Tuesday, July 26, 2011

50/50--No this is NOT a bucket list

46. Traffick911

45.  Flaming Arrows

42-44 Paris
Le Grand Vefour
The most expensive meal, but worth it in the name of artistic research. 630 Euros or about $800 for two.

Dali Montmartre
A gem of a collection of Dali's sculptures and prints. I had no idea that he was so prolific in so many different mediums.

42. Crypts
Paris Crypts are miles of underground tunnels filled with bones. Amazing and creepy.

41. Tagging at Cadillac Ranch

40. Capulin Volcano, New Mexico
view from the top rim

39. Edibles, Colorado Springs
Special Legal Candy

38. Pike's Peak, Colorado Springs
Rode the cog railway all the way to the top. Lack of oxygen at the top!


37. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

36. Rock Climbing, Colorado Springs
(for real--not just a rock climbing wall!)

35. Cuba
I was invited to screen my work as part of an International Video Festival in Camaguey, Cuba. I was very excited to get to see some of the country before the embargo was lifted and the country completely changed. Camaguey was the 3rd largest city, but still felt like a small colonial town. Great food and great new friends/artists.

34. Hoop Dancing
I failed hulu hoop 101 in elementary school, so it took a lot of courage--haha to try this class.  I was an immediate expert--expert in having my hoop fly out of my hands and hit people in the head.
Neither is me, but you get the idea.

33. Certified Laughter Yoga Trainer
I was curious about this and after a one-weekend training, I am now certified to lead groups in laughter yoga sessions. While laughter is certainly contagious, it is much harder than it seems to laugh continuously for 1 hour. As Cole would say--mom you are certified--certifiably crazy.

32. Rock Climbing Wall, Syracuse, New York

So it isn't actually rock climbing, but super fun anyway. As usual, I underestimated the difficulty involved. Probably not a good idea to work out for 2.5 hours before going to the wall. Besides having a lot of upper body strength, the key is to have spidey man sticky feet, so you can grip the tiny protrusions from the wall. I was able to scale 3 walls. The best part is falling and letting the harness lower me to the floor.

31. Aerial Silks, Vertical Fitness, Dallas, Texas

Pink makes it look so easy

After seeing Pink rock it at her Dallas concert, I decided that I too wanted six pack abs and how fun it would be to learn how to do acrobatic tricks in the air. Taking an aerial silks class was a very humbling experience. I clung to the bottom of my rope and couldn't get to the top. I did manage to do the mermaid pose, but that was it. Having the aerial rope bound around your body does not feel good. In fact it hurts like h.... So I failed aerial silks 101. And the only 6 pack I have is in my fridge at home.

30. Flying a Plane, Addison, Texas

Technically my alter ego The Victorian Woman flew the plane, not me. However I am counting it as a new thing. I did the one-hour flight simulation on the ground training and then SHE flew. Only in Texas could you get to fly after only 1 hour of ground training. It was scary and exhilarating. My take-off was great, but landing was a bit rough. To my flight instructor's credit, he did not laugh once at the ridiculous flying costume. 

29. Riding a Mechanical Bull, Mesquite Rodeo, Mesquite, Texas

The bull didn't look too daunting. It resembled a kid-sized buffalo. At first I thought having the inflatable raft underneath was a bit like cheating. But after my 100th fall, I realized it was necessary. The next day EVERYTHING hurt, especially the chafed inner thighs.

28. Performance Workshop with Tony Orrico, Dallas, Texas

This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience in channeling creativity and play. Tony is a gifted artist and teacher. He was so warm and encouraging.

27. Aerial Yoga, New Hope, PA and Dewitt, NY

aerial yoga in Dallas!
 Aerial yoga was amazing. Being upside-down is such a mood elevator. It's like eating dark chocolate without all the calories. I felt a bit like a cirque-du-soleil performer. Using the silk harnesses to flow from pose to pose. The reverse gravity reverses aging and I felt my neck and spine release and lengthen. The teacher swore that her crow's feet went away from her daily inversions. I'm a convert.

