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Back to work tomorrow.  Joy of joys.  I’ve grown so fond of the whole ‘stay inside and do nothing but write, eat and play videogames.  Maybe, instead of going somewhere, I’ll just take a week off and do that for my birthday.  Except of course, my roommate will be back home then so I won’t be on my own.  Boo.

Figured since my life currently is so hideously boring at the moment, I’d look back at last year, see how much I remember, and what I’ll leave 2012 with memories of.

And so, my Top Ten Memorable Moments of 2012 (in no particular order) are:

Grading to Blue Tag

I’ve been studying Taekwondo for about 3 years now.  Four if you count the year I took off due to travel issues.  Early in 2012 I graduated from Green belt to Blue Tag.  This is about halfway to Black belt, and the point where the learning curve becomes steeper than it ever has before.

Sadly, after this grading, my confidence and skills plummeted.  This was due to me A) constantly getting sick and having to miss classes, and B) other students showing incredible improvement that I couldn’t match due to putting in effort that I didn’t.  As such, this entire year has generally been considered a Taekwondo failure for me – a pity, since I genuinely wanted this year to be the year I started taking it more seriously.  I have to make some serious decisions about my future when it comes to training, as its becoming clear I cannot continue at my current level.  Improvement will take more dedication than I might have to give.

My First Black Eye

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Yup, this is what I remember every single time I think about two-twelve.  We were sparring in class, and due to my own self confidence issues and the fact that I’d been so very sick, I wasn’t in the best of places.  It was the first time we had to wear full sparring gear for class too, which included helmets.

At the time, I was sparring the one charming member, who threw a kick.  My usual modus operandi in that situation is to slide back, which I did…and my world became a mountain of pain.

Behind and to my side, another guy had been sparring, thrown a kick that he hadn’t been able follow through on, and stepped back.  He snapped his arms back as you’re expected, not realising I’d slid back, and slammed his elbow straight into my cheek.

It was the most painful injury I’ve ever had at Taekwondo, but I didn’t fall to the ground, and thanks to the helmet (ironically), nobody could see the damage.  I wasn’t particularly coherent after it either, so the Master sent me off, and instead of calling it quits for the rest of the night, I ended up back out on the mats after a few minutes.

It was only at the end of the class, when the helmet was removed, that everyone actually got a good look at the damage, and I found myself being bundled off to A&E for a couple of hours to make sure nothing was broken (it wasn’t).

Visiting Japan

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I’m definitely considering adding a ‘travel’ section to this blog, to go into detail about the places I’ve been.  I would love to just write a travel blog, but I don’t go away often enough to justify it.

In late September/early October, I travelled across the planet and spent 16 glorious days in the land of the rising sun.  I travelled by Bullet train and saw Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Iwakuni and Kyoto.  I experienced my first typhoon (oh joys), ate proper gyoza, and spent an entire afternoon in Akihabara.

Japan has been the dream holiday since I was 14, and first discovered things like Final Fantasy and Akira.  I had the anime bug all throughout my teens (and indeed my adult years).  While recovering from a severe case of exhaustion and flu in January, I finally sat down and worked out the budget and what I actually wanted to do.  Instead of focusing entirely on the fandom side of things, I wanted to actually see the country, and the culture too.  This plan eventually became approved by…

Tax Rebate

This little beauty.  A little back-story.  During university and up until last year in fact, I’d been working in a local supermarket.  Late in 2011, I received a letter from the Tax Office telling me I’d overpaid my tax, and gave me a very tidy sum of money back.  This definitely helped me out of a financial snafu I’d put myself in, so when I received another one in March, I was a little wary they’d be asking for it back.

They weren’t.  Instead, it turned out I’d been overpaying tax the entire 7 YEARS I’d been employed at that supermarket, and refunded me just under 4 grand.

Certainly explained why I never seemed to make enough money to move out of my parent’s house when I was working there full time!  The money went into my savings account, but a good chunk of it went towards paying for Japan.

Wearing Gwendolyn to Amecon

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This was definitely the year of the back-story.  In 2010 I’d planned to go to the Cosplay Ball in London.  However, that very weekend we received very early snowfall, and I ended up spending the day trapped in an airport.  My flight was eventually cancelled, and I never made it down.

