France III.

Now, that I’m back in America, I think of my relationship with this country not just as a person but culturally. As a Native person, I think of how my people have inhabited this land for thousands of years and my connection to the land.

However, presently, as a country/nation/culture, 80% of the time, I don’t connect a lot to American culture. I don’t watch sports, I don’t watch popular TV shows and I don’t listen to most mainstream American music (top 40?). I guess that’s just the curmudgeon in me, France is a bit of a curmudgeon too, I think that’s why I liked the country so much. Well, a curmudgeon with a romantic side, haha. When I think of America and if it were a person, I don’t know if I would want to be friends with that person. Mainly, this is just the weird cynical, traveller side of me. But for the most part when I travel, the truth seeking artist in me finds a balance and a greater knowledge and understanding of the world and the people that inhabit this earth. Traveling is good at ringing the bitterness out of me because at times living in America, the way our economy and society is structured (individualism and capitalism rule all) , there are times that disconnection is our only way to survive, and that’s just not living.

That’s why I need to travel, to live.

What does traveling give me? A new sense of perspective and a realization of all things that are beautiful and pure. It also gives me hope especially in moments of burnout. It’s hope for those days when I feel the undercurrent of life’s bullshit problems(shitty men, lack of sleep, not exercising enough, etc.) pulling me under until I feel like I cannot breath. Traveling pulls me up out of the water, shakes me dry, tells me to look at the beauty around me. In these moments I know not to take it for granted because I may or may not come back, with that, I take in all that I can.

♥Edith Piaf- Non je ne regrette rien ♥

guhparis

14408009_1208618272536760_1177954003_o-2
At da Base
eiffel-tower
On top of the Eiffel Tower

parisview

momandi
Selfie at the top with Shima

parispomp

pompidou
Centre Georges Pompidou

 

matisse
The Violinist at the Window by Matisse (My favorite painting in the Pompidou)
pollack
Jackson Pollock

lecheval

falliscoming
Fall leaves
frenchberries
BERRIES ❤

triste

France II.

1.433 miles in 5 days. 286 miles a day. I never realized how big of a country France is, until my mom and I went a French road trip for 5 days.

The five days went by SO FAST, too fast and in the moment I knew it. Some days I would close my eyes so time would slow down and I could enjoy every second.

The moment we picked up our little Black Fiat from the Orly Airport, we set sail for the West of France. Mainly, we just really wanted to get out of the city and go anywhere. We found our rest spot at a nice lil Airbnb on the 4th floor of a cute Maison in Rennes, France. The owner was very nice, super cool with her punk aesthetic, chucks taylors and 3D portrait of the Sex Pistols on the second floor of her home. We got in around 6pm, we mainly just walked around Rennes which was super empty because of the French Holiday called Assomption which in English is Assumption of Mary to Heaven. We did our thing and walked around, ate a bunch of bread and cheese (I broke my dairy rule for France, it was GLORIOUS), watched a bit of Malcolm in the Middle in French then fell asleep.

The next day, we set off for the ocean. I didn’t know what ocean town we were going to stop at, I just wanted to see the ocean. Living in the desert is hard because all I ever crave is the ocean. Cacti is cool and all (and “très chic” these days,right?) but it will never replace my love for the water. We stopped at a little ocean town called Saint-Jean-de-Monts. The little ocean town was very cute with its Ferris Wheel on the pier and Oceanside eats. I had a feeling my mom wasn’t feeling it because it was so crowded and the Bay of Biscay didn’t have big sufer “hang ten” waves. JK. But it was still enjoyable to eat some raspberry ice cream, rest for a bit and watch the Ocean. Then we were off to Bordeaux.

