National Novel Writing Month

Each week in november there's a new NaNoToon to enjoy.

I’ve always loved to write. As a kid I read tons of books and made my own versions of them. For three years now I have participated in NaNoWriMo, which is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is simple: write 50,000 words in november.

It’s a challenge I’ll tell you that. Each year it’s a struggle for me to keep going. The first week is allright, the second week is absolute hell. After that I’m okay again. The hardest part of it though is when your creativity is low, you’re basically typing nonsense and you have to keep going. Sometimes it feels like you are ruining your story. Sometimes it feels like you are breaking the necks of your favorite characters, the ones you spend so much time thinking about.

The best part of it though is when you finish. Oh the rush! You finally got that story down on paper, you wrote some shitty stuff, but you also wrote some really cool parts. And a story is never finished after just the first draft. Now you are getting to re-reading it, and maybe editing it. I’ve found that re-reading is fantastic. You get to relive this crazy month, you get to see all the good parts you wrote and get to work on the parts that aren’t as good.

The most important part of NaNoWriMo is that the story is finally written down. It’s been caged inside your head, for probably far too long. I usually spend about 6 months thinking of an idea, developing the story in my head before I get to write it down in november. The story is my creative child in a way. And finally seeing it out in the open is really a great feeling. It also feel great to be able to say you wrote a novel. (Come on, try it!)

The NaNoWriMo offers a great website and  community with everything you need to keep writing and to have fun while you are doing it. There’s the Write-a-thons and the write-ins organised by various chapters all over the world. There’s the forum where you can talk about your issues getting your story together or where you can adopt someone else’s idea into your own story. The thrill of meeting so many people who are just as into writing as you are, is incredible.

I highly recommend you try NaNoWriMo once. It’s a great experience.

Until next time,

Vanya

 

(Image source: http://nanotoons.net/ ; The NaNoWriMo website: http://nanowrimo.org/ )

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Trusting YouTubers

If you are active on YouTube, Tumblr or Twitter you must have come across the news about the accusation of a couple of Youtubers of abuse. I won’t name these guys because I don’t feel I know enough about them and I certainly do not want to add to the rumours and the stress these accusations have caused. I do want tell you about my reaction when I heard of this because it had quite a big impact on me.

My first reaction upon hearing the news was disgust. I wanted to unsubscribe from the ones I was following and do like the others did, wail about how bad and awful and disgusting these people where. Of course this is not an acceptable reaction. I tried to take a step back and get more information on this matter. You shouldn’t (I shouldn’t have) made a conclusion based on one piece of information and one source. While I read a couple more blog posts on Tumblr about the accusations and the feelings of the victims and other people with a view on the matter it became clear to me that there is more than one side of this story. Some people were blatantly lying and some others were trying to make it ok. There were so many conflicting views that I started to believe everyone was lying. That’s when I stopped reading.

I’d completely lost trust in the people of the internet, some of who I see as friends. Who are you to trust if everyone is trying to get his or hers opinion out in the open for everyone to see? How do you know the person is showing who he or she really is on camera and not abusing someone behind the scenes? And how do you know if these victims are actually abused or just trying to get attention? You will probably never be able to tell. I’m the kind of girl to believe in the good in people. I want to give everyone a second chance. I decided to discard the matter for now. That does not mean I’m ignoring it. I’m not unsubscribing from these YouTubers yet, I’m gathering more information and I’m trying to keep my opinions to myself as long as it’s not clear who has done what. Some accused YouTubers have posted blogs that they are truly sorry and very ashamed. I decided to believe them, give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

I’m still having a hard time with this entire situation especially because it’s still an ongoing business. I’m trying to keep my faith in these people though. I’ve been watching some of them for quite some time and it is therefore quite hard to believe that they aren’t turning out to be those people. If it turns out they have done what they have been accused of, I will most likely unsubscribe. Because abuse is wrong, in all situations and in every condition. All I can do for now, all we can do, is wait for the truth.

I will look different to every YouTuber from now on. I will not put them on a pedestal anymore and it will certainly take a longer time for them to gain my trust. There are still some YouTubers I do trust and am certain of them being good people. But any new YouTuber I’ll follow in the future will have to do with lesser trust on my side. How do you feel about the image on top of this post? Have you noticed these posts on Tumblr? Did you, like me, always trust YouTubers on their word?

Until next time,

Vanya

 

(Image source: http://www.daveswordsofwisdom.com/2013/03/trust-can-take-seconds-to-lose.html)

Evil Baby Orphanage – A Game Review

Sorry I didn’t upload yesterday guys, I had had some exams and afterwards I wasn’t really in the mood to write. Today I’ll be reviewing a game called Evil Baby Orphanage made by Wyrd Games. I’d heard about this game through the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel and it seemed just awesome. I’ll tell you a bit about the story behind the game, the game dynamics, the cards design and my overall opinion.

