Five days of gratitude: People, places and things

I had to take a momentary pause from the five days of gratitude challenge because I was in France at the secret wedding of my ex-girlfriend.

We had an awkward moment when she suggested we do it one more time, “for old times’ sake,” but I declined because I didn’t want to ruin my makeup.

I did however agree to be her maid of honor just to irk her new husband. I made sure to wink at him throughout the entire ceremony. Afterwards, him, George Clooney and I drank cheap scotch and smoked expensive cigars (which I brought) and laughed the whole thing off.

I wasn’t allowed to take photos, but this is basically what the ceremony looked like:


Anyway, I don’t think my hiatus was a big deal because the rules of the challenge do not specify that the five days have to be in consecutive order. So, without further ado, my three most wonderful things I’m grateful for today are:

People. I’m thankful for smart people that are working to fix, help, improve the lives of other people. I’m thankful for people with special needs that teach me to be patient, kind and humble. I’m thankful for mean people whose actions remind me of the need to be more empathetic to compensate for their lack of humanity. I’m thankful for the people who drive well, for the people that sing in the car and for the people that are brave enough to say good morning to me, even when I’m wearing sunglasses indoors.

Places. I’m grateful for places that have taken my breath away, from the Napali Coast to the Amalfi Coast. I’m grateful for the places that broke my heart, like Managua and Havana. I’m grateful for the places that give me hope, like San Francisco and New Orleans. I’m grateful to Miami for welcoming my parents when they were kicked out of their country. And I’m really grateful for the existence of Las Vegas.

Things. I appreciate my musical instruments, as they remind me of all of the different ways I can ruin a good song. I appreciate music in general and the way it makes me feel. I begrudgingly appreciate how it makes me move, especially when I’ve been drinking. I appreciate a quiet spaghetti dinner at home equally as much as a really nice dinner at The Palm. And I appreciate having the money to indulge in either.

I’m also really thankful for YouTube.

Moby dick

What a dick.

Throughout my travels I’ve visited ruins, cathedrals and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I’ve been humbled by volcanoes and euphoric from trying indigenous cuisine. However, there are times where I’m underwhelmed. Times when the expectations are so high that the reality has no way of measuring up.

Unfortunately, this happened during my trip into the city of Sorrento.

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamt of visiting Sorrento. (Not really.) I loved this magical place so much, I even insisted that the song for my first piano recital be “Torna a Surriento.” (It was insisted on me by my piano teacher, as I wanted to play “La Guantanamera.”)

A decade later, (two decades) I finally saved enough money (it was a free trip) to travel to Italy. It was no coincidence (yes, actually it was) that Naples was among the regions I would be visiting and, therefore, would finally make it to magical Sorrento (I really wanted to go to the island of Capri instead.).

Upon arriving in Naples, we hired (the men negotiated) a (cab) driver and had him whisk us away to the place I longed to visit (again, because Capri was not an option). We drove along the coast, where I snapped photographs of the scenery. (I took inappropriate pictures using the side-view mirror.) Hardly containing my excitement upon entering the city gates, I exclaimed, “This is it!” (I think I sighed, “Is this it?”)

Overcome with emotion (Limoncello), I got out of the car and kissed the ground (I fell) like the Pope does on the tarmac. The first site I requested to visit was the church of St. Francis Cloisters (the bathroom at St. Francis Cloisters). It is a tradition of mine to visit the holy sites of ever city I visit. (Seriously?) Which is why I dress in a black dress with a matching mantilla. (Is mantilla a fancy word for flip flops?)

Only, before entering, I genuflected (ashed out my cigarette) before the statue of St. Antonio, patron saint of Sorrento, but by the time I got back on my feet and looked up I wished I had never paid respect to this horrible man. As a matter of fact, I wished I had never stepped foot in a town that allowed such a mean person be their patron saint.

When I looked up at Antonio, I noticed he was stomping on a dolphin with his gross monk sandals. What did a poor, defenseless dolphin ever do to him? I mean, was Sorrento overrun by marine mammals? The “horror.” Was he really just stomping them out with his feet? Like roaches? Or, worse, was he responsible for casting tuna nets to get rid of them?

Regardless, he must have been a total dick. (Total dick.)