Happiness is real only when it is shared.

Ta-da-da. I am going to start off once again with a quote, taking a leaf out of the person I once was’ book.

Raisin and Pine Nuts Potato Sweet Cake

Pacman: Raisin and Pine Nuts Potato Sweet Cake

The quote comes from Into the Wild, a movie I saw once and never even attempted to rewatch again. A peculiarity that is indeed very unsual for me since I’m used to watch movies and read books over and over again. It’s not that I didn’t like it, on the contraty I digged it. I loved it so much and at the same time I was – how can I put it? – affected.

Into the Wild is a tale of the rejection for a normal life, recounted through a personal journey to find a truer meaning to his life. Possibly due to just how much I could relate to Emile Hirsch character, Christopher McCandless, soon to become Alexander Supertramp. Back at the time when the movie hit theaters, I was getting ready for one of my most intense experiences. Sure, I was not going to burn 25 grands and cut off all relations, but trying to live alone on the other side of the world felt like an adventure to me.

Attributed to Supertramp, the quote is the climax of the movie and self-discovery journey itself. Right before passing away, when he realizes there is quite literally no turning back and he feels more desperate than he would ever have imagined, he has an epiphany. He thought he would find a deeper meaning to it all, by refusing to take part in a society he judged corrupted and hypocritical, only to discover that real happiness comes from functional, heart-warming connections. Exactly what he had shunned.

I envisioned what would happen after my return. I could almost anticipate that I would come back after a similar discovery, except for the fact that I would be a) hopefully not dead due to a toxic wild potato poisoning b) going back to an ordinary life with obvious needs for readjustement.

What happened instead is that I went back home with a heart filled with memories I could never have imagined and a fridge magnet reading out:

True happiness lies within you.

The magnet is now hidden on the bottom of a metallic shelf, whereas the first quote still pops up triumphantly in any profile of my online being.

As it turns out, real life is all about compromising. Duh. I know, it’s not so much as a breakthrough piece of information. Still, I am pretty sure I am not the only one who finds it hard to balance relationships. So you have to work your way into adapting yourself.

I have been struggling all these years to find a resolution between the two opposite takes. Truth be told, I still have no clue. My deepest nature, my core, is much more inclined towards the first quote yet there are times when I really cannot include other people whom I love in my own picture of “looking for happiness”. Very often I am tempted to go Alexander Supertramp again and restart it all over. The real challenge behind all this is that you have to let them know you care about them, hoping they’ll understand your burn out, or just your needs.

One day I’ll find the winning streak and balance or I’ll die trying. Hopefully not after a wild potato intoxication. In the meantime I’ll use potatoes to find balance in a sweet recipe. Enjoy!


More breakfast, no more fast breaks

Mince Pies

Late Xmas Treat: Mince Pies

Having breakfast with something I created is one lovely treat that keeps telling me I’m doing the right thing. Following the correct path. I’m not just jumping on the foodie bloggers bandwagon. If I were, I would definitely force myself to post recipes way more often. I am doing what I take pleasure in. It is this certainty that makes me get my butt of the couch when I get home after work (and after working out!) to make cakes and cookies.

My family, generations of sweet-toothed individuals, almost stopped buying sweets and cookies. We live off the ones we bake. I couldn’t be prouder of myself.

These days my mind goes back to the frenzied, packed December and the end-of-the-world madness. I kept toying with the idea that I spent my life making the most out of my time, without rushing, and that, had the world actually ended, I was satisfied with the experiences I had lived so far. And then I thought: “Where would I want to be now?”. What would you have done? Who would you’ve run to? Cell phones out of the way and everything.

I answered, picturing myself. If the world had ended, I would have died having breakfast. That’s right. Breakfast is my happiness ritual.

Quite predictably, I did not actually spend December 21st having breakfast. I celebrated the event having some friends over gather over a bottle (read: a bit more) of their favorite drink and some awkward questions.

That night I did not relax until it was time to go to bed, no wonder it took me a while to cool off. And then something happened. As 2012 was quickly and confusedly coming to an end, I couldn’t help to feel relieved and yet, something was not quite right. I kept feeling like I spent the remainings of last year running against time and without being fully concentrated, rather just going by.

Usually, I want to make the most out of my time, even if it implies laying on the couch just reading a book or having a pleasant, flowing, conversation. I want to feel I am doing what I want to do. I know it’s unrealistic to have such an expectation. At times like these, time is gold. We get paid for the time we spend at the office. Well, in most companies. If we work freelance, we mostly get paid on an hourly basis. Hence, time is luxury.

That’s why I love breakfast and I have always thought that who doesn’t agree with me on that is not familiar with earthly pleasures. Of course, when I was in high school I had no time to spare in the early morning rush, when I woke up in the mornings it was always too late not to feel nautios at the mere idea of ingesting anything.

