Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Stop hiding. Let go.

According to law I'm an adult. I'm a grown person. But I still feel like an unsecure child a lot of the time. I'm not absolutely sure who I really am yet. I still discover new things about myself. Does that ever end? Do real adults feel the same? 

But this is what I do know:

I'm a free spirit locked up. I yearn to do what I want to because I want it. I want to be able to completely give in to whims. I want to not care what other people think or worry about how they pecieve me. I want to be me without them always hovering over me, making me smaller and even more insignificant. I want to feel secure in my own body and feel beautiful without people having to convince me. I want to be sure of my own abilities without having to push myself to the limit. I want to be socially able. Instead I'm introverted and shy and I don't do things without pushing myself out of my barrier. The only one standing in my way is myself and it's ridiculous.

I want to change, but still keep me. I want to be more open and less afraid. I want to live bold and fearless and keep nothing locked up inside. How do I do that? I want to learn by doing and living instead of reading about it.

So I'm going to continuously keep asking myself what it is that I really want. What do I want? Not for the future. I don't do that. How would I know anything about where I would be in five years, or even in one? I deal with things as they come along. That's my philosophy of life and has been for the last year and at least I have that. Now I want to deal with my insecurities once and for all. I want to deal with my not being able to let go. I want to let go.

So from tomorrow and onwards I'll try to open up and stop caring about what other people think about me. I'm me and they'll have to deal with that. I'll blog about whatever improvement I make and I'll try to remember that even the small details are victories.

From now on I'm going to stop hiding. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes and returning home

In the end we went for Indian and not teppanyaki. Our friends' neighbours had this sign on their garage. Explain the exclamation mark, please.

For our last day we wanted to do the nerdy stuff. I wanted to go to King's Cross to see what they had done for platform 9 3/4 and Love wanted to go to 221b Baker Street, where Sherlock Holmes is said to live in the stories.

First we wanted to go and have lunch at a Dutch pancake place we found our very first day. However we couldn't find it again. So we walked around for ages trying to find a place to eat that was cheap and sounded good and in the end we went inside a bar. Love had a burger and I had some pasta dish that was really good. After lunch we headed to King's Cross and although I thought what they had made for platform 9 3/4 was quite dreadful, I had to take a picture ;)

Then we went to Baker Street and the Sherlock Holmes museum. It was quite cool stepping off the train at Baker Street Station. Baker Street is one of the stations from the original Victorian underground called the Metropolitan line and the station was very 19th century. It was really cool! Stepping outside the first thing we see is a huge statue of Sherlock Holmes pointing us in the right direction. The museum tickets were £6 each so we decided not to go and only had a look around the souvenir shop, which was quite nice in itself. We bought a sign saying Baker Street with a small Sherlock Holmes icon in the topmost right corner :)

For dinner we went to that same pub we went to on our first night. After returning the time was about 9pm and we said goodnight and went to bed. The alarm went off at 4am. We got up, got dressed and walked to the tube station in Acton Town. Turned out we had misread the time by 30 minutes - to our advantage. We had to wait around for 25 minutes before we could go down to the platform and take the train to Victoria. At Victoria we had to run to catch the Gatwick Express and then we were on our way. We had breakfast at the airport after security and before going to our gate. Both of us slept the 1½ hours on the plane.

Got home. Got unpacked. Now everything's back to normal. It's nice going away but it feels good to be back home again :)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Camden Market, Chinatown and Buckingham Palace

We had a slow start today since the plan was to meet up with Tiffany at 2pm at Camden Town Station to have a look at the market. So we didn't go out until it was time to go meet up with her.

Camden Market was cool. Huge crowd and loads of interesting things on sale. Love got himself a pair of Batman Converse shoes :P I was too busy looking to take pictures and with all the people it would've been pretty hard stopping to take a picture and at the same time keep up with Love and Tiffany. We had lunch at one of the food stands there and continued our walk down Camden Market afterwards.

When we got tired of all the people there we took the tube to Covent Garden. Tiffany had said that she knew the best cupcake place there and ofc she had to take us ;) So she had a vanilla one, Love had a caramel one and I had a banoffee one. Banana Toffee.

