When You Finally Understand Religion

 

“It’s funny. I don’t believe in god, I don’t want to go to synagogue, but I go. And once I’m there I start crying like an idiot.”

 

any thoughts?

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Poem on the Pont Alexandre III

Vertical sky

when they walk south, or down what’s the difference

My head pressed down

into the cement, the river is my bed

 

The waves are softer 

than I last recall

like the ridges on your grandmother’s round face

the bank divorces the city and water with no faith

 

Beyond the bridge is another bridge

and it’s darker than it was three hours ago

and there are streaks of salmon sky.

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BLINK.

I swear my eyes were only shut for a second. I swear it was September just a minute ago.

As you may have guessed from the sudden eerie silence that emanates from your local school, the Northern hemisphere’s school year is over. For two months (three if you’re in the States or at College), us hooligans are free to do nothing…well not nothing, but certainly free from spending our days in the classroom, watching every hour of daylight drip away as we sigh in confinement.

Of course, I exaggerate. I’ll be the first to confess I LOVE school (most of the time)… I know I probably won’t feel the same way in a few years, but I sometimes feel sad that one day I will no longer be a student. I will no longer spend my days filling my mind with new horizons and exposing myself to new things each day. I will most likely spending my entire energy focused on some mundane, uninteresting task in order to pay rent…keep food on the table…taxes…tutors for the kids…you get the point: being a student is hard but also extremely uplifting, if taken with gratitude. 

As many others from my generation are doing, I am reflecting on my previous years, contemplating my change in the past in the future. Before the following, I would like to include the disclaimer that I am not one (usually) to toot her horn, but I just wanted to include a personal example from my life to illustrate my new found belief that hard work yields great long term results.

Two years ago I ended the school year with sad C+. Coming from a home with Jewish and Japanese blood… well to say the least bringing home a C+ average was not an option. The next year, instead of ignoring the fact of the matter, making my situation worse, I changed my attitude, sat closer to the teacher as to be more involved in class discussion and invested myself. (Warning: doing so may result in crushing on one of your teachers)

Over the course of the next year, I went from B- to B to B+ then this year (despite a few difficulties) I ended up with B+, B+ and finally, FINALLY A-.

And I could make A MILLION excuses as to put myself down one more. Oh, a lot more people this term got A grades that the last, oh, it’s only because the Bio teacher didn’t take in that piece of homework I did terribly in, oh it doesn’t really reflect how average I am… But I won’t. When I decided to stop making excuses for myself being a “bad student” or “irresponsible” I also decided to stop making silly excuses and being humble when I did succeed.

All in all, there are many students who have always been on top. Academics come more easily to them (I’m not saying they don’t work as hard, but still..) but I’m glad I learned the hard way, and I’m glad I proved to myself that I could do it – that I could set my mind to achieving a goal and work on it long term – one long day of studying to another. 

“Long term” is not a sentence favored by the youth. We tend not to see the long run, we usually don’t work “regularity” and in turn are slaves to the impulsive characteristics of teenage hood. Unfortunately this trait will come an bite you in the ass if you’re not proactive. When I got the first red flag that my schoolwork was slipping, I was proactive. I worked longer on my essays, organized my time better, and got more PASSIONATE with whatever I was doing. This may be a small lesson – a little moral in the realm of a lifetime – but it’s one I really value and that of course would have been impossible without the help of mommy. And to that I say if you’re reading this mom, thank you; and I hope your Jewish expectations have been fulfilled. 

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TWO MINUTE POEM

I always dreamed a widow would

Someday keep me in her womb,

Teach me secrets of solitude

The road towards my tomb.

I called upon a drifting star

To heed my calls, to lift my scars

To let me live my life anew

And my eyes would see troubles few.

This wish of mine deems to be a selfish one

Lack of maturity I have yet to overcome

Yet is it so unnatural

That I crave a moral world blissfully so?

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Last Sedentary Sunday

The bus shakes with every pothole

And sometimes I think it all might fall apart

And I miss New York, NY

Not the land where my fathers died

(Who saw some provincial Japanese schoolyard)

(Or some godforsaken place in 1944)

But where in a true disgrace to the separation of holy church and state

And haven of Solitude Company

I miss a late night egg drop soup.

And this bus 52 nearing a Paris sunset

Takes me to the Arc de Triomphe

Triumph

Where the Romans and then Nazis once marched

Oh Easter.

When the greatest Jew

Arisen from nail and screw

Joined himself to God

That bastard (lucky)

And looked so fatherly,

Death reigns higher in numbers than Mt. Olive or Mt. Olympus could have dared imagining.

Now on Mt. Everest our limbs fall off

And in my near proximity, Mt. Blanc has turned its nose black.

April 1st and lovers flock to Paris

Another deadline I have missed.

I miss my sister.

I’ll see her soon,

When the coats have been put away for the season

And summer promises to be good.

Daddy, I will see you too

When tedious days of socializing “within the curriculum”

Have surpassed my physical capabilities.

And although I hate to anticipate the awkward drive “home” from JFK

And that groan that accompanies my dive into wallet and bad parenting

(Dangerous cocktail)

I prepare myself.

The route has been so ingrained into the streets

That I doubt the king 16 himself

His blood drying on the guillotine

Stinking under a hot sun unknown to my skin

Would be able to recognize

His utter bliss.

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Sweet Sweet Moon

Saw this video almost two years ago! So glad I stumbled back onto it. I love that they performed this outdoors.

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DAY 2: And Then Bill Clinton Shows Up…

I don’t think there’s anything more satisfactory in life than an all in all fantastic day. If it’s any consolation to those who are not on vacation, I’ve had my fair share of long days, but today was certainly not one of them.

Waking up after a fulfilling eight hours of sleep (albeit with jet lag), and feeling empty of last night’s delicious dim sum left me sitting in the kitchen, wolfing down some tasty mango yogurt. Deciding against touring colleges this trip but still stopping by the Sarah Lawrence campus, we made our way to the city. Cruising around Chelsea, “oohing” at the Hudson, “aahing” at all the stores, we arrived at our first destination point: Lenscrafters. My dad had to get some new contacts, leaving me meandering around the city. No less than half a block away, I saw it: Barnes & Noble. I could barely see where I was walking as I stared at all the titles and covers, finally purchasing The Land of Green Plums and 100 Years of Solitude. But my little book shopping spree would not be complete before buying Tina Fey’s Bossypants, of course!

