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25 Year Olds Have Their Shit Together

I sit at the table in the common room, it’s a free period so I don’t have a class. The homework in my bag is the heaviest thing I’ve ever lifted and I wonder how many of the universities I applied to will even bother to skim read my application. I’m 18, one of the oldest kids in my year. I look down at my phone instead of looking into anything of actual importance; my textbooks would be covered in dust had they not been shuffling around in my bag as I shuffled through the halls.

I thought to myself: ‘it’ll all work itself out by the time I’m 25‘.

I can’t have been the only teenager to ever think that 25 was the age. The age where everything finally falls into place. It seems a little ridiculous now to think that an 18 year old who doesn’t know who she wants to be, would morph into a 25 year old who finally figured it out. In reality, if I was to achieve the goal that my 18 year old mind set for my 25 year old self, I’d have just under 6 months to get my shit together.

25 year olds have stable careers and they’ve been climbing the job ladder for at least 2 of those years. They get invited to Caroline’s baby shower and Gerald’s 10 year work anniversary at the company. They have a mug, slightly stained from coffee that sits on their desk with a picture of their dog as a puppy that a friend bought them as a ‘congratulations on getting promoted’ present 3 months ago. They’re on first name terms with their boss and sometimes they grab a drink -or two- after work together when they’ve hard a hard day and laugh about how ‘maybe I’ll have your job in a few years if I work hard enough‘. They close down their company computer, put on that nice designer trench coat -that they spent quite a bit of money on but justified it cause they needed it to make a good impression at work- and walk out of the door to start their journey back to the nice house they just put a mortgage on with their fiancé.

25 year olds have stable relationships and they’ve been in them since they were 19 years old. They’ve had countless ‘so when is he gonna put a ring on that finger of yours?‘ jibes from older family members when they show up with their other half at family parties. They show off the sizeable rock on their once light as a feather single finger to everyone in their circle and talk about how much of a shock it was when he popped the question. They visit castles and manors as they weigh up their options and finances when picking the wedding venue that ‘just feels like the one‘. They wonder how they’re gonna break it to their parents that the wedding might need to happen a little sooner than later because a mystery guest is trying to hitch a ride up the aisle. They think it’s a boy but it’s a little too early to tell.

18 year olds think that 7 years is a lot further in the future than it actually is. I used to think that 25 year olds were adults; 25 was the age. I’m 6 months from 25 and I don’t have any of the things I mentioned above and the truth is, I can’t think of anything I want less. 18 year old Lynn and 24 year old Lynn aren’t so different. I’m sure 25 year old Lynn won’t be drastically different either. It’s hard to predict a future you haven’t lived and times are changing so it may have been perfectly expectable when my parents were young to have your shit together by the time you were 25. I don’t think it’s wrong to want the velcro on your feet to stay detached from the velcro on the ground in your final destination for a little longer than you expected. I want to see the world. I want to meet new people. I want to be creative. I want to know every single thing there is to know about myself before I stop.  I stop, sit down and know exactly where it is that I want to be. I’d hate to sit down in that office chair, wearing my fancy trench coat that I wish I hadn’t wasted my money on and look down at the heavy engagement ring topped with a wedding ring on my tired finger at 30 years old and wonder: what would’ve happened if I didn’t think 25 year olds had their shit together?

Maybe 30 year olds have their shit together. I guess I have 5 years and 6 months to figure it out.

 

Disclaimer: if you lead a life anything like the one I described, I just want you to know, I’m not slating you. In fact, you should be really proud of yourself because you probably do know who you are. I just don’t think your life is for me and that’s a me problem.

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The Void

University ends and adult life begins simultaneously. It’s like the 3, 4 or 5 years you spend at uni is simply you climbing up the ladder of a really tall diving board and getting to the very top. Your parents, your family and your lecturers all say “well done, look how far you’ve come” as they stand at the bottom and wait for you to jump from an astonishing height into the diving pool below. Some of your peers and even some of your close friends will take the leap, land with a 10 from the judges and make their way gracefully out of the water. Sometimes you’ll hit the water, only to remember you never learned to swim.

Fast-forward to today and I’m still drowning while I try to reach the top of the pool. The judges have packed up and went home, sick of waiting for me to resurface. They have other competitions to judge, the next year of students who have almost reached the top rung of the ladder.

