19 Another Thought

Photo: The Ballerina Project
Because my previous post is too long and I only just remembered something else I wanted to write (I keep doing this! but I can't add any more that post is tremendously long)... a piece of ballet advice my friend gave me, which is applicable to the rest of your life too:

Keep working your worse side until it's better than your better side. Then keep doing that [reversing the order as you go], keep working up.

If you don't get the part about sides it's because your left and right sides can be very very different in technique level in dance. It's quite funny actually. Or not so.

18 New Year's...

source: We Heart It
Another year has come and gone and it's time for my obligatory 2012 round-up post! I actually intended to do this as far back as the start of December, but never got round to doing it. Besides (or so I tell myself), 1 Jan 2013 seems as good a day as any to write a post about looking back and looking forward (to steal a very punny caption from my PW WR).

I am not sure how to organize this post. It's going to be rather long, so I'll try to pepper it with images here and there. And I'm not exactly expecting that you will understand everything I refer to here as I try not to be too personal, but it's for my own future reference as well-- although, as a look at my 2011 post shows, I myself might not understand when a full year has gone by-!!

Things I'm thankful for in 2012

source: Jordan Matter Photography
  • old friends... and new friends
I've realized that it's harder to feel a community when 17 and 18 year olds are specially put together for 2 years to get closer to an individual dream, when everything is so much less compulsory state education and more of what-you-need-to-do-to-get-you-there. But it's ever so much important to feel that community has to be preserved and consciously worked for; to stay back for a friend on a school night when a dream has crashed around her, to chase after a friend and give her a hug when you weren't able to be there for her the day before. 

When you're classified by your 'interests' and 'ambitions' (ie subject combinations), it's so important to classify yourself as what kind of person you want to be, what kind of people you want to hang out with, because... as I noted in my diary... "common interests can only do so much. There's something to be said about chemistry, and that's coming from an arts student" (I'm so funny sometimes). 

Apart from old friends who might have very different interests, in my class, you can have people with the same interests but very different personalities; and I'm glad that I've managed to find a core group of friends with similar values (and a sense of humour ... or lack thereof).

To the Love<3 group (you know who you are), I do Love <3 you guys very very much, and I'm constantly amazed by our camaraderie despite the fact that we're not together every day anymore. You guys are living proof that distance can't beat a relationship if it's founded on very solid bonds of love and trust and pixie dust :')
  • my family
Who else would give me a huge torso-sized soft toy (and allow me to buy a Winnie the Pooh cake) for my 17th birthday??
  • mistakes
Quite sadly looking back it seems there are more things I regret than appreciate in 2012. But as much as I made some bad decisions, to quote 13 Going on 30, I wouldn't have known "I could put them right again" if I hadn't made the wrong choices! and I wouldn't be me if I hadn't delved into JC with such a rollercoaster verve. Looking back at my primary and secondary school days, that's always been me. I could wish and wish to be austere and a fairy tale princess, with magical things happening to me without me trying, but I'm always going to keep making mistakes and I think I'm slowly coming to terms with that. 

I made some of my best mistakes this year, I believe. And hence I added 'mistakes' to this list... I feel, to quote JH, 2012's been a "YOLO year" [you only live once] and I've really discovered a lot of new things. (Or, more specifically, my social life has gone up exponentially.) Like how coming home at 11-12 at night is new but you're not the only one, and it feels great to smile at someone else in your faculty t-shirt on the bus. And how sometimes you can mug and mug for hours, and then go for lunch with friends and forget all about exams and just feel great to recharge.

Things that happened in 2012

Source: Pinterest
  • entering JC... joining HP... PW?
It feels a lot more like the real world in JC. In secondary school we were super lucky to be closetted by a group of very motherly and caring teachers and support staff. Much like my previous point about communities and JC, school got a lot more competitive and individualistic this year. Sometimes this got me very very stressed. I definitely know I met some not very nice people this year! And some who are not all they seem. Maybe this's a wake-up call...? 

