Travelling Woman

Ponderings of Wandering Minds

Light in the Dark
My heart goes out to all the families who are suffering the consequences of Sandy.

It seems so surreal...

Remarkable Ladies
I have never been camping. I won't lie, I was scared before. I never went through with my Duke of Edinburgh Award 3 day hike. Regret isn't the right word to describe how I feel about missing out... More like embarrassment. Although I had quite legitimate reasons for not doing it then; it was around exam time and it was wet and cold and I didn't want to have to deal with the repercussions of some savage flu during exam conditions.
Except now these reasons seem like good excuses. Perhaps I had a more reasonable brain then, unlike my restless thirst for recklessness now (I'm starting to think my brain is developing backwards starting from the frontal lobe), but it seems like I missed an easy and safe opportunity for that pretty cool award.

I have never received any awards before.

How did I suddenly remember to mourn the passing of this opportunity? WELL, go browse around National Geographic's website and stumble upon their list of Woman Explorers. Have you read about Hayat Sindi and Kira Salak? How about in depth about Salak or any other lady on that list?
Now go on living your life. No pressure.

Salak has been described as the “real life Lara Croft” by the New York Times for a very good reason, she is just one of many remarkable women who have gone and destroyed stereotypes. Most of these women have done and will keep doing so for years to come while we sit on our asses and complain about how far the nearest Starbucks is. Mind you, I speak from my own experiences of whining, it's too cold, too hot and so on. I'm not urging everyone to give up all comforts, just sometime we really need to recognise that we aren't being reasonable when allowing such mediocre problems get the best of us when our comforts (when put in such perspective) are so close and so incredibly rewarding.
Originally I found the article while researching information on internships for National Geographic. Naturally, I'm too European and I am studying all the wrong subjects at the moment for that kind of position, so I started browsing around.

My interest was sparked when I saw Salak's photo, she reminded me of Anna Torv's character in Fringe, Olivia Dunham. Gorgeous, blonde woman with playful eyes and somewhat masculine elements to her facial features and a bucket of charm to go. It seems rather amusing how some of these things are so visible from just a photo, but you don't need to see it to understand that a woman who travels to such remarkable locations where the locals have never seen a white man before, with their unknown culture and customs, dare I even add, as a female, you have to be confident and charming. Because confidence and charm translate well to any language whatever gender you are. The little information I have found about her has all been very personal (or at least very telling), like the FAQ section on her website. It seems like this woman has endless curiosity that drives her and without excessive recklessness, she achieves her goals.
A lot of us are convinced that generally women are incapable of braving hard conditions and surviving in dangerous zones, when in truth only a handful of women bother trying. It's true that as nature's trend goes, the ladies have less upper body strength to begin with, but better balance, agility and a higher pain threshold. Realistically, a woman can always condition herself to a required level. The only setback for most females is interest in the matter and myths from the Dark Ages of how a woman who exercises may grow a third arm and there's a high chance of getting possessed by the Devil. Once upon a time, we all survived in the harsh wilderness together, helping each other on the way.
Somewhere along the way we went through some horrifying sexism (according to some Victorian publication women actually have a walnut-sized brain, I don't even...) and myths were spread, today we are outgrowing many myths (though reading that Lady Gaga has balls makes me doubt humanity all over again) and as Ferdinand Magellan actually sailed and proved that Earth is indeed round after centuries of speculation, there are individuals who do the same in everyday life from both genders, on many subjects.
On a barely related subject, I'm planning to start training for a marathon. I have never liked running before but I feel like it would be cool to run a marathon and finish some physical competition in my life.

The Nifty Fifties
Light in the Dark
I follow a certain INSPIRING account on Twitter. @theniftyfifties
Every morning I have breakfast and browse around my twitter, today they posted this photo of Julie Newmar (the very first Catwoman).
That lady has a perfect figure. In fact, most ladies in the fifties seem to have gorgeous figures! Their waists are tiny, they have lovely curves in all the right places...
Let's take a closer look at those curves.Collapse )

Oh Italian, you amuse me.
wtf?! craaash!
My glorious experience in Italy so far?
Like crashing into someone's living room after an epic fight scene on the roof. Everyone is sitting comfortably on their butt, watching TV with their family and you just landed in front of them, still in your own fight, in your own thoughts.
Let's set the scene somewhere foreign to make things more awkward.
You have a choice of smiling, brushing off the wall dust and walking away like a true Hollywood hero, carrying on with your objective. Or you could realise that you just fell through a friggen' roof and probably broke your clavicle, if nothing else, have no knowledge of the language to ask for help and probably lost that fight.