Now forget the pretentious analogy you’ve just read and I’ll explain the reality of the situation. University is a lengthy process of learning, relearning, pretending to learn things so you don’t have to actually learn them and coincidentally having to relearn them due to your laziness the first time round. I know it’s not like this for everyone, some students are dedicated and have a thirst for knowledge but I’ve never been one of those people. I’m the kind of person who will do absolutely anything before doing the thing they’re actually supposed to be doing. I’m the person who turns up to a graded presentation with one page of notes that only contains one sentence; “look up stuff for tomorrow’s presentation”. I wing it through life and it’s never completely failed me. I generally tend to do pretty well for somebody who leaves the last class of a 6 week block not even knowing what the title of the class was. I always thought winging it could never let me down but to my horror, the teachers in high school were -somewhat- right! I couldn’t begin to count how many times I heard a variation of the sentence; “you can’t leave your project until the night before when you go to uni/you can’t pass an exam without revising when you go to uni”. My 14 year old self still wants to hold on to the fact that they were wrong. Yes, they were wrong about uni but they were right about life. What they should have said is; “maybe you can pass an exam without revising and maybe you can write an essay the night before but once you graduate you’ll realise that doing the bare minimum will make it very hard for you to get a job in your field”.

I don’t want to get another job in the service industry, scraping peas and beans out of the carpet from the aftermath of serving lunch to an unapologetic family with a messy toddler. I get it, toddlers are messy but please try and prevent the area surrounding your table from looking like the garden peas apocalypse. I don’t even want to get a job in an office where I can turn up with unbrushed hair knowing the customers on the other end of the phone-line can only hear my sweeter than tea with 10 sugars, customer service voice. Janis, the 45 year old mother of 4 probably called up to find out why her wifi cuts off every time she’s in her living room “but it’s fine when I’m in my bedroom” she says. I’ll tell her with a verbal smile that she could “move the box to a more neutral location”. Janis can hear the falseness of my feigned concern but hopefully she can’t hear the contempt that I feel towards my worthless job and how I wasted several years of my life learning how to be a professional in a career that I’ll never have.

This, ladies and gentlemen is how it feels to be in ‘The Void’. It’s like Hell, or ‘the Upside Down’ for the Stranger Things fans out there. I know a lot about fictional TV series trivia these days because I like to watch series after series to avoid my responsibilities.

‘The Void’ is a playful little name I’ve come up with to personify the period of time that follows the high of graduating. You dress up for the ceremony, hold your degree in your hands, knowing you’re finally ‘qualified’ to be something. Then you come home and prepare your apron and shirt for another day at the restaurant you work in. You remember how scared you are to apply for a job in your field because even though you have a literal qualification, you still feel too inexperienced for the career you studied for.

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Dairy Free Ice Cream at Vanilla Joes

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Vegans and lactose intolerants of ayrshire: I have wonderful news. I’m sure you’ve all had just enough of everybody shouting about Vanilla Joes in Irvine. I’m sure you have heard many of your annoying dairy consuming friends telling you how amazing the ice cream bar is while you cry your calcium free tears. You might’ve even tried some of the ice-cream after ditching you vegan status for the day or deciding that the performance of your digestive system could survive one little ice cream cone… Fear no more, Vanilla Joes sells dairy-free ice cream.

On a walk through Irvine on a sunny day, I walked past the ice cream parlour, now infamous in Ayrshire and sighed to myself. Frankly, milk freaks me out, I’ve watched way too many videos that’ve almost turned me vegan and I’m still unsure of my lactose intolerant status. I looked at the sun and thought ‘one little scoop can’t hurt’ and as i walked in I saw a sign. ‘Dairy free chocolate’ stuck into a huge tub of beautiful brown, chocolatey ice cream.

I got to the front of the queue and ordered. I didn’t have high hopes. The vast majority of dairy-free products that I have tried have been okay but nothing that made me want to throw all of my real dairy-products in the bin. This time was different. The ice cream was very chocolatey, it had a really creamy taste (usually i find dairy free tastes almost watery) and it was possibly one of the best chocolate ice creams I’ve ever had!

I said I didn’t want to review Vanilla Joes because it’s been done, everyone in Ayrshire already knows about it but I just had to tell the world about this ice cream! It’s so hard to find good dairy alternatives without making them yourself. I think that Vanilla Joes having a dairy free option that tastes so close to the original chocolate flavour ice cream is fantastic. It makes life that little bit easier if you can’t tolerate dairy or just wish to not ingest it for moral reasons.

You can enjoy an ice cream in the sunnier months of Scottish weather while saving your stomach or keeping your moral compass in place and I think it’s definitely worth a try. Even if you’re just your regular every day dairy drinker, check out Vanilla Joes, it has about 400 flavours that all sound amazing. I mean kinder egg ice cream? How could you say no?!