Barnes & Noble, being my first store since I’ve come back to New York, provided as some sort of culture shock – in a pleasant way. Every way I turned, there were members of staff, asking me if “everything was okay” and if “I was finding everything I needed”. This contrasting deeply with the desperate hours of search in Parisian stores for help, receiving a rude remark when finally finding someone. In any case, it’s good to be back.

Passing through Madison Park provided another “pleasant” surprise. OMG BILL CLINTON IS WALKING ON THE STREET OMG. Yes. Just one of my fave dudes was casually walking with some guys in suits, and I stalked him for about a block. As I was hyperventilating, we made our way to one of the best curry and fried pork places I know. I kept fantasizing about how one day Bill and I would be best friends, and I’d have luncheons with Hilary.

Feeling well fed, we went to SOHO, where I made my debut at Topshop, buying the cutest shirt. Unfortunately, I spent a wee bit too much time in there (three floors of fashion is a lot to get through!) and by the time we got out it was starting to get dark.

The last surprise ended up being a quick stop at a supermarket large enough and well stocked up enough to feed the entire African continent, and I wandered around aimlessly, in awe of the skyscrapers of Mac n’ Cheese. After one day of being back, I feel overwhelmed with the overpowering culture of consumerism.

Dad’s making me a sweet meal of steak and saffron rice. I can smell the fried onions from here…so “à demain mes cherries”, rest well and enjoy!

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DAY 1: Paris à New York.

I alarm rang up. 7:00 A.M

I opened my eyes again. 7:50 A.M.

Running to a PSAT practice test, the morning of the first Saturday of the long awaited winter vacation is no easy task. Halfway through my metro ride, it hit me: in six hours I would be hallway across the world. Tedious hours of “If 2x=8 and 4-6x=y, express y in terms of x” (I’m not so good at coming up with these question) passed by. Soon after, I ran to get a blood test. They seem to like playing emotional piano music in the testing lab, humorously enough, and for a while I was contented with watching glowing pregnant women emerge from various rooms. T-103, they called, meaning it was my turn. The nurse smiled warmly and took my arm. “Don’t worry, you’re lucky; you’ve got a nice BIG vein on your arm.” I wasn’t sure if that made me feel more comfortable or not until my mother chuckled and repeated “Lucky?” to which the nurse replied “Yes, yes, she’ll feel it less.” I now knew for sure that I was NOT comforted by her words.Nevertheless, it turns out blood tests are not too big of a deal, although I still feel sensitive in my left arm (I know I’m a bit of a baby).

A few minutes after leaving the house for CDG airport, I suddenly realized I had forgotten all my money. Yes, all those US $ I had been saving up for this occasion had been forgotten behind! I went back home to get it and the whole ordeal went by much smoother than expected, unlike those frantic trips with my mother forgetting all the passports, or accidentally mistaking the flight for 6:00, not 5:00.

I’m sitting on the plane, watching the clouds float by, or rather watching the wing soar through them. It feels as though, because of the overcast Paris skies, I haven’t seen a blue sky in a long time. Although I’m high above the Atlantic Ocean, I suppose I find some solace in the fact that maybe, somewhere out there, someone might see blinking lights flash from the sky, and maybe that someone would be a kid, and maybe that kid would wave up at me…

It puzzles me that just a few minutes before leaving, I did not grab books that I haven’t read but should, but rather books I have read and find comfort in. This means I have no new material to keep me occupied while my computer’s battery dwindles to a measly 18%. I took The Catcher in the Rye, Catch 22 and The Great Gatsby. I started re-re-reading The Catcher in the Rye as the plane was taking off, but had to put it down, so that I don’t cry. When I know what’s going to happen in a movie or a book, it makes me cry even harder. There’s just something about Holden Caulfield wandering aimlessly around New York, going into bars, talking to taxi drivers, saying “boy” and “sort of” all the time.

In any case, as I was putting the book down, I noticed some writing on the last page. I was terribly confused until I read it.

“There is a train I know of

That never stops.

And sometimes I wish I could turn back the clocks.

I think I got on the wrong train.

These tracks are worn,

There is nobody in sight

And I’m so alone.

This train won’t stop no matter what it faces

Distance it will go, for billions of paces.

This train is fast, sometimes very slow,

But my problem is that I don’t know where to go.

The directions were so confusing, I should read them again.

Because this map of life has no guarantee

That you’ll end up where you want to be.”

I thought for a few minutes… I remembered writing this…On a train…I must have been 12?

This pleasant surprise got me to think of all my old writing projects I had given up on, so I looked through all my Word docs, and found what I thought was best to re-work – I found the courage to start finishing for once.

So I challenge you today, to finish what you’ve started (Easier said than done!)

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Sub Scholastic Life

Image

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Cello on back, school bags in arms, cold tired and tripping over badly paved cement I stumbled around Belleville.

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Paint – Gold & Women

I never cease to be fascinated by his works.

In Israel last April, I saw this painting:

gustav-klimt-fredericke-maria-beer

The endlessly beautiful women I see in almost every one of the painting makes me shudder.

Gustav Klimt.

When I’m stuck and can’t think of what to write, I just like to look at or listen to amazing things. Klimt’s paintings happen to be one of them.

 

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Dear sun.

Image

Dear Sun,

How I long to see your warm yellow face once more. I would like to worship you, the way the ancient Egyptians did, only I do not possess the strength to build elaborate palaces in the name of your glory. All I can say is, since your departure, all has gone wrong. Not in the sense that my life is terrible. On the contrary, I have a home, food to eat and a parent to welcome me home. What has gone wrong goes deeper and further than that. The fact is no matter how “good” you’ve got it – people have the right to be sad, to have hard times. That is why we need to have friends, why we create communities. There seems to be a stigma that we must all stand strong – stiffen up that upper lip and pretend there is no internal (or external) chaos. Whatever happened to acceptance?  Time and time again, I find myself talking to people who feel as though they have no one to talk to. As little involvement as you may have in this matter, sun, I blame you.  

