Saturday, December 17, 2011

The last activities!

I'm doing the last 5 things together. Four of them are food-related. Yay!

26: Natto
I went back to first-tier sushi with my orchestra stand partner because we went to an LA Phil concert again and he said that tuna should be the freshest right now. Last time he suggested I try natto, since his friends claim that the restaurant served the best natto. I didn't try it last time. I figured I'd do it this time.

They gave me a hand roll so I could have the joy of eating it all by myself. Natto with thin slices of green onion wrapped in rice and seaweed. The act of eating it wasn't so much of What did I just eat? so much as it was WHAT JUST HAPPENED????. Even now I can't describe it. The texture was so soft and masked by the texture of everything around it that I felt almost as if I'd bit into nothing except for a slight aftertaste. I certainly didn't enjoy it, but I felt like I ought to finish it. "You might be one of those natto-lovers" my stand partner commented. "Otherwise you would've stopped eating it by now."

27: Waffle Sandwiches
One of my closest childhood friends came and visited, so I took the opportunity to spend a weekend with a group of them in the area. On the bright side, we're all foodies. This meant that my friend came with a list of all the best restaurants in the area. We then picked which ones we were going to go to and then planned what activities we'd do around them. One of them was this place called Bruxie, which serves gourmet waffle sandwiches. What is a waffle sandwich, I asked. It's a sandwich with waffles instead of bread. Mind blown.

We got friend chicken waffle sandwiches in honor of chicken and waffles. I got extra maple syrup and a dessert waffle with lemon curd and fresh berries. The waffles were extra crispy and light, so on the downside, they get soggy really quickly. On the upside, we ate the sandwiches so quickly we didn't notice. There's a combination of sweet and salty to the waffles that enhances both types of sandwiches. The fried chicken inside was really juicy, but also cut thin, so the ratio of breading to meat was ideal. The lemon curd and berries was amazing, definitely the favorite. Unfortunately, they don't keep well, despite being available for take-out as well.

28: Gay Club
After the waffle sandwiches, I got taken to a gay club for the first time (by a taxi! First time I've ridden a cab on the West Coast). Apparently all straight people who are being taken to gay clubs for the time will ask "Will gay people hit on me?" And the answer is NO. Gay people also have a gaydar. And it is probably more accurate than straight people's gaydar. After I asked the question and was told the above facts, I tried asking something more unique: "So if I start hitting on lesbians, do you think they'll flirt back?" Blank stares.

It's weird going into a bar and knowing that no one will be attracted to you. Or at least, not realistically. Given my poor dating record and social life, you'd figure I'd be used to that by now. We people-watched most of the night, and it was interesting to see what types of people were there. There were also a lot of girls who looked like guys, and I started to be able to differentiate an hour into our adventure.

I ended up dancing under a speaker and spent the rest of the night with ringing ears and the next day with plugged ears. Overall, it was a fun experience, and definitely something new for me.

29: Iberico Ham
The food trip continued! By the next two days, we'd tried special fruit teas, taiwanese food, cuban pastries, and a pub bar with probably the best burger I'd had in my entire life. And while I'd entered the bar with the express purpose of eating said burger, we saw the appetizers and perhaps overreacted. I got iberico ham and my friend ordered bone marrow.

Iberico ham is made from pigs who have a diet consisting large of acorns, giving it a nuttier flavor. For some odd reason it weirds me out to no end that your flesh takes on the flavor of whatever you eat. For some odd reason, it's always intrigued me since then, to the point that my co-worker suggested that I run into Spain and cry out "Jamon Iberico!!! Dinero!! *mimes throwing out money in exchange for ham* Mas jamon iberico!!! Mas dinero!!!! *more miming*"

They served their jamon iberico with olive oil, mint, and persimmons. It was like a prosciutto and melon. Fantastic! There was a nuttiness, although I easily could've thought it was regular ham if they hadn't told me. I was quite in love with it. The bone marrow came still in the bones, with 4 crostinis and an acidic salad on the side to cut the fat. It spreads kind of like a butter, but with an umami, meaty flavor to it.

On a side note, we ordered so much food the waiters freaked out whenever they had to deliver more to our table. We did the number system and had two numbers, and they kept delivering dishes and then being like "I'll just take this number..." and we'd respond with "Actually, there's still another dish we're expecting..."

30: Tetris Cake
It's a friend's birthday and I offered to bake a cake. She has this awesome etsy store called My Geeky Boyfriend which sells pacman, Batman, Superman, Star Trek, etc.-themed gear. I originally wanted a completely geeky cake with all of the themes, but my cake started to dry out and my frosting was really gross. I had to throw it out and start a buttercream frosting (which is disgusting in concept if you know what goes into it, although the name itself should give a hint). In the end, I cut out tetris pieces from the cake, frosted them individually, and then put pacman characters I cut out of airheads. I love seeing what I can make from scratch. Gingerbread cookie and house decorating is something I take very seriously, to the point that I ruined my friend's rolling pin to crush jolly ranchers to make stained-glass windows for the gingerbread house. At any rate, the cake was crumbly and a little dry, so it crumbled off into the frosting when I iced the cake. However, after I assembled it and put it all together, I felt really proud. It wasn't beautiful, or perhaps even good-tasting, but I felt like it was very me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Activity 25: Breakdancing

I feel strangely like going on a dating website has been good for trying new activities instead of meeting new people. Because I learned breakdancing on another first date. I've realized that I don't like date-y first dates. I like fun first dates.