In a very early Vlogbrothers video (still called Brotherhood 2.0 back then) Hank and John Green talked about the idea of travelling back in time to try and stop evil baby Hitler growing up to be evil adult Hitler. But, here’s the dilemma, would you kill it? Killing babies is quite an evil thing. So they figured, it’d be better to open up an orphanage for evil babies and make sure they didn’t grow up to be evil any more. This idea became very popular among the subscribers of John and Hank Green and years later this game was created. I think the video originated from 2007 and this game became public in 2012. There is a Nerdfighter wiki page for more detailed information about the history of this project.

When I found out this idea was transformed into a game I was excited right away. Just the title sounds awesome to me! I’ve played this game for the first time about one month ago and decided to buy it almost immediately after. The game is not the easiest to start on for a beginning gamer (as  I am) but once you’ve picked up the basic rules it’s actually quite easy and a whole lot of fun.

You have three kinds of cards in this game: Evil baby cards, toys cards and action cards. The evil babies have different kinds of qualities, you have for example biter babies and bully babies. The baby will act on these qualities during your turn! These actions can be great things like taking a toy card from someone else or bad things like giving away a baby. This makes the game really fast and hard to win because each turn you lose and gain a lot of cards! The goal is to win the game by having a total points of 10 (each baby has a point count on its card). I’m not going into detail about all the rules of the game and how to play exactly because there’s a really great Evil Baby Orphanage website which can explain any questions. I hope you at least have a little bit of an idea about how this game works.

The card design is really great. Each card pictures either an Evil Baby, Toy or Action and they are just so cool. Every baby is drawn to represent the actions that made them evil or the typical way they looked, imagine a baby Hitler with a small moustache. The babies are somehow cute and evil at the same time.

The game offers some nice expansion packs too. I especially like the Nerdfighter Expansion Pack because the cards offer a new look on some famous Youtubers and Nerdfighter related jokes.

I think this game is really great because of its fast dynamics, the card design and the fun you have with your friends when you’ve found a particular creepy evil baby. I’m still waiting on my copy of this game to arrive, but I highly recommend it to anyone. I know what I’ll be doing with my friends once I finally have my hands on some cards….

Until next time,

Vanya

Do you want to buy this game? You can do so here: http://dftba.com/product/132/Evil-Baby-Orphanage-Card-Game

(Image source: http://dftba.com/product/132/Evil-Baby-Orphanage-Card-Game; Nerdfighter Wiki Page: http://nerdfighter.wikia.com/wiki/Evil_Baby_Orphanage ;  Vlogbrothers Channel : http://www.youtube.com/vlogbrothers; Evil Baby Orphanage Official Website : http://evilbabyorphanage.com/ )

The Lost Art of Chivalry – A Blog Review

An interesting topic today, at least in my opinion. A fellow blogger (Dean Richards) wrote a piece about the lost art of chivalry, based on an article published by James Sama, both here on WordPress. I read Dean Richards’ article first and then the original article. I was intrigued. I think I’ll add my own opinions on this topic, discussing the points presented in the original article. Thanks to Dean Richards for inspiring me.

The first thing James M Sama points out is ‘giving up your seat’ for women. He says ‘I always cringe a bit when I see a woman or elderly person forced to stand while young men remain distracted by their phones.’

I shuddered a bit upon reading that. Putting women in the same category as elderly people only underscores his opinion that women are weak and should be protected. I don’t think I’m weak. I think I’m capable of asking for a seat when I need it. I don’t want a guy to give up his seat for me. I don’t think James meant to stereotype women, at least I hope so, but he does. As a woman, I want to be treated equally. Guys should give up their seat for elderly or handicapped. And so should girls.

His next two statements are ‘pulling out a women’s chair’ and ‘open doors for her’.  To be fair, I never had a guy pulling out my seat for me, but I imagine it being awkward and unnecessary. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that this is no longer a common practice.

Opening doors for people is something everyone should do, doesn’t matter what gender you are. I hold doors open for really everyone, boy, girl and everything in between. He also states guys should open the car doors for girls. I’m not sure what I think about it. I would appreciate the gesture, but I would feel conflicted about it too. I like to be thought of as strong and independent. Don’t open the car door for me guys, I can do it by myself.

‘Call, don’t text a date invite’ is the writer’s next point. Sure, I agree that it shows more courtesy and more interest. I do feel however that texting or mailing to set up a date lowers the threshold to actually ask someone out on a date. So I’d say it depends on the person asking and the relationship already established.

The next thing James would like to see more are ‘Compliment, compliments, compliments’. I agree whole-heartedly with this! People are being criticized way too much to my liking and valued too little. Everyone has something that makes them unique and valuable. I think we should all compliment each other more often. So not only should guys tell his girl how beautiful she is (again a stereotype) but also how smart and kind. Just like girls should tell their boyfriends they are handsome and smart and gentle. This of course also applies to homosexual relationships, just compliment your partners!

