Tuesday, 20 June 2017

What is Your Quest?

I have noticed there are some misconceptions circulating about my nationality. While it's true that I've been working on becoming a British citizen, I am sadly not at the end of my quest yet.

Over the past few months I've made certain steps towards that goal. First of which was passing the Life in The UK exam, followed by applying for a Permanent Residency Permit. Both of which required a lot of time. I've spent a month preparing for the exam, a week filling up a form for the permit and two months waiting for a decision to be made. It all went well enough. I expected to wait half a year for the permit but I got it in less than half the time which allowed me to visit my godson for his first communion ceremony. My main hurdle at the moment is money.

I've been saving money for it for the past year. Due to that trip I had to spend some of it so my plan to get it done by the holiday season didn't pan out. The fee going up by three times what I expected this year didn't help either. So a few weeks ago I sat down to make some calculations. Turns out that going by my usual rate I'll have enough money saved up for it in March.

As such, my main concern now is to cut down my expenses so I can get it over with as soon as possible. Currently, my plan is to cut down on my usual expenses so I can hit my target sooner than March. I've already made some decisions to achieve that.

- Reluctantly, I broke my promise to a good friend to visit her in Amsterdam this year.
- I won't be doing anything for my birthday in November nor for Christmas as in previous years.
- I'm suspending my dojo membership for the next three months.

All of the above should net me three months worth of savings and if I receive back the money I lent out to a friend, I'll have another month worth of savings to add to that.

It still won't let me reach my goal by October but my mum wanted to give me the money I'm missing. I refused to take any, obviously, but we talked about it some and reached an agreement where I would borrow money from her after the summer holidays. Hopefully, I'll manage to spend as much time at work as possible over the coming months, boosting my income in the process so I won't be forced to borrow as much from my mum as she's offering to give me.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Cutting Down

For the past few months I've been logging in on Facebook, going down my Friend List and clicking the unfriend button on someone. I would do this on a small scale every year after my birthday but this time I decided to go through all my social networks, Facebook being the last stop.

I'd like to be more open online like I used to be, especially now that I'm putting up a front in my day-to-day life. In order to do that though, I have to ensure that only a select group of people has viewing privileges.

I've never been a party person. Although it seemed to me to be a well-known fact, it kept being ignored. I was constantly subjected to endless questioning and dismissal in my attempts to explain why I take no enjoyment in the same activities as most. Despite it, my wishes went ignored and I kept being damaged by so-called friends who thought they were doing me a favour by trying to fix me.

I was tired of dealing with it.

I thought that maybe if I go out a few times, drink some, start lying about having fun but my finances dwindling too much because of it, I'll be able to get some peace at work. It worked, in a way. I no longer feel like I'm being dragged out against my will when I decline an offer.


I'm not happy that I had to resort to outright lying to people and I have to admit, being so closed up these days is having severe negative effects on me.

I broke down last week.
I spent a whole day mostly in bed and in tears.
Today I managed to keep myself together for half a day, at least.

I guess I'm still struggling to find a balance to this new way of life.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Shame

I wasn't feeling well this past weekend.

It was odd as I had an entire day to myself before going to work over the weekend but until Sunday evening, I had the impression I would simply fall over. I don't know what came over me.

Earlier that week I broke down completely, cancelled nearly all my regular outings and stayed at home for two days. That was because I had two very long and stressful weeks at work prior to those days. I thought I managed to sort myself out. I went to dancing yesterday and I was just about to go practice ninpo today when that ever present feeling of shame overcame me. I could hardly get myself to do anything. I ended up spending most of the day just watching Naruto Shippūden.

Although I'm fairly fond of anime, I don't enjoy days like this. I've been feeling emotionally weak lately and, these days, it seems harder for me to pull myself back together. Most days I manage to bottle up my feelings of shame and go out into the world despite them crawling along after me.

I'm truly ashamed of the way I am, of what I enjoy and of what I dislike. At times like these, I'd love to talk to someone but I know full well that most of my friends and family would be more than happy to see me give up on my activities and spend my time in front of the telly instead.

I know they mean well; that they think I would do better in life if I had more numbers on my bank account, that I'm overextending myself or simply not enjoying what life has to offer. Despite knowing their intent, it still hurts when I'm being laughed at for enjoying something else, for feeling stressed out by engaging in their form of entertainment and for being different.

I'm not proud of what I do and enjoy. I only started applying myself in a variety of fields because I decided I deserve to enjoy life as everyone else. Just because I enjoy different things, doesn't mean I shouldn't do them.