People are a lot more complicated than I thought, in a good or bad way. and some of the aforementioned mistakes involved me not knowing that, barging head-on into a situation where I had the bad hand. I'm still very passive-aggressive (or as YB puts it, "just passive") and this has resulted in a lot of pent-up resentment which is not at all healthy as I can testify!! I have experienced tension like this in secondary school and thought I should've outgrown it but I haven't, where my perfectionist tendencies but non-confrontational behaviour clash and I end up taking it all on myself. 

At the same time I can't completely let go and stop being harsh on myself because I've slacked a lot this year. But to blog about procrastination would be too ironic.
  • running for council
Unsuccessfully, might I add. Someone once asked me very worriedly if I was actually very sad about it, but to be honest, I'm not. I'm even really relieved, and perhaps a little embarrassed. I've never been one to put a lot of myself out there and council stretched my limits, even when I was only in the running stages. I've discovered that while trying new things is good, you shouldn't try to be someone you're not. It just kills you.
  • JCLP
Part 1 in my "what should I do when I get out of here?" stage: lawyer-dom. Quite terrifying but I wouldn't have made terrific friends otherwise! Shoutouts to ML and YS who accompanied me in my internship days. Again, a wake-up call to the real world for little me, but also a reminder that I'm not the only one who's more than a little lost, and neither are you. Even in a programme that sounds so distinguished it's scary.

Things that I'm worried about in 2013

me, avoiding the thought. Source: here
  • A levels
That's it actually. I'm just worried my slacking will catch up with me. Ho ho ho.

Things that I wish for in 2013 (and looking back at 2012's)

Source: Pinterest
  • To be content.
I went for Confession the other day and something the priest said struck me: "God is alright with you. Everything is alright." Usually these words are used to assure someone who thinks they're less than what they are, but I realized it could also be used for someone who thinks they're more; to bring them down and realize they don't need all that glamour and glitz, they just need to be themselves, and sometimes that's just all-right. To be content, palpably and utterly content, with what I have and the weather and my bed and my life, would be nice for 2013.

/oh, and to exercise more.

A brief look at last year's...

  • 'to know what I want'
My very untidily written post last year seems to indicate my resolution was more about shopping less. Which I haven't quite followed. But I also knew that JC was going to offer a myriad of opportunities, with a lot of people who seem to know what they want in life, and I think I wanted to not grab it just because I can, but because I want to. And I *hope* I have fulfilled that in 2012! I'm still not entirely sure who I am and I got lost a few times along the way but I'm getting there, I'm getting there.
  • to continue wearing that red asymmetrical skirt (it's this one if you were wondering)
ha-dee-da. Asymmetrical skirts are harder to style than they looked when I didn't have one. But I still have the skirt, and I still love it very much. AND oxblood is still in fashion! ha-dee-da.
On that note, some inspirational quotes for 2013 are below! Happy new year!

All inspirational quotes, source here

15 Poem: Strange Things

Strange Things

I wish I were adept
at this kind of thing
to write you a song
or a poem, perhaps,
if that’s trite enough for you.

 (where is this going?)

I hope you know every-
thing you say and do
drives me into a frenzy
of hopeless analysis
(I used to think a+b=c

But you’ve turned my whole world around)
I can’t list out every-
thing I like about you
impossible or improbable
but look! There’s the weekend gone
and a 5 on my quiz;

I hope you’re happy now. 


there's another one! i really need to clear up my files more often

14 Poem: Finding


You’d think
In an island as small as this
I’d bump into you

But the serrated lines
Of my train map
Seek to separate us

So I am continually searching
In circles
And lines
At opposite ends, at my wit’s ends

You’d think
In this day and age
It’d be easier to arrange


in trying to locate some personal files, i stumbled upon what might be one of my best pieces of writing in some time...

13 The Story Behind Red

I originally put this in the same post as the review, but decided that it was too draggy and hence created a separate post for it: my story behind Red!

Back when Speak Now came out, I promised I'd wait till the platinum edition came out before buying it- since I had the bad experience of buying Fearless the minute it came out, and then regretting my decision once the platinum songs were released! (To jog your memory, Fearless's platinum edition included a marathon 6 extra tracks, including "Jump Then Fall", "Come in with the Rain" and "The Other Side of the Door".) Needless to say, I didn't have the stamina to wait more than 6 days, as my old review shows.