Anyway, I asked someone to teach me how to breakdance, and he came up with a couple tricks he thought I could do. I've learned a few moves before, but I've never learned a routine, or even how to do the tricks properly, seeing as I once did a six-step for a friend who acted as if I'd thrown acid into his eyes.

My teacher got a couple moves together for a routine. I mostly wanted to work on toprocking, so he taught me those as basics. Then he did a bunch of floorwork: six-step, seven-step, four-step, cee-cee's (I'm not sure how you spell it...).

The part I had the most trouble with was actually the ending pose. This is particularly relevant in battles, where you have to be creative, you have to bring your own style, and apparently there's a format where you pose at the end. I don't have any swag, so I'd do the routines, stand back up, and announce "and then I pose" instead of just doing it. My teacher seemed rather baffled.

"Anything can be a pose!" He showed me all sorts of things people have done, and we laughed over a lot of them, but I wasn't really sure what to do. He showed me lots of things, and I felt like I could do them if I was just standing off to the side, but not incorporate them into the routine.

I feel like part of it is this fear of doing something "for reals." As long as you're not chasing something 100%, you never have to face the fact that you could suck at it. You just know that you have potential. If I don't do a move for reals, you have that excuse for if it sucks. There's a strength and a dedication for people who watch themselves to improve themselves. My supervisor used to make fun of me for listening to myself play violin. He said it was very ego-driven. I think he wouldn't say that if he realized how much I criticize myself while listening to myself.

I'm thinking of recording myself dancing, just to force myself to really look at it. For reals.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Activity 22: Baylands and Activity 23: Wasabi Tako and Activity 24: Christmas Sodas

So, this past Thanksgiving weekend didn't afford for too many new activities, seeing as it's a holiday about tradition and I tend to spend it catching up with old friends. And although I did do new things (like try coffee that had been pooped out by a feral cat), I only really wanted to mark 3 of them.

1. Baylands

An old high school friend and I decided to go on a walk, and my parents suggested the Baylands. For how long I've lived in the place I grew up, I've explored it very little. We went on the trail, and it was mostly long stretches of grass, streams of ducks and pelicans, and concrete and rocks that we climbed over. I think I mostly relish it as a place of tranquility where my friend and I can just walk, swap jokes, and ruminate about the passage of time. We ended up getting lost on the way back and the trail pooped us out a couple miles from the car. Luckily, we knew the roads well enough that we walked across streets for several miles. All in all, I think we walked maybe 7 miles in total.

2. Wasabi Tako

I caught up with another friend over food. We're total foodies, and sometimes we can sustain whole conversations where we just list foods that we want to try out. So when my friend said she wanted ramen from a famous ramen house, I didn't think too much of it as a new thing because I'd been there before. Furthermore, the other time I'd gone, my friend researched it beforehand, so we knew the secret good dishes that are hidden in the menu and what to expect in the ramen.

As we scanned the menu, I debated whether to get all of the good things we'd tried last time, or to give myself a break from the 4-day non-stop stuff-your-face binge I'd started Thursday night. But when the waitress stopped by, my friend looked up and asked "is the wasabi tako fresh?"

Helloooooo, new thing, something in my mind clicked.

I in general hate tako (or octopus). It's chewy, it's got tentacles, and I never order it as sushi if I can help it. Although if I remember correctly, I do believe we got it during first-tier sushi, and I was not impressed. That's how much I dislike octopus. Also, I've seen Oldboy, and I've seen this:

The wasabi tako we got was actually closer to that consistency: very small, grey, slimy pieces. And surprisingly not that chewy. A little sweet, but with a huge kick of wasabi that cleared my sinuses immediately. I was surprised to actually like it quite a bit. It had a firmness that made it seem juicy. And the sliminess was actually pretty nice too. It served as a vessel for capturing more wasabi flavor. I know this because I ate the shiso leaf at the bottom of the dish and it was covered in the slime.

3. Christmas sodas

So I say "Christmas sodas" a little deceptively because I'd also bought a bacon soda. That's right. And yes, it was very disgusting. It tasted like bacon, but it smelled like a permanent marker. So drinking it was like drinking liquid bacon while smelling permanent marker while getting kicked in the stomach by a ninja. I suggested we have a bet where the loser had to chug the rest of the bottle after we'd all had a taste, and my co-workers threw up in their mouths a little bit at that.

The other flavors were much nicer: Pear Tree, which was a light, fragrant pear, Gingerbread, which actually captured the bread aspect as well as the ginger, Sugarplum, which was the least flavored one but colored a rich purple, and lastly Candy Cane. I was most wary of Candy Cane, because I drank carbonated mint-flavored water in France and found it to be the most disgusting thing ever. It wasn't sweet, but incredibly strong. What made it worse was that it was so damn great after you drank it. It made your breath smell fresh, and the carbonation ensured that burps would keep the fresh smell long-lasting. You just had to get through the actual drinking-it period.

My co-worker much preferred the Christmas sodas, but it was generally agreed that they were much too heavy to drink a whole bottle. I never realized how subtle or perhaps generic Pepsi and Coke are that you can just drink large quantities of it, but not of these special sodas. Or perhaps not subtle, but just... traditional.

