Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Guess what! One of my favorite places in the world isn't actually real. It's in a video game. BIG SURPRISE. I've already done a post about Mass Effect and how cool I found that one spaceship to be, but my relationship with World of Warcraft goes much deeper than just a casual fling with some BioWare RPG. Okay, yeah, for a few years there I was pretty addicted to it and put off doing normal human things like eating and bowel movements in favor of leveling my mage or raiding on my holy priest, but let's forget that for a moment! Let's forget that I abandoned my friends for a year for this game, and just remember the good times. And there were many of those.

Sometimes I try to tell people about WoW, and how much I loved it, and I basically always come off sounding like a meth addict or an unforgivable loser. The fact is, though, and I've come to realize this more clearly recently -- I don't miss the gameplay of WoW so much. I don't miss the PvP (although twinking around in Arathi Basin on my 49 hunter was always a good time), and I don't miss raiding, unless you count the golden days of Karazhan when Greg was shamelessly flirting with me in whispers, and that crazy-eyed Australian girl kept copying my mage specs because I was clearly the cooler female in the guild. No, those were just perks. What I mostly miss, I've found, is the world itself. The landscapes, the magic, the inhabitants, the music -- they all go together to create this pretty badass world that you can explore in its entirety. I feel like the world of Azeroth is a place I actually used to live in, and now I've left, but I miss it because I'll probably never experience like I did the first time.

Admittedly a lot of the appeal for me was also in the social nature of WoW. I got to spend time and interact with Greg while gaming, which is pretty fucking neat. We also had several out-of-state friends who we knew mostly through WoW or other online games. Now Greg is living with one of them in Salt Lake, so clearly we made some legit connections in game! (That, or Greg's roommate is waiting patiently for the opportune moment in which to kill and eat him.)

The thing is, though, I really do miss the world of the game. I particularly miss one continent that was introduced in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, called Northrend. I remember boarding the zeppelin from Undercity to Howling Fjord for the first time, and becoming totally obsessed with the music that played on it. I mean, how can you not be obsessed with these glorious harmonious strains? Scandinavian music is the best.

I could make an entire post on the music of WoW, but I won't, unless you want me to, and then I will. Because seriously, it's the best game music ever made, not counting Ocarina of Time, and selected music from Fable II. I used to go to certain zones in WoW just to listen to the music there. Or I'd be in the middle of questing or something, and my favorite bit of the song would start, and I'd drop everything just to sit and listen. I know. I'm just that cool.

Northrend is such a great place, though. It's dark and snowy and Scandinavian, mysterious and full of hulking viking-like creatures. I have dreams about it. (I know. I'm just that cool.) Maybe these screenshots I took years ago will give you a tiny insight into how beautiful and enthralling WoW, particularly Northrend, can be. I just feel like people don't pay enough attention to how lovely the game is. I wish it were a real world that I could live in. I feel homesick for a place I've never been. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dick Move

A lot of times I can be a dick. And I'm not just saying this in a funny, "Haha I'm such a dick when I give rescue bunnies to lonely orphans on my days off!" No. This isn't irony, people. This is fact. A lot of times, on complete purpose, I am a dick. Even without meaning to I can be a giant penis. I assume all of us are this way sometimes, but I find that I'm particularly prone to it on the internet. Big surprise. I like to comfort myself that I'm not the only one, but who knows, I might get drunk and black out and be every single troll on the internet without knowing it. I just have a bunch of different IP addresses that I use. And like, different emails. (I don't know how the internet works.) Anyway the point is, let me be straight with you all: I'm not always nice.

I feel it's important to be genuine on this blog, because what you read here is absolutely 100% me. I don't filter, I don't edit (except for grammar). I am actually this awesome. I am also this much of a loser. Up to you how you read it, but what I write here is completely genuine and I stand by it. That also goes for what I write in the comments, and what I write on twitter especially, because on twitter is where I bitch about stuff. I mean really bitch. If there's somebody on facebook who bugs me and I think might not be on twitter, I'll bitch about them there. If there's somebody on twitter who makes me want to gouge out my eyes with a spoon, I'll rant about them on facebook. That's how it goes. You know you all do it too. I'm not trying to be somebody I'm not. I'm not trying to love everybody and be loved by everybody. I don't hate anyone except homophobes and rapists, and I don't think that hate is something worth spending time and energy in cultivating. But I do complain a lot, and I think venting and ranting is a healthy way to blow off steam. I do. So that's me. Maybe you disagree. Okay.

