Animal Crossing vs Real Life

I know Animal Crossing does not purport to be anything at all like real life; for starters, you are the only human in a world full of giant talking animals. But essentially, you play a human trying to make his or her way in the world, interacting with other beings, and generally finding enjoyment in life. Except there are a few ways in which Animal Crossing differs from the real world, which I think makes it the more appealing reality.

HOME LOANS ARE EASY

The first thing the animal folk make you do once you arrive into town is buy a house. You have arrived with no money and nothing but the clothes on your back, and they slam you with a home loan – on top of being the mayor, which it appears you are doing pro bono. What a crap job! The only way you can make money to pay off your crippling debt is by selling fruits, fish, bugs and fossils.

in my place

Since there are few objectives in the game, you can spend your days picking fruit off trees, or strolling along the beach collecting sea shells and catching fish. AND THEN GET PAID FOR IT. Suddenly, your home loan is paid off, and you got to have a relaxing day.

Oh, and if for some reason you don’t feel like collecting shells or collecting bugs for money, there’s always money in the trees. That’s right…

MONEY DOES GROW ON TREES

Or at least, money is hiding in the trees. Frustrated at the lack of bug diversity in the wintertime, I started shaking the trees and screaming “why…WHY?!” Lo and behold, some money fell out, which I quickly pocketed. Money doesn’t fall out of every tree, but it falls out of enough to warrant shaking every tree I came across.

Now go outside and try to shake a tree in the real world. Those aren’t coins coming loose from the branches, those are wasps. Good luck trying to pay off your home loan with a pocketful of live wasps, sucker!

FISHING IS ACTUALLY FUN

I think we can all agree that fishing is hella boring. You sit in a boat or on a wharf and wait for fish to come to you. And then you have to reel them in. And then you have to take the hook out of their mouth. And then you have to deal with a dead fish, along with terrible guilt of having tricked another living creature into putting a hook in their mouth. Why does anyone ever go fishing?

But in Animal Crossing, they take out all the horrifying parts of fishing, and replace them with cute puns.

Holy Mackerel! Pond Smelt

Who doesn’t like puns? MONSTERS, that’s who.

 BEACHSIDE PROPERTY

No matter where you choose to build your house in Animal Crossing, it will always be a short walk away from the beach. Now, where I live in the real world is also considered a short walk to at least two beaches, but I would actually have to walk there. With my legs. Please.

In Animal Crossing, it takes you actual seconds to waddle down to a sandy shore, where you can go fishing, take a leisurely dive, collect sea shells, and find the occasional lost seagull, passed out and brought in by the waves. If it’s wintertime where you are, there is also a wharf with a manned boat ready to take you to an island where it is perpetually summer. Correct me if I am wrong, but that never happens in real life.

I’m not saying that Animal Crossing is an ideal place to live (again, you appear to be slaves to giant talking animals), but there are some pros that kind of make me rethink how great the real world really is. I mean sure, in the real world I have proper agency and there’s a pretty good chance that a giant penguin will never ask me to catch a wharf roach for it, but I also can’t shake a tree if I ever need spare change for coffee, and my local museum isn’t run by a giant talking owl.

giant owl

What I am saying is, I don’t want all my animals to be giant and capable of speech, just the wise owls. Science, get on this! For now…I know I can find a simpler world with giant owls in Animal Crossing.

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Ch-ch-changes

It’s been really quiet around here, and that is entirely my fault. It’s not like I’ve stumbled into a particularly bad patch of writer’s block and haven’t come up with anything to say – my notebook is filled with ideas and half-realised musings that I’d meant to show other people. It’s just that none of them are finished, and most of them haven’t even progressed past the deranged-rambling-first-draft stage, so it’s safe to say that they will stay in the blog post graveyard for now.

There was a point in my life, maybe two years ago, where I fashioned myself a kind of blogging schedule that I would be able to realistically stick to; that worked – for about three months, before life intervened and the schedule and the blog was abandoned.

A lesson that I keep learning over and over again is that circumstances and the cast of people around you tend to change more frequently than you think. Life is mostly trying to adapt to these changes, often jumping and hoping that there’ll be something to reach for on the way down. It is difficult and scary, but if your life is remaining at a constant, you’re probably doing something wrong.

The past few years in particular for me have been jumping and sometimes finding a merciful ledge, but mostly falling and falling until someone else lifts me back up, or I hit rock bottom. It’s not been great, and I finally realise that in order for things to change, I have to instigate it. So in 2014, I have decided to introduce some new features in my life that will hopefully keep me on solid ground, and avoid my next fall from being too hazardous. Continue reading

Bag Lady

I am going to let myself get a little indulgent here, and talk about bags.

For the past few weeks, I have been on the hunt for a new bag to carry all my junk in. Right now I am alternating between carrying my Cafe Grumpy tote (for days when I don’t need much), and the Sac Agnès B., (for days when I need my tablet, uni papers, notebooks, my wallet, a novel, water bottle, etc.). On days when I go to the gym, I also carry around a big, slouchy backpack with owls all over it, which I bought from a Forever 21 in San Francisco. I bought it out of necessity, because I had amassed so much stuff that my carry-on luggage needed an upgrade. It doesn’t look too big, but it fits a crapload of stuff – it is the Tardis of bags.