That's what coming to Italy, to an Italian University with no prior knowledge of the Italian language feels like right now.
I like to aim for Hollywood heroism, so I'll wave my arms frantically and say sorry in every language I know, then laugh at the situation. (I am currently imagining an Indiana Jones/Nathan Drake kind of character here)
Let's give this some context, then. A Hollywood kind of flashback, perhaps!

Gloomy Day in the end of 2011. Coventry University lecture room, Coventry, United Kingdom.

Our lecturer tells us a guest speaker is coming to screw with our minds a little bit. That's cool. That's cool.
The guest speaker comes in with all these wonderful images of students on student exchange programs. India, Canada, America, South America, China, Italy. Then this presenter tells us the experience is entirely free. Not only is it free, we get paid while being there and upon return! We remain registered with Coventry and we are free-roaming in our university of choice.
My first reaction was "OMGAMERICAYESPLEASE" but, turns out you actually have to pay for the American university. The reason I never applied to the US to begin with was money, why start now. So we checked what else was on the menu.
Looking outside that dark and gloomy window the answer was clear.

Back to the present.

Aside from being completely unprepared for today's clash of the language barrier I have spent the entire week with my boyfriend drinking delicious coffee on every corner (whether I need it or not) and going and midnight gelato runs across the city. Today we were eating ice-cream in the soft afternoon sun on the steps of a park. It's a great experience and 90 per cent of the people we have thus encountered speak some basic English or understand me enough to smile.
Tom has previously learned French, so he is finding Italian easier to understand than I am, yet even with my lizard brain (stole that one from last night's Dexter) I compute certain words and put them to logical context. Tom claims to do the same.
When we arrived we got directed to intensive Italian courses starting tomorrow morning. I am very excited and terrified at starting them, but that's just me and my insecurity, all is right with the world.


Dreamers of the Day
It's that gorgeous season again! No, not autumn. Moving season!

Every couple of months (which thankfully, usually coincides with my studies and general lifestyle (and I will do anything to keep it that way forever)) I get restless. I need to get out and travel. No matter how occupied I am at the time, every three to four months I get struck by a need to change the scenery. Depending on where I am the restlessness will sometimes arrive sooner, but never later.

That's not to say that I don't get used to places or people! I get really attached to small things like... plants. I had this gorgeous almond tree outside my Limassol window for as long as I remember, it would always bloom so beautifully when spring was hanging around, this year I came back to see a new road there, saddest part is nobody really uses the road either. Nevertheless, a burning desire to make friends with new trees in new towns is stronger than my mourning for the old almond tree.

Last Wednesday I had about 2 or 3 hours of sleep (for various reasons HRM MEGAN), the next morning I recognised that I'm still full of a familiar energy, I'm once again manic with the desire to get a move on!! I need to get out! I need to see more! I called my father in Ukraine and demanded to know everything about all my Jewish relatives who scattered themselves all over the globe. "Why are you asking?" Dad enquired after explaining the locations of the closest cousins. "I remembered someone was in South Africa. We also have someone in Canada, right? And [Uncle from father's side] frequents China quite a bit..." "I see where this is going." The family kinda gave up on me after I fucked off to Japan soon after graduation with two transits on the way and loved staying in the airport for 12 hours with a friend.

I have a terrible habit of sleeping in airports just to catch a train in the morning and enjoy some more of the journey instead of asking friends to pick me up with a car. There is a wonderful and twisted romance to the "having a sore neck from dosing off on a airport bench" and "talking to other travellers on an air plane/train/previously mentioned bench", I love being tired after a journey, I get high off sleep deprivation and this kind of adventure. Whether I'm with someone or alone, it's always fantastic.

I believe it stems from two reasons for this.
1: My mother and I started travelling/moving countries when I was 2 years old. Before that there was a lot of moving around the city. As a child you tend to see adventure in every new location, whether it is a castle or a trench, and so I would be constantly tired but forever curious about what waits around the corner. The process of travel was fun too, everyone was always busying themselves with packing only hours before leaving! I thought my mom was nuts, she was risking forgetting all my toys, you see. However, the feeling, the liveliness of our otherwise lazy household would spring up and it felt like it was Christmas. That wonderful feeling and the pure habit of changing the scenery a couple of times a year, never really having an exactly same house to come back to except my grandparents'. It stayed that way until we finally bought an apartment in Limassol when I was 6. Even then, we'd still travel three times a year.