We didn’t really do much sightseeing in Bordeaux but the Airbnb couple that hosted us were very friendly. On the way to Bordeaux, I ate half a baguette and had a TON of crumbs on my dress. I thought “ehhh, I can shake it off when we get to the Airbnb and when I step out of the car, no one will see what a slob I am.” hahah, once we get to the house, the nice wife greeted us before getting out of the car and all I kept thinking about were those damn crumbs. So I hurried up and shook them off on the floor before getting out. Classy, bread eating Amber…

The night was quick, I think the couple may have overbooked (I don’t know the technical terms of Airbnb hosting) so they let us sleep in their room which was very gracious of them. This halfway point in our trip, we were able to do laundry and eat a homemade breakfast which is nice. One part of the Airbnb that was funny  was the owner never closed the front door of his house or bedroom. My mom found this odd and kept asking him questions about it, with his limited french, I think he was just as confused about us crazy Americans and why we lock our doors and shut our bedroom doors. I guess, it’s something I never really thought about. But we are a country that runs on fear and coffee. We slept with the doors closed but we kept the windows open that night. I’m pretty this is the night I got all my mosquito bites.

The next morning we awoke to the sun shinning into the bedroom the beautiful bright coral flowers beaming. We had a quick breakfast, met another airbnb-er who happened to be visiting from Rennes. As a thank you ( a goofy thank you) I gave the air bnb host some black Hanes socks and shoelaces from tha motherland. Back in Paris, I was suppose to meet my co-worker’s son and deliver some socks and shoelaces to him. For some reason, I thought he was going to be in Paris longer so I procrastinated on meeting up. In result, he told me to give it a random homeless person  (whoops!). I rebelled and gave it our Air bnb host 🙂

So socks given and goodbye kisses kissed we set forth for Marseilles.

I thought I would be prepared for the possibility of butting heads with my mom on this trip but after a 6 hour day (We did however make an awesome pit stop at a village surrounded by a french castle called Cité de Carcassonne)  on the road and 3 of it in traffic. Woo! I was not prepared. I tried to lighten up the mood by playing George Strait on Spotify or try to pronounce French road signs the best I could to impress her. She was just not having it. I knew she was culture shocked and she missed my dad. But that night once we got into Marseille to check into our hotel, it kind of just exploded in our face all because of parking. There was no parking at the hotel so we chanced it and parked in some random part spot which I didn’t think was a big deal but I guess it was. Before I knew it my mom was crying and talking about wanting to go home. I felt bad but I was just so confused. Then the front desk lady/demon incarnate didn’t help. She saw two tired, oily, sad looking brown women and dug deep. She gave us the hardest time about our rate and could care less about our parking questions. She then was very sarcastic about any questions we had. I didn’t care. I  just wanted to sleep but I know it made everything so much worse for my mom. My only hope was for us to sleep it off. This may have the first of our hardships of culture shock and fatigue but it was most certainly not the last.

The next day was a little more relaxing, oh wait no, after making 15 calls to our Car Rental place (never rent from interrent, they are impossible to get a hold of) to ask if we could extend our car rental we drove to the Marseille airport to wait in the longest car rental line I ever seen. Eventually, I got through to the car rental people at the Orly Airport. It was ridiculous how many times I called and he finally answered extended the agreement in two minutes and that was it. I got out of line, jumped in the car with a smile on my face and was excited to head to Aix en Provence and be serenaded by fields of lavender and raspberry jam. Nope. The little toll gate was down and we needed a ticket. And to get that ticket I had to wait in the line that never ended, this is finally when I got my first feeling of being homesick. I wanted to scream or yell “GUHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” (yes, with the 11 H’s). I was about to go back to that horrid line when a very friendly car rental man used his card and opened the gate. I began to feel cross eyed and anxious thinking about all of this and the phone call that solved the problem in 2 minutes.

We went to Aix en Provence first which was super underwhelming (sorry, Aix en provence) then opted for a day at the beach instead which was the best choice and highlight of the trip. We went to a little beachtown called Cassis. GUH, I cannot describe how breathtaking/beautiful/serene the little town of Cassis and the Mediterranean Sea is. The sea was a turquoise color then blended outward to a deep blue. The best part was swimming in it, I could feel the undercurrent of warm and cold water blending as I paddled my feet. Little kids were screaming in French when the waves splashed onto the sand and sucked back into the Sea. It was definitely worth the endless roundabouts, parental culture shock, cursing google maps every hour and paying the 20 pay tolls.

