A Traveler’s Terrene

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

Walking in the Rain… April 26, 2009

Filed under: Random Moments — italicana kitchen @ 4:15 pm
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I woke up this morning to a dreary gray sky, the wind whipping through the nearby trees and the sound of a thousand drops falling on the rooftop..pidder..patter…pidder…patter… I walked to the window and pulled it open as far as it would go, took the patched blanket from my bed and curled up in the chair by the lamp and began to write. Just like the fresh breeze blowing through the open window, my thoughts flowed freely onto the paper in front of me until I had three pages full of blue ink.

Although I was finally consumed with inspiration, I also had the biggest urge to crawl out the window. On second thought,  I decided to use a more practical approach by using the side door, but I wanted to go play in the rain! It was only last week that I wrote a chapter about a woman who prefers the cold raindrops hitting her face than the comfort of the house. When was the last time I walked in the rain? Not with an umbrella or a fear of getting wet and ruining my blow dried and curled hair, but actually walking with the intention of feeling the cold water splash across my face and body? Trekking in the Himalayas maybe, but that now has been over six months ago. How have I deprived myself of this simple joy for so long? I questioned as I pulled on my black rain pants, put my arms through my red raincoat and laced up my worn and tattered hiking shoes.

Within a matter of minutes I was closing the metal door of the gate and strolling along the paved street which was void of life except a car every now and then. One car slowed down as it approached me, to stare, the driver probably asking himself, “why is this girl walking in the rain?” Another whizzed past, it’s wheels splashing the water that lay pooled next to the sidewalk as it made it’s way towards me, I found myself moving towards the edge of the sidewalk closest to the car and trying to time it just right so the splash from the puddle would hit me!

Soon my feet found puddles like a magnet to a fridge, and I couldn’t stop them from stomping, marching and splashing through the water–I was momentarily a 5 year old child. The cold water splashed up my pants and onto my bare skin giving me goosebumps before trickling it’s way down to my socks and pooling itself to form a puddle in my shoe. Removing the hood that covered my head, I let the rain stream down across my face as I left the paved streets to walk along an old country road lined with rustic Italian houses and vineyards that stretched towards the horizon for as far as my eyes could see. The green grass sprouted yellow dandy lions and white daisies lined the ground between the twisting vines held up by faded wooden poles and lines of sharp and pointy barbwire.

By this time, I was drenched but I didn’t care. My goal was not to stay dry but to feel the raindrops on my skin, to smell the fresh scent of cleansed air, and to hear the chirping of the birds or the droplets falling through the limbs of the trees, hitting each branch like the ball in an old arcade machine.

I sit here now after a warm shower, wrapped in a blanket and drinking tea–happy that I am now back inside. However, my walk through the rain is a moment I will never forget.

Every day we have the amazing opportunity to create moments and to live life like we’ve always imagined. For me, as I write about these moments for characters in my story it makes me jealous–I want to have a moment like that! I think to myself. The simple reality that we often times forget is that we can. The moments we imagine we can create, just like today–all it took was putting down my pen and walking out that side door.

 

Flying Bread and a Scratched Eye March 29, 2009

Instead of trying to back track and describe all of the amazing and incredible experiences of living in Italy for the past month and two days, I am going to simply flash forward to the present. Well, the present minus one day…last night…

I accompanied a handful of my new Italian friend to a birthday party celebration at a restaurant they had rented out for the evening. I planned to stay for dinner and afterward, while the rest of the fifty-some group of friends were going to a discoteca to dance, I was going to a fashion show! Yes, my night was beautifully planned out and I was looking forward to both occasions.

The dinner party started out great. A buffet of exquisite Italian appetizers: asparagus topped with polenta, varieties of focaccia and pizza, rice and pasta salads, veal layered with tuna spread and one of my favorites, l’erbazzone , a thin pastry bread filled with baked spinach.

The main course was on it’s way out of the kitchen and while the rest of the group had found their seats, there were four of us still standing in conversation.  Unintentional, and certainly wine-induced, a fellow friend threw a piece of bread at the man standing in front of me to get his attention to join everyone at the table. Well, unfortunately he had horrible aim in hitting a large target and a surprisingly impeccable ability in hitting a bulls eye….that being my eye. Not above, below, to the left or right of my eye–but smack dab in the middle, and so quickly that my eyelashes didn’t have the opportunity to defend itself from it’s attacker: the sharp edge of a crusty piece of bread.

