New thing(s) #31: Last Day Wrap-Up

IMG_4643I had big ideas for the last day of March and this new things project. I wanted to go out with a bang, but none of my ideas seemed to fit. I thought about a helicopter or hot air balloon ride (something about a greater perspective), but it was a bad weather day for that. I thought about doing something crazy like skinny-dipping in the bay, but, just… no. I considered dyeing my hair a new color or taking an epic hike, but none of it felt quite right.

I think it’s because I don’t want the project to be over. It was exhausting, and things didn’t always go the way I planned. Frankly, sometimes the whole thing was a gigantic pain in the ass. But someone asked me today why I started this to begin with, and I think it was about more than celebrating my birthday. It was about wanting something more. Being hungry for something but not knowing exactly what it is.

I am a very contented person most of the time. I am beyond grateful for everything and everyone that I have. But the older I get, the more I think about the responsibility I have to myself to make my life what I want it to be. I usually try to go for what I want, at least in small ways, but too often I let fear, doubt, routine, and just plain laziness keep me from doing. I squander opportunity on a daily basis, and this month was no exception.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of myself. I did try a lot of new things. I did go out of my comfort zone. I did post on this damn blog every single night. But there was always something more I could have been doing. More ways I could have been braver or stretched myself. Places I could have gone that I’m not yet (and maybe never will be) willing to go.

I guess there’s always something more we all could be doing for ourselves, more ways we could let ourselves grow. That’s why I don’t want to think of this as an end. It’s not really a beginning either, just a continuation. Which is why I decided, on this last day, to make sure that I continue.

I spent the evening booking things on my list that I didn’t have a chance to get to this month, including the following:

 

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Plan a trip to a new state. If you read the About Me section, you know that I want to visit all 50 states. I’ve been on and off planning a trip to Utah in my head for months, and today I went the extra mile to pick some dates, and book a hotel. I’m planning for a September fall foliage road trip. This will be my first real solo vacation, and I think state #25, which means I’ll be half way there!

 

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Golf lesson. I love swinging a golf club, and I’m not too bad at it either, but I’ve never taken a lesson, so I finally booked one for the end of April.

 

 

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Go to the de Young Museum. This is one of the most famous museums in SF and I’ve still never been, so I finally bought tickets. Fun fact, the first location of the de Young opened on March 24th (my birthday), 1895.

 

 

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Apply to the Amtrak Writer’s Residency. I haven’t officially applied yet, but I started my application statement. To read about the program, click here. I’m definitely ready for another train trip.

 

 

Special thanks to:

-Everyone who read, commented on, liked, and followed this blog.

-Everyone who participated in one or many of my new things. It meant so much to have you there with me to hold my hand and laugh at with me.

-Everyone who cared enough to ask how things were going, and what my new thing was for that day. Your interest was influential in this.

-My family, especially my parents for their never ending love and support.

-My friends. I know you’ll love me no matter how many crazy things I try or stupid blogs I start.

 

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New thing #25: Beer Tasting

IMG_5463Last week, a co-worker told me that they recently opened a Sierra Nevada tasting room down the street from our office in Berkeley. So today after work, we went. I know as much about beer as I do about wine (nothing), so he explained what some of the beers were and what the abbreviations on the menu meant (ABV= Alcohol By Volume, IBU= International Bittering Units). He told me what he liked, recommended some I might like, and with the help of the woman behind the bar (server? bartender? beer wench?), I picked the following 5 to try:

Kellerweis

Weizenbock

Knightro

Off-Kilter Scotch Ale

Narwhal (10.2% alcohol, one of the beers you can’t buy in stores)

My favorite was the Scotch Ale. From the website: “An extended kettle boil affords this “wee heavy” Scotch ale its mahogany color and rich caramel notes, which are complemented by hints of cedar spice, smoke, dried fruit and molasses.”

I wish every work day ended this way. I love learning new things, getting to know a cool co-worker, and a little buzz to take the sting out of a rough Tuesday was nice. It’s funny that I keep saying that I’m not a big drinker (I swear I’m not!), but this is my third alcohol focused new thing— HA!

 

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New thing #20: Ancestry DNA

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As I’ll reiterate from one of my random “About Me” facts, I have been researching my family history on and off for a couple years. I started just for fun on a trial membership to Ancestry.com, and the more I learned and the longer my family tree got, the more it became like solving a mystery or going on a treasure hunt. You gather facts, search for clues, make discoveries, and figure out how you are connected to all these people you never even knew existed. It floored me the first time I really saw on paper how many people are a part of my own makeup, however small that part may be.

