Pastrami on Rye (303rd new thing).

March 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

Growing up, I’d always been a super picky child when it came to eating new foods. I didn’t actually escape this phase until I was sixteen. I had enrolled in an exchange program and lived with a family in France for a month in the summer. They had interpreted my favorite food of “chicken fingers” as simply chicken and had an entire roast bird waiting for me when I arrived. Politeness overcoming my disgust at the idea of picking meat off a bone, I heartily embraced the chicken, and anything else that was put in front of me. And I realized it tasted good, really good. On Day Three Hundred Three I applied the philosophy of trying any food at least once to my dinner and ordered a pastrami on rye sandwich at The Wrecking Bar. It was also the first time I had eaten at the restaurant.

While the meal came out looking tasty, I could never get over the stringiness of the meat. The texture of both it and the bread were not quite what I had in mind. I determined that I do not like pastrami, and I do not like rye bread. But the vegetables were very yummy, and I do not think my distaste of the sandwich was in any way a reflection on the food at the Wrecking Bar. Instead, it was more a reflection on my taste buds. They appear to still be at times picky.

I still vow to try anything at least once.


My Old Houses (302nd new thing).

March 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

One of the activities that has been on my list since day one of this project was to visit the house I grew up in, from ages 3-11. It sits not too far from where I work and I wanted to see if the proportions were as spacious as I remember. I almost went once before, but the thought crossed my mind that knocking on a stranger’s door and asking to look around their house may not be the safest of plans. I envisioned myself wandering into some strange suburban drug lair and being sold into sexual slavery. I have a vivid imagination.

But on Day Three Hundred Two I pushed my fears to the back of my mind and drove the ten miles from work at three in the afternoon. I passed by my old elementary school with it’s barn-like gym still intact and all but missed the turn into my former neighborhood. As I drove with houses of past friends lining the streets I became nostalgic. That’s where Freddie with the pool and golf cart lived! That’s Celeste’s house! I got bit by a Rottweiler behind Andy Cochran’s house right there

I spent so much time reminiscing that I nearly drove right by my former residence. To be fair, the road seems a lot shorter nearly twenty years later.

The house itself had the same coat of paint my parents had applied more than a decade earlier. The windows were all covered with a combination of curtains and black trash bags. A beat up old Chrysler sat in the driveway. In the back of my mind, I hoped no one would be home. I wouldn’t know how to introduce myself. “Hi, I’m Laura and my parents built this house more than twenty-five years ago. Can I invade your private space and look around?” My introduction did not sound good.

It turned out no one was actually home. Or at least they didn’t answer the door. But I had brought an old photograph of the house and climbed carefully on the lawn across the street to take a Dear Photograph inspired snapshot of the place.

My first memories are usually from this place.

After my unsuccessful attempt at peeking into the house on Creekwood Lane, I decided to drive across town and try out the house we lived in while I was in high school. And once again, no one answered the door.

Mom's 40th Birthday

However, this time I knew the neighbors. I walked next door to find Roberta at home. After a brief catch up we headed next door, so I could at least recreate some old pictures in the wide open backyard.

With Rickett and Mathilde, the French exchange student staying with us, in the backyard.

Preparing to jump of the back deck...onto a trampoline. If it were risk-free, I'd recommend everyone try it out.

The jump.

I enjoyed walking through this stranger’s back garden, noticing what they had changed. The trimmed a few trees and built a dock over the pond in back, but other than that, the backyard looked the same. I wish I could have seen inside the house. But then again, if someone knocked on my front door and asked to look around their former dwelling, I think I would kindly refuse them. I’ll just have to wait until the homes are for sale again, if ever.

Jazz, our teacup poodle, walking along the driveway in summer.

A Dabble in Statistics (301st new thing).

March 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Day Three Hundred One arrived right after 2012, and for the first time I stepped back and reflected on what I had accomplished thus far.

Honestly, after the first month or so, doing something new everyday became just another part of my day. Sure I woke up each morning with the thought of a new experience in the forefront of my mind, and often went to bed each night planning the following day’s activity. Some days were much more difficult than others. If I am incredibly busy or going through a period of apathy or laziness, I often struggle to find an exciting new activity. Thus I may have accomplished something lame (changing my windshield washer fluid), circumstantial (massage a muppet), or resort to eating something new (like Coconut water).

I feel like food has factored a large part in my new experiences. I did a little statistical analysis and the results are interesting. Out of my previous three hundred activities, sixty-six involved consumption of some sort. That’s 22%. And of those, 16 of those ingestions were liquid (though not all alcoholic). Which means that 24% of my activities pertaining to trying a new flavor involved drinking. I’ve eaten three different new burgers so far: The Big Mac, Ghetto Burger, and Yeah! Burger. I get hungry just thinking about it.

I’ve also made a lot of new things. Thirty-eight new crafts to be exact, or 12.7% of my activities thus far. I spent over a month being crafty, and that makes me happy. Faceting a gemstone and carving a linocut are two crafts that I am especially proud of, although I also have a special place in my heart for any hand made gifts I created with friends and family in mind. The holidays were practically a daily test of crafting skills.

I’ve learned a lot so far, from how to create certain things (crochet!), what I like (or do not like), and most importantly, how to do normally shared activities alone. I saw a play by myself, attended a gun class solo, and even joined the circus without any comrades to back me up. Although there is much to be added in sharing new activities with friends and family, facing the fear of being alone in a new situation is thrilling in itself. I learned that I don’t have to wait around for someone else to want to try something. I’ve come to look forward to my solitary moments, whether they be reading on the back porch without distraction or shooting a loaded weapon amongst a bunch of strangers.

From Day Three Hundred One I’ve taken away the gratitude of reflecting upon past accomplishments, and looking forward to those to come. Sixty-Five days remain before I turn thirty, and I can’t wait!

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