writer

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
Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
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.
Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
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

Spinning in A Whirlwind of Emotions

Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. (Cesare Pavese)

The value of your travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home — and the slow nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty countries. (Rolf Potts)

We can’t jump off bridges anymore because our iPhones will get ruined. We can’t take skinny dips in the ocean because there’s no service on the beach and adventures aren’t real unless they’re on Instagram. Technology has doomed the spontaneity of adventure and we’re helping destroy it every time we Google, check-in, and hashtag. (Jeremy Glass)

It’s funny. When you leave your home and wander really far, you always think, ‘I want to go home.’ But then you come home, and of course it’s not the same. You can’t live with it, you can’t live away from it. And it seems like from then on there’s always this yearning for some place that doesn’t exist. I felt that. Still do. I’m never completely at home anywhere. (Danzy Senna)

For the past few days, I have been spinning in a whirlwind of emotions. I have felt flabbergasted by new experiences, homesick from doing it by myself, frustrated by the foreign and completely amazed at this wonderfully big little world we live in. At times, I have been able to capture some of it through a camera lens and at others, not at all, not even a little bit. I like the quotes above for they’ve made me think long and hard about my travels and my consequent thoughts and actions. I wish that I could tell you that my over-thinking has cultivated an epiphany or some profound wisdom but frankly it hasn’t. Not yet. Right now, I am more muddled than ever. This restlessness I pin down to excess information. I keep telling my parents, it’s not easy to live in this day and age either! Do I settle down or travel awhile longer? Continue participating in social media for self-promotion or stay quiet writing in private? And as I do either, do I work or study further? Again, I hear my ears ringing “first world problem.” Though I really think it is, a problem that is, of our generation. Information overload and unlimited choice can prove impossible to navigate.

So. For now, all I want is balance. Balance between travel and home, reality, and the internet, blogging and writing a bigger project and between career and education.

imfffageimaaageimaaaage
Graffiti street in Ghent.
imburage
Vegan burger from Greenway.
ibbmageimdageimgageimveganplateage
The most amazing vegan lunch at Moon Food in Brussels.
image
imfageiffmage

Save

You Will Find Your Way It Is In The Same Place As Your Love.

I’ve been absolutely terrified of every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. (Georgia O’keeffe)
image1
image-96
image2
image-94
If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit. (Banksy)
image-97
imageimage1imageNothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. (Marie Curie)
image3
image2
image3image4Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love. (Zooey Deschanel)

So What Was Galicia Really Like?

During my short time In Galicia, I posted a lot of photos and vague descriptions but I didn’t really give you the low down. So. Here’s a list:

Loud 
Galician people speak very loudly. Or maybe, they are just loud in comparison to the Japanese. More often, I’d mistake a casual conversation for heated arguing. Actually, during my first three days, I developed a horrible migraine. At first, I put it down to jet lag or a change in environment but then I realised the real culprit. My ears were buzzing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Galician are hooligans. Rather, that they speak with much heart and emotion and sometimes our hearts are yellers.
image7
Meaty
Of course due to their location, the Galician people consume a lot of seafood. But they also consume A LOT of meat. Chorizo, cured ham, steak, you name it. Luckily for me, the exception were Jose’s family. Everyday we ate fresh and organic fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds.
image
image7
Tortilla and empanada mad
I guess these are the two most popular dishes here. A Spanish tortilla (not to be confused with the Mexican wrap) is like a potato omelette. It’s oily, carby and delicious. Empanadas are a pie pastry like dish usually filled with tuna, red pepper and onion but there are many variations. Anyways, these dishes are honestly everywhere. And people are always eating them.
image1image
image1image[8]
Tomato overload
There’s a lot of tomatoes here. That’s basically it. And apparently, a lot gets wasted every year because if it was all put out into the market, the prices would drop to mere cents and the government wouldn’t be making any money off of them. So sad. What is this world we live in? (I know this is not confined to Spain and that food is a business everywhere).
image4image1
imageimage1
Long days
I think I already mentioned this. Apparently this is very Spanish. Breakfast around 9. Lunch around 3/4 and dinner around 10. Can you believe it? No wonder I’ve been having migraines. One day, Jose called to book a table at a local restaurant for 9pm and was warned to leave by 11pm as that’s when another couple had booked it! Is that insane or insane?
image-79
image
Food rules all
Obvious by now. Before coming here, Jose had warned me that the Galicians live and breathe food. I hadn’t really understood this until now. You know the old adage; you eat to live not live to eat? Well here it’s the other way around. Perhaps the previous point on long days has something to do with this but also because the Spanish are such fantastic cooks! And, they have great produce: olive oil, seafood, tomatoes, legumes, to name a few. So food rules all.
image5
image[5]
Unpredictable
Mainly in two ways. One, with weather. Much like NZ, weather here is always changing. Four seasons in one day type of thing. Two, with plans. Again, at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Japanese, the Galician people hardly ever plan anything. This is because plans are always changing. You may aim to do one thing and end up doing the complete opposite. For instance, one day we planned to sightsee a historical town nearby but ended up going to a friends’ place after lunch and spending the entire evening swimming in her pool, listening to Galician bagpipes and eating peaches.
image5image1
1 2 3 ziiiiip.
I played this “game” with the children. Unfortunately it didn’t work. Anyways, following up from the previous point, Galicians never give a direct answer.

