Plodding through the Molasses

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For some magical reason, when you drive through the middle of my town, it’s as if everyone’s cars get stuck in molasses. Which would actually be pretty terrible, since there was the Boston Molasses Disaster in 1919 that ended up killing 21 people. But the sticky sludgy syrup in my town is invisible and it just slogs down everyone to about two miles per hour.

In case you were wondering what goes faster than two miles an hour, the answer would be: a. three-toed sloths, b. certain species of grass, and c. my temper.

I never thought I’d be one for road rage. But the yoga moms and business grumps that like to fling themselves in front of my car have taught me otherwise. So now when I lose races against sloths in town, I play a game my wondertwin Spencer taught me where you bet against yourself or the other passengers on how many X luxury brand cars you’ll see. You distract yourself counting all the Mercedes. Then when all the cars stop for an SUV trying to parallel park in a spot meant for Barbie’s dream toy car, you’ll feel as calm and collected as Gandhi.

Part of focusing on your bucket lists means being aware of how you’re spending your life and being in the moment. I always hear that anger is a double-edged sword, meaning it cuts you just as sharply as your target.

I’m flawed. I get irritated, impatient, and infuriated at tiny things or stupidities that are totally not worth it. Realizing what drives you crazy is valuable so you can find ways to deal with it.

Like the picture at the top here. Some of my professors would assign us readings to be done before class and THEN SPEND THE ENTIRE NEXT CLASS JUST REHASHING THE READING. My brain felt like it was atrophying. So I made tiny swirling patterns all over my planner, hiding words and pictures in the labyrinth of curving lines.

Or I’d try to come up with lists of 10 names for each gender for each letter of the alphabet. Sounds easy, but you try to find 10 names for O or Q or U.

Caught working a slow shift at the mall? I’d make up little stories about all the people walking by. Or if I got a particularly unpleasant customer, I’d make up some odd reason or quirk in my head about them to justify their churlish manner.

It’s all about the good vibes. If you surround yourself with kindness, treat others well, and think happy thoughts, you’re going to feel better and fresh and ready to drop some achievements in your bucket.

Plus, you get good karma. Delicious, gooey, warm and fuzzy feeling karma.

That’s like bucket list bonus points.
Love,
Gabriele

Janie

Name: Janie
Hometown: Westchester, NY
Age: 15
Current obsession: Sloths

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If I was still in high school, I hope I wouldn’t have been too shy to be friends with Janie. Silly, self-deprecating, and smiley, Janie is full of stealthily clever quips and observations. She has about a billion friends she’s always texting and is rarely seen without her trademark infectious smile. Unlike many of the other teens I’ve encountered in my hometown, Janie has a truly good heart, even if she hides it under her teasing nature and goofy expressions.

–       Travel abroad in Europe for a month

–       “Eat the Vermonster at Ben and Jerry’s by myself”

–       Maintain good grades for at least a quarter, [one term]

–       Order everything off the menu at Starbucks

–       Eat a whole box of Twinkies, Yodels

–       Be a high school English teacher at a really good school, “because I like English – I enjoy essays and papers, analyzing things”

–       “I want to have a really pretty garden with a whole rainbow of color – red flowers, orange flowers, and so on”

–       Have two border collies named Max and Ruby, after the bunnies of the same titled show.

–       “Buy one pair of extremely expensive shoes and have them the rest of my life and never lend them out to anyone. Huge heels – I’ll probably never wear them but I’ll be proud to have them”

–       “When I grow really old, I want to live in an apartment over Central Park”

–       Have three daughters

–       Marry her soul mate: “He’s going to be obviously taller than me and a year or two older. Freckles, either a hazel or blue eye color, brown hair. I don’t care if he has perfect muscle tone or body. Same interests as me, like literature. I don’t really care about his job.”

–       Move far away from home.

–       More on her soulmate: “I want him to be really cute and believe in romantic gestures. I want to be sad one day and come home and there will be roses. And I’m going to cook for him, but every blue moon, he’ll cook for me”

–       Attend college at Skidmore or University of Vermont

–       Eat all the spiciest wings at Buffalo Wild Wings without dying

–       “Have a really good relationship with my mom for the rest of my life, because we fight now, and I want us to be able to go out for lunches and things.”

–       Be able to watch the three scariest movies – Human Centipede, the Omen, and the Exorcist.

–       “Get a charm bracelet and each place we go, get a new charm with my husband.”

–       Every year, take a vacation with family (siblings/parents) to a tropical place.