I'd like to give 2 really quick maintenance notes. One is that I'm aware that my 30 days are up, but I haven't reached my 30 new things yet, so rather than start telling you about this great cat-pooped-coffee, I will give myself an extension to elaborate on more meaningful activities. The second is that I rather like stand-up now. I wrote another joke today. Perhaps to be posted here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Activity 20: Tricking class Activity 21: Rosemary Lime Soda

A guy asked me to try out a martial arts tricking class with him. I haven't done martial arts for awhile now, so I decided to give it a try. It's kind of funny because lately I've been thinking about how everyone seems to have different sides to them. And I've mostly been thinking about this because you only really present one side on a dating website. I feel like everyone is a little bit all over the board. I consider myself cultured because I love classical music and perform it, but I also tend to cuss a lot and talk about crude subjects. I'm a nerd, but compared to most of my nerd friends I'm an artist, and compared to a lot of my artist friends, I'm a bit of a jock. I'm a tomboy, but people think I'm small, young and cute. I feel like where most people see a character or characteristic they really like, they appreciate it for what it is. I think I react by being like "I want to be that. I can do it." I can't even figure myself out.

At any rate, when I picked up martial arts in college, I finally started to feel like a badass. And when I started to trail off in my training, I started to think, maybe it's time to let that side of me go. I'm trying to trim down all the random urges I get to be somebody I'm not and to think of one personality that is my ideal self. And even now I can't think of it, or envision it.

That kind of changed when I went to the tricks class. The guy I went with used to do tae kwon do, and although we were brand new and the instructor taught us as such, it was clear from the beginning that we had martial arts experience. Which was also awkward, because the moves are similar, but they're not the same. So some instincts will help you, and some will get in the way.

At any rate, I started to feel like I wanted to everything again. The adrenaline rush really gets to you, and the feelings of soreness actually equate to feeling more accomplished. This is the first new activity I'm considering doing regularly, if just to have something physical I do on a regular basis.

Today I decided to take it easier on the new things, so I cracked open one of the new sodas I got 3 activities ago. I've actually been to unique soda stores before, and I tend towards the really strange flavors: floral and vegetable flavors, as well as exotic fruits. I've had lavender, elderflower and chai tea coke sodas. To the best of my knowledge, I haven't tried an herbal soda.

It was actually quite innocuous. Much like a scented carbonated water rather than a full-out soda. Very light and more fragrant than flavored. Overall, very nice. I'm excited to try the rest of them (particularly the bacon soda), but I'm promised to try it with co-workers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Activities 16-19: Read below to see what they are

Activity 16: Fill an entire sketchbook in one night
This is a strange feat. I've heard of art classes where you just draw for quantity instead of quality, just to get your mind and muscles flowing. I wasn't sure what I was going to pull from, so I grabbed a moleskin notebook, a bunch of pens, and a published sketchbook by Britney Lee for inspiration. I popped in an opera dvd and just drew for several hours. It wasn't actually too bad. First off, the best that you're going to get are rough sketches, and you're okay with that. Second of all, a lot of the sketches will look like s***, and it's important to be okay with that as well.

My brain's creativity would run low a lot, during which I'd flip through Britney Lee's stuff and copy. I think most of my best drawings were just copies of her work. At any rate, afterward I pulled out my favorite sketches and I'll post them here.

Sometimes when you draw, you get that real "aha" moment where you feel like it's going great, every mark just makes it better, and then you can't stop looking at it afterward. You'll probably hate it down the road, but it's really great to have those moments, and unfortunately, I didn't have one of those. Perhaps it's because it's detailed-oriented.

It was still a good experience, though. Perhaps one I will try again in the future.

Activity 17: Pay for a haircut

Can you believe I've never paid for a haircut??? Sometimes I marvel at this fact the way I used to marvel that I had a boyfriend when I had one. I've gone to a salon to have my hair dyed before, but this was still pretty nerve-wracking for me. I looked up a recommended barbershop and scheduled an appointment. I was pretty n00b at the whole thing- I sat there quietly, gave a few directions, and the whole thing was over in half an hour. I looked over to the next chair where the guy was having a long conversation about his life, talking about how he'd started eating healthy and doing yoga, and thought to myself Maybe I'm getting this haircut all wrong. Maybe I should be talking about my life. Who thinks that???

At any rate, I do love my new haircut. It's more precise to what I wanted compared to my attempts to shorten my hair that end up with Mrs. Brady hair. It might not be worth the money, but it was a nice kick-back.

One thing that I thought was nice was that I asked what I should do about my bangs, and the hairdresser said, "I kinda like how they are right now." And I wanted to be like, "Hey... I got something right!" and tell her about my own hair-cutting escapades. Unfortunately, I said nothing.

Activity 18: Wander around and get lost

It rained today, so I got the crazy idea to walk around. I wandered around New York and got caught in a shower, so I figured I could take it again. This time, however, there was no real destination. I decided that I'd driven through one area enough that I wouldn't mind walking there to get a little more lost and see what pops up.

In a way, this is what I love to do. I put in my music, shut out the world and just walk and walk. I feel like I can do this for miles, if it weren't cold, wet, hurting my knees, and drenching me. The rain was better in New York.