How long does it take from here to…? Not far. 
Where does she live? Near.
Are we going to …. today? If you want?
Shall we go for a short walk while the empanada cooks? Shall we? 

These answers are often accompanied with a shrug. You don’t believe how much this annoyed me. In Japan, there is a direct answer for everything. When I mentioned my frustration to Jose, he burst out laughing. You know Anisa, he said: “in Galicia we have a saying that if you meet a Galician in the middle of a staircase and ask them if they’re going up or down they’ll say: do you want me to come up with you?”
image2Sugar overload
I don’t like writing this. I don’t want to be too judgemental. And maybe this is a problem everywhere but kids here consume A LOT of sugar and other junk foods. Actually, there are entire stores dedicated to Junk food. Seriously, all they sell are ice-cream, chocolate, candy, cookies and Cheetos. I am surprised the kids don’t have black teeth like my Japanese pre-school students. One day we went out for tapas and a huge bowl of candy was placed in the middle of the children’s table. Some of them ate more than 10! I couldn’t believe it. I hope I will be better able to control my future children’s sugar intake. Also Cheetos. Cheetos are everywhere! Even inside 1 year olds! :O
image[1]The good life.
Last but not least, Galician really know how to live. Everyone seems to be on holiday here. They are always eating tapas, relaxing on their boats, drinking at local cafes and talking with their family, neighbours, friends.
image
imageimage1
Goodbye rivers, goodbye springs
Goodbye, rivers, goodbye, springs,
Goodbye, trickling streams;
Goodbye, all I see before me:
Who knows when we’ll meet again?

Oh my home, my homeland,
Soil where I was raised,
Little garden that I cherish,
Fig trees I grew from seed.

Meadows, rivers, woodlands,
Pine groves bent by wind,
All the chirping little songbirds,
Home I cherish without end.

Mill nestled between the chestnuts,
Nights lit brightly by the moon,
Tremor of the little bells,
My parish chapel’s tune.

Blackberries from the wild vines
I picked to give my love,
Narrow trails between the corn-rows,
Goodbye, forever goodbye!
Goodbye, glory! Goodbye, gladness!

I leave the house where I was born,
Leave my village so familiar
For a world I’ve never seen.
I’m leaving friends for strangers,
Leaving prairies for the sea,
Leaving all that I love dearly…

Oh, if I didn’t have to leave!…
(part of a poem by Rosalia de Castero)

A Disaster

Dear friends

I have a very big (big for me) first-world-problem. Don’t laugh but I dropped my phone in the toilet. No, I wasn’t taking a picture of the toilet seat (Danny’s comment). It was in my back pocket and when I pulled down my pants.. well, you get the picture. Trust me I was quick. I took it out within half a second but hair-dryer, rice, oven, it’s still completely dead. Communication isn’t the problem.. for that I can use my computer. The real problem is photography. I use, well, used (wahh) my phone to take and edit my blog and Savvy Tokyo pictures. What now?

