Paris and Misconceptions

Ethnocentrism: Evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture.

Or perhaps better put, the view that ones culture is superior to all others.

A fun word to use, but one with a tragic meaning. This word is responsible for many a misconceptions, a load of prejudgements, and simple misunderstandings of others. A word that I’d say is also tied closely to xenophobia (dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries).

There seems to be a process before one goes off on their travels. It consists of getting ready for that travel, and apart of that is breaking the news of your trip to the people you know and love. As well as the ocasional stranger that will listen to your spill. However, it seems, or at least in my experience, that there is a slew of common responses to this breaking news. Which also of course depends on where you are going.

For example, when I tell people of my decision to stay in hostels one of the usual responses is, “Aren’t those places dangerous?! Full of robbers, rapists, and deviants?”. Or when going to Ireland, “Have a pint for me.” Or even when visiting Amsterdam, “Going to visit the red light district? *Wink*”.

These I understand. People who haven’t been or experienced simple don’t know. And when one doesn’t know what do they usually do? Form their opinions based off of the information they receive from sources other than themselves. Or even from stereotypes placed on that place or thing. Understandable.  And let me say that I don’t think I’m better than anyone who has these opinions or who has these habits, as I am guilty of them myself.

One of the common responses that baffles me the most though are the responses that I receive when I tell people of my plans to go to Paris. For some reason it always seems to be the place and thing that gets the most negative response.

Somehow in our American culture stereotypes and misconceptions have been placed on Paris, and the parisians that inhabit her. The responses I usually receive are along the lines of. “Paris? Be careful I’ve heard that the french are all terribly rude.”. Or, “Paris? Did you know that the women don’t shave, and there is no such thing as deodorant over there. It’s a stinky place.”.

This is where the ethnocentrism plays into the picture. Paris is a very different place than America is. Which shouldn’t be a surprise. But it’s in our differences that these prejudices are found. The french simply have a different way of doing things is all. They may seem strange and foreign to us, but just as they are strange to us, we are strange to them.

It’s just a shame is all. As Paris is one of the most beautiful and greatest cities I’ve ever been to. Sure if you go into a restaurant they won’t visit your table to check up on you every 5 minutes. Or if you go into a store you won’t sometimes be greeted with the best customer service, or customer service at all. But this isn’t because the french are rude. It’s because they simply do things differently.

If you talk to a Parisian, you’ll quickly discover that they are a passionate people. Usually very proud, aware and involved in their country and their politics. They know what’s going on outside of their borders, and have opinions. They know their food, art, and fashion better than any other people I’ve ever seen. They are a totally unique breed of people.

Not boring, bland, or a photo copy of another country or culture. But their own unique entity. Which for us can be hard to understand and to wrap our minds around. Not saying that we are not great and unique, or bland and boring. But rather that if we don’t approach the culture and people with an open mind and a realization that they are different, then we begin to walk in dangerous judgemental territory.

I don’t mean to preach, or say I am holier than you, or that there is anything wrong with our country. All I mean to say is, try to expand your horizon a bit before attaching labels, judgements, and conceptions, to those things that you don’t know about or are very familiar with. Look at different angles, don’t be afraid to open yourself up a little bit and experience something different. Break free of this mad ethnocentric mold that encases some people and embrace the world.

Verses of the Road Part. 2

It’s always interesting to see what moments can give way to. From the simplest most common moments, to rare occurrences where everything in life seems to line up in perfect harmony. I believe that any moment is to never be waisted or taken at face value. For you never know when you may find a hidden meaning behind something, or have that simple moment give way to a beautiful thought or reminder of a long forgotten memory. It’s for this I encourage one to always keep their mind and hearts open at ever twist and turn of the road.  

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There are so many tools and technologies that we seem to take for granted in todays strange age. Things that have grown so common place and entrenched in our life that we not only can’t imagine our life without, but we don’t give them a second thought when we use them. As if they’ve become an extension of our body.