As the pain in my knees got worse, I began to think of what was the whole point of this? Sure, I was starting to see lots of shops (turns out there's a lot of vintage shops on this particularly street. Also, turns out vintage shops creep me out a little), but I felt like I wouldn't know when to turn back. The pain in my knees began to beg me to turn back, but I could already see the festive lights that meant we were in the heart of downtown. I felt like I had to go a couple more blocks.

I ended up stopping in a vintage soda shop that sold all sorts of weird flavors. I love these. I bought a couple sodas to try out (Hello, new activities!), shoved them into my bag and headed back. By the time I got back, everything was soaked and I had some pretty bad blisters. The whole things only took about 4 hours, so I still had time to dry off, take a nap, and then do my next activity.

Activity 19: A first date
Can you believe I've never gone on a first date?? I'm making exceptions for things that probably could be considered first dates but that I didn't consider first dates. For example, my ex-boyfriend's first date with me was after we'd already known each other for several years. I went on a "date" with a guy, but I didn't count it because he just asked if I wanted to go to a club on New Years. I thought he meant as friends, because in general guys aren't interested in me.

So, after some back and forth, some guy on the dating website I joined asked me out to go bowling. For some odd reason, I felt really intimidated by this guy. He's good-looking, adventurous, and seems to have a good sense of what he likes and doesn't like. Also, from the beginning I began to have an idea that he wasn't what I was looking for in a guy and I wasn't what he was looking for in a girl, but the messaging back and forth was really fun, so I was hoping I could be convinced otherwise.

I realized a few things tonight, and I think a lot of them are about what's normal for a first date (although given my sampling size, I'm still not sure). First off, he's not as good-looking as I thought he'd be (yay!). Second, he's strangely quiet and not that funny (I look for humor a lot in guys). I felt this urge to really try, though. I tend to be really quiet when I first get to know people, and I was trying really hard to break that.

What I'm trying to get over the most in my mind is that it was a pretty mediocre date not because I sucked, but that we both sucked. And not in a bad way- I just didn't feel like we had that much chemistry. It was only about 2 hours, and it was kind of nice to be treated like a lady instead of as one of the guys, but I actually rather like being one of the guys.

At any rate, the amount of fretting that I did over how bad that date was made me take a step back and re-group. I think I might take a break from the dating website and think about what I really want to do with my life. After all, this is the time to do it, isn't it?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Activity 14: Stand up Activity 15: No distractions

So, after listening to stand-up non-stop for several days, I had some weird idea of trying it out for myself. I think the rhythms of stand-up starting to permeate into my brain, and I started to approach everything as if it were a set up for a joke.

I decided to give it a shot myself, so I shut myself in a room, wrote out some jokes, and then performed them. The videos were meant to be sent to my friend who's currently doing stand-up, but I'll post them here:

So, it's horrible. The writing isn't particularly funny, and my timing is really slow. But I felt like I learned a few things.

Whatever awkward experience you have now serves as material for the future

I think there are two types of comedians. The first types are the ranters. They go onstage and yell political stuff that's raunchy and raw and are like "SARAH PALIN SUCKS. But I'd still f*** her." And people will cheer more about the fact that somebody is finally voicing an opinion they feel strongly about, and there isn't really a punchline.

The second type is the type that I empathize with more: the losers. These are the Mike Birbiglia's and the Louis CK's, who are nerdy and have nasally voices or big guts. They tell stories about the hardships of their lives and there's something beautiful about the fact that they really think about their lives, but they also look at them with a sense of humor.

Mike Birbiglia shared 2 stories about stand-up gigs he'd done. And what surprised me is that these were from while he was actually well-established. It wasn't an awkward growing period that he's gone past to become the comedian that he is now. It's ongoing. And in a way, I think he kind of needs it, because that way he'll always have a new story to tell. So... fail more! Go and have awkward experiences and celebrate your faults! At the very least, you'll have a good story in the future.

I decided to have one day when I first decided to do 30 new things in 30 days where I wouldn't distract myself. No youtube videos, no gchat, no music. I wanted to see if I would focus more.

Unfortunately, it was a day where I was compiling code a lot, which usually takes awhile. And as I stood there, I started to feel myself going a little bit insane. It was like an activity solitude. And unfortunately, it didn't make me feel more productive. I think it would've if I'd been multitasking or had more things I needed to get done. I think instead time just moved slower.

I feel like calming myself down into a zen state of working isn't something that can be done in a day. That being said, there are a lot of things that I feel like I could work on gradually, like posture and my attention span.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Activity 11: Music school Activity 12: Ethiopian food Activity 13: Dropping a class

I've decided to start calling these "activities" instead of "days," seeing as I don't do one everyday. Yesterday I visited Colburn music school for the first time. It's actually very similar to many a music building I've been to. For some odd reason, art schools are kept impeccably clean. I'll never understand that. What I love about them is that everyone there is for the same purpose. I love it and I hate it too, because it means that you're not special. People who are incredibly focused fascinate me, and this was the environment for it.

I've been thinking a lot about decisions, and thinking about at what point is a choice no longer available to you. Maybe this is the aging me talking, but lately I've realized how different my options now are compared to 10 years ago. I have massive Peter Pan-complex, so this depresses me greatly. And I will probably reflect on this more for Activity 13.

But for now... Ethiopian food! I cajoled a couple co-workers to go to Little Ethiopia. Unfortunately, I was too stupid to make a reservation at the restaurant we wanted to go to, so we went across the street to another one. My co-workers hadn't eaten all day and we tore apart the menu and ordered a ton of food.

