travel

Am I American Now?

I was super lucky to be taken on an American road-trip featuring boiled peanuts, puppies, college football and more.
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These were so good!
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This is called tail-gating, I think. It’s like pre-drinks. image-3-png-4
Feels like Japan (people jam). image-5-png-2
Release of purple balloons. image-4-png-2
Up up and away.image-png-9
Clemson Tigers.image-1-png-5
Merica. image-2-png-4
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Sweet potato fries with icing-sugar and honey at The Smokin Pig. AKA blocked artery (hehe).

Independently Perfection Cannot Be Achieved

Friends, Nashville is so nice. Apparently it’s Autumn but it has been (and still is) hotter than a NZ summer! The people are so nice as well. And there’s diversity and of course, music! I am one very lucky girl. Every new day is beautiful and I am constantly showered by much love and affection. Maybe I won’t leave? Though I’m not sure how much luck an Iranian-born has in the whole green card business! Anyways, I love you all so much, and I miss you all so much and I think of you all, all of the time.

When I take my neighbourhood walks, both alone and with Soroosh’s mom, and I see the bright and colourful maple leaves I’m transported back to Japan. Back to my dear friends and to my sweet students. The mornings I have muesli for breakfast, I call to mind Jose, Bea, Hector and Sara, remembering the very sweet yet very frustrating (because Sara so keenly insisted on helping) times I made their family stove-top granola. Also of you Maria! (I wonder if you’re reading.) When I take photographs of nature, I think of Lavanya and I think of Laura and my mother and my auntie Pouneh and my heart expands. Coffee takes me back to sunny Antibes with Patricia (Anita’s mom). Cute babies to “my boyfriend” and his sweet mother in Osaka. And laughter, kindness and compassion to Akiko, Oz and Lifa. Also hummus. Of course hummus reminds me of them. Minako, I think of you as well. Your love for cheese and your dislike of chocolate (which I will never understand). I think of these people and I feel so deeply grateful to them. For it is these very connections that have made me into the woman I am today.

In her incredible book, Perscription For Living (which I totes recommend), Ruhiyyih Rabbani adequately describes this concept. She says:

“We as individuals are not isolated phenomena. All our lives are based on relationships with other individuals; independently perfection cannot be achieved. As we are a gregarious species by nature – like bees and ants and animals that run in herds – it is not possible for each one of us to develop his own character as an isolated unit…

…the progress of the individuals comprised in any gregarious species is derived by interaction, co-operation, competition, stimulation and the benefit of example. Consequently a large part of our road to personal perfection lies through the lives of those with whom we come in contact. The way we treat them, the way we react to them, affects our own character and helps to shape it for better or worse.”
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Joy Gives Us Wings

O SON OF MAN! Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh)

My dear mamma often uses the analogy, “life is like a ferris wheel,”. (Though sometimes she mistakes and says, “circle.”) Her reasoning basically, is that there will always be ups and downs. You can’t always be happy (at the top) nor will you always remain unhappy (on bottom). Of course, like all advice we don’t want to hear, I’d often let this ‘circle business’ slide in through one ear and out the other. Today however, i firmly believe it. Because when I look back on my life, it is exactly this. A crazy wild ferris wheels of joy and sorrow and joy and sorrow and joy again. Currently (though I realise, temporarily) I am enjoying the most joyous and serene view of Autumnal Nashville.Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
Factory at Franklin: an old factory turned shopping complex. Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
Acai bowl lunch from Franklin Juice Co.Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
Okay, so THIS is Halloween! NZ has much catching up to do!
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These pumpkin markets seem to be around every corner!
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Remember my giant watermelon pic? Same same!Processed with VSCO with c3 presetIn this world we are influenced by two sentiments, Joy and Pain.

Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and our intelligence veiled. The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings.

There is no human being untouched by these two influences; but all the sorrow and the grief that exist come from the world of matter—the spiritual world bestows only the joy!
If we suffer it is the outcome of material things, and all the trials and troubles come from this world of illusion.

For instance, a merchant may lose his trade and depression ensues. A workman is dismissed and starvation stares him in the face. A farmer has a bad harvest, anxiety fills his mind. A man builds a house which is burnt to the ground and he is straightway homeless, ruined, and in despair.

