Category: new things

Help me think of new things to try!

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If you’ve been reading Yes & Yes for long, you’ve probably noticed the frequently changing, occasionally updated list over in the sidebar. Each year around my birthday, I make a list of new things I want to try and then (with varying degrees of success) I try those things and write about them.

And while I rarely check everything off my list in a given year, it’s a really, really great way to live my life on purpose. It gives structure to my free time and really forces me outside of my comfort zone. It strengthens my friendships and makes lifelong memories. It helps me find new things to love (and confirm that no, I never need to drink blowfish sake again. Not that I thought I would.)

It can be oddly hard to think of new things to try! Like, I find myself googling other people’s bucket lists. I like to aim for new things that are relatively cheap (usually under $100) or somewhat easy (don’t require months of preparation.)

Like the deeply Type A human I am, I find it’s easier to think of new things if I give my list a bit of structure.

Books + Movies
* Read Lolita (some very lively comments on that post)
* Watch Casablanca
* Watch The Godfather
* Read Catch 22 (which I JUST HATED SO MUCH)

Acts Of Physical Prowess <– sarcasm
* Run a 5k
* Shoot a bow
* Take a trapeze class (!!!)
* Take a belly dancing class

Food
* Try Bibimbap
* Try miracle berries
* Make cheese
* Bake bread

Personal challenges
* Learn to walk in wedges and wear them every day for a week
* Go raw for a week (spoiler alert: I failed)
* Do a five-day cleanse (haaaaated it)
* Do a polar plunge (yes! I even did it again the next year!)

Totally Mundane Things Everyone Else Has Done
* Take a historical tour of my neighborhood
Eat dim sum
Go to a batting cage
* Put a significant amount of money into a Roth IRA

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Last year’s list was particularly unchecked (mostly because I was moving, getting married, road tripping for 6 weeks and backing out of a book deal) but this year will be better! More new things! More checkmarks!

But I need your help. What other new things should I try?

So far, here’s what’s on my list for this year:

  1. Take an adult ballet class (those Barre fitness classes don’t count!)
  2. Go to a nudist beach or resort
  3. Go carless for one week (this makes me oddly nervous)
  4. Drive a jet ski
  5. Go storm chasing (my husband is a meteorologist storm chaser!)
  6. Take an overnight bike trip
  7. Take a sailing class
  8. Stay overnight on a houseboat
  9. Make kombucha from scratch
  10. Watch The Sandlot
  11. Read East of Eden
  12. Visit the Wabasha Street Caves
  13. Harvest some wild mushrooms
  14. Make (or attempt) a pavlova
  15. Go to a trampoline park
  16. Try paddleboarding (IT JUST SEEMS SO BORING)
  17. Take a burlesque class
  18. Attempt contouring makeup
  19. Let someone do energy work on me
  20. ..
  21. ..
  22. ..
  23. ..
  24. ..
  25. ..

I like to leave a few of these open – just to see what weird opportunities life presents – but I’d love to hear your suggestions!

What other new things should I try? And do you have an on-going list? I so, SO recommend it!

New Thing: Read Catch-22

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try; it’s part of how I live my life on purpose. Some of these new things are exciting, many are terribly mundane.

 

“Oh, yes. I remember reading Catch-22,” my dad says between bites of baked potato. “It was so relatable. It reminded me so much of my time in the navy.”
And that, dear readers, is one of the reasons I hated this book.
Catch-22 is beautifully, cleverly written. It’s subversive and thought-provoking and powerful and (at least for me) so, so hard to read. 
Why? Nearly every character you care about dies, frequently in an awful way. Horrible, malicious, immoral characters survive – and get promoted. Men rape women, push them out of windows and go unpunished. People are disappeared. The mess officer intentionally bombs his own troupe and is promoted.
It’s completely heartbreaking.
If you’ve never read it, Catch-22 is a novel set in WW II focusing on a bombardier named Yossarian and his platoon of soldiers stationed in Italy. As the back of the book states “The real problem isn’t the enemy – it’s Yossarian’s own army, which keeps increasing the number missions men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.”
I’m a fast reader and I’m not averse to dark or creepy or sad literature. I genuinely loved Lolita and I’ll happily read about Rasputin and The Romanovs for hours. But this book? I had to renew it from the library three times and I would have stopped after 30 pages if I hadn’t told the internet I was going to read it.
At parties, friends would ask was I was reading and my answer – for the last two months – has been “Catch-22 and I hate it.”
And I was in the minority! So many people adore this book. I eventually learned to temper my instinctual response of “WHY?! It’s so sad and horrible!” to “What do you like about it?”
They listed the same reasons I listed above. It is beautifully, cleverly written. It is thought-provoking and powerful and subversive.
Here are some of the most beautifully written, clever bits:
“One of the most surprising things always was the sense of calm and utter silence, broken only by the test sounds fired from the machine guns, by an occasional toneless terse remark over the intercom and, at last, by the sobering pronouncement of the bombardier in each plane that they were at the I.P. and about to turn towards the target. There was always sunshine, always a tiny sticking in the throat from the rarefied air.” 
 
