anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The Winding Path of a Creative Life

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In February, I worked on a project with Subaru and She Explores. This post is brought to you in partnership with Subaru, all opinions are my own.

“I don’t really think that I’m creative.”

I was road tripping from Taos, New Mexico to Marfa, Texas in a 2018 Crosstrek with my good friend and filmmaker Sarah Menzies. We were headed to a storytelling experience hosted by She Explores and sponsored by Subaru. I was driving and she was sitting next to me, and I had just asked her if she had some kind of a daily creative practice.

Sarah makes a variety of films, all focused on interesting characters and important issues, like my recent favorite, “The Mirnavator.” For the last couple of years, I have been working with her on “Afghan Cycles,” a film about women cyclists in Afghanistan and challenging gender stereotypes from the seat of a bicycle. I would certainly consider her a creative and passionate individual, and she’s one of my friends that continually keeps me creatively inspired.

“You don’t think you’re creative?” I responded back to her, not hiding my shock at her statement. This is a woman who always has interesting ideas for how to tell a story, is always drumming up new ideas.

This launched us into a conversation about creativity, what it is and whether or not we “have it” or not. The idea that some of us are creative and that some us aren’t, based on the idea that creativity is some kind of talent, simply isn’t true. Creative thinking is a skill, one that takes work and practice. You don’t get off the couch and run a marathon in record time, and you don’t go from zero creative practice to coming up with a masterpiece. We have to work at creativity, work at doing the things that make our brains better able to think creatively, better able to make connections between ideas, and come up with new ones.

Our conversation about creativity continued, and we began talking about some of the difficulties that come with working in a creative profession. Creative work can be exhausting. There’s a privilege to being able to say that. I am well aware that I don’t have to go work in a mine every day, and I am thankful that I have a profession where I get to do things that I love. But one of the big fears that I often have is that eventually, the creative ideas will cease to come. When your income is tied to your creativity, there is a real fear in wondering whether or not one day you’ll run out of ideas. What happens if you don’t have another idea for a new project? Then what?

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Written by Anna Brones

March 1, 2018 at 10:47

Happy Chinese New Year, From Paris

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Happy Chinese New Year, From Paris photo by Anna Brones

Paris is a postcard city.

Even if you have never been to Paris, you have a vision of what the streets and people look like. From books and movies, you have garnered what the ambience in a bistro must feel like. From paintings you know that there are cobblestones. From history class you probably know a thing or two about the Bastille and maybe even the Eiffel Tower.

Happy Chinese New Year, From Paris photo by Anna Brones

There are so many people that never come to Paris, and yet they have a view of it etched into their minds.

But while Paris is beautiful, romantic and all those other things you always want it to be, it’s also much more than that. In fact, it is so often completely different than the postcard view.

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Written by Anna Brones

February 23, 2015 at 19:01

Traveling on The Ghan: Australia’s Transcontinental Railway

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Traveling on The Ghan: Australia's Transcontinental Train  photo by Anna Brones

Last fall I spent a couple of months in Australia, and while I have had great intentions of sharing some photos from that trip, this has yet to happen. In the meantime though, I am excited about a piece I wrote for Roads & Kingdoms about taking The Ghan, a train that goes all the ay from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south, crossing through Australia’s Red Centre.

The Ghan is anything but fast. With an average speed of about 53 miles per hour, this is the definition of slow travel, but the train’s snail’s pace is perfect for taking in the desolate, unforgettable landscape outside the window: dusty red ground and dry desert foliage well adapted to the arid environment. We pass a pile of old timber, what looks to be a former cattle loading area. The pieces of wood are dark with age, left to bake under the Australian sun.

Read the whole article here. And check out some of my photos from the trip below.

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Written by Anna Brones

February 18, 2015 at 07:19

Find Moments of Beauty

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Paris Sunset by Anna Brones

It was a long week. Yesterday we rallied, with millions around us.

There’s so much to say. So much to decide moving forward.

But what Paris reminded me of last night is that there is still beauty to be found in the world. Let’s keep searching for it.

Written by Anna Brones

January 12, 2015 at 17:10

Je Suis Charlie: Thoughts and Photos from Paris

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Place de la Republique wit Charlie Balloon by Anna Brones

“Silence is never the answer, and when we ask ourselves what we can do tomorrow and the next day and the next day, it’s to continue to speak out. It’s to continue to do what we do, live our lives without fear, but also do our best so that those around us don’t have to live in fear either. We do not meet hate with hate, we meet it with compassion. We work hard to build tolerance. We create that space where all people feel safe and can congregate. Where they feel welcome and at home.”

I wrote that in an essay for Sprudge on the recent days in Paris. I am finding that all I can do in the midst of this tragedy is write. And if this week has taught us anything it’s that we must fight with our pens.

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Written by Anna Brones

January 9, 2015 at 11:59

All About Bicycling in Paris

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bikes-paris-122

“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.

Written by Anna Brones

July 24, 2014 at 08:13

Posted in Paris, Portfolio, Travel

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Is Paris Any Good or Not?

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Paris skyline

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.

Written by Anna Brones

July 23, 2014 at 08:23

Posted in Paris, Portfolio

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