New thing # 6: Afghan Food

IMG_4376I’m not the most adventurous eater. I will try almost anything once, but it’s fair to say that I will never choose a new or “exotic” restaurant over a tried and true favorite. This especially frustrated my dad growing up, who would try to get my mom, brother, and I to branch out more. He would say, “Hey, let’s try that new Moroccan place!” To which we would say, “Nah, how about the Spaghetti Factory again?”

That is why I’m really glad he was able to join me for dinner tonight. I told him I wanted to try something new, and that I was sure I could count on him for a good suggestion. He recommended a place called Chopan Kabob, an Afghan restaurant.

My first impression is that it’s similar to Indian food. Most dishes included rice, flat bread, yogurt, and everything seems to have a mild spice to it. There were some appetizers that I’ve seen on Indian food menus, like Pakora (lumps of deep fried vegetables), which we ordered, and I got the lamb, something I wouldn’t normally get.

I thought everything was pretty good. It’s not a place that will become a favorite I’m sure, but that’s okay. It was exciting to try something different, and it’s always great to hang out with my dad. I hope he was proud that his little girl wanted to branch out for a change. Better late than never, Dad!

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New thing #4: BodyCombat

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Tonight I tried Les Miller’s BodyCombat workout.

And I thought I looked dorky doing Zumba!

It’s easy for me to fall into ruts, especially at the gym, so trying a new class was one of the first things I put on my list. I had nothing specific in mind, I just looked at what worked with my schedule, and from there picked the only one I hadn’t tried yet: BodyCombat. I had never heard of it before, and in case you haven’t either, here is the description from the website:

BODYCOMBAT™ is the empowering group fitness cardio workout where you are totally unleashed. This fiercely energetic program is inspired by mixed martial arts and draws from a wide array of disciplines such as karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi and muay thai… During this ultimate warrior workout, you’ll strike, punch, kick and kata your way through calories to superior cardio fitness.”

I think I would need to go to a few more classes before feeling “totally unleashed.” The workout was good, I was definitely sweating, but I felt like I was half-assing the intensity as I struggled with the fairly simple choreography. It’s easy, but fast, and most of the time my brain couldn’t keep up. I hooked when I was supposed to jab, did single knees on the double count, and messed up more than one kata. I was a total spaz (although the teacher was nice enough to lie to me and told me that I did great). Meanwhile, the 70+ year old woman in front of me was kicking ass.

The good news for me though, is that I wasn’t the only spaz. A great thing about the gym is that you are never the most uncoordinated or out of shape person. There is always someone better, and there is also always someone who’s having just as much, if not more trouble than you are, and that’s okay! We all progress together.

Check out some BodyCombat moves on YouTube here.

New thing #3: 31 Random Acts of Kindness

First, I freely admit that I stole this idea. There are people doing random acts of kindness every day all over the world and posting them on the internet. It’s practically a movement. There’s even a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Second, I realized last night as I was planning out some of my “random” ideas, that this project might be more about making myself happy than others. I love doing these sorts of things. I like to plan, give gifts, and surprising people. So really all this “kindness” is just selfish— ha!—who knew? I confessed this to my mom and she said, “Well, can’t it be a win-win for everyone?” I don’t see why not.

The 31 Acts

1) I brought two dozen Krispy Kreme for the office…

2) …AND DIDN’T EVEN HAVE ONE! (Someone left a thank you note on the box!)

3) I brought gluten free cupcakes to my gluten free friend and fave co-worker (shout out, Jamie!) from the best ever cupcake place: Sinful Bliss Cupcakes.

4) I gave anonymous “you rock” cards to four of my friendliest co-workers, along with $5 gift cards to the coffee place across the street.

5) I got Ria stuff for her cubical at her new job (in the building next to mine).

6) I brought my favorite umbrella to leave for someone to find and use.

7) I gave three $5 Peet’s gift cards to random people. The first two were walking inside to buy their coffee, and the third I gave to the group of men who sit outside Pete’s almost every morning. When I told them why I was giving it to them, they asked which organization I was with. I said no organization, I just felt like doing it. They looked suspicious but thanked me.

8) I gave a $20 Books, Inc. gift card to the woman shopping in the store (support your book stores people!). She looked teary eyed and told me she would pay it forward.

9) I was at the toy store with Ria, and I was going to buy a random gift for a random kid. But instead Ria found a little boy playing with a toy train, and insisted on paying her gift from me forward by buying it for him.

10) Ria and I anonymously paid for someone’s meal at the place we were having lunch. When the waitress told him, he looked so confused. But she said later that he was really grateful.

11) We tipped the waitress nicely too.

12) I put a lot of quarters in a lot of meters (the picture below is only the first handful).

13) I picked up some trash (didn’t get very far with that- there’s too much!).

14) Once as a graduation gift I got a jar full of “Kind Notes” (fortune cookie type messages) in tiny envelopes. I took the little envelopes out of the jar and hid them around my work neighborhood (and hopefully people will find them so I’m not just another litterer).

15) I also put some of the notes in plastic Easter eggs along with a couple bucks, and left them around popular homeless hangouts near by.

