Friday, April 13, 2012

Rice Paper & Other New Things

Do you know what it feels like to be alive?
I don't mean physically alive, otherwise you obviously wouldn't be able to read this. What I mean is this - have you ever truly been on the edge of glory? Because I have.
Lately, I've been doing all sorts of new things. Fun, brand new shiny things that are bringing so much joy to my life. It's really one of the main reasons why I decided to move to Italy - to try new things. Everyone should do this more often (try new things, I mean - not necessarily move to Italy). Before I go any further, I would like to recite a passage from Elizabeth Gilbert's novel Eat, Pray, Love, in which she tries meditation for the first time:
"I walked home that night feeling like the air could move through me, like I was clean linen fluttering 
You don't have to understand art to appreciate it.
on a clothesline, like New York itself had become a city made of rice paper--and I
was light enough to run across every rooftop."
That is how I feel upon trying something new and invigorating. As though I can jump across rooftops and walk through the entire city as if it were made of rice paper. Tomorrow morning, I'm visiting the National Museum of Rome with my friend Erika. Neither of us have been inside the gallery, and since it's Culture Week, we both want to take advantage of the free museums and monuments. In the afternoon, I arranged to go horseback riding in Villa Borghese, the famous heart-shaped park in Rome. Yes - horseback riding! My Italian friend Stefano told me that his family owns a stable and that I can go riding if I like. All I have to do is talk to his uncle Tomaso, tell him who I am, and bravo. I will be riding a horse in Italy at sunset, with the wind blowing through my hair and the smell of manure in the air. What's not to love, right?
I've also been seriously devoted to learning how to cook new foods. It's not that I plan on 
becoming a 1950's styled housewife any time soon, or ever, but I love food (which is about as obvious as saying that Ashlee Simpson is only famous because of Jessica). Anyway, the 
Filipino chef and I have been collaborating together in the kitchen and frying up new dishes. Even she is learning new things! We found this fantastic cooking show that is hosted in Rome that plays on the TV before noon. Since my understanding of Italian has improved so much, I can actually catch on to what they're saying. And when I don't, Yaya is there to translate. Yesterday, I made Japanese styled rice with cubed carrots, snow peas, and egg. Yaya and I were feeling adventurous, so we also threw in this suspicious looking spice that was in the cupboard. Suspicious it appeared indeed, but what a pan! It turned out tasting a bit like Indian curry, but with more of a... I don't know... Pizazz? Kick? Whatever - it was amazing.
I was feeling so alive today, that after my friend Kelsey went home from our very overdue
You go, Casper/Snow-thing!
hangout, I decided to look up some new yoga moves on youtube. Unfortunately for me, I didn't steal any of my mom's yoga DVDs before I left in September, which means that I've had to stick to the moves I knew prior to September 11th. But not today! What I'm trying to tell you all is that you shouldn't be afraid to try new things. You might really surprise yourself and learn something new. The worst thing that could happen is trying something, and then simply not liking it. But if you're not a natural risk taker, take baby steps. My risk taking went from switching up my usual Italian dressing to Chipotle at Subway to moving halfway across the world entirely alone. And you know what? Italian dressing has nothing on Chipotle.
I'm not suggesting that you conquer your fear of heights by climbing Mount Everest, but... well... actually, I am. Because what do you have to lose? As sad as it is true, I am not a cat, and I don't have nine lives. I have one, and I don't want to waste it away. Trying new things is a part of life, because if you don't, how can you expect to grow? It 
My kind of cookbook.
isn't possible to evolve as a human being if one does not hangout with new people, move to a new city, or try new food at any point in life. If you're not sure where to begin, I compiled a list of 10 things that any person can do to add some spice to your life.

1. Grab a cookbook off the shelf, close your eyes, and flip to a random page. Make whatever you land on, even if it looks complicated.
2. Try thyme. It's a kind of spice that is best grown in Palestine and is a green shade that you can find in any authentic supermarket, Healthy Cupboard, or Ten Thousand Villages. Get three plates and fill one plate with olive oil, another with slices of bread, and the other with thyme. Dip the bread in olive oil and then in the thyme so that it sticks to the bread. Pop it in your mouth and your taste buds will thank you.

3. Do something physically challenging, whether you try a new sport or a complicated yoga 
Who says you can't judge a book
by it's cover? My new personal
favourite that I grabbed in the
English section of a bookstore
 in Florence.
position (downward dog does not count as complicated).
4. Go to the bookstore and pick up a novel where you haven't heard of the title or author. 
5. Buy the game Table Topics and invite some friends over. The questions will not only allow you to learn about your guests, but you'll also learn something new about yourself.

6. Make something out of nothing. Start a flower garden in your backyard, learn to sew with forgotten pieces of fabric, etc.
7. You know that one person who you know you'd totally click with, but haven't had a reasonable excuse to hangout with? Invite him/her on a friend date.
8. Check out a band in your area. My new favourite is The Years, which is a funky band from my hometown who just released an album called Red Wine & Clarity. You can download it for free at www.theyearsband.com. My personal favourite song is Ghosts of Men.
9. Join some kind of organization that meets once a week/month. My suggestions are a Book Club or Zumba Class.
10. Wear socks that don't match. Skip your morning vitamin. Put an extra cube of sugar in your coffee - baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Kudos for trying new things and loving them.

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