It’s A Sister Thing

I talk about my sisters quite a lot on here, because they’re a massive part of my life. Especially Sophie, now that she’s old enough to have actually turned into a person and be good craic.

Just some classic sister bantz.

Just some classic sister bantz.

This year, I’ve ended up pretty far away from her, having moved to London within a week of her moving to St Andrews. But I never fail to marvel at how little things have changed. We still start conversations in the middle of conversations, as if it was only five minutes ago we were talking, not a week and a half. With that in mind, for your pleasure and entertainment, I would like to share ten actual conversation opener texts between Sophie and I.

1) The feet couple had another baby.

2) Lucy Liu is by far the hottest Charlie’s Angel.

3) OH MY CHRIST GIO IN THE RED SHIRT (Ugly Betty fans, reveal yourselves).

4) Remember that time dad mistook a plastic bag for you?

5) YZMA IN THE BIRTHDAY HAT.

6) The Swan Princess is such jokes. I hate you I hate you I hate you…oh wait, you’re hot I’ll totally fight to the death for you.

7)Remember Mighty Joe Young?

8) I thought pineapples grew on trees.

9) You know, I think Sarah in the Polar Express is kind of a douchebag.

10) Pope Francis is the best pope.

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I actually feel bad for the people who have to be around us when we see each other in person, because it’s basically guaranteed to be a two hour solid deluge of the above. We do occasionally talk about things that aren’t Ugly Betty or the Emperor’s New Groove, but if you’re trying to get in with either of us, those are probably a good place to start.

And don’t worry if none of this post has made sense…I guess it’s kind of a sister thing.

The Race for Everything

I was sixteen years old when my mum was diagnosed with cancer. Sophie was just twelve. For a lot of kids, that story doesn’t have a happy ending. For us, it was a happy beginning.

This is my mum, having just run the Race for Life, five years clear of cancer.

Snip20140506_1Since we decided that cancer could go shove it, the Race for Life has become a pretty big day in Sophie and I’s calendar. For those who don’t know (seriously, do you live under a rock, hypothetical reader?), the Race for Life is Cancer Research UK’s biggest fundraising event of the year. It encourages women to walk, run or dance 5 or 10k to raise money for research into all cancers. Don’t let the pink fool you, these guys are all about the less glamorous cancers. Wassup pancreatic cancer, we are coming after you. This year, our third Race for Life, we somehow managed to rope in pretty much all of the women we are related to and created the most thoroughly babein’ running team of all time. I say babein’ now. Deal with it.

BOOM.

BOOM.

Yes. Yes we did put our dog in a tshirt. And I stand by it as the greatest decision any of us have ever made.

Go on, tell me you've seen something better than this today. I dare you.

Go on, tell me you’ve seen something better than this today. I dare you.

In keeping with tradition, I was bawling my eyes out before we’d even crossed the start line, in response to all the beautiful, inspiring and occasionally tragic back signs. Everyone was racing for different reasons, motivated by different people and events but one message rang out loud and clear:

We are racing for all of us. We are racing for everyone.

One in three of us will be affected by cancer in our lifetime. Research funded by events like the Race for Life means that cancer survival rates have doubled in the last 50 years. Even a humanities student like me can tell you, that’s some damn good maths.

My back sign.

My back sign.

Mum's back sign.

Mum’s back sign.

As always, the Race was a totally awesome day out. Really, if you haven’t done it before, get signed up immediately, it is the most fun ever. I promise, I laughed just as much as I cried. I feel like that sentence may not have sold it to you. Okay, look:

BEST

BEST

DAY

DAY

EVER

EVER

The thing I find funny about the Race is that everybody congratulates you as if you’ve done something really incredible and amazing and brave. But the truth is…well, I mean, look at those photos. Running (and by running, I obviously mean walking) the Race is loads of fun. The heroes are the ones who gave up their daily coffees and threw a fiver our way. Who sponsored us again, even though they’ve given the past two years. Who managed to find a little bit of money, even though they’re totally skint. We even had real life superhero creator Mark Miller make a stupidly generous donation of £100 after I very cheekily reminded him of that one time that we met this one time. Every penny added up to an incredible, target-busting £1100.

To everyone who donated and supported us, you are my full on heroes. Honestly, I love you and you are so much more excellent than I can ever hope to be. I want to bake you all delicious cakes and have them hand delivered to your door by your choice of handsome young man or lady. It is because of people like you that my mum is still around to buy a dog and dress her in hilarious novelty tshirts.