16) And put some along Frontage Road on the way home.

17) I left a Magic-8 Ball for someone to find, with a note that said, “Take me. I will help you make those hard decisions.”

18) I got my dad, a Giants fan, a book at the bookstore called “100 Things Giants Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” and left it in his mailbox.

19) I talked to my Grandma (who recently doesn’t drive) on the phone, and offered my services as driver for an errand when she needs it.

20) I went to a BART station and gave someone my ticket with $8 left on it.

21) I got my Mom some flowers and a thank you card for being awesome.

22) I sent my friend a postcard, because she always sends me postcards (shout out, Roxanne!)

23) I sent my friend a message with an offer to babysit again sometime soon (shout out, Veronica!).

24) I bought my friend across the country an online gift card (shout out, Katie!).

25) I sent my aunt a guidebook for her upcoming vacation (shout out, Aunt Karen!)

26) I gave lots of sincere compliments.

27) I picked up dinner at Panda Express for my brother.

28) And paid for lady in front of me in line. She said, “Are you serious? Like, for real? Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.” She was the only person all day who asked my name, shook my hand, and told me that it would all come back to me ten fold.

29) I donated to a classroom project online via DonorsChoose.org!

30) I sent a couple “thinking of you” e-cards to friends I haven’t talked to in a long time.

31) I signed up for a CPR certification class, and maybe that will come in handy one day for another very specific act of kindness.

Honestly, I am exhausted. It was a long, rainy day. I feel drained (energy level and bank account), but very full at the same time (heart and soul). I consider myself a kind person, so doing something nice isn’t exactly a new thing for me, but I’m so glad I was able to devote a whole day to acts of kindness (I also found out that it’s national “I Want You to Be Happy Day!” What are the chances??). You can tell by the looks you get from people when you tell them you want to do something nice for them, that it just doesn’t happen often enough.

The Plan

I’ll be the first person to admit that I have always made a big deal out of my birthday.

As most kids do, I looked forward to my birthday parties all year. I wanted to wear a great dress (something with enough skirt to fan out when I spun in circles), hire top-notch entertainment (although most of the girls at my 4th birthday party hid from the clown), and eat as much cake as I could stomach (chocolate, always chocolate). From skating rinks and picnics, to sleepovers and scavenger hunts, there are so many standout soirees, it’s hard to choose a favorite *.

Even now as an adult, I love having a birthday. But before you dismiss me as a spoiled, self-involved brat, the people who know me best (get to know me better in the “About Me” tab) will tell you that it’s not because I want to be the center of attention or because I want lots of gifts. Far from it.

I just like to celebrate. Because, well, why not?

Even more so, I love to plan and organize, design themes, build traditions, and not just on birthdays. In my own, inherently innocent ways (my idea of celebrating usually doesn’t involve anything a Bieber or Lohan would be in to), I like to escape my routine and simply give special days their due.

This March 24th, I will turn 31. This is the year that I thought would put an end to my party planning appetite, at least for a while. Everyone knows that 30 is the big year, and the point after which most people start celebrating in fives (35, 40, 45, etc.), or stop counting all together. Or better yet, backwards! Who cares about 31?

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Turns out, I do. Without fail, I got that familiar late-February itch. That it’s-almost-time-to-plan-your-birthday feeling.

So, I’m going with it. Who am I to fight my nature? And again I ask you, why the hell not?

I decided though that this year I should do something different. Something I’ve never done before. For the past few years I’ve planned nice dinners, and fun days/nights out in San Francisco with my friends. They’ve all been great birthdays by my standards, but since I’m well over the 30’s cusp now, it may be time to branch out. After all, if I have to get older, I may as well be growing too.

I started making a list of things I’ve never done before, and the list eventually got so long that I thought about how hard it would be to pick just one. Then I thought, maybe I don’t have to.

My theme-drawn brain came upon the realization that since I’m turning 31 years old, and since there are 31 days in March, maybe I could try one new thing every day in March.

31 days. 31 new things.

And there it is, my 31st birthday plan.

I began by continuing my list of things I’ve never done, and the list is still growing every day. A lot of my ideas are bucket list type things— most of them small, easy things, and some are bigger (and possibly less likely to happen if I go broke half way through the month). Some things are random, some were suggested by others, and some are 31 themed. A handful of ideas are things I don’t really want to do at all, that I put on the list in the spirit of going outside my comfort zone.

Part of this plan is that I’m going to chronicle each new thing here in this blog with short posts and pictures, mostly to keep myself accountable. I’m notorious for getting excited about a project and not following through. If I tell myself that you, my friends, family, and possibly curious strangers, are taking 5 minutes out of your day to read about my adventures, it will inspire me to be braver, more creative, and most importantly to keep going. When I just feel like staying home and watching that Friends rerun for the hundredth time, I will think about you, dear reader, and how you are counting on me to get out there and do/see/try/experience something new.

*Who am I kidding? The hands-down winner is my 15th birthday party. A BBQ at the neighborhood park, and the first party I invited boys to. My friends and I filmed it, and over the years we have watched/reminisced the shit out of that old VHS tape.

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