I've only seen Ethiopian food on tv before this, and what makes it so exciting is the complete difference in how you eat it. The menu described it on the front cover, and we read how you use the bread as your knife/fork/spoon. I can only really think of sopping up extra sauce with naan while eating Indian food. Oh, and once in Switzerland I stayed with a homestay that served sausages and potato salad for dinner (yum!) and then the girls wiped their plates clean with bread which they then ate. My friend and I did not react very well to this new method of eating and left our plates dirty.

I decided to prepare myself for the hands-eating part by washing my hands (we ate the appetizer with forks). Which was perfect, because when I got back, a giant plate was on the table with all of our food. We unrolled the bread, whose consistency reminded me of martial arts training mats, and dug right in! Lamb stew, strips of fried beef, chicken, collard greens, tomato-based stews and lentils. I started off nibbling everything separately because I wanted to taste everything for the first time and soon found myself wiping at the plate with bread and grabbing greedily at fried onions. The food itself didn't feel too foreign. In fact, sometimes while I ate I'd get a whiff of a flavor that I felt like I just knew.

Afterward, we walked around Little Ethiopia a bit. I was mostly interested in seeing if I could buy some of the main spices, but nothing was labeled well enough for me to trust myself. And then we headed back.

Activity 13 is the first activity that wasn't intended to make me feel better. I'm currently taking an online class. Or rather, I was. Today I had a little bit of an epiphany, and I dropped the class. In college, there was a class-dropping policy up to 4 weeks into the course, but this is the first time I've dropped a class after finishing a significant portion of homework and coding.

The last time I dropped a class was senior year of undergrad. I was taking a cryptography class, and after struggling with the first homework assignment, I had a complete breakdown. I simply could not take anymore. I called my mom at work and she calmed me down from her office while I blubbered to her that I could not do this, I refused to try to squeeze in so many classes. I've been driven my entire life, and it felt like such a letdown. I also decided to take a year off of school at that moment.

Luckily, this was not the same. It was simply a realization. Last week I turned in the homework 5 minutes before the deadline. And I realized if I'd done this 5 years ago while I was in college, I would've felt this incredible rush of "OMG I DID IT!!!"
I'd probably start a slow clap to myself that would turn into applause and then finish it off by eating junk food for 2 hours. Last week when I ran that close to the deadline, I slunk back in my chair and muttered in an old man voice "Uggggghhhhh... I'm getting too old for this s***."

I consider myself driven for knowledge, so quitting on a class that I know I can do simply because I don't feel fulfilled by it feels more like a letdown of my personality than my intellect. It also made me realize how much of an adult I am. I have more choices now. I'm not a student anymore.

I feel like I ought to replace that with something more fulfilling. And I think it's similar to when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend. He found another girl about 6 months later, and I realized, heartbroken, that I made a choice. I have to live with this choice. And I have to make it the right choice by doing the best with my life I can.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 8: Stand-up Pandora station Day 9: Bow shopping Day 10: 11/11/11

Okay, so I'm catching up 3 days worth of new things. It's been pretty busy, but here's the scoop!

Day 8: I started my first non-music Pandora station. This sounds incredibly dull except for the fact that I queued up stand-up comedy and my life has gotten strangely more exciting. A co-worker had mentioned having a stand-up station, so I thought I'd give it a try. A month ago I visited a friend who is an aspiring stand-up comedian and we spent a lot of time watching stand-up. When I got back, I continued the trend and got hooked on Patton Oswalt. So, I seeded my station with Patton Oswalt, and then added Louis C.K. and Demetri Martin. They're probably my favorites.

Listening to stand-up is a lot different from music. First off, the style of comedians that I chose meant I was blasted with dirty jokes and cuss words for a pretty good amount of time. Second of all, every now and then I'll miss jokes because I'm busy working on something else. I usually treat Pandora as a background audio, and it's weird with stand-up.

I'm a bit hooked, but I've also noticed that with this addiction is a rise in my sarcasm levels and new, strange phrasing of how I speak into setups and punchlines. I can't imagine this is particularly healthy, so I may have to balance this out in the future.

Day 9: I've gone violin shopping before, and I've gone electric violin shopping before, but I've never gone bow shopping before. They treat it really similarly to the former: you go to a violin shop, let them know what you're looking for, and they lay out a selection and leave you alone for an hour. What I think makes bow-shopping so unique is the fact that it's bows. The differences between them are harder to tell, and yet so very, very important. I remember when I was little, my dad told me that a large percentage of playing violin is in the bow, and I was shocked, seeing as the bow barely seems to do anything.

So, I decided to try out different bows mostly to see if I could even tell a difference. My current one is very cheap, but made from a very durable material. It's good for its price, but I've often had teachers who complained about it.

The differences between the bows were indescribable, and probably partially fabricated in my mind. The main things to check for are weight, balance, and bounce, but playing on them was a new experience. I remember for one bow that had good balance, it sang even when I used slow bows. I felt as if I was holding my breathe underwater, and I was Aquaman. That's the best that I can really describe it, which goes to show that I barely know anything, but am purely going by instinct.

