A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Language Blunders November 17, 2009

Filed under: Italian Life — italicana kitchen @ 9:15 pm
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I always have to laugh when I make language blunders.  Actually, I start laughing when I see the look of shock or confusion on the other person’s face…

Cannibalism, The New Fashion:

After a coffee date with a friend the other day, we were walking back towards the car through the narrow cobblestone streets and I commented on his down jacket that zipped all the way up to the tip of his hood much like a mummy sleeping bag.

“Your jacket looks like un sacco di pelle,” I say to him.

He stares back at me, his eyes narrowed with confusion.

“You know…for camping,” I continue.

Then his eyes lit up and he bent over laughing. Historically might I add, to the point that I thought he might choke from not getting enough air in his lungs. Oh, cause don’t you know “un sacco a pelo” means sleeping bag, where as “un sacco di pelle” means skin. Yup, that’s right my friend, you’re jacket looks like a sack of skin.  Nice one Cindy.

TMI….Too Much information:

Of course, not to be out done, my Italian friend who likes to practice speaking English with me also experienced quite the hilarious language blunder. We had just packed up our books and were leaving the library when she whispered something in my ear.

“I need to go to the bathroom to put on my fart,” she said.

Sometimes her English is missing a word or two, so I translated that phrase to, “I need to go to the bathroom to fart.”

“Uhh, huh….interesting…well, thannnnks for sharing friend,” was my first thought.  That is until after I realized that she probably said “fard” which is another word for make-up.

Even so, Italian gals, when talking to someone in English, just remember the word make-up….never, never, say the word fard. I promise…you will get quite the shocked look if you do.

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New Blog! :: Italian Isolation April 10, 2009

Filed under: Italian Life,Italy,living abroad — italicana kitchen @ 10:45 pm
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I will continue to write on a Traveler’s Terrene about general ideas and thoughts (and keep it going for when I take another big trip), but for everything related to my life in Italy you can go to my new blog: Italian Isolation.

From topics such as my passion to write a book to learning fluent italian, from whether Italian men are really stallions to where to find the best gelato–I plan to talk about it all. Think of me as your new travel spokesperson on life in Italy, and learn a little Italian along the way in the Italian vocabulary section!

 

Another Vocab Blunder… March 31, 2009

Standing outside a restaurant last week, my friend introduced me to a group of friends.  While he turned to continue his conversation with another person I began to chat with one of the women.

Of course, our conversation started out by saying the introductory greetings of “Ciao/Hello…” “Come stai?/How are you?”….etc.  Later in the conversation, I noticed her beautiful red necklace.

“Che bel collare!” I exclaimed.

I received a puzzled look from the woman. Then I pointed to her red necklace hanging around her neck.

“Oh!” She said a wide grin flashing across her face, “La mia collana.”

Ah yes…”collana” because “collare” means collar.

“What a beautiful collar!” …so…I basically just told the woman she looked like a dog. Awesome.

 

Living an Italian Dream. March 18, 2009

It seems surreal that it has been three weeks since I left the States to start my new adventure: to live in Italy for a year! Last year I embarked on an 10 month around the world trip, this year I am in pursuit of fulfilling additional dreams to live abroad, learn fluent Italian and write a novel–something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember but have never taken the time. When I look back on my life I don’t want to remember that I wanted to do something, but rather that I did that something. The fear of failure is the greatest failure in life.  Why would you deny yourself the opportunity to try to achieve what your heart desires for fear that it cannot be done?

Sure, I may  not achieve all of my endeavors, that is to be somewhat expected. However, with every pursuit I will certainly grow, learn and strengthen myself with the mere act of trying.  The end result is a compliment for ones ego, but the passion that fills one soul in the process is the true reward. To feel alive with passionate hunger and desire is the only life worth leading, without feeling and emotion life is a stagnant line. I want to be a heart beat. A pulse. A movement in space that is always surging and never at rest.

Let the infinite possibilities of life consume me,  my dreams engulf each moment I spend on earth, and give me determination and perseverance in maintaining an unwavering aim to lead a life of unrelenting passion and romantic adventure.

 

Daily Challenges: Balancing Your Goals November 23, 2008

I have been living off an energy high since being in Italy. Each day I have woken up and felt truly happy…to the point that I smile all day long, have a skip in my walk, and have had numerous people ask me if I am always this happy, for which I reply, of course not (to make them feel better)–but truthfully, I have been. Why? Because each day I have been living a balanced goal oriented life. I have an accomplished feel to my day as I simultaneously work towards achieving many of my personal goals.

