Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: reflections & review, 2014; predictions & resolutions

I've been thinking about how to write this post for a while, I even considered making a video, but decided to do it the way I can best; through writing.
Last year I made a video declaring I wouldn't dwell on sad things, and listed a bunch of good things that had happened to me during 2012. It was a good idea in itself, but this time around I'm seeing it a little differently.

I can't really put a label on 2013 saying it was a "bad" or a "good" year, because lots and lots of things happened. Some things made me sad, and other things made me happy, and that's how life is. After everything that has been going on with me, I now think it is important to acknowledge everything that happens to us, even the not so cool stuff. I could write a list right now of all the cool things from the past year and show it to you guys, but that won't make me forget about the bad like they never happened. I also don't want to make it seem like I have the perfect life, and as if everything is going great all the time, because going through rough periods is only natural; it happens to everyone. We need to accept everything that happens to us, regardless of how we perceive it, which is why this year, I've decided to make this review of 2013 a top 5 list; top 5 worst and top 5 good events that have taken place in my life this year.

So here we go.

Top 5 worst things 2013

#5: I was dumped by someone who I wanted to commit to long term. Now, these things do happen, and we can't actually help it in these situations, as we can't control other people's feelings. So I cried at first but then I sucked it up and moved on, thinking I was much better off without this person. And I really was.

#4: Had a panic attack at 2 in the morning. I've only ever had a panic attack once, and let me tell you this: it wasn't pleasant. I was in my bed and I couldn't sleep, and I was really anxious for some reason (probably my future). All of a sudden I started crying so hard I couldn't breathe, I tried to get some water but my hands were shaking, and I sat on the floor rocking back and forth until it passed. That's the good thing about them I guess; they pass, rarely lasting longer than 20 minutes.

#3: I had so high expectations for my own birthday that on the very day I started crying and was disappointed (all of these have to do with crying, I've noticed...). Luckily I had my favourite cousin there to support me, and in the end it was just another day.

#2: A close friend of mine decided to end our friendship. Again, this is never something we can help. I'm sure whatever reasons this person had make sense in their head, even though they don't in mine. At least I was able to get the explanations I needed to move on.

#1: I was sexually assaulted by a "friend". Now, before you ask, yes, I am fine. I'm still alive and I'm breathing and stuff, no worries. To be honest, I'd say I'm more traumatised by the period after, where I was repeatedly told to report it because they take these things very seriously here in France, but then not believed by the police. This has created a lot of unnecessary trouble for me, but I've got no other choice than to try and move on with my life. I'm a fighter, and I can't let something like this get to me (even though it kinda sucks). Surprisingly enough, this was the only time on this list I didn't cry.

Top 5 good things 2013

#5: I moved out from my mom's house (and to another freaking country). I'm growing up and becoming independent n shit. It's scary, for sure, but at least I'm free now to do whatever it is I want with my life.

#4: I managed to get a full-time job, in a country where I don't even speak the language, and all on my own. I'm so proud of myself, because I've struggled a lot in the past with getting jobs. I've come a long way, in life.

#3: Started the year off by swimming with dolphins. Didn't matter if I had a raging hangover and only slept like 3 hours. On January 1st 2013 I was up and ready to make the most of my last couple of days in Thailand with my family. And dolphins are probably the best thing in the world.

#2: Passed IB. The IB (International Baccalaureate) was the root to many of my worries, and I have broken down many a time due to stressing about it. Seems all this worrying was for nothing though, because in the end I got enough points to pass, and can now proceed to university whenever I feel like it.

#1: Rediscovered anime. Yes, this is the very best thing I did this year, because anime has opened my eyes to a whole new world. I've made some great memories, which you can hear more about in my 12 Days of Anime videos, and I've made some fantastic new friends. I even created this blog, and it was all because of that one gem called Fullmetal Alchemist.

Predictions & plans for 2014

But of course I wasn't going to end it there! There are still so many things to say about the new year! I'll start off with my predictions, plans, and expectations for 2014.

Some things I look forward to this year:

- Take a French class. It's about time I did this, seeing as working in a bar repeatedly saying the same words day in and day out isn't getting me anywhere. I hope to finally learn this goddamn language that has been haunting me practically all of my life. I can't wait to speak French.

- Get a new (and perhaps better) job. I wrote this part of the post before getting the new job and putting it on the list. But instead of just removing it, I'll keep it, to show how far I've gotten already. It was my goal for next year, but I already accomplished it. So I guess the goal now will be to keep it and get good at it.