I believe the cell phone is one such device. A tool that I never gave much thought to, but in the last year have found my new favorite way to use it. Not to play angry birds, or shoot pictures out into digital oblivion via snapchat or instagram. But rather the most simple of applications on it. The notepad.

It’s in this that I’ve been able to capture moments and thoughts that are ever so fleeting, and that would otherwise have been forgotten by the rising of the next days sun. Thoughts that when cataloged gain more meaning and get entrenched more deeply in my thinking with who I am. For they no longer become fleeting or momentary. They instead become a sort of mantra and a place of inspiration that I can seek refuge in when all others places seem dry and desolate.

It’s a practice that I do not believe that many of us do enough, whatever the excuse may be. For everyone has thoughts and moments that have substance and meaning. And I believe we owe it to ourselves to catalog some of those. If not for any other reason then to show some appreciation for our own minds.

Anyways, I’ll cease with the rambling and share some of my thoughts with you from this most recent trip on the road. Thoughts that I’m grateful I took the thirty seconds to write down. As I can’t imagine them have being lost into the void where all other strange and beautiful things find their oblivion.

“The more I experience and live, the less fate seems to be some strain of mysticism.”

“It’s weird how we turn our lives into the stories we want them to be.”

“The earth is one of a million million little planets in our galaxy. Orbiting around one of a billion suns. And what makes it special? what made it win the cosmic lottery? And what made you and me so special to call it our home?

These odds are unprecedented and unpredictable. It makes our planet completely unique. One in a million. But why can’t I, or we be one in a million? What sets us apart from the millions and millions? What’s holding us back and what is keeping us with the masses? Some future told by those who teach in school. Who tell of a future of mediocrity and normality? For there are no rules to say that we can’t rise above, or make our own paths. That these cosmic odds are somehow against us, rather than for us. For as likely as we are to fail, we are to succeed. And who or what makes the difference?

So with that being said I don’t want to give into random luck. I want to influence my own path as much as I can.”

“It’s funny how quickly young people like to develop habits. When they’re thrust into a new world of freedom and boundless opportunity. Eyes glaze over with the great wide overwhelmingness of it all. Tobacco becomes the poison of some, while endless flesh and lust becomes the medicine for others.”

“Life is about what you make it, not what city you’re in.”

“I don’t believe in police anymore, sense I bought a gun.”

“Why do you think there are so many love songs in the world? In every language and culture. Why do you think the oldest epics that we’ve translated have love deeply woven into their very core? That some of the most horrendous unimaginable crimes have been committed in the name of love, for one or for a country. Yet at the same time some of the most beautiful deeds, acts of courage, and stories are born from that same feeling?

Love is one of the things in this world that is truly universal. That everyone can really relate to, and that binds us all together at some level or another.It’s the simplest language to speak while being something to strive and live for. It keeps hope alive and one warm at night.

It was that same love I felt when I laid eyes on her. I felt every love song and every epic story coarse through my veins and make sense when I heard her voice and when those eyes pierced me. The same eyes that would haunt me and invade my thoughts every second that she wasn’t around.”

Those are some of the more recent verses from the road. Until next time.

It’s strange to be back in Paris after such a long time. Although I suppose three months isn’t that long of a spell. Yet never was it planned to be in Paris like this six months ago. Plans over the last year have been time after time again changed and discarded and reformed. But now here I am in the city of love and couldn’t be happier, except this time it isn’t for just a little holiday. Paris is now the place I’m calling home for the next brief period of my life.

It’s one thing to visit a city as a tourist and another to live in it. You get the chance to breath in the city for what it is and to better soak in the culture and customs. For those of you who don’t know I’m here in Paris to be with my love and prepare for the future… It’s a long story.

But it’s nice to be able to wonder the cities parks again, and to experience museums and history that I’ve missed out on from my last two times in the city. It’s been a pleasure to familiarize myself with the streets better and to fall more in love with the city herself. I can’t imagine how difficult it will be to leave this place when my time is up.

