Sunday, 7 June 2015

Quarter-Life Crisis

Has it really been over five months since I last blogged? This year has gone in such a blur, I can hardly believe its June already but yet it's not like my life has exactly been a whirlwind either.

I spent the majority of the year so far counting down to my birthday trip to New York, which I suppose made me wish most of the year away. It was worth it though, as visiting New York for the second time in my life reminded me how much I love that beautiful city.

I instantly feel at home in New York and I truly believe it is my spiritual home! I love how it's set out and all the districts with their own personalities, I love the grid system and I love the sheer abundance of shops and beautiful places to eat. The week I spent in New York was one of the fastest of my life but also one of the best.

I've always been a city girl, despite living my life in the country. There's something about the constant buzz, abundance of things to see and do, new trends and the 24/7 lifestyle that speaks to me. Perhaps living in places that were lacking behind the times and didn't have as many options always gave me the sense of missing out as I read about the exciting things happening in cities as I flicked through magazines.

Since my trip to New York, I've had huge post New York blues. I really didn't want to come home at all and my heart is aching for the Big Apple! If anything, it's put me face to face with the reason I wanted to distract myself with a trip to New York in the first place…I turned 25.

I'm sure in about 5 years, I will be scathing at myself, like I do when I see my old posts from when I was 20 and how I said I was 'so old'. But no 20 year old Stacey, give yourself 5 years and you will be at the turning point of 'old'. 25 reminds me that I am a quarter of a century and that life is in fact going rather fast. It also puts me on the side of my twenties that edges ever closer to the dreaded 30.

The first part of your twenties is relatively fun, you're enjoying the mix of enthusiastic youth as well as adult responsibility as you enjoy your freedom years and deal with finding your feet. But when you hit 25, you're face to face with life goals you set yourself and how fast time goes. Before you know it, you'll be hitting your thirties and needing to get your life together.

Something you do learn in your twenties is that having life goals is very pointless. We were always taught to think about where we wanted to be in five or ten years but the truth is, life doesn't work that way. You're not going to have everything figured out and solved at these milestone points of your life.

The problem with our generation is that we are our bombarded with other people's lives as they play out on social media across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We can't help but compare ourselves as we see old friends, school friends and university friends achieving or experiencing things we want for ourselves.

I'm guilty of this, I seethe like anybody else as I see old friends appearing to have their lives together and sorted as they share pictures from beautiful holidays, their weddings and their new families while I remain single and living in a studio flat with no real social life.

But the thing to remember, and I am so often told this, is that people are only often sharing the best parts of their lives on screen. It's an edited version of the story and we don't know what other difficulties or issues that could be facing. It's a similar story for those of us who follow and idolise the stars of YouTube. You're only seeing so much of their lives.

If I and anybody else of my generation needs to learn anything, it's that we can't live our lives to a plan. We have to just work hard and hope for the best and make things happen for ourselves. It's impossible to keep up with everyone and while sometimes it seems like everybody else has the luck we all have our own opportunities and struggles.

Maybe life is just going to take a little longer, a little more work and a little more determination for me. But maybe that's for the best, it's going to make me appreciate things more when I do have them. I've enjoyed the independence I have and it's probably made me a better and stronger person because of it.

But let's not wish our lives away, let's enjoy every day and make things happen for ourselves. I decided I wanted adventure, so I went to New York. I saved and planned and made it happen. The same will happen if I want to travel anywhere else this year, which I plan to do.

It's so easy to be bitter and jealous and watch our lives go idly by, but what kind of life is that?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Why We Don't Need Boobs in Our News

Boobs have been at the centre of the news this week in a campaign to keep them out of the news. The Sun played a rather odd trick of appearing to withdraw their 44 year old Page 3 topless pictures and then like a particularly tiresome trickster appeared to say 'gotcha' to the celebrating feminists and reinstated them today after a five day break.

The No More Page 3 campaign has so far garnered over 231,000 signatures and counting, the number rapidly rising after The Sun's little stunt - giving No More Page 3 some publicity - so thanks!

But I've found myself having to explain why this is so important as I read and hear ignorant comments about this campaign including one page 3 model Rhian Sugden who blamed 'comfy shoe, no bra wearing, man haters' for the apparent ban. For a young women to have this opinion of feminists is particularly upsetting and damaging. I'm a proud feminist and have blisters from uncomfortable shoes, wear a bra everyday and like men. In fact, I know plenty of feminists who are the same and we need to get over this outdated idea that feminists don't care about how they look, burn bras, hate on men and want to be the fun police because it's not true.