 

 

 

 

IMG_4718.JPG
Evening sunset walk in Rennes, France
IMG_4735.JPG
Saint-Jean-de-Monts
IMG_4759.JPG
Looking out at the Bay of Biscay in Saint-Jean-de-Monts
IMG_4761.JPG
Poor things
IMG_4827.JPG
How do you say Dang in French?
IMG_4816.JPG
Violette Ice Cream
IMG_4828.JPG
Just because they look like bananas they will not fulfill your potassium intake for the day

 

IMG_4832.JPG
Candy Pasta
IMG_4833.JPG
Rainbow of Gummy Bears
momandiatcastle
Castle days
IMG_4850.JPG
Just enjoying some Ice Cream by a French Castle

 

IMG_4900.JPG
Sunset in Marseille, France
IMG_4922.JPG
Cassis Beach
IMG_4911
Enjoying the Mediterranean Sea in Cassis, France ❤

 

 

IMG_4931.jpg
Little pinpoint showing where we were in the South of France
IMG_4970.JPG
It is pretty rough in these parts. Cassis, France. LOVELY ❤
IMG_4978.JPG
Aix en Provence

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 2.13.04 PM.png
A map of our complete French Road trip. I have to give the biggest props to my mom for driving.

♥Kraftwerk- Tour De France Étape 2♥

France I.

Hot chocolate, Road signs, The Bay of Biscay, bread, butter, stairs, cheese, rivers, confusing door locks and the Mediterranean Sea. When I think of my trip to France, these are the things I think of. 11 days was too long for my mother but not long enough for me. I wanted to climb more stairs, eat more fruit tarts, walk through more neighborhoods, and swim in the sea longer. But vacation is just that, a vacation, a temporary moment of new adventures in an unknown location.

The moment we got into Paris, there was no resistance. Everything felt natural even though I didn’t speak the language very well and I had never been to the country. I took 2 years of basic college French when I was at University and that’s all my mom and I had to rely on for 11 days. It was enough for me. We met up with my good friend friend Kim whom I coincidentally met at ASU at an American Indian Student Services workshop, we probably were the only two Navajo girls taking French on campus at that time. We also have a bond for our love for The Replacements, Indie Movies, Art, books and comics.I hadn’t seen homegirl in 2 years or so, so it was good to see a familiar soul.

The first night Kim took us to a cute Parisian restaurant then my mom and I proceeded to face plant into our beds. Saturday night, we were suppose to watch Full Metal Jacket but due to our prolonged dinner eating the biggest bowl of mussels at Leon’s, a Belgium restaurant down the street from our hotel we realized we weren’t going to make it. Instead, we all decided to sit in front of the Eiffel Tower for the light show. August, is quite hot in Paris, so we sat on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower talked for a bit and enjoyed some chocolate and rosé. The light show soon started and it was so exciting to finally see what I had been dreaming about. Paris is really a damn Romantic City. Due to this my mom missed my dad,ALOT, like so much she didn’t enjoy some of the moments because I think she wanted him to be there to see it as well. Selfishly, I kept thinking how hard I worked all summer for these moments (I worked in 107 degree weather and danced to Prince dressed as a strawberry in a beret at one point during the summer) and was going to enjoy them, damnit. This was just the beginning of our conflicting views and ways of travel in France…

However, I did feel bad when were sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower. There were men that were trying to sell us little Eiffel tower key chains, 5 little towers for 1 euro. Then there was the sneaky one, the one that I was teasing so we could get one of those little light up Eiffel towers for half price. He then sat near us and bargained. We eventually got our Eiffel tower for half price but Kim noticed something out of the ordinary and told me to watch my bag. By the time he left, we made sure all our belongings were still in tact. But poor mom, her little Samsung phone was stolen. I already knew she was going through culture shock but for this to happen to her, thoughts of my first day in India were coming back. Kim and I tried to comfort her as much as we could. She was okay but it’s always that weird sense of violation when someone steals from you even when it’s not an item that important to you, betrayal from a stranger is so surreal and confusing.

The next couple days we tried to fit in as much (Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, The Avenue des Champs-Élysées and endless fruit tart tastings)  as we could but dammit there’s just so much to do in Paris, we couldn’t fit everything in, even during our 12 hrs days. Versailles, was a must, well because of Sofia Coppola. All I kept thinking was a plump short little Jason Schwartzman walking through the Hall of Mirrors as Louis XVI and Anxiety Ridden Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette “running” through the halls of the palace. Despite the 2 and a half hour wait outside the palace and swarms of people zig zagging through the halls of the palace, I think next time I will enjoy the palace during low season.

