flowers in tokyo

On the small side streets of Tokyo I notice a calmness--flowers on door steps, nature blending willingly with the city. 

I know that I stand out here. There is no one here that looks like me, I'm not used to it. I'm trying to feel comfortable standing out, something that is usually difficult for me. But I have to wonder, why am I always so desperate to be unseen? It's a good challenge for me. I would like to feel bold in my own body, I am learning. I'm sure I will only feel this more when I visit the countryside.

Tomorrow to Hirosaki.


Pack Light

As both an artist and active person I've found it difficult in the past to travel light and include all of the things I need for my work/sanity. Rule of thumb, pack for a week and do laundry, include lightweight fabrics that dry quickly, bring your most versatile items, and wear your bulkier/heavier items on the plane.

Not pictured here:

Toiletry bag including- 1 Travel-sized Dr. Brauners, Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss, Shea Butter, Deoderant, Diva Cup, Band-aids, Mascara, Liquid Eye-liner, 1 Lipstick, Chapstick

What I was wearing:

Comfy walking-friendly boots, Nano Puff Jacket, Pashmina Scarf, 1 more T, 1 more comfy pair of pants, Hat, all the Jewelry i'll need for the whole trip ie. Necklace, hoops, watch

Also, sometimes I even bring a teeny lightweight jump rope.

I'll be in Japan for the next few weeks so stay tuned for more posts on my travels here! 

On Fábrica de Arte Cubano


Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) is a multi disciplinary art space in Havana. It was transformed from a factory into a gallery/concert/film/night life space by musician X Alfonso in 2014 and is a current hot spot for both locals and foreigners in Havana. For many Cuban artists it is a space to come together, talk ideas and meet new people. Two years ago when I studied abroad in Havana I spent a lot of time in this space. As an artist and a student I was amazed by its multi functionality and impressed by its accessibility - the entrance fee is about the price of a sandwich. 

Last night I went back to FAC to show my friends Hebah and Harris who are visiting Cuba for the first time. I hadn't really wanted to go because I'd heard that it had gotten super touristy, but I was excited to show Hebah because I'd told her about how ground-breaking it is as an art space. Nothing could have prepared me, not even all of the tourists I've seen throughout Havana, especially in Habana Vieja. 

The space itself is even more beautiful-- the gallery space has expanded a floor, the theatre room has a new balcony-- but I was appalled at the carelessness and complete take over by American tourists. FAC has always had a certain amount of tourists, but you would have never walked around and only heard English spoken. You're would have never had people respond instinctively "I'm sorry" and "excuse me" if you bumped paths, or see tourists drunkenly yelling in every hallway with a complete disregard for other people (locals) in the space.

What does it mean for a space literally entitled Fábrica de Arte Cubano to be completely taken over by foreigners seeking authenticity?

After leaving, we talked a bit about it all, holding complicated feelings and fears about taking part in this kind of tourist culture. Harris said, "What does it mean for me as an American, even if I am brown and can speak Spanish, to be entering these spaces? Are we hypocritical for traveling here and then getting mad when other people do it?"

I'm haunted by the way certain countries are made to rely on tourism for "growth and prosperity". I hate the relationships that creates- functionally saying that tourists own this place, that America owns this place.

So what is the responsible way to visit a place like Cuba? The only thing I can think of is how important it is to have an awareness of history, for visitors to be there to learn, not to impose. For each individual to recognize the effect of their presence on the space, to be respectful of the cultures and practices you don't understand, and to not assume that your way of operating is the norm.

Dia de los Trabajadores

May 1st - May Day

These guys had a pretty comical way of dealing with tourists wanting their photos. A woman took a photo of them without permission so they kept asking her to take more photos. She would take a shot and they would pretend to walk away only to return a few seconds later with the same level of enthusiasm, pose in the exact same way and say otra vez!  "again!" This lasted for about five minutes until an official with a walkie talkie (below) made it clear that there would be an issue if they didn't stop.