Alone in my dark room, angry at somebody on the internet.
That said, sometimes somebody finds out that I'm bitching about them. Or I actually bitch about them to their face, which often happens on facebook or fandom!secrets (which I don't read anymore but I always used to leave trollish comments there and it was glorious). Don't worry, I'll never do it anonymously. I don't believe in that shit; if you want to be an asshole, take pride in it and own it! Anons are the worst. So when somebody finds out I've been bitching, like recently on my twitter, then I get to feel like a giant throbbing cock when they call me on it.

Yeah, a giant throbbing cock. To the person who commented on my blog the other day and I totally said snarky things on twitter, well... you know who you are. I said what I meant at the time, but I'm sorry. It was probably in bad taste. But at the same time, would you rather I just pretend to be super into the comment you left that annoyed me? Or even ignore it, if it annoyed me that much? Nah, you don't want that. If I piss somebody off on the internet, I'd rather they tell me, and preferably in a public forum where we can angrily type at each other until we get all of our feelings out in the open. The internet is a magical place where we can have arguments without fear of fisticuffs or a black eye. I'm not afraid of internet arguments. I embrace them. I'm easily embroiled. Greg thinks this is silly of me, because it always gets me riled up, but whatever. I enjoy it. I enjoy being snarky. I do. If you piss me off in the comments of my blog, it's likely I'll bitch about it on twitter. Go see! Don't be afraid.

I hate children!

And this isn't me saying, "Don't leave annoying comments on my blog." In fact, the opposite. Comment however you like. I won't censor. I won't delete. But I won't censor myself when replying or reacting to what you say. It's an open forum, guys. And if I find your opinion or your tone offensive, I'll probably say so.

I do regret not just taking up my recent issue directly with the commenter, because it would've been more constructive and interesting and not passive-aggressive that way, but we all make mistakes. We're all passive-aggressive at one time or another. I can be a real dick, I know I can. Just... don't be surprised when I am. I'm not perfect, and neither is anybody else. I have strong opinions. I have strong reactions. I'm a drama queen, I exaggerate, I'm easily riled up. These are all facts about me, and probably personality flaws, but this is all me. I'm laying it out. I don't want to gloss over my faults and pretend they don't exist because that would be doing you all a disservice, and it would be creepy and fake. So I don't do it. This is me. I'm not some magically sweet adorable person who loves all things. Sometimes I'm a penis. So there it is.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to make a quick update to say Merry Christmas to everybody who celebrates Christmas! And if you don't celebrate it, then change "Christmas" to whatever holiday you currently celebrate, as "happy holidays" is such a milquetoasty thing to say. Sorry, super PC people out there: YOU'RE BORING.

Last night Lily and I went to the midnight Christmas Eve service at St John's near our flat, and it was really nice. I'm not a member of any church but I do think I succeeded in not embarrassing myself too badly. We sang carols and I went up for a blessing during Communion. The sermon was also really great; he totally spoke in favor of the Occupy movement, which I thought was pretty amazing, and not something I would have expected in a church service. We so often forget about true Christian values, when there are so many "Christians" who speak nothing but hate and stand for nothing but greed. And that's a shame. Anyway it was a really peaceful, moving way to start my Christmas.

That said, I hope you all have an amazing rest of your holiday, and enjoy your Boxing Day as well! ♥

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Last of Vienna

I've been thinking about the novel (or partial novel) I'm supposed to write for my masters dissertation. I mean, I've been thinking about it intermittently since the beginning of term, but lately I'm feeling slightly panicked about the whole thing. Do I write typical fantasy? Should I go a different direction and focus on character over genre? Or do I just say "fuck it" and write a steampunk piece because it'd be fun and totally easy to get published right now?

...Yeah you're right. The last one. I'm thinking I might use some characters that have been swimming around in my brain since early 2005, six friends who attend a private music school together. I might try to make it a kind of alternate history steampunk thing, or like, a future thing... maybe they live on Victorian Moon 4? Which you guys don't know about unless you're the one person who reads my blog and was in workshop with me? Not sure yet, but I do know that it will involve flying machines.

But anyway yeah. Writing is hard. How do you come up with ideas and then write them down coherently? Even I can't explain it. I've found lately that I never have any idea what I'm going to write until I just start typing. Then it comes out like word vomit. No idea why this works but it does, which is frustrating, because who wants to start typing when they have no idea what they're going to say? IT'S HARD.