My research has been on hold ever since I canceled my membership to Ancestry.com (it’s too damn expensive), but I’ve been toying with the idea of buying their DNA testing kit for a long time. Today, I finally gave in and ordered it.

When you receive the kit in the mail, all you have to do is follow the instructions on how to send back a saliva sample, then within 6-8 weeks, your DNA test can tell you:

– Exactly what ethnicities you are. “AncestryDNA generates an estimate of your ethnicity as part of your personalized results page. Explore your results on a colorful, interactive map. View pie charts, graphs and explanations that can give you a glimpse into the story of your ancestors.”

– If you have relatives you may not even know. “Your DNA results include an ongoing list of DNA member matches with real-time updates, leading you to new relatives, ancestors and answers to your family story.”

I can’t wait to get the test and see the results.

Honorable mention new things:

– Had lunch with a co-worker I’ve never had lunch with, at a place I’ve never been to. It’s amazing what getting away from your everyday work routine will do for the rest of your day. Note to self: at least once a day… step far away from the cubical.

– Saw a new movie: opening night of Divergent. I wasn’t impressed, and no one who read the books will be either, or anyone who likes a good movie for that matter. Thumbs down!

New thing #19: Bikini Wax

My first bikini wax story in GIFs. Enjoy!

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I’ve never had ANYTHING waxed before, not even my eyebrows!

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I know, crazy right? I don’t know why. Maybe because my tweezers and razor work just fine.

Or maybe it’s because I’m a little scared.

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When I arrived at my Brazilian Wax appointment, I told the lady I was a waxing virgin, and she said,

“Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as they say.”

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She had a nice, soothing way about her, so I believed her.

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But then I had to undress from the waist down with her in the room.

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I know she sees this every day, but I’m feeling kinda awkward…

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but I lay on the table and put my brave face on!

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She puts the HOT! wax on…

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Then, with no warning, the first RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIP!

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Okay, just breathe, it wasn’t that bad… RIIIIIPPPPPPPP…

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RIIIIIIIIIIIIIP… RIIP…. RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPP…

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After about 3-5 minutes of ripping (I didn’t cry/scream/Kelly Clarkson her, but I did feel my knees shaking),

she said, “Okay, we’re done…”

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“…with the front, are you ready for the backside?”


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“Are you sure? That’s only a full bikini wax, for a Brazilian we have to…”

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“Would you like to book your next appointment now?”

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THE END.

 

And if you think I’m the only wimp… check these out…

– Sherri Shepard gets her first bikini wax on The View

– Crystal’s first Brazilian

– Wanda Sykes- Waxed

New thing #17: Match.com

73339538380254b0d415bd05afda4bdbOnline dating is a good example of something I put on my new things list that I have never wanted to do. Repeat to self… “out of my comfort zone, out of my comfort zone…”

When you tell people you’re single, it feels like you become a problem for them to solve. “Oh,” they say with poorly disguised pity, “well, that’s cool.” But it’s not cool, because they’ll say, “So, why aren’t you dating?” Even my own ex-boyfriend (we broke up 6 months ago and are attempting to be friends), asked me why I’m not dating. And the only answer I have for all these concerned individuals, is that I hardly ever meet anyone I want to date. Next comes the inevitable question: “Have you tried online dating?”

No, I haven’t. I know it’s the thing to do these days. I know that everyone and their mom is doing it so there’s no stigma anymore. I know that a lot of people doing it have the same doubts about it as I do so I’m not alone, and blah, blah, BLAH.

I think it’s cool and really brave for other people to online date, but it has never felt right for me. I just can’t get over how unnatural and forced it feels. I was embarrassed trying to come up with a dating profile headline (I settled on, “Can we say we met at a baseball game or cooking class or something?”), and trying to find things to say about myself that don’t sound corny, cliché, or just plain stupid.

And do guys even read profiles? My suspicion is that from the 15 “winks”, 10 emails, and 5 IM chat requests I got within a few minutes of signing up, maybe 2 of those guys actually went beyond just looking at my pictures, because I hadn’t even finished writing the text parts of my profile yet.

But, who knows? Maybe this will become one of those things you resist for a long time then end up loving it (although I 99% doubt it). The best part of this is that if nothing comes of it, it’s totally okay. Believe it or not (most people don’t), I’m just fine with being single.

