Saying 'sayonara' to 2016
As much as Twitter's brimming with '2016 can FUCK RIGHT OFF' posts, the year can't actually end until I've posted this recap. Sorry.
Remind yourself how my 2015 went first, if you like.
January: a record-breaker
As usual, the year started out quiet on the freelance work front. I've got a ton of photos from art galleries. There was also a #copywritersunite meet near the end of January. As I'll keep saying, if you're a copywriter you should really go to one of those.
Together with the lovely ladies at Funny Women, I helped set a 'most jokes told on social media in an hour' record. We uploaded close to 1,000 punchlines and got the giggles.
February: the month that time (and I) forgot
Digging through my computer for evidence that February happened produced 6 work-related blog posts and no photos. I had to resort to frantic scrolling back on social media.
Looks like I was still freelancing merrily along. Found the time to write about the new Cadbury's Milk Tray Man for Valentine's Day. Complained a bit about a client only keeping Diet Coke in their office fridge. A normal month, by all acounts.
March: I WON A SOCK
I entered a Twitter contest to win an odd sock. I won. They posted me the sock. I was delirious with excitement. The sock takes prides of place on the bookshelf back home.
Looking back, I wasn't expecting that to be the highlight of the month...
Going to the Funny Women Awards 2016 launch party can be runner-up. Especially because I was out of the country by the finals. Eyebrows on point and Peroni in hand. I've never felt so classy before.
April: welcoming new copywriters
2016 seemed to bring several big copywriting events with it. Which is great and all, but many of them weren't financially accessible to the newer/budding writer.
My natural reaction was to rope 3 friends in and put on a similar event for free. 'Welcome to Copywriting' was a bloody amazing day, and something I'll always be proud of.
For the recap, go read this post again.
May: the month that keeps changing my life
Last May, I decided I needed to leave London. On May 14th, 2016, I went back to Japan for the 5th time. Life changed immediately: new friends, a new home, and a new start.
I wasted no time in getting stuff done. Queued patiently at the immigration office. Got a haircut. Toured 5 sake breweries. Visited Kyoto AND Nara. Ate a 'with everything' burger.
The last 2 days of the month were some of the best. I spent the 30th at Universal Studios Japan, and the 31st on a 7-stage bar crawl.
The vast majority of my June 2016 blog posts are food reviews. Figures.
I finally - FINALLY - visited the type of garden in Kyoto that inspired me to visit Japan in the first place. It probably wasn't the exact same ornamental garden. Never mind. Still a peaceful and calming experience.
Something else that profoundly affected me in June was Brexit. Yes, yes, it's affected far more than just me. From a useless distance away, I watched the exchange rate drop like a lead thingamajig. That was no fun at all.
My birthday month rarely goes badly.
At the start of July, I challenged myself to not use the expensive aircon in my apartment all summer. I lasted 4 days. It gets rather warm here.
Thanks to new friends and conveniently-timed festivals, my birthday turned into a birthweekend. I got a red velvet bread pudding and a shiatsu massage. (And older, obviously, but let's not dwell on that.)
Osaka's Tenjin Matsuri gave me an excuse to wear a yukata. Not an easy thing to put on properly when you're hungover...
August: summer sets in
My overwhelming memory of August is 'HOLY CRAP, IT WAS SO HOT'. Instant sunburn every time I went outside. Thank goodness Japan has spray-on sun lotion.
The heat and humidity started to get to me and affect my mental state. I wrote about those summertime blues Japan has a special word for (natsubate). Even that took longer than usual. My mojo was wilting.
That meant making a greater effort to cheer myself up. Such as with badass cosplay at Japanese Cosplay Photo. As you can see, I'd dyed my hair 'milk tea brown'.
I experienced the Rik-roll. It was delicious.
September's cooler weather gave me more energy to see/do things again. I dressed as an oiran, watched the dangerous Kishiwada Danjiri festival, went to a masquerade party, and walked 2km to look at a waterfall.
AND I did my first stand-up comedy open mic night in Osaka. It went okay (I think). Sticking with the day job for the forseeable future.
October: it ain't easy being blue
Halloween dominated October and lasted 4 days. I wanted a memorable outfit. Was the blue alien costume a mistake? Trying to put blue face paint so close to my eyes definitely was. Stung like hell.
On the upside, my appearance finally counted for less than my accent. Wish that'd been the case when I crashed a wedding reception while dressed as a punk.
I had one other Halloween outfit: kindergarten kid, Japan-style. First time I'd put my hair in pigtails for a good 20 years. And the most I've ever been propositioned in one night. Ewwww.
November: making changes
Ah, the month I spent £60 just to be able to proofread one document...
When I hit the halfway mark on my Working Holiday Visa, I moved to Yokohama.
Just before that happened, I got published in Kamihikouki Magazine. And started getting more job interviews in Kansai. Sod's Law in full force. Waiting out the winter at the top of a steep hill feels less appealing by the day.
Coming back to the Tokyo area meant revisiting the sights I've missed. Akihabara in particular. You can take the woman out of otaku central...
December: trying to keep busy
I wrote and published more blog posts this month than ever before. And I spent more time with friends I haven't seen for ages. AND I met a bunch of new lovely people.
The freelance work I found in Tokyo was a mixed bag. I've attended a Toastmasters meeting and written a New Year's card. A social fiction project that I'm super proud of launched on the 25th. A social media project that I wanted to be proud of will never see the light of day.
Christmas took up a lot of my time and energy. As well as the prep work that goes into a fortnight of posts, I had to work on making Christmas Day special.
2017: someone flip a coin
My prediction was that 2016 would be 'amazing'. There have been lows to counter many of the highs, but I can't say it was a bad year overall. I've enjoyed it. I hope you have too.
(If you wrote about your year as well, you should tweet me.)
How 2017 will pan out largely depends on the first 3 months. I don't think I've been in a position where the course of my life has looked so definite before. Stay tuned to see how it all pans out.