So while I’m here I’m going to do my best to record some of the adventures that take place, and to hopefully take the blog to a new level. I have some big plans for the coming months to revamp the page and to hopefully inject some excitement into it. Something that I’ve been failing to do for the last few months, and something I apologize for. It’s not much of an excuse but simply life has been a little crazy.

But I look forward to the journey to come and hope you’ll stick around with me as we dive into the unknown and hopefully have some fun with it.

Till next time.

 

 

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Revaluation

Who you are as a person is perhaps one of the most important questions someone can ask themselves. It gives rise and birth to so many, if not everything else that defines you. From how you cary yourself in the streets, to how you present yourself to strangers met for the first time. To what your goals and dreams are, and where the winds of life may cary you. It gives direction to how your life is going to unfold.

Now these things may seem obvious, but when was the last time you really examined these aspects of your existence?

I find (and this may just be me) that sometimes we float through life on ideas and dreams built by others. Which to me is an utmost betrayal of oneself and their identity. I know that even I have fallen victim to this crime. Although take it in stride. Learn from it. For when we get the chance to examine, and look in at oneself, it is a gift.

We get to reset and adjust goals. Hell, maybe even completely make new ones. For we do change over time and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Change is scary yes, but more often than not change paves the way for forward progress. It sheds light on the areas in our life that were shrouded in darkness at one point or another.

For myself I’ve recently had to ask myself this question. Who am I and what am I doing? And it was a little scary, I’m not going to lie. I seemed to have fallen into this weird sort of stasis with my writing and my confidence in myself as a person. Plans and goals that I had set at the beginning of last year were not panning out or ending all together, and after so long it took a toll on my moral and bravery. These defeats slowly turned into fear of moving forward, and with that fear came doubt. Doubt in just about all aspect of my life.

Which for me was a weird sort of feeling. As I’ve always taken pride in the knowledge of the direction I was heading and who I was. And suddenly those things were compromised.

Sure I was still happy and having fun every day. But what these things created was this little feeling that was always present at the back of my mind. An anxious sort of uneasiness, where I was double guessing myself more and more, and becoming afraid to try things.

So as I said a period of self reflection and figuring out what was what was needed. Some of the same goals and fuels for my flame just weren’t working anymore, and I took that as a sign of weakness and failure on my part. Which wasn’t the case at all. I just didn’t realize that sometimes things change over time, and not all of the same things work forever.

My life was changing and evolving, and who I was changed with it. However I failed to recognize that for a while. This is why I challenge you to know who you are, and to constantly be asking this question. Challenging yourself and never growing to comfortable and lazy in where you are.

To know and question what drives you, and then to figure out where those drives and passions are leading. Give them a direction that is suitable. A direction that is built off of who you are. What makes you happy. Built off of what your want, and not others. Which is usually easier said then done. As what others think and want for us sometimes gets engrained within without our intention, consent, or knowledge.

Don’t be mistaken though. I’m not saying ignore everyone else, and take no ones advice. Because others sometimes see things that we don’t. Things that can help us discover what we want, and that can help us build a wiser and more direct path to those goals.

What I’m trying to say is don’t compromise your core values for others opinions of yourself. For at the end of the day they’ll still believe in you and support you if they really love you. As cheesy and cliche as it sounds.

After this most recent and helpful of reflections I’ve arrived at my conclusion finally. Although it may not be permanent forever it’s working for now.  I’ve figured out who Jeremy is again.

I’m a writer.

A dreamer.

A lover.

A guy that loves a good adventure and to sometimes stumble down the harder of the two roads. But hey I keep my feet under me.

A scholar, hunger for new knowledge everyday.

Sometimes a hedonist, but at others a conservative.

