A question of when: Terrorist Attacks, 28 dead in Istanbul

*Breaking News: 10 28 Dead in Turkey, 20-60 injured in Turkey’s largest airport, Istanbul*

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If you haven’t seen the news yet, a terrorist just blew themselves up Instanbul’s main airport. What the actual fucking fuck.

I went to google to look up “Terrorist attacks in 2016” and as I scrolled down the Wiki page my eyes widened… until I realized I was only looking at January.

It is hard to say how many people have been killed by acts of terror this year. Where do you draw a line, differentiate? Isis attacks? Mass death caused by suicide bombings? A crazy lone wolf with a gun and a mental illness?

As the world still reels from the Orlando club shooting, another headline fills up the Social media feed. And what can I do? Change my profile picture to a flag overlay of the country where this next atrocity has occurred? Express my anger on Twitter, Facebook, on this blog? Sit glued to the unfolding news story as the horror of a city, of a nation unfolds before us? That media self flagellation of speculation and talking to witnesses who escaped near death?

Security measures get tighter and tighter at airports for those of us flying, and yet we can’t stop assholes from blowing themselves up where the families say goodbye, where loved ones wait for reunions.

I travel a lot, and my anxiety grows with each flight, every new famous monument we visit. We were in Paris two days before the attacks in November 2015. It felt close, WAY too close.

But it’s not just airport and iconic monument targets.

It has been a year and a half since my cousin was held as a hostage in a cafe in Sydney. Just a regular day where she and her friend were having a coffee and a catch up. My cousin Julie walked out of that cafe. Her friend Katrina did not.

Why?

If we #prayforturkey does that make it so that these attacks will never happen again? Did it change anything  when we #prayedforparis?

There is a heartbreaking video that makes me bawl my eyes out, of a french father explaining to his young son that they don’t have to leave Paris, because they have flowers to keep them safe. It is here, and as touching and inspirational as that video is, it is gut wrenching when you realize that child is growing up in a post 9/11 world where terrorist attacks are the norm, and it is not a question of if, it is a question of when.

 

 

Sweetpea is Dead

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My name is Paris, and I am not your “Sweetie”, “Sweetpea” or your “Honey”. I am a twenty seven year old adult (as far as you know) that works near you.

There is only one man who is allowed to call me Sweetie, and he wears ugly crocks, speaks bad french and gave me half of my last name (love you Dad).

So why is it, that I find myself being pet-named on frequent occasions, by dudes (and its 99% of the time dudes) I barely know? It is beyond frustrating, rude and very very unprofessional. Haven’t these fuckers watched Mad Men? We don’t want to be cute-sied, we want us to be taken FUCKING seriously. EVERY time some rent-a-suit calls me “Sweetie” I feel my Spice-Girl raised Girl Power soul shrivel and cringe inside. I am woman hear me ROAR.

Why is this happening?

I look down at myself today. Black jeans, black top, side braid, wedges. Nope, as I suspected, not wearing something that could have me be mistaken for a small child on a swing with a broken ice cream cone.

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My attitude? Friendly, bubbly, outgoing. Not ditzy.

Okay. Maybe I’m being sensitive, maybe I should be careful not to fall town the Tumblrina rabbit hole of getting everyone to check their privilege (BOW TO THE POWER OF MY ALL ENCOMPASSING OVARIAN FEMALE MIGHT) but really, I mean really.

Do I look like a Sweetie? Does Madonna get called fucking Sweetpea before she opens a jar of jam with her brickhard thighs? Does Hilary Clinton get “Honey”?

Obama: Hi Honey, just letting you know I’m going to endorse you for president okay pumpkin?

How come I never hear blokes I’ve worked with getting pet names (unless you work in Australia and count ‘Cunt’ as an affectionate pet name)?

It boggles my mind that a man would think its totally fine to call me sweetie, but would NEVER EVER call someone of the same age, and position, different gender, a cute-sy name.

And I wish I could say, “oh its just the older generation, they don’t know any better” but no. No it isn’t. Guys very barely my senior do this. Have they forgotten my name? Is it like when you call someone “Buddy” because you can’t remember and it has been too long and you are afraid to ask?

