Search Results for: label/new things

New Things: Go To A Batting Cage

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try.  Some are easy, some are hard, some are shockingly mundane.  You can read about past adventures here.


Have you guys ever had an unshakeable sense that you’re going to be good at something?And this belief is based on, well, nothing?

Despite a total lack of evidence, I’m fairly sure I’d be really good (re: not terrible) at:
1. batting cages*
2. riding a mechanical bull
3. dancing in a tiny, sparkly outfit in a Carnivale parade

So, armed with nothing more than my hubris, a friend and I showed up at the batting cages on a cold Thursday night.  Said friend regularly plays baseball, has kids in little league, and is one of those people who played varsity sports.

I was a state-level competitor in choir, dance, one-act, and speech.  And yet!  I was completely convinced that I’d be good at this.So after I dramatically posed next to a giant poster of Minnesota Twins legend Dave Winfield and found the one helmet that fit my giant head, I sidled into the cage and prepared to hit slow pitch softballs.

And you guys!  I was good!  Or rather “totally good enough to play on a co-ed softball team” as my friend said. Over the course of three rounds of batting, I missed 6 or so balls, which I felt was pretty good since I hadn’t picked up a bat since fifth grade.

Next up?  9 holes of golf.  Which, oddly, I’m convinced I’ll be bad at.

Are you athletic?  What are the things that (regardless of experience) you’re convinced you’d be good at if you tried it just once?
* Note: this is not the same as being a productive member of a softball team. I’m a terrible throw and I’m not really a team player.  There. I said it.

New Things: Try White Castle

Each year, I make a list of new things I want to try.  Some things are exciting, some are difficult, some are shockingly mundane.  You can read about past shenanigans here.


I’ve tried lots of different things as part of New Things endeavors.  I’ve taken a pole dancing class, drank hot blowfish sake, attended a monster truck rally with 18 friends.  Never, never have I tried something that was so deeply polarizing as eating at White Castle.
I’m not sure why, but most people have Feelings about White Castle.  Lots of people think it’s disgusting. Some people looooove it (one friend’s husband gets W.C. gift cards for his birthday from everyone he knows.) There was an entire movie based around it.  Is it socio economic snobbery?  Is the food actually gross?  Why do people care if I’m eating sliders or not?You should also know that I’m one of those people who eats things like chia seed pudding and ezekiel bread.  I very, very rarely eat meat and I consider medjool dates a special sweet treat.  So I’m basically totally insufferable.

With all of this in mind, I met two friends for dinner at the White Castle on East Lake Street in Minneapolis. I emotionally prepared myself for a dirty lobby and grease-soaked to-go bags (which is my experience in pretty much every fast food place I’ve ever eaten) and was pleasantly surprised to find an incredibly clean restaurant and super helpful staff.

Here’s what I ordered and what I thought:

Original slider

rating: two stars
Not totally awful!  Granted, I only took one hesitant bite but I didn’t want to throw up in my mouth!  It was super soft and, um, moist and onion-y.  It sort of reminded me of a not-too-sloppy sloppy joe. Apparently, sliders are steamed rather than fried which actually makes them significantly healthier than most fast food red meat options.Barbeque chicken rings
rating: three stars
So, these consist of bits of processed chicken, fused into ring shapes, fried, covered in barbecue-flavored powder.  They taste fake and processed and also pretty good.

Onion chips with zesty sauce
rating: five stars
Oh what’s that?  An ‘awesome blossom’ for a fraction of the price that’s easier to eat?  INTO IT.Mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce

rating: five stars
FRIED CHEESE IS NEVER NOT GOOD. It should be available everywhere.In summary, I really don’t understand what the fuss is about. Why are people so eager to hate on what seems to be a perfectly average fast food restaurant?  Will I be eating there regularly?  No.  Is it worse than McDonalds or Burger King or Taco Bell?  Also no.  It’s just a fast food place that makes fried cheese more readily available to the masses.

How you do feel about White Castle?  Why do people have such strong feelings about it?

34 New Things: Try Racquetball

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are easy, some are difficult, some are so ridiculously mundane. You can read about previous adventures here.