A sensitive soul, which allows for more of the world to be absorbed through my eyes. As I’ve said before “I’d rather feel all through love, than not at all.” And now I can add to that. I want to feel heartbreak and triumph. Fear and victory. All the emotions and experiences from all spectrums of life, for they add and teach perspective and lessons that we may not have been looking for. But if you’re not willing to be open to things, even the things that make you uncomfortable, then there is no hope in finding them.

I’m confident again, hopeful, and ready to keep moving forward. I’m happy to have pulled myself out of this weird stasis and to have direction again. I just hope that if and when this does happen again that I’ll be more ready for it. More prepared and able to take action from the lessons that I’ve learned from this time around.

Hoo Ha.

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The Adventure of Moving Out

Moving out for the first time. What a strange and liberating experience. There are few other moments like it in your life. Where you get to discover who you are. Not who you are under your parents rule, or even in high school, but simply who you are without all the limitations and boundaries.

The morning I was to depart from home to college was quite a strange one. It felt like any other day waking up. But when I went to the living room after last minute packing I found my mother with her sad eyes and pink robe, drinking a cup of coffee and staring into oblivion, while my father sat on the other side of the room waiting to help move to a town 45 minutes away from the comfort of their nest.

The feelings filled the air with a bitter sort of metallic taste. No one wanted this on their mind, the burden of it was growing to heavy. It was a strange change and omen of what was to come, for I am the oldest and this was just the first of three departures from the house. But my ecstasy of  moving on could hardly be controlled.

My fist place was nothing special really. It was just another college campus dorm room. Brown Hall at good ol’ Arkansas Tech, or if you were into calling it by it’s nick name it’d be, Brown Town at Redneck Tech, you decide. We decorated it’s four stone walls and tile floor as best as we could. There isn’t much you can do to something that resembles a prison cell to make it feel homey. We did our best though by laying a carpet on the floor and hanging strands of Christmas lights from the ceiling to illuminate our abode. They were better than the harsh artificial light the room was equipped with.

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My roommate and I even decided to spice up our name tags hanging on the outside of our doors. Ya know the ones that your RA makes up for you to let the rest of the hall know who lives there? Well we put our own twist on them. We made our own custom name tags, complete with the most awkward pictures of us that we could think up. And we took multiples to change them out every week or two.

The first batch consisted of us switching outfits with each other. Which is funnier than it sounds for he was a bigger guy and I am a bit smaller. It was a site to see, him squeezing into my shirt, and his shorts hanging from a belt cinched up as tight as it could. Needless to say my shirt still doesn’t fit quite the same.

The second weeks shenanigans were of me laying shirtless at his feet, posed as a model on my side, while he creepily stared into the camera holding his guitar backwards and the wrong way. They made no sense but we had fun with them, and occasionally we’d hear people chatting about them outside our door way. We’d completed our mission.

The first year at that new place was one of the best of my life however. Moving out was never what I’d imagined it would be. I didn’t know to prepare for what was to come. The sheer feeling of growing up, on a scale I didn’t know was possible. Which I attribute to simple independence. For with independence comes responsibility. You don’t have anyone to make sure you wake up in the morning and go to school, or to cook you dinner, or occasionally do your laundry. That’s all on you. Curfews become a thing of the past, and you no longer have anyone to tell you no if you want to do something casual or extremely stupid.

I simply grew up that first year away. It’s hard for me to even conjure up an image of who that Jeremy was from  pre-college, before my first place, and before all those adventures that were had in it and around it. I  realized who I was. For I simply had more time and space to explore that now. I was learning what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. What hobbies interested me, and what I really liked and wanted as a person. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

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Who I am today will always be tied to 124 Brown. It was my stomping ground, to pound out the me of the future. To lay down the laws of personality, and achievement that would guide me for the times to come. There really is nothing like moving out.

I want to thank the folks over at www.urbancompass.com , a real estate company based out of  New York City to inspire me to do this blog post for their Starter Stories Series. Urban Compass really got me thinking about how my personality did match my dorm room. How it became my artistic space for a great period in my life. From the way the desk was arranged to the lay out of the dorm itself. It helped bring such a new level of independence to my life, and for that I’ll be eternally greatful to Arkansas Tech University. So once again, Thank you Urban Spoon for providing this trip down memory lane!

