My Convention Essentials

Another Anime Boston has come and gone, and seeing as how this is about the point where I really started to fall off of blogging last year, I thought it might be a good time to make an attempt at starting things up here again! I do want to do a general overview post about my experiences at the convention, but first I wanted do a bit of a “What’s in my Bag?” kind of thing. I did this as a video a long time ago on my now-defunct YouTube channel, but this year was my sixth Anime Boston (I attended 2011-12, 2015, and 2017-19), and as such I’ve really distilled down what I like to have on me during a day of running around at the convention.

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This is the bag that I bring. I bought it in the Dealers’ Room on the first day of Anime Boston 2017 when the massive cross-body purse I’d brought was causing me a lot of pain and this was the most functional thing available that didn’t have Naruto or Goku’s face on it, lol. This has been a go to day trip bag for me ever since because it’s a pretty good size and is pretty sturdy, although the back is maybe not as stiff as I would like.

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This looks like a mess, but it’s organized I swear. Firstly, there’s two small pockets at the top of the back that are the perfect size for my travel wallet and my phone or iPod to slip into for quick access. I don’t like to use the outer zipper pocket for valuables because I am paranoid about getting robbed and not being able to feel it happen. Everything else in here is either big enough to sort through easily or organized into a series of pouches.

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If the weather forecast is calling for rain, I always make sure to bring an umbrella, with a plastic bag to put it into when I go inside so I can put it back in my backpack without making everything wet. The scarf in the middle is large, blanket-like, and absolutely necessary — many of the panel rooms in the Hynes Convention Center are very cold for some reason. When I start to freeze, I can whip it out, but it’s easily put away when I start walking around in the main halls again. On the right is my refillable Brita filter bottle and the plastic bag that I keep it in if I carry it in a bag because it leaks if the water tilts up to the level of the cap.

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On the left here we have my Kindle, with stickers of some of my favorite ghost Pokemon on the front that were drawn by Miski (but aren’t available anymore, sorry!). My Kindle is indispensable to me in my life, whether or not I’m traveling. I can’t read on the long bus ride to Boston because I’ll get sick, but it’s great to have around for reading while waiting for the bus, during downtime between panels, or when you’re the grandma of the group who goes back to the room early to rest and waits up for all of your friends to come back so you can spend time with them. The notebook on the right was designed by Maya Kern and has stickers on it from inki-Drop’s Starwhal Kickstarter. Honestly, I only bring it to stiffen up the inside of the backpack, but it’s also proven useful for keeping my bus tickets tidy and for holding small prints, like this one that I got from Milkbun this year. (Oh how I wish I could get away with hanging this in my cubicle at work!)

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And now finally pouches! This pouch has a bunch of miscellaneous yet important things, like aspirin, hair ties and pins (in a reused orange pill bottle!), tissues, pens, a little mirror, etc.!

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This is my technology pouch. I’ve got two portable batteries in here, the wires to connect them to my phone and iPod, and three pairs of headphones. In hindsight this is an excessive amount of headphones, especially considering I had a fourth pair hooked up to my iPod all weekend. All I can say is, one time on the bus on my way to the con I realized one of my earbuds wasn’t working. I had a spare pair with me, but they were in my suitcase in the bottom of the bus. I can only imagine that in my packing frenzy this year I went “what if that happens again, but more times?” I also don’t tend to use these batteries at all because I’m not a super phone crazy person when I have things to occupy me. So maybe next year I’ll keep one battery in this pouch and only two extra pairs of earbuds, lol.

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This pouch fits both my phone and iPod, but my phone mainly lived in the upper inner pocket of my backpack or the pocket of my skirt because I don’t use my iPod when I walk around the con. It mainly stays with me just so I don’t run the risk of losing it in the hotel room somehow. I always know where it is, and I absolutely need it for the bus because, as mentioned above, I can’t read on the bus so I need music to help me drown out the noises and sleep to pass the time, lol.

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I don’t typically play my 3DS during AB, but I do collect Streetpasses. I don’t tend to try Streetpassing in my daily life because I never go anywhere, but thanks to AB over the years I’ve got a nearly complete puzzle collection and have nearly completely beaten the free Streetpass games. This year I noticed I was getting repeat Streetpasses, which was kind of exciting and interesting to me because it means those people were also at past ABs. It’s a nice little connection to other people!