Why are females expected to behave and “deal” with their problems in a certain way, while males in another? And why, in addition to this social pressure to not act “crazy”, must we keep these feelings to ourselves? There is no victim. We are all the victim of our own piggish, selfish humanity. Does that make sense at all? A little bit? 

I beg, someone please tell me. When it is dark outside and you feel your body taking control of your mind in a dark, dark, place, what do you do? We try not to be the drama queens the world deems us to be but it seems we try with no avail. Alas, where we live, my darling sun, there is no compromise or understanding. We are all too hurt for that. Those who attack the suffering are merely suffering all too greatly themselves. There is no one to blame but you, in all your inter-sexual beauty; it is only you who understands the psychological damage done by the weight of all the rocks beneath our feet.

Somewhere, there are a bunch of turtles and an elephant that are floating further and further away from us. I very nearly escape pieces of space junk flown at my face on my way to school.

I blame you, oh sun. For what else?

Firstly, oh dear, dear sun… Why make the air fares so high? Do you not want us to see our beloved? That is perhaps but one of the more frivolous crimes you have committed to make life difficult. I miss the ones I love so greatly and my chest tightens with every squeeze of my heart. Alone on an island of frogs and snails – only mother will sympathize. Or will she? Nobody can sympathize, because each and every one is on their own island. Oh the misery you cause.

Not to mention our obsession with this suffering! The human – the artist – seeks to find what makes the world suffer so (only because of your absence!) and over and over and over and over again we re-live our fears and traumas, just to discover we will die and all that pain (physical or moral) will disappear with the disintegration of our bodies.

You made us like this, beautiful sun. Your mixture of chemicals is no match for mine. Your manipulation of our misery is of course just revenge for the fact that you will die in five billion years. Does that make you sad? Worried? It worries me. Why does it worry me? It worries me because somewhere deep inside, I have become too attached to this piece of skin, bone and fat that carries my thoughts and my love. Where will my love go when you die?

I deviate. Who said I don’t have the right to cry? Until recently, my life was thrown at my face, and I had little or no say in the matter. The small pieces that constitute the “summary” of my being – race, gender, marital status of my parents, siblings, language- were not chosen by me. Did that make life easier or harder? (Or does it even matter?) In any case, now I must choose. I will be responsible for my choices and guide my life where I want it to go. This does not mean that the next tear that trickles down my face (wrinkled or tight) will be a cry of self-pity or misunderstanding that life gave me lemons and I was unable to make lemonade. It is simply a process that only you can understand, beautiful sun. Neither I nor the man can understand why we cry, yet we do. We feel

I suppose this messily constructed letter to you is (like so many artists have tried before) an exploration of why I feel the way I do. What exactly do I feel? Well, we have attached to many pointless and beautiful words to try to communicate their meanings and degrees of poignancy. But I know that you already know how I feel. You know how - not what. You also know that I am so happy to be living under your majestic shadow. 

So, in this array of uncertainty, I just blame you, and I love you – much as I would a parent, because I am indeed your child, who will vanish when you do.

Cordially,

A

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The Funeral Suits- Machines

Would we be happier without machines? Would we be any less distracted from our misery?

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I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! (With my books)

For some weeks now, I have found it difficult to write. Sitting in front of the computer and opening up Word for something other than homework seems to be a form of procrastination, a waste of time. With every attempt to write, my mind goes blank. I might try to jot down a few words, try to be original for a few sentences, and then press the delete button aggressively. “Why weren’t you born a genius?” goes through my head over and over again as spoiled little me is upset at not being intellectually gifted.

We are often being told in school to read more, to read read read. I completely agree and would love to do so, but time constraints seem not to comply with our wishes. Time and time again I am told by my friends “I never read. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just I have too much work to do instead.”

Personally, I simply love to read. There’s nothing else to it. But, like everyone, in recent years that passion has been thrust aside to make place for textbooks and assignments. Whatever happened to sitting down when you got home, getting a cup of coffee and reading the next 50 pages of an intriguing novel? There is nothing that can give you more knowledge and culture than reading, so why don’t we do it?

Similar to my struggle to keep up this blog, people all around me are struggling to keep up the things they love while they go about their lives, producing the work asked of them. People giving up ballet at a high level, running, flower arrangements, instruments – you name it!

Talking to a friend of mine the other day about how to keep up practicing our instruments during the school term, she playing the flute and I the cello, we both found the common struggle of time (not to mention the fact that in an apartment building you can’t make too much noise after dark).

After being scolded once again by my teacher for not having practiced, I finally took in her advice. So went to advice: You must play as soon as you get home. Every day, or close to every day. Even if it’s 10 minutes only, you must.

The first seven times I heard this I rolled my eyes. “I simply can’t” would run in my mind over and over again. Except, this time is worked. Not only has it worked, but actively expanding my passions and hobbies has increased my productivity levels and my happiness levels.

I don’t feel this advice applies to things such as reading, however for that, one may take the opposite approach and take 20 minutes to read every night before going to sleep, no matter how heavy the fatigue, or switching to reading on the metro at all costs rather than taking out the iPod or phone.

Hopefully this advice may help some of you in your pursuit to keep up your hobbies. Or, at the very least, maybe you found some solidarity in our worldwide struggle to do what we must and what love?

Much love,

Aili

(First of many posts in 2013)

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Christmas Without You

jiji christmas

Five minutes. Four. Three. Two. One.

Merry not Christmas!

Its that time of the year (actually it’s almost finished) that family and friends all gather round to exchange presents, sing, and drink late into the night. This mistletoe studded time of the year when all you friends post pics on Facebook those seemingly perfect dinners, and and although we are but a minority, not all have their family to support them through this dark time of year. So, for whatever reason you may have been somewhat lonely last night, you are not alone! And just remember that no matter what, even if physically you can’t be with your loved one, the love you share with them beats all the Christmas turkey’s in the world and beyond.