The owl backpack I own doesn’t seem to be available anymore (at least, not on the F21 website), but you can see what it looks like in the fancy collage I whipped up below…or in real life, on my back as I make my way towards the UTS Fitness Centre.

current bags

So what I’m looking for is basically a Mary Poppins-esque bag that can hold my uni stuff, and also sometimes my gym stuff, and that can transition seamlessly from situation to situation. On the surface it may seem like I am asking for a little too much, but it turns out there have been bag designers before me who have endeavoured to tackle my problem.

I have managed to narrow down my selection to these three bags:

bags on bags on bags

1. Vinyasa to Vino Bag ($149) – Lululemon; 2. Everyday Gym Bag ($189) – Lululemon; 3. The Ultimate Exit ($100) – Crumpler.

The Lululemon Vinyasa to Vino bag is my favourite of the bunch – it’s big but not too big, has a lot of inner pockets, including separate spaces for a laptop and shoes, and it just looks pretty. However, I am wary because many reviews warn that the bag is prone to easy wear and tear, and considering how much I throw my bags around, that’s a bit of an issue. I’ve considered going into a Lululemon store and speaking to a salesperson about return policies and my specific concerns regarding the bag, but I haven’t gotten round to it yet.

My second, tentative choice is the Everyday Gym Bag, but it looks large enough to seem unwieldly. I’d need to actually see it in real life to compare it to my body size – yet another reason to stop by in-store. I’m a-comin’, Lululemon! …when I find the time to!

Looking at the Crumpler website was a bit of a last resort, because last I checked it was overwhelmingly filled with hardcore travel/camera bags that didn’t appeal to me much. But last semester, I noticed a fellow student toting around a bag that I thought was both cute and versatile – lo and behold, the bag was from Crumpler; so I thought I’d give it a go. The Ultimate Exit is actually just a little bigger than the Everyday Gym Bag, but it looks less structured (a plus!) and is significantly cheaper (double plus!). Like the Lululemon bags, I plan to check the bag out IRL, because a picture on the internet can only tell you so much.

So yeah, that’s what’s occupying my brain space at the moment. If you want to make this process even harder for me, throw some more bag recommendations at me. Sure, why not.

HOW TO: take a bath

Baths are the best. They are relaxing and can help relieve you of the day’s stresses, even just for a little while. But only if you do it right! Luckily, I am here to prep you on the correct way to have a bath, so listen up.

What you will need:

  • bubble bath AND/OR bath bomb AND/OR bath salts
  • a book AND/OR laptop
  • a fluffy towel
  • a bathtub

Optional:

  • a face mask AND/OR hair mask
  • a bottle of wine

bath tools! Continue reading

WHAT I ATE: burgers and salads, oh my!

I should be practicing a little frugality, but it is extremely hard when there are so many delicious places to eat at. Here are a few noteworthy things I ate recently…

StreetSoul Burger Bar, Randwick

nacho-style fries

The Spot holds a place in my heart as the place to go for cheap films, but over the past month or so, it’s also been a default last-minute dinner destination because it’s filled with some serious restaurant gems. My most recent discovery is StreetSoul Burger Bar, because I love a good burger, and am always on the lookout for a new favourite place. StreetSoul is local, is open til fairly late, and offers a decent variety of burgers and fries — case in point, the nacho-style fries. This combines nacho toppings (guac, sour cream, and cheese) with perfectly-cooked fries to create what is essentially a Mexican poutine. Brilliant.

mushroom madness

I opted for a vegetarian burger and got Mushroom Madness, because friggin’ mushrooms! It had a rosemary-seasoned whole field mushroom, baby cos lettuce, tomatoes, spanish onions, mayo, pesto, red peppers and grilled haloumi. Seriously.

The Grounds of Alexandria

soy flat white empty

The Grounds of Alexandria has been on my list for a while, and after an impromptu visit, it’s not hard to see why. We dropped by at around midday, and the place was bustling — there was a decent line for take-away orders, and all the tables were taken, so there was the beginning of a line for sit-in diners. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long to be seated (it was windy as heck), but the food is definitely worth standing around for a while.

kale and baby beetroot

I am still at a loss on where to find kale in Sydney. A girl I met at a dinner party told me that it could readily be found in the salad section of Woolworths or Coles, but I have been to several stores in different suburbs and have yet to find any. Last year I did find a bag of washed baby kale in my local Woolworths, but since then it has unicorned itself.

In the meantime, I’ll have to get my fix at The Grounds — their kale and baby beetroot salad is drizzled with a lemon-yoghurt dressing that is a little too citrusy for my tastes, but is still delicious and filling.

fries and chilli aioliAnd I am a sucker for fries and aioli, so obviously I had to get this side-dish. The fries were accompanied by chili aioli, which is what clinched it for me. They did not disappoint.

So while my wallet may be a little disappointed in me, my stomach certainly isn’t. Hey, maybe if someone tells me where I can get some fresh kale, I’ll stop eating out so much

(no

that’s a lie

but please tell me).