–       “Change my hair color for a period of my life, but I don’t know what color”

–       Get bellybutton pierced

–       Plan a spontaneous trip and just go

–       Get her one (barely!) crooked tooth fixed

–       Keep a journal regularly

–       Have a cute little orange cat that looks like a Creamsicle

–       Learn how to sing; “I want to learn so bad”

–       “In the summer, have a place on the water, that I’ll have to save up a long time for. In my forties or something.”

–       Go on a really cool rock climbing adventure

–       “Kiss a giraffe. Take that back. I want to meet a real sloth.”

Inspiration 5.25.13

Hello bucket buccaneers! If you’re in the northeast, I hope you’re all staying afloat this weekend, though it’s tempting to start gathering two and two of every animal and build an ark. It’ll be summer faster than we can blink. But to tide you over this weekend, here are some lovely links.

Enjoy!

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the drenched view outside

Remember how I said try something new to eat? I think formidable artichokes are my next culinary adventure.

Okay, so it’s totally years away, but I really want to have a baby book club with my future little bookworms.

Self-awareness, coping skills and reflection are good life expectations for everyone.

I’m obsessed with this! Humans of New York is an amazing insight into the lives around us. His look into Tehran is equally mesmerizing.

As a journo nerd and future world traveler, I geeked out seeing what Nellie Bly took with her on her famous trip.

When I was in middle school, being a Disney Princess at Disney World was on my bucket list. This woman pulls it off way better than I could.

Live your life like the starfish thrower.

Here’s a good way to brighten someone’s day! I love this cheerful idea of leaving bright and happy rocks for people to find.

Maybe creating a historically accurate Disney movie could be on your bucket list? I’d see it.

Your bucket list dream house needs a uniquely awesome bed.

Love,
Gabriele

Your Stomach’s Bucket List

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Despite my last post, we’ve had rainy, rumbly days lately, sending rivulets of water down and soaking the world into a Technicolor dream. But it’s all the better to coax out summer like a butterfly from its cocoon.

One category that is on my bucket list as a wannabe-world-traveler is trying out strange and peculiar cuisines. As a mostly vegan celiac, my options for gustatory adventures are often limited. They’re limited at least on a traditional standpoint. I firmly believe that the Travel Channel should give me my own food-based show, where I gallivant and teach the world about far-flung vegetarian dishes.

Anyway. Point being – maybe there’s been some food you’ve always wanted to try or make. A flaming baked Alaska? Every Ben and Jerry’s flavor? The restaurant that’s entirely in the dark, where you’re served by blind waiters?

Dream big, my culinary compadres. Food is a shared experience for every human, and you too can be a gourmet. In Italy, there’s a saying, “Non si invecchia a tavola”, which means one doesn’t grow old at the table. I’m not encouraging gluttony, I’m just saying if you’re stumped on your list, food is a fun baby step of a category to think about. It doesn’t even have to go on your bucket list. Just trying new things is a part of life that we should never stop.

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Around this time of year, I’m always excited for the local farmers’ markets to start up again. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place that has them, definitely go! Last year I would challenge myself to try a new ingredient every week. Radishes, beets, Swiss chard, Tuscan kale, and squash all yielded under my novice hands and bite of the chef’s knife.

Ethnic supermarkets are another way to expand your palate. I love H-Mart and the other Asian markets nearby. Half the time I can’t read the label, but that’s part of the fun. Last year I embarked on making sushi for the first time and an elderly Japanese man stopped me in the aisle to point out a better type of pickled ginger.

Food – building bridges between awkward college students and wise, wizened foreigners.

So, whether you’ve hosted your own Julia Child shows to an invisible audience as you made Lunchable pizzas or you’ve been more likely to use your oven as extra storage, try something new. Don’t even cook it if it’s not your forte. I even managed to cajole my brother into trying sashimi at a gluten free restaurant last week.

Unfortunately, he still hated it. But, he tried!

And this is all about trying and doing and living. Have a lovely weekend, darlings, and stay dry.

Love,
Gabriele

A Splash in Summer Buckets

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summer throwback. can’t wait for beach days!

Today and yesterday have been steamy, sultry, sweltering snapshots of summer, lingering just days and weeks ahead of us. I have embraced my sundresses wholeheartedly, as I would very much like to pretend I live in a New York without fall and winter spoiling all my swishy skirt and bare-leg ambition. With the view outside my window saturated with green leaves and grass, it’s tantalizing to forget for a moment that there are any other seasons.