Thankfully I am not alone in my frustrations. There are plenty of articles online claiming that these “terms of endearment” are actually subtle ways of belittling or condescending strong women in the work force, and urging professional ladies to put their foot down.

Suggestions for combating Sweetie-itis seem to run along the “just say politely do you mind not calling me that” lines, which seems way less dramatic than what I was thinking: morphing into a huge psychotic bitch that no one would dare condescend to and spritzing people with bear mace until they learn.

Sweetpea is dead people. Now, there is only Zuul… I mean Paris.

 

 

5 things I thought would be different when I left home

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It has been almost 10 years since I left home and went out into the wild, scary, unknown world of adulthood living. I feel like I was truly and utterly underprepared for what was out there, and had I known, I’d have pulled a jew-dude (TM) and stayed at home until I was thirty.

But just like with black, there’s really no going back once you have fled the familial nest.

I just had so many misconceptions on what I thought living away from my parents would look like.

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  1. “I can eat whatever I want!”
    Oh, oh…ohhh how I dream of the lovingly prepared home cooked meals of yesteryear. So angry and angsty was I, when a meal was NOT EXACTLY what I felt like eating, but instead an equal measure of vegetables, meat and grains. MEAT! Do you know how expensive that shit is?! What I would give, to have two middle aged people cooking for me three times a day…
  2. “I can stay up SO late”
    Want to know what I did Friday, Saturday and Sunday night this past weekend? Binge watched The Wire (because I’m about 15 years behind in my television programming at this point). I am a morning person, so around 10/10.30pm I start to fade fast. I used to think living away from my parents would be sooooooo wicked because I could just drink and party and watch movies all night long…Turns out my favourite thing these days is sleep. Yeah. I’m pretty cool actually.

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  3. “I do what I want!”
    So long as it doesn’t cost money. Seriously. Sometimes over the last few years I have had all of the freedom and none of the money (funemployed/between contracts) and other times I have had some of the money and none of the time (J.O.B). When can I have all of the money and all of the freedom? (right…right…when I rob a bank Oceans Eleven style…got it…have you guys SEEN that movie? It just came out recently in 2001)
  4. “I can date whoever I choose!”
    Remember when your parents hated that guy you were dating in High School and you were like IHATEYOUWEAREINLOVEyoudon’tunderstandmeGETOUTOFMYROOM! Yeah well. Turns out they were right. Man when I was single, I would have given my left ovary (she’s the gimpy one I suspect) for my parents to be hovering over my shoulder as I swiped like: “No. No. No. Yes Paris. No he will have a weird thing for feet. No. No. What about that nice boy from the coffee shop?” It turns out I just wanna date guys that my parents will like and not weirdo’s with spider-man face tattoo’s. Go figure.
  5. “I’m going to get a creative job and YOU CAN’T STOP ME!”
    In grade 12 when picking degree time came, my mother said to me: “Do a degree with the name of a job in it” and I laughed in her face as I applied for my Bachelor of Arts. I guess, if you were to squint your eyes, choke yourself a bit until no oxygen went to your brain and then smoked some meth – you could really consider my whole life one elaborate “Art”. “So what do you do Paris?” oh me? I’m Art. Yeah I studied it at University. In reality, life has been interesting in the working world (#noregrets) but I definitely find myself veering more towards the corporate world as I see all my fellow creatives struggling and think fucccckthatshit. Oh you live in a basement apartment with your sibling, sister and co-business partners and you work in a deli 3 days a week but your new album just dropped on myspace? Cool dude, Imma go over here and work on my excel skills though….

So many people I know have babies now. Literally holding an infant a week ago and thinking: “this adorable squishy baby girl is going to slam a door in your face some day.”

I wish I could go back ten years and slap some sense into my 17 year old self. Eat my free meals, get my free laundry, and remind myself that unfortunately…your parents were right. Uh! Gross.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…or maims you horrifically for life

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I like that saying: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”(WDKYMYS). It sounds good, it’s inspirational. It makes you think “Heck, things were tough/awful/soul destroying – but I’m still here!!”