- Going to university. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to study at university, and that is soon to be reality. I'm in the process of applying, and have picked 5 universities in England that I would like to study at. I'm completely syked about this, and I expect it to be a lot of fun. I almost can't wait.

Resolutions & goals

Lastly, I'll share with you my personal goals for 2014. This has nothing to do with what I think is going to happen, but more to do with what I want to make reality. I don't really like the word "resolutions" as I associate it with something that always fail, and therefore I like to use the word "goal" instead. I always try to make this list a short one, with only a few, meaningful goals on it. To be honest, I pretty much failed all of my goals for 2013 but one, but one is a start, and this year I want to achieve even more. 

- Learn French. I already talked about this, but I think it deserves a spot on this list as well. Not only do I want to learn the French language, but I want to know the culture better too. I better work hard though, seeing as time seems to fly around here!

- Cosplay. There are two conventions, one in Norway, and one in Paris, that I'm simply dying to go to in 2014. And I want to cosplay; I have already started planning the outfits. I hope this will be successful and done in time, despite my utter lack of sowing and crafting skills. 

- Learn to properly blog. I want to get a domain name for my blog, and perhaps more it over to Wordpress. I've been thinking about this ever since I started, and I've got in touch with some people who can help me understand how to do this better. Hopefully one day I'll be able to run this blog all on my own.

- Join a sports club in uni. I want to do something fun and active to stay in shape, and university offers a wide range of possibilities. I've always wanted to try tennis, but that was too expensive for me back in Norway, so I'm hoping I'll be able to do it once I get to uni.

Monday, December 23, 2013

December fun!

Things have been quite crazy here in Paris, lately! You guys have no idea.

My best girlfriend Lisa came all the way from Norway to visit me for a week, and we've had the best of times. I'll just show you some pictures, and tell you about the stuff along the way.

Lisa is a vegetarian, and has given me a lot of food inspiration.

Drinks at Belushi's.
Here is the view from Sacre Coeur. It's only 10 minutes walking from my place.
This guy insisted on drawing her. It didn't really resemble her though, haha. She didn't have to buy it, luckily. He was nice to talk to, at least.
A dream of mine was to do karaoke. So I invited some people, and we finally went. Lisa is an amazing singer too.

The crew at karaoke night. Japanese style karaoke, it was amazing. Recommended.

I don't think I've written about this before, but in my hometown, Trondheim, there is a 50s diner called Pair-a-dice, which is our favourite place to hang out. They have amazing milkshakes.

Sadly (or not I guess) I'm not there anymore, I'm in Paris, so we went to a 50s diner here instead. Although their milkshakes could not compare, it was a wonderful experience. I wouldn't mind going back. But I wouldn't try the bubblegum milkshake again. Don't do it, it's awful.

I tried a vegetarian burger! It was pretty good, but seriously this is too much food for me to eat in one meal.

Lastly, we went to see the Eiffel Tower at night. A must. It starts blinking every hour, and it's a fantastic sight.

Now, let me finish off this by announcing some pretty big news. I mentioned before that we went to Belushi's, which is a bar and diner, as well as a part of a hostel. They exist all across Europe, and I used to go there quite often in the past, since it was a place it is easy to talk to people. Most of the time, there are people there who are travelling alone, but unfortunately this also means it's a bad place for making long term friends (which is why I stopped going). I did bring Lisa there though, since it's so close to my place. 
When we were there, I mentioned how great it would be to work there, and she encouraged me to go ask them about getting a job. I was probably a little (or very) drunk at the time, so I ran up to the supervisor, who told me they were in fact looking for a new girl, full-time worker. The following night I gave them my resume. When I didn't hear anything for a few days I went back, met the manager, and was told to come in for a try-out shift the next morning! I've been there for 3 days now, and today I signed the contract for a month of trial period! 

I'd say this is the greatest thing I've accomplished since I came here. I have actually been looking for a new job for a few weeks, seeing as my current workplace isn't being fair to me, and completely destroying my social life. At the time of writing, I still have this job, but I intend on talking to my boss tonight, telling him I'll quit, and go on with my new job instead. I can't believe all of this, really, I feel like I've had some great luck for the past few days. The universe is really with me on this. 