26.  Paddleboarding, Southold, Long Island
no, this isn't me. but i took this fab photo 

of my friend Lynne

Since I didn't get to surf last summer in Hawaii due to the Portuguese Man-O-War
warnings, I was happy to have a chance to paddleboard. My friend Lynne told me that no one gets up their first time. Not only did I get up my first time, but I stayed up. No falling for me. I'm sure it helped that there weren't any waves to speak of or speeding boat wakes.


21-24. AFRICA
Unlike Hawaii, Africa was never part of my travel dreams. Not even in my top 20 destinations. This is part of the project where I say YES to opportunities. My son's best friend and his family moved to Mozambique at the same time we moved to Texas. His friend's mom and I had become close over the years. I know how hard it is to move away from friends and family. My promise to her when she left is that I would visit. I knew that if I didn't visit within the first year, it might not ever happen. So within 4 months of her leaving, I booked our flights. My purpose was two-fold. To honor my promise to my friend and to give my teenaged son a broader experience outside of his world.

Unlike Hawaii, I boarded the plane with no expectations, ready to welcome whatever happened. My friends' favorite saying is TIA--this is Africa (used to cover a variety of mishaps, delays, etc...) 32 hours of travel will dampen anyone's travel excitement, but my son and I did surprisingly well. He slept and I slept (teenagers can sleep anytime or place. for me--my friend Ambien is my travel companion)

Potholes Park--amazing rock formations
Destination--South Africa and Mozambique

When we arrived in Johannesburg, it was night. We took a CityBug van 4 hours north to Nelspruit where our hosts picked us up. We stayed for two nights in a lovely lodge called Mercy Air (a respite for weary missionaries). Terri took us sightseeing the next day visiting Potholes Park, God's Window, a few waterfalls and the death-defying rope swing jump that the boys did. I refrained, despite my pledge to say YES to new opportunities. I did not want to spend the entire trip with aching neck, back, etc...
Mercy Air Lodge, South Africa
God's Window, South Africa

The Rope Swing--just before they freefall 200 feet

one of the 3 waterfalls we saw
Kruger National Park
South Africa

This was one of the highlights of the trip. I've never seen animals outside of a zoo. I could have sat for days watching the elephants, monkeys, giraffes and warthogs. We spent the entire day driving through the park. We didn't see any cats, but I'm told they primarily come out at night. We did hear of a Japanese tourist who saw a pride of lions, stopped his car, got out and asked his friends to take a photo of him standing in front of the lions. As one might suspect, he was immediately eaten.

couldn't resist this shot. 


Again, not something that would be on my radar as a must-do experience. Unlike my host in Mozambique, I am not a baby or kid person. God kind of skipped over the maternal instinct when I was made. So I never get the urge to hold babies and love on them. While we were there, we visited two children's centers. In one center, almost all the kids had HIV. Another center was for the kids of girls who had been prostituted or trafficked. In both cases, the kids (despite their circumstances) exuded such joy for life. They sang, danced and played. They were so excited to have visitors--they crawled all over me, wanting to be held and played with. They won my heart over and taught me what it means to be joyful in all circumstances.


on the outskirts of the Bocaria. i couldn't take my
camera inside, because i was told it would be stolen
This was the toughest part of the trip. I'm glad it was towards the end of the visit. It wrecked me--both physically and emotionally. I saw a lot of poverty in Mozambique, but this was the most extreme. At the garbage dump, there were literally mountains of garbage, extending for miles. People burned the garbage (including non-burnable items like plastic), so the entire place was filled with toxic, thick smoke. Both my son and I got sick after our visit of a few hours. I imagine what it does to the people who live there. We saw many people including children sifting through the piles of garbage, salvaging anything that could be sold or used. After walking through the garbage mountain and praying for people, we visited a small church where a pastor led a worship service and gave out bread. Again the people who had so little came together and were joyful in their praise and worship. It was very humbling.

17-20. HAWAII

view from the Marriott resort in Wailkea, Maui
I've wanted to go to Hawaii my entire life. When I got married, my hubby promised to take me on our 10 year anniversary. Twenty-one years later, some friends offered us tickets to go with them to Maui. This represented a few new things. Not only did I get to go to paradise for a few days, I had some new experiences--cultural, culinary and adventure-wise.

