29 rules about being 29 to my 21 year old self

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Image by pixabay

29 is an odd age, not quite done with yours twenties, but yet to fully embrace the maturity of our thirties, it’s the quintessential limbo age. While I am not an ordinary 29 year old English girl (I’m a student, still living with my parents); I think most millennials have had to share a lot of similar experiences based on the political and economic climate of the last ten years. Making us 1. much more resistant to embrace the lifestyle of our parents and 2. creating our own paths and the straight forward one might not necessarily mean the easiest. The world has changed a lot since I was 21 in 2009, and I like many others in my age bracket I’ve had to adjust to that world.

  1. Have a plan, but don’t be frigid with it.  Career aspirations, travel plans, family goals -have them, sure! But just remember that as you get older and change so does your to do list.
  2. Educate yourself. You’re never too old to learn a new language, pick up a new skill or go back to university. I hear a lot of excuses that just sound so much like giving up. Strive to be that 90 year old who graduated from college because she had always wanted an education.
  3. Be open to different views. I was quite stubborn when it came to my liberal viewpoints but as I get older I remember everyone has different experiences and rather than roll my eyes (because I was so right) I’ve learnt to listen.
  4. Travel, travel, travel. Even if you don’t have the money to go to exotic places, take a different route to work, save to go to Paris for a weekend. Go to a different part of your own country, speak another language, dress like the locals, make memories.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to others. When I was 20, I often compared myself to colleagues, to famous people, to family and wondered how I was doing. Your life is not a competition, get to a point where you’re happy with and start competing against yourself.
  6. Embrace heartbreak. I’d often put off relationships. I hated the idea of someone having some mystical power over me, but that’s not living, hurt and pain are just another part of growing up.
  7. Spend time alone. In my early twenties I spent so much time trying to impress people, wanting everyone to like me that it became so tiring and stressful. I enjoy my own company as much as chatting away with my best friends. Everyone needs downtime.
  8.  Don’t be afraid to be out of your comfort zone. Whatever this might be, we can’t stay in our comfortable fortified armours, we need to take our helmets off for a better viewpoint. Change careers, do that presentation, travel alone; be comfortable with being a little afraid.
  9. Don’t put up with nonsense. Like so many people in their early twenties, I hung out with people that I didn’t necessarily like or had much in common with because I felt pressured to be in certain social circles. Now, I’ve learnt quality time with your best friends is much more worth my time than hanging out with a bunch of strangers at a party,
  10. Tell people to fuck off (figuratively). When the occasion calls for it. So many times I had sat patiently listening to people put me down, dismiss my achievements, pressure me into another drink, or pressure me into situations. Everyone understands fuck off, it’s the universal phrase for ‘had enough of your bullshit’.
  11. Dress like you want to dress. Because your own happiness means more than what other people think.
  12. Put your earphones in. When you want to blank out the world. Being plugged into the world and what goes around in other peoples lives can be a waste of your time, and frankly everyone needs to space out for a while.
  13. Read the day away (or Netflix it away). While I was in my early twenties, I felt like I had to be doing something every minute of the day. But now sometimes I just take a day off and enjoy the luxury of nothingness.
  14. Carve out your own path. Love your job? Great, but don’t feel like you have to commit to a career just because your reaching your thirties and it’s the safer route. Experiment with skills and interests and you might end up being more fulfilled.
  15. Get 8 hours sleep. I’ve always enjoyed sleep, but as you get older, it feels like you have less time. But eight hours is essential for general functional behaviour during the day.
  16. Embrace the ageing process. By that I don’t mean start shopping at Wallis, I mean learn from your mistakes. Say your age with confidence, because if you weren’t born with miraculous good luck you’ve probably gone through a lot of shit. The older you get, the better you become with dealing with said shit.
  17. Invest in health and beauty. Keep hydrated, shell out for a good conditioner, eat healthily, buy a good moisturiser and go for runs and join the gym. It’s investments your future self will thank you for. But I now have an irrational fear of being dehydrated.
  18. Plan your finances. I’m probably the worst person to ask for financial advise, but gone are the days when I was paid from my job in Tokyo and inevitably end up living on instant noodles because I spent my salary in three days. It’s taking work, but I’m a lot better.
  19. Start a new hobby. You don’t necessarily even have to aim to become better, just enjoy it. I love my hobbies, I rock climb (from 25) and practise Krav Maga ( from 27). It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a pro at any of them, but I enjoy them and I feel like it’s money and time well invested.
  20. Don’t smile (for other people). Smile because you want to, not because a knob in a yellow hard hat tells you to.
  21. Embrace change. An inevitable part of growing up. Since my early twenties, I have become more open minded to people, and it’s those very people who have helped mould me into who I am today.
  22. Write things down. The strangest thing about being 29, is looking at my old journals, there are months missing, large chunks of my life that I didn’t record. But looking back it’s almost cathartic to see how much I’ve been through and how much I’ve changed due to those experiences.
  23. Embrace love. In any form it comes (friends, cats, boyfriend, girlfriend, dogs etc), for the last 28 years I’ve try to avoid it at all costs, because love can get in the way of important decisions, but as they say ‘It is better to have loved than not to have loved at all’.
  24. Let go of old grudges. I don’t mean go to ex-nemesis’s house and ask for forgiveness for every time you tripped them up in the hallway (trust me I’ve never done that). But I mean let go of those old feelings of hate, anger and forgive (be it yourself or them). Past negative feelings have as much pain as the ones in the present.
  25. Keep your friends updated. Because life sometimes gets in the way of life. Send that email to a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages, but is very dear to you. Friends understand that life gets in the way and a ‘hey how are you?’ Facebook message can go along way.
  26. Avoid ‘what if’ thinking. When I arrived back in the UK after four (or was it five?) long years in Japan. I honestly kept thinking ‘what if I left earlier?’ When I was in Japan I developed an interest in history and archaeology. If I had left earlier I would be doing my masters at 23 and not at 27. If I had avoided the perils of financial journalism I would be doing my PhD instead. So much of my energy concentrated on hypothetical situations
  27. Get friends from all ages. My best friend during university was in his thirties, while I was 18, my best friend now is in her fifties. One of my closest friends is 21. Older people are not necessarily the epitome of wisdom and the personification of maturity. They make mistakes, they need advice and guidance. While younger people have some of the best advice to offer, a fresher perspective is needed. Younger people in some respect have life much harder than us nearing our thirties; they have higher university fees, they live in the world where Brexit and Trump is the (mature) popular view meaning their insights are just as valuable.
  28. Listen to your mum (or dad). If you’re lucky to still have your mum in the picture, listen to her even if you know she’s wrong.
  29. Continue (and be okay with) making mistakes. Even in your forties, fifties, sixties you’ll make mistakes (from what I’ve heard). You’ll say the wrong thing, you’ll splurge on the wrong thing. You’ll possibly end up with the wrong person. But that’s just life, and unlike in my early twenties I won’t sit down and analyse every single mistake, every single bad choice, as that’s not living that’s stagnating. As we get older, we improve, we give less of a shit, we progress, we take responsibility for our mistakes and the likelihood is we become who we are suppose to be.