Snip20140506_7If you’d like to find out more about the Race for Life and the research it funds, check out their website here! If you’re feeling a bit heavy with all your moneybags and want to become one of my lifelong heroes, you can sponsor us here! I will personally start your fanclub.

Until next year, folks.

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The Party of the Century

We had a big weekend this weekend, folks. On Friday, the little sister turned 18. Christ, that makes me feel old.

We rose bright and early on Friday morning for presents and the traditional birthday breakfast of champions.

Yes, my mum did make me sunshine pancakes on my 22nd birthday last year. That's what love is.

Yes, my mum did make me sunshine pancakes on my 22nd birthday last year. That’s what love is.

Juno got Sophie a disgusting, chewed up bone, because she loves her.

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And then a birthday cuddle.

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And then helped her open the rest of her presents.

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Really, Juno is the best family member. She puts us all to shame.

I wanted to do something pretty special for Sophie’s 18th, so I put a whole lot of thought into her present. I remembered a story that I made up for her when we were kids, wrote it down, made it better and turned it into a book!

Tah-dah! Look, that's my name!

Tah-dah! Look, that’s my name!

This was the moment Sophie realised what it was:

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It was excellent. After a very lazy morning, we were taken out and treated to a fabulous lunch at Jamie’s Italian in Glasgow by this guy:

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Sophs enjoyed her first legal drink:

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And then a few more legal drinks…

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Birthday cake number one arrived, in the unexpected but excellent form of a bread and butter pudding.

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Making a wish!

Making a wish!

And then, since it was a special occasion and we figured we could get away with it, we followed up the bread and butter pudding with the king of all dessert platters.

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful in your entire life?

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful in your entire life?

Absolutely stuffed, and with half an hour before we needed to be on a train home, we decided that there was definitely enough time to swing by the Hard Rock Cafe for a cocktail or two.

Our dad is totally a bad influence.

Our dad is totally a bad influence.

At this point, we figured we’d all had a bit too many legal drinks, and decided to slow it down a bit.

No, I’m totally kidding, we went to dad’s place for more champagne and birthday cake number two.

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Champagne from a teapot, because our living room is pretty much a speakeasy.

Champagne from a teapot, because our living room is pretty much a speakeasy.

We all headed back to mum’s to toast the moment that Sophie came into the world with, yes, you guessed it, more champagne.

A completely sober and sensible photograph.

A completely sober and sensible photograph.

The next few hours passed in a hilarious jumble of wriggling into party dresses, dancing to Beyonce and attempting to apply liquid eyeliner while drunk.

Finally, it was party time, and our enormous, mad family started to fill the party paradise that is our kitchen.

Behold my excellent decoration skills.

Behold my excellent decoration skills.

SONY DSCThings got out of hand pretty much immediately.

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jaeger

You may notice that Sophie appears to be in both of the Jaeger photos.

By the time birthday cake number three rolled round, everyone was having a ball.

cake sophs cakeross

We all danced the night away and the party continued until the wee hours in the morning.

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In fact, as far as I know, the celebrations are still raging on, two days later. Happy birthday, gorgeous girl, I know this is going to be your year.

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A Big Sister’s Duty: The Stuff No One Else Will Tell You

Today, I watched the Miss Representation documentary. If you haven’t seen it yet, please go watch it. It is so awesome, despite a really spacey, strange occasional voiceover.

Within nine minutes of pressing play, I was bawling my eyes out. Listening to a high schooler’s voice crack in pain as she described how her little sister cuts herself because she hates her body resonated all too clearly. As far as I know, neither of my sisters has ever hurt themselves, thank goodness. But the thought of the bullshit they’re going to have to endure just by virtue of being female is genuinely painful. With one getting ready to go to uni next year, and high school not too far away for the other, I know that they’re going to have to go through some pretty hard times, and that, being girls, they’re going to be told to think and feel and be certain ways, or face punishment.

So I’ve got a few messages for my two incredible, inspiring, strong baby sisters, based on my experiences of being a laydee, which I hope will help get them through the hard times.

Warning to family members: there will be discussions of S-E-X and other such girly things in this post.

fskLet’s start with your body, because honestly, that’s what lots of people are going to do. People will judge you because of your body, they will assume that they know things about you because of how your body looks, they’ll tell you that your body is wrong, they’ll use it as a weapon against you, they’ll assume that your body is theirs to touch and comment on.