The best part of the palace? Um, Angelina. Angelina is this decadent tea house founded in Paris that is famous for their hot chocolate. You know that movie, Chocolat? The scene where Judi Dench’s character drinks this crazy good looking cup of hot chocolate served to her by Juliette Binoche’s character. The look on Judi’s face where she pauses and looks up, I finally understood. I had that hot chocolate and I understood how that lady felt. Think of the most rich and luxurious chocolate bar you’ve ever had but melted down in a teacup topped off with a tasty dollop of unsweetened whip cream.  Just like I will never have Chai tea like I did in India, I don’t think I will ever hot a cup of hot chocolate as magical as the ones in France.

The next couple days in Paris were nice, exploring, taking the boats rides and walking down the River Seine, experiencing sunsets at 9 pm and eating all the “frites” my heart desired. My madre and I also wanted to explore more of France, so we decided to plan for our trip to the South…

There is a reason I am not a travel agent, I forgot we had to buy our Eurorail tickets before leaving America, so the train was out of the question. Well, we could’ve still took the train but we looked at the prices to rent a car and opted for that.

A couple days later we proceeded to make our way west of Paris in a little black Fiat and so began our road trip around France…

14123402_1182598015138786_1077163375_o.jpg
Bridge over the River Seine in the Gare de Bercy neighborhood
14123580_1182595898472331_1234176690_o.jpg
Le belle fleurs in the Montmartre neighborhood
14087395_1182697305128857_811709762_o (1).jpg
Yummy looking berries in the market
14123432_1182594528472468_1555746137_o.jpg
More yummy sweets at a pâtisserie
14114692_1183350728396848_1702711973_o.jpg
Double espresso time = all the time

 

 

parisparis.png
Cheesy photo on top of the Arc de Triomphe
14054459_10210489332972238_7704710379429323012_o
Enjoying dat bread

 

14087401_1182598011805453_1914125422_o.jpg
Beautiful River Seine Sunset
14123499_1183350775063510_529740367_o.jpg
First time trying mussels

 

14139080_1183353161729938_182518833_o.jpg
Notre-Dame de Paris
14087469_1183350735063514_582304909_o.jpg
Angelina Sweet
angelina
The infamous Le chocolat chaud à l’ancienne dit “l’Africain”
14139293_1182598045138783_1094896369_o.jpg
Gotta love that ripped Replacements shirt in a fancy ass place that is the Angelina Tearoom
14152250_1182598055138782_161586093_o.jpg
Bathroom signs at the Versailles Palace
14113839_1182598081805446_2075206628_o.jpg
This guy…
14124133_1182697295128858_19405971_o (1).jpg
This lady…lol
14087410_1182613308470590_423543226_o.jpg
The endearing fatigue that is traveling combined with hot weather
14151696_1183350731730181_541257588_o (1).jpg
hot, sweaty and full of chocolate

 

14087404_1182618481803406_2128300620_o.jpg
Pretty, Pretty Versailles landscapes

 

14151931_1182601198471801_444810023_o.jpg
Homeskillet Kim and I on the RER back to Paris
14113980_1182595838472337_1433037422_o.jpg
Gotta love that futura font
14087706_1182595841805670_620331251_o.jpg
Girl Crush
14151694_1182618531803401_122365633_o.jpg
The infamous Sofia Day bag. It can be yours for the low, low price of 3, 400 Euro 😛
14114032_1182618511803403_994474058_o.jpg
This poor lady could only afford two fashion books

14087668_1182618515136736_56778197_o.jpg

14124035_1182595895138998_1920753116_o.jpg

louis vuitton books
The Little Dictionary of Fashion by Christian Dior and Alice au Pays Des Merveilles by Lewis Carrol and illustrated by Yayoi Kusama that I bought at the Lous Vuitton- The Avenue des Champs-Élyséess store
yayoi kusama book
Another girl crush- Yayoi Kusama. Polka dot and Feminist Art power forever.
14139358_1182608838471037_2103772006_o.jpg
Yours truly at the Arc De Triomphe

 

14124209_1182608825137705_681927832_o.jpg
No lifts in the Arc de Triomphe
14123414_1182608831804371_1562377679_o.jpg
Seflie time
14123974_1182618535136734_1226579512_o.jpg
Half of my photos look like this when my mom takes my picture
14124118_1182618468470074_1824981402_o.jpg
Forêt mignonne at Versailles

♥Beach House- The Traveller♥

What does Aboriginal Women’s Leadership mean to me?