When the world is telling you to be alone

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I was sitting on my bed per usual stroking my cat Lily when she decided enough was enough and swiftly jumped off my lap. The rejection stung for a mere 20 seconds and I got on reading my book. That’s something I’ve always respected about cats, when they want to be alone, they make it happen. No worrying about people’s feelings, no second guessing.  I used to be like that, when I wanted some alone time from the bustle of my life I took some time away from it. I would travel alone, climb a mountain, read a book, anything that allowed for those precious moments on my own.

Don’t confuse being alone for loneliness. I enjoy one but not the other.  Breaking up with friends, even if you haven’t fought, or splitting up with a boyfriend can leave you feeling lonely. I was rebounding from both. The problem wasn’t necessarily either, but this overwhelming obligation to go finding new friends and a partner almost immediately. You see being in my late 20s I’ve heard the phrase ‘you’re not getting any younger’ a lot. Despite my reluctance to ever be tied down by a husband or children, those words start to wear on you. The worst part is you start to believe that you should be following what society is ordering you to do.

However society and the world are not the same thing. As I aimlessly went from date to date, the world was giving me strong hints that I wasn’t ready to settle. Job offers from abroad started to appear in my inbox.  Friends living in different parts of world extending invites, my father at almost 82 reminding me it’s my life and telling me diligently on his hospital bed about his regrets for not experiencing more from life. I kept ignoring the signs, until one day lying in Bloomsbury Square appreciating the London sun while listening to The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, a final attempt to elevate my spirits, a student from South America asked me for directions. He was meeting friends at The Museum Tavern, I directed him the best I could with my broken Spanish. He thanked me back in English, not before saying ‘everyday is an adventure in London’. That’s when it hit me, I had lost the adventure in my life. My depression, lack of self esteem and excitement was down to my routine, the shear boredom of repeated days. When I got into that routine, I felt the time slip through my hands and it frightened me. No. It terrified me.

