Wandering Abroad: Week 3:: Paris

It's been exactly 3 weeks since we arrived in Europe. It definitely feels like 3 months...

This week I spent some time in Paris for my good friend Nathalie's 21st birthday. Her family has a flat in the city and she brought a bunch of her friends from St Andrews + her parents from LA + our friend Nadia from LA + Lena and Sam from LA + me over for a weekend filled with celebrations, crepes, and lot of wine. It was quite splendid.

Splendid to be speaking French again, splendid that I actually haven't lost all of it, splendid being reunited with old friends, and splendid being in the bustle of a city. Galway is cute, it's quaint, but it's simply too slow. LA has grown on me in ways I hadn't realized. I like the anonymity of the crowds yet finding places to call your own. Paris blows your mind at every corner with its history and air of grandeur, and although some of its stereotypes mayyyy be true, it's quite a vibrant city.

I'm back in Galway way, and I'm not sure what the next 3 weeks hold. I have my plane ticket to head Scotland for 10 days on November 19th. I may head to Dublin for a few days beforehand, I may not... Really, I just to get back to work. I need to figure out Beating Lights, I need to write more music, I need to learn more things. 

I've got all my important flights figured out. After Scotland, I'll be in Sweden with an Aunt for a week. After Sweden, I'll be in Iran for about  17 days. After Iran, I'll be in Dubai for Christmas with my Iranian family and my mom and brother who will join us, then, finally, FINALLY, on January 1st, I'm heading back to LA. It feels like such a long time, man. 

But hey, here I am, wandering Europe. La vie est belle, so be grateful, be humble and put yourself out there.

Cheers, mes amis.

À plutôt.

Wandering Abroad:: Feelings // 2 weeks in//

We're about 2 weeks in here.

We just spent the weekend in Clifden, a small town about a 90 minute bus ride from Galway. We stayed with a new friend, we played music all weekend, we saw sheep, walked through green hills, and I was reunited with a former high school teacher. It was real sweet. 

But enough about that. Let's talk feelings.

I'm feeling restless and creative. Restless because this feels like a 3 month long vacation and I can't stand vacations anymore. LA and my adrenaline-fueled life have taken over parts of me, and I love it. But Galway isn't the same. IReland isn't the same. Life is slower, more low-key. Funny, because I thought I was rather low-key.. but context, am I right? The music scene is different too. From what I've seen so far, there isn't actually a scene. People don;t regularly go check out live music, or at least in the way we do in LA. I go out to shows 2-3 nights a week, for the simple sake of seeing a show, or supporting a friend's band, or networking, or making new friends. Basically, shows are my social life.  That's just not the way it rolls here..

It's weird. It's a challenge, but I'm not totally in the mood to accept it. The only way to go about this is to find a different way to live life.  I'll make music instead, I'll write, I'll busk. I'll continue meeting bands as often as I can, shooting them along the way, but this temporary life is just what it is: a short side-note from real life, while I figure myself out, figure you out, and hone things down so I can come back cartwheeling and ready for the show.

Cool. It's mid-way through October. 

Chat soon,

Shab

 

Wandering Abroad- Week 1

It's been a full week here in Galway, Ireland.  A full week of too many emotions, in all kinds of places. From arriving, to dealing with jetlag, to trying to figure out what we're doing here... it's been weird. Ive been anxious and restless and annoyed and mad and stressed and nostalgic and sad....

But it's finally becoming wonderful. I've come to terms with the fact that I won't be using my Working Holiday Visa; I'm here to wander, to discover, to learn, to refresh, to rebrand, hone and focus. I'm not going to be in Ireland for 3 months, I'm not even going to be in Europe for 3 months. But this time will not go wasted. I'm going to  say Yes to anything that hits me, I'm going to put myself out there in any and every which way I can.

This week I wrote a song in less than 24 hours. This weekend I performed at an open mic in front of 50+ people. Tomorrow I have a photoshoot with a band. Next week a spanish girl is going to teach me how to play a cajon (box drum). Then I'm going to Paris for Nathalie's 21st birthday. Then back to Ireland for most of November. The rest is unknown, but it will be whatever it has to be. 