Failure Examined

Well I’ve been back in the United States for well over a month now after my time over in Europe was cut dramatically short by a series of unfortunate events that I won’t get into right now, as that’s for another post some other time. But what a funny feeling it is to be back home in a country that doesn’t feel all to familiar anymore.

To have to relearn little habits that were temporarily forgotten in place of new little habits. To have to get use to being around a life that was completely separate from the one over seas. It’s almost as if a book was set down to begin another, but the second book was ripped from my hands and burned in front of my very eyes by a malicious creature. So now the first book, clumsy and unfamiliar in my hands has to be re-picked up and begun from the page I left off on, although all the other characters in the book are chapters ahead of me now.

Or hell you can even compare it to transferring a fish into a new tank. Except before you transferred the fish you didn’t let the waters get to be quite the same temperature. So when you dump the fish into it’s new home it seems a bit dumb dazed and confused for the first few minutes as it has to rapidly readjust to survive from pure shock.

Or something like that at least.

The feeling of failure was quite potent the first couple weeks of being back home, shortly followed by depression. Now this isn’t to say I was completely miserable and hated my life or anything like that. As humans are complex beings, capable of feeling multiple emotions at any time. Things aren’t quite so black and white all the time. I was happy to be back, don’t get me wrong, and to see all my friends and family, but who I was as a person, and the direction of my life was deeply effected.

All I’d been working and planning for for the next year was now over in a turn of a day. The worst case scenario hadn’t even been touched, for this fate was far far beyond that, or anything I could have imagined. I suddenly had to figure out how to continue forth with my life, how to proceed now that I was back home, jobless, schooless, and so on. It was quite the reality check.

But failure is a sort of funny thing. As I said things aren’t always so black and white, and failure if looked at in a certain light is not such a bad thing. For failure offers opportunity. It offer the opportunity to step back and breath for a quick second. To examine ones cards, to evaluate what was lost and what was gained, and how to build something new with this new hand. And generally the new things is often grander and more beautiful than whatever you had before.

For even though you failed not all was lost, not at all. Sure you didn’t reach your end goal, but the end goal isn’t the only tangible thing to be gained from a journey. For between the beginning and the end so much is to be gained.

A load of experience to be had and learned from. Experience that wouldn’t have been found and had if you hadn’t attempted your goal, and that experience sticks with you regardless of the outcome of the task. And if the task does fail then additional knowledge is gained. The knowledge of how to do better next time.

For there is always a next time, or next project, or next journey. So failing shows how to avoid future pitfalls. What works and what doesn’t. Ect. ect.

But perhaps most importantly failure pulls one out of whatever tunnel vision they may have been engaged in. It rips you out of where you were, and allows you to examine other opportunities in your life. You can really examine what it was your were doing in a more unbiased light, which can offer insight that wasn’t there before. Or perhaps even make you realize that what you were really doing was foolish or even wrong, but you couldn’t see it at the time for you were completely enveloped by it.

As when you’re enveloped in something the lines become a little bit more blurred and blended to fit your will and end goal, which can be dangerous and maybe even not at all what you wanted and were going for in the first place. You were just so blinded that you couldn’t see it.

So, failure is not always a bad thing. It should be welcomed and praised. As all great things are not ever done in their first attempt. And great things wouldn’t have been so great if they had not been failed, modified, reexamined, re-put together and approached in new ways under new lights.

I’m in the process of re putting the pieces back together now, and forming a new future game plan. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t all enjoyable to do and to fail, and there’s a long way yet to go. BUT I’m grateful in certain ways that it did happen, and I’m glad things are still moving forward and a new hand has been dealt to play with. For the future still looks bright, and still remains an adventure.