Winter Essentials

It is coming into the colder months in this part of the world, and while my feelings towards Winter have previously fluctuated between resentment and indifference, I have recently come to embrace the chill.

SInce I am a millennial living in a capitalistic society, I believe I owe a lot of this newfound comfort to my material goods (I love you material goods). Thus, I bring you my Winter essentials for this year (or really, any year):

Toe socks

I love socks. I have knee-high, OTK, crew, ankle and bed socks — mostly in crazy patterns and colours — but the kind of socks I had been coveting for ages were toe socks. For one reason or another, I never got around to purchasing any, until last December, when Walgreens had a bunch of Christmas-themed toe socks for sale. They were the cutest, so obviously…

toe socks!

I also have a pair with Santa on them, and another with snowmen. They are like gloves for your toes! My extremities tend to get super-cold, particularly in the winter and even if I’m snuggled under a warm blanket, so wearing socks to bed is a definite must.

Sweat Pants

I’ve mention these before, but since then Kyri took the sweat pants home, and I suffered a few lonely, sweat-pantsless months. I experimented with pyjama pants, my own sweat pants, boxer shorts…nothing seemed to fit as comfortably. Then one glorious day, Kyri came over and he brought the sweatpants back! True, he did specify it was so that he could wear them when he’s over, but I mean, let’s be real here, I’m gonna be wearing the pants. Forever.

Space Heater

space heater

Another thing from Kyri, although this was a gift rather than a thing I shamelessly stole. Kyri is a big fan of temperature control, and a couple years ago he decided he would pass this onto me via this heater. It took me a while, but now I am kind of dependent on this little heat-provider; it’s the only thing that makes coming out of the shower during Winter tolerable.

Scented Candles

My family thought I was mad for burning candles in the summer — “why?” they would ask, milling about in their underwear and fanning themselves.

“do you not want the smell of a hot pumpkin caramel latte wafting through our home?” I would rebutt.

“no” they would say, walking away in disgust.

scented candle

Well now my candles are totally weather-appropriate — they’re cosy and smell of Winter things (because I bought stuff mostly from the winter range) and I will light a hundred if I want to! Who’s the mad one now, family?!*

Hilariously, the last time I used this candle I closed it in a way that trapped the heat and made the glass expand, so I can’t get the lid open. THANKS, SCIENCE. My first instinct was to add heat to the lid, so I immediately exposed it to an open flame…yeah, don’t do that. Because of the burning. Hot water or a hairdryer would have been better, but none of those are in my room. Only lighters.

Lip Balm

Lip Balm is for every season, but especially winter. Because of the cold and the chapped lips. I carry a bag of various lip products, including tinted lip balm, with me everywhere because I am obsessive. But also I keep a tube of Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm next to my bed for easy night-time access, because it is now the only non-tinted lip balm that I own.

IMG_4605

It is very moisturising without being sticky, and also smells strongly of honey. I don’t recommend it if you don’t like the smell of honey…but they have a bunch of other “flavours”, like pomegranate, grapefruit and mango. The only other one I have tried was the pomegranate one, but it belonged to someone else and I was kind of drunk and don’t remember what it smelt like. It probably doesn’t smell like honey.

Moisturiser

Again, because of the cold and chapped skin etc. I have at least three full-sized face/body moisturisers and several small samples that I use in rotation. I got them all from Bellabox, because they insist on giving me more than I can use. Not that I’m complaining.

But my most favourite moisturiser is one for your hands. I’d heard a lot of good things about Hand Food by Soap and Glory. It’s a brand from the UK, but I guess Sephora started stocking it as well, because that’s where I found it. Kit Cosmetics in Australia also stocks Soap and Glory stuff, so when this runs out, I’ll be heading to a Kit Cosmetics counter to stock up on more.

hand cream

It smells like marshmallow, and does exactly what it says on the tube: it’s non greasy and very hydrating. I use it pretty much anytime my hands feel dry, or I just want to smell product (seriously, it smells so good!). On the flight from San Francisco to Auckland, I managed to sneak the entire tube past the TSA onto the plane, because I couldn’t imagine a 14-hour flight without it.

So yeah, I like things. Let me know if you have any cold-weather recommendations, because me and Winter, we are still deep in the honeymoon phase.

* me. it’s still me.

Lush Pamper Party

I am a fan of LUSH, but until a few weeks ago, I had no idea that as well as selling sweet-smelling bath products and skincare, they also host private pamper parties. They’re held after hours, so parties will have the whole store to themselves, as well as two LUSH staff to host it. There are a few different packages, but we went for the Girls’ Night In, which involves getting a facial, a fruit platter, chocolate-coated strawberries and tea, and time afterwards to go on a little shopping spree with the LUSH gift vouchers that were included in the package.

Pamper Parties need a minimum of four people, and Kelly, Austvina, Juliana, Mary and I booked ours at the QVB store. Our hosts were the lovely Anna and Bec, who talked us through the products they were using, offered advice and generally let us run amok in the store.

action shot!

Continue reading