After sitting down and eating cupcakes and talking about whatever she had to get going to get started on a school assignment and we walked down the street, headed for Chinatown. In Chinatown there were mostly restaurants, but we found one sweets shop where we went in and I immediately started looking for things I ate in Tokyo. Unfortunately I didn't find much except Pocky and the lovely Calpis Water. I also bought a Hello Kitty tin can with fruit drops in it. Because I liked the design and I like hard candy.

Chinatown ended up not being that big and at the end was Piccadilly Cricus. From there we picked a direction and started walking. We ended up in St. James's Park and then we found Buckingham Palace :)

Now we're going out to eat teppanyaki at a new Japanese restaurant in Ealing Broadway :)

London Aquarium, London Dungeons and a walk along the River Thames

For yesterday we had combined tickets to London Aquarium and London Dungeons. I looked up how to get there and then we took the tube to the aquarium. We had priority entrance tickets and got to skip most of the queue, but still we had to queue a lot inside. There was a really big fuss about the shark tank that in the end wasn't that fantastic. There was the standard underwater tunnel in the tank with sharks and rays and a pair of sea turtles. It was really really short but that was the best of the aquarium. I was kind of disappointed. Although it was nice and I had a good time it wasn't as great as the one in Seoul, which was ginormous and had pretty much every kind of sea animal there is.

The first thing we did after exiting the aquarium was to find Wagamama at the South Bank and once again have some Japanese food. The Japanese really know their food and everything is delicious. After lunch we started to look for the dungeons. On the map they had looked quite close, but it was actually really far. We got a nice walk along the South Bank, from Westminster Bridge to London Bridge. It was beautiful weather and we passed St. Paul's cathedral and the area we had walked around in the day before.

On our way to the dungeons we saw a ship. Like an old 16th century ship. It turned out to be a reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake's galleon. Francis Drake was a pirate and privateer under Elizabeth I and he gave her so much money that she knighted him. I wanted to go aboard and still I didn't. If it hadn't been a reconstruction but the real thing from the 16th century I wouldn't have hesitated.

But we were in a hurry. At 4pm we finally arrived at the dungeons and started queueing to get inside. We didn't have priority entrance to the dungeons. 45 minutes later we got in and had our picture taking; me holding an axe over Love's neck ^^

Then the tour started. The actors were great and it wasn't really scary. I felt a little uneasy, but not scared. So we passed through the Crypt, the Labyrinth of Lost Souls and the Plague, and then we got to the Great Fire of London. That was the first interesting moment. We were all standing in a room where they had a film going with some of the actors acting out the horrors of the night when all of medieval London burned down, caused by a spark from the local bakery. Over 300 houses. By the end of the film there was smoke coming from the door we were supposed to continue through.

After that came the Surgeon, telling us of how many surgeons gave in to grave robbery to learn anatomy. Here the actress picked one from the audience to assist her. After going through lobotomy and blood letting on him she came to amputation. The whole room went dark and we were sprayed with something wet (only water) while a recorded man's voice screamed :P That was a lot of fun. The Torture room had a very fun actress who left us laughing. We entered the Judgement which had us laugh even more as the presenter of the case was a very young and happy girl and the judge was a complete drunkard. Here they had three people from the audience being judged for different crimes.

We continued through the Madhouse in Bedlam and then got on our first ride; a boat ride to Hell. After which we ended up visiting Mrs Lovett and Sweeney Todd and then we arrived at the new show of 2011; Jack the Ripper. This was the scariest moment ever. The actors repeatedly told the women to cover their necks and throats and stay close to a man. We were invited into a bar by an actor who told us that it was the 10th anniversary of Jack the Ripper's murders. No one knew where he went and everyone was scared he'd come back. There was a fictional storm while we where there and the lights went out. When thunder lighted up the bar we saw a cloaked figure with a top hat slicing for the closest woman.

