Blogmas?

It’s the first of December and the main word that I’ve been hearing for the past few days has been vlogmas/blogmas. It’s my first Christmas blogging and I have 2 big essays due in a few days so it doesn’t quite seem like the ideal time to be taking on something like this, however, once those essays are out of the way I actually have quite a few exciting things planned this month 🙂 So I’m going to make an effort to put at least a little Christmassy post up every day until Christmas eve!

So it’s the first of December and kind of aptly (I think) I had a dream about polar bears last night! So when I woke up today I decided to put on a documentary about polar bears which included a LOT of cute baby polar bears (if you haven’t seen one google them now they’re adorable).

I didn’t have much planned for today because of my deadlines but I did have an appointment at SK:N where I’m getting laser hair removal done. I’m currently having my underarms lasered. My main reason is because my skin doesn’t take to shaving very well, I get ingrown hairs and eczema in the area and also it pretty much just grows back by 2 days later. I’m so excited to not have underarm hair anymore! If anyone’s interested I can write a separate post on the whole process of laser hair removal.

Afterwards I headed to Tesco because I’ve had a real craving for cereal the past few days. I was pretty disappointed by the selection (no honey wheetabix minis and no clusters) so came away with tesco brand crunchy nut cornflakes. Anyway enough cereal talk.

In terms of Christmas shopping I’m actually quite prepared for this early on. I’ve already bought some of my mum’s presents, my grandma’s and my friends’ (luckily we do secret santa which makes it affordable). The only present I really have left to buy is one for my step-dad, a few bits and pieces to top off my secret santa and my mum’s presents. I’m not going to list the things I’ve bought here because someone might read it and figure out their present (hi ellie).

Another treat of today has been Taylor Swift finally releasing reputation on streaming services. I held out and didn’t buy the album because, well money, but I almost bought it yesterday morning before a train journey! Imagine if I’d done that only hours later for her to release it everywhere! I probably would’ve cried, but anyway all is well now and I’ve been listening to Delicate and Don’t Blame Me on repeat!

I don’t think I’ll have much time for festive reading this year because I have a few books I need to catch up on for my course (one of which is The Underground Railroad, definitely not festive). Also the books on my TBR shelf don’t really include any Christmassy ones 😦 but I am excited to see what everyone else in the blogging world will be reading over the holidays for future suggestions.

Well that’s been a bit of a mish mash of a post. I just thought it would be a nice way to kick off blogmas and later in the month my posts will probably get a bit better (when my essays are out of the way!)

Until next time,

J x

 

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I deleted my Instagram App

I feel like I should clarify that I haven’t deleted my actual account. I didn’t want to take that step in case I decide to return to Instagram, but I have deleted the app and haven’t seen an Instagram feed in about a fortnight.

I should probably explain why I made the decision to do this. I began to find that Instagram was just another stop on the rounds of scrolling through apps for whatever psychological reason it is that we do that (it’s certainly not fulfilling). I probably posted once every 3 months on average, and every time I did I would be glued to my phone waiting for ‘enough’ likes to come in so that I wasn’t as concerned about people judging me anymore. I remember when I was about 12 years old being allowed to create a Bebo account. Firstly I want to point out how much more creative and wacky Bebo was than any of the social media sites we have now, in many ways it allowed for a higher level of individualised self expression, but anyway… I think that was the first time I ever felt the panic of not having enough social media likes. On Bebo they were called hearts/ ‘luvs’ and you saw when you clicked on somebody’s profile how many hearts somebody had. I don’t remember how many I had at any given point but I remember clicking on some of the pages of the popular girls at school and seeing that they had hundreds. Actually, I remember at times this would put me into a panic and I think it was the same for almost everybody. People would practically beg each other for hearts and comment things like ‘luv 4 luv’ etc (late 2000’s text language was an abomination) on each other’s profiles to try and up their count.

Now, Bebo is long gone but it has been replaced with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The reason I decided to delete Instagram and not either of the other two is because, to me, Twitter and Facebook still have some inherent value that overrides the pressure and anxiety that comes with all social media. Facebook allows me to stay connected with the more obscure people in my life, to have a cheeky look at what people I went to school with are up to and Facebook Messenger is the main way I communicate with my friends on a daily basis. With twitter it’s slightly different, I don’t actually feel too much pressure to get a whole load of likes on my tweets. I also tend to find that there’s a genuine correlation between the content of tweets and how many likes they get. If the tweet’s shit it’ll probably get less than 5 likes regardless of how popular you were in school. The value of twitter to me is information. It’s a useful source of world news, pop culture trends and hashtags have become sort of a staple in the development of a lot of ideological movements.

