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Time can get away from all of us… That is especially true for this blog.  It was not on purpose, just a pause to accommodate life’s busy time.

Traditional Italian noodle from scratch

 

I was cooking earlier today and it was Italian of course.  Maybe two days ago I had come across a video online about how to make traditional spaghetti from scratch using all-purpose flour, salt, and an egg.  That’s it!  So simple yet versatile.  Every culture has a variation of the noodle because it’s the backbone of comfort food with a bit of fun.  No matter how many years pass us by, you have to admit that slurping up a noodle from your plate brings a smile to your face.  I think the noodle is a bit like an archway… Stay with me.  A noodle can support just about every meal you pair it with!  I’ve even had a cinnamon noodle dessert and it worked perfectly!  An arch can support so much weight while allowing things to pass under.

Arc de Triophe

Many countries pay homage with an arch.  the infamous Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Forum arch of Titus in Rome, and many more.  Just like the noodle there are a variation of arches that can be used for a multitude of purposes with some built as a monument, some for bridges and other cut throughs.  Life has offered me a few practical metaphors and the arch is definitely one of them.  Whenever I look at architecture, I compare it to the human body.  Arches represent a strong pair of shoulders to me.     Whether you think of yourself as a monument to a tough life or you’re here to help others through to the other side or you’re here to support someone else, just remember it’s always important to have a strong base.  That for me is the love of my life, family and God.  Without a strong base the arch and its purpose will fall.

Full view of The Forum

Arch di Tito

The Colosseum

Entrance to Colosseum

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I’ve always imagined a part of my brain contains an empty/full gauge when feeling the urge to lay eyes upon something my brain has not created a memory for yet.  I want to run outside and capture a new memory.  Consistency is sometimes a dreadful thing when everything in you craves for progress.  My Dad taught me a lot about embracing an ever changing environment and living like you have been there before.  What I mean is that you are not hesitant in the least bit to try or experience what is in front of you once you reach your destination.  My Dad lived in Dubai and here our desert journey began.  We interacted on different levels that were not typical for a Father and son.  We conversed about any subject that broached the edge of our minds and took the conversation wherever our curiosity drove it.  While I was attending my University in Rome, Italy, I planned to visit my Dad on a holiday week in November.  Luckily this was winter in Dubai and temperatures only reached 100 degrees fahrenheit (about 37C)… Better pack a sweater.

Once I arrived, I pushed my way through the local mix of taxi drivers; Indians, Filipinos, Arabs, and Europeans.  There was such a diversity that I never expected once arriving in an Arab country.  The United Arab Emirates was not a normal Arab country though.  There are so many levels of intrigue, adventure, and cultural diversity in this small, extravagant country.  Dubai is considered the ‘Las Vegas’ of the Middle East.  I always hated hearing that description because it is a gross over statement of this decadent city that was planned with precision.  The city hardly adorns neon lights to its buildings or prides itself on sin or welcomes wasteful spending on chance.  Dubai calls on its visitors to appreciate the opulence.  While driving through the city with the top down on the convertible, buildings of every color and shape whizzed by my line of sight; green, silver, blue.  It truly is a city that could be any architect’s muse.

Later in the week I asked my Dad what else I could experience that I’ve never done before.  We had already played golf, swam in the Persian Gulf, toured through extravagant malls of gold, and had drinks at night to soak in the glittered skyline.  My Dad looked up from his coffee and said, “The desert.. We’ll go to the desert.  The silence and sand is something you won’t be able to explain when you get back to your friends.”  I sort of laughed after hearing that statement.  How can someone not explain sand.. I’ll just show them the picture of a few dunes and I’m sure they can utilize their own brains to conjure a made up vision of a desolate desert.