The next two gentlemanly handholds James writes about make my skin crawl. ‘Walking on the street side of the sidewalk’ and ‘Walking her to her door’. It implies women are weak, can’t take care of themselves and should have a strong manly man to care for them. Do you feel the shiver yet? The idea is nice, to protect the one you love, but I just don’t think this is the way to do that. It’s old-fashioned and in my opinion unnecessary. He claims men should walk on the street side because that way they’ll take the hit when a car strays. I don’t think one man will stop the car from slamming the woman. There are other ways to show you care about someone’s safety, for instance a safety warning. A warning shows that you care AND that you respect women’s independence. And let’s be honest, I’d never heard about this ‘street-side of the sidewalk’ gesture before, I wouldn’t even know a guy was trying to protect me for evilly straying cars.

Walking a girl to her door holds the same implications to me, although they probably are realistically true. It’s more dangerous for a woman to walk outside on her own than it is for men, so you win that one James.

And the last point the writer tries to make is ‘Parking far away? Drop her off first’. The way he explains it in his article is that you should offer to drop a girl off at the door, especially if she wears heels, to save her the walk. Okay. I agree. It should be offered and when I say no he’ll have to accept that. I think however that it should be nice to let the girl drive for once.

James M Sama had good intentions with his blog, I’m sure. He wanted the respect back for girls, to show them that men do care and can be gentlemen. I agree with him that respect is lacking sometimes. (Have you watched any MTV music video lately?)

But, the way he proposes to solve this problem is not to my liking because it underscores the stereotypes that are already so prominently there. Girls should work towards showing more respect for guys and guys should show more respect towards girls. It’s not a one way thing. I’d like to encourage girls and guys to both work on the equality. Let’s do so by showering each other in compliments, hold doors open for each other and by showing an honest and respectful interest in each other. As always, I’d love to hear your take on this. Should guys do more gentlemanly things? Or do you think we should focus more on equality?

Until next time,

Vanya

(Image source: http://dateoxygen.com/deep-breath-resuscitating-chivalry/ ; Dean Richards’ Blog : http://darichards.com/ ; James Sama’s Blog : http://jamesmsama.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/8-acts-of-chivalry-to-bring-back/ )

Valueing Valentine’s Day

So I kind of forgot about writing yesterday and today, so this blog will be a bit messier than my other blog posts so far. I hope you don’t mind.

I think it’s very hard to  forget or try to ignore that today is Valentine’s day. I’m not even going to try to ignore it. This post will be about what I think of this red and pink day.

When I was a bit younger, say 15 or so, I hated Valentine’s day. I was the kind of girl who wanted roses and cards but never received them. My friends back then send each other cards, but I don’t really remember getting them myself. Maybe I’ve forgotten about it, but I’m pretty sure I never got a card or rose. I’m also fairly sure I’m not the only one who never received anything. When I was 15 it was hard and it made me sad. I valued Valentine’s day too much. Maybe it was because things like that matter when you’re teenager, eager for attention and appreciation.

I’m 19 now and even though I realized today was Valentine’s day, I think I only really noticed twice today. The first time when I got a coupon for 1 + 1 free coffee on my way to the subway, and the second time when my friends sent me ‘happy valentine’s day’ messages. I accepted the coupon with grace and sent some messages back to my friends and that’s pretty much my Valentine’s day. I understand some people bicker about the meaning of Valentine’s day and the consumerism it portrays but I don’t think that’s what they are really complaining about. They are thinking about their 15 year old selves who never received any cards. They are thinking about the days they thought Valentine’s day was important and that it was crucial to at least get roses or cards.

I have grown out of that mind-set a long time ago and moved on. The people who still feel self-conscious about this may need to reconsider why they are angry or upset. Isn’t Valentine’s day traditionally a nice day? It’s a day much like Thanksgiving in my opinion. It’s about appreciating the ones you love and actually saying it out loud or showing it to them. I spend Valentine’s day appreciating my friends. My best friend and I sent each other cards this year. I love her and she loves me and we don’t say it too often. We took the chance to say it out loud and not feel self-conscious or awkward about it. It may not be the targeted romance for this day, but love is love right?

Valentine’s day means something different for almost everyone. Do you feel it’s useless consumerism? Do you think it’s a wonderful day full of love? Did you send someone a card? Let me know in the comment section!

Until next time,

Vanya

(Image source: http://jenniferlshelton.com/tag/shadow/)

Achieving Happiness With Goals

This is a garden I visited in China.