Time nor eye-drops made the pain in my eye go away and after a half an hour of not being able to open, or even see out of my left eye, I let a few friends drive me to the emergency room. The doctor cleaned my eye (to the point where I wanted to scream it hurt so bad) it then the pain was more or less abated. He prescribed some medicine to help heal the corneal abrasion and although I could get the gyst of what the doctor was saying, I was glad to have my friend Lucio there to translate, especially the dosage for the prescriptions.  Fifteen minutes later, I was exiting the E.R. with my wallet still full of money—it didn’t cost a cent. Got to love Italian health care…I could only imagine the fees this little episode would set me back in the states.

Lessons learned: be thankful for every part of your body every second of the day as you never know when something unexpected like a piece of flying bread could change your life. Fortunately for me, this incident should clear up in a few days, but some accidents don’t. So, right now where ever you are, just count your blessing for the health you currently have.

 

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.

 

The Paths We Take February 3, 2009

The journey through life is comprised of many paths. Hundreds of millions of separate paths that intertwine with one other to make up a massive navigation system, much like our transportation system we use to travel across countries.  These paths come in a variety of forms: black paved highways, old dusty country roads, small mountain streams or giant oceans between continents. There are many choices of how and where you can travel in life.  Would you rather walk, drive or boat? Do you enjoy the company of others or the seclusion of nature? Are you wanting to journey at length or in short distances? There is no right or wrong answer, but rather a choice of preference, with the underlining question enveloping each of these decisions is what makes you, the individual person who has to travel his path, happy?

Saturday evening I organized a girls reunion with three of my former high school friends, and this question impeded my thoughts throughout the night. Life has taken us in different directions, and over the course of our reunion we were able to catch up on the past eight years. It was truly remarkable to see the variety of stages we are living at the age of 25. Married seven years with two children, married three years with her first child, recently engaged and single. We were all across the spectrum and because of our choices were walking different paths, none of which were better than the other,  just different. Each path was being walked because that is what made each of us as individuals feel happy.

Whereas some high school reunions are spent discussing about who has or who hasn’t, putting competition into the conversation–the night with these friends was spent congratulating each other on the accomplishments each of us have made over the past eight years, and discussing the incredible road we’ve experienced along the way.

It is unfortunate that my paths with these friends only crosses every now and then as we live in different places, but I am content in knowing that each of us is being true to ourselves, and walking a path of happiness. That is all you can hope for a friend, and yourself in return.

Thank you :K:J:L: for such a fun night!

 

A whole new day January 28, 2009

When the sunlight streams through your bedroom window and finds its way towards your sleepy eyes, do you open them with a smile and think–I have a whole new day! Or, do you grumble as you turn over, wanting to return back to sleep, trying to escape the fact that…ugh..I have a whole new day…?

Sure, there are days that I feel the latter. There are days I wish I could escape the realities of the world.  There are days when life does not seem magical with endless possibilities, but rather  a small dark room where I am trapped. These emotions are normal, and you should allow yourself to momentarily feel the negative feelings instead of blocking them out.

Let your body express itself: shed tears over a broken relationship, lament with regret over a missed opportunity, bubble quietly with indignation—then stop.  Now it’s time to let your mind interpret these emotions. Why am I crying? Am I sad because of lost love or fear of being alone? Why am I complaining? Am I afraid i will never get a similar chance as before? Why am I angry? Did I not get what I want or am I upset by the actions of another?

You’ve allowed your body to express itself, your mind to interpret these emotions now it’s time to take the advice offered by your heart.

Relationships: If the person you love doesn’t love you back, let yourself grieve for this loss. Once your tears are dry realize that things are what they are, and you would rather be in love with someone who loves you back than being in a relationship void of love. If the world is a grain of sand, then love is the ocean–love is huge! If you submerse yourself in water, it is impossible not to get wet. If you submerse yourself in love, it’s impossible not to feel loved.  So dive back in.

Regrets: We all have them, but we shouldn’t keep them–let them free. Recognize your regret, tell yourself that you are unhappy with your actions then be proactive to either make amends or allow yourself to let go.  If it is a regret that you still can take positive action on, then what are you waiting for–transform your regret into an accomplishment! If it’s a regret that you can’t change, then accept that it is part of your past and walk forward. Don’t dwell on things you can’t control, everyone makes mistakes, now walk forward.

Anger: The world would be a better place if this emotion did not exist. But, it does, and you have a responsibility to yourself and others to control it. Recognize the fiery feelings that bubble inside and instead of letting them overflow uncontrollably, release them through a positive outlet.  Anger can be a good catalyst to a positive change in that a synonym for anger is passion, just like a synonym for love is passion. If you channel your passions in positive ways you can make BIG changes, because you are passionate about doing something. Instead of being passive, you actually want to be involved in changing the present. I get angry when I see litter on the ground, as a result, I pick it up. I get angry when I don’t challenge myself, as a result, I take more risks. etc.