I am not against nudity and glamour models at all, but my issue is with it being in a newspaper and a so-called family one at that. The Sun is the biggest selling UK newspaper and has a large female readership so why does it feel the need to display breasts on the first page of the paper you open and make fun of attractive women's opinions with it's 'News in Briefs'. The fact of it is, boobs aren't news, so why are they in a newspaper?

We live in an internet age where boobs and more are available at the touch of a button within seconds so why do they have to feature in a national newspaper? As the No More Page 3 website states: "The Sun newspaper could be so much stronger without Page 3. Because currently, any story they run about women’s issues such as rape, sexual abuse, harassment, domestic violence or the dangers of online porn is drowned out and contradicted by the neon flashing sign of Page 3 that says ‘shut up, girls, and get your tits out."

Women still have to fight so hard to be listened to and appreciated for more than their looks. We have been fighting to break the glass ceiling and be appreciated for our brains for as long as page 3 has been running and it's still a fight that is far from over - much like it seems page 3.

I'm getting awfully sick of this sexist society and the abuse I've had to deal with for voicing my opinion. How I face barriers because of my sex. How I will be judged by how I look. How a man's opinion will always be taken on board more seriously than mine. How women are sexually objectified every day and if they are attacked or raped are asked what they were wearing or how were they acting? Did they lead them on?

At the same time, it's not giving much credit to men that a newspaper doesn't think it can survive without supplying them with their daily dose of boobs. I think they're more than capable of making that decision for themselves and enjoy a newspaper without soft core porn. Men have more depth than that.

We're not trying to ban all nudity, porn and fun, we're not trying to tell glamour models their jobs are dishonourable - we just don't feel there is any need for it in a newspaper. To find out more about the campaign and further reasons why there should be #NoMorePage3 please visit and read what they have to say and sign the petition. If we fight for change, we can make it happen.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

My New Years Resolutions

New Years is of course a massive cliche and I've been through enough disappointing New Year's Eves and broken resolutions to know better than thinking a new year will bring about life changing events and I'm pretty sure if I see another 'New Year, New Me' status, my eyes will roll out of my skull but it is a good opportunity to rethink some things and bring about some small changes that can make a big difference. So here are mine:

1. Write More

Writing is part of my job and I have blogged more frequently this year, but I really want to make a conscious effort to write even more and produce a more polished blog as well as revisit creative writing. I bought myself 642 Things to Write About and have not filled in nearly enough of it, so in 2015 I want to get that book finished and keep honing my skill.

2. Get Back on the Health and Fitness Track

This year I made really good progress on losing weight and getting fit, but in the latter half of the year I went off kilter and didn't get back into a routine. I want to get that routine back, get into better shape and lose weight. There is no way I want to go back to what I was and now is as good a time as any with Christmas out the way. This does mean the gym is going to be pure hell.

3. Go to New York

This is already in the planning stages and saving but I want to go New York in May for my 25th birthday. So lets get those flights booked, money saved up and get me to my favourite city in the world in about 5 months time. This is going to require strict saving - time to be good. At least this time I'll be able to drink and explore a bit more of that famous New York nightlife.

4. Read More

I really want to get more reading done in 2015, despite getting though a few this year, there are still so many books I want to read and I'd like to avoid the distractions of social media and TV and get through books quicker next year!

5. Spend Less

With a trip to New York planned, I need to stop shopping and making my money disappear and actually save money to spend when I'm out there and survive the months without using my overdraft or finding I've not left enough over for rent and bills. Time to get financially responsible!

6. Get a Social Life or Get Busy

I spend too many weekends and evenings on the sofa doing nothing, so I really need to get a bit more busy and social to stop me feeling frustrated and hopefully make new friends and plans. It really would be nice to go into work on Mondays and have a better reply to 'What did you do this weekend' than 'Absolutely nothing'.

7. Be Charitable

I did the Moonwalk this year, which was challenging but felt like such an achievement by the end. I also organised two bake sales at work. For 2015, I want to keep the charity up and challenge myself once again and do more. You really can't take life for granted.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A Year in Review

With only three days left of 2014 and with Christmas over and thoughts of the new year ahead - we start thinking about the year that has passed and what to expect from the new one. There's nothing quite like a new year to pull you out of your slump of passing days and become just how aware time is moving.

2015 will see me turn 25, an age that sees me on this world for a quarter of a century and closer to 30 than I would like to be. 25 was always a year I tried to envision myself at, imagining I'd be well established in a career, living in a nice place and with plenty of money and a boyfriend. LOL.