This is not quite a vacation. I don't like vacations. I'm on a side-note, continuing my life in LA virtually, while I figure some things out, while I attempt to be the person I've realized I'm not, but that I want to be. 

Cheers, friends. go put yourselves out there too <3

Chat soon,

Shab

Ireland in T minus 3 days: things to be excited about

I'm leaving for Ireland in 3 days. I'm going with Sarah, and we're taking 2 planes and a bus to get from LA to Galway. We have our first 7 nights booked in a hostel, and we both know one singer songwriter living in the city. Otherwise, WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS. And honestly, I couldn't be bothered. 

I got this Working Holiday Visa when I was in a completely different state of mind, even though it was barely 5months ago. I'm not going there for a year, and I'm not even going for the experience of "living and working abroad". At this point, I'm going because I have this plane ticket to go that I bought 3 months ago, so I guess I should go?

I've been in a state of complete and utter DGAF for the past few weeks. I don't care what I do there, I just want to come back. But the thing is, I'M GOING SO I MIGHT AS WELL MAKE THE MOST OF IT, so GET EXCITED, DAMNIT.

So moving forward, here's what I'm looking forward to:

Cider on tap, everywhere.

Live music in every pub, all over town, ever night.

Autumn weather

Rain, every day, all over the country.

Trees, hills, mountains.

new people, new friendships, new collaborations

And probably most importantly: taking time away from this life right now to fully take a step back, regather my ideas, hone my ideas, hone my feelings, and come back with something bigger, better and refreshed. (re:Beating Lights)

So it's going to be good! It's going to be great. I'm just going to miss you, that's all. And I'm scared shitless that you'll forget about me, not going to lie. The last couple times I've left for a 2-3 months, I ve come back and realized people DID forget. and DID move on.... You better fucking believe I'm not going to let that happen this time. I'm coming back, and I'm going to hit the ground running when I do. <3

T-3 days. here we go.

Chat soon,

Shab

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Seattle, thanks for the lowkey vibes.

This trip came at a perfect time. I think my adrenaline levels were about to burst out of the roof. Seattle has a way of letting you be, letting you wander, letting your mind ponder and reflect. It was so great. 

J-TREE/Bombay Beach/ San Diego

a little weekend getaway with the gals.

San Diego- Bombay Beach- Salvation Mountain- Joshua Tree


The downsides to traveling for extended periods of time.

So I recently just got back from 6 weeks on the road.

It started with a friend’s musical tour on the American west coast, from LA to Seattle and back, and ended with my own travels from Scotland to Ireland and finally, back to LA. During those six weeks, I slept in about 17 cities and visited around 25. I met a lot of really wonderful people, incredibly kind hosts, and ridiculously talented musicians. It was fun, exciting, at times overwhelming, mostly thrilling, and all around insightful.

There’s obviously much to be learned when traveling, both about yourself and those in other places. I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled a good bit for my twenty two years of life, from my semester in Italy, my summers in  Iran and other adventures around different countries. This trip though was the first where I was on the constant move for such a long period of time. It was unlike any other trip I’ve done, and I think it’s been one of the most rewarding.

 

This time, I focused on the people: not the sights, not the food, not the monuments or the guidebooks.  The tour up the West Coast was so tightly scheduled, most of my time was spent watching Drew Tabor perform, keeping her company on our long drives, taking pictures of her on pretty places, and meeting musicians whenever we could. During my 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland,  my schedule was made based on 1) where I had friends who could house me and 2)where I was able to book a shoot with a musician. In the end, even the Cliffs of Moher seemed underwhelming compared to the real, genuine and impassioned conversations I had with the people I was meeting along the way and what I was learning from them.

 

Sure, I probably could’ve kept traveling for a few more weeks. Why not keep meeting more people? But the thing I realized on my flight from Edinburgh to Dublin was this: as valuable as traveling is, as valuable as seeing places is, people are more important.  I wish I could’ve spent more time with everyone I met, gotten to know them more, built stronger connections.