People have appropriated that saying into songs (looking at you Kelly Clarkson), put it on T-shirts, tattooed it on their bodies, put it over pictures of sunsets and posted it on each others walls when their friends have been dumped by jerk’s named Derrick (fuck you Derrick you meanie!)

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I like the expression, but I don’t know if I always agree with it.

Because sometimes things kill you a little bit inside and they make you feel weaker, they throw off your game.

Was Leo’s character stronger at the end of the Revenant after he got fucked up by a bear, watched his son get murdered, was left for dead and then had to crawl through the snow and shit of 1800’s Canada to Murder my future ex-husband/baby-daddy Tom Hardy’s character? (Oh yeah, spoiler alert… but seriously if you haven’t seen that movie yet get your shit together – it was nominated for and lost best picture like 5 months ago).

I mean…I guess he was stronger – like how calluses get stronger on the tops of your feet. But he was also weaker because he had lost his humanity, and he was a murderer murderer and he was gross (like a callus – see how I tied all that together? Yay Creative Writing Masters degree)

I wonder if people use WDKYMYS as a way to excuse awful situations they don’t know how to extricate themselves from?

I’d consider myself a strong person who has faced some challenges. Would I exchange them for an easy life where some of the shitty things didn’t happen to me? Yes of course! I’m not insane. Faced with two choices: an easy road and a hard, bush-basher of a path, I think most of us would choose the easy option.

But life doesn’t work like that, and there are plenty of things that will try to throw you off the plans you’ve made, a death in the family, a financial set-back, a painful divorce, an unexpected illness.

So I propose a re-word. “What doesn’t kill you makes you different” – because not all things make you stronger, and thats okay too.

You are not a failure if you come out of a near-death-esque experience and think: “well that fucking sucked” and you’re not stronger.

End of Thought.

 

8 observations for 8 days in LA

“Bus” is a bad word
The bus in LA is incredibly affordable. If you are fortunate to be near a major bus route (which I am) then the $1.25 USD price tag is very reasonable when you consider that this mode of transit covers a serious stretch of space. In Toronto where the Buses/Streetcars/Train is the same price ($3CAD) whether you are going 16 stops or 2 – I appreciate this.

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And yet, everybody seems to hate on the bus. The ones I have taken have not been dirty or (too) full of crazy people. As someone who has primarily lived in 3 major cities with awesome Public Transit, I’m kind of stubborn when it comes to a city that deliberately spreads itself out and doesn’t provide an easy, cheap way to get around.

It’s like you WANT me to have to drive man, and I now I have to do the opposite.

Streets to not walk down
LA is somewhere that has places you can walk, but you definitely need to drive to those places. Like the Griffith Observatory, or cute neighbourhoods. But if you are a clueless visitor like me, you might be under the impression that you can just walk where ever, from point A to point B.

Turns out, LA is a city where a nice street you are walking on, can turn into a scary street just by turning a corner or walking the wrong direction. And its not like you can google: “way home that will be murder and rape free” or “dangerous streets of LA” (Oh shit you totally can for neighbourhoods…maybe that could be an app? Like Google maps but for women just walking minding their clueless bizness?)

Neighbourhood City
Where you live in LA can say a lot of things about you…how rich you are, how cool you are, how artistic you are, if you have a family…and people can tell this simply by the way you answer the question: “So which part of LA are you in?” (By the way my answer tells people that I definitely found my place on craigslist and had no idea about this neighbourhood elitism)

Can I get that Vegan, Gluten-free, Skinny, Non-soy, Organic, Homogenous, Air-Free, Non GMO, and can you tap-it-gently-three-times-with-your-two-index-fingers and whisper “Nancy Noooo!” into the cup before you it?
Do you have a food thing? Like, you can only eat plants that come from a field planted on the west side of a mountain? Good news, LA will cater to you – no matter how ridiculous your request (you weirdo).

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The traffic is the new weather
In other major cities, the weather is a nice safe topic to chat about with strangers. Hong Kong and Sydney:  “So hot today” or “Crazy rain!”, Toronto: snow (lack there of, the crazy amount, the consistency, texture) but here in LA where the temperature remains fairly consistent (not a great conversation starter…”still perfect out there!” “yep”) the Los Angeleans talk about how busy the roads are/were and how crazy traffic is.