If you’d like to make a game of racquetball more interesting, here’s an idea:

1. Drop your contact down the sink.
2. Fail to find a replacement.
3. Meet your very athletic friend for your first ever game of racquetball.
4. Now attempt to play racquetball with very limited depth perception.
See? Things just got fun.
My sweet and athletic friend Ben agreed to teach me the ways of the racquet last week and I think he’s still my friend, so we’re going to count this as a successful endeavor.
If you’ve never played racquetball before, it’s a fun, fast-paced racquet-based sport in which you and a friend bash a small blue ball around a glass box. There are a bunch of rules about how many times it can bounce, which walls it can hit, and where it can bounce on the floor.
To make things more interesting, said glass box is frequently located in a highly visible part of the gym, so everyone can watch you hit yourself in the face while they do leg presses.
Ben and I spent about 15 minutes trying to play by the actual rules but after he won two games and I failed to score a single point, things degenerated the way they usually do with me and racquet-based games. Eventually it all devolves into “let’s just see how many times in a row we can hit it.”
I christened our new game “15 Double Bounce” and it is approximately a million times more fun than racquetball.
Other highlights from our game:
* That time I somehow managed to hit myself on top of the head with the ball
* The three times I cowered in fear of a fast-moving ball coming towards my face
* That one time I scored what would have been one point if we’d really been playing
* When we happily volleyed that tiny blue ball for about two minutes without stopping
* Every time I made awkward eye contact with the people who were looking into our glass cube
Really? I had a great time. I’m fairly sure I’m not destined for racquetball greatness but I will very happily play anybody who’s interested in learning ‘15 Double Bounce.’
Have you ever played racquetball? And more importantly, did you wear those cool headbands and/or wristbands whilst playing?

34 New Things: Leave A Note At The Lake Harriet Elf House

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are easy, some are difficult, some are so ridiculously mundane. You can read about previous adventures here.

I am a total sucker for silly, magical things.  I went to the Denver aquarium specifically to see the mermaids (and the otters) and I love pretty much every form of anthropomorphism that ever happened.

So when a friend told me about the Elf House at Lake Harriet my response was somewhere along the lines of “THAT SOUNDS AMAZING LET’S GO THERE NOW OH IT’S WINTER.”

And I also decided I should wait and go with a friend who has a child because that’s less weird than a 33-year-old woman writing notes to an elf and hiding them in a tree.

The Elf House has been a Lake Harriet fixture for 13 years.  It’s comprised a teeny tiny door at the base of a tree, next to a walking path on the shores of Lake Harriet.  For years children (and now 33-year-old women) have been leaving notes, coins, and tiny gifts for the ‘Elf.’

Every few days the notes and gifts disappear and tiny thank you notes are left in their place.

So last week, my lovely friend Brandy and her daughter Serena joined me for an Elf House adventure.  We parked at the band shell and walked along the path for a mile or so, till we saw the tree with the tiny door, complete with knocker.

We penned a note to Mr. Elf and as we opened the wee door we saw we had some pretty tough competition.  A tiny book, a bag of hard candy, quarters, Crackerjack stickers?  We should have stepped up our game – maybe we could have brought him a tiny hat?  Or some chocolate coins? Or a mixtape?  Elves seem like they’d be into mixtapes, right?

Regardless, Serena had a great time opening and closing the little door and tucking our note inside.  As we headed back, a group of little kids rushed past us to get to the Elf House, each pulling out a little treat to put inside.  It was so sweet!

I’m tempted to go back a second time, with more friends and their kiddos.  This time we’ll bring a better gift. (Which is obviously a Pixies mixtape.)

Does your city have any weird, magical landmarks?  And more important question: what would go on a mixtape for an elf?

34 New Things: Try Slacklining

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are easy, some are difficult, some are so ridiculously mundane. You can read about previous adventures here. 