I love having goals. Goals make me do things and make me feel like I’ve achieved things when I complete them. For the last two years I made myself pick a goal for an entire year. Last year my goal was to do fun things whenever I got the opportunity. I’m very happy I decided that was my goal for that year, because not only have I travelled quite a bit because of it, I also met a load of new people, who I consider to be my friends right now. The reason I took on that challenge was because I was not happy with the way my life was going. I was bored out of my mind, stuck in a pattern of living that didn’t make me happy.

I’d decided on that goal in January 2013 and I only took the first step to achieving that goal by June 2013. In June, I went to my first Nerdfighter Gathering. The gathering took place at someone’s home about 1 ½ hours travel from my hometown. I was quite scared to meet all these people I didn’t know and I was really worried they wouldn’t like me or that I wouldn’t like them. Making friends wasn’t something I was particularly good at, so you can imagine my discomfort.

It all turned out great. I had a good time getting to know these new people and I talked to almost all of them. When I left for home at the end of that day people hugged me and waved me goodbye and I told myself I would go to the next Gathering too. From then on I went to a bunch of other gatherings, even hosting one myself. I’ve made so many friends and got to meet so many new people, I can’t even remember what my life was like before I became an active Nerdfighter.

The second step to achieving my goal was going to China in the summer of 2013. I’d always wanted to travel to places far away and since I was finishing High School that year too, I’d figured it be a great excuse to do just that. China was absolutely wonderful. It’s such a different culture and I’ve had an amazing time. Again, I met new people, tasted new foods, saw the Great Wall and other incredible places. Looking back on that vacation, I get really proud of myself for daring to go that far outside of my comfort zone.

Setting a goal for myself has turned my life upside down, in a good way. So I decided to put a new goal for myself again this year. Since I’m much happier now than before it was quite hard to think of a new goal. I eventually went with a much less fun goal, namely getting healthier. I have had diabetes since I was just four years old and I recently discovered I’m not doing as well as I should, so I’m working on that. I’m trying to eat healthier and to move a bit more. I won’t say it’s going as smoothly as I’d liked it to go, but at least I’m trying.

I guess that’s what I like about goals. It makes you try harder and it shows you how things could be different. Do you like goals and do you set them for yourself? Do you like smaller goals or large ones like the ones I set for myself? I’d love to know, so please leave me a comment below.

Until next time,

Vanya

(Image Source – Personal archive ; Video Source – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyQi79aYfxU )

‘You see but you do not observe’

It happens to me every day. I’m hurrying towards my classroom trying to evade the raindrops and in my mind I’m miles away thinking about the warmth of the building and I’m thinking of things to say to my friends once I finally, finally reach the building. But then I hit a wall inside my head. It puts me to a halt and makes me see things. I wouldn’t forget about what I’d been thinking earlier, but it just wouldn’t matter all that much anymore. Suddenly I notice that I’m cold and that my breath makes these clouds when it leaves my mouth and that my lips feel dry even though it’s raining. I notice that the leaves of the trees are dripping, that there are puddles on the pavement. I see the circles in them when a drop hits the surface. When my mind hits that wall I start noticing things, and I like that.

I am certainly happy that a mental wall that tells me to stop thinking exists within me. I can’t imagine living hurried and unconnected to the world. I’m grateful that sometimes my own body is smart enough to let me know it’s time to stop thinking. I’ve always tried to see the things beautiful and unusual around me, but I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded with that. Because it takes effort to actively notice things around you all the time and I don’t always feel like putting in much effort.

Do you try and notice things around you? I’ve experienced it can help you see things more as they truly are. You can find something beautiful in everything around you, if you just try. Doing just that might make you feel more part of this world. And I know I’m not the only one spending too much time on my laptop and the internet, so perhaps you could try it once. I dare you to make yourself stop thinking once this week. Maybe, when you’re just like me trying to avoid bad weather or you’re hurrying somewhere, you could focus on something you notice. Something pretty or something not at all that pretty. Try and really see it.

Maybe that old tree at your left hand has really lovely patterns in its leaves. It’s probably seen some awful weather over the years. Can you imagine that same tree as a sapling? How much has it grown over the years!

Or perhaps that ugly office building down the street. Don’t you think it’s weird that behind every window there’s someone working behind a desk? People who will leave the building in the evening and then all those empty desks will be quiet, unoccupied, resting. And there’s not just one window, but dozens of them! Each containing a different person and another story.

If you try to observe and imagine, there will be nothing ordinary about the world anymore. I like that. It spikes my creativity. I make up stories about everything I see, I only need that timely reminder to do that, to really see things and then continue imagining about them.

I’d love to know if you try and actively see things the way I do. Do you make up stories about random things you run into? Do you take time to observe? Leave a comment below to tell me!

Until next time,

Vanya

(‘You see but you do not observe’ – Sherlock (BBC, Steven Moffat)

Image source: http://www.neavelawncare.com/floridas-rainy-season-is-ending-now-what/ )