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And now for the front zipper pocket of the backpack! Which actually -is- as much of a mess as it looks, lol.

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This pocket is for things I want close at hand that aren’t particularly valuable. The only thing I would really be upset about losing is that pen because it’s a really good pen! The little white pot is full of hand cream because I’ve been having a really awful dry hands problem all winter. The fan was actually a $5 impulse purchase I made on Saturday this year when I was starting to get really sweaty walking around the Dealers’ Hall, and I’d say it was well worth it — I’ll probably bring it back again next year. This pocket is where I keep my convention badge at night so I don’t misplace it, otherwise that badge is around my neck. The badge lanyards at AB are usually an advertisement for some anime company or other, but for the past few years I’ve been swapping it out for this YuGiOh one that my friend Kristen surprised me with from New York Comic Con in 2016 right before the anniversary movie came out in English because I will forever be YuGiOh trash and I want the world to know it, lol.

The only thing not in any of these pictures that I have with me every day is related to those granola bars and it is lunch. To save money on food I buy supplies for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and make them every morning before I head out. I also get a couple of other small snacks that don’t need refrigeration, like those granola bars or little individual applesauces. When it’s time for lunch, I find a spot to sit that has good people watching (so I can admire people’s cosplays) and chow down.

So that’s all! I’ll follow this post up soon with one about things I actually did at Anime Boston, but I thought my convention survival supplies might be interesting to share in the meantime.

Until next time!
–Krys

 

Another Year Older

One day shortly before Christmas I got in the elevator at my job and in that weirdly lit mirrored space, I noticed something unusual sprouting out of the front of my hairline. I looked at myself closely in one of the mirrored walls. ‘Is that…a grey hair…?’ It was kind of hard to tell. After years of dying my hair different shades of copper, I’d dyed it brown in the fall with the aim letting my light brown/dark blonde hair grow in and not dying it anymore (or at the very least, not for a very long time). But my natural shade is cool toned and I had mistaken strands of my roots for grey in the past, so I wasn’t sure if this was an early morning hallucination or the real deal. I didn’t dwell on it too much.

But one morning a few weeks later when I stood back up after leaning over the sink to wash my face the bathroom light hit my hair a certain way and there was no mistaking it — I had a grey hair. I often hear my coworkers complaining about their grey hairs, but I felt an odd little spark of excitement. It felt like a weird validation and proof of the struggles I’ve experienced.

Plus, I was kind of hoping to develop a cool grey streak like Claire Saffitz from Bon Appetit! (If her streak is somehow not real, please do not burst my bubble, lol.)

My single grey hair showed up at quite a timely point as well, just before my 28th birthday at the end of January. Some people might feel quite bad about getting close to 30 and in some senses I do, but mainly just because I don’t feel like I’m as far along in my so-called adult life as I think I should be. (For instance, if this is your first time here, I still live with my mom.) As far as the actual process of my body aging, who gives a damn?

This year my birthday lasted for basically a whole week! The party was kicked off the Sunday before with a little gathering with my friends. We had pizza and cake and watched the bluray I bought a while ago of the Takarazuka Revue’s most recent production of the musical Elisabeth, which is based on the life of an Austrian empress popularly known as Sisi. It’s in Japanese with no English subtitles, but I know Sisi’s real life history and found translations of the songs so I was able to explain what was happening as we went along. It honestly felt like the most selfish, self indulgent thing I had ever asked from my friends (“for my birthday I want you to listen to me talk about history and this weird musical for 2.5 hours”). But my friends said they enjoyed it so that made me feel better! I wish I could post a clip, but Takarazuka have mysteriously taken all the promo clips for it down from their YouTube channel unfortunately. 

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Friendly’s grocery store ice cream cake is required birthday food, even in the dead of winter, true story!

My family’s tradition is to stick three candles in birthday cakes, so I was surprised when my friend put in eight (because I’m 28). The HAP on the cake is partly a “the cake was too small to write much” joke and also an inside joke based on our school district’s name for its Gifted and Talented program, which most of us were in back in the day. (Aka: most of us have some kind of self-esteem issue because of it, lol.)

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My cubicle is right next to this little snack area. Please do not ask how many doughnuts I ate on this day.