A few days ago I attended a dinner to see a few friends since I’ve been back from my travels. In addition, I met some new folks, did some zine swapping and came home with some Indigenous art and literature goodies. I had the lovely opportunity to get my paws on an aesthetically pleasing zine called Kimiwan zine (http://kimiwanzine.com/) and an AMAZING compilation of stories called “Indigenous Young Women Lead: Our stories, Our strengths, our truths.”(you can download the PDF here ).  I have been reading the latter and it felt like my hair was blown back. It is about what Aboriginal Women’s Leadership means. One of the stories left me in tears and with heartache because I related so strongly to her words without having to talk about the endless politics of genocide, racism, rape, hate and all the violence we as Indigenous people have encountered but more so about the human condition and our hopes and dreams we hope to be and to strive towards as an Aboriginal women. It was beautiful. Sorry to get all sappy on you but it’s very rare for me to read something that it written directly and for Aboriginal women BUT when I do, I get all sappy and warm and fuzzy inside (I felt like the girl to the left in the RC Gorman painting below 😛 ). It also made me think what Aboriginal leadership is to me and now I feel inspired to write a piece on it from my experiences as an Indigenous woman. Below is the introduction to the piece that gave me the warm and fuzzies; you can check out the rest of the story here.
What does Aboriginal Women’s Leadership mean to me?
By Audrey Armstrong
It means that you are a strong and confident woman who has been through a tough
life and survived to talk about it. A woman who can share that story with us so that
we may learn and grow from her experiences. If you are successful and happy in what
you do then I look up to you. Hardworking, honest and humble women are who I look
up to. I honestly do not look up to people who have been born into privilege. To me
I don’t think that being born with a silver spoon in your mouth makes you a leader. A
true leader is someone who is not afraid of being different, and not afraid to get down
on the level of someone who is down and out. Being a true role model is someone who
has had to work for everything that they have, and overcoming huge obstacles such as
drugs, alcohol, street life etc. Being able to relate to young women and share the story
of your life is what makes you a leader. That is what makes a person want to change. If
you are able to share your story with young women who are in trouble is what makes
you a leader. You never know whose life you may be changing just by sharing your story.
Some girls are able to see that, ‘hey, if you can do it, why can’t I?’ That’s pretty much
how I am able to succeed in my life right now. I have always looked up to strong women,
not only Aboriginal but of all races. Any woman that was born into a hard life and have
worked hard and are successful today are worthy of my admiration. I have always told
myself, I will be someone; I will make something of myself. And someday I can share my
story with young women. And I do. I work with youth and I tell them my story, I am not
ashamed of what I have been through in life, I am a strong person and I have survived to
talk about it. I have hit a few speed bumps along the road, but really, who hasn’t? Above
all I am proud of who I am.
❤ M.I.A.-Pull up the people ❤
Rc gorman
Nightwatch by RC Gorman

Continue reading “What does Aboriginal Women’s Leadership mean to me?”

Goa.

Where do I even begin with Goa? Or Anjuna Beach to be exact. Originally I had been underwhelmed by what I had experienced of India and Goa but as I am back home sitting comfortably at my desk back home in Arizona, I can’t help but feel myself thinking fondly of India. I’m lying it’s not just fondly thinking of India more so craving. The feeling of “did that just really happen?” has been crossing my mind all week since I’ve been home recovering from jet lag. Every ounce of me is trying not get back on the plane and book the next ticket to Mumbai. What is this magnetic feeling India has on me? What is it about the country that is so mesmerizing? What is it that you feel as though you truly are in another world? The energy is unfamiliar yet mesmerizing. For me it was too much but now that I stopped denying my feelings for the country I have accepted the beautiful chaos that this country contains and everything I have been avoiding.

Let’s just say there is some kind of short story in the making.

♥Nightmares on Wax- Damn♥

IMG_3620