I can't wait to go back and reinvent my solo career.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

I think the big apple at night does the exact opposite. Unless your body can handle copious amounts of dairy, vodka and questionable toilet seats.

It was Friday Night and luckily, the hostel arranged nights out so I didn't have to roam New York like a complete lone wolf. The night began quite normally, if normal is watching a comedy show in the back of a Gothic beauty salon. Seriously, Marilyn Manson would've looked conservative there. Surprisingly, the comedians were actually hilarious. Although I'm pretty sure one guy thought he was hosting his own pity party. This meant that during his set, I spent a lot of time awkwardly looking for my care cup which hasn't been full since I missed out on playing the role of Hermionie back in 2001.

Once I had cry-laughed most of my mascara off, we headed to Artichoke Pizza. Normally, I'm a firm believer in 'eating is cheating', but who can really say no to pizza? For a girl who spends a lot of time saying that she can't eat dairy, I spend a lot of time eating dairy. On this occasion, I was so glad I'd cheated because the pizza slice really was incredible. The cheese was so perfectly melted, I literally had to face-plant the slice to eat it. Yes, it was definitely worth having a face made out of cheese for the rest of the night (not that my face requires help in order for it to look like the moon).

When our stomachs were seriously lined, we moved onto Coyote Ugly. It has always been a dream of mine to dance on that bar and shout 'Hell No! H2O!' whenever anyone dares to ask for water. Don't worry, I'm well aware that I don't exactly 'dream big'. In reality, dancing on that bar did not seem as hot as the movie made it seem so I kept my feet firmly on the ground. This may surprise those who have heard about the 'bar in Tenerife' incident of 2009, where I definitely made the most out of getting on a bar. I guess sometimes you really do learn from past mistakes (no one should have to ask a stranger for their top back).

What I thought would be the last port of call was a bar called One and One. If this bar is anything to go by, New York is still stuck in the 2000's and I loved it. Seriously, who doesn't love singing along to Sean Paul and Blu Cantrell? Sometimes you really do have to let it just breathe. There was also plenty of opportunity to introduce everyone to my dad dancing (I'm pretty sure I'll be starring in the next Step Up movie).

Back in England, I would consider this a successful night and make my way home with some cheesy chips. But this is New York and the night wasn't over yet.

Someone made the suggestion that we should head to Brooklyn Bridge and watch the sunrise. It was a brilliant suggestion and honestly, something I will never forget. There is something hauntingly beautiful about drunkenly watching the sunrise over New York with a group of people you've only known for a few hours. Although I probably could've done without the keen morning runners passing us by. Who needs reminding that they're probably not winning at life at 6am?

Eventually, we headed back to the hostel. Thankfully, no one abandoned me when I fell asleep on the subway. My dad had already warned me that I'm an easy target to mug and I think that I'd have probably been an even easier target if I was alone and asleep.

To my surprise, that wasn't even the end of the night. It turns out that in America, if you make drunken promises to a guy you've just met - they will take you up on that offer. It also turns out that in America, hostel maids will let anyone in to your room. This leads to one very awkward wake-up call from the guy you made out with and several judgmental looks from your roommates.

A few hours and a thorough shower later, I'm back on the subway. Despite being sleep deprived, sun-burnt and lost, I knew I'd fallen in love. New York; I love you and your useless subway map.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

How many years does it take to gain a qualification you'll probably never use?

Three. Three of the best and worst years of my life so far. 

Nearly ten years ago, I told my most ridiculous friend that I didn’t want to go to University. For some reason she found this outrageous. In an effort to try and change my mind, my friend dedicated an entire lunch break trying to raise money to get me to go. Unfortunately; she only managed to raise 2p. I’m also pretty sure that 2p was actually her own money that she’d put in to try and encourage others to contribute. Fundraising clearly isn’t her specialty.

Regardless, I didn’t want her efforts to go to waste. I finally finished University last week. 

 To the disappointment of my parents, I still have no career prospects. Despite this, I did learn a lot from my time at Uni. Although not much of it seems to be that relevant now I’ve left.

I unfortunately learnt that your lectures can hear more than you think. They will definitely hear that inappropriate joke you make. They will also most definitely hear you telling your friend about why you woke up with such a sense of shame and regret. At least this has given me another good justification as to why my grades took a sudden dip (sorry Dad).

If you are going to partake in a dance off, the funky chicken should probably not be your go to move. This is especially important if you are wearing heels and the floor is covered in unwanted apple sourz. You will fall flat on your face and everybody will see. Some people might like getting shout-outs form a DJ but it doesn’t sound as good when they’re shouting out to ‘face plant girl’. In fact, dancing in general can be quite dangerous. This is especially true if you’re prone to getting white girl drunk and slut dropping, which my friend found out the hard way. Apparently, excessive slut dropping can result in a ripped vagina. You have been warned.

I learnt how to play basketball badly. Seriously, if you’re going to join a sports team I recommend that you learn the rules. If you learn the rules, you’ll probably spend a lot less time running up and down the court causing havoc for your own team.

By joining a social, I found out that sharpies can make or break a fancy dress outfit. Although using a sharpie on your skin is definitely not a good idea. No one looks good when they show up to work and they’re still showing off an ‘I heart Mom’ tattoo.

As harsh at it is to accept, you will get fat at some point. This might be because you're a committed cider rider who spends hangover days soothing yourself with all of the beige foods. It could be because food is your only joy when you’re crying in the library. It could simply be because you have realised that the easiest way of saving money without starving is by stocking up on frozen chips and chicken dippers. Whatever the reason, there will come a time when you do not fit into your favourite outfit anymore. Do not panic. It happens to everyone. 