Then I went back to the library, opened a tab up and started searching for interns abroad, cheap plane tickets, field schools, anything- just adventure. And when I do find it, I’ll make sure to make the most of it.

Rule no.1 don’t fuck up

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So I’m sitting in A&E with a bag of ice on my head wondering where have I played out this scenario before? Was it that time in Tokyo I got so battered that I fell to the ground head first on the subway? Or was it that time when I was playing a game of rounders in secondary school and got distracted by that weirdly attractive IT teacher? Whenever it was, I had clearly fucked up many times before now.

I’m used to being the one that accidentally spills their morning coffee on their new Zara blouse or CCing in that person I had called a wanker in the email. Reply all is not your friend. Actually I think they should delete that feature immediately it would save so many careers. I’m so used to ‘fucking up’ that I’m constantly aware of my next big mistake and I don’t even need to drink four or five G&Ts to do it.

The odd thing about being an adult (not even young adult I’m just adult adult, which I’m sure  because of some sexist societal expectation is mildly terrifying) is that these fuck-ups are being racked up against you by self-righteous friends, exes, family (the list is endless). For those people it shows your lack of responsibility,  maturity and this is one is only for the ladies -elegance.

Now I’m not saying we should allow ourselves to be complete messes, inept of taking ownership of our lives or careers, but what I am saying is that we should be allowed to fuck up (occasionally) and for it not to held against us at every corner. We are human after all (or most us I assume).  I’ve made my inner peace with a lot of my past mistakes, for overspending (investing as I used to call it), overdrinking,  for being too honest, for not being honest enough. I refuse for those mistakes to keep hanging over me, like a credit card bill I haven’t paid yet. Forgive and forget is a cliche, not because it’s true but because people sometimes need it.

Hot Feminist

 

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Image: pexels.com

I’ve been reading a book, I know! Somehow miraculously through all the editing, dog sitting, university assignments, and you know generally fucking around I’ve had time to pick up a book and read. Don’t worry I’m already patting my head in self-gratification, I also get brownie points for completing it in a week. The book, Hot Feminist delves into the identity of the self-labelled, Hot Feminist. A woman who takes pride in the way she looks but still holds onto feminist values, such as gender equality, ending sexual assault and closing the gender pay gap. Although these are important issues, many modern feminists see the obsession of vanity equally as horrifying. Wanting to shave your armpits or wanting to wear those three-inch heels are seen as tantamount to succumbing to the patriarchy.

Reviews for Hot Feminist varied considerably,  many reviewers seemingly not understanding what the book was trying to convey. She’s not saying, I’m so much better than you because I buy MAC and shop at Karen Millen, she’s saying it’s ok to be hot. For years, I always wondered if somehow by wearing a dress made me less of a feminist, merely fodder for male fantasy.  The problem it seems and I wholeheartedly agree with Miss Polly Vernon on this is that Feminism is so disjointed, everyone’s idea of feminism is paramount and if you somehow don’t agree with theirs then it somehow makes you a lesser person. It wasn’t until university that I started identifying as a feminist, I don’t know what it was about the Creative Arts, but it makes one ultra aware of their privilege and others as well. You can’t help but compare how much easier certain groups of people have it over you. And of course how much easier you have it over others.

And for many years, I wore jeans, baggy jumpers, and converse to tell the world: I’m not here to be objectified. I won’t ever be blamed for unwanted attention because of the length of my skirt. My validation will not come through meaningless comments from people on the street (or Tinder matches).  But as I look back at that period (Ah Facebook, a constant reminder of how shit one’s life was and or still is) I shudder, I don’t look happy, I look mildly amused at the very best. The truth was I felt hollow. Even though I had started on my quest to be an archaeologist I was deeply unsettled, displeased with my shitty part time job, worried that potential dates would judge me about still living with my folks, and last but not least scared that this whole caring about not caring facade would eventually break. Everyday, I dressed like I had some adventure waiting for me as soon I left university, and this was all due to my belief that people would take me more seriously. But did it?