Why am I writing about writing when I should be talking about Vienna? Oh, who knows. I don't really care. I figure this blog is just a crapshoot now anyway. What will she write next? Nobody knows! I don't even know! But I like it that way. I like not worrying anymore, and I especially like not getting 20 comments that say, "cute skirt, follow me back? x" anymore. As cool as it felt to have 35 comments on one post, they were mostly inane and obnoxious. I much prefer spewing my feelings in tl;dr form for you all to be subjected to whenever I feel like it.

Here, have some more photos. After Christmas I'll post some good ones of Edinburgh, hopefully, so keep an eye out!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why My Boyfriend is Better Than Yours

The other day when I told Greg I'd written a super long blog post and demanded that he read it, he said, "Is it about me?" Immediately I felt like such a horrible failure of a girlfriend that it wasn't about him, and cried for hours berating myself for making such a poor, selfish life choice. That's just an example of one of my logical thought processes. What this means, though, is that this time I'm going to write about Greg. Well, sort of. I'm going to write about boyfriends, and what makes them really cool and deserving of the Good Boyfriend Award as opposed to the You Wouldn't Buy Me Tampons And A Pregnancy Test At Walgreen's Because You Were Embarrassed, So Screw You, Worst Boyfriend In The World Award.

Let me start off by saying that, yes, Greg has indeed (at least once) purchased a 20-pack of Tampax Super tampons for me at the grocery or drug store. He also, after I was once seized by irrational panic after feeling nauseous in the morning and more than one person on Twitter claimed that this could only mean I was pregnant, went to the store and waited in line for ages with nothing but a pregnancy test and his own shame to keep him company. Thank you, Greg. For this I am grateful. But let's not get hung up on the little things. Womanly drug store items and the willingness to purchase them does not a good boyfriend make. So what makes a truly good boyfriend, you ask? Well, considering I've been in a total of two relationships and one of them now seems like some horrible mix-up, I'm obviously qualified to make broad claims about heterosexual partnerships as a whole. Here are a few traits which, in my experience, define a boyfriend worthy of the time-honored Good Boyfriend Award.

Wolf-mouse creature or Renaissance man? Doesn't matter to a good boyfriend; he'll gladly take on either identity.
1. He is willing, and even happy, to dress up in stupid outfits just because it's important to you. I mean you'd do the same for him, right? Right? Stupid outfits are just one of those inescapable facts of life that boyfriends and pets alike are forced to deal with on holidays and special occasions. Your boyfriend knows that if he puts up any resistance when you show him those matching Edward and Bella costumes that he'll be sleeping on the couch later. Without a pillow. Plus, he knows you've been looking forward all year to Halloween just so you can smother his chest in glitter and force him to prance around the downtown clubs like a disco ballsack all night. If he's a winner, he'll put up with acute humiliation with no hope or expectation of repayment, simply out of love for you. That's because he's a good boyfriend.

2. He laughs at you when you cry.  I don't mean this in a horrible villainous way, like, "Bwahahaha, finally, I have drawn those bitter hot tears from your eyes, just like I planned when I made a hearty stew out of your new puppy!" No, not like that. What I mean is, when you're trying to make cucumber sandwiches for a tea party and you've never made them before, and pretty soon you've cut three of your fingers with the knife, the cucumber is mutilated and covered in blood, and you've accidentally eaten most of the bread, and then you burst into tears wailing about how you'll never be invited over for a tea party again, what a good boyfriend will do is laugh at you. Not in a mean-spirited way. But at the sight of you standing, forlorn, in the middle of the kitchen with blood all over the cucumbers and bread crumbs all over your face, now getting soggy from your tears, he can't help but laugh. He's not laughing at you, he's laughing with you. He wants you to see that you're making cucumber sandwiches. You nicked your finger and stuffed your pie hole with bread to make yourself feel better. It's not the end of the world. A SWAT team hasn't just burst through your doors and windows and opened fire. A meteor hasn't fallen out of the sky, through the roof, and into your skull rendering you a paraplegic. You've just fucked up the sandwiches. And hey, maybe there's even enough bread and clean cucumber left to salvage the operation!