We drove out of the city for about an hour or more.  The more the lines on the road passed by our spinning tires, the less it seemed like we were anywhere close to civilization.  My Dad nudged me and said that we had arrived.  I looked up and saw absolutely NOTHING!  I said, “Where?”  It’s just about all I could say.  I was in shock at the vast nothingness.  We pulled off into the sand and I felt the SUV sink into the ground.  I adjusted myself in my seat as if we were going to take on water or something.  What a strange feeling it was.  My Dad’s friends pulled up along side of us and shouted to follow straight behind in their tracks.  Driving over the mountains of sand was invigorating and in a way like floating down a river!  When our SUV stopped after about an hour of driving, the quiet crept into my body.  It’s extremely difficult to explain that sort of silence.  I could feel and SEE the silence.  It was as if someone had put those noise canceling head phones on my head and held them tightly against the sides of my face.  Someone spoke and it cut through the silence.  As my Dad and I walked away from the group, he looked over as I squinted through the desert sun and just smiled.  I wanted to say something to him about all the experiences he has given me, but I thought a smile was enough.  He gave me that Fatherly side hug and said, “Glad you came.  It feels like home when we’re together.”  At that moment two camels came walking over the ridge of the dune and slowly lurked passed us.  One was larger than the other and in my mind I labeled them father and son.  Those camels sort of explain my relationship with my Dad in that we wandered life’s tragedies, rewards, and experiences together.  It was silent sometimes, but we loved the feeling of togetherness.  A walk through life’s deserts provides a connection between two individuals more so than times of joy.  Being able to walk along somebody and know you can count on them to be by your side in especially difficult times is a gift no one can replicate.  He passed away last summer and I miss him more than I can put into words.  It was his birthday yesterday.  Happy Birthday Dad.

My Dad and I found something sweet out there.  I describe it as, ‘Our dessert in the desert.’


Sao Paulo with my love

Traveling has always been something that I turned to in time of need.  I always felt a sense of tranquility at the airport watching each person glide past my horizon of sight.  Sitting down in that overused airline seat that had the feel of your grandmother’s oldest, stiffest, upholstered chair somehow felt inviting to me.  It was a discomfort that became comforting.  The only way I can think of to explain it is by relating it to running… Yes, running.  When you first begin a regimen of daily running, your body starts to rebel against this new mobile activity.  The next day your muscles ache and the farthest thing from your mind is to don your running shoes once again to go for a jog.  But, once you have developed your routine, you crave the soreness.  Just a little soreness, not the debilitating kind.  A little soreness to let you savor the progress you are making.  This is the way I felt about an airline seat.  It is crazy, I know, but we all have an oddity that comforts our soul.

However, this trip was different.  I reclined in seat number 23E and my anxiety was still there.  I popped on my earbuds to play a few electronic lounge hits in order to drown out this annoyance.  The trick had no success.  I was on my way to Sao Paulo, Brasil to meet a girl I had met online almost a year ago.  When I bought the ticket I had no worries whatsoever.  But, once again, being in the face of fire the anxiety rolled back in.  The whole flight was uneventful… Movie, water, soda, food, bathroom, movie, game, book, food,water…  Suddenly, I felt the plane make its descent and the intercom chirped on with the pilot requesting for everyone to secure their tray tables, fasten their seat belts, and prepare for landing.  The adrenaline started pumping through my body and I began to rehearse a few lines of dialogue in my head to amuse the girl when I was face to face with her for the first time.  I started walking towards customs and saw a long line.  Relief flowed over me.  I had bought myself 30 more minutes.  I felt like a kid trying to work up the courage to ask a girl in his class to dance at the first dance of the year.  As soon as I emerged from the security gate, I saw one of the most beautiful girls I have ever laid eyes on.  She had a green dress, tan skin, long dark hair, and the widest smile.  I felt comfortable in a matter of seconds as she grabbed my hand to direct us to a small restaurant in the airport.

I have always been enthralled with exploring different nooks and spots in a variety of cities all over the globe where I feel like I have truly discovered tranquility.  International travel has always taken me to places of discovery but, she is the most incredible find of all my discoveries.  It took one year for us to meet, but it was worth every month, day, hour, minute, second that I had waited.  We traveled together for 10 days through her city of São Paulo and ventured over to Guarujá to swim in the ocean.

I visited her again during Easter.  She visited me in the summer and again during Christmas.  I recently returned to be with her during Carnaval in São Paulo.  Looking back over the past two years it seems as if everything has gone so smoothly.  Yes, in the beginning it was very hard to pursue a long distance relationship such as this one.  But when you find love, everything seems possible.  We are now engaged and looking forward to being together forever.  Travel helped me find the love of my life.