New thing #15: Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

I have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge countless times in car, but have never actually set foot on it until today. As a Bay Area native, this walk feels like a must. A right of passage. So I asked my Aunt Karen to join me in finally crossing this off my SF bucket list.

There was a story a couple weeks ago that said Japanese tourists voted the Golden Gate as one of the most overrated tourist attractions in the US. “’I thought it would be more impressive, but it was just an ordinary red bridge,’ said a 29-year-old woman who responded to the survey.” I can’t help but wonder what they are expecting. True, it’s just a red bridge, but it’s anything but ordinary or overrated. I may be biased, but I tend to agree more with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservatory website, which describes the bridge as “a work of art, an engineering marvel, and an American icon.”

Our 3.4 mile round trip walk on the bridge was fantastic. We started on the SF side, which had a new plaza and exhibits that were put up for the bridge’s 75th anniversary in 2012. This walk is said to be a chilly/windy one, so everyone warns you to take extra layers, but in today’s uncharacteristically warm weather we were wishing we had brought shorts and sandals.

I think the whole walk took us a couple hours. We took our time to savor all of the bay views along the way, I stopped a lot to take pictures, and we spent a few minutes at the lookout spots at each end. I even stopped to hug the guy with the “Free Hugs” sign.

After we finished the walk, we went to Sausalito for lunch and ice cream. It was one of those perfect San Francisco Saturdays. One of my favorite parts of the day though, was when I got to Karen’s house to pick her up this morning. She had a present for me: a necklace that had a picture of the golden gate bridge inside, and it said, “31 new things, #15.” How awesome is that?! I don’t tell her thank you enough for everything she has done for me over the years, and how I believe that a lot of my own generous nature and creativity comes from her influence. So thank you, Aunt Karen, for being there for me today and always.

New thing #13: Cook a Favorite Restaurant Dish

Actually, I made two:

– Benihana’s Fried Rice, with their Ginger Dipping Sauce

If I could choose my last meal on earth, Benihana’s fried rice would at least be the appetizer. I don’t know why it’s leaps and bounds better than all other fried rice, but it is. Their ginger sauce is supposed to be for the seafood and veggies, but I use it on everything, including the rice. I’ve attempted fried rice before, but this was the first time I tried to make it exactly like theirs. I had no idea I could find the recipe for their ginger sauce online, but when I did, I knew I had to make that too.

– Yan’s China Bistro’s Honey Walnut Prawn

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Yan’s is one of my favorite Chinese places, and I can’t go there without ordering the honey walnut prawn. It’s like candy.

 

 

My mom and brother, Mason, were nice enough to be my guinea pig taste testers (Mason even helped me make the rice and chop everything). We all agreed that this was one of the most successful meals I’ve ever made. Not the most complicated or difficult, but no joke, OMG, like WOW! Everything was soooo good.

The honey walnut prawns were sweeter than Yan’s, but still very tasty. The fried rice was good too, but what really made it great was the ginger sauce. I swear I wasn’t expecting it to come out so… what’s the right word? PERFECT. Nothing I ever make is perfect, but it looked, smelled, and tasted exactly like the Benihana’s. Mason said he was sad to know that we’ve wasted so much of our lives not making this sauce, and I agree.

Click on the links below for each recipe I used:

Fried Rice

Ginger Sauce

Honey Walnut Prawn

New thing #11: We tried Absinthe

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… and not the watered down version. The 70% alcohol, made in the Czech Republic, highest content of thujone permitted, illegal to serve in the US, hallucinating unicorns and fairies kind. According to TheDrinkShop.com, this brand is “without doubt, the best absinthe available today.”

My first impressions: yuck, and ouch. Have I mentioned that I’m not a big drinker?

We decided that it’s a combo of three major flavors: mint, licorice, and burning. Yep, absinthe has made burning a flavor. We had the tiniest sips of the tiniest bottle, and our throats hurt for a good 15 minutes. Although the pictures may suggest otherwise, we didn’t feel much from our baby sips, and it’s better that way on Tuesday night with work the next day.

My friends are such good people to try these things with me. Thank you Ria and Veronica! And a special thanks to Ria’s parents, who travel around the world and bring back things like this.

New thing #10: Seabreeze Café and Frontage Road

IMG_4583I think that most Californians who spend hours on end in their cars commuting and sitting in traffic, as I do, have those certain places that they drive by all the time and always think about stopping, but never do. I have a lot of those places, so I thought I would check two of them off my list today since they are right next to each other.