If he's a winner, your boyfriend will help you with the rest of the preparation and make sure you don't hurt yourself any further with the paring knife. And hopefully, especially if he has an infectious laugh, your boyfriend's amusement at your predicament will have made you realize that you might have been overreacting just a little. If you can't laugh at your own idiocy with your boyfriend, do you really want to live in this world? On the other hand, if your boyfriend has a mental breakdown and accuses you of being a crazy emotional ho every time you burst into tears about something ridiculously trivial, then he probably sucks and you should trade him in for a better model.

"I want to help you live the life of destitution and poor personal hygiene that you dream of."
3. He gets angry if you don't follow your dreams. As in, he won't let you leave the room until you agree to follow your dreams, because he can't imagine living in a world where his girlfriend isn't 100% happy and fulfilled. Even if your dreams are the dumbest. He should still support them. I mean, maybe you want to sell all of your belongings and become a traveling hermit in the Swiss Alps for a year, with only a goat as your companion. Maybe you've been dreaming of this for your whole life. If your boyfriend is worthy of the Good Boyfriend Award, he will do all in his power to make sure that you spend a year half-starved, wandering the foothills of the Alps, surviving only on goat milk and despair. If that's what you want, he will get it for you. He will push you toward this goal. "But I'm not sure I want to be away from you for so long," you might protest. These things should wash right over him. "I want you to be happy," a good boyfriend will respond. "If you can't be a wastrel in Switzerland right now, with a goat, when can you?" If you're a good girlfriend, you'll succumb to his goading and finally agree to follow your dreams and become a starving goat hermit in the mountains. Just don't forget, next time he brings up that dream of his to learn every episode of Walker, Texas Ranger by heart and recite them all in person to Chuck Norris, you must support it at all costs. All costs.

"Girl, I'd even watch an episode of True Blood without killing myself, just for you."
4. He watches the movie you picked out, even if it's a 3-hour long musical about the Founding Fathers. I mean nobody can convincingly argue against the brilliance and true cultural value of 1776, but even if your boyfriend wants to, if he's a keeper, he'll sit through it and refrain from harming himself physically. Hitting himself on the head with a pillow, throwing you sad tortured looks, and groaning with intense pain and misery don't count. In fact these reactions are often seen as endearing and positive. If your boyfriend was actually enjoying himself, he wouldn't be subjecting himself to a horrifying ordeal just for you, and would therefore not be earning as many Good Boyfriend Points. The more harrowing situations your boyfriend suffers through at your request, the closer he gets to winning the Good Boyfriend Award. This also goes for such things as fun baking activities, dramatic readings of Pride & Prejudice, and helping you pick out a dress to wear.

5. He doesn't tell you what you want to hear. I know, this sounds like a bad one. Sometimes maybe it is. Sometimes, it really is best to tell people what they want to hear. Like if they're hysterically crying, clawing at their own clothes, and rolling around on the ground shrieking. Then they might not be ready to hear rational logic, and will therefore only try to kill you if you don't whisper sweet beautiful half-lies into their ears until they calm down.

If, however, you've just decided you're going to trade in your car for a pony so you can ride it to work every day in a fairy dress, your winner boyfriend will take this chance to step in and say something. Some girls might say, "But he should support my dreams! I want to trade in my car for a pony, so he has no right to disagree with my perfectly sound life decisions!" No. You are wrong. If your boyfriend meekly tells you to follow your heart and get that pony, you will end up borrowing his car every day for the next five years until you can save enough money to buy a shitty 1983 Mitsubishi for yourself. That, or you'll be forced to actually ride the pony to work every day in a fairy dress, which might be fun one day out of the year when it's warm and sunny and dry, and you feel like riding around on a pony in a fairy dress, but I guarantee the rest of the time you'll rue the day you ever got that damn pony.

A good boyfriend will remind you that it's your decision, in the end, but do you really want to give up the convenience of a car for a high maintenance pony that shits everywhere, and doesn't have a windshield? He'll remind you of the pros and cons, and hopefully, with a little bit of nudging and common sense, he'll steer you back in the right direction. The direction of not a pony. So next time your boyfriend seems like he's stomping all over your dreams with hateful reason and logic, remember: he's probably just trying to make sure you don't end up spending the rest of your life cleaning up pony shit and weeping.

This good boyfriend would never prepare or eat puppy stew.
There are many more ways a boyfriend can win at life and win a Good Boyfriend Award, but these are the most important, meaning they're the only ones I could come up with at short notice. Bonus life hint: If your boyfriend cries a lot and makes puppy stew, he's probably not The One. You never know, though. Puppy stew might be delicious.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meg's Guide to Growing Up

[Warning: Don't take this seriously. Until the end, then I say serious things. Kind of.]