Here’s what to do with your body in response to that: don’t change a damn thing. You are not your body. This is really tough to remember sometimes, because we girls have it constantly shoved down our throats that the only way to be worth something is to have a body that confines to somebody else’s conception of what sexy is. But honestly, your body does not define who you are. It’s just a vessel that carries your beautiful heart and brilliant mind around from one place to the next, and as long as you are keeping it healthy and strong (whatever that looks like!), then it’s perfect. Everyone always tells you to learn to love your body. I’d like to take that a step further and tell you to learn to love the whole of you. Love how your eyes crease up when you tell an awesome joke. Love how your wobbly bits shake when you dance like a crazy person. Love how you throw your hands around when you’re talking about something you love. You are so wonderful, and you have way too much to do in this world to sit in front of a mirror worrying that your legs are too fat.

This doesn’t mean I’m telling you to burn your dresses and snap your eyeliner pencils. Wanting to look good is awesome, as long as you are doing it on your terms. Don’t let anyone else define your beautiful, ever. Look however you want to look. Wear plum lipstick at 11am. Go out barefaced in your raggiest old jumper. Buy that teeny tiny little dress you love. Wearing lipstick doesn’t make you an attention seeker. Wearing a leather miniskirt doesn’t make you a slut.

On that note, it’s time to get super serious. I really don’t want to talk about sexual assault, because I wish that it wasn’t a problem. But 1 in 5 women in this country have experienced some kind of sexual violence since they turned 16, myself among them, so we have to talk about it. Like I said above, some people think that your body is theirs to touch. It isn’t. Unless you want them to, of course (more on that later). No matter how you are dressed, how drunk you are, how many people you’ve had sex with before, what you’ve done with the person before, NOBODY is allowed to touch your body without your consent. Don’t think that you’ve led anyone on, or feel pressured to act a certain way because of how you’ve acted in the past, or because you’ve already said you would do something. You have the right to refuse, every single time, and if someone goes against that, it’s sexual assault. I don’t care if you’re blind drunk, wearing nothing but a tinsel bikini. This does not give anyone the right to sexually assault you. This line of reasoning is such total bollocks that I can’t believe it still exists, but it really does, so let me just throw a stat out for you: only 9% of rapes in the UK are committed by a stranger. You are 9 times more likely to be attacked by someone you know in a situation that you thought was safe. So don’t ever be embarrassed to set limits, know that anything to do with your body is your choice, and if something does happen to you, don’t you dare ever for a second believe that it was your fault.

Okay, onto (gulp) consensual sex. I’m not going to tell you not to have sex, because let’s face it, sex is fun, and it’s totally normal, and it’s a natural part of growing up, but I would like to offer one teeny bit of advice. Wait and do it with a man or woman that you feel really comfortable with. Not because it has to be special or because losing your virginity to a random person means you don’t respect yourself. Shockingly, I think that a woman’s sexual experiences are nobody else’s fucking business, and anyone who thinks that they are in any way relevant is a flaming idiot. Have as much sex as you want, with as many people as you want – whatever you are happy and comfortable with. But the reason I’d say you should wait for someone excellent, and this is something that no one will ever tell you, is that the first time is so very fucking awkward. It hurts a lot, and your body does loads of weird stuff, and so does your partner’s, and you really want to be with someone you can laugh with when your bodies press together and make that weird farting sound, rather than wanting to immediately die. Oh, also, always pee afterwards. This is another thing that no one ever tells you until you’re laid up in your GP with a horrifying urine infection. But that’s more mechanics that actual advice. And as Forrest Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.

Alright, that’s enough sex talk for one blog, let’s get back to you. Society tells people that women shouldn’t have a voice, and both men and women internalise that message. You will find that men interrupt you, talk over you, don’t take you seriously and use the mere fact that you are a woman to discredit you. And a lot of women buy into this too: they take men more seriously, think negatively about ambitious women and say things like, “Oh, I just get on better with men. There’s less drama”. Every one of these things is designed to make women shut up, and keep us in our place. To hell with that. You have a voice, so don’t be afraid to use it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself forward because some stupid societal structure tells you your opinion isn’t worth anything. I hate these structures, so I try to use my voice to change them. And if that makes some chauvinistic asshole think less of me, so be it. I speak up, so that the world will get better for you girls coming through. Pay it forward and speak up for the next generation. Don’t you ever listen to someone else’s idea of what you should be. Don’t try to be anything except yourself. When you write goals and wishes, focus on doing things, rather than being things.

One last thing and then I promise, I’ll shut up for a while. Be kind to other women. Don’t buy into that rubbish that tells you that ambitious women are manly, or successful women are bitchy, or pretty women are stupid and slutty. This is tough, because these stereotypes are pushed hard, every day, by a £71bn per year business. But we can be smarter than them. Just remember, we’re all complicated people, who are trying our best. Let’s be excellent to each other. I love you. You’re going to move mountains.