Haleakalā National Park

The view from the top of the crater was spectacular. We had a 2 hour windy bus ride to the top of the crater and then a 23 mile ride downhill. Besides walking around in the clouds, it was cool to see a NASA station up there. Biking down, I rode through a eucalyptus forest. My only disappointment is that they marketed the ride as riding into the crater, not riding along a busy road on a narrow shoulder, narrowly avoiding the speeding cars and trucks. 

white sand beach about 15 minutes from our hotel where I
ate the barracuda taco

I like seafood and knew that Hawaii would have some different delicacies. At the beach, I had a barracuda taco from a food cart in the beach parking lot. (I know--it sounds like an upset waiting to happen, but it was delicious). And while barracuda is not native to Hawaii, I've never seen it served before. My friend is a big foodie and methodically researched all the great restaurants in Maui. On our 2nd night, we had sushi and I tried 2 new fishes--both outstanding! Fresh & light. I also had Hawaiian butterfish another night. (known as escolar). I've had it in PA, but never as fresh as in Maui.
`O`io [oh' ee yoh] known as ladyfish. I love the name!
Opah [oh' pah] moonfish. This was light and creamy. 

20. LUAU

I always thought that a luau was a tourist trap, but it was definitely a highlight of the trip. Not for the roast pig, which I don't ever have to eat again. But for the dancing. The fire dancers were magnificent and while the event catered to tourists, the talent and spectacle was worth the price (despite the bad drinks). 

Aledo, TX
click to view video trailer

I'm not a big fan of guns. In fact, most people would describe me as anti-guns. The only gun I've ever shot was the ALMOSTDIVORCEGUN--my hubby's Glock 9mm. Gun culture is a major part of Texas. So in my effort to embrace Texas in all its wonder, I decided to shoot. My former student is a military-trained sniper and he supplied the guns and gun training. He oversaw the production to ensure that I didn't shoot myself or someone else (either intentionally or by accident). The AR 15 was fun in a sick kind of way. I found I was much more accurate than with the shotgun. Until I began rapid fire, then my accuracy went downhill fast. The shotgun was heavy and hard to manage.  As with the archery, I had battle wounds that lasted for about a week.

bruise 1 day after shooting

Peace Pipe Lounge
Richardson, TX

I went to a Hookah bar once in Philadelphia and lasted about 10 minutes, until the smoke drove me out. I hate smoke of all kinds--cigs, cigars, pot. I can't breathe and get an instant headache. I went to the Peace Pipe in Richardson to see gal-pal SAR belly dance. She is the same friend who convinced me to take belly dance lessons. There was a hookah menu, so I convinced SAR's husband to smoke Hookah with me. Nothing on the menu looked familiar, so I asked the waitress what she recommended. Anything with tangerine. There was a 2/1 special, so we ordered tangerine and SEX PANTHER. You may be wondering what sex panther tastes like. It tasted like chicken. Ok--so not really. It was kind of fruity like smoking a jolly rancher.

I had high hopes for sex panther. I expected to feel...well different. Like maybe I would want to go home and jump my hubby's bones. Very disappointing. Not even slightly aroused. It was fun blowing smoke in my friend's face and after about 5 minutes, I was over it.

Technically this could have counted as a few newbies since it was the first time I've seen any of these bands in concert. However I have been to a concert before, so I thought that was cheating. However, I've never been to an ALL DAY music fest--listening to 16 bands in 10 hours. It was fabulous. I did not feel old in the slightest. However I did not feel the need to jump into the moshpit and let the crowd carry me to the stage and dump me in security's arms. Nor did I feel the need to show my breasts on camera. Some things are best undone. 

 So perhaps this can count as more than 1 new thing. Not only am I shooting a bow and arrow, but I'm dressed in a ridiculous Victorian costume/wig AND being filmed.

Unfortunately and perhaps unsurprisingly for those who know me, dressing up and performing in Victorian attire is not a new activity. I did this in 2007 when I paid homage to a 1901 Thomas Edison film and performed as one of the Gordon Sisters--the first female boxers in the U.S..

When in Texas....Of course I had to shoot. One of my fabulous former video students also happens to be a champion archer, so he brought me in after hours to shoot and film me. It was really fun, except for the bad bruise I got on my forearm. Whoever said artists don't suffer is wrong.