Instagram, however, does not have any of these redeeming features for me. Personally, Instagram epitomises all of my anxieties with social media. One of my absolute least favourite things about it is that people are congratulated on physical attractiveness (whether it be false under a guise of makeup/filters/edits or genuine) as if it’s some kind of achievement. If somebody looks especially nice they “deserve” more likes. This is a mentality that many of us have without even realising, because when you actually think about it it’s completely MENTAL! Nobody EARNED the way they look. Angelina Jolie didn’t excel in some obstacle course before she was born that granted her the gift of good looks just in the same way that a baby with a deformity didn’t do anything bad to deserve it either. I’ve heard some of my friends say things like “if they look especially nice I’ll give it a like” and to be honest I’ve grown tired of the shallowness… I’ve also found Instagram to be a bit of a breeding ground for fakeness. We like other people’s content just to receive likes or portray ourselves in a positive light (kind of like the hearts on Bebo). The chances are people have only liked your picture in the hope that you will in turn like their next one. It’s not genuine and they probably didn’t spend more than three seconds looking at it, and what’s worse? You don’t care. You don’t care that it’s disingenuous as long as the numbers are there for everyone to see when they scroll past you looking for their own posts to fixate on. Really, what’s the point?

Lastly, but DEFINITELY not least, is the body image aspect of Instagram. The majority of pictures people post are edited at least in some way. You’re not looking at the face of your best friend sitting across the sofa from you each day, you’re looking at a construct. It’s easy to spot this with people you spend a lot of time with, but where it gets dangerous is when you begin to compare yourself to celebrities and acquaintances that you don’t see in person. You don’t have the reality to balance out the edited version and that’s when insecurities start to fester. I know girls that spend hours and hours a day just scrolling through images of toned girls in bikinis, this isn’t healthy.

I ended up finding that scrolling on Instagram was causing me more upset than any kind of rewarding sensation it was supposed to give me. I probably only spent about fifteen minutes a day (on average) on Instagram, but in those fifteen minutes I could go from feeling totally fine to feeling worse about myself, even if it was just a tiny amount. I’ve decided that, for now, it’s just not worth it for me. I’ve already had messages from anxious friends asking me to like their latest post and it’s only a reminder that social media can be a truly insidious way to make an enemy out of yourself and to commodify your friendships. Even though I’ve only deleted Instagram, it’s one less thing to worry about. One less thing to squander my time scrolling through.

 

Until next time,

J x

“There’s no-one like Krum”: Celebrity Culture in Harry Potter

I was lying in bed the other night, trying to lull myself to sleep by re-watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when I noticed something about Ron in that book/film. It’s only a sort of sub-plot of the story, and one I’ve always kind of glossed over in my mind, but it stood out to me more in my sleepy, hazy head-space for some reason. Ron is obsessed with Viktor Krum!

At the Quidditch World Cup Ron is ecstatic to see Krum play as seeker for the Bulgarian team and when Krum arrived at Hogwarts for the Tri-Wizard tournament Ron was dumbstruck. There are, naturally, celebrities in J.K Rowling’s immersive and fully formed wizarding world and Krum is probably the one we learn the most about.

Personally, I find Viktor Krum a particularly interesting character because he is an incredibly successful and famous athlete whilst still being a student at the Durmstrang Institute. If Harry holds the record for youngest Gryffindor seeker in a century, surely Krum must have a few of these unofficial titles to his name as well! Despite his celebrity status, Krum travelled to Hogwarts along with his peers in order to take part in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. This resulted in him spending a lot of time in the presence of normal wizards, including one of his biggest fans Ron Weasley.

Krum’s role in The Goblet of Fire is, largely, to be a plot device. He fuels Ron and Hermione’s ongoing romantic tension and ends up hexed in the maze in order to clear the path to the Tri-Wizard cup for Harry and Cedric. Putting his role in the actual tournament aside, Krum’s impact on both Ron and Hermione is an interesting one.