Because the holidays have so much hype, problems that occur during this period can feel all the more escalated. “Why now?” You may ask “What a shitty Christmas” you may say, aaaaaaaand it’s true. It ain’t gonna be such happy holidays, but behind all that superficial cheer and all those forced gifts, the new year is ahead, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a great one.

So let’s brace ourselves for a fabulous 2013! (I love the number 13)

I wish you all the joys and success.

A

Ps. Next year we’ll be together Mai :)

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Landfill Harmonic

Landfill Harmonic

A great friend of mine sent this video to me thinking I might like it (how right she was!)

8 years of ungrateful playing and I finally realize the value of music.

“I’m officially impressed”

Hope you check it out, it really inspired me…

Much love,

A

Passion Pit – Take A Walk

Honey it’s your son I think I borrowed just too much
We had taxes we had bills
We had a lifestyle to front
And tonight I swear I’ll come home
And we’ll make love like we’re young
And tomorrow you’ll cook dinner
For the neighbors and their kids
We could rip apart those socialists
and all their damn taxes
You’ll see I am no criminal
I’m down on both bad knees
I’m just too much a coward
to admit when I’m in need

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Here we Goooo

This is the beginning of a short short story I am planning to write. Warning it may be drastically altered in the future, but here it is for now. (On another note, all the fiction posted here is complete imagination, unrelated to my life…mostly)

“Ow! Owowowow! What are you doing?”

She stared straight at me with wholesome green eyes, shrouded by the cloud of smoke that was her black hair.

“Stay awake, won’t you? I can’t let you get kicked out of class again.”

“Just, keep the pinching to the minimum, okay? My mom’s going to think I’ve been beat up again.”

“Tom I think that’s the least of your problems.”

With those words she looked away from me, back to the shell of a man who was teaching us, for the millionth time the intricacies of Venn diagrams. The class stared back like a hoard of goldfish awaiting the bell to ring in signal of the beginning of freedom. Kathy started stabbing the desk with her compass.

“When. Am. I. Ever. Going. To. Need. This.”

It wasn’t a question, so I stayed silent and watched the dead flies accumulate in the corner between the wall and the door. The stench of laughter lifted through the room. Mr. X must have told a joke. I was sorry I had missed it. I had heard laughter can make you live longer, although I didn’t think much about any kind of future back then. 

I looked back across the room. Faces void of passion quizzically strained to comprehend the lesson, and other fatigued, lifeless faces failed to look back at me. Each presence in the room echoed an array of sufferings, some small and some endless, yet each at the epitome of adolescent bleakness. So, this must be it, I thought. This is what is real. The procession of nerves through chemical reactions in the brain, and the consequent reactions to those little electrical signals we like to call feelings.

At the time, I thought all would be void. I knew of the vague descriptions of happiness I was bound to feel, love being high up on that list, yet was well aware of the pointlessness, of the tired and fed up sentiment that was sure to pounce onto me in my older years. Kathy sustained me during high school. She had to – during those long sessions wherein we learned things such as “critical thinking” and write propaganda-style essays on “why the youth should not smoke” in health class. She kept me awake, she answered my calls whenever I needed to be distracted from the screams that followed the footsteps of Home, and I listened to her pain as she told me about her father, about her uncle and her bother. I guess some stuff just runs in the family. She was different though. I didn’t love her as much as needed her. Years of hatred built up in a society where the chauvinistic and ostentatious man is indeed the alpha male, created this sort of teenage monster I envisioned mostly only while I slept.

I never knew when it started, I guess. It just happened. The buildup of events seems to have conjoined in a series of messily pieced together court orders.

My mother’s teardrops dripping onto a dampening pillow.

My father leaving with a bottle of Jack in his massive left pocket, where he used to put the house key to come home.

I guess he forgot the key or something because he never came back.

My sister’s screams.

You just can’t make those little kids be quiet for a single second, can you?

The happiness disguised with dread I left the house for school.

Nights filled with questions that would only be answered when it was too late.

My own screams plumping my pillow with various levels of ache.

The school counselor telling me it is not my fault. That I must seperate myself from all this. That I must live my life without the shadow of everyone’s misery hanging over my overcast skull. That I am a drama king and my life shall never amount to anything because  I am a good for nothing boy without a dream without a father without grades without that English report that was due three weeks ago without a friend without someone to tell me I’m handsome without someone to kiss me to reassure me when the shadows from my closet look like they might attack me.

In the end I am part of a microcosm of entities, of frivolous facts and occurrences, that defines my existence, my character, my future. 

Honestly, this is all I have for now, but would love to get any feedback from you lovelies!

A

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Hello to my grand total of 0 viewers.

ImageI have decided to take this (generally) negative hint that this blog is awful and turn it into a positive factor in my life. Yes, nobody is reading this. I must face the facts with gusto and dignity: this will end up on cyberspace, more sure, but will most likely be read by no one.

HELLO?

ARE YOU THERE???

………………….

OK WELL THEN I’LL GET BACK TO YOU LATER.

 

This is sort of the conversation that went on in my head the other day. Nonetheless, my love for writing does nothing but grow, as the psychological pain of the lack of validation of talent haunts me (does it not haunt us all?). Along with this hoard of negative thought and feeling came a question. Why did I start this?

Well, the way I see it, my reasons divided into three small and (maybe obvious) categories.

a) Umm…who doesn’t have a blog nowadays? I am pro-innovation, pro-social media, am I not? Why not “go with the flow” along with the rest of my generation?

b) Won’t it help me with my writing skills? Won’t it help me develop the patience for writing on a daily basis that isn’t the scribble-here-and-there of a notebook, or the abandoned first page of something on word?

c) I am so sorry but I find myself at lack of coherent words. I don’t know what this feeling is, but as soon as I started designing the blog, writing for it, understanding how it worked, it began to consume a passion that had been deeply lodged in what some may call a soul. Somehow, writing for this unknown was as I said, validation. A form of completion, or adventure…

 

Dear nobody,

I leave you most likely with the feeling of indifference and lack of understanding for any part of this text. Forgive me, for I have begun to write for only myself…and nobody.

A

 

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I Think I Am A Monster.

 

*I do not own this image.*

I opened my eyes this morning, 6:10 am.