When you wake up tomorrow, let your body express itself, your mind interpret your feelings, then allow yourself to really listen to your heart’s advice–it’s your best friend. Know that love is never lost, it’s all around you. You have control over your present actions to lead your life how you want to. And, you have the amazing opportunity to channel your passions to make a positive change.

 

Simple Moments of Country Life January 26, 2009

I love the city. Bright lights, restaurants galore and endless entertainment options. The city arguably has everything a girl could want…well, almost.  After the countless nights of parading across town in high heels, short dresses and makeup, things become routine.  In a city, you are surrounded by what seems like a plethora of options: Thai food or Italian, Hollywood blockbuster or independent film, wine bar or pub, concert or performance, art gallery or coffeshop art, jazz or hip hop, rock climbing or ice skating.  There are so many choices of entertainment but upon closer inspection, the so called plethora of options are condensed into seven main categories: dining, movies, bars, concerts/performance, art, music or sports.  Occasionally you’ll find an event that breaks the mold of a typical Saturday night out like a beer pong tournament or national geographic lecture, but these seem few and far between. And, for the budget conscious person…*cough*…most of these entertainment options cost money! For two people you’re often looking at least $30 on dinner, $15 on movie tickets, $20-100 on your average bar bill, $40-200 on a concert/performance, at least $10 cover for live music and $20 at the climbing wall. This doesn’t even count the parking, gas or taxi costs.  Man oh man…I already feel a hole forming in my wallet.  And, during this economic crisis, that hole just keeps getting bigger and bigger until *poof!* where did my wallet go? Where is my money? All I want is to be entertained. All I want is a fun moment to remember!

One of the so called downfalls of living in a small town is that there are not a lot of entertainment options. When I first moved to Seattle and told people I was from Davenport, population 1500, people gasped, “What do you do? Do you even have television?”

“Yes, we have television and even Internet–crazy I know!” I would say. But, city people are right, there are not a lot things to do in Davenport. Correction, there are not a lot of things that you can pay to do. Besides bowling and…yup, well that’s about it.

So, what do you do in a small town then? Well, you get creative. You turn the simple things in life into entertainment and along the way you find that often times they are just as fun and more memorable than the cookie cutter options of city entertainment.

Last night for example,  I pulled on a pair of old blue jeans, laced up my boots and layered up with thermals and an old coat to combat the 9 degree weather outside before leaving my parent’s house to go help feed a newborn calf that had been abandoned by the mother.

Upon the first visit, we tried to get the mother to let the calf feed from her own milk. After several attempts and the mother nearly squashing her own calf, we left in a big blue pickup and later returned with an esophageal feeder, which basically looks like a giant UV sac and hose. We filled the sac with milk, glided the hose down the calf’s throat and in less the a minute the milk was on it’s way to filling the calf’s stomach.  The calf was so little it wobbled when it walked and you could easily hold it in your arms.

Although I know I could never move back to a town as small as Davenport, I am thankful that I was raised here and learned to appreciate the simple things in life.  It’s made me realize throughout the years that memories don’t need to wear a price tag. You don’t need to spend money in order to create a memorable moment. For me, it the moments that are random, unexpected and often times free that I cherish and remember the most–like holding a newborn cafe on a freezing winter night.

 

You’re on Hold, Thanks for Waiting… January 21, 2009

As I sit here writing a post for my blog, I couldn’t help but open a blank page and switch to write about my father’s ordeal in ordering a computer warranty from Dell. It was quite the morning entertainment.

With any customer service call, there usually is a small wait time. I agree with my dad’s lamenting about being put on hold, it is quite annoying especially when you have things to do.  And, for my dad, waiting on hold wouldn’t be so bad with music, but listening to a recording about, “Dell’s new products, buy one today!” sent him straight into a tizzy.

Now, for those who don’t know him personally, my father is one of the most hilarious individuals I have ever met. Being around him is like watching a live comedy, you just sit back and wait for him to do or say something, then you keel over laughing. His satire is much like something you would see on, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, written by Larry David, a former Seinfeld writer. It’s dry, offbeat and often times pushes the limit of things you should or shouldn’t say–but with my dad, anything goes. Every topic, every person, every situation is fair game.

He began his ranting as soon as the customer service voice recording came on. For five minutes or so he complained about how stupid it was to be put on hold, how he hated it, how he DIDN’T want to buy a product etc.

I sat there, listening until finally I had enough!

“Dad!” I said. “Deal with it. It’s not going to help anything by complaining, what good is it going to do?”

“Thank you for being patient,” the woman’s voice recording said in the meantime.

