Friday, April 19, 2013

Sucks to Suck

When your ex-boyfriend sees you in Tesco and runs out as fast as he can..... wearing flip-flops. #SucksToSuck

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Love thy neighbour

Flatmates are like your family in St. Andrews. They are the people you share your most important secrets with (and by share, I mean they are discovered and pried from you whether you like it or not—lets face it, they’re first-hand witnesses of when your ‘breakfast guests’ leave the house). They are your closest friends (hopefully), and your partners in crime.

By extension, your neighbours are like your family as well—of course, distant family. Like extended family, you may not see them every day, but it’s still important to keep in contact and on good terms with them. Aside from the fact that it’s always good to have a lot of friends, neighbours can actually be quite useful.

There is a unique bond that exists between neighbours that allows you to behave a certain way with them that you cannot with other people in St. Andrews. This unique relationship is symbiotic and mutually beneficial—you make exceptions and give them privileges you would not be willing to give to others, and they do the same in return.

Imagine: It’s raisin weekend (yes, that glorious time of the year). It’s 8pm (by this time, most people are either unconscious, having sex, or throwing up)—few remain standing, and willing to party. A good party is hard to find (by this time of day, most raisin parties have a lifespan of half an hour). But you have successfully managed yours to last (king of the castle). You know police are on the lookout, hoping to bust any overly rowdy raisin festivities (haha, like there is such a thing), and you are becoming weary of the random guests that are coming and going—you really don’t want to be shut down (or fined).

As you stumble around the lounge in your 12 hour drunken haze, you see your neighbour casually make his way through the hordes of your equally drunken mess (I mean guests). He is dressed in a bathrobe, loafers, giant reading classes, and has an unopened bottle of red in his pocket (lad). He’s usually quite a chummy guy, but on this occasion he looks a little bit lost (different from his usual lost). When you ask him how his raisin is going, he explains that all of his kids, and his friends’ kids, went home unconscious, so his friends are giving up and want to go out (well, as out as one can go in the town of 3 streets), since all the parties keep dying—but he’s not keen. He wants to find a good raisin party (and he knows he also wants his friends to join). Being the good neighbour, you know what you have to do. 15 more people? Why not. Wouldn’t he do the same for you? Yes.

In a way, the favour was indeed returned. It was 4:30 am after a very rowdy night out—the full shebang (house party, vic, union, lizard, union, sallies, after party, after party…). But now there’s nowhere to go. Alone with this older brother of a friend who’s in town visiting, everyone’s drunk, and you know where things are going (or where he thinks things are going). But you have way too much energy (bad call on the 8 messy bombs), yet you’re not quite drunk enough to get down and dirty just yet. Yes, this boy is leaving in a day which is ideal, but he’s your friend’s brother (you need more alcohol to help you rationalise).

You really want another after party (he wants a different kind of after party). As its apparent another after party will not be at this time of night, you concede to making your way back home. As you approach the house, lo and behold, you hear music and the sweet sound of drunken banter coming from the neighbour’s house. So what if it was almost 5am? Of course, he let you in. Half an hour or so of drinking later, (along with some shameless manipulation to get the random boys strip, followed by some dancing on table antics), you could now justify the events that were about so occur (especially the part that involved the kitchen table).

What is the moral of these seemingly irrelevant stories? Things get rowdy in St. Andrews? Yes, that is definitely true. In all seriousness, neighbours are there for the benefit of each other. They are there to back you up when your flatmates can’t be found. They are there to give you a cup of sugar when you need one (or just a shot of vodka).

Make a note to invite your neighbours on facebook to your parties—the favour will only be appreciated and returned (and its lets you off the hook for responsibility of the noise). Say hi to them on the streets. Make conversation with them while you wait in the library cafĂ© line. Like your flatmates, they are your allies—it’s a sacred bond. By extension, they are your partners in crime too.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Pope Cupcakes

This is a little insight into my weird self-- some strange hobbies and interests revealed (Baring in mind I study History and Art History, may help you understand some of my more bizarre fascinations).

'Pope Cupcakes'

Ultimately, my two greatest passions in life are art (specifically Baroque art) and food. 

For those who don't know much about Baroque art and wonder what exactly it is, just think of Bernini. Or better yet, take one step inside St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and you will be completely consumed by the Baroque. The Baroque is a style of art and architecture which emphasizes drama, grandeur, and emotional stimulation, and occurred around the year 1600 until about the mid 18th century. The height of the Baroque was seen in Rome-- whose architectural marvels (mostly churches, fountains and palaces) still stand, creating most of the Roman skyline we see today. The reason a lot of this art was found in Rome was because of the Church's love of this style (nothing says dress to impress like a little Baroque pizzazz). 

My fascination with the pope (as exhibited in my Pope Cupcakes) may now seem a little clearer. I love Church history because of its connection to this period of art. On top of that, Church history in the early modern period is quite scandalous (for anyone who has not watched the Borgias, I highly recommend you to do so), and a little bit raunchy (hello, check out Bernini's St. Teresa in ecstasy).

Now let me bring this all together and explain the Pope Cupcakes a little further.

A few weeks ago the new Pope was elected-- Pope Francis I. This came after the shocking abdication of Pope Benedict XVI (who I like to refer to as my bestie, Benny), who was the first pope to abdicate in over 600 years. I was a little over-excited by the commotion of these events (#historynerd), and decided to have a little conclave party with my flatmates. I custom ordered some 'Pope themed' cupcakes from Bibi's bakery, and having ensured the pontifical colours of red, white, and gold were maintained, along with including little papal mitres made out of sugar paste, I'd say they did a good job!

In conclusion, if I were to describe myself in hashtags, this would be them:

#historynerd #popesessed #foodie #artlover #crazy

Gym Etiquette

Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t watch, don’t stare.

