More text to come, but in the interim, look at what 6 adventurers did Saturday morning at 7 in the a.m. in Pepperell, MA:
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I have officially entered the second half of my year of 52 adventures, and I think this is an appropriately outrageous (for me) adventure to mark that milestone. May I present to you my debut as a flash mob dancer at University of Cincinnati’s new student convocation on Sunday, September 19, 2010:
I’m most visible toward the end of the video … I’m the short, bespectacled dancer wearing a short-sleeved gray T-shirt, and at the end, you’ll see me in my very best Mary Katherine Gallagher “Superstar” pose.
Dancing by myself or with friends makes me ridiculously giddy, but I was a little terrified about learning a routine and performing it in front of a few thousand people. However, after six hours of rehearsals with the group and a Saturday night of entertaining DP by practicing on my own, I was ready. I wasn’t perfect, but I was 100% blissed out afterwards. And, as one of my fellow dancers noted, I am so ready to dazzle people the next time I’m out clubbing :)
The following “adventures” pale in comparison to those of others, but they made me feel that I had tried something new, and for me, that is a large part of my adventure quest. (I am wondering, though, why so many of my exploits seem to involve food?!?)
Memorize Poetry #10/52
While playing in the stream on my camping trip, lines from this poem kept running through my mind; I decided that Wordsworth’s “The Word Is Too Much With Us” would be an apt poem to memorize. And I did!
Vegan Cake #11/52
My daughter wasn’t very helpful about what kind of cake she wanted for her 17th birthday. She’s a runner, and all she would say is, “something healthy.” Well, you can only go so far with healthy when it comes to cakes, but I did find a fantastic vegan chocolate cake recipe. Dress it up with chocolate glaze and organic raspberries…yum!
Blueberry Scones #12
I love baking (and eating) scones and have tried all kinds: oatmeal (with and without raisins), cranberry-orange, cinnamon, and blueberry…aah, the blueberry. Let’s face it: when I’ve made blueberry scones, the dough has turned blue as soon as I folded in the blueberries. So I determined to try a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated…a pain-in-the-arse recipe, as it turned out.
The technique worked fairly well: I did not have blue dough. The key was to press the blueberries into the dough, fold the whole conglomeration into a rectangle, and finally, cut triangular scones. The pain-in-the-arse part had to do with grating frozen butter and then keeping everything cold until just before the dough was kneaded and formed into scones. The end result was a little too sweet for my taste, but I think that’s more a matter of personal preference; i.e., whether you like a “biscuit” vs a “cake” scone.
At any rate, they looked pretty, and they disappeared quickly enough…
The Beach #13
Why is it that men seem so much less self-conscious about their bodies than women? I spent a few days at the beach recently, and there were plenty of men matter-of-factly applying sunscreen to their beer guts (while drinking yet more beer). At the same time, the women were a little more reluctant to expose themselves – and I felt uber-critical about my own appearance!
Here’s where the adventure comes in – simply a matter of screwing up my courage. I wore a (string!) bikini in public for the first time in many, many years and found that it wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated. In fact, I felt okay – no Demi Moore, but no one recoiled in horror or shielded his eyes. No photos available – I’m brave, not crazy! :)
While in Siem Reap, Cambodia, our Tuk Tuk driver planned everything for us, which was great! We didn’t have to think for ourselves, which is always nice when you’re traveling. (haha) So one of his suggestions was to go see a floating village, where all of the houses are built in the water. We concurred. So as we get closer to the destination, our driver informs us that we will need to ride motorcycles to get close to the water where our boat was awaiting us. I had never ridden on a motorcycle before and was a little anxious at the thought of it. But I figure, when in Cambodia…The idea of my first experience on a motorcycle ever while being in Cambodia made me laugh a little to myself. So without much hesitation and overthinking, I found myself mounting the back of a motorcycle with a small Cambodian man as my driver. He was a good driver, but there were many potholes on the dirt road so we were swirving a lot. But there were a few moments where I was able to let go and let myself enjoy the scenery of the green fields of grass and clear blue sky. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of this experience, but I will surely never forget it!
