Monday, January 2, 2012

good riddance, two thousand and eleven.

2011 has been one of the most turbulent years for me.

Perhaps it's because 2011 is the year I turned sixteen.
Or because I had to balance doing schoolwork with studying for the SATs, sleeping, and exploring new culinary adventures.
Or because the Arab Spring occured. It kept me up some nights, thinking.
Or the Occupy (insert city name here) riots started, which also kept me up.

I went through both laughter and tears, blessings and curses. I made new friends and lost a very special one.

One of the most intelligent, frank, and funniest boys I ever had the pleasure of knowing left us on December 29th. For seventeen years, he bellowed his distinct laugh and made his friends and family laugh and smile with his antics. It was holiday break, time for relieved sighs and hours spent with friends and family. It was time to start fresh and anew. But three days before we rang in the new year, he passed away due to heart complications.

When I found out, I couldn't stop crying. He was one of my best friends two years ago. Although we grew apart, he still knew just what to say to make a girl smile. We had a social science fair we were both attending together in mid January. I was so excited to be with him again, to hear his hearty laugh, and to laugh at his jokes. I wanted to tell him the things I couldn't tell him two years prior. I was waiting for that fair. After I stopped the tears streaming from my eyes, the fact that I wouldn't see him at that fair wandered into my mind. The fact that I still had things to say to him made my heart pound against my chest. I was filled with regret but I was helpless at this point.

Grieving is a such delicate topic, laced with intricate feelings. It is reflects different on everyone; it is an unique experience. I never had to grieve before. This was the first time a loved one of mine passed away. Parents' of close friends have passed away and my heart ached for my friends. I cried for them. Baked for them. But I never used a whole box of tissues in two nights, like I did on December 29th and 30th.

The end of 2011 was a terrible one. I couldn't ask anything worse. The start of 2012 wasn't dandy either; my emotions was still ripped and raw from his death.  My heart still pounds quickly when I hear or say his name. Instead, my friends and I refer to my friend as "he" or "him". Half of the world is male and yet when I say "he" or "him", my friend understands me, and vice versa. You know what's beautiful? More than 400 people came to a memorial service at our high school. Knowing that some many people love and care for him makes me smile uncontrollably. He touched so many hearts in his seventeen years. He was something special. I will never forget his sweet smile or his hearty laughter. Unexpectedly, I learned lessons from him. 1) Live every second like it's your last. 2) Speak up and say what's on your mind because you never when the person you want to say it to will disappear. I will keep his memory with me forever. However, I must plow through life, complete my goals, and celebrate my achievements. I can't linger like this anymore. By regretting and dreaming, I bring my own tears and heartaches.

When I got my appetite back, I ate a plate of makeshift penne cacio e pepe my mother made. (That lady has a gift with Italian cuisine, I swear!) The next day, I made it again and had two bowls for breakfast. Although it wasn't exactly the same cacio e pepe you saw here or here, it was simple, delicious, and filled with just enough unami to make me sigh. Oh carbs, how I love you so! Here's a recipe that might make you laugh due its simplicity.

Penne Cacio e Pepe 
courtesy of my mom and the cookbooks she read

1 box of penne pasta
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated parm
garlic salt
freshly ground pepper

Put water on boil and salt it heavily. Add penne. Drain when the pasta is al dente but save some pasta water. In a large pot, add butter, 1 1/2 tsp of ground pepper, and pasta water. There will a loud sizzlin' noise so stand back. Add in pasta. Stir. Add garlic salt. Then, add in your cheese. Stir. Sprinkle more cheese. Eat. Do the dishes. Bam. Comfort food at its finest. Enjoy.

Serves 4-6 hungry people.

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