I discovered that sometimes it’s okay not to rise to a challenge. Being challenged to swim in a fountain is a perfect example of when it’s okay to say no. Trust me; you will not achieve anything from getting in that fountain. You’ll just be very wet and cold. No, you will not look like a James Bond girl. 

Being prepared for your housemates to see you at your very worst is important. They'll see you when you're crying because your favourite character of Grey's Anatomy has been killed off. They'll see you when you've forgotten to do your washing and have to resort to wearing your Gryffindor pyjamas and your punderful 'Czech me out' hoodie. They'll know when you've eaten tea and still order a takeaway. They'll definitely see you naked. Embrace it.

I quickly realised that justifying your lack of personal maintenance is not made acceptable by advertising it as jungle which serves as a replacement for going travelling. Apparently, when people say they want to ‘lose themselves’ they do not mean in your hair. Who knew?

It may sound surprising but no one will want to buy your old bras on ebay. At Uni it is very easy to spend money, especially when you decide to take a month out one summer to go adventuring round Europe. Whatever you do, do not take out a second student overdraft. This will only make matters worse when you’re faced with the harsh reality that none of your belongings are actually worth selling.

On a more serious note, I learnt that it's important to make genuinely committed friends. The kinds of friends that will start a hashtag when they can't find you at the end of a night and that will tell you you're still pretty when you wake up sporting half a moustache. It takes true commitment to lie like that. 

Unfortunately, University is over and I think that means it's time for me to throw out the cider stained fancy dress and become an adult. Wish me luck.  

Monday, 4 May 2015

Want to go for a run?

No. My answer is always no. I do like running (occasionally and for a very short distance). I do not like running with other people as I can be quite mean when I'm stopped from taking shortcuts. So I have no idea how my dad managed to rope me into completing a Tough Mudder, a 12 mile obstacle run, again.

For the first Tough Mudder, I actually trained for it. What I really mean by 'trained' is that I spent a lot of time crying as my friend shouted at me to squat. To my surprise, I ended up having a really fun time completing the run and I think that's why I ridiculously agreed to complete another one. I'd obviously gotten cocky and had convinced myself that I would continue to train, even though my friend would no longer be around to ensure I didn't just stay in bed watching Netflix and eating snacks.

Obviously, I did not continue to train without being forced to. However, I did do a last minute lunge on Friday night which clearly made up for everything. Luckily, my sister was also running this one and she hadn't been for a run since primary school.

Saturday morning came way too quickly. Before I knew it, my family and I were at the start line. For some reason, I was convinced that I had suddenly inherited Spider-Man's gifts and could just fling myself over the first obstacle. I definitely couldn't. In fact, I just ended up lying against a wall like a beached whale waiting for the rest of my family to give me a leg up. It wasn't the strongest start and it didn't really get much better. 

A few miles in, I was ready to feign a serious injury. The course was basically a mountain and I don't even like running up the stairs. After a mini breakdown, I pulled myself together and carried on. Although the eggs I had eaten for breakfast definitely weren't helping anything. 

Eventually, the running was broken up by another obstacle; 'Arctic Enema'. The Arctic Enema is an ice bath you have to slide into, which was fine. It wasn't fine when I thought you had to squeeze through the very small tyres that were blocking your way out of the ice bath. Needless to say, I must have looked very ridiculous trying to force my very large head through them. It was also very embarrassing when a man had to shout at me to swim underneath the tyres.

My day got particularly awkward when we reached 'Hero Carry'. You only have to carry someone for a short distance but somehow I ended up being partnered with quite a slender stranger. Nothing makes you regret regularly eating half a pot of Nutella quite like a good looking man throwing you over his shoulder. Hopefully, he found me shouting 'sorry, but I eat a lot of snacks' quite endearing. 

Although the most awkward part was to come a few miles later. I had a good run going but apparently I was lacking control over all of my limbs. My arm was freely swinging back just as a guy was running towards me. Somehow, I ended up accidentally cupping his genitals. Yes, I know I was a bit early for 'grab a genital' day but apparently that doesn't stop me. Don't worry, I did apologise. 

After a few more miles and several more obstacles, the run was finally over.

Despite how ridiculous it was, I'll probably end up doing another Tough Mudder because I'm a sucker for a bright headband and a free t-shirt. Although I should definitely work on keeping my hands to myself.


Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sorry but I have no game.

Unless I've overindulged in Dutch courage and then I’m convinced that I'm actually BeyoncĂ©.

My lack of game became embarrassingly apparent when someone recently asked me to share an awkward date story.  I had to refer back to a time when I was nineteen and someone thought it was okay to lick my entire face. Seriously, I didn't even need to use make-up remover that night because his tongue had been sufficient. He also spoke in a French accent, even though he'd never been to France. The whole affair was very strange. 

That story is nearly five years old and it’s one of the last dates I went on. 

So I've recently undertaken research into how to get ‘game’. Although calling it research might be stretching it. What I really mean is that I harassed my friends (who have somehow managed to convince people to date them) for advice. Only to be told that ‘you just need to have game’ and ‘you just need to be sassier’.

This was obviously no help as I don’t understand what ‘game’ is. Plus, the only time I care enough to get sassy is when someone insults my Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions.

I decided to turn to my male friends for more constructive advice. This was definitely an error as they just saw it as a good opportunity to laugh at my previous poor decisions.

So what if I just rhymed at my crush when I unexpectedly bumped into him? Although later sending him the urban dictionary definition of a word I'd made up might have been a bit odd. No one needs to know that 'brilling' means fooling around with roadkill.

My friends did have one good point though; maybe it is time I stop sending Harry Potter chat-up lines as my opener.  Apparently, I’m the only one who finds ‘I might be from Gryffindor but you can Slytherin’ hilarious.

Ultimately, I didn't really learn anything.  Except for the fact that I need to get over my irrational fear of cats, as I’m definitely on the spinster train and there are no breaks.