The short answer is: no. I was constantly belittled by others, reminded that ‘I was only a student’ and that I dressed like a 13 year prepubescent boy (slight exaggeration). The criticism I received not only knocked my confidence in my academic work, but also in my relationship with others. I had intentionally made myself unhappy. And I was so unhappy. Because I wanted people to think I didn’t care about my appearance, but I did and probably always will. This is not to say I have an unhealthy obsession with my outward appearance, I like to think that I have a ‘normal level’ interest. Shopping, scrolling through  H&M’s website in the office (while that foreboding deadline comes closer), caring about your appearance doesn’t necessarily make you a bad feminist. It’s just one of those feminist non-arguments that routinely gets thrown around. It’s amusing that columnists or just people in general don’t dish out criticisms on decorating one’s home or office spaces or keeping the garden hedges nicely trimmed. Yet somehow, caring about make up, hair, and clothes is criticised as as being vain or a victimization of the patriarchy. This what I call Negative feminism, mostly seen through Twitter and endless Tumblr posts, creeping into women’s psyche making them question every decision in fear of being judged. Let’s face it, Twitter/ Tumblr feminism has become extremely self-righteous. Isn’t feminism suppose to be about allowing women to make their own choices? That’s the feminism I signed up for and that’s the one I’ll keep marching for even in heels.

Can you fall in love after a day?

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‘Six months from now, we’ll meet here,’ those are the parting words Jesse tells Celine after spending an incredibly intense day with her in Vienna. They promise each other to meet at the same spot in six months. Instead of dismissing it as simply a holiday fling, they recognise their love after just a day. During their time together they had connected, chatted about the existence of a god, reincarnation, death, and their failed romantic relationships then consummated their love in a public park. The first time I had watched the film (almost 10 years ago) I was left wondering: is it possible to fall in love after just a day? Is it totally plausible to meet someone,  connect on a deeper level and then realise that they’re your soul mate, love of your life, possibly even  life partner? The 19 year old me was a total sceptic but nevertheless kept returning to that movie and its sequel Before Sunset.

The truth was my 19 year old self loved the concept of Jesse and Celine in Before Sunrise, but as the years went by I realised I was more like Tom from 500 Days a Summer. But how do you define love or being in love? Does it matter if someone feels the same way? Does the depth of that love change when it takes longer for romantic feelings to develop? I’ve always wanted the sort of love that Celine had for Jesse.  Then it miraculously happened,  we met in an unconventional way but after the first exceedingly awkward ten minutes, we delved into social identity, travel, and archaeology. We would sit in the pub and talk for hours while slowly getting more and more drunk, we ‘d discuss the universe, parallel dimensions, photography, anything going. The next few days were invigorating, almost like I had only started living at 28. And like Celine, I can pinpoint the very moment I had fallen in love, he was standing in the kitchen talking on his phone and he looked up at me. I’d known him the grand sum of three days. Like Celine and Jesse I knew we would eventually part ways, I was too neurotic, while he was too laid back. Remember, the saying is not staying balanced in love, it is falling, losing your self to love.

Duration doesn’t matter,  it was surprising to me that I could have such intense feelings after three days despite being in long-term relationships that had lasted more than a year. Often it is that simple because being “in love” has so many variables including longevity. Being in love is such a beautiful thing and while it can be all-consuming and most definitely destructive, not everyone gets to experience that raw and deep connection. The experience is dramatic, intense and overwhelming. There are a lot of crazy choices you’ll make in life. If you get the chance, you should definitely allow yourself to be open to falling in love like Celine and Jesse… Even if it only lasts a day.

Tinder: Ego-boosting one-night-stands

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After a tough break up, I wanted to discover what it was like to go on a few casual dates. Casual being the key word. As a trailblazer for optimism I decided that I would try Tinder, after getting a bit of a repetitive strain injury in my thumb from swiping right and left all the time I decided on three guys I would go on dates with. It’s quite amazing, we are in the age of fast-food dates.  Who cares about getting to know a person, right?

Tinder is a basically ‘would you fuck or not?’ app. I got bored with messaging them; avatars don’t feel like real people and  I’m from a generation where sex is similarly instinctive along with appetite for immediacy. My narcissistic curiosity and appetite for constant validation were fuelled by Tinder’s addictive swipe function.  And I can only assume feeds that caveman part of a male brain that places women in hot or not  categories, viewing them as a piece of meat a la Sports Illustrated.

