What if you were told you couldn’t ride a bicycle?
Would you give up the joy of two wheels or would you accept the risks and pedal anyway?
For women in Afghanistan, riding a bicycle is taboo. But there are women doing it regardless of those taboos and cultural expectations, and their story is inspiring, the topic of the upcoming film Afghan Cycles.
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities, and not just for the bikes. There’s something about being surrounded by water that just makes me feel at home. You ride along the canals, your bicycle bumping over the occasional cobblestones and you can literally feel the pace of life slowing down.
On a recent weekend trip I made it a mission to track down good coffee (as usual). In fact I was so committed to my mission that half an hour after getting off the train I as sitting at local coffee roaster Headfirst drinking a filter coffee. If you’re committed, you’re committed.
I have been brewing kombucha at home for many years now. Which in turn has made me a bit of a kombucha freak. But this is hat happens when you start fermenting at home. The process is fun and it’s kind of amazing to be able to make your own bubbly, fermented drink with nothing more than tea, sugar and a kombucha mother.
“What’s it like to ride in Paris?”
This is a question that gets asked regularly, both by those interested in cycling and also by those that just think it’s nuts to ride a bike in a big city.
It’s actually a hard question to answer, because there’s no easy answer. It’s difficult. It’s wonderful. It’s often a hot mess. It’s rewarding. It’s big city biking after all.
But there’s nothing better than exploring a city on two wheels, and if you’re up for the challenge of riding in Paris, you won’t regret it. Plus, the more people riding, the better. That’s how we make change.
This week I’ve got a guide to cycling in the City of Light over on HiP Paris.
Despite all the romantic pictures you’ve seen of ladies in flowing skirts with flowers and baguettes in their quaint bike baskets, cycling in Paris isn’t always beautiful. It’s often fast, dirty and sometimes a bit harrowing. But it’s also rewarding. Because when the sunlight hits the buildings just right and you get into the flow of navigating a tight Parisian street on two wheels, life feels really good.
Paris is a city of winding streets and grand boulevards; cars, buses, and pedestrians that don’t pay attention; and recklessly antsy scooter riders, ready to dodge a vehicle whenever the opportunity presents itself. Stop paying attention for a few minutes and you can get yourself into a lot of trouble.
This is not to deter you from cycling. On the contrary, I want you to embrace cycling in Paris – the more cyclists the better – but it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into. An added benefit of mastering vélo riding in Paris is that because it’s not always an easy city to ride in, you’ll feel especially accomplished once you learn to make your way through the network of streets and bike lanes. You will definitely deserve that glass of Sancerre when you saddle up to the wine bar later in the evening.
Read the full article here.
I’ve got thoughts about Paris and our notion of “home” in a new essay over on Medium. I have been meaning to write this essay for quite some time, and happy that it found a place in The Archipelago collection.
In the beginning, you feel high just from being in Paris. At dusk, the light hits the buildings just so. You find a bakery that makes the best almond croissants in the world. Nothing can get you down. But then eventually the downs do come, and they hit you hard, like a bucket of cold water in the face. Your bank meeting that was supposed to take ten minutes takes two hours. A taxi almost hits you while you’re riding your bike in the bike lane and you’re the one who gets yelled at. It rains. It gets gray. You try to go for a run and get hit on — “courage mademoiselle.” You spend far too much time arguing in French to get something accomplished that you didn’t even want in the first place. A certain dreariness sets in that you can’t seem to shake.
Like Bogart in Casablanca, I try to tell myself “I’ll always have Paris” — not the real city, with its homicidal cars and persistent men, but the memory, the good stuff. Eventually the daily frustrations will fade, and in ten years it will be easy to gloss over the frustration and be one of those people that casually throws “that time I lived in Paris” into conversation. It wasn’t just a ten-day trip, or a month abroad, I’ll tell people. No, I actually went and lived there. Wrote there. Ran there. Drove there. Called it home for a while. Even in the darkest moments, there’s something comforting about that thought. I’ll always have Paris.
In the meantime, because of my adopted city’s magical reputation, I don’t get to complain. “The apartment is tiny, I’m starting to feel claustrophobic.” “Yeah, but Anna, you’re in PARIS.” As if, once enough poems are written about a city, it becomes impossible to be sad there.
It felt good to write this piece. The editor challenged me to call it “Is Paris Any Good or Not?” but if anything it’s less about Paris and more about thinking what “home” means, and maybe even, where “home” is.
You can read the full essay here.
Normally I write about food, bikes, or coffee. Or some combination of the three. But if there’s one thing that ties my writing together, it’s that I believe that we have to think differently about how we live. I want to get people to think about their daily behaviors, and hopefully, start challenging cultural norms and expectations.
One thing that clearly falls into that category is fashion, and while I am not a fashion writer, I am intrigued by the clear link between consumption and what we wear. There’s no denying that as a culture, we’re obsessed with shopping. But why? I got to explore that question in a piece titled “Breaking the Addictive Culture of Fashion Consumption” which was published this week.
Consider this: in 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. That wasn’t a minimalist wardrobe; it was simply a wardrobe. Nowadays however, we’re far from that. The average American woman owns 19 pairs of shoes alone, and as Americans, we spend about $1,700 on apparel every year. We’re taking up space with things we never wear, and we’re paying to do it.
So why do we consume? That’s the ongoing question of psychologists and marketing professionals. It comes down to one thing: emotion.
“Necessities to sustain life and have basic comforts are physiologically driven. With very few exceptions, our society exists above this level. For most of us, it is the interaction of emotion with psychological motivation that is responsible for our behavior as consumers. These emotions range from simple pursuit of pleasure to more complex emotions like security, contentment, and (life) satisfaction,” says Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D, principal of a consumer psychology practice in New York City.
Are we addicted to fashion? I’d say yes. But there’s something we can do about it. Focus on experiences instead. Analyze why we’re consuming. Think about what really makes us happy. Because ultimately, the most valuable possessions that we have, aren’t possessions at all.
You can read the full article here.