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

Final exam of the day: math. I looked up from the test.

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

I go home, having completely forgotten the memory of this line and poof!

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

For some reason, this happens to be the third time the opening line of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis conjures in my brain, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I happen to have this disease. I’ve had it for a number of years now, where I start the beginnings of books, like many many books, and end up not finishing them. It almost feels as though those first few lines, that opening description, the delicious moments prior to opening that cover the first time, are more pleasurable than the string of sentences that follow, and twirl to form a book. (Not to say there aren’t exceptions to this bad habit).

The metamorphosis was another one of such books, which, as I do with many others, I sheepishly turn the cover and cherish the overture. This one in particular stands out for me for several simple reasons. And although I have neither studied this novella nor completely and utterly understood the significance of Kafka’s words, I shall try my hardest to try to explain why this phrase cuts the heart so deeply.

I’m not a huge critique of society, nor of humanity, but are there not times, where one must, especially after our night of “unsettling dreams”, realize that the monster torturing this fantasy that consists of our sub consciousness is, in reality, ourselves? Ever look in the mirror and see just a (to put it kindly) a piece of vermin? Yes…a piece of useless organism, grotesque and monstrous? Of course we are not exactly “monsters”, but there are times when we see ourselves that way. Are we searching for a culprit? Someone to fill the shoes of guilt and blame we so inherently and consistently feel? And in this pursuit of finding this source of pain we finally see it to be ourselves? Perhaps that is the vermin we see ourselves changed into. It is the person we are looking to blame. We are a monster. We perceive ourselves to be a monster.

What strikes me beyond the slightly more obvious of simply observing our existence to be grotesque is the “sudden” part. Where Gregor Samsa wakes up to find he has been metamorphosed.  So why so sudden? Why did this transformation occur overnight? This is not a concept I can relate to. I have never woken up one day and perceived myself as a monster.

Maybe I have not lived long enough. Maybe that is why I find this overture so fascinating. Maybe it is because I know I must live my live slightly more to understand the true meaning of discovering myself to be vermin. A useless, unsightly piece of nothing.

***Disclaimer: IF you ever bother to read the rest of the novella, you’ll find out that it’s not about Gregor Samsa being a disgusting vermin but the people around him (his parents, etc.) who have uncompassionate and cold reactions.  The cleaning lady is the only one who still treats him like a human being.  That is the danger in your bad habit to read only the beginning…you miss the point.

 

 

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Animals Roar

Animals Roar

Petting Aliki
*meow meow*

XXYYXX – Fields

Just because music had changed, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

*Munch munch* Ahhh

I’m hungry. I want food. I’m buying it now. It is cold and this crepe au nutella creates a warm cocoon between my fingers.

*Munch munch* Ahhhh

The world always seems better, brighter, and more beautiful when your tummy’s full with a good meal. With all our stress and woes, breakfast lunch and dinner are a great time to let your troubles disappear. I’m not trying to say that eating your feelings away a smart choice, but let’s face it: a fun luncheon with a friend is the perfect way to forget about that horrible math test this morning, or about the b*tch of a boss, who won’t get off your back.

Food connects us. Families laugh over a meal, love, cry, fight, and bond… Cultures intertwine through culinary meshes: Oh, a little bit of Asian dressing, some kind of a Mexican themed side-dish…

With the winter season coming along (and temperatures falling around the low single digits for us Parisiens), a good meal is the perfect way to let go of that nagging feeling of distress that generally accompanies the cold, and simply enjoy life!

Studies in the past have shown that families who don’t eat together have a much higher chance of becoming distant and miscommunicating that those who eat together on a regular basis. Take my relationship with my mom, for example. We always had dinner together, and have always had a stable rapport, whereas I rarely dine with my father, allotting us only awkward silences and illusions of closeness when the time comes.

So in any case, remember: rejoice in the amazing food this winter has to offer us. Eat with your family, eat with your friends. Eat with that one person who makes you laugh like a complete fool. Look at your food, taste it….and *Munch munch*…Ahhh

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500

500 views.

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I can’t believe it.

500 views.

Although you are but a few to actually read this, and although half a thousand means the world to me while it may well be just peanuts to you, there is no amount of thanks I can express that would be sufficient for what I’m feeling.

Writing this blog has consumed me for the past few week and I’m pretty sure is the sole thing to keep me sane…

I only have you to thank for keeping my dream kindled, and hopefully, hopefully, one day 500 will become 5000.

Much love,

A

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Fighting the Sweatpants

Another tired, tired week. Let’s all get a nice cup of cocoa, sit on heavy duty blankets around the river and have a nice, relaxing chat. Who’s with me for this unfeasible task?

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s had the tough end of the stick this week. Winter approaches with each passing cloud, while our days get darker and darker. Our eyes become slightly accustomed to the blurry obscurity that speckles the morning rays.

Stress. Oh Lord there’s more stress. After handing in my Research Project this morning (200 words over the limit *sigh*) all I could think about was this weekend: cello practice Saturday, Japanese language proficiency test Sunday, homework for Monday and Tuesday and then, the cherry on top of the sundae, a week full of examinations. Oh boy, isn’t life a party?!

We’re so stressed out. It takes a toll on the mind and body and impacts the way we lead our lives. Did I mention I live in France? The place where  “Oh, it’s fine, I can do the essay, I  only have class from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm and then cello from 8:30 pm to 9:30. Of course I’ll have time! I’ll have a blast doing it too!” *Sarcasm noted*

Maybe I’m exaggerating. I’m one of those weird people who secretly likes all this work –it’s painful, but also liberating. But my 4 hour average of nightly sleep isn’t cutting it. Weight gain, stress levels, concentration span… Something’s not right. And it’s not just me.

I was told once that humans become more tired during the dark winter months, and should get more rest than any time of the year. Watching my fellow comrades and I take on the year while cracking our spines is no pleasant task. Teachers take no mercy on those who play instruments, on those with extra problems… We are a suffering whole, n’est-ce-pas?

So, while we make cracks at each other for not being able to conceive a cohesive sentence at 8 am, and fight the urge to show up in sweatpants and sports bra, let’s show some solidarity.

We will fight this winter with dignity!