“Huple thrust his jaw out defiantly to let Hungry Joe know he couldn’t be pushed around and then did exactly as he had been told.” 
 
“Lieutenant Scheisskopf smacked his hands over his eyes in exasperation. It was the despair of Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s to be chained to a woman who was incapable of looking beyond her own dirty, sexual desires to the titanic struggles of the unattainable in which noble man could become heroically engaged.
“Why don’t you ever whip me?”she pouted one night
“Because I don’t have the time,” he snapped at her impatiently. “I haven’t the time. Don’t you know there’s a parade going on?””
 
What could you do? Major Major asked himself again. What could you do with a man who looking you squarely in the eye and said he would rather die and than be killed in combat, a man who was at least as mature and intelligent as you were and who you had to pretend was not? What could you say to him? 
 
You know, that might be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail. 
The end of the book is slightly more uplifting. I won’t spoil it for you, but there is a teeny, tiny bit of hope for our hero. Keep trudging, disheartened reader. It’ll end on the tiniest of up-notes.I can rather begrudgingly admit that I’m glad I read this book. It’s so important to read, watch, and listen outside of our comfort zones – even if I have to force myself to do it, gritting my teeth with every page and periodically putting the book down to yelp to my empty apartment “Why does everyone keep dying?!”

I think I need a little Anne of Green Gables palette cleansing.

Have you read Catch-22? What did you think of it? What books did you struggle to read but are glad you did? I also struggled with A Fine Balance and Disturbing the Peace

P.S. Other new things: reading The Sun Also Rises, sleeping in a treehouse, shooting a bow.

New Thing: Watch ‘An American In Paris’

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try; it’s part of how I live my life on purpose. Some of these new things are exciting, many are terribly mundane.

My 14-year-old self loooooved musicals. Like, sing-into-my-hairbrush, audition-for-everything loved.
RENT? I saw it live.
Gypsy? I can still sing the Caroline The Cow song from memory.
I had big ol’ roles in my high school’s productions of The Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden and recreated that fork-as-a-comb scene from The Little Mermaid, oh, always.
But as I got older – and a bit more cynical – all that singing and dancing lost a tiny bit of its luster. I was annoyed by songs that didn’t seem to fit into the plot and I was fairly sure gang turf wars weren’t solved by dance offs. I still loved Pitch Perfect and Empire … but not quite as much as I would have circa 1997.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I checked out An American In Paris from my library. Would I be able to suspend my So Adult disbelief and eye rolls and just enjoy the costumes and dancing and fluttering eyelashes?
Yes.
(mostly.)
An American In Paris centers on Jerry Mulligan, an ex-GI who has stayed in Paris post-war to paint. He and his French friend Henri inadvertently fall for the same perfume store clerk, a shockingly young woman name Lise. Add to this a rich, ‘older woman’ who wants to ‘sponsor’ Jerry’s work and hijinks, obviously, ensue.
Some commentary, in bullet point form: 
* Gene Kelly dances with such joy I’m convinced he’d be tappity tapping around flower markets with little French children even if he weren’t a famous movie star. It was all I could do not to google ‘adult tap classes’ ten minutes into watching this.* Gene Kelly was only 5’7″! His ‘older woman sponsor’ was played by Nina Foch – who was 5’9″ … daring casting for the day, no?* Women of the 1950s: HOW U GET UR WAIST SO SMALL? Really and truly, how did you do that? I mean, it’s unlikely that I’d actually do whatever you did because I like my comfy, stretchy yoga pants, but I’m just saying: I’m impressed.

* Let’s take a moment to roll our eyes and make gagging noises that the age difference between the male characters and the female character they’re both pursuing is 19 years. Gross, guys.

* The tiny houses we currently love don’t have a thing on Jerry’s studio apartment. Note to self: sleep on a cot that’s on pulleys.

* Henri is supposedly an ‘aging cabaret singer’ but the actor was actually three years younger than Gene Kelly. Enter: distinguished graying at the temples.

How do I know all this? Because my friends and I googled it between brie and nut pate. Apparently I can’t completely lose myself in musicals anymore.

How do you feel about musicals? Did you love them – do you still? What are your favorites?

P.S. Other well-known movies I watched for the first time: Casablanca (pretty good) and The Godfather (really good!)

photos by fanpop // classic hollywood central // the red list // daley screening 

New Thing: Take a pottery class

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try; it’s part of how I live my life on purpose. Some of these new things are exciting, many are terribly mundane.

Guys, this is the post where I shatter our collective dream that throwing pottery is exactly like that scene from Ghost.

Or perhaps more accurately, it’s not like that scene from Ghost if you’re throwing pottery and drinking wine out of paper cups with three of your girlfriends because you got a Groupon.

Prior to this Groupon adventure, I’d never set hands on a potter’s wheel, happy to stick to the roll-and-pinch techniques of third grade art class. Despite my lack of experience, after watching our teacher throw a pot in – no exaggeration – 35 seconds I was fairly convinced that
a. this would be totes easy
b. obviously, I would be a natural at it

Now, if you’ve ever tried to make something on a potter’s wheel you know that it is actually shockingly hard. Like, maybe you shouldn’t try to do it while drinking wine and chatting about Emily’s job and Laura’s classes and Meredith’s next trip. Maybe you should, you know, pay really close attention and concentrate, Sarah.