Day 10: I feel like I'm a day behind if I'm celebrating 11/11/11 on day 10. I gotta go back and check my math. I must have skipped a day! I'll do something extra over the weekend. I started brainstorming for 11/11/11 a week ago. Suggestions my friends came up with included eating "11"-shaped foods like twix bars and 2 pocky sticks at a time using chopsticks. I ended up going with listening to Spinal Tap music, after 11/11/11 was declared Nigel Tufnel day because "these all go to eleven." At 11:11 a bunch of co-workers made a toast. I mentioned that I'd listened to Spinal Tap, and then they proceeded to go around the circle and all name what they'd listened to that morning, none of which were Spinal Tap. And I wanted to be like "No guys! You're not getting the point!!"

I'm not actually a superstitious person. And yet, something about 11:11 gives me a tiny flicker of hope. It's not that I believe it's good luck. To me, it's more a recognition that there are tons of things that are not in my control, and that some of those things are good things. I think it's not so much a wish as it is a recognition. At any rate, this 11/11/11 wasn't particularly magical, nor did anything special happen. But that's what I sort of expected. Especially with my cynicism levels riding high from this stand-up kick.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 6: Vanilla Sugar and Day 7: Good Posture

The two summaries I put above sound like weird fragrances or indie band names. Basically, on Sunday, my "new thing" was to use the vanilla beans I'd gotten a couple days back. I've never worked with vanilla beans before and didn't realize how the seeds were. I found some sugar, found a quick vanilla bean sugar recipe, and prepared it in 15 minutes. It was fun working with the bean itself, and now our whole cupboard smells like vanilla.

Good posture was inspired by buying a ballet dvd when I went to go see the LA Phil. I began to wonder what would happen if I'd tried to be a dancer. My sister remarked we probably would've been cut, seeing as we don't have the body types for it, and it's very competitive on that front. I fantasized about how great my posture would be, and that's what inspired this new thing.

I have horrible posture. I know it, and it's been on my to-do list for awhile, and I'm pretty sure I haven't lasted very long. I had to put in special thought into today. It made me realize a few things:

1. Part of the reason why I slouch is because I'm self-conscious of my belly fat. I usually slouch to cover it. So part of today was about having an "I don't care" attitude towards my fat.
2. During drawing class, I tend to hunch over my drawing pad and sit cross-legged. I realized I do it to look younger and more comfortable with myself. It harkens to my childhood, when I'd sit and cross-stitch embroider for hours on end without feeling muscle knots kink up in my back. Today, I decided to be like Audrey Hepburn, and give in to my inner desire for elegance.
3. Now that I've talked about being elegant, I'll mention where I realized I have the worst posture: the toilet.

In other news, I slept on the other half of my bed briefly. My bed is so wide I had to move my stuff over. This was inspired from a few nights ago. I think I might try it more regularly from now on.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5: First-tier sushi

So, today, my orchestra stand partner and I went out for sushi and then to the LA Phil to hear Yuja Wang perform. I wish I could say it's the first time I've heard the LA Phil, but I went to listen to Hilary Hahn last year. That being said, I can't discount how invigorating and fleeting live music is. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Instead, I will talk about the sushi. Now I love sushi. It's my favorite food. And unfortunately, often times I will get cravings for it, which I attempt to satiate, but instead only plant the seed of thought in my head "Wow, that was really good. I could sure go for some again." My appetite for it has caused me to forego quality. I mean, I can tell the differences between standard sushi and really bad sushi, but for the most part, I don't care too much.

My stand partner, though, is a self-proclaimed sushi snob, and insisted on taking me to what he considered the best sushi in LA. I was mostly curious if I'd be able to tell the difference. I tried to eat each piece slowly and focus on what was different. To me, the biggest thing I noticed was how fresh all the fish was, resulting in good textures, even in the skin.

We decided to splurge for the day, so we tried anything I hadn't tried before and was curious. This included monkfish liver, tuna belly, and yellowtail belly. My stand partner even recommended the sea urchin, which I've gotten lots of times, but rarely as fresh as today's. Overall, a very fun new experience! Although LA Phil won me out for the night, I definitely had a great time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 3: Sleep on the bed the wrong way and Day 4: play opera

Okay, I'm a day behind, but I have a good reason for it. I decided to sleep on my bed the wrong way for Day 3. I know that sounds like a ridiculous cop-out, but hear me out. I've slept the same way on the same side of my bed as long as I've had my mattress (3+ years). I've formed a dent in it, I've slept in the same position so many times. It's become a physical rut. Sometimes I try to spread myself out, but the rut is so strong, I usually just roll down into it. Sometimes a friend will stay the night in my bed, and I'm afraid gravity will force us to cuddle.

So for Night 3, I put my pillow at the foot of my bed and slept on the other half. It was odd. It made me realize the night routine I have, which people usually don't think about unless they HAVE to HAVE it a certain way. I don't think I slept any differently, but waking was rather disorienting. Combined with the wisps of a dream where I was traveling, it was like waking up in a new bed. I woke up just as groggy as ever, but it made the day feel like an exception, not the rule. I did all the same things, but everything felt kind of perkier. It might have had to do the vanilla beans I bought (hello, new activity!) or the stack of cds I bought for cheap, but I felt vaguely excited.

So... perhaps I've invented the micro-micro-microscopic vacation? I feel like this classifies me a bit as a weirdo, like when Jeff Murdoch admitted to eating ice cream to numb his tongue so it felt like someone was making out with him.