In reality, I'm writing this in my freezing studio apartment, alone and preparing leftovers for dinner. It's funny how life works out but if you learn anything in your mid twenties it's that your teenage views of life in your twenties were severely misjudged - especially for my generation.

This past year seems to have sped past, but then they always do. I'd like to think this year has been slightly more positive and productive than the year before. For one thing, it didn't involve major surgery and I did walk 13.5 miles for a good cause. I also got to visit Barcelona for my 24th birthday, a gorgeous city which involved even more walking and a fabulous cocktail bar.

For my 25th, I'm looking at going to New York - mainly because I've wanted to go again, it's a good time to go and if it's one thing that's going to make me forget turning 25 - it's the bright lights and big city of New York - my one true love.

But first, the start of the year sees one of my best friends having a baby and I can't wait - it's been amazing watching her grow over these months and I can't quite fathom her with a baby, that is part her, that she grew for nine months. Reproduction is weird. Especially when it's your best friend and feels like it could almost be you. It's going to be an interesting time and reminds me all too much that we're growing up from the 16 and 17 year olds that met 8 years ago at college, used to get drunk on the train and go to underage gigs.

I've learnt not to try and plan or guess your year ahead. The thing that often scares me about a new year is that you don't know where you'll be by the end of it. So bring on 2015, bring on babies, bring on New York and bring on the unknown.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Why I'm Pro-Choice

This week a video went viral of a pregnant passer-by challenging anti-abortion protestors outside a London clinic. This woman has been praised by many and has drawn attention and donations to the charity she works for which helps vulnerable young people.

What Abort 67 were doing was disgusting - standing outside an abortion clinic, brandishing cameras and displaying graphic abortion pictures. They say they are defending the rights of an unborn child, but what about the rights of a vulnerable mother? Doesn't she get a choice?

Abortion has be legal in the UK since the Abortion Act 1967, yet it still remains a subject of massive controversy and taboo. A split issue that some will strongly support and some will strongly oppose.

But the fact is, abortion is the mother's choice and it is up to nobody else to judge. I feel proud to live in a country where we give women this choice. Ireland doesn't and if politicians get their way in the US - it may not be legal there much longer.

Having abortion legalised is so so important, before it was legal many women put themselves in danger going through with illegal abortions and if it was criminalised - it would only push the practise underground.

I don't for a second believe that going through with an abortion is an easy choice, therefore it is infuriating to see protestors such as these vilifying and terrorising women who have made this choice. They have their own reasons for making this choice and it is not right to film, preach or intimidate them.

The mother may have been raped or abused, have mental health issues or just not want or be ready for a baby. It is their choice  and is not for other people to decide what they do with their own body.

If these people were standing on the street promoting terrorism or racism, they would be escorted off the street by the police so why is this allowed? Women need to be protected and feel they have safety to seek help if they need it.

Whatever you own beliefs about abortion, it is not up to you to push your own views on other people and the choice lies solely with the mother. That's why I'm pro-choice and that's why I admire the woman that spoke out immensely - she shut up those protestors and bought attention to this issue. I know I would speak out if I saw pro-life protestors intimidating women.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

We've Come Full Circle

It's hard to believe that we're entering the last month of the year and this Christmas is now a matter of weeks away and it's time to put up your decorations, put on your favourite christmas songs, do your present shopping and drink plenty of mulled drinks.

I'm from the camp where you don't get excited about Christmas until December, so from Monday I can start my advent calendar and get all christmassy without feeling weird. Surprisingly, I'm pretty efficient this year and only have four more people to buy for - so there isn't that sheer panic about getting it all done and working out how I will afford it all.

I've been trying to get more responsible about money, as you may know I'm trying to save up to go to New York for my 25th which is going to of course require discipline. This has been attempted the past few months, but I've had to take the money back out again, but from this month on I'm refusing. Even if I do have to live off pasta.

Black Friday was not easy on me and I did buy a few things, but I think I remained somewhat restrained. Maybe…possibly…kinda. My best purchase was my Dolche Gusto coffee machine which I'm a little bit in love with. I'm the type of person who can't function without caffeine in the morning - so it's just about perfect to get me started before work.

November was a long and boring month, but December is working out to be a busy month and I can't wait to see friends and family and enjoy delicious food and drink. Believe me, as a person on limited funds living alone - I am SO READY for that Christmas dinner and being sent home with leftovers.