After many, many false starts, I developed a decent throwing method that paired “Shhhh don’t talk to me I’m doing this!” + staring + stopping as soon as any given pot looked okay-ish/before I could ruin it.

Really, this is a method I imagine I could apply to many, many things in my life.

After we’d all created a few fireable pieces our intrepid leader showed us how to make and attach handles and let us choose a glaze. I chose matte black in an attempt to make my pieces look more ‘Pier 1’ and less ‘Eighth Grade Art Class.’

All in all, it was a really lovely way to spend an afternoon and a great value when you consider you’re getting two hours of fun, four pottery pieces and lots of little paper cups of wine. If you’re in the Twin Cities, check it out!

Have you ever taken a pottery class? How’d it go for you? What advice would you give beginners?

P.S. The time I went to a dog show and the time I took a pole dancing class.

New Thing: See The Sunset In Key West

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try; it’s part of how I live my life on purpose. Some of these new things are exciting, many are terribly mundane. 

I would like to make the argument that the world can be divided into two groups of people:

1. People who listen with curiosity and an open mind when they hear everyone raving about something.
2. Curmugeons and a-holes (like me) who steadfastly ignore things till it’s about five years after the fact and then we see what all the fuss is about.
Sometimes I totally get what all that fuss is about. I agree with the piles of tourists, the million awards, the critical acclaim.

LolitaLoved it
Dollywood? There’s a reason a bajillion people go there every year.
Sending something to Post Secret? Those million readers know what’s up.

And then there are those much-lauded experiences/books/movies/foods that leave you a bit “meh-y.” A bit “Well, that was nice but I’m not quite sure it’s worth all the hubbub.” (I’m looking at you, five-day cleanse.)

I’m afraid the sunset in Key West falls under this heading, friends.

There is an entire pier dedicated to sunset viewing in Key West. Standing on said pier is a 4.5 star activity with 907 reviews on Trip Advisor. It’s the 11th best activity out of 71 activities in Key West.
And it’s totally lovely!

(But I’m pretty sure it’s exactly as lovely as any sunset viewed from any coast, ever.)  

Why You Really Do Need to See the Sunset in Key West

Just for comparison sake, here are four sunset photos from South Dakota, Tennessee, Key West, and Maine. They’re all pretty nice, right?

 

Of course, there are piles of amazing things to do in Key West.
things to do in key west

 

Rent a bike! See the Hemingway house and cats! Pop into the butterfly house! Stuff your face with key lime pie! Wander around looking at houses and roosters! Poke around the graveyard and imagine you’re in a mid-90s Stephan King novel!
Key West is a fascinating, gorgeous place and the sunsets are quite nice.
But I’d suggest making them one of many reasons you go there.

What tourist attractions and travel destinations have left you a bit shrug-y? 

New Thing: Eat Bibimbap

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try (it’s part of how I live my life on purpose). Some of these things are exciting/adventurous/expensive, many of them are super normal, I-can’t-believe-I’ve-never-done-this things. You can read about past shenanigans here. 

I would encourage you to click play on the above video so you can hear what hot stone bowl bibimbap sounds like!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that new, interesting food is best consumed deep in the suburbs in a location that is as hidden as possible.
Like a cafe.
In a grocery store.
In Columbia Heights.
Really and truly, I think there’s a direct correlation between how delicious something is and how hole-in-the-wall-y the location is (re: my favorite restaurant).
So when I went a’googling for ‘Twin Cities bibimbap’ there was a part of me that thrilled to discover the undisputed best bibimbap living in a grocery store, in a decidedly un-hip suburb.
If you (like me) are new to bibimbap, Wikipedia tells us that it is “a signature Korean dish that literally means “mixed rice.” Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, chili pepper paste, soy sauce, and salty soybean paste. A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The hot dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating.” 
Because I have a ‘go big or go home’ mentality when it comes to trying new food, I wanted to try dolsot bibimbap, or hot stone bowl bibimbap. It’s the usual bibimbap ingredients, served (as the name would suggest) in an insanely hot stone bowl. The bowl is so hot, you can literally hear the rice and vegetables crackling as the waitress hands you your tray.
As you wait for things to calm/cool down a bit, the rice at the bottom of your bowl is forming The World’s Most Delicious Chewy, Golden Crust. You can drizzle your bowl with all sorts of amazing sauces and dip into the million tiny bowls of condiments you receive.
It’s delicious. It’s vegetarian and vegan-friendly (they make each bowl individually so it’s easy to ask for yours without meat or eggs) and it’s not even vaguely healthy. Really, it’s the perfect winter comfort food and not just because you could cuddle that hot bowl on a long, cold November evening.
This cafe/grocery store is actually down the street from my beloved vintage movie theater! Wouldn’t bibimbap and a cheap movie make for the perfect winter date night?
What interesting foods are on your must-try list? Let me know of any other interesting, vegetarian-friendly dishes I should try!
P.P.S. Thanks to my friends Emily and Jess for bibimbapping with me!