A little shaky we continued to the next room where a film, similar to the one of the Great Fire of London, told us of Jack the Ripper. It depicted his murders in detail and showed us old 19th century pictrues of the victims. Beneath the screen was a reconstruction of the final victim and everything he had done to her. That was horrid and gross.

Next room was Bloody Mary the Queen. The daughter of Henry VIII who convicted loads of people of heresy and hanged them. We were all judged as heretics and sent to the gallows. This was the second ride. We all sat down and had the protectors down. Then we were hoist up into the air were there were dolls who did the ceremonial judging and then the hangman moved and we were dropped to the floor. It was a very small free fall kind of ride but it was fun. That's where it all ended.

When we got out the time was 6.30pm and we decided to return home. It was raining and it was a really nice change from all the sun. No cameras were allowed in the dungeons.

Friday, 22 April 2011

[Edited] Kensington Park, Mary Poppins and shopping

Today we were going to make a park round. The guy we live with told us that if we start at Kensington Park we can go through Hyde Park, Green Park and St James's park too. So we took the tube and logically we got off at South Kensington. There we got lost for about half an hour in the scorching heat before we actually found the entrance to Kensington Park. When we found it we were so exhausted and worn out from the heat that we lay down in the grass in the shadow of a tree.

When we got up again after about 15 minutes we took the Flower Path, cause it looked nice. And smelled nice. And there were loads of squirrels, obviously used to being fed by humans and thus were very friendly and unafraid. They got up real close!

We continued to walk and found some monument. We are not really sure whom or what it's for. Then we walked further into the middle of the park where we found a huge pond filled with ducks and swans, but luckily no geese. Those birds were also very used to being fed by humans and got up real close, but without leaving the water. I kind of envied them. Water is so nice when it's so hot. I wanted to wet my feet but not even the children there were doing it so I resisted.

After getting some soft ice we took the tube to St. Paul's because I wanted to see the cathedral from Mary Poppins in person. While there we also took a detour to the Bank of London where the dad worked in Mary Poppins. Seeing the cathedral made me think a lot about this clip from the film.

Then we got back on the tube for Russell Square where we had found an okonomiyaki place on our first day. After lunch we took the tube to Oxford Circus to continue our walk along Oxford Street, where we had walked on our first day. That got me buying a new pair of shoes (Converse) and three new T-shirts from Uniqlo :) I also gave in to the sun and bought myself an after sun lotion. I got burned pretty badly...

For tomorrow we have combined tickets for Sea Life London Aquarium and London Dungeons!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Tower of London

After sleeping for too long we went out around noon. Today was another well over 20 degrees day and sunny. We had decided yesterday to go to the Tower of London today and see the Crown Jewels. It was extremely hot and the air conditioning don't seem to work on any of the underground trains, thus not enough oxygen. We arrived and there was a huge crowd. Lots of people, but we decided to go anyway. The first queue seemed very long and tedious at first sight but passed through surprisingly quick. I thought it was interesting and I found myself knowing way more about the British royalties than I first thought. Love found himself with a free History lesson.

Except for the Crown Jewels we entered the Torture Chamber, which was a big disappointment. It was only one room with only three devices and then it was finished. We also entered the White Tower and saw the armoury.

After those three buildings we were quite hungry and decided to leave the Tower to find something to eat. We exited the fortress and the first thing we see is Tower Bridge and the River Thames. The blue ornaments on Tower Bridge are eyesores to me. They look hideous!

Just opposite the Tower of London we found a Japanese restaurant called Wagamama and there we had our lunch. After lunch we took the tube a few stations to Westminister. The exit to Houses of Parliament have you coming out of the underground right at the foot of Big Ben. It was pretty cool.

We crossed Westminister Bridge and arrived on the South Bank with the London Eye. From there we picked a direction and then we walked. At that direction we accidentally found Waterloo Station, the Imperial Court and a WWII Monument. We followed Kennington Lane all the way back to the Thames and then we took the tube back home from Vauxhall.