So you’re asking what about the dates? First there was Dan, member of a band, bartender in the evenings. He was the nicest and  I can safely say (in hindsight) authentic. He was the kind of guy who liked to hold your hand under the table.  He let me watch him play in his band a couple of times, and gave cute kisses on the cheek before he went on stage.  He was a keeper, and not the poster boy for Tinder. Why the hell was he on Tinder?

Then there was Oliver, exactly the sort of 20-something that Tinder or OkCupid would welcome: trendy, active on social media, possibly polygamous (a cheat), but honest about it. We went on a couple of dates, it was easy to talk to him, nothing was off the cards.  That made everything almost too comfortable. I felt my 16 year old self come out again when a cute but undeniably self-involved hack shows interest, but at 28, why let myself be deluded?

Last but not least there was Dean, Shoreditch, 29, who I never even managed to meet up with. As he thought it would be a good idea on his first phone call to ask if I liked big gentalia. But unfortunately that’s the typical male message on Tinder. Dean gives me the impression he has Tinder-banged so many women in London that three in 10 children born in the next generation will be his.

Unlike some of my male friends, I was going on dates and receiving messages – but I felt ugly. I thought being validated through compliments and matches would give me a sense of confidence. I mean after 24 hours I felt a little uglier as a person. You put a picture of yourself up, and after 48 hours, you get men messaging you. But the experience just left me feeling hollow. I lost all my looks. I no longer had it. The world might not have  decided I was ugly but I did.

I wanted to be one of the guys, to think I could have casual flings. I realised I can’t switch it off; the need for real deep connections. Call me old fashioned, but what ever happened to that amazing moment where you bump into each other in the supermarket or meet at a party, and start connecting? I’ll wait for that moment. Tinder deleted.

The last of the Incas

This year, sees an adventure begin. My trip to Peru in April, will be one of the biggest events of my life, I see nothing but the land of the setting sun in front of me.  It’s been a childhood dream of mine to visit Machu Pichu, my interest in the Incan empire was sparked when I was only a child, watching the Mysterious Cities of Gold, pretending to be Zia, the Incan princess. Something about the ancient lands of Peru causes a chill down my spine, the good kind, the kind, which kicks you off your seat into action, into an adventure.

I read the Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham last year, it was filled with stories of discovery, the main one being how he found the last city of the indigenous people of Peru, which had always fascinated me. I had no hopes of becoming an archaeologist or historian when I was a child, I had only wished to visit the land of the setting sun so I could trace the same steps of the Incas with my very own footprints.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Last year, after coming back from a four-year adventure in Japan, I felt at odds with the world. It might come across off as little strange, but I left not out of the need for home comforts, but for adventure. Japan had given me all the necessities I would have needed to go voyaging off in some distant land,  money, accessible routes from sea and land, but it lacked the all important key to adventure; opportunity. You see I didn’t want to just visit Peru, I wanted to explore Peru.

That’s when I realised I wanted to be more than a travel writer, visiting restaurants and hotels and giving them a rating out of ten seemed a little mundane, if not repetitive. I wanted to get into every nick and cranny in Machu Picchu and find or notice something that someone hadn’t before.

I started attended seminars at UCL about South American Archaeology, and my interest started to shape into a life ambition. I began applying for internships on archaeological digs in Peru and by some source of divine power I was offered one late last year with a renowned archaeologist in the field of Ancient Peru, finally starting my adventure.

Here I include my 5 favourite civilisations to come out of Peru, and some I hope to delve into more once I become more acquainted with the region.

Top 5 Peruvian Ancient

  1. The Chachapoyas, also called the Warriors of the Clouds, was a culture of Andean people living in the cloud forests of the Amazonas Region of present-day Peru.
  2. The Inca Empire  was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America.
  3. The Nazca culture was the archaeological culture that flourished from 100 BCE to 800 CE beside the dry southern coast of Peru in the river valleys of the Rio Grande de Nazca drainage and the Ica Valley.
  4. The Wari  were a Middle Horizon civilization that flourished in the south-central Andes and coastal area of modern-day Peru, from about AD 500 to 1000.
  5. The Chavín were a civilization that developed in the northern Andean highlands of Peru from 900 BC to 200 BC.

Climbing Snowdon, Wales

Climbing a huge rock.

Climbing a huge rock.

It has been a while since I left Japan and although I’m more than happy to be back, I will admit I felt lost for a time.  There was of course the initial culture shock of being back, but like so many things in life, you just get used to it.  For a few months in the UK, I feared that that bold girl Japan had been crafting for the last four years was disappearing. I no longer went on hikes, spoke to strangers, spoke another language, and I constantly feared the co-dependence which English life offered me.