Perhaps unrealistically, Krum sets his sights on the quiet, pensive Hermione Granger (who has her head in a book 80% of the time) instead of on one the hoards of girls following him around everywhere. His quiet and understated demeanour means that Harry and Ron do not find out about his relationship with Hermione until the Yule Ball. Instantly Ron, who had previously adored Krum (and famously stated: “There’s no one like Krum! He’s like a bird the way he rides the wind! He’s more than an athlete! He’s an artist.”), now immediately despises him for bringing Hermione as his date to the ball and, in doing so, shattering both his assertion that Hermione is completely undesirable and desperate for a date and his own ego (because we all know he would’ve been more than happy to go with Hermione).

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This characterisation of Krum is clever in that it humanises a celebrity and reveals his desire to live a quieter and less glamorous life through his choice to pursue Hermione. He frequently displays his sincerity through acts such as rescuing Hermione from the Black Lake in the second challenge and asking her to write to him one he has left Hogwarts. Despite Ron’s newfound hatred of him, Krum endears himself to the reader/watcher.

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Ron’s reaction to Krum, however, adds depth to Rowling’s depiction of celebrity culture. It demonstrates that fans put their idols on pedestals. They expect them to be perfect at all times. Ron expects that because Krum is a brilliant seeker that he will be equally as brilliant in every aspect of his life. Quickly, however, when Krum does something that damages Ron’s pride he reverses his opinion and decides that Krum is now “the enemy” rather than an “artist”. In doing this Rowling suggests that when you hold somebody to such an unattainable standard you will always be let down when meeting them in reality. Ron’s experience, despite being entirely self inflicted, left him jaded and disappointed.

On a positive note this experience worked out pretty well for Hermione. She bagged a date with a celebrity and also pissed off Ron doing it, which I imagine is one of her favourite past times 🙂

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Hope you enjoyed this silly post!

Until next time,

J x

Life Update: Valencia, sunburn and Starting Third Year

So I’ve been absent recently and haven’t really written any blog posts. Sorry about that, I’ve just been super busy getting settled into another year of uni to be honest and I’m so tired all the time!

Anyway I thought I’d do another little life update because I’ve been up to quite a bit recently.

So, instead of going back to Glasgow for freshers week this year me and some of my friends decided that we’d go away for the week instead. We figured that if we go cheap we’ll probably only spend about as much as we would’ve spent in the clubs at home anyway. We decided on Valencia (because it was cheap) and headed out there on the 11th of this month. This is how blue the sky was.

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we stayed in an apartment with a private terrace with sun loungers on it. It was roasting all the time (over 30 degrees most days) so we spent a fair bit of time there!

On the first day we went looking for a restaurant to have dinner at, but we went at an awkward time and for that reason we could only find one place. I’m a big lover of prawns but in the UK they usually do all the dirty work for you so when a big plate of fully shelled prawns arrived I was a little intimidated. I had to rip the head off (at which point a load of brown goop fell out onto the plate) and then wipe the poo track out… to be honest by the time I’d done all that the idea of the prawn wasn’t so appetising anymore!

We went to a beach club one of the days as well and the sun was super hot and we just lay on sun loungers drinking cocktails and occasionally dipping in the pool to cool down (aka it was absolute bliss).

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This was a berry mojito, ,very nice.

We headed to Marina Beach on our last day and I was …very burned from the day before

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so I stayed in the shade but it was a beautiful day nonetheless and I enjoyed sitting reading my book and cracking open a few cans of shandy from our cheap cooling bag that ripped as soon as we lifted it up to leave the hotel 🙂

Most of the food we ate was amazing. Caprese salad was a favourite with the group and also the classic Patatas Bravas. I’m getting hungry now writing this (but when am I not hungry)!

Now I’m back in Glasgow my workload has increased a lot. I have novels to read and essays to write and a 2 hour lecture at 9am on a Monday morning… who’s idea was that?

Anyway I’ll hopefully get past to posting about weekly now, I won’t be able to do two posts a week anymore as I’m back at uni and in third year so it all counts now!

Until next time,

J x

Life Update: Moving and University

Tomorrow I am moving. A few months ago in a previous life update I mentioned that I had a new flat. So far I’ve lived somewhere different for every year of uni (I’m going into third year now) and I’m hoping that this flat will be the one I stay in from now on!

Key differences between new flat and old flat include:

  • New flat is not infested with mice.
  • New flat has a living room.
  • New flat has a properly fitted kitchen with a window.
  • New flat is just for Ellie and I so we can do whatever we want.