The first place is the Seabreeze Café on University Avenue in Berkeley. I pass this place every day on the way home from work, and always think about going there for lunch. After years of just thinking about it, I finally made it happen, and my two awesome co-workers, Jamie and Nikki, came with me. The café is less than a 5-minute drive from our office, and still none of us had ever been there before.

The menu was bigger than I expected, with sandwiches, burgers, seafood and salads. My tuna sandwich was really good, and I’ll definitely be going back to try more. The name Seabreeze was perfect for this place, and we had the wind-blown hair to prove it.

My second stop was after work. I drive along Frontage Road every day to avoid heavy 80/580 traffic, which runs right along the water. There is a small road/trail for runners, bikers, dog-walkers, etc., and every day I fantasize about stopping there to walk and take sunset pictures of the Bay. But there are always excuses not to stop. I have to get home, I’m too tired, I didn’t bring the right walking shoes. I have stopped there before for a couple minutes at the little beach, but I’ve never walked the trail or spent any real time there. So today I parked my car, came armed with walking clothes and shoes, plugged in my ear buds, and spent two full hours walking around the area. I walked the whole road up and down, as well as a couple of the nearby trails, went to the little beaches, and I even walked over the University pedestrian bridge/overpass for the first time. And of course being the picture nut that I am, I brought my camera and took about a bazillion shots.

It’s amazing to me how a simple walk can have such a rejuvenating effect. But it was more than just a walk, it was taking time to be there and savor how thankful I feel to see this view every day. I worry and complain a lot about my “first world problems,” as a lot of us do, but in this rare moment of consuming gratitude, all I felt was peace.

So you know that place you always see? The one you drive by on your way home? It’s time to stop.

Honorable mention new things:

– Watched a sunset with a stranger

IMG_3975I met Christian on my walk. He was sitting on a log on the beach playing the guitar. I was deep in picture taking mode at this point, and how can you resist a silhouette shot of a guy on a beach at sunset playing the guitar? That’s right, you can’t. I went up to him to ask if I could take his picture (I felt like Brandon Stanton of HONY- click the link if you don’t know who/what that is). He smiled a big smile and said, “Yes, absolutely!” He was one of those exuberantly friendly people that I think you only meet once in a great while.

We ended up talking for a few minutes as the sun went down. I think he thought I wondered why he was out there with his guitar, because he immediately starting talking about how important it is to do things for yourself, and to take the time to make your life a full one and feed your soul with what you enjoy, and to appreciate what comes into your life and recognize that it came into your life for a reason. It was a very apropos speech considering the spirit of this new things project. I sat down with him and he played me one of his songs. While he sang, I couldn’t help but be jealous of how at ease he was. I thought about how rare it is that I go up to a stranger and chat with them (let alone sing to them). I bet he does it every single day.

– I met Amalia

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Before going home tonight, I stopped by Ria’s and met her new niece, Amalia, for the first time.

She is seriously, freakin’, stinkin’ cute. Her aunt is going to spoil her rotten.

 

 

 

 

 

New thing #9: Wine Tasting

I put wine tasting on my new things list even though I’m not a big drinker and don’t know the first thing about wine. There’s something about going wine tasting though that seems so grown up. It’s also a huge waste that I live an hour from Napa, one of the world’s most famous wine regions, and never go. Luckily, I know some very cool people who do know something about wine. Today my friends Clara, Steve, Brandon, Alexis and I, toured Hall Rutherford winery. Clara is a member and was able to book us a free tour and tasting.

Our guide, Mark, started the tour by showing us the vines and told us about their process and facilities. I picked up bits and pieces of what he was saying, but I was so distracted by the beauty of the place. Everything about the property was gorgeous, from the view and the smells in the air, to the architecture and artwork. Not to mention thanks to our recent bout of rain, the whole region was green and blooming.

For the next stop on the tour we went down to “the caves,” where we learned more about the history of the winery. We also sampled a wine from one of the lined up barrels that won’t be bottled and sold to the public until late next year.

A long hallway led to a big room with the most stunning chandelier I’ve ever seen (the architects literally had to build the room around it). There was a long table set up with three red wines to taste (my favorite was the Pinot), some bits of cheese and salami, and a personalized menu. I loved hearing about the different flavors in each wine, and after finishing all my samples, I loved everything (especially my buzz).

After Rutherford, we stopped by another winery, then went to a fancy restaurant for dinner. All in all, it was a great day filled with new things. Thanks again to my friends for letting me be their 5th wheel, and thanks especially to Clara for planning it!