There’s no other way I can travel now. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in Paris, sure go see the Tower.  But what should you also do? Go have a real conversation with one of the street artists. Ask him what his life is like. Ask him what his favorite song is, why he started painting, and maybe what’s the favorite thing he’s ever painted. That’s where my favorite part of travel lies, and that’s where I think you’ll gain something more meaningful than a picture of a tower, mountain or any cityscape.

A Trip to Greener Places: Scotland/Ireland December 2014

About a year ago I got it into my head that I wanted to move to Ireland right after graduation. I was SURE it was going to happen. Well around July I realized that it actually wouldn't, so I decided that if i couldn't move there, I'd go ahead and travel around the country for a bit. And why not bring Beating Lights along with me?

So before I left, I hit up Google and tried to find at least one artist in every city I was staying in. It wasn't easy to say the least, but I was determined. I didn't know what to expect, I simply thought it would be fun to shoot some musicians while I was there. But now to say that the past 3 weeks were incredible is an understatement.

I met up with 4 singer songwriters, 4 bands, was invited to 2 shows (one in a church, one at a pub), had tea with one artist, cider with a few others and breakfast with the last band. After every shoot, I made sure to sit down with each of them and have a little "interview" (aka conversation about life and music), and these conversations ended up being some of the highlights of the trip. Either all musicians over there are incredibly humble and friendly, or I just got super lucky. Either way, it was wonderful. 

I decided I can no longer travel any other way. I don't care about paying to see castle, paying to enter museums, taking pictures of the food, the statues, the towers. Because what on earth would that bring to my life? 

During the past 3 weeks I was able to learn about the music scenes in those different places, how different yet similar life around the world can be, and get to know some of the most talented and just damn friendliest people I now know. 

My only regret is not having more time to spend with everyone. The downsides to traveling for extended amounts of time is, although you get to meet more people, you also get to spend less time with them.  

Sometime in the last few months I gave up on the idea of moving to Europe. I think I just go too comfortable here. it's easy and all too convenient  to stay in the US.  But easy is uninspiring. I don't like LA (too many reasons to count, ask me if you really want to know!), I don't feel American (some combination of attending a french immersion school for 13 years and living in an Iranian-American household), and I simply don't care about being a part of this music industry.

So now the plan is back on, and I'm not going to waste any more time before making it happen.

VIDEO RECAP

PHOTOS




That's a Wrap! - Drew Tabor's West Coast Tour Recap

17 days, 12 shows,  so many miles, many different beds, countless cups of coffee and too many laughs: we're all done!!

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Neither of us (none of us counting Jane!) had done anything like this before: Jane had never booked a tour, Drew had never played a tour and I'd never managed a tour. This was a super small scale deal, with no band or budget. Everything we made went back into gas, food and lodging (if we didn't have a kind friend who was willing to house us!). 

There were some speed bumps, but overall, it was one hell of a learning experience. 

Here's what I learned in the past 17 days:

1. Drew and I are the funniest people we both know... even if no one else knows it. 

2. People CAN care about your music, and WILL pay attention to you play, and WILL buy your music (outside of Los Angeles)

3. We know some of the kindest people out there <3

4. the Pacific Northwest is beautiful. (I already knew that, but was once again reminded of its beauty) 

5. As bad as things may seem, the day will end and tomorrow will come no matter what.

6. Sleeping in a different bed every night for 2 weeks will definitely lead to nightmares. 

7. Nick Jonas' "Jealous" and Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" make any day a great one instantly. 

8. Expect nothing, because it can only go uphill from there :)

 

What I'm more sure of now than even before: people matter, and the connections we make with one another are so much more important than another CD sold, another subscription made, another facebook page liked. People matter, and there's nothing more fulfilling than getting to know one another and creating meaningful relationships that go beyond just one show, one party, one tour, one fleeting meeting. 

________

Do I hope to go on a tour again? Definitely. I'm never done traveling, meeting people, creating connections and capturing moments with my camera.

 (I also pride myself in being a great Yelp-er, so bring me on your little tour and I'll make sure we figure the food situation out!)

Do I hope to go on a bigger tour? That's a two part answer:

1. I do hope to go on a bigger tour someday, with a larger band around the country or abroad, simply because that just sounds like fun!