Other than that though, I've been working on the 12 Days of Anime vlogs, my university application, and now my mother and her boyfriend have arrived in Paris to celebrate Christmas with me. 2013 has had it's ups and downs, as it should be and which I will elaborate in another post, but I'm feeling great about the coming year, and right now, I think I can handle whatever the world throws at me. 

I've really grown up now.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12 Days of Anime - Day 2-4

I have a visitor from Norway this week (my super best girlfriend!), so I haven't had the time to blog properly. I try to keep up with the 12 Days of anime tho, and here the videos from day 2-4. Hope you guys like them! (Kinda embarrassing for me haha).

Monday, December 09, 2013

12 Days of Anime 2013: Introduction video

I originally planned to do this in another blog series, but then I realised there were tons of people out there making vlogs, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to make some more friends in the youtube anime community. Join in on the fun, do your own 12 days of anime!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Reasons to love Christmas: Day 8

#8: New Year's. 

Regardless of how the year has been, I'm always happy to have the Christmas period at the end. And there's no better way to complete it than with a big New Year's celebration. Another year over might remind us of the things we didn't do and that time is ticking, but I like to think of it differently. I always welcome the new year, as it marks the end of an era, good or bad (most often a mix of both), and represents new beginnings.

I love getting together with my absolute best friends, eating turkey and waldorf salad, having (a bit too many?) drinks and watching the fireworks. This always make the very best memories, and is a good way to start a new year. Unfortunately I won't be able to see my friends or family at New Year's, but I'm sure it will be unforgettable nevertheless.

New Year's Eve is a decent movie, and I love Lea Michele's version of the song Auld Lang Syne.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Reasons to love Christmas: Day 7

#7: Edibles & baking. 

We all love the food that comes with this holiday season, right? I think every country has its own traditions when it comes to this, and I'd love to hear what you guys eat for Christmas. Personally, I love cakes and sweets, so I usually make a lot of biscuits. Gingerbread is a common choice, and many people in Norway like to make something called coca cola cookies, which taste like coke (obviously).  

What I used to do while still in Norway was invite some friends over for baking night, and it made some of the best memories. 

I have never been prouder of my own creation. I even made up a story for the people living in this gingerbread house.

Buche de Noel (Yule log). Probably my favourite thing to eat at Christmas. One of the few French traditions I grew up with. Source.
Cute! Source.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Reasons to love Christmas: Day 6

#6: Clothes.

Christmas themed outfits are adorable. And I don't mean those sexy outfits for girls (although they can be quite nice to look at sometimes), I just mean general cute outfits and Christmas themed clothes. 

We all remember this scene from Mean Girls, yeah? Back when Lindsay Lohan was still hot ;__;
Lea Michele just looks perfect in everything. Source.
And check out these adorable dresses from Bodyline. They make me wish I was still into Lolita fashion.

I would love to have a hood like this! Source.

This is the perfect combination between Christmas and sailor. Source.
And these are some cute things I found after lurking around Ebay for a while:

I just love these kind of sweaters. Source.

What are these? I need one! Source.
Here is a good collection of winter themed leggings for a good price! Source.
Adorable knee socks. Source.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Reasons to love Christmas: Day 5

#5: Movies.

There are so many fantastic movies about Christmas, and I have tons of memories watching them as I grew up. Snuggling up with a cup of chocolate and some snacks, and maybe even a good friend, in front of the TV, while the snow is falling outside the window, what better way to spend these cold winter days? These are the movies I watch, some even every Christmas (although this year I'll have to really limit myself!).

The Polar Express (2004): The animation is amazing, and they even put Tom Hanks in the movie! I don't care if it's for kids, I absolutely love this movie because it teaches us that having hope and faith is important even though you can't see everything clearly.

Tokyo Godfathers (2003): Of course I had to include some Japanese animation on this list! I've only ever seen this movie once, and it was years ago so I don't remember too much of it (I plan to see it this year again though!). But I know this: I never forgot how it made me feel. It's sad, bittersweet, heart breaking, but also warming, happy, and leaves you with a good feeling about humanity. 

Mickey's once upon a Christmas (1999): I've seen this movie too many times. But it's still one of my best Christmas memories.

Now, this last imagine isn't really from a Christmas movie, but we all love the Christmas scene from Harry Potter, which that sad music playing in the background, while Harry is kind of jealous cause his friends get to go home to their families for Christmas while he has to stay at Hogwarts.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Reasons to love Christmas: Day 4

#4: Christmas trees & decorations.