That's enough adventure for one day.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

British Museum

First day in London ended up being great. It's pretty much summer here. Today it was well above 20 degrees and sunny. For our first day we decided that the British Museum would be nice so we took the tube to Russell Square and walked from there. I had never been there and after Love mentioned something about mummies I wanted to go.

Our first thought was to go through all of it, but after going through the 12th room full of decorated rocks we started to get tired of seeing all these rocks and statues and decided to fast forward to what we thought was the most interesting. Obviously the first stop fast forwarding was the mummies. That ended up being only an exhibition of the mummifying procedure and one single dried up mummy. I looked upon him and said: "I don't think this is how he pictured his afterlife." The Mummy room was also the most popular room. Extremely crowded. I ended up getting approval for my theory that all people are morbid, although maybe not everyone would agree to it. But if you go to a museum to see thousands of years old dried up dead people you have to be pretty morbid, right?

Next stop was Asia. China and Japan. To me China and Egypt are the two most original cultures in the world and then pretty much everyone copied parts of it and adopted it to be their own. I liked this part very much, especially the part with Chinese jade and those extremely intricate designs. In the Japanese section however it bothered me to pieces that they kept calling the shinto deities buddhist. I also liked the part where we walked into one room and before us is a huge stone statue originating from Easter Island (I think).

The most excited I was at the museum was to see the Rosetta stone. The stone where the same text is written in Egyptian, Ancient Greek and Babylonian. This stone helped translate the old languages thanks to the Ancient Greek and what's really great about this stone is that the text contains all of the letters from that language. It's really something. However it was hard to get a good picture since the stone was in a glass monter. Without flash you could hardly see the stone cause all the people around you was reflected in the glass and with flash you could hardly see the stone cause the flash was reflected in the glass. But I was happy to have seen it anyway.

After the museum we had fish n chips for lunch and then we just walked. I have no idea where we walked and how but around 4pm we had arrived at Oxford Circus and decided that it was time to head back. By then I know we had walked on both Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. When we got home we both showered and then took a nap for about 30 minutes. Both totally exhausted!

Tomorrow I think The Towern is up.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Spring has come

Spring is here and the light makes me bubbly and happy. That's a very Scandinavian sentiment. The days are longer and the heat is in that perfect stage when it's not too hot and not too cold. Just perfect. Last year when I was in Tokyo I felt a little cheated of spring and summer, since the sun's rising and setting don't change there. The sun sets at 6.30pm. Full stop. The end. Nothing else to it.

I've heard such funny reactions when I tell of the sun here - from almost 2 years ago at Metaltown in Gothenburg when an American band complained about the sun never going down, to my friend who thought it was crazy that the sunlight changed that much.

But after the dark and cold days of winter the brighter and warmer days of spring are so welcome. I live in the very south of Sweden and the sunlight here differs so much from the one in the north. During winter the sun rises about 9am and sets around 3.30pm, up in the far north it hardly ever shows itself during December-January. In summer, on the other hand, the sun rises about 3am and sets around 10.30pm, in the far north it hardly goes down. I admit it sounds crazy but the change those few more hours make... It's not unusual for people to get a little depressed and sad during autumn and winter here. It's so dark. People need sunlight, whether they like it or not. Without the light, people get depressed. Then when the sun starts to show itself it makes some people very happy, like me, or the drastic change can make people frustrated and sad for a little while until they get used to it. But I love it. I have a love-hate relationship with the sun.

Late summer nights are commonplace. Since the sun is up for so long, people stay up and outdoors longer. BBQ, football, rounders...

I love spring for it's change in light, nature and temperature, but I'm not a big fan of summer. I don't know how summer is further north but down south it usually can't get any hotter than 23 degrees without it turning into heavy thunderfilled air that presses down on you and makes you want to be at a place ten degrees colder. That heavy air feels hard to breathe in and just turning your head makes you sweat. And it's not the moist thunderfilled heat either since the air here isn't very humid. So it's not a greenhouse that can feel nice after a while. It's a sauna, and staying in a sauna 24/7 isn't the best of things.