My birthday continued into my work week. My office has six people born in January so the other secretaries decided to combine mine with someone born the previous week — they set it on Monday to kind of split the difference between me and the other birthday person. Whenever it’s someone’s birthday people bring in snacks to share, and we had a pretty nice spread! It’s Valentine’s season, so the the doughnuts were heart shaped, which I thought was really cute!

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My office is a fan of Bavarian creme doughnuts if you can’t tell from the fact that four are in this box (and I think there were even more before I snapped this).

My coworkers jokingly wished me happy birthday until my actual birthday rolled around on Thursday. And our newest secretary gave me a little gift!  No one’s ever given me a gift for my birthday at work before. She only started at the beginning of January and we really don’t know each other well yet, so this little angel coin was a sweet surprise. I’m not really religious, but I can appreciate the vibe of something like this.

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Thursday was my actual birthday. Often in the past my family winds up having pizza or something at home on the person’s actual birthday and then all the same people go out to dinner on Friday evening. But this year I told my mom I didn’t want that. I said that we only needed to celebrate my birthday once, because it would be back to back and also because it just makes me feel a little weird to be the center of prolonged attention. Maybe it’s a middle child thing? So anyway, I didn’t expect much of anything on my actual birthday, but my mom made macaroni and cheese and a cherry crumble and it was very nice.

Also on my birthday my goods from inki-drop’s Starwhal Kickstarter unexpectedly arrived! It was kind of like a gift from the universe. Everything is very cute, and the soft things (Mama Starwhal and the pouch) are exceptionally soft! I’ve already incorporated the pins into my pin frames!

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This is a pouch that a whole PS Vita can fit inside!

So then on Friday, to wrap up my birthday week, we went out to our favorite local Italian restaurant. My aunt stopped by our house beforehand and lemme tell ya, she is the queen of birthday cards. She always finds the loudest, most hilarious ones. 

She also gives scratchcards to everyone on their birthdays and on my birthday last year I became the family record holder, winning $40. This year all I got was a new ticket.

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I have a funny story from dinner that I already shared on my Twitter, but I want to immortalize it here as well. The restaurant was having two parties that night, so they put us in this upstairs room that allows them to do regular dinner service for people when they’re also having multiple parties. We had just ordered and were chatting when suddenly from downstairs came the sound of bagpipes! It only lasted about a minute and stopped as abruptly as it had started. My family naturally burst into laughter and started joking about how they should have the piper come up and play me happy birthday! We asked our waitress what was happening and it turned out it was a police officer’s retirement party. Regardless, it’s a birthday memory that I’m unlikely to forget, lol!

I was lucky to receive some neat gifts from my friends and family (tabletop games! a Dragon Age lore book! a cute reusable shopping bag, Pusheen magnets, and a book about pins! and more!). I’d like to close this post off by sharing a just one gift photo — I present to you, a ceramic Harry Potter goblet!

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One might jokingly refer to this as a pimp cup, lol. This was a find of my aunt’s. I could probably use it for drinking, but I’m too afraid to break it. The dragon makes displaying anything inside of it kind of awkward. I tried to put a small Ron plush I have inside and it just didn’t work. But in the alternate universe where I make enough money to move out on my own, I think this could be good for placing next to the door so I can put my keys in it! For now, I’m displaying it on top of my dresser.

And that’s all I have to say about my birthday week!

I hope you’re all doing well. I’ll be back with another post soon!

How to Break Up With Me

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I don’t have any Valentines-related pictures, but here’s one I took in 2013 of some very pink sunset clouds down the shore.

(This blog post started its life as the last video script I ever wrote for my YouTube channel, shortly before I started blogging and accidentally stopped YouTubing. But I still enjoy this piece of writing, and it’s currently seasonally appropriate, so I polished it up a bit for the blog! Since I originally wrote this with speaking in mind, I thought it might be fun to do a little audio recording so y’all can read along audiobook style! So hit the play button below, if you’re interested!)

I can’t seem to get a man to date me for more than 4 or 5 months at a time, so you could say I have a lot of experience with getting dumped. I don’t know what it is about me that makes boys eventually decide I’m repellent, but there’s gotta be something. This isn’t something that I obsess over; after all, I currently like myself more than I ever have, flaws and all. But after 10 years or so of dating, I’ve been able to develop a pretty clear idea of exactly how I would like it to go down when someone decides they don’t want to date me anymore. So I’ve got some tips here that I’ve organized into a guide called How to Break Up With Me.