2: Being an only child with an over-active imagination and a lot of time and space to think and a grandfather who taught me wisdoms by the river since I started fishing (I must have been around 3 when he first let me deal with hooks, before that I'd just sit next to him), I was a very smart kid (up until recently). I had reached a mid-life crisis by the age of 7 when I realised that my perception of days and time is screwing itself up every year. I thought about how school years seemed to become shorter and shorter and nothing was really happening! I was in school for only about half a waking day or less! I started panicking and crying about how horrifying it is that my grandparents will get old(er) and even die some day, I need to spend as much time with them as possible and help them around the garden more. Since then, every birthday would be a mournful event of great significance and tragedy that I haven't become the next catwoman, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Lara Croft or Steve Irwin yet... YET. There seemed to be so much to do, learn, master and become! And I, at the crippling age of 8 have not achieved anything.
These epiphanies still get to me, and they are still devastating little breakdowns that give me a kick in the butt.

All these feelings and habits stayed that way.
Now, let's add that one of the recurring things in most counties were Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, jeez even the world news would remind me that there are so many countries to see and so much food to try and sooooo many animals to harass with my LOVE.

I went to many international schools and never learned how to discriminate correctly because all my classmates were human. Funny, isn't it? Two kids from one country, one could be a complete dick, the other my close friend... hrm.

Combine all that and you have a person who will sell her kidney to go for a cross-Asia trip and then perhaps happily sell a brain to go to see South American temples.

As a complete side note, yours truly helped at a beach cleaning event yesterday! Which is funny because I'm currently gathering lot's of data and footage about how messy Cyprus beaches are for the next topic of my post! Anyway, here's the short vlog, enjoy whilst being appalled.

Flower Power!
Spent the entire morning fiddling with the CSS, failed.
Enjoy the theme brought to you by scholarslayouts!

Healthy Lifestyle or "how I learned to stop trying to force myself to drink tea"
Flower Power!

Oh don't we all want to be healthy!
Or at least, I know I do. So day after day I watch work out videos, attempt to follow, think about eating healthy now and again. Today I decided I should kick my coffee habit and try drink tea in the morning and throughout the day.
I brewed myself a lovely glass pot of green tea and sat down in the office to start describing the gorgeous lime tones in the mixture. I took a sip and spat it out into the cup. I then poured out the entire contents into the toilet and returned to the kitchen to make myself coffee. When I sat down with the coffee, I felt offended! Betrayed by the lifestyle that I continuously try to embrace and like a moody feline it scratches me and walks off with its tail in the air with a lovely view of its asshole.
One would argue that I need to learn how to brew tea properly. Fair enough, but I will answer, I'm really not that fucked most of the time. Perhaps I should stick to coffees (which are really not that bad, problem is that it's 4 cups of instant coffee I consume in a day) and smoothies and water and stuff?

Track back. Why do I even care?
Here's why, at a tender age of 11, due to severe bullying I was hospitalised and put to intensive care with PEPTIC ULCERS. It's an unpleasant habit of your stomach acid to over produce itself and basically damage stomach walls until it can make holes and escape to burn the rest of your organs resulting in a slow, painful death. the first stages of damage are painful to begin with when the mucus on your stomach walls starts running thin, and burning up, then I was at the stage where I had areas that were bleeding inside, but thankfully, nothing broke through completely. In my case the ulcers were stress related, but to recover I had to go through most painful trails. I'm not just talking about acid burning my insides (although there was enough of that too). I'm talking about the bland diets and all that good stuff to keep stomach acid low. Doctors said I need to avoid stress and eat plain foods that are easy on the belly (there was no medication in Ukraine at the time, nobody had heard of omeprazole). Steamed meat and veggies and stay off the high acid fruits. And avoid exercise. Easier said than done. As soon as I got better physically I returned to school and to my retarded diet of junk snacks and heavy Russian cuisine made by my... uh... nanny? (A woman who used to take care of the house and cook for me because my parents weren't around) I had many a relapses after that, incident, mainly because of stress, but also because I would never prevent it from early stages by eating right. I also did contemporary ballet, gymnastics and all sorts of other movement I was advised against.

Now here I am, 10 years and 5 hospitalisations later still trying to improve my eating ethics, not giving up on fitness (although there are billions of reasons I really should). Now I am medicated. Over my last two relapses in UK and Cyprus the doctors forced me to stay on life-long medication. At first I resisted, but it's been almost a year and I feel safer. I can actually control what I eat and my daily routines. Yet, still, that nagging feeling of disliking something "healthy" and feeling like nature forced me onto this path, out of habit I still get offended. I need all my wrong fats and heavy carbs.

