These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

This week the Debs are singing songs from the Sound of Music…wait, no, that’s just Deb Crystal. But we are talking about some of our favorite things–the things that make us happy, that make us smile, that make us laugh.

The Roman orator and philosopher, Seneca, once said, “True happiness is… to enjoy the present without anxious dependence on the future.” I’m not always good about the anxious dependence part, but there are many moments in the present that give me great happiness. Here are a few of my favorite.

Cuddling with my kitties – Merlin (Mr. Merle) and Nero are the two most squishable creatures and I spend every opportunity I can doing just that. Merle is Nero’s father and about half the size. They’re both ragdolls, very needy and sweet. Nero is my shadow and he follows me from room to room, runs to greet me when I come home and cuddles with me every night when I sleep.

Mr. Merle and his son, Nero

Full moons  – Since I was a little kid I’ve been enamored with the big ball of light that illuminates the night sky. Seeing it gives me great pleasure and never fails to elicit a moment of reverence and peace from somewhere deep inside me.

Stars – Over a decade ago when I was getting my M.A. in Critical & Creative Thinking at UMass Boston, I ended up in a class on problem-solving. I was stuck in a group for the entire semester and one woman, whose name now blissfully fails me, hated me. I mean she hated me and for no reason that I could discern. She was verbally mean to me in every class and I would sometimes go home crying. It was baffling to me…how someone who was probably twenty years older than I was, could be such a mean girl to me in a public/classroom setting. Note that I myself was out of high school for nearly twenty years by then so it was equally bizarre. We were adults and she was being worse to me than a bratty fifteen-year-old who didn’t want me to steal her boyfriend. Except there was no boyfriend and we had a collective grade which she pretty much demolished for the group because she didn’t want to be a team player. Eventually, I stopped talking in class (those of you who know me probably can’t imagine this), agreeing with anything that was said and letting her do/say what she wanted. Instead, I started doodling stars on everything. They became my talisman, my light. Emerson once said that “when it is dark enough you can see stars,” and I clung to that. Now I am somewhat obsessed with stars. I have a cycle of star-poems I work on from time to time. I love star jewelry. My entire Christmas tree is full of stars. I gravitate toward them. They make me deliriously happy because they got me through a time when I was terribly sad.

Sipping Spritz Aperol on the Piazza della Rotunda, in the shadow of the Pantheon. Totally touristy, but the best people watching ever.

Italy – I first went to Italy in 2010 and have been back seven times since then. Rome is truly where my heart is. From the first few moments walking around in the city, my husband Joe and I both felt that it was a place where we simply belonged. It’s difficult to understand this feeling unless you’ve had it yourself. We are always longing for Italy, and always longing for Rome. Our friends chide us for the obsession we have with the Eternal City, not understanding why we prefer it over, say, Florence or Venice. But we do. We love its alleys, we love the people, we love the food, the sights, the very pazzo nature of it all.

The Pantheon – Walking into the Pantheon the first time, I cried. I lifted my eyes to the oculus and marveled that I was standing in a place that had truly stood the test of time. It is an incredible building, still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. It is a masterpiece of architecture, a tribute to art itself (the great Raffaello is buried within) and to stand beneath the oculus during the sun or rain is equally amazing. On my bucket list–to be there when it snows, and when the rose petals fall.

Bookstores and libraries – This is a bit of a no-brainer for anyone that loves books, but I could spend hours in a bookstore or a library and want for nothing. There is a piece of me that wonders why I never got my degree in library sciences just so I could be closer to books. I love everything about them. The smell, the reverent quietness, the colorful spines. I miss library cards and I have a weird fondness for the Dewey Decimal System.

Reading – my husband laughs at me a bit because NOT reading gives me a bit of agita. I have SO much to read! And many of them are books by authors I know (fortunately I know many) or authors I admire or authors that I think are important to read. I have been reading since the age of two. It has been one of the greatest sources of pleasure, escape and learning for me. I cannot imagine my life without books.

Giolitti Geleteria, Roma

Gaming – Blame this on my father, who loved to play Pac-Man and Space Invaders with me on the Atari when we were kids. Then one day he brought home this monstrous computer, “for work” but mostly he just wanted to show it off, I think. It had Zork installed on it, the first one, so it might have been around 1980 or so. I fell in love and from there grew my desire to play RPG games. I love anything that is especially story-rich, that involves a quest, a puzzle. Do not ask me how many hours I sunk back into Everquest and Skyrim. I will never tell.

Gelato – and ice cream. I love them both. If I could only eat gelato or ice cream forever, I think I’d be ok with that. Especially if it’s gelato in Italia!

Throwing parties –  I love a good party!! Every year my favorite day of the year is my holiday party when all of the people I know and love come together and get to meet each other. I love bringing people together, throwing dinner parties, introducing people to each other.

Having dinner with Joe – My very favorite thing in the world, however, is spending time over a meal with the love of my life, Joe. When I was growing up my father often worked late, and the five of us never sat down to meals together except on maybe Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We ate in front of the television, we ate on the go, but rarely together. I never knew how wonderful that time could be until I met my husband and he was adamant about that time. I relish that now, being together, talking, enjoying a really nice meal, whether it’s at home or out. We love cooking and we love enjoying the cooking of others. Most of all, we love being together. And that is my very favorite thing of all.

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Crystal King is a writer, culinary enthusiast and social media expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and an obsession with the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught writing, creativity and social media at Grub Street and several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University. Crystal received her masters in critical and creative thinking from University of Massachusetts Boston. She lives with her husband and their two cats in the Boston area.

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