This week I'm off to Winter Wonderland, which is sure to get me throughly into the Christmas mood. The best thing will be seeing my niece and nephews taking in the magic of it all and of course all the food and shopping stalls as well as our cheeky trip to Harrods.

It's hard to believe another year is coming to an end, it's been quite an eventful one. I lost weight and got into exercise (which is kind of failing at the moment :/) and made a huge change to my body and confidence. Prompted by family loss and my new found fitness, I completed the Half Moonwalk which was such an amazing experience.

I think it was important for me to make positive change this year following a difficult year in 2013 and my health problems. This year hasn't entirely been smooth sailing, but I think I'm getting a slightly more positive head on my shoulders.

Next year is going to be so exciting, my best friend is having a baby in January which just gets it off to the best start and I can't wait for baby cuddles. I'm also of course working towards New York, which is exciting and I couldn't think of anywhere better to celebrate/mourn turning 25.

So with another year over - bring it all on I say. Bring on Christmas. Now I have to work out how to decorate my shoebox studio flat and make it somehow festive when I can't fit a tree in anywhere. How are you celebrating Christmas this year?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Day My McBusted Fangirl Dreams Came True

So about a month ago I spent nine hours on a McBusted video shoot for their first single 'Air Guitar', but was sworn to secrecy until it aired and finally it aired this week and I spotted myself jumping like a maniac.

When James and Matt from Busted and McFly decided to join forces to create a supergroup, there were mixed opinions among the fan community and there still is, but I for one, was ecstatic. I was at that Albert Hall show, recovering from surgery but determined not to miss out, to see them perform together for the first time as part of McFly's tenth anniversary shows and I was as happy as a fan could be when that happened. Nuala, my best friend, even asked if I was going to cry.

A year and a bit later, I found myself on the set of McBusted's first video shoot, not quite able to believe my eyes. I'd responded to a post on their Facebook page with the educated guess it would be a video shoot and got chosen. At 24, I was worried about being the oldest one there and I was, but all the fans I met on the day were lovely and I'm just sorry we never managed to swap details. There was no competition or in-fighting - we all shared a love for a band and it was as simple as that.

Now I've been following Busted and McFly since the beginning, developing a love for Busted at 12 and then McFly followed. Despite it being 12 years later, approaching my mid-twenties and a lot of growing and of course the devastating Busted split, my love for the band has not diminished - much to the amusement of my peers. Although I'd like to say now I'm an adult - my fandom is somewhat more controlled except for persistently going to each tour and following their progress. I think the tour next year could be my 18th show.

The video shoot wasn't my first, I've previously been part of the crowd for the Stargirl video when I was 16, but you couldn't see me at all and involved a lot of waiting along a residential street until we were needed two hours after they said. It was fun, but short and I didn't get to meet any of the band. Thankfully, I did get to meet the band later that year, when my friend Hannah won a Meet and Greet and kindly offered to take me.

But back to this event in my long and prosperous fandom career, there I found myself on a sound stage at Warner Bros Studios (as a film fan this was insane) and there were the boys - no more than a few feet away from me for the majority of a nine hour day. I'm happy to say that despite the long day they'd probably had, the band was kind, friendly and gave plenty of time to us fans across the day. I got a chance to talk to all of them and thankfully not fangirl. The thing is, despite my love for these guys, both times I've met them I've actually been calm and collected - possibly because I feel so familiar with them and also because they are just so down to earth and friendly.

They often say don't meet your idols, but with the men of McBusted I've never had to worry about that because they've always been so friendly and appreciative of their fans. They really are the lovely guys they seem with a cheeky sense of humour.

As expected, I was part of a crowd scene but unlike generic crowd scenes, we were actually spread around a circle, which gave us more of a chance to be seen. Now maybe I'm unfit (I am), but jumping up and down like you mean it for 3 minutes at a time under stage lights is actually incredibly tiring. We were told to give it our all and we really did - but bloody hell I'm getting too old for that shit.

It was interesting to see how a video comes together across a day and the amount of work it takes to create a three minute music video which is cut incredibly fast. It's also interesting to see which scenes make the cut and which don't.

I wondered if I would make the video, I joked because I had been in so many scenes and quite central that I better be - and I am. I can spy myself at multiple points the more I watch it - which is pretty cool because how many people can say they're in a music video, much less one of their idols and that's something I can always look back on.

Sure I cringe a tad at my jumping, air drumming (wtf?) and quite frankly scary face pulling but I can say that the day was worth it and I'm happy to have met a band I adore and admire and got to spend so much time with them. Now watch the video and see if you can spot me: