rant

Make A List

If you haven’t heard of Dallas Clayton, you’re missing out (big time!) so please check him out here right NOW!

Welcome back! Isn’t he an unfairly talented guy? To me, he is a huge inspiration. I only wish to inspire like he does. Last night, when I was pondering my new found smile, I came across Clayton’s latest work of art:
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How could I have missed something so simple? I mean, I was trying my best to live a good life, the countryside was so beautiful. I’d started new hobbies including cycling and yoga and made unexpected friends like this ojichan (old man) and yasu. But that didn’t mean I was actively engaging in activities I knew I loved. I know this sounds vain, I really do, but in this city, I am happy because I am filling my day with activities I know that I like. I am exercising (not sitting on my bottom for 8 hours straight in a suffocating room), walking walking walking (not driving for one hour to get groceries, alone), eating healthy, dressing pretty, writing in artsy cafes, appreciating diversity, purchasing freshly-made green smoothies and enjoying the odd glance from a boy. My new life makes me feel alive and it makes me feel young!

So how about you? What makes you happy? Painting? Drawing? The ocean? Cooking? Dining out? Road-trips? Building Lego? Dancing to the Beatles? Collecting fruit-stamps, watching old movies?

Are you doing it? Could you be doing it more?
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Time For An Apology

An apology and a thank you.

A big fat juicy thank you to my dear friend Yuka (first my older sister’s friend after doing a high-school exchange in rural New Zealand) for allowing me to stay.

I believe very few people can truly understand how happy I am to be here. Really, you may think me melodramatic or this an exaggeration, but I almost feel as if I’ve fled prison! My soul is rolling on the grass and my heart is breathing in mouthful after mouthful of fresh air.

Before beginning my apology, I’d like to say that no one forced me to sign up for the JET programme. As continuously reiterated to participants, each JET experience is different. This is because, as expected, the lifestyle and mannerisms of each student, school, Japanese teacher(s), contracting organisation and geographical location will differ – in both good and bad ways. Without getting into specifics, my experience happened to be extremely unpleasant (put politely). However, as you may have seen from my previous posts, I tried my best to make the most of it – my life. I made many friends of all ages and partook in various activities every-single-day. Again, no one forced me to stay, I could have left at any moment. However, I felt a strong responsibility to my students, colleagues and myself to see things through to the end. Even through the difficulties and even through the heartache. And though I made some unforgettable memories with my dear students and friends, I still finished my contract with a heart full of sadness. Sadness at mistreatment, of lack of apology and of prejudice. I felt disheartened because I felt I had so much to give. For goodness sakes, I was an ENGLISH major. English was my passion. English is my passion. Still, I was underutilised and unappreciated. I remember thinking to myself that if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this experience, it’s to never ever be unproductive.

As for my apology, again, I would like to first thank Yuka. For in the mere three days that I have lived in Osaka, I have felt more good energy and positive vibes than I had for a year and four months. I had so many back-to-back negative experiences that I’d convinced myself I hated Japan. I couldn’t understand how others were having a pleasant time here. Weren’t they being stared at everywhere they weren’t? Wasn’t the doctor refusing to treat them because he or she didn’t speak English? Weren’t they turned away every time they went to class? Weren’t they frowned upon for wearing a singlet, riding a bike, having their hair out?

Osaka is a wonderful city. I mean, I have only experienced a small part of it but what I have seen emits great spirits. People are always out and about. They have blonde, purple and blue hair. They sport tattoos and piercings alongside formal and traditional attire. Mothers ride their bicycles in floral dresses as their loose hair dances out back and their front seated toddler watches in amusement. Business men carry stylish briefcases and smell like heaven and young girls are so damn fashionable they put me to shame.

I would like to apologise because I based my perception on a small minority of Japan. Even though I knew it couldn’t all be like this, I still couldn’t really believe it. Osaka or city-life, whatever it is, has changed my awareness. I am so glad I could/can experience this side of Japan. I’ve decided I could easily live in this city, forever.
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20 Pictures Of A Japanese Summer Festival Guaranteed To Make You Smile

“I fell for her in summer, my lovely summer girl,
From summer she is made, my lovely summer girl,
I’d love to spend a winter with my lovely summer girl,
But I’m never warm enough for my lovely summer girl,
It’s summer when she smiles, I’m laughing like a child,
It’s the summer of our lives; we’ll contain it for a while
She holds the heat, the breeze of summer in the circle of her hand
I’d be happy with this summer if it’s all we ever had.”
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“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” (Henry James)
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After a year and half of living in super inaka (countryside) I feel so alive. Connectivity is vital to life. For as long as I can remember, I have always liked markets and festivals and large crowds. I think this is because positive energy is so contagious and so nice! Though often, in such scenarios, I’d look around and concentrate on what I was not. I’d see boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives and large groups of girls giggling about and I’d see tall women with athletic figures and lush hair and fashionable clothes and bemoan my own life. Tonight, as I walked around completely alone, I didn’t do that for once. I saw the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in yukata (traditional Japanese summer ware) and I saw charming husbands carrying the handbags of their wives and young fathers piggy backing their little ones. I saw couples feeding each other yakitori and groups of young girls holding hands and fans and candied apples and their heads upright to protect their beautiful hairstyles, and I smiled. I rejoiced in their happiness and thanked God I was alive. Alive to share in their transmittable joy and alive to live their spreadable love. What do you think? Is that me growing up?
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The first food is a mochi (sticky rice) sweet. Inside is anko (sweet red bean paste) covered with plain sticky rice and lastly coated in kinako (roasted soybean powder). The second is karaage chicken. As you may or may not know, I am a wannabe vegetarian. However; I had to, I just had to try this. Not only did it smell insane, there was a 10 meter line for it and we all know lines mean business. It was amazing. So much so, that I remixed Katy Perry’s infamous song for it in my head: “I ate chicken and I liked it…the taste of it’s…” Okay…so as you can see, it’s a work in process.
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Don’t forget to receive this Christmas

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We all know Christmas is a time for giving (much emphasis is placed on this) and sometimes, we hear Christmas is a time for giving and receiving. But, are we really receiving? As in, receiving in the genuine sense? I know, I haven’t been.

My sister recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas and her question really irritated me. For one, shouldn’t she know me well enough to judge what’d make a suitable gift for me? And, I don’t even want anything. I don’t want her spending time and money on me – two contradicting thoughts of an emotional 20 something.

Alas, this snobbish behavior is not new to me and in particular when it comes to dealing with my family. For example, last week, when my mother messaged me a bunch of cheesy inspirational pictures instructing that I appreciate my life and count my blessings, my first response was: “what makes you think I haven’t been?” and later, “why are you sending me these?”.

When Person A compliments Person B on her scrunchy and Person B shrugs and mumbles: “oh this old thing…” or when Jack’s father hands Jack a law-school brochure when the entire universe knows Jack wants to tap-dance for a living, and Jack gives Jack Senior a look that reads go f%&$ a donkey, they are breaking the cycle of giving.

The act of giving is, in most cases, incomplete without genuine receiving. Which means when we are given something, whether it be a hug, a compliment, wanted or unwanted advice, a meal or another f’in key ring(not sure why these are popular with my kids), it becomes our obligation, whether we like it or not, to receive. Wholeheartedly. To make eye contact, smile and say: thank you, thank you for thinking of me. In Sadie Stein’s words, “You have to feel good about yourself to accept a gift. You must feel worthy of it. It must seem to you not terrible, but natural that someone has considered your thoughts and feelings and tastes, and spent time choosing and wrapping. You are loved.”

In that sense, receiving is also giving.

 

Anisa sensei (chef Anisa in disguise) strikes again

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First off, I want to say that I’m in the wrong country for food art. Seriously guys, how can anything I make shine, when my neighbor, the supermom, is making Tottoros from seaweed and rice?!

Next, that for the first time in my 23 years of life, I am actually feeling the festive side of Christmas. No, I’m not the Grinch in disguise, I was just born in Iran. Growing up, I had learnt of Christianity during Baha’i Children’s Class but I’d never encountered the festive side of the Birth of Christ. That is, until we arrived in NZ and witnessed everyone becoming super excited over a day which we knew nothing about and I always always felt left out. It seemed to me that everyone was decorating trees, baking gingerbread houses and filling out Christmas cards and I was not. In fact, I think about 13 Christmases came and passed where my family simply treated the day as an inconvenient one where everything was shut.

Later, when I started dating a Kiwi and later again, when my sister became married to one, we experienced the festive side of Christmas through them and their families, for the very first time.

This year, not only am I going to have a white Christmas in JAPON but I’ll be spending it with my dear dear sister and brother-in-law who are coming to visit in exactly five days, FIVE! If there’s anything I’ve learnt from living this crazy difficult adventurous life in rural Japan, it’s that the most important thing in life is being with loved ones.

Christmas Oats:
1/2 cup oats, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp pure maple syrup. Stir on low until ready. To serve, top with fresh Christmas themed fruit and natural peanut butter.

Kinako (soybean powder) Cookies:
I used this (For Diets! Super Easy Kinako Cookies), cookie recipe and simply added raisins to one batch and sesame seeds to the other for variety.

Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies:
I used Erin’s cookie recipe and added macadamia nuts, too.

Autumn vignettes

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So I watched Mistress America, the new Greta Gerwig film and this one quote really blew me away because it’s kinda, sorta, exactly how I feel at this stage:

“I think I’m sick, and I don’t know if my ailment has a name. I just am in love with everything, but can’t figure out how to make myself work in the world.”

Apparently good things take time. My vegan cheesecakes take 6 hours to set and getting to Tokyo disneyland from my house takes about 8. So, I guess that’s a fair statement. But, how long is it going to take for the right person to stumble upon my blog and make me famous? One year of blogging! One year! And does anyone (other than my mom or sister) actually read this? Sorry for the pessimism/melodramatics, I blame the weather. Actually, autumn is my favourite season and it’s especially nice here with the surrounding mountains but there’s something about fall which makes me ponder, apart from the freezing cold and the knee deep snow about to hit my village, “what’s next?”

These HEALTHY four ingredient pancakes will change your life!

I have a confession to make. Sometimes (okay, most-times) I day dream about waking up to the smell of pancakes being especially made for ME by a lover. And, if he resembles Channing Tatum’s character from The Vow, well then, that’s a bonus but really who am I kidding, I just want the pancakes. And luuurrrrve. But, this ain’t that type of food blog. Here at Iaccidentlyatethewholething we (and by “we” I mean me, just me, one, uno, ichi,) don’t like to mix the personal with the recipe. So here it is, the recipe that will change your sad, lonely, wherethefuckishe single life. For this is a NEW age (apparently) where I don’t need no man and definitely not one to cook for me (and rub my feet, and listen to my worries, and hold my groceries) cos I’m an independent woman who can do all that for herself (or so my mother tells me).

Shit. Did I just mix the personal with the recipe? My bad. SO THE RECIPE is sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. In other words, it’s broccoli.

1 large banana
1/2 cup of quick oats (use GF if GF)
1/2 cup of milk of your choice (I used naturally sweetened organic almond milk)
1/4 tsp baking soda

Blend all ingredients together until smooth

Grill in a skillet greased with a little coconut oil for a minute or two until golden on both sides.

I served mine with yogurt, blueberries, raw walnuts and honey.

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An open letter to the prick who commented on my weight.

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Last night I dined at the coolest sushi-train restaurant ever. It amazed me because between every 2 seats there was a touch-screen monitor where you could conveniently order your sushi/edamame/chocolate-parfait freshly-made. Then DING DING and the monitor would notify you of your picks shortly arrival at the same time as a variety of other tempting delicacies continued to shoo shoo by. Perhaps where you live, such sushi-trains are common but for me, this particular joint’s techno savviness was definitely a first. As the norm with sushi trains, I lost count of how many plates I snatched (in this case, ordered) and only felt slightly guilty later, after seeing my leaning tower of plates. However; I didn’t mind too much because not only was I filled with the creamiest avocado and the freshest salmon but also, pure bliss. I was so happy to be there! Until he opened his mouth, that is.

“Anisa, you’ve put on weight since coming to Japan…”

Then all hell broke loose and I tore out his “brain” (I use quotation marks here because obviously the brother don’t have any) using my chopsticks.

Seriously? What the frick. I suggested he take a “how to treat women” or better yet “how not to treat women” class. Yeah yeah, cultural difference; the Japanese are frank yadi yada – not good enough. Dear mothertrucker, who at the age of 28 is still living  off his parents and has never left his hometown (no judgement – okay maybe a little judgement), moving to a new country is hard. No, no one forced me to fly some 5000 miles from my family, friends and comforts but just because I chose to actively follow my dream, doesn’t make it any easier. In addition to changes in the obvious (food), moving to a new country means encountering and gradually learning to conduct oneself to new and therefore; unfamiliar, weather, work, people, daily routines etc. etc. As well as, having to find the nearest exercise facilities, farmer’s markets, health stores and so on. Or in my case, learning to live by myself, cook for ONE, shop for one and the number one culprit: STRESS. You know, from changing your entire LIFE. Since you’re yet to experience it, being unable to speak the language of the country in which you live can drive you mad. Performing trivial tasks like posting a letter, checking your bank balance or ordering a chai latte can make you sweat (obviously not enough in my case). Lastly, since you’ve traveled so very far to a so very foreign (but exciting) land, naturally, you want to immerse yourself in the culture, make the most of every day, if you will. So if that means immersing oneself in a bath tub of ramen – then so be it! When else are you going to live in Japan? They don’t even have ramen where I live!

I don’t know where I’m going with this – I’ve always struggled with structure (in English not life – shut your trap). I guess what I’m trying to say is, life is to be lived. What did Elizabeth Gilbert say in Eat Pray Love? “I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt. So this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to finish this pizza, and then we are going to go watch the soccer game, and tomorrow we are going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans”.

But to answer his question, yes, yes I have. About 5.3kgs to be exact which at first I really struggled with (don’t all we girls?) but now realise is absolutely okay. A while back, I wrote a similar post on body image in which I shared this brilliance: “Our bodies are changing every second. Yet we take the body to be our Self; and, speaking in terms of it, we say, “I am hungry” or “I am lame;” “I am black” or “I am white.” These are all just the conditions of the body. We touch the truth when we say, ‘My body aches,’ implying the body belongs to us and that therefore we are not that.” In other words, not only is it okay for our bodies to change but NORMAL for our weight to shift. AND, we are not defined by it’s appearance for we/I am probably going to lose it all then put it all back on again and lose it and put it on and lose it – OK we’ll stop there (wink wink). Ya dig?!

Phew, glad I got that off of my chest.

Still angry at him.

the truth behind living alone

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As in, one house – one person. Which actually seems quite the luxury when put like that (and I guess in many ways it is, especially with the state of the world today) but it’s not all glamorous dinner parties and extravagant breakfasts (as seen on my Instagram). Several people have congratulated me on doing so well in Japan but actually, the reality is far from that. Here’s the truth about living alone: it actually sucks. The truth is and we all know it, that humans are hard-wired to connect.

Every morning I wake up to an eerie silence. No kind mother preparing breakfast, no noisy father reading the paper and no inconsiderate flatmates. Just me and myself and maybe a stink bug (but let’s not think of that). Which is all well and good for personal growth and all that jazz but as I said, in reality, it actually sucks ass.

Worse than a lonely morning though, is a lonely night. Especially when living in an apartment with paper-thin walls. Every night I hear the couple next door, talking and giggling and engaging in God knows what and you know, I’m happy that they’re happy but I’m also not. Hearing their joy while I kill time on the internet is literally like Nelson from the Simpsons pointing with his fingers inches from my face, his breath the stench of salmon and screaming his iconic: HA HA!