They're beautiful. Decorations are cute and funny. And trees are a must. One of my favourite things to do is decorate the Christmas tree with friends or family. Now, I'm not the one to go overboard with decorations, but I love seeing streets and shops decorated. Especially with lights. I mentioned before how Norway suffers from lack of natural sunlight, but I think the lights they put up at Christmas makes up for that.

They're so colourful and that makes me happy. Source.
This is the only time I will accept glitter. Source.
My very own home town, Trondheim. Source.
I mean, will you just look at this? Paris, you have my attention.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Reasons to love Christmas: Part 3

#3: The music.

Need I say any more? There is an endless amount of Christmas songs and covers. I've been listening to them since mid-November. I couldn't help myself, because honestly they are beautiful, and I only get to listen to them in this very special period. I mean who listens to Christmas music in the summer? It's wrong. The music is part of the magic to. 

Some of my favourite songs, although I couldn't include them all! 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Reasons to love Christmas: Day 2

#2: Nostalgia

The second reason why I love Christmas isn't something just anyone can relate to. It's simply because of my own memories. Yeah I have some bad ones, which happen to have taken place around this time of the year, but I have equally as many good ones. I love to look back and remember all the fun things I've done in past Decembers. Some years have been pretty hard on me, but Christmas time has always been the one time a year I am able to forget most of my hardships and simply enjoy the small things.

Here are some of those good times:

Nothing tops last year's Christmas spent in Thailand. You know, just casually swimming with dolphins and shit. 
My hometown's very own shopping mall decorated. I miss this.
Taken in Hyde Park. London. At Christmas (2010).
The love of my life herself. I'm kinda sad looking through these pictures. They make me homesick!  
Yeah, uh, that's me on the right there. New Year's Eve, yeaaaars ago.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Reasons to love Christmas: Day 1

I LOVE Christmas. Seriously guys. It's easily my favourite season. I'm serious guys I've been excited about this for months already. And to me, Christmas isn't just that one day you receive presents and have a big family dinner. Christmas is all of December. Christmas is the anticipation, the shopping for gifts, the books, music, specials on tv, everything that happens in December IS Christmas.
But why do I love Christmas so much? It's not really because of presents or love and family, or cliche stuff like that. Allow me to share with you my reasons for loving Christmas, in this daily blog series. Starting with the first reason:

#1: Christmas spirit.

To be honest, I didn't like Christmas as a child, just because I found all the fuss kind of awkward and exaggerated. But I think the lack of Christmas spirit for so many years have come to me all at once for the past couple of Christmases.

There is something about Christmas you can't put your finger on. It's just a feeling in the air. Winter is usually a dark and gloomy time for us Norwegians, seeing as there is pretty much no sunlight and freezing outside, but at Christmas the entire town lights up with decorations and music and spirit. It's a fantastic sight. It makes me happy about light for no particular reason other than being an excuse to be extra happy. It's almost magical.

I think this expresses what I'm talking about pretty well. Source.

Curling up with a cup of hot chocolate is the best. Source.
There's nothing like a good old book to keep you company during these days of cold. Source.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Looking back.

December is right around the corner, and personally I am siked. It will be great, and I will tell you all about why in my blog series, but all in its time. The past few months have been quite rough on me, but in an attempt at getting some Christmas spirit, I looked back at some of the good memories. I haven't been great at taking photos, but I also haven't been great at doing things worth taking photos of. Anyway, here are some simple, everyday things that made me smile this fall/winter.

I've shown this off before, but I decorated my fall, which makes my room feel a little more homey.

Tried some traditional French fromage (cheese).
It was, well, delicious.

I got my smoothie machine for Christmas years ago,
and I swore I would one day make use of it.

This is called a Jager train. However, more than the alcoholic drink, it makes me think of Eren Jaeger from SnK.

Although I wasn't able to sing karaoke that night, I will never give up the hope that one day I will do it.
My dear aunt sent me a lovely package of some Norwegian things, which was much appreciated. Especially the chocolate. I also got some Christmas decorations, so that was nice.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Winter season 2014

I'm not a big fan of watching currently airing shows. However, SnK and Free! introduced me to a community of people online, and when these shows finally ended and fall season began I felt kind of left behind as people started watching new shows.

I love to watch anime, and there is plenty to choose from, so I always have a hard time picking some shows. I usually go for the ones ranked the highest by popularity polls and recommended by fellow otakus. However, I do want to broaden my insight in the anime world, and I think keeping up with the times is important in order to keep up with the community.