1: ACTUALLY BREAK UP WITH ME YOURSELF.
When you’ve decided you want to break up with me, just fucking do it! Don’t mess with my head to the point that I get fed up and do it myself. When I broke up with the guy I dated my freshman year of college, it was because he started saying weird things like, “oh, we should break up before summer break because I don’t want a girlfriend for my senior year, and we hardly see each other now and it’s only gonna get worse with my senior work,” but then when I would ask him if he wanted to stay together he’d say he didn’t know. Just own your feelings, or lack thereof, and do it yourself or I will call you a coward for the rest of your life. You don’t have to be afraid of confrontation with me. I’m not someone who’s gonna try to convince you to stay when you’ve got one foot out the door.

2: DON’T BREAK UP WITH ME IN PERSON.
I know, usually you hear that you should always break up with someone in person, but not me. Even if we’ve only been dating for about a month and I’m not really that attached to you yet, I -will- probably cry when you tell me you’ve decided you’re not interested because sometimes I don’t handle disappointment well, especially if I’ve been under the impression that everything is just fine. I’d prefer to not embarrass myself in public, if that’s alright with you. (There is one exception to this rule, which is that if we’ve been dating an exceptionally long time, like, say, over a year, and I’ve, you know, introduced you multiple times to all my family and friends, then you owe it to me to tell me to my face.)

3: DO BREAK UP WITH ME ON THE TELEPHONE.
If we’ve been seeing each other for, say, a month or more then telling me we’re through in a text message is simply unacceptable, especially if I have permitted you to touch my boobs. Text message breakups, or instant messenger breakups if you’re internet old like I am, are just incredibly impersonal and passive. You don’t have to deal with the fallout of what you’ve done in real time. In the past when I’ve been dumped via text, my responses have tended to come off super reasonable and tended not to convey my true emotions because that’s how texts are. Like I said, I won’t fight to keep you if you’re going, but if you’re going to do this thing that hurts me, then you deserve to hurt a little too, by hearing any raw, off the cuff reaction I have, which could range anywhere from me saying “ok ok ok” to get off the phone quickly before I start to cry to instantly breaking into massive sobs. It isn’t right for you to just shoot your message off into the void and disappear without any repercussions. It just fucking isn’t.

4: DON’T BULLSHIT ME. JUST BE HONEST.
A thing that I’ve been told multiple times when I’ve been dumped is, “you’re a great girl, I know you’ll find someone for you.” If you’re breaking up with me, don’t tell me any trite shit like that. I know I’m a cool person, and I know I’ll find someone who appreciates it enough to stay. If you really thought I was so great, you’d be staying, but you’re not, so apparently you don’t. However, do feel free to mention any character flaws you think I have, especially if they’re fixable ones, like “hey maybe reel back the sarcasm a little because you come across like a huge asshole.” And if you’ve also got any specific reason you’re dumping me, feel free to mention it. My feelings are probably already hurt just from hearing that you’re leaving me, so just lay it all out there, whatever, feel free, honesty hour.

I’m currently on a bit of a break from trying to date, because I can only handle one frustrating disheartening search right now, and job hunting definitely takes priority over the irritating fuckboys that are all over the dating apps. But if you happen to be a future partner of mine that has come across this post, now you know how to dump me when the time comes. Hell, maybe I’ll even start sending this link to boys if I sense things are starting to go south?

(What’re your opinions on this topic? And what did you think of my little audioblog concept? Lemme know — I love chatting in the comments!)

27

Somehow it never really feels like the year has actually started until my birthday comes around at the end of January. And I mean the very end – I was born 1/31/1991, which sort of rolls off the tongue in a fun way. Just for kicks, here’s my birth announcement — I randomly found it in my house years ago and took it for myself, lol.

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I’m still feeling residual anxiety and hopelessness from 2017, but I’ve already talked at length about that so I won’t rehash it. You can, however, read about it here, if you’re feeling so inclined.

So after putting aside the notion of writing more about how shitty 26 was, I was trying to think of a direction for talking about starting 27. And then somehow my brain looked back 10 years to Krys-at-17. What was she up to? How does her life compare to mine now?

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Age 17. Driving a Duck on my first ever visit to Boston (an overnight trip with the school band).