We get it, its bad.

And to that I say, “yeah well… maybe if more people took the bus…”

You can survive without a car
The rise of ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft make it super easy to not have a car here, so long as you have a phone with the internet and the app, and a credit card. Parking is a bitch anyway (it takes five minutes to understand the signs themselves) and although I can drive (in theory: passed my test, haven’t driven since) I honestly think having less cars on the roads will also ease traffic issues (also I am terrified of the aggressive driving, but also the noble thing). Plus with Uber Pool and Lyft Line, (carpooling) its very very economical so you can save your dollars for Gluten and Fun free beer (barf).

Everybody wants to tell you their story
Ride sharing these past 8 days have introduced me to people I would never have a ten minute conversation with. And everybody out here seems to have an interesting story. Maybe its because it is a city built on overnight fortunes and aspirational living, but no one has yet said “oh i do this one thing and i’m pretty comfortable” nope. Everyone gives you their headline “I am a song writer but I want to get into modelling” “I work at a country club but I want to get a union job at Frito-Lay” “I work for a startup that is manufacturing Hemp pain relief for Dogs and Horses” (seriously…seriously)

And Last but not least:

The Homeless Situation
I hate to get all serious at the end of this frivolous blog but with the good, sometimes you get the bad, and here it goes…

I’ve travelled all over the world and I have never seen a worse homeless situation than I have in Los Angeles. I had heard of “Skid Row” or “Tent City” but I was not mentally prepared for the reality – which is, there is a population of people living on the streets of one of America’s largest Cities, with views of the millionaires living up in the “hills”. According to this article, the population of the homeless has grown by 12%… Forty Four thousand homeless people living in the city. That figure is gobsmacking, and when I have asked people living here (immigrants and born&breaders) what the ACTUAL fuck is going on, there has been a general shrugging of shoulders, or a gentle shaking of the head and light tsk-ing. Apparently it is well known that psychiatric hospitals discharge patients with one-way bus tickets to LA/California AND there are red tape laws that prevent young homeless people from staying in shelters that house adults.

It is all kinds of fucked up that I’ve seen gold bentley’s cruising down the streets and walked past homes that look like they are bigger than every house I’ve ever lived in put together ever (aka OBSCENE wealth), and then walked past people with wheelie bags and trolleys living under a tarp on a street corner.

Maybe, maybe I could ignore it if I was in any other foreign country. But I can’t because this is America. This is the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. This is (traditionally) the country that everybody looks at, to get a piece of that “American dream”.

And the reality is stark. It is in your face aggressively there. And it isn’t easy for me to understand how anyone can get to the point in their mind where this is normal.

There are so many wonderful things about LA, and I am having such a great time in California, but the Homeless situation is something that you may never know about unless you come here and see it with your own eyes. It is very, very distressing, I don’t know how it can be addressed or fixed in a country that seems to be so angrily against the “socialist ideas” of somewhere like: Canada or Australia say.

Being new to a place gives you a unique perspective – things that become every day, or things that you don’t notice after a while are still very obvious, and funny or sad to me.

LA is like no where I have ever been before – it is a city of 18.5 MILLION PEOPLE, 270,000 Millionaires and 44,000 homeless people.

So far, I’m not too sure what to think – it seems like the kind of place you might fall in love with passionately, or hate with a vengeance.

Time will tell.

 

My Lighthouse

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Are you a human adult?

Do you find yourself unable to sleep some nights (even when you are utterly exhausted) because the great whirring globule inside your skull has chosen this exact moment to throw all of the personal challenges you have ever considered or thought about- into your face?

Maybe you trip down the rabbit hole of “what the fuck am I doing with my life?”

You wouldn’t be alone with that – almost everybody I know, childless or childful (is that a word…?) Teenagers, Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties, Sixties… everybody is trying to figure out what they’re doing, why they did what they did, and what they are going to do next. All the while maintaing an immaculately maintained and crafted image of themselves on Social Media.

You think its just you?