Hope to do the gun shoot NEXT!

12. PURPLE HAIR--Frisco, Texas

It was a rather impulsive decision. I was at the hair salon and saw a woman with a cherry red large streak in her hair. I told my stylist that I always secretly wished I had the courage to do such a thing. And she said--let's do it. I asked for pink, but was told that pink would bleed into the blond, so I got purple. My daughter calls me Prof. Plum. My husband asked me why I would do such a thing (like I robbed a bank or something). My son said--Mom that is only ok if you lived in the 70's and went to the disco every night. Maybe I did it to just piss them off. My mom has a sign in the downstairs bathroom that says, When I Get Old, I Will Wear Purple. Purple was my FAVORITE color as a punk teen. Maybe I am just revisiting my roots.

The purple inspired me to be a bit bolder. I really wanted hot pink (fuschia) hair, so when I went into the salon in February, I got pinked. Bang and side. Pictures forthcoming. Kids/Hubby hate it, although they admitted that it matches much of my clothes. When I went to San Francisco for a conference, it was a big hit. 

11. RODEO--Allen, Texas
I was super-excited about getting a two-for-one. Going to a rodeo AND a country and western concert. The Tom Thumb Texas Stampede was in town and Joe Nichols, famous singer of Tequila Makes Your Clothes Fall Off was on the bill. If you haven't seen his youtube video, check it out. I thought for sure it was made in irony, but a native Texan told me that country and western singers don't DO irony in their music. The video is sooo bad, that it is kind of funny in an eye-rolling way. ANYWAY back to the rodeo--we saw bull riding, saddle-bronc riding and barrel racing. The younger bull riders all wore helmets, while the older guys preferred to have their brains smashed in. NONE of the bull riders walked normally. The women barrel riders kept knocking over all the barrels. The women didn't compete in bull riding or bronc riding--either because they are too smart to subject themselves to goring, stomping and brain bashing or because there's still gender discrimination amongst cowboys. It smelled like horse poop, but all in all was a rather entertaining evening. My son's favorite event was when they strapped small kids to sheep and let the sheep run. Who knew sheep could run that fast? The kids stayed on an average of a second or two then fell off. ALL KIDS WERE BAWLING THEIR EYES OUT, WHILE THE PARENTS AND AUDIENCE WAS LAUGHING AND CHEERING. There is something very messed up about that. (check out the video if you doubt me) We left before Joe Nichols, so I missed out on my 2/1 deal, but am pretty proud that I did ELEVEN NEW things this year!!!

This is inspired by a friend and former colleague who turned 50 this year. She and her twin sister vowed to do 50 new things together before they turned 51. That's almost 1 a week--no small feat. She did some incredible stuff like travel to Bali and go to circus school. Since I turned 45 this year, I decided to fashion my own bucket list of sorts--50 NEW THINGS BEFORE I'M 50. 10 things/year or 1/month. That seems feasible.

I immediately began second-guessing and self-censoring my list. For example, does going to a new place count as a new thing? Or does the new thing have to bring about some sort of change? Do I have to do the new thing by myself or with someone? Does the new thing have to involve risk, fear or resistance? Such as skydiving--which bytheway seems to be the thing that all 50yearoldmen do for their midlife crisis birthdays. Do I want to be lumped in that category? I read a new book every week, but that doesn't seem like it should make the list.

Helpful/notsohelpful suggestions for my list:
Perform at amateur night at Kitten's Strip Tease Joint (that did not make the cut for obvious reasons)
Skydiving (it was at the top of the list, but all you 50yearoldmen kind of ruined it for me. kind of like getting a tattoo before it became popular. now it just seems passe)

50/50 LIST

1. LYCHEE MARTINI--JUNE, SOUTHOLD, LONG ISLAND (unsure whether a drink should count, but it was unusual, prepared in love by a friend) Since a new drink seems kind of superficial-- a-lame-new-thing, I thought I'd also include WATERMELON SANGRIA--JULY NEWBERRY PORT, MASSACHUSETTS (a 2 for 1 kind of deal)

2. QI GONG CLASS--JUNE, SPRINGFIELD, PA This was momentous for a few reasons. For one, I can't imagine my 20-30 year old TYPE A, RESULT-DRIVEN PERSONALITY being able to just BE and let go in a moving meditation. In addition, I would have been skeptical that all that breathing stuff actually worked. IT DOES.