I am SO glad that when I get off the train tomorrow and get in a taxi home it won’t be to my old flat. It was a second story tenement that had been lazily looked after and was rented out at a ridiculous price to students who knew no better (me). Living there was a total misery. I woke up in my room, studied in my room, ate my meals in my room and socialised in my room (or Ellie’s). There was no communal area to spend time in. We weren’t even allowed to keep a table in the hallway so our dining room was literally in Ellie’s room which was disgusting.

It’s a miracle that I passed the year and made it into honours to be honest. I didn’t study and I didn’t go to classes. In fact it got so extreme once that I read two novels in a day right before an exam once. Somehow I got my first A at university in my honours subject English Literature, but I also got a G in another subject so you know… that wasn’t so great haha.

Over the summer I’ve had plenty of time to think about how I want to go forward in my third year. I’ve overhauled my diet (which was genuinely shocking last year) and exercise routing and I’ve decided that I want my whole lifestyle to be different. It probably sounds like a cliche, I mean I say “i’m going to work harder this time” at the start of every term but deep down I do always know I don’t mean it. This time, I really do and I’m taking steps towards it already. I’ve got started reading books for my Victorian Literature course and I really believe that living in a new flat that is actually fit for human habitation will allow me to lead a more stable life with a routine.

The days of being so hungover I spend most of the day in front of the toilet at least twice a week and buying a bottle of wine (to sit and drink by myself) on my way home from the one class of the week I actually attended are over. They need to be. Spending like a third of my life hungover is maybe the biggest reason I never got any work done and also it just feels HORRIBLE. Anyone who’s ever been a big drinker will probably have come to a point in their life where they’ve either had some kind of intervention or done it for themselves.

Anyway, enough of that alcohol talk. Tomorrow I am getting on a train, probably not very gracefully because I will be struggling with a lot of luggage, and heading back down to Glasgow for round 3. Also my brother is coming with my to come to an open day, so I won’t be completely by myself when I arrive at the flat. That’ll be nice because coming from a house of 4 people and 2 cats to an empty flat can be daunting! I’m always the first one in the flat.

Well that’s about all I have to update right now. Oh and in a week I’m going to Valencia with a few friends!!!

Until next time,

J x

Black Mirror’s San Junipero

Today’s post isn’t really a review, more just an appreciation post for, what I consider to be, one of the best hours of TV I’ve ever watched.

Black Mirror is a unique show in many ways. Every episode is self contained which allows viewers to dip in and out where they are interested and takes away the sense of “commitment” to starting a new TV series. It’s accessible and deals with a subject matter that is relevant to pretty much everybody living in the modern world – technology and techno-phobia.

Many of the show’s episodes have sparked conversation and controversy, some of the most famous ones being “White Bear”, “Nosedive” and “Shut Up and Dance”. Viewers are accustomed to the dark, pessimistic undercurrent of the show. Most episodes end in some form of disaster as a result of some futuristic technology that seems uncomfortably realistic and possible given society’s rapid technological advancements.

San Junipero, however, offered something different. It was a risk for the show because it deviated from a tried and tested formula. Charlie Brooker, show creator, decided to inject some optimism into the otherwise bleak landscape of his show. Of course, viewers don’t know this at the outset of the episode.

In a, fictional, vibrant 80’s beach town called San Junipero we are introduced to Kelly and Yorkie. Kelly is an extroverted party girl and Yorkie a shy, inhibited and slightly gawky girl. These are the two protagonists drag us through a colourful, romantic and surprising episode.

I don’t want to describe everything that happens in the episode, if you haven’t seen it it’s on Netflix and if you’re going to watch only one episode of Black Mirror I would recommend this one. As I slowly started to piece together what was going on in this, seemingly fun, lighthearted town I was, once again, in awe of Brooker’s imagination and ability to construct an immersive and convincing fictional reality. Of course, the technological aspect played a key part in conclusion of the story. [SPOILER] This time it allowed a person’s consciousness to be “uploaded to the clouds” after they die. They can then live out eternity (or as long as they wish) in San Junipero, in their younger and fully functioning bodies.

This concept taps into one of our most basic human fears, the fear of death and being mortal. It also allows an escape from the effects of aging which plague us as we grow older. The idea of being able to visit another place where you are young and immortal as long as you choose to be is fantastic and the way it’s depicted on screen is artistically beautiful. Despite the tone of this episode being overwhelmingly positive in it’s final conclusion, the thoughts it leaves in the viewer’s mind afterwards are, perhaps, less positive. Of course, this technology isn’t (yet) possible and after the TV is turned off and we return to solitude, we are all still faced with the inevitability of our own mortality.