2. I really want to help organize a house show tour! Because like I've been saying about people, they're important. And touring in living rooms and other people's homes creates that space that allows for those connections to expand beyond the fan-artist relationship, beyond that one show, into something more meaningful.

 

Ok. that wraps it up. Feeling all the feelings and the good vibes. 

Thanks for reading!

Cheers <3

Shab

Drew Tabor West Coast Tour: Halfway Highlights

It's Day 8 and were basically at the halfway point. 

Drew's had 6 shows, we've seen about 13 cities, and we've got 9 days left. 

I'm feeling warm and bubbly (even though it' 30 degrees outside in Beaverton, OR right now...) :)

Here are some of the highlights:

 

Day 1: We left LA for San Luis Obispo. We honestly thought the show would be in the middle of nowhere (what's in SLO anyway?), so we were so pleasantly surprised when we got to the coffee shop (Linnea's) where Drew had her first non-LA show of the tour. The streets were bustling, the coffee shop was pretty packed, and the best part, people actually payed attention to Drew play!

Conclusion #1: LA audiences don't care.

Day 2: We made our way up to Mountain View, stopping at the Bixyby Canyon Bridge for some tourist-y pics. (how could we not?). The show in MV was at Red Rock Coffee Co, and the crowd remains my favorite by far so far. When drew went up, all 30ish people stopped what they were doing, put away their laptops, and listened. After her set, more than a handful of strangers came up to say Hey and buy her EP. 

After the show, we met up with a couple friends of mine for wine in Palo Alto. There were so many good vibes all around that night :)

 

Conclusion #2: LA audiences suck, old fiends are the best, and Drew's favorite food of all time is the Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Day 3 was off day so we got a late brunch in San Francisco, where we stumbled upon a Jazz show going on at a small local bookstore (featuring the cutest old people around). On our way to Oregon, we attempted to shoot a couple videos, but the highway sounds killed us. oh well, pictures came out well though!

Day 4: OREGON. AUTUMN.COLD WEATHER.COFFEE. 

That pretty much sums up how I was feeling on day 4. 

That night, Drew  had a show at White Eagle Saloon. It was  a singer songwriter showcase, so we got to watch a couple other musicians before she went on. That's where we were introduced to Max Garcia Conover and the magic that is his music. Filled with guitar flutters and riffs, his music  was beautiful. He's been on the road with his wife, traveling the country in a motorhome. For his last song, he brought his wife on to sing this tune about fables with him, straight unplugged, and I'm pretty sure my heart melted right there. It was like a scene out of a movie.

Max, if you're reading this, I hope our paths cross again. Best of luck with your travels and endeavors, and keep doing what you're doing <3

Day 5: Reunited with my favorite american city on our 2nd day off. 

Day 6 included busking at Pike's Place and shooting a video in the woods at Discovery Park. It was a wonderful, FREEZING, day. 

On the morning of Day 7, before we left Seattle, I got coffee/breakfast with my friend Vincent who was too kind enough to let us stay with him for those 2 nights. There's absolutely nothing like catching up with a great friend, and I'm so happy I got to spend even just those few moments with before departing. 

That night Drew had a show at Axe and Fiddle in Cottage Grove, Oregon, about 2 hours south of Portland. More good vibes as I sipped on my irish coffee and sang along to Drew's music (#1 fan here!)

Day 8: we started the day with an interview at KDUP, University of Portland's radio station. That was short and sweet, but pretty cool to be a part of (Thanks, Mason!)

Of course we had to have our afternoon coffee at Stumptown. That latte was delicious. 

That night at the Jade Lounge, my good friend Sarah opened the night with her sweet folk tunes and Drew met some Youtube fans. so need I say it again? GOOOD VIBES. <3

Fun facts

1. Drew puts pepper on all food evern before she tastes it

2. Her favorite food of all time is the Chocolate Chip Cookie

3. We've been listening to Nick Jonas' "Jealous" too often for it to be ok.. but i mean. I don't mind it... so whatever.

4. PNW is still the best

5. Old friends are the best

6. musicians are the best

That about wraps it up. we've got a 10 hour drive tomorrow back down to Cali for Drew's show in Sacramento... LEGGO.