Then there's also the thing that my skin can't take the sun. As soon as the sun comes out in spring I get freckles. Staying out in the sun for too long in summer makes my skin red and then it all falls off leaving my skin as pale as it was before I got out into the sun. That was very popular in Japan, however it's not nice to have a flaking half-assed tan. I like summer in the late afternoon, evening and night when the temperature has gone down and the sun isn't as unforgiving.

Anyhow I love spring (I guess it has occurred to you by now that I'm not allergic to pollen) and for this Easter vacation I will be enjoying spring in London :) Next blog post will be one from my touristing ordeals in the capital of UK ;)

Friday, 15 April 2011

I failed miserably

Today I had my first oral presentation in French. I honestly thought that I had made some progress and wasn't such a failure at it as I used to be. Turns out I was wrong. I stuttered. I trembled. I couldn't think clear and I knew that I was pathetic. Being the last one out I ended that class in a miserable way. It wouldn't have been so bad, I would've been able to just shake it off and move on with my life if it wasn't for that little detail that caught my eye. A girl, whom I already disliked, sitting opposite me leaned back on her chair and immediately after I finished speaking she asked the guy next to her if he had understood what I had talked about. That careless way and those words... It pierced my heart. The girl sitting next to me asked me a conversational question about one thing as if it had been anyone else doing that oral presentation. It made me feel better. To me it meant that I hadn't been that horrible but that she was stupid, immature, careless and a stuck-up know-it-all. I admit that her pronounciation is one of the better in the class and that she seems more confident with her French than a lot of us - but that's no reason for being stuck-up like you're better than everyone else. If you know more, then help others who don't. Don't just go around bragging about how much you know the "in your face"-way.

In the beginning of this semester I was divided into a grammatical exercises group with the girl I now hate and another girl. After missing a text from her about a meeting they both stopped calling on me. One missed text. They also stopped talking to me when we all showed up at class. So the first girl that I now hate is a stuck-up know-it-all that hurt my feelings. The other one thinks she's a know-it-all because she's been in France so so so many times, but actually my French is better than hers. So I know that I'm a know-it-all too, but I try to be nice about it usually. I help people. There's a reason why my classmates in Japanese class called me Jisho-chan (Little Dictionary).

I thought I had matured and grown since high school and stopped hating on people, but I guess not. I guess I just haven't had any reason to hate on anyone until now. I hope none of them are going to continue onto next semester. It would be interesting if they did, but I don't want them there. If I could have punched her and yelled at her today without getting in trouble, I would have.

I thought about the stage fright during my walk home and I think it has something to do with the language as well. It's less painful in Swedish and English and even Japanese. But I'm not comfortable with French yet. I think that's the biggest issue, when I prepare myself better and become more comfortable and certain I think it will be better. I hope next time (in two weeks!) will be better.

On the positive side today was a wake up call. I'm gonna study hard and ace my exams. It will show both me and her that I actually know something AND it will make me the know-it-all I usually am ;P

Friday, 8 April 2011

Dead Boy's Poem

"If you read this line, remember not the hand that wrote it
Remember only the verse, songmaker's cry, the one without tears
For I've given this its strength and it has become my only strength
Comforting home, mother's lap, chance for immortality
Where being wanted became a thrill I never knew
The sweet piano writing down my life

Teach me passion, for I fear it's gone
Show me love, hold the lorn
So much more I wanted to give to the ones who loved me
I'm sorry
Time will tell, this bitter farewell
I live no more to shame nor me nor you

And you... I wish I didn't feel for you anymore."

- Nightwish

So insanely beautiful. It gets me every time.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Another way to die

I didn't plan on making this post at all. I feel as if I'm nagging. I've done this before a long time ago. Now with a different approach. Spring is coming. It makes me feel happy. I don't like the sun cause it's way to sharp, but I love that the days are getting longer. I love that the first spring flowers are popping up everywhere and I love the fact that my winter jacket is getting too warm. I love that the world around me soon is going to be all lushous and green and beautiful. I love nature. It's indrecibly beautiful. 

