Happy Last-Day-of-the-Year, everyone! 2014 seriously flew by! Was it not yesterday that I wrote this review of 2013? There have been huge changes going on this year: they mostly suck but in a blessing-in-disguise kind of way so I'm not sure how to feel about them just yet. This year felt absolutely like a dream, as if I spent the whole year sleeping and whatever has happened would unwind itself and I would be back where I started. Major things happened this year and it has been incredibly surreal. Sadly, no, this is all real.
The year started with a bang. New Year's was celebrated with cheers at Dendi and Zizi's house. Firu and I celebrated it together again, obviously. But we didn't celebrate it with our closest friends as usual. This should have been a warning for me that life as I knew it was going to change. It was such a blast, literally, and the night went on and on. The guest-posting bonanza continued on this little ol' blog with my sister Akita and Alexandra of Into the Woods. Also, won myself 3 giveaways before the year barely started - one of them from ModCloth! And did my first ever blog survey.
Almost zero activity on the blog this month. What a miracle! Started working on my portfolio to apply to the local art school in Kassel. I worked my ass off for it. You can see it here. To be honest, I felt absolutely pressured as well as uncreative about the whole process and - in hindsight - could totally see why I wasn't accepted (SPOILER ALERT!). Although, I don't regret ever going through this phase. I ended up learning a lot about my style, new techniques and softwares and other people's perspectives - more on this on the coming months below.
Did I mention that last month also lacks social interactions? Yep, very much so. This was around the time I got absolutely fed up with drawing all the time. Although I love to draw, when I feel uninspired or under pressure, it's still a daunting task. I usually refresh my mind by reading tons of books - recaps here and here. When that doesn't work - because I was in dire need of human contact - I went on an impromptu trip to Fulda with my roommate Adit. Also, went to Firu's for a week around the middle of the month. Saku-chan asked me to go on (my first ever) Hanami with her and her boyfriend Arnaud. Adit also came along and it was so blissful!
April was huge in a subtle way. First off, I did my first ever collaboration with ModCloth. Yep, they contacted me! I hope this will only be the first to tons more to come. This was the month I was super focused and busy trying to complete my very first illustrated book - more like a booklet, really. It's an Indonesian Childhood Games Handbook. If you're not Indonesian - or if you are - and you want to know more about this, I really suggest you read it. It's only 24 pages long. Thank you to Frau Köwing who helped me out immensely! However, I still managed to create a YouTube account and uploaded my first video on this month too.
Afterwards comes the Japanese invasion. Japantag was among us and Firu and I had to go there again. I was originally thinking of wearing my yukata there but...let's be real! Instead, I did a cultural outfit post where I wore it for the first time. This year, we managed to go see the Japanese make-believe temple in Düsseldorf. It wasn't quite what we expected but it was nice to take a look around. If that wasn't enough of an invasion, I did a "Little Japan" guest post over on my sister's blog. This was the month I lost my appetite for the second time - the first being around February - and had to cope with the idea of going home to Indonesia for good. Still coping, to be honest.
June was such a surreal month. First off, the days went idly by and I was in a limbo. Obviously, still coping. I wrote a post, telling people the reason why I went back, which is more for myself than for anyone else. The support from you guys IRL and online - especially from my family and best friends - were so overwhelming, I cried out of gratefulness. From idle days, the tables turned to traveling over the boundaries. After a year's absence, I finally went abroad again. Destination: Brussels, Belgium - the art nouveau capital. This time only Iva, Firu and I went - as Wilson was no longer in Germany. While we were away, a huge storm hit North Rhine Westphalia this month and it wreaked havoc upon the country. It was unsettling to see an orderly country such as Germany going AWOL.
July means a lot of things! First off, it's Firu's birthday which we celebrated together. I actually made him these Cherry Cream Cheese Cupcakes - which is a modification of this recipe by Anna Saccone. It was the best! Secondly, it was our fourth anniversary. Wow, can you believe we've been together for over four years now? This year, though, July gave me fevers which come and go and renders me without motivation to do anything. I thought it was the heat, although I should have known it was mostly the badly ventilated room that I was living in. In Hindsight, I should have sued the landlady but I'm just too pooped to do anything about it. By the end of the month, I moved out of Kassel to stay for a month at Firu's place. Adieu, Kassel! May we meet again.