“No, I’m not patient!” he barked back to no one.

After a few more minutes of the voice recording rambling on in a sales pitch, I hear a loud yell coming from the man sitting next to me….yes, my father.

“Your mother’s ugly!” he yells into the phone.

Thankfully, it was just the recording on the other line.

Oh dad….

 

A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barack Obama January 20, 2009

I am sitting on my parent’s tan couch, feet up on the ottoman, the sound of trumpets and loud cheering are filling the living room while I watch on television as President Elect Barack Obama walks down a red and blue carpet, his face wavering between smiles and concentrated thought before taking a seat in a blue leather armchair that faces out towards the hundreds of thousands of spectators that are bundled up in hats, gloves and warm coats on the National Mall in front of the capital as they wait with great enthusiasm for the inauguration of the 44th President to commence.

Now, less than an hour later, Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States and has addressed the nation with the current challenges that face America as well as his optimistic visions in addressing these issues head on.

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time, but know this, America — they will be met,” he said.

I find comfort in these words. They are not inflated with illusions that all of America’s problems will magically vanish now that Obama is President. He does not sugarcoat the gravity of America’s situation nor does he promise instant resolutions. Instead, Obama is honest about the detrimental crises that face our society, and the challenge it will be to restore or improve the nation’s economic, political and social standings.

“The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”

Obama’s goals for the nation are set high, and some may argue that they are unrealistic given our current situation.  Yet, why would we want a President who’s goals are set low? America does not need a President who is looking for a short fix for our nation in order to save face or to please the public. America does not need someone who wants to sew a patch on our current problems. America needs someone who is willing to rip that hole bigger, to rip out the old threads that are sewn in a zig zag mess or on the verge of breaking and to start new–thread and needle in hand, mending at the root of the problem even though it may take longer, yet, in the end it will be easier to sew a straight line.

A small goal is the same as a large goal, they are both goals and will only be accomplished by one thing…action. It is President Obama’s commitment towards action to address America’s challenges that will propel this nation forward.  President Obama will not coddle America through this recession, but rather challenge the public and the government to strive for high aspirations as we rebuild our society by combining imagination and courage to carve our own path and foundation for the future.

 

A Message by George Carlin January 15, 2009

My friend Jamie sent me the email below, and since it touched me when I read it, I thought I would share it with you as well. George Carlin was a comedian from the 70’s and 80’s, and although I hardly knew who he was (besides the ending quote that I more often remember as just the quote from the movie Hitch), his words are powerful and his message is strong. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower
viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and  smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. We  drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

Remember: spend some time  with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember: say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember: to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember: to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember: to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin

 

Stuff…Stuff…and MORE STUFF… January 14, 2009

I’ve spent the last 3 days cleaning out my old high school room at my parent’s house and I cannot believe how much STUFF I have accumulated over the past 10 years…and sadly, I have only scratched the surface as a lot of the boxes have been moved from my room when they painted and redecorated.

Some of the stuff is easy and it goes straight to the trash or give away pile, but other stuff is harder to sort through, like presents given to me from my parents when I was a child. There is this elegant ballerina snow globe my dad gave me when I was a little girl, it’s memorable because HE gave it to me, but it’s nothing I would display in my future house or apartment. Do I keep it or give it away to a little girl who would truly appreciate it?

Or how about high school memorabilia? I have a full box of “Most Inspirational”, “Most Valuable Player” or “Team Captain” plaques from my glory days on the varsity volleyball, basketball and softball teams. Sports were my life growing up and these   awards are great reminders of my hard work and perseverance to push and challenge my mind and body to achieve goals I set for myself, but on the other hand I look at these plaques now and they are only clutter. Really what am I going to do with them? I would never put them on display, but I feel guilty in throwing them away or giving them to a secondhand store.

And what about cards and letters? I haven’t looked at all of them but I probably have a shoebox full of birthday cards and notes from friends and family. On one hand, it is great to look back through a few and read them–it brings me back to a different time in my life. On the other hand, what do I do with them? Right now, I can leave them in a box at my parents because they have a lot of storage, but when they move I’ll need to take them and I like to be mobile not weighted down by things.

Since travelling I have become a minimalist–I don’t need a lot of things, and I don’t want clutter. However, so, far the only ideas I’ve come up with on what to do with my stuff I’m torn about whether saving or getting rid of, is to take pictures of the objects I no longer want but still want to remember, and give them away. As for the letters, pick out only a few that will fit into a manila envelope and purge the rest. This is just what I am thinking now…but any other advice or helpful tips on how to appreciate your things from the past but eliminate clutter in the future, I would love to hear it!