 

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I Sent My Boyfriend Out into the Red Light District

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Last week I got on a plane and set off on my first ever holiday with my boyfriend. A city break I received from him as a Christmas present. Our destination was Amsterdam: the home of legal weed, 204743803 museums, reckless cyclists and of course the red light district. Most girlfriends would drag their boyfriends away from this place, littered with sex shops, naughty nightclubs and the opportunity to window-shop for girls. I took a rather different approach, I wanted to see the girls standing behind the glass, shaking what their mother/surgeon gave them. On the last night of my holiday, I sent my boyfriend and our new friend (one half of a couple we met) Rob out to ask the girls some questions. I even asked two myself.

I went out alone first to ask two girls. I’m personally not interested in girls but I wanted to see if the price for me would be different than the price for a male customer. The first girl was very confident, completely comfortable, she opened the door, gestured to me to come over and when I simply said the phrase “how much?” she said 50 euros. I walked away and approached another girl, she was very uncomfortable and I had to walk up to her before she reluctantly opened the door. She also said 50 euros but it was clear she did not want custom from a girl.

Now let’s get serious here, obviously myself and the other girlfriend didn’t want our boyfriends getting involved with the girls but curiosity melted that worry away. The girls wouldn’t proposition our boyfriends (although a few did proposition him and I as a couple, more money for them I guess) while we walked past holding their hands so we could not go along to watch. We sat in the bar, had some drinks and waited for the boys to return.

All quotes are from him.

“My heart was kind of beating out my chest as I got up to leave cause I’d read stuff on the internet about the prostitutes being aggressive towards people who are dickheads to them.

It was a weird feeling walking up them cause it was totally not authentic from any party involved, me or the prostitute. It was fake, I wasn’t going to use them or pay for their services and they didn’t genuinely want me doing anything with them.

They’re all really up front, they know what they need and they know how to get it. At the end of the day, they are businesswomen, they have that business kind of mind where if they sense any prospect of money being made or interest from you, they’ll totally jump on it.

The first one that I spoke to initiated the contact with us, we were walking past and she opened her door and shouted me over. She started asking me where I was from. When I said Scotland she started talking about Scottish stuff, some Scottish movie… She was the first one and I didn’t really know what to say.

A lot of them ask you where you’re from and they all cut to the chase really quickly, they’ll straight up tell you how much they want. If they don’t like you, they’ll just close the door in your face.”

Girls usually let their customers have 15 minutes in their rooms which includes a quick wash to make sure that those using their services are hygienic. A red light means working girl and a blue or purple light means a transgender worker. Apparently there is a whole ‘Blue Light District’ with transgender workers (always male to female transition) but we did not find this on our trip. There are no fully male sex workers for female or gay male customers. Pictures of the girls are not allowed but I tried to take a sly picture of the workers across from the bar, one with a blue light.

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We timed a few customers during their visits with the prostitutes. One took an above average 16 minutes 30 seconds, one took a respectable 9 minutes 12 seconds and one took a miserable 4 minutes 9 seconds. The prostitute that had the quickest customer had the biggest, fake-est, bounciest t shirt twins I have ever seen, so hopefully that clears up why his visit was so fast.

We wanted to know just how much the girls charged for the full sha-bang, if they kiss their customers and just how much it would cost for a few special moves not included in their normal price.

“I think they all have their own rates for different things. One of them that Rob and I spoke to… We were asking if we could go into her room at the same time and she wanted 400 euros each. That would be 800 euros from one visit. The one before her was only holding out for 50 euros each. She would’ve made 100 euros from that, so there’s a 700 euro difference there for the same thing with different girls.

We went out originally to ask if they would do any relationship type stuff like kissing, cuddling and all that. The first one I spoke to almost seemed kinda shocked that I even asked and said there was no way she would do that. She even said “you can ask any girl out here and they’ll tell you the same thing” which turned out to be false because a few of them did say that they would include it.”

Some charge 50 euros flat for every sexual act and some want as much as 400 euros but this isn’t very common. Obviously every girl working on the red light district has a say in how much she is paid by customers so these rates may vary from window to window.

Costs on Average

Oral – 50 euros

Sex – 50 euros

Anal – 200 euros

Kissing included – most will not kiss but some will if paid extra

I wondered why some girls had higher rates. I could never know for sure but some girls may charge more because they’re more experienced or they believe they can still get business from such a high rate. Other girls may charge the same for everything because they’re new or they could be desperate the money.