Growing up is scary and weird. It's also frustrating, confusing, and extremely difficult. Nobody really tells you this. They might try to, or they drop little hints along the way, but nobody outright tells you: "Growing up sucks. It's scary, weird, frustrating, confusing, and extremely difficult. Prepare for lots of shit to go down. Prepare to be miserable. You'll likely fuck it up at one point; probably many points. If you're lucky, you'll actually survive and be a functioning human by the time you die. So good luck with that, kid." Nobody says it! Perhaps they've all forgotten, all of our parents and mentors and older people in general. Perhaps they've forgotten what a clusterfuck it was to grow up. Maybe they think it's better if we figure it out ourselves. But I'm indignant. Come on, older people, you really couldn't warn us? It's that hard?

Look, let's break it down. They drop hints. Sure. Thanks for that. They said, when we were in elementary school: "You must always write in cursive because in middle school they require you to write in cursive, always! Otherwise you'll fail and never make it to college!" When we got to middle school they didn't give a shit about cursive, but said, "You must always write in pen because in high school they require you to write in pen, always! Otherwise you'll fail and never make it to college!" Yeah, that didn't happen. In high school they didn't give a shit about pens. And then all throughout high school they went, "HOLY SHIT you'd better be a valedictorian and donate your spare organs to poor people and clean up trash with your teeth so you can put it on your resume and get into the Honors Society and then a halfway decent college! Otherwise you will fail at life and die!" Those were the hints we got in our early years. Do it right or you'll fuck up your entire future. Okay, fair, fair. I mean I worked hard in high school, I took AP classes because all my friends were doing it, and I got into college. A mediocre in-state university, but still. Huzzah, I thought, now the world is my oyster!

Wrong. When you get into college, people start giving you even more more useless life lessons in order to show you that no, life will never truly be your oyster. It starts with stuff like, "You'll never have more fun than when you're in college! Boy, enjoy that shit while you can! Sleep through all your morning classes and then drink heavily throughout the week, because you can't pull that crap in Real Life!" Yeah, okay. I didn't do that, really, other than the sleeping through class bit. But seriously, guys, that's your advice to young students? Enjoy it while you can, because pretty soon it's gonna suck? That just sounds like a myth to scare us into spending lots of money at the shit Montana bars. But that wasn't all. Then you started making us worry about grad school. "What grad school are you going to? Have you asked for letters of reference yet? What's your dissertation? Thesis? Applications! Resume! Work experience!" Abject terror. I came out of college filled with this horror that I was supposed to go to grad school or else I'd end up unemployed in Portland, Oregon with a BA and a cupboard full of expired ramen.

Luckily that only happened for a short while, but what I'm saying is, we're thrown all of these arbitrary yet very specific words of "wisdom" from the world, saying do this and do that or you'll fail. Don't do this and don't do that or you'll end up as a transient hooker on the streets of San Francisco, gross-sobbing because you wish you'd listened to your father and majored in business instead of English literature. I find that offensive. I find that their words of wisdom should have been more honest and all-encompassing. Here's what our parents, teachers, mentors, and the world should have told us while we were growing up, according to my very limited and biased experience.

Haribo Starmix is scientifically proven to increase instances of criminal behavior.

1. You will make many, many mistakes, and you will just have to deal with that (and hopefully learn from them). This is something I'm just now discovering, if you're curious to know, children and twenty-somethings (who are basically still children) of the world. Nobody tells you you're gonna fuck shit up repeatedly and be forced to go on living afterwards. They tell you inspiring things, things you want to hear, like, "We've got your back," or "Do what makes you happy." No. No. Don't do what makes you happy 100% of the time. I mean, I could get a serious endorphin rush every time I curb-stomp an orphan, but do I do that on a regular basis? No. In fact never, because that would be what we call a Life Fuck-up. That's right.

However, maybe one time I ate one too many Haribo Goldbears, suffered from an intense sugar rush, and ran through the streets of Northeast London until I found an orphan to curb stomp. Maybe the next day I felt horrible, really awful, because damn even though that kid has no family he's probably brain-damaged or dead now. Maybe I spent a week in bed, quietly weeping, writing poems about that poor lonely child. Then after a while I felt better, saying to myself, "Well I think I've learned from that little mistake! I won't be curb stomping anyone ever again." Jump to six months later, the Haribo headquarters in Germany. I've just gorged myself on Tangfastics, Starmix, and Strawbs. My mind a whirr of nothing but sweet sweet sugar and my cavities in agony, I stumble out onto the darkened streets of Bonn, and begin my hunt for an orphan.