The biggest problem with all this, was that I’d made a costume specifically for the ball.  The ball gown that Gwendolyn wore in Odin Sphere.  Now, the problem with ball gowns, is that they’re not the easiest things to wear.  They’re uncomfortable and slightly cumbersome (not to mention an absolute nightmare to pack).  So I now had a costume that I didn’t really have an opportunity to wear.  2011 proved to be ball-less, and it wasn’t until Amecon’s ball in August, that I finally got a chance to wear it (after spending the previous month desperately altering it since I’d lost about a stone in the mean time).

The Plague

Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration.  But this year I seemed to have no immune system at all.  In January, I had to take the better part of a week off to recover from the flu.  And it more or less set the tone for the rest of the year.  Every cold, stomach bug and migraine seemed to chase after me.  It all came to a head in October, when a combination of jet lag from Japan, my roommate’s cold, and my own exhaustion, resulted in me basically being a dead woman for 5 weeks straight.

Quitting my Part Time Job

A double edged sword this.  I desperately miss the money my one-day-a-week supermarket job gave me, but I LOVE having my Sundays to myself again.

I’d been working there for nearly 7 years, but in the recession, they were making cut backs while trying to keep enticing people to the store.  This meant not replacing staff who left, and increasing the workload by extending opening hours and bringing in more brands.  The year before I’d basically been working 2 full time jobs with all the extra hours I was doing (much to the distress of friends, family and co-workers who could see what this was doing to me a lot more than I could).  When I finally collapsed in January, I decided enough was enough, and in March, left there for good.

Amsterdam Birthday

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I do not celebrate my birthday.  This is not due to choice, but due to necessity.

I was born at the end of January.  Which means everyone is broke and partied out.  As a child and (admittedly lonely) teenager, I grew accustomed to my birthday being me coming home to a cake in the fridge, a card with £10 on the table and a promise to go out for dinner at the weekend that inevitably never happened.

And as an adult?  Friends who usually host parties host New Years, and then another friend’s birthday a few weeks after, and certainly can’t be expected to host three in one month.  Even during my uni days – although you got January off for Study Leave, you were always back on the week of my birthday.

In 2012, I turned 25, and went sod it, I want to DO something this year!  I looked into my options, and eventually decided to go to Amsterdam on my half-birthday for 3 days.  I wanted to go somewhere further, but financially it was the best option.  Plus, I’d been there before and had loved it.

On holiday, I normally race around like a maniac trying to do everything.  But since I’d been to Amsterdam before, I got to spend my long weekend at a sedate relaxing pace, in beautiful surroundings.  I loved going away so much, I’m contemplating going somewhere again this year, if I can afford it.

Losing the Flat

Sadly, not all memories are good ones, and much like the black eye, this one needs to be on this list.

I’d been staying in my flat for about 3 years when the landlord decided he wanted to sell.  He gave us 3 months to get out – and in that 3 months I discovered there was NOWHERE in the city that was in my budget anymore.

Problem, is that I live in an oil city, where prices are aimed at those with an oil wage…but I don’t have an oil job.  So when the flat is lost, I find myself living on the kindness of a former roommate, who ended up buying a new flat, while I continue my search.  It’s now been 6 months, and though I’ve seen a few places, it’s proving almost impossible.

Dipping my Foot in Loch Ness

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I’ve travelled halfway across the world and back.  I’ve been in some of the most beautiful cities Trip Advisor will ever recommend.  But despite no more than a train ride away most of my life, I had never set foot in Inverness.  More importantly, I’d never seen Loch Ness, a place so famous people from all over the world come to see it.

So this Christmas, with a brother at his girlfriends, a Mother in Oz and a Dad offshore, I booked a five day trip away.  The trip itself was nothing to write home about, but the company was great.  Some of the girls I met were wonderful, and were hoping to meet up again.  One of the things I love about trips like this is the way it brings people together.  I don’t think there was a single thing that anyone in our group of girls had in common, except for a love of travel, but we got along great anyway.

And it was wonderful to finally set foot on the banks of the Ness and see what people were talking about.  It was easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

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