I can say in all honesty that I'd rather be the sort of person who likes to go out and get drunk with people but no matter how much I try, it stresses me out to such an extent that I eventually break down mentally.

I try to distance myself from people so I don't have to deal so much with feeling worse in comparison to them when I'm being asked to go out but there are still moments when their best efforts get to me and it becomes too much to deal with.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Yellow Brick Road

The subject of journeys has cropped up into my mind recently.

I suppose with all that's been going on in the world, people talking of moving away and some taking steps to do so, it was inevitable.

When I moved out to study abroad, my plan was to get an education and qualifications to travel around the world teaching English. Over my time in education, I saw a slew of offers to teach abroad and heard of people moving around Europe, simply changing schools they teach at... but after some years I realised I only wanted that so I'd have photos of various places to upload to Facebook and make other people envious. Their envy, however, wouldn't have made me happy.

When the subject of what languages I speak creeps up into the conversation what generally follows is an expectation that I've been to every country whose language I'm more or less familiar with but I lack the wanderlust some people exhibit.

Even when I went to Paris with my parents a few months ago, I had to cancel meeting some friends for a boardgame which would have been a nicer way to spend my time. I keep catching myself forgetting I went abroad recently, I just care so little for it. I did get a few books out of it so I can't complain.

When I'm shown photos of other people's travels, while I appreciate the joy they exhibit and see how wonderful the places they went to are, I don't regret not having the time nor money to go there. In fact, while people around me talk about how they'd love to have a chance to travel but for various reasons can't, I probably have the means to just up and leave.

Why not? Why not go on a grand adventure spanning a few years, experience what the world has to offer? Because it's a life that carries with itself a burden of impermanence. Such a life holds no appeal to me.

I'm not satisfied living with what I can carry, working and filling my spare time with socialising. I've worked hard on creating a life for myself that I could be happy with. Although it's not perfect and I'm still implementing plans to make it more manageable, I could do without various people telling me to throw everything into the bin and go be pretend-happy instead.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A Vital Test

Shortly after my birthday celebrations were done, I started to focus more on studying for a test.

The test in question was called Life in The UK.

It's one of the requirements for obtaining a British passport as part of the naturalisation process. It's also a test that I've attempted once and failed by a few points so, naturally, I was horribly stressed while going over questions for it every day for two weeks.

I would have tried sitting through it last year but the problems I have had in the past two years depleted my funds in their entirety. I wasn't in any financial nor mental shape to go through the whole application process at the time. However, with this year's news of the UK leaving the EU, I decided it was as good a time as any to try once more.

Yes, this book...
There's a book you're supposed to go through to prepare for the test. I read through it all, cover to cover, a few years back as preparation for my first attempt and, as mentioned before, it wasn't enough. Despite assurances from friends and family, I didn't manage to pass. So this time I approached it in a different manner, I started doing practice tests.

Every day I would sat down in front of the computer screen, click on a link to the practice tests and go through them time and time again. Of course, a lot of times I would be one point short of passing. A fact I found most infuriating but I redid them until my scores improved. I mainly took note of the terms and facts I wasn't familiar with and looked them up, while reading too much into them, as is my way.

I was stressed throughout half of November. There were nights I couldn't sleep. I'd go to bed and wake up a few hours later unable to shut my eyes for the remainder of the night. I even turned down opportunities to play games because I had to study!

I didn't think much of it when the day finally came. I made sure I packed all my documents the day before, had a day of rest, woke up and went off. With trains being as they are, I took an early one. Fortunately, my way to Croydon had only one problem in that the automatic doors at my destination's station refused to read my ticket. I was let out without a fuss though and headed off to the test centre. I passed a music shop with violins on display, always a good sign.

When I entered the centre, I was informed that I don't have to wait for my specified time and may do the test straight away. I presented my documents, they checked my ears for bluetooth devices and asked me to roll up my sleeves before I was allowed to enter the examination room.

It was a fairly simple design with desks and computers all around it with one in the middle where an observer was situated. I sat down and answered all the questions I could. I was baffled to see so many of them having been from the practice tests I took. Of course, they were not exactly the same questions. Often, the questions and answers were reversed but I had a very good idea what they would be. I even had a plethora of the exact same questions I was telling of my parents over the phone the other day.

Surely enough, after all was said and done. I was told I passed, they printed out a certificate with my name on it and congratulated me. I went home and that night I roleplayed first and then went to have a drink. I had way too much to drink and stayed up way too long but I could hardly contain myself.