I try not to download songs online and I don't have iTunes, so without an Internet connection for YouTube my playlist is horribly dated. And I regretted not waiting when If This Was a Movie (from the Speak Now deluxe edition) came out. 
I did the same for Red. The exact day it came out, I happened to be passing by a music store with my mum, and we went in to check it out. I was shocked by the lack of paraphernalia advertising the album but my curiosity was rewarded when, in answer to my question, the staff mysteriously pulled out 3 copies of the album from under the counter. Which fuelled my nerve-racking, stomach-spasming, "Should I get it now?!" excitement.

Then I made a second resolution: that I wouldn't listen to any new songs (other than the singles released before the album) until I actually bought the album.
Do you know how hard that was?!

At long last, two days before I was due to fly off for a one-week holiday, I spotted the deluxe edition in the store and decided to buy it. (I wasn't sure if this was really the deluxe or there was Something Greater to be released, but heck, I couldn't wait any longer.) And when staying over at my grandma's with no computer to play it on, I borrowed her old radio and listened to the whole album two and a half times back to back. It felt ridiculous but oddly old-school: nothing else for entertainment, just straining my ears to make out the lyrics, and relishing the feel of new songs.

I realize there's much to be gained from treating music as more than white noise.

Here's for you: a video where Taylor explains the stories behind every single song. A slightly garbled transcript is available on YouTube (near the 'Share' button, there's one labelled 'Transcript'). It's quite illuminating!

12 Album Review: Red

Last time round with SN I said I felt (and I quote) "Taylor Swift is past her prime-time" and "the hurt-girl act is getting old". This time I feel she's branched out, but at the same time there's still essences of that hurt-girl simmering below the surface. This you can see from her music videos: but that's a gripe I'll share another time.
Overall I'd give this album 4.5 stars out of 5 -compared with my initial reaction to SN, where I'd probably have given it a 3- because the resounding difference in sound is palpable and should be applauded. 
I think she's really made an effort to get out of the box here, and as she roughly put it in an interview to [show fans her many music influences, like Snow Patrol], I don't feel she's doing it just to be No. 1 on the charts. That was my original fear when WANEGBT came out. But there are saving graces aplenty in the album, and the single State of Grace taught me to hope- an instinct which proved right.

I hate to classify the songs, and not all songs are listed below. But the infographics below are as much for my future reference as yours- I can't believe I originally hated Last Kiss when SN first came out!

All songs listed are in no particular order.
I like the ending of Treacherous much more than the beginning; the "and I will/ follow you follow you home" half-chorus is really addictive. And Stay Stay Stay is just too cute! I wasn't sure of Starlight till I found myself compulsively singing it over and over when out with my family. A sign of madness to strangers, but a sign that this song's a favourite to me. 

I love the fact that she's doing duets now. And with Gary Lightbody and Ed Sheeran no less!! The Last Time has a vibe off Set Fire to the Third Bar (by Snow Patrol) to me and that's great because I love that song; it's also the closest to Last Kiss' ballad style on this album.

All Too Well has the country goodness of an oldie like Tim McGraw (the one by Taylor, not the singer) and it struck me when I first listened to the album. I love how the story builds up to include both points of view.

As for Everything Has Changed, I really wanted to like Enchanted- but despite my love for the premise and the lyrics, I really wished for a slower, more mystical version of it than the loud, Sparks Fly kind of rhythm to it. And EHC answers that!
I am really sorry to include this list... #1 and 2 are like Call Me Maybe: ridiculously pop but you know you know all the lyrics to them. Holy Ground is not as offensive but honestly forgettable.

Overall... if you love the old Taylor Swift but have moved on to slightly more folksy indie tunes, this album's a keeper.

All images here are by anawolowl; do credit if using.

11 All Alone and No One to Be With

my favourite!
To escape the fact that I haven't actually been blogging mentally stimulating posts, I've decided to share some visual stimulants instead! I just stumbled across this absolutely beautiful photoshoot by Nikolay Biryukov, centred around the colour red (don't think of T-Swizzle's new album!). 

Sneakers with a dress? Yes please.
Credit: Fashion Gone Rogue

10 Hit Me With Your Best Shot

09 Golden Girl

08 Be Bright Be You

07 Twisty City Chic

I quit Polyvore after a disastrous first attempt. But, inspired by Missypixie's blog, I rediscovered how addictive this styling platform can be... a much more creative outlet to reading people's selling blogs, I'll wager! Polyvore allows me to post my sets directly to Blogger, so I apologise for the spam if you're not into fashion.
Twisty City Chic

06 Issue 1!

All images posted here belong to anawolowl. If reposting, do credit.
Resources: Tumblr, Who What Wear, Fab Sugar, Dafont

05 Coming Up Next

That's the lovely Princess Stephanie of Luxembourg in the picture!
I'm really excited to announce an upcoming feature: AAO's in-house magazine!

I've been itching for an art project to do and it seems I've finally landed on one that will keep me happily occupied. Basically, I'll be making use of my big fat photo archives -the files where I save every single image that appeals to me in any sort of way- and editing them into big fat filler posts. Except I'm going to challenge myself to come up with themes and unique layouts each time.  I've already got 4 pages of Issue 1 done: unique twists on forever favourites for the festive season (and beyond)!

Let's see how this one pans out, shall we!

04 Filler: Grey Pullovers

it's raining cats and dogs and owls
Let me introduce you to what I do when I don't have anything in particular to blog about (or, I'm too lazy to write stuff)... I pull out some inspirational shots from the multitude I have saved on my desktop! To save your souls from boredom though, I'll try to arrange these fillers by theme.

Today's been one of another rainy lovely days, and I always have a soft spot for grey pullovers (grey, not gray)... so here's 3 to brighten up your day :) Think of it as 3 different ways to style a pullover! They're everywhere these days, though I always find they're not as practical for the very on-off weather we have here, especially if you're taking public transport.

girly prep

Zooey Deutsch (credit to TeenVogue)

 irreverent hipster prep

Dree Hemingway (credit to Who What Wear)

 glammed up

Credit to malibuminx.tumblr
[/edit] So, this just in: Keira Knightley looking as perfect as she always is, in a grey pullover and blue textured skirt. What makes this is her shoulder-length disheveled hair: the kind I'm always hoping I'll have... 
Credit for rain background in the main pic to RevGalBlogPals

03 Rainy Days and Mondays

Funny, but it seems that I always wind up-a here with you; 
Nice to know somebody loves me. 
Funny, but it seems that it's the only thing to do: 
Run and find the one who loves me. 
-Rainy Days and Mondays (The Carpenters)
What a fitting title for this post! These days 'don't get me down', however; I absolutely love rainy days and Mondays aren't too bad when they're the holidays, because it means the start of another gloriously free week. (To be a student! I'll probably regret this when I'm working.)

These days the weather's been wonderful (to me): it may start off a little sunny, but more often than not by afternoon it's pouring. Sunday's rain was heavier than usual. At its stormiest, I couldn't see anything further than the block opposite me; usually I can see a school in the far background but it was totally white-d out by the downpour! The only thing I wish for these times is for the cool weather to be indoors, but without the wetness. With the windows all closed up, it's quite a waste not to enjoy the weather!

Lunch: Pocket Full of Posies Cafe
This morning I went for a doctor's appointment; it ended quite early (well not really when you factor in the time we started) so my mum and I went for lunch at the Pocket Full of Posies Cafe @ NUH. The service wasn't fantastic, but I think it might've been because we didn't know it was self service and the waitress had to serve our food herself. 

The food and ambience, however, is definitely worth it. The cafe's in the same place as the eponymous florist, so you get nice bunches of flowers around. The decor is a mix of cottage vintage and mirrored mod; what I loved most was the bench we sat at, which was not actually a bench but swing sets! On the gastronomic side, I ordered black pepper chicken with fragrant white rice, which was not bad; the serving's reasonable. I could finish the whole plate and still felt full, so that's good :)

Then, because I had to get a pair of court shoes for an upcoming school programme, we travelled down to Bugis: it was either Bugis or Orchard, and both are rather inconvenient to get to from Kent Ridge, but we figured Bugis was faster, with more and cheaper options. Luckily, BHG was having their usual shoes and bags sale right outside the MRT, and I managed to score a really good find :) It feels good to have a checklist ticked so quickly!

KissJane (KG) Bugis loots!
Neither my mum nor I felt like battling the crowds of Bugis Street, so we decided to wander around Bugis Junction. Of course, I've always wanted to go to KissJane; I've been there a few times but never bought anything because the items are marked up from their online prices and, well, a student's budget isn't very forgiving. But I wanted to bring my mum there to let her see for herself, because she hasn't seen it before :) We both came away really happy: she got the Anisa crochet trim blouson in navy, and I got a fit-and-flare mustard dress from Megagamie that, as far as I know, is unlaunched!

I've no pictures of the Anisa blouson, but it's really good quality. Unlined, but non-sheer; the balloon sleeves are elasticated, which can be a little tight but ultimately flattering :) What's also flattering is the cut of the blouse itself; it's nipped in a little at the waist, not so it's tight but creates a nice enough silhouette so you can wear the blouse untucked. Which is good for me, seeing as I tuck in my blouses 99% of the time.

Megagamie (MGG) unlaunched dress review
I'm really excited about my dress! It's my first MGG purchase. Priced at $36.90 at KissJane, which is quite steep for a dress, but even my mum was convinced it was worth it, because the quality's there. What sold me was the pockets: they're not obvious, I didn't even know it was there until the last minute when I was about to put it back on the rack. The two pockets are cut at the side and reasonably deep :) I love dresses with pockets! 

I'd hazard a guess to say the dress is about 34" to 35" inches at size M: I haven't measured mine yet, but I'm 1.57m tall and it comes to just over my knees. May be too long for most, but personally I really love my dresses at this length because I don't have to worry about unnecessary flashes while bending over or anything :) Another plus is that fit-and-flare dresses are most flattering for my bordering-on-pear-shaped body, and because my other similarly cut dresses are all between 32" and 33" in length, this longer dress is more appropriate for more formal occasions... or occasions when I have to sit on the floor!

I'm a UK 8/10 and this dress fits me to a tee :)

my first Megagamie purchase!
not a full-length picture :(
The skirt is quite flared but falls very nicely, promise :)

full lining :)
I feel like I'm selling the dress, haha :) but seriously, it's really worth it, especially if you can score it online! I wasn't sure if it was still retailing even, so that was another consideration when I bought it at KJ. The dress is fully lined with good quality, soft material- a little like sports shorts or FBT lining! The outside itself is a stiffer linen cotton, rougher than usual cotton but not uncomfortably so.

colour true to this pic :)
The dress was also available in white and black on the rack.

/Verbal and visual diarrhea, whoops! Hope this helps :)

02 The Making Of

So, the making of the AWOL Owl! I decided that if I really wanted this blog to go further than my previous blogs, I had to do everything -or nearly everything- from scratch, using minimal resources from other websites. And as we all know, it all starts with a good mascot :)

Hooting for Inspiration

I actually have no idea how to hand-draw owls, honestly. So I had to Google and sift through info overload (and the resulting inferior feelings from really really good illustrations). Below are four favourites!


Photoshop time!

 Thank goodness for the myriad of basic shapes available. Go to 'Custom Shape Tool'. There're animal silhouettes (which I must start using immediately), cartoon faces (which I've used previously in blogskins), patterns, etc etc.

I looked at the attributes I liked most from my favourite illustrations and pulled them together. I also knew I wanted my owls to wear shades, because, you know, they're suspiciously AWOL and all that. PLUS... I really like pastels. And seafoam. So the main colour palette was already pretty much decided (can I further convince you that seafoam + light orange are a really good mix?).

To add some texture, I looked up corrugated texture to get that uneven, 3D lined feel for the main body. (Oddly enough, inspiration for this came from a visual error: the Photoshop page showed the owl as being striped when it actually wasn't, and I thought it looked better that way, so I added it in). I also used the brush tool to add some strange splotchy fur (experimented with this for a while; it might've been flowers, haha!).

The final products are the result of feedback from my parents: to add shading for the shades so it wasn't too one-note; to make the eyes open so it wasn't sleeping, and make the pupils bright and visible; and, most importantly, limit myself to 2-3 shades so it was "easier to remember" (thanks, Dad!).

Lessons from the maestros indeed.