But the past 3 days however, I have been on the verge of kicking something (really hard and with all my strength), my insides have felt explosive–like a shaken up soda pop, cap still on and just waiting to explode. I hate being filled with negative feelings or anxiety as it directly affects the rest of my mind and body–I start sleeping less, eating bad foods, stop working out, and become mentally and physically lazy. It’s a recipe for disaster and if which, is not stopped soon, can easily become routine. And, seriously, who likes to be around a pessimistic, lazy, moody person? Not me…and even I then start to despise myself…  

The catalyst to this horrible cycle of emotions has been my over indulgence in one particular goal–trying to complete a 50,000 word manuscript by the end of November. I think this goal is entirely doable, and had I spent the first few weeks organizing my time a little better would have been manageable, but as I near the end of the month with a current word count of around 30,000 I began to freak out–“I’m not going to achieve my goal,” my insides wail. And because my insides are little fighters they say, “come on now…we’re not going to give up! Let’s fight…”–and so I did: staying up routinely until 4…3…2a.m. this past week, locking myself in my room and sitting in a chair with my computer on my lap for 9…10…11+ hours at a time, drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee and tea and dedicating all my non-working hours to writing (meaning no running, reading, practicing Italian etc).

Three days ago, my body started hating me and my mind felt like a caffeinated cloud–buzzing awake but airy, with nothing really there.  Finally, I did what I knew would make me feel better–I went for a run. Within the first four strides, my body said to me, “THHHHHAANNNKKKYYYOOOOUUUU” (it doesn’t like being caged up) and my mind slowly began to relax, the fuzzy cloud that hung over my thoughts began sharpening into focus like the lens in a binocular. “Yay!” I said to myself, “I can actually think again.” So I ran…and ran…and ran…and probably could have rivalled Forest Gump in distance had I not had to work that day. It felt good to feel good; it felt good to be back to my normal self.

So, I have decided to not bind myself in trying to complete the word count at all costs–not to say I have given up writing towards this goal, but I am not going to starve myself from sleep, exercise and a little fun. My long term goal is to write a novel. I may not achieve my short term goal of writing a 50k novel within a month, but hey–not every goal I set am I going to accomplish, and that is okay. As long as I am taking a step in the right direction, I am at least moving somewhere than standing idle. This short term goal pushed me to start writing and to stop doubting my abilities or fears of failure. So, even though I may not get to 50,000 words by November 30th, my novel is in motion–30,000 words and counting!

Goals are like climbing a mountain. You see the top, and you want to be standing there, smiling, hands stretched out wide to your sides in self congratulation as you pear down below at your achievement. Sometimes it will be an easy climb–hey you’re in shape, you have the right equipment and your body can manage it. Other times, it will be a struggle–the weather brings snow flurries, equipment breaks or your body just says to you, “I can’t go on.” As any true climber knows–a mountain will always be there, you however, if you don’t listen to the signs of your body, may not.

So, my challenge to you is to access your goals and the state of your mind and body. Everyone will have different capacities and breaking points of how much they can handle. But just remember, your mind and body is your core, keep it alert and healthy and don’t overindulge if is telling you not to–it’s a smart little vessel, so listen to it:-)

 

Daily Challenge: Take a dance class. November 11, 2008

I went to the gym earlier this month to check into prices for a membership. I took the price and class information and told them I would be back when the weather turned bad, I prefer to run outdoors. I spent the morning working on my novel, and when I got off work this afternoon didn’t dare explore country roads in the dark (boo to the sun setting earlier). I took out the flier I had picked up earlier and decided tonight was the night I would start my 7 day gym membership trial. What do you know, a 30 minute ab class starting at 8:15p.m. (which I definitely need) and an African dance class starting at 8:45p.m.

That’s kind of late isn’t it? I could stay indoors where it is warm and sit and watch t.v., I could curl up with a cup of tea and read a book or I could get on Facebook for countless hours chatting with friends–The excuses could continue…

“No, I say to myself. You’ve never taken an African dance class before. Why not try it out.” I had no idea what to expect.

After 30 minutes of ab crunching, I walked into a room with six others. It was a small class. My big smile as I entered the room lead to automatic introductions (and little did I know that the class was a progressive dance class, meaning the same six had been dancing together since June). I met Saneo, the dance instructor from Senegal, who was wearing bright red, green, yellow and purple balloon style pants. He had a contagious smile, and was ecstatic to practice the little English that he knew. Within moments, Elage, also from Senegal, was beating the hand drum with his hands, the tambourine type things connected to the drum shook in rhythm, as though a whole band was playing.  Grazia, an Italian woman, stood next to Elage manning another two drums that she hit with a stick that had a ball attached to the end. The music was loud. It was fast. It made me want to dance.  I removed my shoes so that I was barefoot like the others and stood in front of the mirror behind Saneo.