The answer is, as much as I didn’t hate high school, I definitely wouldn’t want to relive my junior year. For instance, Junior Krys had a boyfriend who didn’t respect her boundaries and neither the voice to convince him to stop nor the confidence to just leave him. She spent a lot of time worrying about getting top grades in her full slate of high level classes, while her mother told her, “as long as you pass it doesn’t matter.” Driving gave her extreme anxiety so she didn’t get her license when she turned 17 and as a result didn’t have much of a social life outside of school.

When I think back to that school year I don’t remember being a constantly unhappy little cloud moping about (for instance, I did get to go on the cool overnight school trip pictured above), but I do vaguely remember writing on my Xanga blog about taking a mental health day. How many 17 year olds in 2008 even knew what a mental health day was?

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Actual picture taken with my webcam on my 22nd birthday. Was trying to show my whole outfit without cutting off my head, and somehow thought this pose was okay, lol.

And then I thought back just five years, to Krys-at-22. It was the start of 2013. She’d graduated from college just before Christmas, was beginning her search for her first adult job, and was nervous, but cautiously optimistic about what life would be like going forward.

2013 turned out to be one of the worst years of my entire fucking life. I was plagued by multiple forms of rejection, plunged into a very deep depression, and spent most of the year unemployed. It was only in September when I got part time work helping kids not so different from Krys-at-17 prepare for the SATs that I started to feel alright again. So, no, I would not want to go back five years’ time either.

So while, yes, I’m not starting out 27 with things in my life exactly the way I’d like them to be, I’m glad for the life experience I’ve gained. I’ve managed to survive all of the garbage of my life so far (including things I haven’t covered in blog form yet, obviously), and while I’m probably not the absolute strongest person I know, I’m not a weakling anymore either.

If someone isn’t treating me well and I’m in a position to get them out of my life (ie: not at my job), I do it (although usually silently, because I’m still usually not strong enough to tell people off). I’ve been shown multiple times that a lot of times I can get by in life with minimum effort, and that I don’t have to worry about being perfect so much. When rejection of any kind happens (by jobs, men, etc.) it’s because it wasn’t meant to be in the first place (although that doesn’t mean it doesn’t always sting a little). Driving is one of my absolute favorite things.

And if life is disappointing me now, that just means I’ve got better things ahead, right? (Hopefully?) (Soon?) (Please?)

Anyway, wherever you are, Reader, I hope you’re having the best week you can! Hang in there. ❤

–Krys

Distant Worlds Concert!

My birthday isn’t until the 31st, but this past weekend, my friends and I ventured to NYC for my birthday outing. On Facebook I’d spotted that the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds show was coming to our area again, and when I asked my friends if they wanted to go, they were totally down. We’d been in 2015, coincidentally also for my birthday, and the show was so good we decided to see it again.

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View of the stage from our seats! Taken before the show started, natch.

Distant Worlds is a touring concert series that performs orchestral versions of music from the long-running Final Fantasy video game series. While the orchestra plays, little movie montages play on a screen, with the footage corresponding to whatever game or character the music applies to. I’ll be honest here and say I’ve only partially played three of the Final Fantasy games (four if you count Crisis Core!), but the music is still fantastic even if you’re unfamiliar with the subject material and your friends just happen to have invited you along (as was the case with a friend’s girlfriend who came with us). Final Fantasy already has great music, but there’s something that’s extra great about hearing it performed by a live orchestra.

You might be saying, “Hey, if you already saw the concert, wouldn’t it be the exact same program? Wouldn’t that be boring?” Fortunately not! As of 2017, Distant Worlds has been happening for ten years, and they’ve built up quite a collection of orchestrations by this point. (If I’m remembering correctly, the conductor/director Arnie Roth mentioned that there’s something like 140 pieces of music in the repertoire. Woah.) There are certain classic songs that you can expect, but they don’t announce the program in advance, and I’m sure there are slight variations from city to city.  Additionally, 2017 was also the 30th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, so they had some special, brand new arrangements to show off, including a new arrangement of The Opera from FFVI and a couple of songs from the recent FFXV.