Then there's Megan the Rare South American Fruit Bat. A girl who's ever-faltering health makes me want to punch myself in the face for ever complaining. I will not go into too much detail about all of her health, but she is actually allergic to a fuckton of nuts BESIDE peanuts (which is honest mockery because they are the most popular allergen/offender, hence avoided and replaced by other nuts in some foods), then there's the gluten intolerance which manifested out of the blue and is plain inconvenient and painful but doesn't kill her. Sometimes I try gluten free foods that I want to share with her only to find many nuts to replace the flour. Which is sad. Megan suspects she simply ignored the gluten-intolerance until recently because he mother is South American and didn't cook much with anything other than cornflour and beans to begin with.
"It's no real problem. I'm a Fruit Bat anyway." She says sometimes. She lives on goddamn fruits and smoothies and never complains about the lack of gluten. Okay, she misses doughnuts and is ready to go through pain once a year for one. Once a year, people, once a year. DOUGHNUT.
Now that's a person who got fucked by nature and its nutrition and lifestyle laws, but saved by her unusual (for our day and age) tastes. She prefers a fruit smoothie for breakfast than my muffins and cupcakes and feels and looks beautiful. The girl has most gorgeous skin and teeth you have ever seen. It's also fun to bring house gifts to her place because you can always drag yourself to the market and get some exotic fruits and try them together.

So, here's picky me, with such a simple(ish) way around a lot of problems, and the Fruit Bat who really hasn't got much choice but embraces the lifestyle as a treat. A person truly forced into thinking twice before she eats anything.

I think I'm going to make myself some fresh brewed coffee and go buy fruits later, who's with me?

Women in Business... or My Big Fat Cypriot Life
On a hot summer morning in Cyprus women of the older generation wake up as early as 5 or 4am to cook and clean and then run family businesses. Think of the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding and change the location to a tiny island.
I'd say that probably 70% of the restaurants, take aways, home made food stores and organic food products are protected by the older ladies. This is quite an interesting balance with the fishing and technical side of the industries on the island that are ran by men.
You're probably thinking, "Yeah, so?", and that's cool, because you have no idea about how much shit women here have to deal with from the "stronger sex". I'm a Cypriot National originally from Ukraine, but I've lived here all my life observing the very obvious differences between people in Europe, and I've seen examples. It's not that the men sabotage anything directly, but women used to grow up told they can't do anything without their fathers and then their husbands and sons, until very recently... and in fact, most are still informed of this on a daily basis in modern families. Men here are proud and lazy as hell, they talk down at women and at the same time demand help. This is why I'm always astonished after seeing a woman in a position of power in local businesses. This is also probably why the only women that power through into it are mostly bitches today. The older ladies are timid as fuck and take the beatings and carry on.

Two examples: The Timid House Wife: my friend's mother, and Modern "Bitch" (word used as a reference to what I have heard from men on several occasions): the owner of my favourite rock bar (we have only three rock bars here!).
The Timid House Wife was raising kids and dealing with crap from husband all her life. When I say "house wife", think grandmother from the village type of house wife who will have a heart attack if you don't finish your food. Until the child grew up and suddenly the mother decided to open a CAROB SYRUP FACTORY. A small factory that she runs with one of her sisters that had Discovery Channel come in to film and they have been announced as one of the island's tourist destinations. They have a highway sign towards the village they live in and everything. I swear! Though the years of household duties do not wear off, she still cleans, cooks and complains about the dust in the house as well as the factory. The factory is organic approved and sold in glass bottles at pretty high prices, unlike other plastic-bottled syrups here it is more prestigious and delish with vanilla ice cream.

The Modern "Bitch" is a slightly younger woman who studied in Greece. From the first minute of talking to her you understand that the woman oozes that "boss confidence" of a bar wench and won't take shit from no one. A very petite lady with a strong handshake and piercing look. I've seen her talk to men the way some army Sargent orders around young cadets. She's half their size but will never let anyone look down on her, can comfortably cut a person off and say no. This type of behaviour gets you an unfortunate Bitch title from men. I like to call it - efficiency.

How these ladies manage to survive in such a small community so obsessed with reputation is a mystery and an inspiration to me.

(no subject)
Delicate Life Force

Wilbur Smith - the treasure
Tend Wounds
The writer has been around for more than four decades, I discovered him only two months ago in Starbucks thanks to their iTunes and iBooks and iCrap cooperation.

Book PornCollapse )


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