I knew I had to grab that spontaneous girl back; look for adventure. So I decided to ask my friend to go hiking with me to Snowdon, I had at numerous times during my period in Asia, climbed up mountains -despite my averse fear of heights.

Half-way up the mountain.

Half-way up the mountain.

So I packed my belongings on 8th November and set out for adventure. Wales, has rustic feel to it I assume that’s how Northern England would be had I took the opportunity to venture up there.  For the first night my friend and I decided to stay at hotel so we had enough strength for the climb, the town was called Blaenau Ffestiniog, situated close to Snowdon itself. If only I hadn’t booked my train tickets so late then maybe I could have explored the town in its entirety,  but it didn’t only feel like time was against us, but our own dreaded luck. We lost Satelite Navigation, we couldn’t read the Welsh signs, we got lost at every turn, but we eventually made it to the hotel, the hotel worker waiting patiently as I ran to the doors, shoelaces untied.

The next morning, we treated ourselves to a full-welsh breakfast and made our way to Rhyy Ddu path, which is apparently the most scenic for mountain views -they weren’t lying. As we started our descent I couldn’t help, but stop every 10 minutes to take a picture of the view, on my digital camera, my iPhone, every angle had to be captured.  As we climbed higher the lakes to our left, which had been giant borderless waters became tiny ponds .

Near the top.

Near the top.

Snowdon isn’t tough to get up, but it took a lot longer as I didn’t have the right boots, mine were tearing into the sides of my heels with every step I took, I had to rely on huge boulders and shards of rock to grab onto to stop myself from falling. The ridge on the way to the summit is where my fear kicked in, unlike a lot of Asian mountains which provide fencing or a barrier across the edge, British mountains don’t. Most likely to keep the mountain from looking artificial or perhaps, because the walk along with strong gales are still not enough to stifle a climber, whatever the reason I still feared falling off.

The climb improved once we got shelter from the winds, but unfortunately, the cold started to tear through our coats, my gloves made of insulated wool, became wetter with every shard I grabbed and water began seeping into my skin, causing slight frost bite on the tips of my fingers, we took a few more pictures before arriving at the summit, shivering and barely joyous with our accomplishment.

The winter made Snowdon tougher to climb than usual,  as we descended the mountain, we started to slip and buckle over stray rocks, but we still found time (and balance) to take in the views. We roamed from the path and found ourselves quite seriously lost on the mountain, we made our way down despite having a loose idea of where we were going. Jumping over barb-wired fences and falling through potholes and sliding down loose rocks; we made our way to the railway and walked along the line until we came to the comforting view of the car park.

As a girl, who grew up in London and then moved to Tokyo, you can expect how in awe I was of the starry night sky as we pitched our tents under the canopy of pine trees. Of course I had seen night skies like that before, but every time I do get the opportunity, I appreciate them -so very much. That night I must have stood staring at them straight for ten minutes without realising where I was, thinking of an emptiness. I fear losing that feeling of complete immersion with nature as I see so little of it in my everyday life.

The Skirrid Inn scrolls.

The Skirrid Inn scrolls.

The next morning, after putting the tent away, we drove through the rocky mountains of Snowdonia and treated ourselves to another fry-up.  The Skirrid Inn, in the South Wales was our next destination. I had heard about it on the internet and knew that if I were going to be in Wales, I had to visit it.

The Skirrid Inn is located near the ominously named, “Black Mountains,” one of those volcanic peaks was said to have erupted when Jesus died on the cross.  As we entered one of the most haunted pubs in the UK, we were welcomed with a rather medieval tavern, with wall scrolls and a roaring fire keeping the patrons warm. I walked along the back to where the famous noose hung, and looked up through the gap in the staircase. The hearsay was true, a feeling of foreboding lay in that place.

And that’s where the adventure ends.

ARTNIA : Square Enix Cafe in Tokyo!

You may have not realised, but I’m pretty geeky. It’s a secret. However if any of my previous posts are anything to go by; a complete geek. Of course not that’s not main reason why I moved to Japan, but there are times when living in Tokyo does have its benefits. Square Enix recently opened a new cafe called Artnia, of course the news of the opening got to me fairly quickly. I decided to visit the cafe once my friend Ali had arrived, so we could enjoy the ambience together, like the couple of nerds that we are.  I’m glad I waited.