Pacific NorthWest is Best.

I just got back form a 12 day trip to the PNW. I'd already made a similar trip with friends right after graduation, but this was a little different.

A bunch of Ferdowsi's from LA went up to Vancouver to meet up with another little group of Ferdowsi's so we could finally meet the littlest Ferdowsi who was born a year ago. It was 5 days of eating, sight seeing, baby-ing and more eating. It was a first family trip like this in a while, and it was definitely long overdue. 

After Vancouver, my parents and I drove down to Seattle because why not. I'm still in love with that city and the entire American PNW. A friend just moved there to work at Amazon (no big deal, right?) so I was able to meet up with him and his friends and get a little taste of what a regular sunny sunday (emphasis on sunny, which is rarer than rare) as a seattlite. 

A quick train ride and weekend later, we got to the wonderful little city of Portland. I absolutely love it there. it has the pace of a suburb but with the amenities and infrastructure of a city. It might be a little too low-key for my own lifestyle, but maybe Ic could get used it? People are just so nice, and no body gives a crap what other cities think. Portland is weird and they don't give a damn. The best part about those two days in Portland was the afternoon I met up with the musicians to shoot a couple little acoustic session for my music blog.  I'm in love with their music now, and it was simply so great making those new connections.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful 12 days. Now time to hit the ground running and figure out what I'm doing this fall (and continue those #postgrad ramblings).

Iran was/ Iran is.

Summers in Iran used to be about swimming all day and napping all afternoon. They used to be filled with everyone in one place all the time, whether it was lunch at his house or dinner at her place. Parties were all the rage, even if family parties in Iran can often mean nothing more than a giant kickback with a lot of rice and tea. 

Summers in Iran used to be about relaxing, reading 12 books in 7 weeks, trying new restaurants and getting friends souvenirs.

Now, a trip to Iran is about seeing the family we haven't seen in months. Simple as that. No fluff, no frills. It was a wonderful childhood while it lasted, and although I refuse to believe or feel like I've entered adulthood (trust me I haven't), i just need to accept this new purpose. 

West Coasting (May 2014)

We drove for 2800 miles up the Pacific Coast to Seattle and back. 

I drank two cups of really good coffee a day, we hugged a ton of trees, I injured my knee, we got a parking ticket, we ate a lot of sandwiches, a lot of ice cream, shared beds with one another, drove through 3 states in one day and got a flat tire on our way back.

We sang along to “Waves” by Sleeper Agent and danced away to “Young Hearts” by Strange Talk as the road continued. 

We saw sunsets, took selfies, drove over so many bridges.

It was epic, to say the least.

But words aren’t enough, so take a look through the photos while you listen to the tunes that kept us sane on the road. 

Like reading through a journal.

 Dear 12 year old self,

it will get better, I promise. You’re just awkward, kiddo, and that’s ok! I promise: one day. you will learn to love yourself. 

__________________________

As I write this, I’m sitting in the bedroom in the apartment I lived in for 4 months.  I just had dinner with my host mom, Onelise, and host dad, Mario. She made rigatoni al ragu and some sort of roasted pork filet.  We finished the meal with panettone and vino santo as we watched the news, witch currently was reporting on the snowstorms all over the American east coast. We talked about Iran, what women have to wear there; we talked about my parents and how they came to America 35ish years ago, we talked about my grandparents and what their favorite Italian food was during our trip. It all would have been very normal for a study abroad semester, except that I studied abroad last fall.

My roommate Becky isn’t sitting here right now on her side of the room doing her Mythology reading for tomorrow, I don’t have any homework to do, and we’re not planning our next weekend trip.  I’ve barely spoken any Italian at all in the past 12 months, and my list of vocabulary words has shrunken ridiculously. But really what makes this so different is me.

The last time I was sitting in this spot on this bed was over a year ago. That’s crazy isn’t it?  Crazy so think how much I’ve changed in one year. Or really I should say a year and a half. When I left for China in June 2012, I began the process of the creation of the person that Is now me. Finally, once I left Italy in December 2012, I began the second step of this process: the analytical/self-reflection part. The part that is still leading me to where I am now.