Day 4 is not really something quite 100% new, because a week before I started doing the 30 new things in 30 days, I went and played in the orchestra pit for an opera company. So tonight was not the first performance I've had with a singer, but this performance and the performances I played in last week made such an impact on me, it would be a sin to not talk about it. Since playing, I have

1. not been able to stop listening to opera
2. wished orchestras were more theatrical and dramatic
3. started watching The Merry Widow as a form of rom-com
4. wished for more physical manifestations of the joys of playing violin

The singer we played with tonight was fantastic, with a personality to match her vibrant voice. She sang beautifully, her facial expression displaying the emotions of the words she sang. She read the lyrics translations out loud to us, awed by their meaning. Emotion just burst from her.

Singing is also something that I feel uninhibits the body more, which can be good or bad. I get back cramps when I play violin for too long, and yet when I'm really nervous, I don't know where to look, and my own eyes end up making my own fingers self-conscious. In opera, this singer went from singing with her arms crossed in front of her to flinging her arms about. The opera company that I played with was theatric. They kissed, they laughed, they held each other in their arms. Add a level of theatre (not to mention good-looking people), and suddenly we have the emotional heartstrings from theatre on top of already emotional music. Suddenly, my violin playing felt dull. Sure, there was something you could feel, but you didn't see or feel love. You didn't see the interaction, or the thoughts of a soliloquey.

Watching the singer today, I was reminded of one violinist I particularly like. I remember reading a review where she was described as playing ferociously, her face contorted in pain. Occasionally she would cry out or yelp with pain. I remember practice sessions from when I was young where I'd come out dripping in sweat, too exhausted to play another note.

The concert we played tonight ends the first concert in our series for my orchestra. The second one (no joke, I'm not trying to make a coincidence) is one where I'm soloing. So now is the time for me to harness everything I've learned from this to make the best performance I can.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 2: do 100 push-ups

So, I took an easy one today because my schedule was pretty busy. And by "easy" I mean "can be done without having to go outside in less than 15 minutes." A hundred push-ups is by no means an easy task. I have no upper body strength, and I dove into it without really doing any warm-ups. Don't congratulate me either, though. I attempted to do it in 10 sets of 10.

The reason why I did this was to start to edge myself towards that line where you almost can't make it. And as I was feeling my push-ups getting progressively weaker and my breaks getting longer, I realized I was taking the easy way out. Sure, this is tiring. Sure, I will pay for this in the morning. But I did it. And the pain was only temporary. Next time I'll have to reach a little farther.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 1: join a dating website

Okay, I'll admit it. My first new thing is probably the biggest one. I joined an online dating website. I haven't dated anyone in almost 3 years, so I figured it's worth a try.

I'd like to address my confidence for a moment here. Overall, I'm outwardly a very confident person around people I know well. To my high school friends and co-workers, I have this feeling of control that exhilarates me when I come back home for vacations. I love it. It's almost like they contain a part of me, and I only really get to live out this part of me when I'm with them.

Now, on to the unconfident part of me. A week ago, I was working with someone who I thought was attractive, and it wasn't the fact that I was attracted to him and knew he wasn't my type that really bothered me. It was the fact that I immediately assumed right off that bat that I would not exist to him. Cue every typical teenage comedy from the 80's. After a pep talk with my high school friends, I realized it's not that I don't have control over the situation, it's that I don't take control over the situation. I could probably talk to most guys that I normally would think I don't have a chance with and probably up the odds a little. I simply don't.

So... the dating website. It's weird having to make a campaign for yourself as a romantic partner in 6 paragraphs. It strangely enough reminds me of writing my college essays, and I find myself trying to combine intellectual material, quirky personality traits, and a comedic yet smooth writing style for a majority of people who will respond with "hi how r u?" in a mass email.

I feel like this is still the easy part, though. Upload a picture of yourself and brave yourself against the wash of interest from guys. Meeting people, trying to keep up conversation, even gambling with your emotions- that's going to be the real sticky patch. We'll have to cross that bridge when we get there.

On a side note, my greatest fear in joining a dating website is that I'll find a co-worker on it. Done and done. I'm not sure whether to laugh over it or feel relieved that it happened.

Monday, October 31, 2011

30 New Things in 30 Days

I've decided to try 30 new things in 30 days, starting the first of November. I'm trying to think of things that'll be fun, push me out of my comfort zone, or force me to become more of the person I'd like to be.

Let's see how it goes!

Friday, October 14, 2011

7. The Longevity of Awkwardness

I used to associate awkwardness as a whole with the awkwardness you had as a teenager around the time that they'd make a coming-of-age movie about you. College students are trying a little bit of everything to figure out what they love. People are still making horrible, blatantly flirtatious gestures to candidates who are obviously not interested. When I was pre-college, my only thought was "I just gotta make it to college." I worked so hard, and then maybe I could take a little bit of a breather.

I say this on a Friday night where I've worked late to celebrate the end of a whole of week of working late. It's a little bit like running sprints instead of a marathon, and I've got to learn how to pace myself better.

Similarly, I realized earlier this month that awkwardness isn't "just a phase." It used to be my firm belief that I'd learn social interactions. If I was being awkward, it's okay, because someday I won't be! I recognized in myself the potential for enjoyable, comfortable social dialogues. But then I had one of those "who-goes-into-the-door-first-indecision-for-5-minutes" scenarios with a sophisticated supervisor at work. And that's when it kind of hit me: it never goes away. Master every social interaction, and there will still be new ones. Move into the most sophisticated circles, and you will still always meet people whose actions and intentions you can't control.