The Cafe is located in the east of Shinjuku where a large number of department stores are also located.  For the occasion the two of us chose to faux-cosplay, not upright cosplay, but a little nod towards the characters we like. I wore my black leather pants with a plain white t-shirt and converse; channeling Tifa from Advent Children while Ali chose to wear a pink dress with a bolero jean jacket and a ribbon to  the hair for that added Aeris touch. We took our time meandering through Shinjuku’s tricky pedestrian system. The cafe is hidden amongst the Shinjuku skyscrapers close to the E1 exit of Shinjuku Sanchome subway station.  I was excited, even at the age of 24- I found that 17 year old girl breaking through my false mature demeanour.  As soon as we entered we were faced with some curious looks from some would presume Final Fantasy fans; I guess that being newly opened they didn’t expect the foreigner invasion to start so soon. We were offered menus and we excitedly looked through, speaking into the camera we had bought along to record the event. So with further ado -here is our video, please watch like and comment. Or just ignore this post entitrely.

 

Despite my very unimpressed manner, near the end of the video; I highly recommend it. Especially if you are a Final Fantasy fan, if the cafe part doesn’t interest you, I’m sure the merchandise and materia fountain will. Just make sure to bring plenty of cash with you! Those materia cocktails are very pricey!

 

Sweden with Love

What happened to the days when I used to yearn for the bright lights of Tokyo?  Recently, I must confess; there has been a new love entering my thoughts, and it’s a place very different to Japan. Unlike most people who find love in people, I find love in places.  This unfortunately means I’ve been in love at least 5 times. I’m not saying I’m the only one who thinks this way. Finding a city, you feel comfortable in,  building a sense of familiarity and establishing a relationship with it; is much like that of people seeking relationships.

After cheating on London for a while, I found I preferred the intimacy over the flash. Now, all I can think of is Sweden.  Some of my peers have said that it’s just my taste is growing, or at least changing. Possibly, after 4 years maybe it’s about time to break my liaison off, before and I and Tokyo start getting bitter with one another.  The truth is; I can’t think of any place I’d rather be at the moment.  Fortunately, I can now understand why a place like Sweden appeals to me so much more than Tokyo. As much as I love Tokyo, the relentless fast pace of life here is something that I’ve come to despise, and that feeling has become quite unpleasant over time. However, my main woe I have with the city that gave me so much;  is the lack of progression.  The same sentiment goes for London, London with all it’s culture and history still has a lot of distance to cover in terms of equality and environmental issues if it hopes to be in the same league as Sweden. The more I read about Scandinavia and – Sweden in particular, the more I find myself – falling in love.  For example, Sweden’s energy source runs on 44% hydro-power that is a surprisingly large percentage in comparison to other developed countries, while their health and education systems are some of the best in the world.  Stockholm also being awarded one of the cleanest cities of the world numerous times. The list goes on and I think I’m done with the praise.

I have to admit that I’ve never been, so maybe all my commending of Sweden is unfounded. One can only find out by first hand experience and that’s why I have to take my chances. There are a couple of qualities that I look for a city, the main three are;

1. History, I can’t stress how important it is that a city has architecture built before the 70s.
2. Good restaurants, yes I mean ones with authentic cuisines.
3. Bohemia, which I mean places to go market shopping, little cafes, and nice bars with live music.

Unfortunately being in Tokyo and even the thought of returning to London has made me realise that my needs have changed slightly. I was thinking that New York could meet these needs, it has a bohemian side, and in the last ten years, it has become greener, and just last year they began allowing gay marriage. However, like Tokyo, the sheer size of New York is putting me off. I want a city, without the chaos of the 1000s commuters trying to get work, bags slamming into folded arms, fighting to make it to tops of escalators, slips of coats trapped between subway doors, it all gets to one after a certain period of time. A lot of my friends are unconvinced, of course I’ve given them enough reasons to believe that I might not go through with it. Only last year did I apply for NYU, only to stay in Japan for yet another year.  The year before I had prepared myself for the idea of immigrating to Norway. I fear that the reason is that I’m running out of time to continue my studies.  Unfortunately, no matter how good the academia might be in Tokyo, I’m not at all convinced that it suits my independent style of studying.

At first I thought like my friends and acquaintances that it might have been just a far distant crush, but something tells me even if that is so I have to play the field a bit before I decide to settle down.