Now I simply have to get up in the morning and eat, it’s not just that it’s the first thing I need to do because my body tells me so. It is the remarkable sign of the fact that I have time and I want to spend it taking care of myself. I’ll have time to catch those last five minutes’ sleep. When I’ll be six feet under.

What is not coming along in my journey through 2013 is the sensation to be wasting time. Time flies even when you’re not having that much fun. Time flies, or should I say, passes you by, when you are not focused on where you want to get in life. This is the proper age to figure all this stuff out, society has taught us. As Muse would have it “Time is running out”. Whether it’s time left for enjoying the previously mentioned earthly pleasures, or just time left for accomplishing whatever we want to be.

This is the only lesson I am ever going to learn about the Maya-media-hype and collective mania and from two or three losses of the past year. “The problem is, we think we have time” goes the saying.

It sure is one thing I have not yet mastered, but hope to improve day by day. I am letting people I invested my time on go. And, finally, without feeling like I regret a single moment.

Acceptance, this is what they call it. Time to move on.

Grazie Graziella

La settimana scorsa tutti in America hanno detto “grazie”. Prenotato tacchini da venticinque pound, preparato chili di gelatina alla frutta da servire col sopra menzionato pennuto. Hanno cenato, giocato, e ciarlato a lume di candela e sono andati a nanna presto. Solo per poi svegliarsi alle tre di notte per il Black Friday e riversarsi nell’indifferenza più totale a fagocitare nuovi acquisti, bruciando calorie e buoni sentimenti accumulati il giorno prima.

Ma Grazie, Graziella. Davvero.

Il Ringraziamento è una bella festa, nel senso autentico. Per quanto finto-puritana, è un’occasione per la quale una nazione intera in perenne movimento si ferma per dire “Grazie” per tutto ciò che ha. Ho avuto la fortuna di partecipare ad un Ringraziamento nel tipico quadretto della famiglia americana del New England e mi sono sentita a casa. Subito. Per quanto io rimanga sempre perplessa riguardo alle milioni di contraddizioni che caratterizzano l’America, lo spirito easygoing e l’ospitalità made in USA sono il set giusto per questo tipo di festa.

Io ne ho fatto una versione un po’ particolare. Senza rendermene conto, sabato sera ho fatto una cena con persone a me molto care con il reale, ma celato, intento di ringraziarle. Io sono un piccolo orso di città: fatico a dire “Ti voglio bene” senza poi dover sdrammatizzare l’intensità delle parole. Devo aver degli antenati anglosassoni e non solo per il colore della pelle.

“Grazie” però lo dico a volte a sproposito. Come “Scusa”. Sono due parole che ho usato con persone che non si meritavano né l’una, né l’altra. Come per la parola “Amore”, ecco, se utilizzi questi tre termini troppo spesso, perdono di significato e a volte divengono armi a doppio taglio. Specialmente Amore.

Ecco perché non ho ringraziato esplicitamente con tintinnio del coltello sul bicchiere da champagne le persone care sopra citate. I grazie che seguono rimarranno i più autentici, quelli che non dirò a caso. Scritti, faranno da contraltare a tutti gli altri, consoni o meno, sentiti o altrettanto meno, che ho detto a voce.

Ho poche persone da ringraziare veramente, ma anche quelli a cui ho fatto applausi a scena aperta quando se ne sono andati, sono da ringraziare. Frase trita e ritrita, ma pur sempre vera: ognuno ti rende ciò che sei. Difficile far cambiare idea alle persone a te vicine, difficile anche cercare di far capire che tu sei molto più (e a volte molto meno) di quello che credono loro.

Io ringrazio chi ha inteso che ci sono alcuni valori per me imprescindibili, chi ha compreso che non mi riconosco più nella persona che ero tempo fa, che ho i miei tempi elefantiaci, che passo dall’essere pedante e pesante all’essere lieta e lieve.

E ringrazio chi accetterà i cambiamenti che attraverserò, pur essendo sempre lì, gioirà con me e per me dei periodi felici e reagirà come vorrà quando attraverserò quelli meno felici.


Classy Champagne in less-than-classy Ice Box

Ringrazio amiche e amici con i loro difetti, perché l’accettarli e riderci sù, ma dicendoseli, rende autentico il rapporto. Ringrazio chi a sua volta vede i lati peggiori di me e mi vuole comunque bene.

Tutti i grazie che potrei dire sono – e devono essere – il qui ed ora della mia vita.

Ho passato un periodo schiacciata dalla pesantezza delle esigenze altrui e, peggio ancora, dalle mie interiorizzazioni di aspettative altrui. Intanto urlavo dentro, con la sola voglia di vivere il momento senza paranoie sul futuro o retaggi passati. Vivere con leggerezza perché i piani futuri, anche se non possiamo fare a meno di farne, non hanno alcun senso.

Il “Grazie” più importante è questo. Quello di esserci, qui ed ora.

Dopotutto, c’è pure crisi. Amen e…cin cin.