Suffice to say, after all that, I was positively shattered at the end of November.

PS: If anyone is interested in what sort of questions are there on the test, here's a useful link.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Cake isn't a Lie

I must admit, last month was incredibly intense for me.

I took the first week off because my very awesome friend Piotrek decided to pay me a visit for several days during which we've played games like nobody's business. During that week, we would wake up, have breakfast, play games, have dinner, play games and go to bed somewhere past midnight.

It was glorious!

behold!
Of course, it being November, I couldn't resist having a birthday celebration. I've never been one to celebrate my birthday. It generally reminded me of another wasted year. I'm not sure what got into me this year. Whatever it may have been, I tried to make the most of it, invited a few people round, prepared some food, drinks and a game... immense amounts of fun were had!

As you may have gathered, copious amounts of alcohol were also had and it was one of the few opportunities to actually see me drunk on the fiery beverage of my ancestors.

there is no better loot
Of course, no birthday celebration can be complete without presents. While I am far from the materialistic sort, I am immensely happy with all the gifts. When I look at them, I feel you can get a fairly good impression of the sort of person I am.

There are books because I spend a lot of my free time reading. You can clearly tell I adore superheroes looking at all the Batman, Marvel and Flash things. My morbid side is represented by skull candles, a skull glass, a game about zombies and an excellent film! I even got gym gloves so that I finally stop hurting my hands.

I love the cards filled with well wishes. I couldn't help but cry at reading some of them... and I got an updated Transformer figure of a toy I had when I was a child.

It was one of those rare days when I felt accepted. Growing up I've gotten used to being an outsider and the feeling of alienation followed me throughout most of my life. Having a break from it and feeling normal for a change means the world to me.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Game Weekend

Piteru decided to come over for a long visit spanning two days... naturally, this was the perfect opportunity to sit down and play as much as physically possible +1



Android: Netrunner
Specially for this occasion, I caved in and bought some packs for Netrunner.

I guess we both highly like the game. Its asymetry is definitely a high selling point.

Of course,
Piteru had to go with his favourite Criminal faction while I picked one of the new Corp identities I got.

Android: Netrunner
There was criminal activity in the form of unsollicited hacking and behind the scene deals made.

I built an aggressive deck with what I had but instead of going for servers left and right,
Piteru just had to play it safe... which costed him the game!

DC Deck-Building Game
Next up was possibly one of our favourite games.

We did get to go to town beforehand so I had a new Expansion set to add to the DC Deck-Building Game.
Piteru didn't like the idea of using the Watchmen Expansion but I convinced him to give it a try when I mention the traitor mechanic.

Unfortunately, he made it way too obvious that he's the secret villain. I still didn't manage to win...


Carcassonne
This is where Piteru surprised me.
He bought me a game!
Obviously, there was no way we wouldn't play it.

Carcassonne is a classic among boardgames and highly enjoyable, even with just the base set. We had a small fray over a city at some point but never managed to finish it anyway.


Splendor
Splendor is a game Piteru bought me last time he came over. Do I sense a pattern here? Maybe...

I must say, he got a lot better at playing it then before. Someone must have been practicing as he stole victory away from me with a single point!


Epic PVP
Piteru wanted to play Epic PVP.
We went with an odd pairing.

Since he picked a High Elf, I went with a Dark Elf and then, instead of picking some goody-do-gooder class, he combined it with a backstabbing Rogue! I just had to pick a honorable Samurai. We went at it back and forth.

Completely different than the last time I remember.
I suppose we both learned how to play it.

Android: Netrunner

When I looked at all the viruses, I got an idea for an Anarchist virus-heavy deck. While I generally play Corporation, I like the Anarchists as a faction.

What can I say? Some people just want to see the world burn... and look at all those virus counters!

I managed to pull off some good synergy between those cards.


DC Deck-Building Game

Piteru wanted a rematch...
of a game he won.
Don't ask...

This time we dealt out our heroes randomnly, Silk Spectre vs Nite Owl... and throughout the game we each suspected the other to be the Secret Supervillain!...
 
So when we got to the final stage of the game, it was revealed we were both good guys! We also made the game harder for ourselves because I misread one line of the rulebook.

The funniest part of the game was at the end when, although we were on the same side, Piotrek killed my character... this is the sort of friends I have...

One Hit Kill

Lastly, we played One Hit Kill.

It's an easy and quick set collection game with the added benefit of getting to smash your opponent with THE HAMMER OF THE GODS... as
Piteru rightly deserves after the last game...