I feel like the solution to this is actually to lower my standards. And although that has a negative connotation, I feel like it's a good breather in that I finally can relax a little.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

6. Drama

I've recently started with a film group, and to keep our writing skills sharp, we've been doing weekly writing assignments. And thus I take a dive into dramatic writing! My relationship with drama has been rather up and down. As a child I loved dramatic stories, particularly as I did not get out very much, and thus had to live vicariously through my dolls the way I imagine some parents live vicariously through their children. In high school, however, the hormones hit, and my entire group of friends probably synched up our periods and I got all the dosage of drama I could ever want. I began to lean towards indie dramas and comedies, light-hearted takes on the world. My favorite characters were the emotionally dead ones being re-awakened.

Now that things have stabilized a bit, I find writing dramatically to be quite fun. Particularly if you write about it, what's interesting is how it'll enter your life sporadically. I imagine constant drama to be the roller coaster ride of a soap opera. Intermittent drama comes up with scenarios that leave these awkward transitional periods before and after. For example, consider the following:

I decided to write a piece about a couple fighting, so to get myself into character and the mood, I watched clips of Revolutionary Road. It's very well-directed, and so the drama gets to you. It does, however, also leak into whatever other conversations you might be having. So a motivational speech I was giving a friend went from "You can do it!" to

You should totally go for it! I don't see why you haven't! There will always be uncertainty, and it's up to YOU to get over it!! THESE ROAD BLOCKS YOU HAVE ARE ONLY IN YOUR MIND!! YOU WILL NEVER LIVE YOUR LIFE TO THE FULLEST IF YOU LIVE THIS WAY!!! HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF??? WHY??? WHY???

I imagine my friend, while motivated, was also very confused. I, on the other hand, was dramatically amused.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

5. Veganism

I've recently decided to try out veganism, a statement which has elicited huge responses from everyone I know. The most common I get is "Noooooooo! Why???" and my favorite response so far is "Get ready for some of the best BM's of your life!" I started it a little bit on a whim, just to see what it was like and to see how I coped with restricting a habit that comes to me so naturally. Unfortunately, the phrases "recreational veganism" and "experimental veganism" don't register with most people. When I first announced it, I was given warnings of people who knew vegans that were bitchy and of people who had become anemic after trying vegetarianism. It felt as if being a vegan in a cafeteria full of delicious meats and cheeses was more of a mind game than a physical restriction. Meat is just too tempting, and I started to feel as if veganism was along the lines of solitary confinement.

Frightened but determined to try, I wove an overly elaborate and complicated safety net of co-workers checking my moodiness levels and various dietary exceptions. The main exception I'm making for myself is milk, simply because I've grown up drinking multiple cups of it a day and refuse to let myself become lactose intolerant. Fearful I wouldn't make it more than a week, I then began other exceptions. Second week I'll allow myself eggs. Third week I'll allow myself dairy. Fourth week I'll allow myself fish. If I go insane, my friends have volunteered to swoop in and treat me to meat the night I break down. Finally, my vegetarian friend readied me for my adventure into the land of veganism by sending me various links for recipes that I could try out. It was like one of those dramatic adventure movies where as a person wraps his cloak around him, his mentor hands him a bag full of some magical potion which happens to be just the thing he needs for the climax of the film. I was ready.

My descent into veganism was actually incredibly anti-dramatic. If anything, it made me aware of the fact that I don't cook or eat a lot of meat at home. The main barrier is at work, where we have a cafeteria with pre-determined entrees, soups, salad bar fixings, and sandwich fixings. Suddenly I find myself checking ingredients for bags of chips and questioning the vegan value of esoteric ingredients like whey powder. Meat is actually surprisingly easy to avoid because it's usually very obvious when it's served. What gets to me are the little things, cheese on pastas and mayonnaise in salad dressings and eggs snuck into dessert foods, which for the most part, I've given up.

My first few days I acted as if veganism was some healthy cure-all. A friend asked if I'd been losing weight, to which I responded with "I'm vegan now! I've been vegan for a whole day!" He replied with "I don't think that has to do with it." I look at my stomach fat and cry out "How can this be? I'm vegan!" or question if I have stomach pains "Must be my body getting the meat out of its system!" I know in my mind the truth about veganism's slow affect, but something about the whole situation amuses me immensely.

It's actually affected my mood for the better. I was eating some really good beans on my salad, and my brain cried out "I love veganism!". The next day I had a similar experience eating hummus. I ignore the responding voice of "you know, you can still eat that if you're not vegan" and just try to stay positive. Sometimes I find myself in a great mood, and wonder if I secretly have been eating what appears to be innocent but are in reality meat-filled ingredients. I question whether I sleep walk to the fridge and eat handfuls of my roommate's meat and dairy products.

There are times when I am tempted. For example when I went out to eat with friends at an IHOP. Some of my friends have made fun of me and I've forbidden other people from finding out about it lest I get the "meat is GOOD!!" lecture, complete with manly grunts. I pride myself that I haven't gotten vegan substitutes for things like butter and cheese. But sometimes as I raise my hand to the offer of meat and say, quite simply, "I'm vegan," I keep it low-key. And for the time being, that works.