"Holy balls," you might say. "Why would you eat all those gummies if you knew it could send you into an orphan-curb-stomping spree?" Good question, dear reader. Good question. The only answer I have for you is this: You will fuck up many times. You will hopefully learn from those fuck-ups. Hopefully after only one. But life is hard, and being a human in this cold, cold world is hard, so maybe you'll have to fuck up repeatedly before you get the message. Just don't hurt yourself afterwards, because we call that "self harm" and it makes you seem emo.

Direct their attention from your sad existence to your rad wardrobe with a New Look coat.

2. Not everybody likes you, but they totally should. This is one I'm working on with the help of my dear boyfriend Greg, who has it down pat. I've found that I go through most of my life feeling hated by about 99% of the earth's populace. The reasons vary. One day it may be because my music is too loud on the tube and I'm forcing everybody to listen to second-hand Patrick Wolf and Florence + the Machine, which is enough to make anybody suicidal and full of rage all at once. Then another day it may be because my hair is windblown and disheveled, so I must look pathetic and disgusting in equal parts, offending the unsuspecting eyes of all those unfortunate enough to pass me. Or maybe it's just because somebody glanced at me, and the only possible reason they could have to move their eyeballs in the direction of my face is that they hate me with every fiber of their being.

These are the thoughts that go through my head on a pretty regular basis. Is that fun and exciting for me? No. Do I need to work on this? Yeah. So here's what I try to tell myself when I end up doubled over in a fetal position on platform 3 in the Green Park tube station because I'm hung over and too scared to get on a train for fear I'll hurl all over the holiday shoppers: Maybe these people see me looking pale and sickly on the bench. Maybe they think, "God what a sad excuse for a human that is. I hate that she exists." Or maybe they think, "That sick-looking girl has a pimp coat, did she get it at New Look? What a badass winner at life."

When in times of social duress (every moment of my life), I try to imagine that people think things like this. I mean, even if they're not wondering where I got my fabulous cheapo high street coat, they definitely should be. If I'm in the kitchen fiddling with the oven for an hour trying to figure out how to turn on the bottom left burner without causing an explosion, and then my barely legal flatmate enters the room and gives me a cutting look of repulsion and pity, I can hold my head high and think, "Well at least that bitch doesn't have a swank Primark sweater like I'm wearing today. I bet she's afraid I'm gonna open up a big can of American whoop-ass on her right now." It's best to imagine that your cool outfits inflict equal parts terror, longing, and admiration upon your foes. I mean, sure, maybe this girl actually hates me because I refuse to buy more toilet paper after buying it twice in a row, and because I left an angry note in the fridge berating her for eating my mature British cheddar cheese. But should I dwell on that? No. I should think to myself, "Wow, sucks for this girl that she isn't me, or at least my close ally. Because I'm pretty much the greatest thing created by mother nature. If she wants to give me the stink eye, that's her own sad little problem."

So just remember, if somebody doesn't like you, they're one of the world's many Life Failures and deserve to be force-fed sauerkraut. That's because you rule. Who cares if this is all in your head? Doesn't matter. Delusion is your best friend when it comes to worrying about whether or not people hate you.

Maruchan Ramen: worth eating every day for a week after buying those River Island booties.

3. It's your money, do what you want with it. You will never learn how to live on a budget if you're smart with your expenses all the time. If you don't do it all wrong at first, on a regular basis, you'll find yourself having a major nervous breakdown every time you overdraw your account by two dollars. Nobody wants a major nervous breakdown every Friday. So do yourself a favor and take it easy. Be a young person for a while and get all of that irresponsible shopping and drinking out of your system. That way, when you get a career and a spouse and (god forbid) children, you can begin learning how to balance your budget and acting the "adult" without any regrets or panic attacks.