The gym is a place where all kinds of people across the fitness spectrum come together for similar purposes—everyone is there to get fit. That is not to say that people don’t have a lot of other personal motivations and goals, which encourage them as well. Some people—like myself—go to the gym after a long day to distress and detox (aka leave me alone). Where as some other people go for the added bonus of the social scene. Some people (again, like myself) go to the gym as part of a regular, casual lifestyle routine. Others go there to train hard. Some people go to the gym and are embarrassed to be seen, others don’t care, and there are some who go (often scantily clad) for the purpose of showing off.

With all of these different purposes and personalities located in one small space (alongside copious amounts of sweat, pain, exhaustion, frustration, testosterone, and adrenaline), there has to exist a set of unwritten rules of etiquette to ensure that a balanced social ecosystem is upheld. Often, this set of rules goes un-noticed in our conscious psyche, as these rules derive from simple social norms and queues anyway.  It is usually only when we are confronted with an awkward situation that these rules become much more apparent.

Lately I’ve had a few awkward and cringe worthy moments at the gym, and I feel like some people could use a refresher on the rules of basic gym etiquette.

Here are my top 10 basic rules:

1. DON’T STARE.  If you phase out and accidently catch yourself staring at someone, that’s fine—just look away and make sure you don’t look back at them. What is NOT okay, is blatantly staring at someone out of intrigue or fascination. (We all know how hot those rowers look on the ergo. Believe me, they know it too. And they also know you’re staring at them—they really don’t need any more of an ego boost).

2. Don’t go headphone-less. You just look suspicious. Everyone gets uncomfortable.

3. Don’t hit on someone by saying you’ve been watching him or her workout.  I’ve had this happen to me several times already—it gets creepier each time. While its flattering to know someone still finds you attractive when you’re red and sweaty, it’s a little unsettling to be told that you were being watched for the past hour while you were cycling away on the spin bike.

4. The less you say, the better. The gym is the place where most people want to mind their own business. Unless you have something really relevant or interesting to say, don’t attempt to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. No matter how nice you are, in most cases, you’ll come across as strange.

5. Don’t talk on the phone. We all hate those people. 30 minutes into a run, with all that adrenaline pumping, we are trying our best not to either scream at you, or grab your blackberry out of your hands and smash it on the ground.

6. Take BOTH headphones out when you’re talking to your friend beside you. If you don’t take both out, you won’t be able to properly judge how loud you are speaking. NONE OF US care or want to hear your conversation.

7. Cover up. If you’re really fit, everyone just thinks you’re showing off and you annoy us. If you’re not fit, well then it’s just unnecessary.

8. Clean your machine after use. It’s just gross.

9. Sharing is caring

10. Body Spray/perfume/cologne was invented for a reason. Of course everyone gets really sweaty at the gym. But in such a small space, a little spray of something to make you smell better would be much appreciated by everyone.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Vitamin 'E'

Sometimes the weather in Scotland reminds me of what I imagine the prelude to the apocalypse would look like.

To describe the weather right now in St. Andrews as ‘temperamental’ would be a massive understatement—within the span of an hour one can see sunny skies, rain, hail, snow, sunshine again, rain again, and of course heavy Scottish winds all around. It’s really quite frustrating. To make matters worse, the snow and hail ingredients found in our delicious cocktail of terrible weather should absolutely not be happening at this time of year—it’s almost the end of March for Christ’s sake!

For the rest of the world, Easter is springtime. I think Scotland is a bit confused about this point.

It’s funny, because spring is really the only season in Scotland that is actually unbearable or unpredictable. Winter in Scotland is mild and not too horrible, and summertime is usually quite beautiful. Spring just seems to be a time of extreme confusion for Scotland (it’s like the awkward pre-teen transition years where you’re kind of caught in the middle— that time when your mom takes you shopping for your first bra, and you throw a tantrum in the department store because the idea of being restrained by padding and metal wires for the rest of your life is strange and unsettling).

This ‘awkward’ phase in Scottish weather comes across as extremely bipolar and, quite frankly, annoying as all shit! All I want is to able to able to go for at least a 10 minute run on the beach without every second feeling like an extreme battle of wills, resembling a scene from the shores of Normandy on D-Day, with every ounce of my physical and mental strength being tested while I’m under fire. Is that really too much to ask? (As I ask this question, it has began to hail-- again. So I think the answer to that is a firm NO.)

SAD (Scottish affective disorder, not to be confused with seasonal affective disorder), in extreme cases, can be treated with medication. Given that our kind of SAD also resembles a case of extreme bipolar disorder, medication is an absolute necessity. The only kind of medication available, however, is Vitamin E -- (that’s ‘E’ for escape). Literally, the only thing that can be done in these situations is to vacate St. Andrew’s as soon as possible. Even venturing just a few hours southwards into England will improve conditions of SAD drastically.

Luckily, March break occurs during the time when SAD hits the worst—making Vitamin E much more accessible. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been trapped in Scotland for half of the March break, as I’ve had to stay in St. Andrews to do research (thank you very much history department for assigning me 3 essays due in the first week back after break). I now consider my case of SAD quite acute, as exposure to Vitamin E has been withheld. As it is well known, when one only has a limited time frame in which a dosage of medication can be taken, one has to compensate by prescribing a heavier concentration (aka get very far away, to a very warm place). I have thus prescribed myself a specific kind of Vitamin E, called Vitamin E-CdA (that is, Vitamin Escape- Cote d’Azur). Yes that’s right, on Monday I will happily run away from this god-awful place, to a week of sunshine and pure unadulterated bliss on the beaches of the French Riviera.

THANK GOD for Vitamin E.