I will be the first to admit that the last ten years have been a colliding merry-go-round of lucky breaks, happenstance and the ability to fall upwards.
From the University I attended, to the country I now live in, to the jobs that I have had – it’s all been one big “OKAY SURE!?” + tears.

I’ve had my goals and dreams, but while they remain a lighthouse on the coast, I’ve happily gone down into employment mermaid lairs and boarded pirate ships that have been more than diverting. (Are you staying comfortable with all the Metaphors?)

 

It is really hard to sail directly for the lighthouse when there is an unpredictable ocean (life) you are riding on. I am far from easy-going, but to avoid sinking, I’ve tried to take the waves as they come – and yet I see the lighthouse on the shore and it gives me pangs to see that some days it feels like I am further away from it than I was yesterday. That drives me crazy – especially when you feel like you’ve rowed as hard as you possibly could and it doesn’t make a difference – the lighthouse feels like an impossible target.

Still following?

For a long time now I’ve struggled to be honest about what it is I’m even sailing towards – because for a long time, floating at all seemed like the greatest achievement (hey look at me I’m on a boat and I haven’t crashed into the rocks!)

At 2am, for whatever reason, my brain finally decided to admit to itself what it is we’re aiming for and here it is:

I want to be a writer.

I’ve spent the last month funemployed and in that time (amongst the watching of numerous fail and cat videos) I buckled down and wrote a screenplay that has haunted me for four years. A story that I started and abandoned with no real deadline.

On Friday last week, I finished the first complete draft, 83 pages. And while my bank account reminds me that I need to get a real job again ASAP, I’m prouder of myself for those garbage 83 pages than I have been in anything for a long time.

And all the noise and splashing and the disquieted seas feel calmer now than they have in years because I don’t feel like an idiot for saying I want to be something – I AM something. I used to feel ashamed to admit that I wanted to be a writer because outside of this blog and the witty Facebook statuses I craft – I hadn’t written anything. I felt like a fraud with my Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I’d never in a million years have answered “What do you do?” with “I am a writer” because what a fucking fraud!

Now that I can admit what my goal is, all of the jobs and the career I’ve been carving – make sense. Because silly me – you don’t sail towards a lighthouse, that isn’t what a lighthouse is for. A lighthouse is a navigational tool. It helps guide you through the rocky sea and warns you of danger.

 

Thats what my brain was thinking about at 2am – that maybe you don’t ever reach your lighthouse – but knowing what it is and how it affects your decisions, is enough to see the path. Isn’t that we’re always looking for? Patterns and paths that make us feel like our lives aren’t haphazardly thrown together?

Find your lighthouse and then sit back and enjoy the boat ride.

13 things I have learned over 13 flights in 5 weeks

  1. Push the bounds of Hand Luggage
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    Everyone has these mini wheelie dealie bags these days. They are massive and some are so crammed there is no way they fit in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you (they will check it for free at the gate if they are anticipating too much hand luggage in the cabin). I feel like an idiot with just my handbag/laptop bag especially when Air Asia wants to charge me $20Aud per extra kilo in my suitcase. Excuse me for having a reasonable amount of hand luggage and an unreasonable amount of regular luggage.

 

  1. If you’re not first – you’re last aka Queue up to get on the plane
    Passengers line up and wait for a security check during morning rush hour at Tiantongyuan North Station in Beijing
    No hear me out – I used to hate those idiots who would line up to get on the plane they would be trapped in for 5 or 11 or 16 hours FIRST. And then I noticed that the above (massive amounts of hang luggage being brought into the cabin) began to happen. Now if I want to defend my leg room and not put my bag in an overhead bin way over on the other side of the plane – you’re damn right I’m in line – me and all the other sheeple.

 

  1. Neck pillows do not work
    Seriously – who invented this garbage? Designed to make you look like a Knob and as comfortable as having a ring of foam around your neck – it looks comfortable – more so than your head slumping forward and jerking up as you drool on your lapel like an oozing starfish – but news flash – it isn’t.

 

  1. People LOVE THEM some tomato juice
    Ew – hey guys – wtf is going on with that. They’ve got your apple and orange juice there, a wide selection of free alcohol and all the soft drink your heart could desire, good old H20 in spades – and you’re all guzzling away at the spicy blood of the most confused fruit I’ve ever met (and you should meet my family). No. Please stop. You are revolting.