I've found that a good method to keeping myself in line when it comes to money, without doing all the work of assigning myself an actual budget, is to spend thoughtlessly until my bank account is empty. Then I can comfortably live off of half-moldy bread and tap water until the next paycheck or student loan refund comes along, without stressing about whether or not I should buy those furry ankle boots from River Island. It's win/win. I get to feel like a proper starving artist wasting away in poverty half the time, and the rest of the time I enjoy a daily latte and trip to the shopping center to indulge in unnecessary and excessive consumerism. (Disclaimer: This might eventually backfire if your parents are supporting you, and you could end up disowned. But if you're the one who's applied for the student loans and whose name is on the credit card, spend away. Nobody else is getting hurt, so just use that money however you damn well please. Until you get married, that is; that shit's a whole new can of totally gross worms.)

Best not to drunkenly book a ticket to Thailand, regardless of marital status.

4. If you don't get hurt, and if you don't hurt someone, then you're probably doing it wrong. That's right. If you go through life like a perfect angel, doing everything right and kissing babies while you're at it, then you've officially Failed at Life. I don't like to say it, but it's true. You're a goner. Everybody hates you and you haven't learned a thing. Here's the deal, O Perfect One: You haven't grown. The minute one difficult situation crops up in your life, whether it be sooner or later, you're going to be so unprepared you'll undoubtedly defecate in your pants and then run around in circles screaming until you pass out.

Some people are born knowing how life works, and being really good at it. Those people are called Liars, or Satan. Eventually, something will happen, and you've got to know how to deal with it. Therefore, don't be surprised when your long-term girlfriend decides she's tired of the way you eat cereal in the morning, pours a gallon of 1% milk over your head, and walks out the door for good. It's not fun, kids, but it's life. And just remember: that's not the last time this will happen. If you're lucky, you'll only have a gallon of milk or some other beverage poured hatefully over your head by a loved one about five or six more times over the course of your life. It'll probably even happen more than that. The important thing to learn from this is that you can survive it. Maybe you've listened to eight different boyfriends telling you how he didn't mean to, but he ended up sleeping with that hottie 16-year-old who works at McDonald's, and how he'd love to stay with you but he's busy working out the logistics of his now illegal love affair with an underage fast food employee to give you the attention you deserve. Maybe each of those conversations hurt a little less, or maybe a little more. But did you learn something from the ordeal? If it happens again, probably not. But if you finally realize that maybe you should stop dating pedophile Happy Meal addicts, then you've taken a step in the right direction. The direction of maturity. That's all we can do, really, is take steps toward that functional existence we all dream of, the one only Liars and Satan claim to live.

Now before I move on, let's talk about the other side of the coin: When you hurt someone you care about. This one's harder. Nobody wants to admit they've hurt anyone, because only assholes hurt people they love. While growing up your dad always said, "If he hurts you, I'll take a shotgun to his face." It was always about others inflicting pain upon you. Nobody ever said, "If you get drunk, fly to Thailand and have a cocaine orgy on an uninhabited jungle island but then tell your boyfriend you didn't answer his texts because you were busy saving a drowning puppy from an approaching great white shark, what are you gonna do about it?" Few of us were ever given that talk.

So when it came time to decide whether or not to board that plane to Thailand, some of us went right ahead onto that aircraft, not thinking what the ramifications to our relationship could be. Then some of us, the ones with sharper instincts, thought, "Hmmm it might be a bad idea to drunkenly fly to Thailand and engage in a cocaine orgy without first consulting my significant other. I'd better call my boyfriend to come pick me up from terminal 2, and explain everything to him." The ones who thought that are assholes, because they got it right. (Mostly. They did still book a ticket to Thailand.) I hate those guys. Lording it over the rest of us with their "morals" and "honor codes" and "ethics". Not everybody is hard-wired to get it right every time. Most of us have to make those repeated mistakes as mentioned in lesson #1 before we can confidently say we won't hurt that poor long-suffering boyfriend anymore. Not that we ever wanted to hurt him, we were just stupid and really craved authentic pad thai. Some people just learn faster than others though, and I hate those people. Share some of the wealth, assholes.

Why would you ever want to eat this.

5. You're not always right, but stand by your guns if your guns are worth it. Don't be stubborn, though. Stubbornness is for dicks who don't want to know what idiots they're being. That said, accept this one thing: You are not always right. Got that? You are not always right. I've yet to learn this one, and I've gone through a lot of training. It's hard, especially when you're such a cool person as I am. If you think you're always right, you'll inevitably be wrong at some point -- it's statistically probable, I did the math -- and then what? Do you admit it immediately? Do you hold out for a really long time, and then when somebody finally googles it and you discover you're actually wrong, just shrug and act like you're not as humiliated and ashamed as you actually are? The latter is a tough one, because usually it's impossible to conceal that level of humiliation and shame. I've tried. They can always tell.