Paris: The beginning

The bus pulled up to a station that my mind had forgotten for over a year now. Yet the second we pulled into the parking lot it was illuminated by memories long forgotten. My eyes danced around the lot frantically searching for Jade.
At this point in my travel I’d been quite excited to be reunited with Jade after having been without her love for well over a month and a half now. But pulling into that parking lot I wasn’t sure how to actually cope with the reality I was about to be thrust into. My mind reeled and soul vibrated with the excitement and anticipation of the beauty that was about to take place. It’d prove to be a reality that was a vast improvement to any other I’d ever lived in. A time that would quickly become my most beloved ever had.
I retrieved my bag and scanned the parking lot for those blue eyes that no other worldly fix could replace. She was nowhere to be seen. Where could she be and how would she be arriving? Bus, metro, cab? I hadn’t the faintest clue, but put my money on the metro so I wondered off that way with my bag strapped to my back to a whole city that called, waiting to be rediscovered and explored.
The metro station proved to bear no fruits so with confusion in my heart I headed back to the bus station. Right before I arrived back into it’s holy gates that welcomed travelers from all corners of the world I heard her call my name. My heart stopped and reality suspended in an eternity that would kick off the next ten days, which flew by all to quickly. We walked toward each other with wonder in our eyes, not sure if we should betray our feelings in believing this moment was real. But it was, and we drank deeply from it as we embraced and kissed the kiss that would seal the saddness of our domed departure from one another days later.
These sorts of reunions simply don’t seem real for the first few long moments. You’ve forgotten so many small details that come rushing back in a flood of emotion and memories that overwhelm and numb all the senses, truly leaving you blinded by love. We couldn’t even remember how to properly hold each others hand in our excitement as we strolled back to her apartment a mere thirty-five minutes away.
It was mad how much I’d forgotten in a short time. Even after countless hours of skyping, but a lens always has a way of betraying the true picture of the world. I was lost in her beauty all over again, and all the things that made her my favorite. The way her bottom teeth didn’t line up in a neat row, giving her a splash of cuteness even in the depths of her mouth. How her laugh could rock my world to it’s core, banishing away any feelings of ill will at the drop of a joke. Or even how her soft curves felt under my palm as I held her close. I was already getting all tangled up again in her world and my soul felt to be in the same place as my head and heart for the first time in a long time.
It was unfortunate however the responsibilities that had to be maintained while I was in the city. Jade still had her job, and that cut into our time quite a bit. But it made us appreciate our time together that much more, and gave me opportunity to explore the city on my own as well, or prepare whatever surprises I might cook up over the next week and a half.
Her responsibility called upon her a few hours after my arrival and she was off to work for the afternoon, leaving me alone on that first day to catch up on my sleep and prepare myself for the days that were to follow. A welcome respite from the weariness from the road.
Time finally did roll around though and Jade was soon off work and we were on our way to our hotel room booked for our first night together. We deposited our bags in our magically themed hotel, complete with Houdini posters, magic top hats and even a pet rabbit that made its home at the front desk. We were off into the city after our quick pit stop. Jade had her city to show me and we were eager to get started. We strolled through a little runners park, complete with columns of old roman inspiration and many a little ponds that any romantic could lose their reflections in. We strolled, hand in hand, confessing how weird it was to be together in this city that neither of us could have envisioned ourselves in a year before with one another. It all seemed so unreal as we made our way to a little sushi joint that provided us with energy for the rest of the night.
We ate and made our way back to our room to rest our now tired feet and to relieve our hearts filled with tension. We drank Champagne and gazed upon the sky through our window that painted our room with a golden light as we melted into each other. Finally all time seemed right again with her back in my company. The stars fell back into their holy places and my heart-felt to be functioning at it’s normal romantic speed. All the world hummed and brimmed with new opportunity and light illuminated by our happiness. It was the beginning of a short time that was sweeter than any other period of my life, and anything was possible.

To be continued…