3. SWIMMING IN A POND--JULY, CENTER POND, NELSON, NH So this may not sound like much, but swimming in a pond is much different that swimming in a creek, lake, river or ocean. Ponds conjure up ideas of stagnant water, algae and snapping turtles. BACTERIA. I swam to end and back--about an hour's worth. I didn't freak when the pond lily threads wrapped around my legs dragging me down.

4. FLYING A KITE AT THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN--JULY, MT. MONADNOCK, NEW HAMPSHIRE First I had to CLIMB the mountain, but since I had climbed it in an ice storm last fall, that was a NEW thing per say. So watching the kite soar hundreds of feet in the air and awe/joy/glee of others as they watched the kite. Childhood memories of kites not flying, getting stuck in trees. The freedom of looking out with a bird's-eye-view.

Again a beach is not a new thing, but this place was special. pristine, deserted and while I've been bitten by lots of insects, the vicious greenheads were definitely a new experience and not one I care to repeat.

When I was a kid, my mom drove my sister and I EVERY summer from Pittsburgh, PA to Dallas. We always passed by signs for Ruby Falls and Rock City. Mommm!! Can we Pleeeaase stop and see ruby falls and rock city??? She always said that we didn't have time. Fast forward 30 something years and I'm driving from Philly to Dallas. And I stop!!! It was SOOO worth it.

It was sooo worth the $30 admission. I thought it might be a tourist trap and while there were more gift shops that were MANDATORY to visit, the house and grounds were fabulous.

Only 1 Elvis impersonator on our tour. He had a British accent. Elvis week started the day we went. If I had more time, I would have stayed for all the Elvis impersonator events. My favorite room was the peacock music room. No, we didn't get to see the Elvis' bathroom where he died on the crapper.

Some of the elvis memorials on the grounds.

Lisa Marie's airplane had a blue suede queen-sized bed!


This stick drawing was found on a fabulously funny yoga blog called
Shanti Town

This was another tricky pose (I mean POST--freudian slip). It's an arm balance that is really all about the core. I've been teaching yoga for almost ten years. Practicing it since I was in college. Practicing faithfully for the past 15 years. So can I REALLY count a yoga pose as a new thing. WELLYESICAN! I've been trying to do this pose for 5 years. I've been teaching it for at least that long and faking the demo every time we do it in class. FINALLY I DID IT? Not in an ashram or fancydancy yoga studio, but in the Y! That must have some profound spiritual significance. I'm just not sure what that is yet.

9. Belly Dancing Lesson--September, Frisco, TX

I told the teacher who has been performing for 26 years, that the only time I had ever belly-danced was after I had a few at a Middle-Eastern restaurant and was coerced. My first lesson went well. I did fine with the shoulder, ribcage, belly and hip isolations. Then when I had to walk and do them at the same time--not so good. But it is an awesome core workout and I loved it!

10. Potter's Church, Parker, Texas
So you may be thinking--THAT'S NOT A NEW THING! I know Colette and she goes to church every week. That's kind of like putting down every new book she reads. Well, this really was a one-of-a-kind experience. A first on many levels. It started when Ian, Cole and I drove into the parking lot. A parking attendant asked us if we were lost. "Did you want to take a tour of the ranch?" Uh--no, we are here for church. "Oh--I thought you were tourists, because your shirt has palm trees on it." We happened to be on South Fork Ranch--home to J.R. Ewing and the infamous Dallas TV show. How ironic that one of the region's largest African-American congregations worships in J.R.'s ballroom? I didn't realize that we were going to an all- black church. When I looked it up online, the pastor was white and female. I've always wanted to attend a charismatic African-American church service. I was not prepared to the length of it--3 hours!! And they lock the doors at the end and don't let you sneak out early! Technically this could count as 3 new things--church at JR's ranch, African-American service and sitting through 3 hours of church.


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