I can’t curse the universe for this. I realise I am completely to blame. But instead of sitting here and feeling disappointed in my stupid self, I will use this opportunity (gah I hate me for even being this sickly positive) to better myself. I will open my eyes and be attentive. I will carry a diary and take note of the noteworthy things I encounter. Then, I will try as best as I can to write them in a picturesque manner.

Today is my last day in Galicia, Spain – though I have a post on Galicia scheduled for tomorrow (with pictures). Tomorrow morning I will fly to Geneva. I don’t know what to expect other than a certainty of love from my auntie, her husband and two gorgeous daughters.

PS feel free to make a phone/camera donation (half joking).

PPS this means no more Instagram.

c9004e6b641efefc383ebbcb2986cc0b

Edward Gorey (1961)

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.

image5image6image9
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? (Mary Oliver)
imageimage3image2
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. (Mary Oliver)
image1
image
image4
Listen–are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? (Mary Oliver)
image7image3image2
Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.(Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
image1image2
image3
You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life. (Mary Oliver)
image
image1image4
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. (Mae West)

Tokyo Had Everything But You

image
A rainy summer festival.
image[2]image[1]
Senso-ji temple.
image
My lucky fortune – now ain’t that the truth? I had a really hard time living in the Japanese country side and working in their education system but now, apparently (hopefully) all that’s gone.
image[5]
A pancake/pikelete thingy majig filled with anko (sweet red bean paste) and matcha (green tea) ice-cream.
image
A maid cafe waitress hoping for business.
image[1]
This is Akihabara. A popular Tokyo district mostly famous for its many electronic stores.
image[9]image[7]image[8]image[6]image[5]
Ramen. image[4]image[5]image[6]image[4]image[3]
image[2]image[3]I really enjoyed this colourful district and I kept thinking how much my father (the ex electrician) would also.

Mom Was Right

Dear Ones:

I’ve realised my mom was right. I have been blogging too much, working too much, exploring too much, thinking too much, exercising too much and plain pushing myself to exhaustion. When she first said it, of course I disagreed with her. “You don’t understand, I’m FINE,” I said. And we all know what that “fine” means. But a simple comment by Yuka today on how I’d mistakingly written “orange” in place of “apple” in a previous post,  finally touched the right nerve.

Believe me, I’ve had the best of intentions. I’ve blogged everyday because I enjoy doing it but also because I believe it will one day, some way or another, make me a real writer. For the past two years, I have not stopped. Even now, on holiday! I am walking, thinking, over-thinking, exploring, photographing, blogging, and freelancing. Then I write a post about holiday blues. I am so silly.

I don’t want to be like this anymore.

So, I have made a choice. The great Bahai leader, Abdu’l-Baha says:

“One cannot obtain the full force of the sunlight when it is cast on a flat mirror, but once the sun shineth upon a concave mirror, or on a lens that is convex, all its heat will be concentrated on a single point, and that one point will burn the hottest. Thus is it necessary to focus one’s thinking on a single point so that it will become an effective force.”

In short, I am finally going to take that overdue holiday. I am going to enjoy my upcoming travels to their fullest and I am going to live in the moment. This means photographing less, blogging less, hopefully thinking less and overall, chilling the F out. I guess my only concern is losing followers but I know that my health comes first and that this way, contrary to my previous thinking, I can become a better writer. Something to do with quality over quantity, I guess.

In the words of Anne Lamott:  “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”.

Again, thank you for being there.

image[2]image[3]image[1]image[1]imageimage[2]
imageimageimage[3]image[4]image[5]
image[1]image[1]image[6]image[5]image[3]image[4]image[2]
image[7]
image[6]
image[2]imageimage[8]image[3]image[5]image[7]image[4]
image[1]imageimage[7]image[6]image[5]image[4]image[3]

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.”
image-60
image-72image-68image-66
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” (Henry James)
image-29.jpg
image-62image-63image-61image-64
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?
image-75image-71image-77image-76image-78
image-28.jpg
image-79
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.
image-69image-67image-73image-70