Let’s have a roar for good spirits, after all, it’s holiday season. Shouldn’t we be having a good time?

xx

A

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Antony and The Johnsons – Hope there’s someone

A little older than what I usually publish, voices will chill down your spine.

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Look Ahead!

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A footprint left by one of the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission shows in the soft, powder surface of the moon. Commander Neil A. Armstrong and Air Force Col. Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. became the first men to walk on the moon after blastoff on July 16, 1969. (AP Photo/NASA) Source: AP

The other day, I heard someone say something that truly inspired me. Sure, it was’t the first time I had heard it, but right there, right then, when nothing felt certain, and my emotions were unstable, hearing this sentence was like an epiphany on a static day.

“If we don’t take a step now, we will never move forwards.”

This statement is valid for most people. We have the habit of getting “comfortable” and accepting where we are in our lives, or feeling as though there is no way to move our lives in a more positive direction.

But what if there were a way to move forwards (somewhat) easily? What would happen if we did take a step now?

Words are all dandy and beautiful concepts BUT, as I thought to myself only a few hours ago, “How do I make a first step? Where will it lead me?”

Moving forward is probably easy for me. 15, I take steps everyday to change, for example taking extra classes, or learning to presenting myself better. But none of these steps  has really made me do anything, or feel much better about myself.

This thought made me all the more determined to set out and tweak the little things that made life a drag — a chore rather than a feat.  To do so, I started by remembering all those little steps I had taken in the past and accomplished. Steps I had taken to improve and work on myself. I realized that a number of things had changed through my growth. I’m more confident, family issues weigh on me physically and emotionally less than before, and in general, a happier person. A stable person. Yet, one can state in any individual a number of traits that lead to your very own “mini depression”.

So how do I advise, now that, of course I am a world renown psychiatrist having done multiple field work studies on the advancement of a person’s mental health (haha) to move on? How can I advise to change your existence from an all around “my-life-is-horrible-I-am-alone-there-is-nothing-I-can-do” to “I-can-do it. There is another way. I am a better person than how I feel.”?

1) Remember, your steps can be small or big, but must be somewhat achievable.

2) Recognize and prioritize what is important for you to work on healthily (i.e. Grades at school, relationships, family or medical issues, or even just bad habits!)

3) Understand what you must do in order to achieve your large but doable goals (i.e. get a tutor, work extra hours, stop biting nails by wearing nail polish, read every night… whatever works for you)

4) Don’t care excessively about the judgement of others. The most important thing in a person’s life is their social network. Make sure it is healthy, because in my experience, being around good people is the most effective step to becoming a well rounded person.

5) Never ever say “this is the way things are. I’m not meant to change it”. The fact is, if we don’t take one step now, we will never move forwards.

What I have most recently done to improve my life, is in fact this very blog! Having  finally made a small step to materialize a life-long dream makes me infinitely complete, and for that, I must thank you for having helped me take that step.

So keep in mind — whether you’re out to save the world or out to improve your amazing self, take that first step, because it’s all it takes to move forwards.

Much love,

A

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I Use Hairspray To Make My Brain More Attractive.

My blood boils over and I try to reconcile with my Good Fortune.

Arabs in the east, fighting war in the heat

And I in the west, breathing on my toes and

Holding in bloated stomach of Israeli pride.

 

Music and music run through my veins

As casting aside the vote in a patriotic world

We sing

You and I and at last there are NO boundaries.

 

You look like my enemy. What does this mean when both

You and I

Safe in privileged Paris popsicles, sleeping we rest our old hearts

And fingers.

And think. And learn of a world we do not know when all the while

We make insignificant war with our neighbor.

 

Suicide, suicide. We all inherently kill ourselves

Sick, lonely, with disputable heritage, or skills.

 

I use hairspray

To make my brain more attractive

I use makeup to see better.

What do you want? To torture me, or those whom you love?

I don’t care anymore.

I don’t care because our priorities have gotten lost along the way.

 

S.O.S

Save our souls. The navy I once heeded I hear of no more.

Young girl, young girl. I’m not sure what Nabokov meant

But virgin you know more of the world than you wish.

Nothing is hidden. S.O.S. S.O.S.S.O.S

 

I use makeup to see better,

Hairspray to make my brain more attractive.

I shut your mouth to scream.

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CocoRosie – Smokey Taboo

Obscure melody, violins and haunting voices, beats and calming echoes.
What better than this to transport you to a calmer world?

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Daddy and I

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in their own way” -Tolstoy

It seems every family has some sort of dysfunction, be it divorce, abuse (physical and mental), adultery, death, eating disorders, sicknesses…the list is three miles long!

I’ve had the good fortune to not have endured the hardest end of the stick, but nevertheless, we are all dubbed “dysfunctional.” These things we have in our life, are dramatized, hidden, avoided and in the end, we are expected to get over it. After all, that’s life isn’t it?

I don’t think I’m the only one who has said “Getting over IT is not as easy as it looks.” Even on Yom Kippur, some nine months after the death of my grandmother, a holocaust survivor, my own mother was bawling, still fighting the overwhelming emotions of having a loved one gone. I sometimes have told her: “It’s time you get over it.” But lately I’ve realized that this is something I perhaps cannot ask her to do.

Death is a very obscure concept for me. Hardly ever having to face it, I have no idea how to react in the face of it. My reaction to the news? A nervous giggle and smile, I’ve been told this is a common shock reaction when you’re body does not know how to appropriately process grim news. My next step, in such a case as death is suppress suppress suppress. Therefore, I make myself believe, to my relief that I have “gotten over it.” Sometimes, I must say, my method works, such as during fights, when some half hour after the argument, I have almost no recollection of it taking place. No passive aggression, no comment.

Nonetheless, there are cases in which suppression, ignoring, whatever will never make the problem go away. One will never be able to “Get over it”. I believe it is in these rare occasions where we get the “thing” factor. Everyone has their “thing”. Maybe even two, if you lucky! Haha.

I can now understand why it takes so long for, for example, my mother to “get over” her 86 year old mother’s death. What is my “thing”, or problem? The picture may a hint… More on this topic to come, hopefully,

Notice any interesting way people deal with their problems? Comment are very much welcomed!