Last month in Germany! Oh God, this is super emotional. I thought of thousands of ways to go, because I actually had a choice on how to spend it. I ended up with spending it mostly with my favourite people in the country: Iva and Firu. After getting my stuff somewhat settled at Firu's, I went to Iva's place in Stuttgart and spent a week with her. Read all about my adventures with her here. Along the way, I got to see Kynann - my closest guy friend and "brother" - and go to a German amusement park. Before Firu and I departed to Indonesia, we went on a one-night trip to Hamburg, which I'd never been to but always admired. It was super windy! But it was so memorable. Afterwards, my sister and I were reunited again.
September started with a shocking but calming diagnosis. It was kind of funny how I'd been short of breath and my lower chest had been aching - I even fainted - and I'd never thought I was sick. I started treatment right away. That didn't keep me from hanging out with my old friends and visiting events, such as Localfest 2014. It was so mind-blowing to be introduced to some awesome local brands. Also, I tried making couple rag dolls for myself and Firu. It wasn't the best but I'm super proud of myself. Firu stayed for five weeks in Indonesia and this was the last month we got to spend together before our LDR began. What fun!
After 3 years with the same glasses, this month I got a new pair. It's like nothing I've ever got before and I super love it! It was a refreshing change because my prescription got worse. Oops! This month I got to attend the first wedding of my friends' Dendi and Zizi. It was rather special because I know both of them and I got to see some old friends from Germany. A week afterwards, on my birthday, I got to attend my cousin's wedding. So yeah, a month of weddings, apparently. Anyway, the latter was my first opportunity to visit Kudus, which I somehow just fell in love with. By the end, I gave my blog a spooky makeover.
November was TBC-awareness month for me. It was the month I went into my first ever surgery. Man, nobody ever told me that post-op would be a bitch. On the blog, I shared more infos about Tuberculosis because there are so many misconceptions around this topic. Please do read it if you haven't already! Better safe than sorry. It was also the month I attended Pasar Seni ITB for the first time with my best friends. Being able to get reunited with these lovely souls brightens my days from then on. The event in itself wasn't the best but I had so much fun with the best people, so why not? To wrap up the month, I uploaded my first lookbook video on YouTube.
The first day of December I got my second surgery. Yep, it was all super impromptu but I suffered less this time, thank God. That same week, my best friend Gina and I attended Uli's brother's wedding and had an absolute blast! It was the best wedding I went to this year. This month I was going for a bit of a theme on the blog: recipe month! I'm not the best in the kitchen but this was a lot of fun. I attempted to bring back the guest-blogging bonanza this year and make it an annual thing. Please click here to read the posts so far.
If last year was a wake up call, this year felt a whole lot like a dream. None of the routines of the past years made it to this year, it seems. The only sure thing I had was this blog, which I continued to write - although quite sporadically on some months. It was a whirlwind of firsts: first time wearing a yukata, first time visiting a Japanese temple, first time making a vlog, first time getting a surgery and first time attending a friend's wedding. I find myself waiting to wake up and go back where I started - in Firu's arms in Germany, having a steady enough life and not wondering where I was going. But I know that won't happen. Let's see how we did:
- Find a different source of income (preferably a job)
- Open an (online) print store ✓
- Obviously, stay in a loving relationship with Firu ✓
- Experiment more in the kitchen ✓
- Be happy ✓
Not so convincing now, is it? To be honest, I'm still looking for a job. I applied to a couple places and am still trying to get this blog monetised. So, if you guys have some tips, please do share along. I'm so dense about these things. If you don't already know, Alive as Always is also on Society6, where you can grab my prints and merchandise. Still in a super loving relationship with Firu, obviously. We're starting a long-distance relationship this year and I'm still struggling but we're doing great so far. As I've mentioned before, I did a recipe-themed month earlier and it has been a great way to experiment. Plus, I've been helping out a lot in the kitchen lately. Now, with the being happy thing. I don't know if I'm really happy but I feel like life is good lately, despite whatever's been happening to me recently. Time for new resolutions:
- Finally monetise the blog and improve my networking
- Go to Japan, one way or another
- Draw everyday (if not possible, at least once every week)
- Keep strong on being in a long-distance relationship with Firu ♥
- Be open to changes (and keep a positive attitude)