In 2015 Distant Worlds was playing in Newark, NJ at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, which is in driving distance of where we live. But this year they were at Carnegie Hall, so we decided to make a little bit of a day of it in NYC. There were two performances, in the afternoon, and in the evening, so in the interest of being able to take our time, and not having to rush in a dinner before, and then rush to the train home after, we opted for the afternoon, with plans for dinner after the concert. Also, when we were buying tickets, the afternoon show had ever so slightly better seats within our budgets.

I’d never been to Carnegie Hall before, and I was surprised by how vertical everything was. There were many stairs. (There’s also an elevator, just so you know if you need it.) I’d thought there was one more balcony above ours, but I guess I misread the seating charts, because we were right up there by the ceiling! Walking down to our seats kicked my fear of heights into gear just a little bit, even though we were a good six rows back from the front!

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View of the back/side of the balcony from our seats. Look how close to the ceiling we are! Oof!

My friends had wishlists of things they were hoping would be played, and all of their boxes got checked! Very lucky! The only thing I wished afterwards was that they had played Dancing Mad for us instead of The Opera, but I knew when they did The Opera we weren’t getting Dancing Mad because they’re both from FFVI and both very long. I just didn’t like The Opera as much because I couldn’t understand what the soloists were singing (it was in English, they were just a little drowned out).

(I hadn’t heard the Distant Worlds version of Dancing Mad before I pulled this up to embed it, so I’m assuming the excessive amounts of pipe organ and electric instruments would be an obstacle to live performance, but also I’m SURE they would’ve made a touring arrangement that doesn’t require it, because I’m pretty sure Dancing Mad is a fan favorite. Anyway, moving on, lol…)

There’s something about live music that I really love, especially orchestral stuff. I was a band student when I was in school, played flute for a decade, so I just love getting to watch and pick out what all the different instruments are doing, because sometimes when you listen to a recording you hear something neat, but don’t know exactly which instrument did it, and I’m a nerd who thinks it’s cool to know.

Also, my friends feel that when they hear this music live, they can feel the emotions better than when they just listen to a recording. I get where they’re coming from, and I agree with it to an extent (and so do all the goosebumps I felt throughout the concert!), but also, I’m not entirely wired like they are. Music doesn’t often make me cry, but there are certain chord progressions that plug right into my emotional core and make me well up.

For instance, To Zanarkand, from FFX. I’ve played a good portion of FFX, but got derailed by a tough boss. From the moment I first heard this in the game, I thought it was lovely. But something about this particular arrangement had tearing up pretty badly. The section between 2:19 and 3:00 especially gets me. This section isn’t exactly present in the original version. There is an undercurrent of those eighth notes (I assume that’s what they are?) in the original, but somehow just the way Distant Worlds builds them out and harmonizes them and spotlights them gets my tear ducts going. I’ve nearly made myself cry about three times while writing this post when I was trying to figure out the timecodes for the part I noted above, lol.

The concert closed with an encore that included One Winged Angel (aka, Sephiroth’s theme from FFVII). They used this as an encore at the 2015 show as well, so it’s probably what they always do as an encore, because they must know that FFVII is one of the most popular games in the series and that’s one of the most famous songs. They make it fun for the audience though, by encouraging them to sing along to each of the loud SEPHIROTH’s in the song.

(Although as I recall, the singalong was a little more extensive in 2015, with subtitles on screen for all the Latin, or whatever that is in there. The composer Nobuo Uematsu was there, and he pointed at us when we were supposed to sing. But I think they might not’ve had a chorus at that performance? Or at least not for the second half?)

After the concert we made our way to dinner. And since this was my birthday outing, you bet your ass I dragged my friend’s asses down to Wagamama. Luckily, they all liked it! I would’ve felt bad if any of them said they didn’t like it (and I trust them not to lie to me about that, lol).

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Give me some chili squid and I am a happy girl. The red stuff is some pickled vegetable that my friend let me have because I realized it was similar to the little pickled things you used to be able to order as a side.

And then we basically ran to the train. Not because it was really late, but because it was super cold! I was wholly satisfied with this early birthday outing, and everyone had a good time, which is something that’s important to me. And also, I looked hella cute. All in all, a great day!

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Me and the brick wall behind our table at Wagamama. My friends said the brick lighting makes it look like a texture from a PS2 game, lol.

(If you think you’re interested in seeing Distant Worlds live, you can check out their website here. Not sponsored, obviously, just wanted to make your life a little easier!)