 

  1. No but seriously drink water
    After Dad’s Deep Vein Thrombosis last year and the reflection looking back at me in the mirror, that of a yellow skinned harpy – I have realized that if drinking water means my blood wont clot in my limbs with the threat of breaking off and murdering me, than yah. H20 me up son. Water is one of those things that everyone could drink more of and its freeeeee (unless you’re in Bali or Asia where you have to buy bottled lest you tempt the wrath of the Bali Belly)

 

  1. Possession is 9/10s
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    If you get so lucky as to fly a less busy flight and there is a seat/multiple seats around you available, you have to think fast. Long haul – the difference of having a little extra space versus keeping your arms and legs inside a couple of arm rests is a game changer. So everyone is on the look out for more territory to invade. Sit in the middle seat and put your stinky feet on the outside chair – nonchalantly reading a book and signaling by your possession that these SEATS ARE MINE BITCH.

 

  1. Turbulence makes you realize how small you are
    Especially with nothing to grip except a moveable arm rest and a seat belt the only thing holding you down, to a chair connected to an aircraft that as far as I can see is working by engineering and magic.
  1. 16 hours is 16 hours
    Whether you sleep, read, watch a movie or stare out the window – there is no way to escape the waiting on an aircraft. People always try to give you advice like – oh take some Nyquil and have a rum and coke and boom you’ll be flying over Asia before you know it. Incorrect. Even if you fall asleep or watch two movies back to back you’ll think – oh man we must be almost there you’ll somehow check the flight tracker and realize your little plane hasn’t even left the continent. GRRRRR!!!!!

 

  1. There is always, always, a screaming baby

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    I’m thinking that like the drink carts the Flight attendants stock, and the cross checks of doors they do before we take off, one of the crew, maybe the head flight attendant is like “now hold on a second, who has got the screaming child? And have we given it coffee? Oh okay good, because we wouldn’t want there to be one moment of peace on this over night flight.” I realize as a childless person, and a former screaming, internationally travel baby myself that I have very little wiggle room here for criticism… but 13 flights later and EVERY SINGLE time, I’m not crazy. There is a conspiracy. Pass me my tinfoil hat.

 

  1. There is also always, always, a farty/wheezy/coughing old man
    And he perfumes the air around him with his natural fragrance. 10 points if he is in the seat directly in front or beside you and you fear for your nose/health. *Shudder*
  1. I don’t know what I am eating right now
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    The most memorable meal on a plane that I ever had was the Hong Kong to Seoul Korea flight I took as I tried to make my way down to Australia for University. I flew Korean Airlines and dinner was a boiling hot bowl of noodle soup (ohkay I can have a bowl of hot water but I can’t have my nail file – but of course) and a shrink wrapped boiled egg… Memorable because the food was so immaculately presented and also because I couldn’t help thinking that the boiling hot water was kind of crazy.

    But at least I knew what I was eating! Over the last few Air Nippon (Japanese airline) flights I have taken, I have been given little packages of things I cannot identify or things pretending to be other things. Oh cool, this is clearly some sort of dessertOHMYGODNOW it is a creamy mayonnaise infested potato salad with fish eggs. Barf.

  1. So much of the planet is uninhibited
    I love to fly in daylight hours and look over the patchwork of the farmlands and see in layout of the world below. But travelling by night is something special too as you reach a cluster of lights that mark a city, the highways, the homes, and then you come upon nothing again. The vast blackness of the empty, and even in the strong moonlight you cannot tell if the spreading darkness is Ocean or Land.
  1. It is never enough
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    Whether you go for 5 days, 5 weeks or 5 months – the travel is never enough. In the moment on that beach in Thailand, or in the Mountains in Utah – you are taking for grated the beauty around you. You become immune to things when you travel, take things for granted – and it isn’t until you are on the way home that you realize it will never be enough, those moments with faraway family or drinking cocktails on a steamy rooftop.

    If home is where the heart is – then my home is on an airplane – travelling to my next adventure.

    Follow me on instagram: @ohparisimo for adventures