So I have decided to follow a few shows when the winter season begins. The problem is, I'm terrible at making decisions, and I'll easily judge an anime by the "cover". Which is why I have instead made a poll on the sidebar of my blog, asking you guys which anime you think I should be watching. I want to know what shows have the most hype, what you are looking forward to seeing and why. 

Here is a list of the animes I have picked as potential watches. Clicking on them will lead you to the MAL page of each anime. The ones with stars are the ones I'm particularly interested in, but that doesn't mean they're the ones I'll be watching! (I've decided on perhaps one by myself :P).

Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha.
Mahou Sensou
Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
Neppuu Kairiku Bushi Road*

Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga.
Sakura Trick*
Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta*
Wake Up, Girls
Z/X: Ignition

The poll will be up until the end of December, when I will pick 3-5 shows based on the top votes in the poll, and maybe write about some expectations. Maybe. You can vote for as many shows you'd like, but don't vote for them all! My future is in your hands. 

So vote for an anime, and tell me in the comments what you are most excited to see this winter, even if I didn't include it in my list! 

Somewhat excited for Nourin. It sounds interesting.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Anime review: Welcome to the N.H.K.

I expected so much of this show. I think maybe too much. I'm sorry to all the fans out there; I didn't really like it. Still, it portrays anxiety in an interesting way, and although I'm not particularly fond of this anime, I did have some sort of revelation while watching, and dare I say I learned something from it.

Satou Tatsuhiro is a 22 year old university drop-out, and a hikkikomori: he shut himself in his room and dares not go outside. He seems to have extremely high social anxiety, and he believes the "N.H.K." is conspiring to make him miserable. But then one day he meets Misaki-chan and his old friend Yamazaki, and he slowly begins to grow out of his hikkikomori ways.

Given that this anime is 24 episodes, the story is slow paced. But the slow pace is also very necessary. While watching it may seem like nothing is happening and the story isn't going anywhere, but when you're at the end you realise how far each character has gotten. Satou-kun struggles with his issues, trying to fix them but not really, and slowly but surely they are getting somewhere.
There is also some good use of foreshadowing here.
The ending proves to be paramount, it is vital for the overall impression of the show. It presents a perfectly understandable solution for the entire problem that the show has been carrying for the first 22 episodes, and in my opinion they could just have cut to the chase and put it at the beginning instead. But alas, then we would have no NHK to discuss. To be fair, the inner journey that Satou-kun adventures is important, and perhaps even helpful to him, but I'll get back to that.

Characters are, what can I say, well done. They have personality and not that stereotypical which proves to be a good thing here. There is of course our king nerd Satou-kun who is the most paranoid otaku I have seen. His indecisiveness and lack of spine is quite annoying at times, and sometimes I swear he shows some severe signs of schizophrenia. However he goes through an amazing amount of development, and this is what brings the story forward.
Misaki-chan is tolerable, but I do not know who she is or what she wants. The information we get about her is fairly little, and only in the last couple of episodes do we learn something, which make it seem as if the whole point of the plot was to reveal her backstory. I don't dislike her, she's alright, I guess. I just wish I knew her a little better.
The side-kick otaku and eroge-lover Yamazaki is my favourite character in the show. He's funny. He's cute. He's a good friend. He struggles with his own issues at school and I couldn't help but relate a little to him. Other than that he's pretty nuts tho.

My dear Yamazaki. Let's built a 2D universe together.
The soundtrack I found is quite enjoyable. The animation was, well, not a masterpiece of any sorts, but I also don't think that was the point here. For a 2006 show, it's quite ordinary, but I believe that's suppose to highlight other parts like the character personalities and music instead (as opposed to e.g. Haruhi). At least it's not bad. Not at all, just, ordinary.

However, I did have a hard time investing my own feelings into this show. Although I could highly sympathise with many of the characters, I was put off by the huge mess Satou-kun always got himself into. A lot of this did not make any sense to me, and therefore I couldn't enjoy it. There were a few funny moments in there though (thank you Yamazaki) and I did not hate it.

- Relatable themes for young otakus to relate to.
- Well made characters and character development.
- Good soundtrack.
- Slow pace.
- Information about the characters not distributed in an appropriate pace.
- Lack of story development.

Overall 6/10. It was fine, and on that note I will recommend it to huge nerds who like romance//drama/comedy, seeing as it is so massively popular among fans across the world.