“I’d recommend the experience to anyone, anyone who claims that it’s not what it’s made out to be is lying. Even just walking down it, it’s a really strange atmosphere, you’re always on edge when you’re walking down there.

The prostitutes themselves seemed to have a good sense of humour and normally you’d feel sorry for the girls for ending up in that situation, that that’s how they have to make money. I only really felt sorry for one of them, the majority of them seem really light-hearted as if they really enjoy what they’re doing. The one I felt sorry for wasn’t charging much, I don’t know if she was insecure or desperate for money or just new to the game but that one definitely made me feel a bit sad.”

It seems like innocent fun walking down the street when you see it as a tourist attraction but we forget that these workers are humans too. They might have chosen this path or this may be a result of desperation or the underground sex trade. This cannot be said for every girl because it did appear that a lot of the workers were enjoying themselves, laughing, waving and generally looking happy. This may have been an act to attract more customers but that’s not to say some of the workers don’t enjoy their jobs; taking money from customers simply by looking attractive and having meaningless sex.

If you get the chance to be in Amsterdam, visit the Red Light District for a very interesting experience. The museum of prostitution ‘Red Light Secrets’ is extremely informative about the place and lets you walk through the life of a prostitute. You get to stand in the window and experience a point-of-view screen of what it’s like to be in the window.

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Tassimo VS Dolce Gusto

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I used to absolutely hate coffee; I thought it smelled of cigarettes and looked like dirt and never understood why anyone would want a hot cup of that. Then one day a switch in my brain changed position and I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful taste of roasted coffee beans.

Christmas 2015 was on the horizon and my lovely parents pestered me daily about what I wanted wrapped under the tree. I still had no idea what I wanted until one day during a trip to Tesco I saw a Dolce Gusto coffee machine on offer. I took a picture and sent it to my parents as a possible Christmas gift from them to me. They bought the coffee machine and I knew about it before Christmas.

Here’s where it started to go wrong: I was looking at coffee machines on the Internet and saw that Tassimo offered many different brands of hot chocolates and coffees including Cadbury and Costa. I thought about the Dolce Gusto under the tree and regretted asking for it. I told my parents that I thought Tassimo was a better choice and asked if they still had the receipt so they could get an exchange. They had the receipt but decided to keep the Dolce Gusto for themselves and get a Tassimo for me. We went to curries and bought the Tassimo for my Christmas.

Here’s where it went wrong a second time: I started looking up the coffee ‘t-disc’ types and I was met with a very large number of terrible reviews. Almost everyone said the new milk pods (the recipe has apparently changed to reduce the packaging size) were disgusting and a lot of people said they were switching to a Nespresso or Dolce Gusto machine instead. The reviews on pods for Dolce Gusto were abundantly positive. I wanted to punch myself in the face for buying the Tassimo. I asked my parents to take back the Tassimo and give me the unopened Dolce Gusto. My parents decided to keep the Tassimo.

Christmas has passed and I have now tried coffee from both machines.

If only somebody had reviewed the machines against each other and saved me this ridiculous tirade. I guess I’ll have to be the one to review it for the coffee lovers who wish to purchase their own machine and face the same decision.

Tassimo: On paper, Tassimo looks like a far stronger machine for one reason. There are a vast range of coffee, hot chocolate and tea brands available as (pods) T discs. Milka, Costa, Kenco and Twinings to name a few. The drinks must taste fantastic why else would all of those brands want to be associated with Tassimo? The machine I tested was a Tassimo Vivy, an adorable little chunky machine with intellibrew technology. It would fit perfectly into any kitchen without taking up masses of space. The intellibrew technology means that when you put your t disc in the machine, the only other thing left to do is push a button; the machine scans the t discs bar code and knows how much to pour. This feature I admit is very cool and to my knowledge is also available on some of the more expensive Dolce Gusto Machines. I tried the Costa Latte, the ‘Morning Cafe’ and the pure Colombian Kenco. The Costa Latte was poor; it was watery, thin and the milk tasted a little too fake. I agreed with the reviews online without having actually tried the old milk t discs. The two other drinks I tried (both black coffee) were actually very nice but I had to add my own milk which in my opinion defeats the purpose of having a machine in the first place. The drink-making process also seemed to drag on for a long time, waiting for water to warm, hearing strange noises, not knowing when or if the water will pour after pressing the button.

Overall, the huge choice of drink brands available does not make up for the disgusting milk and slow drink-making process. I’d give the Tassimo Vivy a 5/10.

