While on that post-"Tuscan Sun" breakthrough trip to Italy, I stumbled on an out-of-date "Oprah" magazine that someone had (fatefully?) left at our rental house. In it was a letter from a severely risk-averse person who eventually decided that she could handle "a risk for the week." Or maybe even two. That got me thinking that rather than obsessing about everything, I might be able to handle some risks for the week. I also began to see the hypocrisy of preaching in the classroom for 43 years about the need to allow oneself to be "marked" by new things, to take a risk, and to figure out how to navigate in a culture other than that of my beloved France. So that's part of how a nose-plug type like me ended up plunging into an Italian adventure.