A

Sorry, can’t get over it.

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20 Morning Wishes

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“Sing me to sleep, sing me to sleep. I’m tired and I want to go to bed” – The Smiths

Every morning I wish…

1) My alarm clock wasn’t so damn loud and scary

2) My bed weren’t so warm when I had to go

3) There was a hot cup of coffee/cocoa waiting next to my bed

4) It weren’t so dark outside (for early winters)

5) I didn’t bump into everything on my way to the bathroom

6) I had finished my work from the day before

7) The train ride was more comfortable so I could sleep

8) I didn’t have to clean the cat litter

9) We had a car

Every morning I wish…

10) My bag wasn’t so heavy

11) My face weren’t so swollen 

12) I could magically always be on time

13) The subway weren’t so loud so I could hear my iPod better

14) I had someone to talk the subway with every morning

15)  Free food sampling places dotted the way to where I was going (for hungry mornings)

16) Make up would always look perfect

17) Those jeans were a little less tight

18) I didn’t have to have PE (only Wednesdays)

19) I had gone to bed earlier

20) I could just STAY IN BED

‘Comment with your morning wishes!

A

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Desire

This is Under Your Spell, by Desire. It was in the Drive soundtrack.
This is a perfect song for all those that may be confused about love.
“Hey…I was wondering, do you know the difference between love and obsession?
“No!…”
“And what’s the difference between obsession and desire?”
“I don’t know…”
“Do you think this feeling can last forever?”
“You mean like forever ever? forever ever? forever ever? forever ever? Sure!”
xx
A

Name the feeling.

I am…

Angry. Nervous. Sad. Happy. Isolated. Lonesome. Desperate. Exuberant. Depressed. Under the weather. Paranoid. Afraid. Pissed. Ticked off. In love. Nostalgic.

Wow. Has it ever occurred to you what a wide range of emotions we feel? The subtleties, barely put into words, control us, and can cast a shadow on our personality.

Have you ever been told “You’re such an optimistic person. It must be great to feel happy all the time!” or “Why are you so negative? What’s the matter with you?” Well, I’ve been told both.

Are these labels, these words that have been put to feelings, a good thing to have? Ruby Wax, who was featured on a Ted Talk explained how already emotions were very complicated for the human brain to deal with, but with the coming of language, those feelings got names and made it even more complex and hectic for the brain to cope with them.

What I wonder is: Are these emotions what make life so beautiful, or what destroys it?

All in all, I think it is beautiful we have so many levels for what a feel. Although there is a fine balance between letting experiencing feelings from letting them define you. Take for example, when I was little, every one always said I was the “happy one”. Then, for a very long time, I felt as though I would not be able to express feelings of sadness or of anger when I needed to, because I had to comply with what I was always told. It began to suppress myself as I was defined as being “happy” – could I be anything else?

You must life every thought and feeling to the fullest, up to the point where you cannot return to a neutral ground, because although strong, consuming feelings are what makes life beautiful and precious, it is also what can hurt and destroy us.

Maybe you have another opinion? Feel free to share! xx

A

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Sun Glitters

Closing my eyes and listening to this takes me into a trance. I think each person will think about something else, something personal.
Enjoyxx

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We aren’t close enough.

Maybe someone lives far away from you. Maybe you live far away from some one. In any case, it may be hard for you and a dear old chap of yours to talk.

Living in Paris and being far from my family all over the world, I’ve come to accept seldom seeing my loved ones, but it wasn’t an easy process. When times get rough, and you miss your sister or your mother or friends or lover, think of these steps.

1) Phone calls are boring. Talk once in a while, but don’t talk too much about your own life, because chances are it’s boring too. Call on a regular basis, but make it something fun!

2) Remember all the horrible things you can’t stand about that person. We tend to remember the good things, so just think “I can’t deal with it when (insert name) does or says (insert action or words). Whenever we’re together I go insane.”

3) Share links and things you find interesting.  It’s a great way to show you’re thinking of each other while not getting on each other’s nerves and getting so close the point where you miss that person even more.

4) If you’re upset about your great uncle’s brother’s cousin’s daughter who lives in Peru now and you can’t talk to, don’t be. Concentrate on the people around you.

5) Make plans to see each other. Looking forwards to a date when you can see them is a great way to keep spirits going!

6) If there is a problem reaching that person by telephone, write letters. It’s annoying, and I know many people of my generation have never had to send a letter, but it’s a good way to maintain correspondence.

That’s it for now, if you have any more tips on dealing with the separation between you and a loved of, feel free to comment below!,

Also, it always get’s better. Take my word for it, sometimes the distance is a good thing!

A

 

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You, Me and Disasters

One thing that has struck me recently, it the enormous amount of compassion and thoughtfulness we have for each other when it comes to natural disasters. To give a relative example, for months after the earthquake and tsunami that struck Sendai, Japan, people asked me if my family was okay. When I got to school, someone asked me “Is your family alright? I’m so sorry.” I even called my Dad to make sure everything was okay! Some Japanese exchange students arrived just days after the earthquake hit, and we were specifically notified to be sensitive to their freshly traumatic experience.
My family is in Tokyo, for the most part, so they were fine, but even weeks later, if I met someone and they found out I was Japanese, I was met with the “Oh I hope your family was okay throughout the chaos.” This remembrance for the hardships of others seems to be a phenomenon that glorifies and partly defines us as humans.
There are countless examples: 9/11, the bombings in Lebanon… In a sad way, they bring us together.
Hurricane Sandy hit New York and a large section of the east coast, and although I haven’t been living in the US for many years, old babysitters from NEW ZEALAND were asking if we were alright. With social media, emails and so on, it is much easier for us to connect with one another and is perhaps one of the reasons that people are more thoughtful of each other. I often see, when the world is confronted with some disaster or another some kind of posting that goes along the lines of “I hope you’re all okay in (insert country or region) and you’re safe from the (insert disaster). Much love xx”
Not only is there this method of checking up on our acquaintances, but sites are always immediately set up. You can search your last name “Niimura” and see who is in a refugee setup, who is safe, who has been declared dead or missing.
It’s a wonderful new(ish) development, I think, and as our world grows, hopefully so does our compassion and remembrance for one another.
If you’ve ever had someone care about you while going through a hard time, comment with your experience!
A