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Dolce Gusto: With a selection of own brand drinks and not much else, Dolce Gusto doesn’t seem to be as trendy as the Tassimo. The machine I tested was the Dolce Gusto Jovia, a relatively small machine with a strange curved design. This machine is manual so in order to make a drink you have to manually stop-and-start the pouring with a little switch on the top of the machine.  At first I found this very annoying but after I had made a few drinks I found this to be one of my favourite things; it’s hard to overfill a cup or use too much milk when you have total control. The milk pods for the Dolce Gusto are wonderfully frothy and taste fresh. The coffee and hot chocolate pods are also delicious. I tried the Latte Macchiato, Chococino and the Grande. The drinks have a classy feel to them and I cannot stress enough how good they taste. The machine heats up at the beginning before you even make a drink and the button you use to turn the machine on lights up green to let you know it’s ready. This is also a great feature the Tassimo was lacking in. It’s nice to know your machine is ready to use rather than waiting around unsure if your drink is gonna be ready in 10 seconds or 10 minutes.

Overall, the design is of the machine is aesthetically pleasing, the own brand drinks are delicious and it’s an easy system to use. I give the Dolce Gusto Jovia a 9/10.

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These are my personal opinions and you may not agree but I hope this helps if you are struggling to decide on a coffee machine. I am now a proud owner of the Dolce Gusto Jovia and I think it’s wonderful.

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Apologies to George Clooney and Jack Black for not trying the Nespresso. I’ll probably never try the Nespresso because I’m a -tiny and broke- student and this stylish machine is too expensive for my pot-noodles-and-smart-price-vodka lifestyle.

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Burritos on the Train: a Necessary Evil

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Have you ever had a burrito? If you have you’ll understand what I’m about to say, If you haven’t GO AND GET ONE and eat it in complete privacy.

 
Twice this week I have failed the “eat a burrito on a busy train” test so I feel compelled to talk about my ordeal. I don’t know about you but there’s just something so tempting about burritos. It’s like when you’re running out of good ingredients at home and you end up making some kind of cheesy, bean, mayonnaise pizza with a side of packet noodles. It’s a whole bunch of crap thrown together and it doesn’t look like it should taste good but dear god it does.

They’re not the cheapest lunch so really as a tiny and broke human being I shouldn’t really buy these wonderful huge wrapped up pieces of heaven. There is one main problem with this giant fast food; it’s not the price, the size or even the preparation time. It’s the messy act of eating it. Why is it that they put burrito places so near (or even inside) train stations? Don’t be fooled by the neatly packaged cylinder. That foil will not save you. A million napkins may soften the blow but you will end up with the mixture in your hair, eyelashes and encrusted in your clothes. Busy public transport + messy food = the deepest part of hell. There’s something about the act of eating a burrito that screams MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ME. Listen general public, you might be thinking “ugh god how can she eat such a giant wrap” or “what is that disgusting green stuff on her face” but I want you to know I am hungrier than you could imagine and the green stuff is guacamole you ignorant toad.

 
So I, being the helpful human that I am have decided to create a step by step guide on how to eat a burrito in public:

 
1. Buy a burrito: You might think going for the least sloppy option will help but you’re wrong, your burrito will find a way to ooze it’s evil all over you anyway. Get whatever you want inside. Always get guacamole. Don’t ask why, just do it, it’s delicious.

2. Ask the kind burrito assembler if they have any napkins. These will help you later.

3. When you have been shown the location of the napkins, take 400. Save the trees? If the trees had ever eaten a burrito they would understand why they have to die.

4. Avoid busy trains. If you can’t avoid busy trains, avoid eye contact. Things are going to get unpleasantly intimate with whoever has the misfortune to be sat across from you. This person does not want to see you ingest 4 pounds of Mexican heaven and trust me, you don’t want to see them seeing this either. Just don’t look at them, look at the burrito and only the burrito.

5. Take little tiny bites. Lots and lots of little tiny bites followed by dabs and wipes using your many napkins.

6. Burrito anatomy in my case always seems to be the same. There is always one side of the burrito that is sloppier. The side that has absorbed the guacamole, the salsa and the sour cream will be far sloppier than the side containing rice. Eat a bite of the sloppy side then a bite of the ricey side and repeat until finished.

7. Roll up the foil and hide the evidence of the whole burrito experience.

There is one other first step you can take to prevent a messy face in a train full of strangers. If you’re thinking of buying a burrito to eat in public: don’t.

 

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