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In my rush to post all of my summer adventures, I forgot to add one of the best …Adventure 24/52: 24 hours in Indianapolis with DP (my husband) and Jack JohnsonIn a whirlwind road trip to Indianapolis in July just for fun, DP and I had dinner with one of his former students at ZING, rocked in a mellow kind of way with Jack Johnson, enjoyed the downtown canal walk, felt the magic at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and got a big dose of LOVE at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The original plan was for a group road trip, but it turned out to be a fun 24-hour vacation for the two of us … we’ll definitely repeat in a different city sometime soon.And returning to a more recent adventure…Adventure 25/52: Veganizing my favorite summer cakeLime Cream Torte. Sounds and looks fancy, but it’s pretty simple to make. Especially because it uses boxed cake mix, which I realized was a little weird the last time I made it. If I’m going to the effort of whipping real cream for the frosting, why am I relying on Duncan Hines processed cake mix? That was the first spark in wanting to try a makeover on this Taste of Home recipe.Before I go on, let me assure you that I believe in the sacredness and importance of dessert. At a restaurant, I’ll take the chocolate raspberry cheesecake over a fruit cup any day. Sure, at home I’ll satisfy my craving for something sweet with a slice of watermelon or a square of dark chocolate, but I wouldn’t call either of those options dessert. Additionally, though I find myself leaning more toward a vegan diet these days, I don’t like to use soy-based butter and whipped cream and egg replacers when I bake. So, this adventure was more about challenging myself to find less-processed options for making this tasty cake.The final result definitely tasted more on the “healthy” end of the dessert spectrum than I would have liked, but for my first attempt at recreating a dessert recipe, it stood up to the challenge. I substituted coconut oil and flax seed for the butter and eggs called for in this key lime cake recipe, then I made a cashew-nut based “cream” frosting (using lime juice instead of water) thanks to directions from this lovely blog I discovered. (Note: you should really soak the cashews for 2 hours or more. I was too impatient and I think the texture of the cream was impacted.) I took it to a family gathering on Sunday, and this is all that’s left:
The purpose behind last week’s Mondo Beyondo secret mission was simple: “There’s nothing like putting something good out into the world to give you the courage to believe it yourself.” I was invited to leave an affirmation in a public place for someone else to find and enjoy.
However, for someone like me who gets caught up in the rules (e.g., what if I’m not allowed to put tape on this wall?!), the execution was not so simple. I was excited but nervous about where I’d place the notes (because I wanted to share two messages) and wasn’t sure I’d be able to snap a picture afterwards in case I needed to make a quick getaway from the tape police. (I’m only partly kidding …)
The first note is from a Valentine’s Day postcard my husband and I sent a few years ago. Cincinnati readers might be able to spot the location. I hung the second note near a few benches. I hope that someone eating lunch or taking a few moments to reflect will see it peeking through the leaves.
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“How did you get into this line of work?”
Annnnd a long pause. This had to be done for effect, right? No matter, because at the end of the day the trapeze artist who somehow found a way to coax me off the ledge got his start swinging the bars via heroin. Which makes this all the more spicy an adventure.
But, to set the scene, it started a little something like this:
I wanted attention. From the onset my family has quietly humored this campaign. Few members asked after what I was up to and when they did they seemed disappointed.
“Poetry reading? Wild…”
And while I should make the most of my experiences and fashion some semblance of self acceptance I still really wanted my family to intone. To emote. I really wanted to wow them. To be fair, I wanted to upstage my sister’s recent engagement that had everyone in a hurricane windfall of excitement.
So what, what, what garners all kinds of attention? Nudity (forthcoming) seemed too stark. Windsurfing too quiet. Then, probably in considering to the dynamic of my family, I couldn’t shake the notion of a circus. And with that, and a Google search, I found the Boston Trapeze School.