Two days ago I watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth again. About the 5th time or something that I see it. And I know all the negatives so you can stop right there. I know he's a hypocrite and I know he exaggerates his graphs. But beyond that he does have a point. Despite his exaggeration the general trend is clear for everyone to see and despite his exaggeration it is clear that the problem has been getting worse every year since we started doing heavy industries. If you haven't watched the film I recommend you to. It's a great film that makes you appreciate what you have and it makes you care. It makes you want to do something. Everytime I shiver and get goosebumps while watching it and everytime I cry when it shows pictures from New Orleans after Katrina and it makes me mad to hear that Bush could have made the disaster less catastrophical but chose not to believe it. What if Gore had been elected president instead of Bush on that day in 2000? The world would have looked a lot different. 

What if we all made small, small changes? Changed power company to an environmental friendly one? Started to walk/ride bike/take bus/take train instead of the car. You'd get some exercise and save money! A car is one hell of a money sucker! What if you bought environmental friendly power supplies and light bulbs? They do the job the old ones did. What if you bought ecological foods? I know they cost more and I know they don't pay the farmers more, but it's not sprayed food. The food is natural and less articficial stuffs in the air and ground is better for all of us. Recycle. It's not that hard. Or use a fleemarket or give your old stuff to a secondhand shop. There are always better options that to just go on like we always have. Just one small change at a time. Imagine what that would do in the long run. 

Here are some related posts: Riot, Japan, Innocence.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Life, happiness and age

Life sucks. That's the truth and you can't do anything about the sucky part. But it's what you make of the sucky part that counts. If you concentrate on the bad, if you convince yourself that there's nothing good for you here and that you're in a hopeless situation... Then that's where you're gonna stay. If you believe it, it's true. If you want to change your life then do something about it. There's no one telling you what to do, but there's a hell of a lot of people telling you what not to do.

I live my life as it comes. I handle it when it arrives. I try not to worry about things in the future. I don't make a lot of plans - I just stay open for all the possibilities the future may bring. I try to stay carefree. I do what I want because I want it and I do what I like because I like it. Since I started living by that philosophy I've gradually grown happier. I might be privileged to be able to live like that, but I believe everyone can do it. It's hard at first trying to shut out what others might think and demolish your own walls, but when you get there it's a great feeling. Everyone should try to get there. I don't plan out what univeristy program may led to an occupation that brings me the most money and success. I wouldn't be happy doing a job I didn't like just cause I got loads of money from it, I'd rather get less money and have fun. Money does not equal happiness.

Happiness is not something ready-made for you to go get somewhere, it's something you have to make for yourself. I'm sure you've heard all of that before. I'm also sure that you've heard that if you concentrate on the positive all the bad will go away. That, however, is not true. If you don't handle the bad things you'll become a maimed person unable to handle the bad and just shoving it away until so much is built up that it just breaks free and instead of handling the little things you'll have a massive depression. By dealing with the bad you can get over it and go back to the positive side of things. By dealing you become a more empathic being and empathy is well needed in this world. Mankind is what we learn, without learning we're nothing. By dealing you learn and become a greater person.

Who knows what could happen
Do what you do just keep on laughing
One thing's true; there's always a brand new day
So you go and make it happen
Do your best just keep on laughing
I'm telling you there's always a brand new day

Also remember that there's always time for anything and everything you want to do. Us young people usually like to rush things thinking that there's a limit and we have to finish our lives before 30. You're only as old as you let yourself be. Your age is only a number that doesn't mean anything. If there's something you really really want to do then do it, if you can't yet then find a way to make it happen soon or at least at some point in your life. You being 20 or 50 doesn't mean anything for the experience. Life is there waiting for you to make the most of it and according to me the best way to do it is to do everything you want to. Do everything you've ever dreamed of. Seriously, you have the time. Give in to your whims. Make your dreams happen. You do have the means to. If not right in front of you, then go look for them. You shouldn't give up on a dream just cause it's so distant. If it's distant - make it less distant!

Think of all the days you've wasted
Worrying, wondering
Hoplessly hoping
Think of all the time ahead
Don't hesitate, contemplate
No, it's not too late