Then there’s the food problem. Cooking for one IS rocket science. It is incredibly difficult to cook for just one person. I usually end up cooking for 2 or more and either eating the whole thing (accidently hahoheha) to avoid spoilage and in turn putting on weight or just letting it spoil which is just shit. Also, cooking for one is not enjoyable. What’s the fun in cooking a fancy meal and eating it on your own? In fact, while I’m at it let me just say, travelling is amazing and the world is amazing and the adventures I’ve had and the places I’ve seen are unreal but deep in the fabric of my soul, I yearn to SHARE what I see, hear, eat and do with PEOPLE. In particular, my mother, my father, my sister and my brother-in-law. For one thing, I’ve lost count of the number of dishes I wished they could taste, too. Charlotte Bronte once said, “Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste,” and I couldn’t agree more (in every sense of the word).

So I actively engage in day trips and dinner parties and so on and so forth but not because my life just happens to be so. Lest we forget, there are two sides to every story; a hidden truth. A midnight fight behind the happy couple. A chocolate binge behind the acai bowl.  A lonely home behind the group photo.

“Is there a bomb under my table?” (An open letter to the ignorant)

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During my first schooling year in New Zealand (circa January 2001) I clearly recall my classmates asking if in Iran we had televisions, rode camels everywhere and lived in mud huts. Such queries highly confused my baby brain, to say the least. I had come from a population of 7.8 million (Tehran) to a population of 43, 929 (Timaru) and these eight year old chumps were questioning my family’s technology ownership. Flash-forward nine months (September 11) and suddenly my father was Osama bin Laden, my basement was filled with bombs and each time I neared the “cool” kids; you guessed it – “tick tick BOOM!” Of course, I do acknowledge that my thick Persian accent, monobrow, frizzy afro and/or chelo kebab (saffron basmati rice and kebab) filled lunch box also played a prominent role in singling me out.

Today, almost fifteen whole years later, most things for me have changed. Mum plucks my eyebrows, I’ve invested in a GHD hair straightener, I live off a mostly vegan diet, my accent has become an unidentifiable concoction and I hold a Bachelor’s degree in English (the language I didn’t know a single word of when my family and I initially left Iran). And yet, I am still regularly asked embarrassing/rude/ignorant/racist/not-at-all-funny-even-though-the-individual-asking-them-thinks-he-or-she-is-hilarious questions.

Working in hospitality, gives me the opportunity (and the pleasure) to meet and interact with a variety of individuals from all walks of life. As I am no longer as fresh as I initially was, It has become much harder for others to figure me out. When asked where I am from, I often give the questioner the opportunity to take a stab in the dark and guesstimate, to which I receive a surprising array of nationalities non of which are even remotely close to Iran: Spanish? Brazilian? Italian? Moroccan? Fijian? Greek? Eventually I give in; “No, I’m actually Persian, I’m from Iran” and 3, 2, 1.. I watch their faces drop. Some change the subject all together: “we’re ready to order now thanks” whilst others make what they deem a funny “joke”: “is there a bomb under my table?” (No Sir/Madam, but there will be one in your meal if you’re not careful! – I kid, I kid).

What upsets me is not the fact that these individuals jump the gun in judging me purely based on certain minorities (terrorist and/or religious groups etc etc) but the fact that these people do not know (and do not care to know) the slightest truth behind my story, struggles, defeats and most importantly; personal successes, however big or small. Why should one’s place of birth define their nature, character or psyche? According to Jon Stewart: “We have made enormous progress in teaching everyone that racism is bad. Where we seem to have dropped the ball… is in teaching people what racism actually IS” to which I couldn’t agree more!

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a personal attack on the individuals mentioned nor am I supporting terrorism or saying that we shouldn’t honour September 11th and its many innocent victims. My mere intention here is an attempt at combating racist attitudes which so many of us (myself included) may be unaware/ignorant of possessing which are often reflected in our everyday conversation. I.e. “innocent” banter with the waitress.

“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” –Baha’i Faith