The “school” did not take on the fascade I thought it would. Close your eyes. Picture a trapeze artist instructing another. Visualize the high bars. The costuming. Have you secured a good, sound vision in your mind?
Now lose all of your opinions.42.347618 -71.100288
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I’m at this sweet spot in the adventure continuum where everything is really beautiful and nothing hurts. That’s to say, I’m optimistic and adventure-hungry and ready to say yes to anything. This is good at week 13. While still antsy, I’ve built up enough adventure momentum to keep me going. Enough to say yes to Rebecca when she told tale of her last date with a man she met online.
It went a little something like this: Ms. Rebecca meets up with said man, at 8 a.m., for coffee. It’s a bit unorthodox, but I appreciate a punctual, no-nonsense meet and greet so I applaud their setup. The date goes seemingly well until the topic of religion is broached. Rebecca practices Religion A. Mr. Date practices no religion. Mr. Date goes one step further in declaring that he couldn’t wisely date someone of faith because… well, the reasons why are still foggy to me, but it’s known by both parties that this date is going no where.
Rebecca isn’t certain if she should feel snubbed by his dismissal of her as a viable date because of her faith, or if she should be relieved that someone was so raw and honest. Rebecca also referred to this date as handsome and successful. He, she mused, would be perfect for me.
That got her and our friend Jane thinking that maybe I should be set up with the dismissed date. (More …)42.347618 -71.100288
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When I had a car, it was obnoxious. It was a little, un-souped Saturn SL1 with manual locks and windows and no stereo. It’s lack for frills did not lend it it’s obnoxious air, instead, the bumper, the standard champagne colored dent-resistant bumper was covered, bumper-wall to bumper-wall in stickers.
Go ahead and roll your eyes. I am certainly one of those people.
But I’m going to try and redeem myself. I didn’t sponsor any lame slogans. There was no prostelyzing about bikes or a God or even public works. There was, however, a very real agenda to my cars backside. There would be no mistaking my political affiliation if you were to see my wheels on the road. You would know I’m a Democrat. A Democrat who supports Democratic candidates. A Democrat who supports gay rights. A Democrat who supports ending the war. A Democrat, a Democrat, A Democrat.
And maybe I talk a big talk. And showcase an impressive bumper. But when push comes to shove I’ve been a lax Democrat. I’ve missed voting in less sexy elections. I argue about causes and beliefs without really researching my side and the oppositions side. I’d like to believe I’m well meaning, and I really want to be well meaning. It’s just… if I’m to tote around town all self-righteous like as a raging liberal (It would really have been better had I a hybrid), I should probably do more for the team, right?
So when presented with the opportunity to stand up for something I believe in, I thought to do so. To get in and get my hands dirty and invest myself totally to something. And that’s usually the issue – I think I can do it all, and a lot is half accomplished. I didn’t want that. (More …)42.347618 -71.100288
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I’m still wasn’t certain* how I felt about Boston. That’s to say, before I left for Japan I prepared myself to miss Boston. I thought up all the selling points to this city so that my return trip home would be anticipated. I was certain a 15 hour flight would leave me wanting and needing this newfound city I hadn’t quite broken in. I guess I just really needed to want to want Boston.
Japan didn’t quite do that for me.
The trip itself left me dumbfounded. I didn’t want to stay but I wasn’t certain where I’d sooner leave. I thought a lot about my home city of Chicago. I fantasized about taking an outgoing plane anywhere. I cooked up a cute story of using an emergency only credit-card to fly anywhere I’ve never been all in the name of this year of adventure. But, pragmatism came into play. I had things at home. I was enrolled in classes and had jobs. Probably, more practically, my credit card had a limit that I near exhausted on my trip. I was Boston-bound.
And really, that’s no reason to complain. It’s just… I hadn’t acclimated to Boston yet. I’d been adventuring and trying on for size different neighborhoods and trying to be really and truly optimistic, yet, the city fell short. Something was missing. (More …)42.347618 -71.100288