So before you start making grand claims about how you know to spell Mozart's full baptismal name in front of your friends, always know you're right. I don't care if you think you're right, know it. If you don't have his name tattooed on your body somewhere, you're probably not enough of a hardcore Mozart fan to know his entire name, and you'd better stop while you're ahead. If, on the other hand, you have "Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart" tattooed in script on your butt cheeks, then please. Tell us more.

That said, sometimes it's okay and even important to stand up for your beliefs even if they're not necessarily correct or popular. However, don't get confused and think that just because you believe something, it's necessarily true. It's easy to forget that nobody likes kippers, even if you do. So if you throw a dinner party and the main course is just plates full of whole dead fish, people will try to murder you in your own home. I don't care if you like them. I don't care. "But they're so delicious and fishy, those kippers!" you might say. Okay, you think that, but do your guests? Hell no, your guests came expecting a Sunday roast and instead they got foul, odorous denizens of the sea resting in their own juices, fresh from the tin. You didn't even make proper kippers, you just bought the pre-cooked kipper snacks and dumped them, metallic and oozing, onto plates. You could give us all a billion reasons why you love kippers, why their taste is unparalleled and out of this world, but we will never agree with you. So don't stand by that gun. It's a stupid gun and you'll never win with it, and it's not worth it in the end because all you've achieved is a dinner party of kippers.

However, if the stakes were higher and your argument meant something, like if these kippers were in fact fished out of the sea by your own father in his last act before dying of pneumonia, and his last words to you were, "Please... enjoy the kippers. Fishing them up was the last thing I did in life that I was truly proud of," then stand by those guns no matter what. If your dinner guests still refuse to eat the kippers, even though they are a symbol of your father's loving and fruitful existence on this good earth, then your guests are assholes and you should kick them out and eat all the kippers yourself, remembering that by standing by your beliefs you were truly loyal to your deceased father.

So there you have it, my five life lessons. It's important to remember that I am 25 years old, I know very little about life, and most of these lessons I haven't even learned myself. I do know that growing up sucks, though. And let me be serious for a second because god knows this post isn't very serious. Just let me say this: I feel like I'm doing more growing up now, in London, thousands of miles from anything familiar, than I'd done in the 24.5 years of my life previous. I mean, Portland helped a bit, but this is some intense shit right now and it's quite difficult. Did anybody ever tell you that long distance relationships were hard? They were right. Hardest thing I've ever done. If you think it's easy then you're a Liar or Satan. If you are forced to take part in one then probably about 80% of your life mistakes will be made during this time (I did the math). Also, it's more than likely that you'll get hurt and that your partner will get hurt, unless you're one of those hateful perfect humans who were born knowing how to live life.

So if it happens and you fuck up, don't worry. You're human. We're all human. You will live through it, unless you climb to the top of the London Eye, King Kong style, and fling yourself into the Thames. You'd likely not survive that. Which is why I haven't done it yet.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vienna Part 2

Time for another installment of Vienna photos! This time I'm gonna focus on the Christmas markets (or Weihnachtsmarkt, as those silly German-speakers would say), which were the main attraction for us in Vienna. In my opinion they're one of the greatest things in existence. If you live in the UK there are a bunch around; I know there are at least two in London, one by the Thames near the Eye, and then another in Hyde Park I think, and undoubtedly there are others around. If you have a chance you should totally go to one, they're so quaint and lovely, and at night they're amazing. You have to drink Gluehwein (mulled wine) while you're at it! If you're lucky you'll get a cool mug to drink it in. I kept my mug, bad me, but I effectively paid 2 euros for it so I don't feel too guilty.

Anyway, we went to three different Christmas markets in Vienna. Two were on the first full day there, in the evening, and the third was the next day at Schoenbrunn Palace. It was incredibly cold, but we warmed up with mulled wine and hot cocoa, and bread bowls of soup. The market stalls were so beautiful, all lit up and full of Christmassy things. Christmas is by far my favorite time of year; I love everything about Christmas. I love the cold weather, and being inside drinking hot cocoa while the world outside grows quiet and snow-covered. I love all the lights, and Christmas music, and gingerbread cookies, and eating good food with family. I could go on for ages about why I love Christmas but I'll just shut up and show you the photos!