I am still looking back at specific events, breaking them down and seeing how they contributed to the making of New Shab. And sitting where I am on this bed with pink sheets in the apartment where I now have an Italian pair of grandparents, I’m looking at everything with new eyes.  I can see the “study abroad” culture that has overwhelmed American students into spending a semester in a new country where, honestly, to be real, they don’t care much for the culture. I can see how much I needed to find my “thing” to push me forward, see how photography wasn’t all there was to me, how now that I have found my passion, I feel CRAZY. Crazy enough to feel like I can do anything, crazy enough to be completely confident in my every move, crazy enough to apply to au pair in Ireland (even though really, no fingers are pointing towards it). But also confident enough to have pride in my craziness, and realize that it’s this precise craziness that is me.

A year ago I was trying to figure things out. I didn’t realize how unsure I was, because I was alright in that precise uncertainty. But now I’m certain, and now know who I am and what I want. I’ve realized that this thing called “normal” doesn’t exist.  Normal is a subjective term.  My normal is your weird, and you’re crazy is my normal.

SO SCREW THE STATUS QUO. Who needs it? I’ll do me, you can do you.

Vacationing is not Traveling

Belated ephiphany. but while walking the streets of Florence with my brother, parents and grandparents, I realized I was on vacation. Obvious, but I wasn’t anticipating this: I was all, “man, can’t wait to go back to italy, to travel to new parts of rome and florence, to travel to naples..” But as we went from fancy store to 4 star restaurant back to our comfy hotel room, I realized I miss traveling alone. I miss hostelling, I miss eating 4 euro sandwiches and 2 euro cappuccinos in hidden coffee shops. I miss walking off the traditional Florence map to my favorite park, I miss bussing around Ireland, I miss bar-hopiing in Ireland,  I miss exploring.

I gave up complaining though. a little carpe diem-ing needed to be done on a trip like this, a trip where 3 different generations and 6 different people all had very different desires. Live and let live, or whatever expression best fits. Traveling has it’s own time, and this isn’t it.

__

I’m off to Onelise and Mario’s tomorrow and I’m about to do cartwheels out of excitement. i’m sick of this tourist trap that is the historical center of florence. my florence is calling my name.

a presto!

::)

New Year's Resolutions for 2014

1. SURVIVE SPRING SEMESTER:

-17 units of class in 3 days- writ 340- neuroscience GE4- an internship- shooting more people (2013 was not so great:/)- growing my blog times infinity- finding a plan/way/reason to move to ireland- make said plan a reality

2. GRADUATE

3. MOVE TO IRELAND

simple enough, right? right. RIGHT! yup.

#whateverittakes

Studying Abroad: looking back, one year later

The more time passes, the more you can learn from looking back.

__________________

Exactly one year after I left Italy, and I’m finally able to pin down why I had the experience I did.

Expect Nothing."Studying abroad" is a culture that I didn’t know existed before I left for Italy last fall in September 2012. All I knew was I wanted to try living somewhere else, and see if Europe was a place I could end up after graduation. Turns out, others had (and continue to have) different expectations of their study abroad experiences. They expect to travel (to as many countries as they can…), to take advantage of the drinking age, to take pictures and post them on facebook to make people back home jealous, to eat lots of food, and did I already mention drink lots of alcohol?

I’ve decided there’s nothing wrong with these expectations, they just weren’t mine. And since I went in with such high hopes, my expectations were turned at a 90 degree angle. So no, it wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t make Italian friends, I didn’t see what the life of an italian college student is like, I didn’t see what it’s like to work in Italy, and the list can go on.

BUT. I did become a part of my italian family. I did become conversational in the italian language, I did become a coffee drinker, and I did become more confident with who I am. Which is why I’m here, writing this: I am very ok with the fact that I only visited 3 countries while abroad, 2 of which I’d already been to. I’m very ok with the fact that I didn’t “go hard” every weekend, and preferred strolling through the city and getting a hot chocolate or simply eating dinner with my 65 year old host parents. 

To each his own.