LETS BE FRIENDS

So there’s been a question that I’ve been trying to avoid recently. Actually, it’s more of a type of question. It goes something like “So what kind of music do you listen to?  or “What books do you read?”
This is a type of question maybe some members of the youth would associate with being a hipster, as in, if you listen to a certain genre of music (namely music that is supposed to be “underground” or “indie”) then you are immediately accepted, and any other genre viewed as “commercial” or “mainstream” is immediately rejected.
Now, it is obvious that when getting to know one another, we try to find a common bond. It makes us feel special and maybe connected. But when does this become useful and when does it become plain annoying?
Obviously, I’m just a youngster who doesn’t know The Answer, but I there is, in theory no harm in asking, the question. It’s valid, and interesting. On the other hand, it does bring about a certain amount of discomfort.
Everyone wants to be liked, and those who don’t “have a problem”.
SO, what if we were able to express our likes and dislikes, and thoughts without being so judged? Ever find yourself think “OMG I LOVE HARRY POTTER TOOOOO WE SHOULD BE FRIENDS”. or “Ew he likes Harry Potter?….That’s kind of pathetic.”
Now, I realize that it is only human nature to judge. Countless times I have discussed the subject with my peers and the conclusion usually amount to that fact that judgment facilitates things, but it is not always accurate.
If I like Belle and Sebastian, and you do too, do you think we share an automatic connection? What if I liked Bach and you didn’t…does that mean I should think less of you?
I realize this subject has been done before, but I find that it is a question very prominent in my day. and deserves contemplation.
Should we criticize music snobs? Maybe you are one yourself, maybe I am one myself. I completely understand them, and sometimes identify myself as a music snob, yet, I also find myself disliking them…
There seems to be a low level of tolerance in the world. We see it everyday. Racism, sexism, etc. BUT why does it extend to such high levels in the pop culture world? I’ve heard people say “People who liked Twilight are pathetic.” But I doubt any of them would be able to form an intelligible argument as to WHY. and WHY IT MATTERS.
Maybe it’s an epidemic, where we are so obsessed with putting each other down, or sounding cool, that what one likes is immediately but onto some level or scale of “coolness”.
Maybe I’m just being a hypocrite, but in the end, aren’t we all?
A

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What does your pen say about you?

Can the choice of pen of an individual affect his/her work?

I’m not sure if there are other fanatics like me out there in cyberspace, but when choosing pens, I take a torturous long time to choose which one I want. After all, it may be with that pen that I compose the greatest novel of all time, am I right?
In any case, the thickness of the ink, the darkness, the grip of the pen between your forefinger and thumb… they all factor into my purchase. With thin pens, I tend to write slanted, small and long, like Virginia Woolf. With thicker, lighter pens, I tend to write more bubbly, larger, and straighter. The correlation? I’m not sure, but perhaps with fancier pens I take to believing I’m a great writer on the 19th century and want to imitate their style, and in class, with those horrible yet wonderful 4-color pens I take my notes with, the letters are irregular, equipped for writing speedily. Unfortunately, this note taking writing may be counterproductive, as I can barely recognize the words myself! Then, there’s the girly, teenage handwriting (which I rarely use anymore) that looks beautiful, but the effort! I look upon my comrades with envy – how do they make the letters so round and intelligible? They underline everything important, heck, they HIGHLIGHT their notes. Perhaps that is what differs the meticulous female from the female whose life is wreaking havoc. On the other hand, my life does not quite wreak havoc.
Another point on handwriting: The difference between the male handwriting in the US and France is frightening. It was impressive to come here and find the male handwriting so beautiful and perhaps even nicer than that of the females. I had grown into the stereotype that “boys have suckish handwriting.”
One also wonders…Is there a genetic correlation between family member and their handwriting? My mother is a lefty. My sister is a righty. They have almost EXACTLY the same writing style. I am able, as well, to imitate to almost sheer perfection the same style, which I have not seen coming from any other individual who has not come from my kin.
Why do you write the way you do? Have you been inspired to curl your “y”s the way I was by my first grade teacher?
A
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Transportation

I like to think Paris as the summit of ideal transportation. Well, this is perhaps a slight exaggeration. Strikes, delays, bomb threats, and extensive pushing as we are all thrust into a metal tube like sardines are all inconveniences of the “system”. BUT let’s take into account that trains arrive every few minutes, that every station is walking distance to anywhere you want to go and every single place is accessible within 45 mins.

This week, I started a new adventure as a bus taker! Wow, my life is exciting…

Well, after years of rarely taking the bus after a couple frightening experiences of taking the wrong one and ending up far outside of Paris, I began to study the map once again.

I enjoy looking out of windows, having those precious moments where you think “Wow, I really am in a great city.”. Those experiences are rare to inexistent when you are stuck underground, surrounded by the homeless.

I found out that the route to the library, which I have indeed been frequently this vacation, it much quicker by bus.

As soon as I walked on, I was struck by the difference in people who took it. After a few days of observing the demographics of the bus, I have states that there are 3 different “genres” of people on the bus. Please, don’t take me for an ageist or a racist or anything, I am simply observing demographics! Well, the first and perhaps most prominent persons on the bus are the old. Oh my! Ever wonder, as you walk around where all the old people in your city are? Here’s the answer: They are on the BUS.

The second, are people of diverse ethnicity. Although ethnicity is common underground, it is only my observation that there happens to be slightly more in the bus, of course depending on the line you’re taking.

The third, I have classifies as “other”. Babysitters, or girls like me, fed up with the metro. Maybe a white middle aged mom, or some cranky babies.

So, I leave you with frank and perhaps not very credible information on the Parisian bus demographics. Might I add, once I propose to take the bus, most friends answer with – “But I’m not an old person.” I suggest to RATP that perhaps they should restart publishing adverts for the youth, after all, they do move around a lot.

What an interesting blog…the BUS. Although, if concerned me, hopefully it will concern some of you!

A

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