All these examples are to show you that the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy. The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

I Hate Travel

Mostly, I hate airports. One, I’m always “randomly” selected for a bomb check (I blame my nose) and two, I am stingy. Meaning, I buy cheap flights on whim thinking, “yeah no big deal,” then comes to flying, and I have 5 flights from France to Nashville (sigh). Big sigh. Here are some “travel” photos.
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You know… the airport is the only place you can walk around with no shoes, a glazed look on your face, and sleep on the benches and no one judges you. (Coriander Woodruff, The Call of the Spectacled Owl)
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Had a million things to say and none I knew how. I stepped forward and kissed him, like people kiss at airports, full of love and desperate longing, kisses that must imprint themselves on their recipient for the journey, for the weeks, the months ahead. (Jojo Moyes, After You)
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Or the woman in front of me in the security line who asked if they would put her cat, Dave, through the luggage X-ray machine because she wanted to see if he’d eaten a necklace. (Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things)Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
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People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else. (Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight)
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Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone? (Erma Bombeck)

I Am Always Doing Things I Can’t Do…

…This is how I get to do them. (Pablo Picasso)
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Everybody has the same energy potential. The average person wastes his in a dozen little ways. I bring mine to bear on one thing only: my paintings, and everything else is sacrificed to it…myself included. (Pablo Picasso)
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Without great solitude, no serious work is possible. (Pablo Picasso)
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Jacqueline Picasso or Jacqueline Roque (24 February 1927 – 15 October 1986) is best known as the muse and second wife of Pablo Picasso. Their marriage lasted 11 years until his death, during which time he created over 400 portraits of her, more than any of Picasso’s other loves.

Because You Are Alive, Everything Is Possible.

Been reading a bit of Thich Nhat Hanh. I love him. Even if I can’t pronounce his name. Very inspirational. Just like Antibes. No wonder so many Artists were drawn here (excuse the pun). This light is magical.
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People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
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Smile, breathe and go slowly.
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If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.
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You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup. Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy. If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone. Life is like that. If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone. You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life. It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished. Learn from it and let it go. The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it. Worrying is worthless. When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the present moment. Then you will begin to experience joy in life.
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How Rich Is Too Rich?

In addition to epic views, mouth-watering food and sweet romance, the coast is well-known for $$$

Each to their own, but I personally couldn’t be happy having anything to do with such wealth. For example, the cruise ships. Wether it be owning one, riding one or working for one, to me it seems immoral. I know, I know, I’m making big calls. The way I see it, in a world where literally multitudes are going without, how can one enjoy such excessive (and that’s the key word here) fortune? Even if every penny is earned cash. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I am perfect nor anywhere remotely close it, I just think, it’d be nice if everyone had just enough and that’s all. Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
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Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.
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That same night, I wrote my first short story. It took me thirty minutes. It was a dark little tale about a man who found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls piled up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife’s slain body in his arms. (Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner)
Processed with VSCO with c3 preset(Room rates for 5 star Hotel Negresco in Nice.)

A Dream Come True

In Antibes, I am staying in the most charming apartment in the old town and I wish, I really really wish that it was mine. I seem to like almost every place I go, but here is very nice (excuse the pun). Right now, I am sitting at the table with the yellow table cloth with the remnants of my lunch: rye bread, fresh mozzarella, vegetables and nuts. I am writing to you and in between, listening to the occasional passersby. Sometimes they’re French, sometimes Italian and occasionally, American and loud (hehe). But always always, the chatter is alive. Welcome to the South.

I am so thankful. So so thankful. I left my comfort zone (living with my parents in NZ) to teach in Japan, a country so foreign to me in every way. I was placed in the country side were I felt much racism, heartache and isolation. But I persevered through! I didn’t give up. I did a year and a half! I did it for my students and I did it for myself. And now, I am in the south of France! Antibes. A dream come true. Many people are fortunate enough to travel but not many people truly appreciate that fortune. In short, the difficulties of my past are sweetening this time.Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
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Can you imagine? Can you imagine if that were my balcony? I would sit there with my typewriter (ok macbook) and my oats. I would write the stories of the people, I would write of lust, love, heartache, betrayal and fresh fruit.
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Nobody was in Antibes that summer …except me, Zelda, the Valentinos, the Murphys, Mistinguet, Rex Ingram, Dos Passos, Alice Terry, the MacLeishes, Charlie Brackett, Mause Kahn, Lester Murphy, Marguerite Namara, E.Oppenheimer, Mannes the violinist, Floyd Dell, Max and Crystal Eastman … Just the right place to rough it, an escape from the world. (F. Scott Fitzgerald in a letter in 1926.) Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Zurich Desu

Laura, I seem to have caught your blogging bug! Mine is falling behind.

This is Zurich. Well, this was Zurich last week.

Big-ups to Lavanya and Stieven for hosting me and showing me unconditional love.
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Everybody’s dream, to be surrounded by chocolate.
Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetPosted this on my blog’s social media and someone asked, “small hands or big chocolate”?  Definitely, big chocolate. Big delicious dark chocolate with a dark caramel filling. Though very very expensive! Almost 6 American dollars for ONE.
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Hey University of Zurich do you need an English lit lecturer in say, 5 years time? (I can dream can’t I?)
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