Not to leave on a negative note, this episode was cherished in the lgbt+ community. A story so universal being told through the eyes of a queer couple is exactly what the world needs more of. On top of that, the characters were individual, interesting and didn’t pander to dull, inaccurate stereotypes. What we were watching was two people falling in love. It could have been a straight couple but it was all the more special for not being.

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this.

Until next time,

J x

Charities and How to Take Part

I have always been interested in the work that charities do to help people and animals facing adversity, and finding ways to contribute towards this effort. For me, the most realistic option at this stage in my life (I’m a student and not that well off) is taking part in fundraisers and donating where I can. It isn’t feasible for me to actually visit places like refugee camps at the moment. Regardless of anything else, I simply don’t have the time. I study full time and work during the holidays.

This doesn’t, however, dampen my desire to help. I feel sick when I hear about some of the atrocities people are facing around the world and guilty that, by sheer luck, I have been born into a relatively safe country, with an abundance of opportunities and a loving family.

Sometimes it is tempting to bury my head in the sand and just get on with my life, pretending none of it is really happening. A far better approach though is doing what little I can to help, anything is better than nothing. So, for this reason, I try to make small donations and take part in fundraisers when I can. Eventbrite (click here to visit their nonprofit fundraising page), in particular, is a brilliant website for finding out about fundraising events in your local area. For example, in Glasgow in the near future, there is an ‘Open to All 5k Midnight Walk‘ for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, ‘The Glasgow Christmas Carol Concert‘ in aid of Cancer Research UK and an ‘Action on Hearing Loss Ladies Lunch‘ among many others. Having all of this information in one place makes it far easier to get involved than having to scour the internet for different websites trying to piece together information.

Below are a few charities that, personally, I am quite passionate about.

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The refugee crisis is something that I think about a lot. So many thousands of people are desperately trying to find safety and refuge from the dangerous and uninhabitable conditions of their home countries. I recently purchased a ‘Choose Love’ T-shirt from Asos. The one I bought cost £19 which goes straight towards helping people, and you also receive a super comfy T-shirt as a memento. The T-Shirts also help to spread the message. I think this is a really clever campaign and I think we all have £19 we can spare. Even if it means not going down to the pub for one night.

Choose Love Tshirts


Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland is a charity particularly close to my family. We always make a point of donating our old clothes and belongings to them because they supported my Grandad when he was very ill with a lung disease called Emphysema. Chest Heart and Stroke have a number of charity shops around Scotland that are full of great bargains with the added bonus of your money going to a good cause.

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Cancer Research is a charity close to a lot of people’s hearts. I don’t think enough money can really be put towards trying to develop medicines and treatments to fight this disease. This is the charity I have probably done the most for over the years. I’ve run many Race for Life races over the years. I have a little bundle of medals in my memory box (not for actually being fast or anything just for completing them) and when I was around 14-15 years old I volunteered in my local Cancer Research shop. Getting involved in fundraising for Cancer Research is easy and incredibly fulfilling.


The World Food Programme does incredible work to try and combat starvation and poverty around the world. Unfortunately, millions go without food every day. You can donate directly to this charity, after watching a video on their website the other day I donated some money. They also run a website called freerice.com (click here) where you can answer trivia questions and for each correct answers a small amount of rice is donated via the WFP. If you sign up you can keep track of how many grams of rice you have donated. So instead of scrolling Buzzfeed articles, start answering trivia on FreeRice! You can even choose what categories to answer questions on!

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Destroying habitats and causing the extinction of species’ is one of the most hideous marks humanity has left on the planet. So many species’ are on the verge of extinction, shockingly there are less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild. That is pretty much nothing considering there are over 7 BILLION of us. Whether it’s a donation or adopting an animal and donating monthly, this charity does vital work and is worth having a serious look at.

I would love to get more involved in fundraising in the future. Earlier this year I wanted to hold my own fundraiser but I struggle with pain in my hips and legs so doing a extreme physical challenge is kind of off the cards for me. I climbed Ben Nevis last year and since then my joint pain has worsened. Finding out these other ways to do good has been enlightening and I hope it will be as well for anyone reading 🙂

Until next time,

J x