Within a few moments of the music starting, Saneo, started moving his body–warming us up. I watched. I imitated. I probably looked ridiculous, but in that moment I was loving life. I moved my arms, I stomped my feet in a way I have never done before. The warm up steps were liberating movements for my body–it was like a fast stand up version of yoga…stretching, pulling, feeling each muscle move.

Then, the beat changed. Each person went to pick up two wooden handsticks that had course straw-like string coming out the ends. We began to dance the KuKu, a fast paced dance. The rest of the class knew all of the moves.  Me… I jumped, hopped, lunged, kicked and wailed my arms around, trying to learn in beat as I danced KuKu for the first time.

The beat changed again. As before, I mimicked my way through the second dance (can’t remember the name, it starts with a D, it sounded like Dorma). By this time, my heart was racing and I was glistening (as girls don’t sweat…we “glisten”) like I had just ran a marathon. It was one of the most fun and exhausting workouts I have ever had.

At the end of the class, I chatted with the others–they congratulated me on my dancing, amazed that this was the first time I’ve taken an African dance course. I promised to come back the following week, and am quite excited because Ejah is also bringing me a cd of African music to listen to! I had asked him about names of musicians I could download from iTunes, and he said he would burn me a cd of his favorites. I also made friends with two girls in my class who were completely thrilled when I suggested we meet for coffee in the future so they could practice their English (and of course, I could practice my Italian).   

Had I stayed at home, I wouldn’t have found out how much fun and how great of a workout African dancing is. I wouldn’t be curious about listening to African music. And, I wouldn’t have made new friends, with whom I am going to meet for coffee.

I am glad I went. I am glad I challenged myself. So, my challenge to you is to take a dance class. Whether it be from your gym, a private lesson, or at the very least, get on YouTube and try dancing to the Kuku http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuyhFuJ6IBk  or any other dance you’ve always wanted to learn!

I hope many of you participate and don’t forget to leave me a note on how the challenge went!

 

Daily Challenge: Everyone Needs a Little Motivation

I have my short and long term goals, but what about daily goals? Or even better, daily challenges.  I am competitive by nature, not the “I’m going to scratch your eyes out to win competitive”, but the “bring it on” attitude, or the “game on” I always like to say (picture the scene from Wayne’s World…).

Even though I am proactive by nature, there are times when I am lazy. Times when I procrastinate. Times when I just plain don’t care. Then…someone challenges me. “I bet you can’t do…”

 I feel a prickling sensation at the nape of my neck. I sit up straight, back arched in perfect posture, as I listen closely to what is being said…how dare someone suggest that me , a woman of the 21st century, can’t do something. I won’t claim I can do everything or rather, be good at everything, but I have enough courage to accept the challenge and try.

Has anyone heard me sing?  I am absolutely terrible. But, that didn’t keep me years ago from auditioning for a part in a musical and singing on stage in front of hundreds of people. (Mind you, after diligent practice I could sing the song quite well, but I would be your worst nightmare now if you allowed me sing to music in the car!)

Sometimes, all we really need is someone to play devil’s advocate and doubt us, assuming they know what we are and aren’t capable of doing.  Or, by contrast, sometimes, all we need is a little motivation. Someone to suggest we would be good at something or to complement us on our skills.  Whatever the case may be, sometimes we just need something to get us up and moving. To remind you to live an active life rather than a passive one. To propel you to better yourself or your situations.  To make life into a fun game, with new rules each day.  To try new things and explore. To force yourself to take risks even though you may be afraid. To humble yourself with failure, and become more confident with each success. And, the list goes on…

Each day, I will post a new challenge for myself. A mission to accomplish. (<insert mission impossible theme song here Da..da..da…da. Da..da…da..da.  Dada dddddddd….dada ddddddddd…dada.>) It will be anything from learning how to make authentic Italian homemade pasta to making a friend with a complete stranger; from volunteering a few hours at a shelter to taking a painting class. The options are endless.

My challenge to you, is to play this game with me. Write a message on the Daily Challenge post about your accomplishments or failures, stuggles or achievements with each challenge. It will be fun, it will be interactive! Given certain circumstances, you (or I) may not be able to play or achieve each challenge. Maybe you live in a small town and don’t have the ability to take a painting class or you can’t afford a babysitter to watch the children etc. Or, my challenges may not be practical for you or vice versa.  Feel free to use my challenges if you want or create your own as in the end, it’s more important that you make up challenges that fit your lifestyle and your personal desires. Either way, just challenge yourself to do something each day. Motivate yourself to better yourself in someway. It can be big or small, lighthearted or serious; it just needs to a challenge you set for yourself, a goal you try to achieve for the day.

And, don’t forget to let me know how it goes…and, even better, send me challenges to accomplish as well.

Happy brainstorming and…game on!