But as George RR Martin has pounded into our heads, winter is always coming, my sweet summer children.

Now, while some may say that’s a cynical glass-half-empty sort of statement, I think it means we have to make the most of these beautiful days. Chances are that you’re not living in Hawaii and therefore blessed with everyday looking like the picture on a postcard. No, chances are you have to deal with winter too.

In ancient Japan, they would compose countless haikus on the fleeting beauty of nature. Many poets wrote heart-aching prose on the transience of the flowering trees, connecting it to the brevity of our own time on earth.

“Between our two lives
there is also the life of
the cherry blossom.”
 – Matsuo Basho

I’m not saying we should all echo Basho and write a million poems this summer. Unless that’s your style. I’m saying note and savor each day. Fill this summer with all the goofy, awesome fun that you want. Do all the things that were in your summers when you were a kid, like get ice cream from the truck (it always tastes better that way, anyway) and go on the meanest, tallest, scariest water slides you can find. Or do something else, like make a mojito from scratch and get an impulsive piercing. I don’t know, love, it’s your life. Live it!

Yes, my darlings. I’m proposing you write… a mini-bucket list! Just for this summer! My friend Alyson writes to-do lists every summer, and they’re filled with such enthusiasm. Visit museums, concerts, go row boating, finish books, have dim sum and bubble tea, go to the zoo, and of course, become a beach bum, were all on her list last year.

I have some pretty ambitious plans, myself.

Should you need more prompting reminiscent of a certain fairy telling you to ‘look, listen’ and do something fun during the next three months of sunny skies, check out the Happy Family Movement. They’re hosting a challenge on their site and giving away prizes! Follow the button at the end to see.

Love,
Gabriele

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Kim

Kim
Age: 22
Hometown: Ronkonkoma, NY

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Kim has just graduated college with a BA in journalism. Gregarious, witty, and adventurous, it’s not a surprise that her bucket list includes both philanthropy and exploring the world. As my roommate, I always noticed her dressed in perfect mix of colorful and chic, polished off with a cute headband and eye-catching earrings.  She was captain of the tennis team at our hipster artsy college, a paradoxical feat. It’s impossible to not catch Kim’s contagious laughter as we find ourselves on fun adventures wherever we go. I’m going to miss meeting her for our weekly coffee dates! But I know Kim’s going to do crazy, amazing, insane things with her life and I can’t wait to see her fill her brilliant bucket.

–       Do one stint in the Peace Corps. Preferably Africa, because it would be the biggest culture shock.

–       Develop the ideal wardrobe. Simple, elegant, business professional and business casual. Be able to go to work and then transition to going out afterwards

–       Learn to swing dance

–       “I want to interior design a house but I don’t want a house. I don’t want to put down roots anywhere; I want to be constantly moving.”

–       Live on another continent, probably Western Europe, but also travel to places that would be a culture shock.

–       Learn another language – took Hausa (Nigerian language) last semester, but the only word remembered, is ‘kujèèr.aa’, which means chair.

–       Work for a non-profit

–       “I have two goals for having a dog – one, a collie, and two, name him Melon so he’ll be Melon the Collie.” Also have one of those giant dogs. “I’ll be able to ride him around the house.”

–       Be in Times Square at midnight on New Years Eve. “There’s only a few more years I can hack that”, otherwise when she’s older, would rather have a time-share apartment overlooking Times Square.

–       “Play tennis the rest of my life. It’s been so positive, I never want to stop.” If disgustingly rich, have own tennis courts.

–       Be disgustingly rich.

–       Ride a motorcycle, whether it’s driving it or being on the back.

–       “I would say climb a mountain, but I kind of just want to go hiking.”

–       If must get married, marry a rich man with a beautiful accent – “I don’t care what he looks like, I just have to listen to him speak.”

–       One day have a job that requires hiring an intern to order to do things. Aka, an underling.

Inspiration 5.18.13

I’m still finding my way around this blog. I have to figure out how often to post bucket lists and how often to blather on about my inconsequential life and how often to wax philosophy about my bucket list observations as I relate life goals to Calvin and Hobbes or the Sims or the patterns tea leaves make in the bottom of my cup.

But I always like sharing (see, forcing) the curious things I find with my friends and so, why not spread the love to the random interested readers and as is more likely, the devoted one or two stalkers out there?

And perhaps they’ll inspire your bucket lists. On to the links!

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Have a lovely weekend!
Gabriele