When you’re embarking on something new and potentially dangerous, it’s probably a good idea to do so without the help of an expert, right?  Maybe just watch a video tutorial, like, twice and decide that’s good enough, right?
That wouldn’t necessarily be your approach?  Weird.
That isn’t my usual approach either but when I put out the call on Facebook for Slacklining Experts, all I got was a lot of “I don’t know how but let’s learn together!” responses.  So Meredith and I were left to Youtube and what she remembered from That One Other Time She Tried.
And oddly?  I didn’t die or break any of my bones!  Not even one!
Slacklining is a sport of sorts, usually executed by 22-year-old stoner dudes.  I imagine there’s a lot of cross over between dudes who play hacky sack, love Phish, and can slackline (maybe that’s why none of my friends know how?)   It’s essentially tight rope walking, very close to the ground, on a wide nylon strap. When people do it well, it looks easy.
Surprisingly enough, it is not actually easy.
From my video watching, I knew that the first time anyone puts their foot on a slackline, you should expect your leg to tremble uncontrollably   It’s just the tiny muscles in your leg adjusting to something they’ve probably never felt before.  Even though I knew to expect this, it still felt bizarre to place my foot on that wide red strap and watch my leg convulse.
“Stop it,”  I said to my leg.
For the next ten minutes, my leg convulsed and I hopped awkwardly, struggling to even get my left foot an inch or two off the ground.  I tried to make Meredith take a turn, but she begged off and I decided I’d hop awkwardly for another 10 minutes and then give up.  Instead of focusing on my feet, I started focusing on our conversation and catching up on each other’s recent shenanigans.
And of course (as with most things in life) the moment you stop obsessing, you’ll achieve what you were after.  Five minutes into a conversation on the merits of RAGBRAI, I was balancing on the strap for 10-15 seconds at a time and even switching feet a little. So fun!
While I’m certainly not destined for slackline greatness anytime soon, I’d be happy to try it again and even work up super exciting tricks like WALKING THE LENGTH OF THE ENTIRE LINE.  It was a great reminder that the distance between I-want-to-give-up-beginner and I-can-kind-of-do-this is often much, much shorter than we think.
And that, dear friends, is the life lesson I learned from a red nylon strap.
Have you ever tried slacklining?  How long does it take you to get from awful to mediocre at new things?  And when do you usually give up?  (My answer: waaaaay too soon.)

34 New Things: Go To A Bodybuilding Competition

Each year on my birthday I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are easy, some are difficult, some are shockingly mundane. You can read about past adventures here.

One of my absolute favorite things is watching people be incredibly passionate and committed to, well, just about anything. And sometimes?  It’s actually more fun to watch people who are committed to something I do not understand at all.  Like, not even a little bit.While I work out pretty regularly and there was once a time in my life when I could leg press more than my body weight, these days I just fanny around with those purple, 8-pound lady hand weights.  I am very, very unwilling to give up carbs or cheese and while I enjoy fitting into jeans I bought four years ago, I don’t enjoy spending more than 30 minutes a day working out.

You know who will make you want to work out and stop it already with the noodles and butter? The people milling around the lobby of any bodybuilding competition.  AND THAT’S JUST THE AUDIENCE. That doesn’t even include the people competing.

Things of note:

1. All of the competitors had a ‘routine’ that they performed to music of their choice.  A sampling?  Stacy’s Mom, Britney’s I Wanna Go, and that one operatic piece of music that’s used in every slow-motion war scene in every Super Serious Movie.

2. A sampling of performance moves: skipping in a circle while pointing at the audience, stomping and flexing in time to the crescendos of the music, doing the robot.

3. There are two levels of competitors – ‘figure’ and ‘bodybuilding.’  Both groups are about a million times more fit than everyone else in the world, but the ‘bodybuilding’ group is what you think of when you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger. When you see two competitors of different levels standing next to each other, the difference is shocking.

4. Did you know you could have striated butt muscles?  BECA– USE YOU CAN.

5. As each contestant performed their routine, they worked their way through a series of poses that showcased different groups of muscles.  One of these poses involved turning their back to the audience and flexing their back and butt.  At one point, a male competitor apparently didn’t feel that his briefs showcased his gluts well enough because he hooked his thumbs into back panel and pulled it up to show more cheek.

5. Products sold in the lobby: protein drink powder, sparkly tiny swimsuits, tanning stuff, educational videos.

Reading through this post, it sounds as though I viewed this experience through a lens of snark.  But I really, really didn’t.  I mean it when I say that I’m impressed by anybody who’s excited about a hobby and committed to doing something difficult.  Honestly, watching this competition influenced me to buy a pair of ten pound weights!  Watch out, now.  It’s only a matter of time till I’m flexing my way around a stage to this song.

Have you ever watched a bodybuilding competition? Or lift weights seriously?

photo via