Monday, November 26, 2012

All She Wrote

Technically, I'm not thirty until later this afternoon. Woo! Who's still in their twenties!? Let's do shots and shop at Forever21! There's no fighting it, however. Today marks the beginning of another decade of earth-dwelling and the end of this blog. I'll still be working on my short film and my novel (ambitious much?) so I might post about the progress of those.

This is where I say something conclusive about this year and the thirty things that will set it apart from the rest of the years of my life. So here are ten things I've learned over this past year:

  1. Perfection is impossible.
  2. Consistency is my Achilles heel.
  3. I'm awesome at flying planes, giving strangers money, getting engaged.
  4. I'm not awesome at yoga, making wine, deciding on a short film concept.
  5. Having an excuse to eat a cupcake everyday for 29 days is not as great as it sounds.
  6. Women who spend the night in shelters can be remarkable, inspiring women.  
  7. Religion is about open-mindedness, not shutting out other beliefs or fearing them.
  8. You can have an emotional attachment to a plant.
  9. Seven-year-olds are terrifying (and will cut a bitch).
  10. One year is a terribly short amount of time. Learn to savor the moment and/or build a time machine.

My next challenges are to plan a wedding, learn French, and somehow (although it might be impossible) get Brad Pitt to stop stalking me.

But before that, just for farts and giggles, I'm going to indulge in one final and quite satisfying progress report:

  1. Do yoga three days a week.
  2. Give a stranger $100. Film it and post it on YouTube.
  3. Eat 29 cupcakes in 29 days and write a review of each. 
  4. Research and identify 10 procedural reforms that would help move congress and the executive office back to being a government of the people and for the people. Print these 10 reforms on handout cards and distribute to anyone and everyone you know. Post them on your Facebook page and website. 
  5. Travel overseas, ride trains only, and put together a collection of photos titled "Window Seat."
  6. Sit in silence and stillness each morning for 15 minutes before you start your day.
  7. Write and direct your own short film and submit it to a film festival.
  8. Spend one night in a women's shelter, make a connection and offer to take family portraits.
  9. Make and bottle your own wine. Save it for a future birthday.
  10. Lie down on your back in a NYC street and pretend to be a dead bug. 
  11. Write a sad story about a girl who gets the things she always wanted -- on your typewriter.  
  12. Make a conceptual photo series, preferably a book. 
  13. Your 27th and 28th years were characterized by massive life changes that included a move and job change; my challenge is make one more life change. I'm not going to define it, but some suggestions would be: take another step with Austin, get a friend for Dagmar, get involved with something you care about in an incredibly inconvenient capacity.
  14. Take flying lessons.
  15. Do 200 crunches and three 1-minute planks every other day. And assist your scared, almost-grad cousin in finding a job in Atlanta New York. 
  16. End every day by writing down one positive thing that happened in the previous 24 hours.
  17. Learn how to perform an authentic Japanese tea ceremony.
  18. Get a photo (or photos) into a gallery/showing AND/OR sell one of your photos.
  19. A year-long water challenge: Drink 1 liter of water per day, wade across a stream, swim across a pool, row across a lake or pond, and fly across an ocean.
  20. Make and bring your lunch 2 out of 5 days a week.
  21. Manifest yourself in an act of humanitarianism that permanently and positively enriches the life of a child. The act may not be accomplished with direct financial, but must involve sacrifice of your time and attention.
  22. Research your Jewish heritage going back at least four generations. 
  23. Pay one compliment to a different person every day.
  24. Raise a basil plant and name it Kyle.
  25. Take an art class and create an original painting.
  26. Keep a Smash Book (scrapbook) for the year.
  27. Write words (the grouping of letters that hints of story and promise), even if it's only one line or thought or idea, in a momentary embrace of lapse of reason, everyday, and incorporate these words into a future novel.
  28. Learn to sew, design an outfit, make it, do a self-portrait in it.
  29. Attend 10 religious services. Record your impression of each.  
  30. Write the first chapter of your first novel and the outline. Submit to a publisher.

Wow, that felt good.

I am so done.

Monday, November 19, 2012

One Week Left

I only have a week left in my year of challenges, and it is incredible to look back at my list of positive thoughts (challenge no. 16), especially knowing that some of those days were dripping with frustration and negativity. Almost makes me want to use an exclamation point. Almost.

Oh, what the hell!

Here are a few of my positive moments from the last week:

Meeting Turtle the squirrel. He bit me but I still love him.

I held a baby and didn't break it.

A fancy schmancy advertising luncheon at Cipriani. I ate the pie before the salad.

Friday, November 16, 2012


There are only five pages left in my Smash Book (challenge no. 26), which is good because it weighs twenty-three pounds and is close to exploding. In ten days I will be crossing this one off the list, along with twenty-eight others (one challenge, my short film, will be left incomplete but that's only because I want to do it right and by right I mean perfect and by perfect I mean award-winning and by award-winning I mean I want to shake hands with Martin Scorsese as he offers me a feature deal). So I get a 97 on the final exam.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Challenge No. 12 in Print

My photography series book has arrived, marking the end of challenge no 12. There are four mini series included (discARTed, Cats of Istanbul, Kid Stylists, and Creepy Disfigured Street Toys). It turned out pretty well:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Sad Story

Challenge no. 11 was to write a sad story on my typewriter about a girl who gets the things she always wanted. So here it is. It's called Anna Frost. And it took me nine years to type.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tea Ceremony Complete

I have officially performed a traditional Japanese tea ceremony for four guests (five if you count Dagmar), pleasantly knocking challenge no. 17 off the list. Since I didn't have access to a tea room, I held the ceremony in my apartment. It wasn't ideal (neither was the fact that Austin insisted on having his katana present), but the important thing was that my guest of honor (called Shokyaku), the issuer of the challenge, witnessed my knowledge of the many steps and rituals involved in Chanoyu.

Wagashi (sweets) served prior to the ceremony (Macchamochi & Kasutera). I purchased these from Minamoto Kitchoan in midtown.

Austin and Kaleigh bringing my ceremony to a borderline offensive level.

My "floral" arrangement + scroll, which each guest must view/bow to before taking their seat for the ceremony.

Utensil placement from my point-of-view.

Cold water container, tea bowl, tea scoop, whisk, and tea container.

Guest of honor taking the first sip.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut squash is one of my favorite autumnal foods, and autumnal is one of my favorite pretentious words. So here is some soup I made for lunch today (challenge no. 20). The recipe comes from It came out having an applesauce-type consistency (I was going for creamy), so that's why it looks like orange applesauce. This is probably because I had to use a food processor instead of the recommended high-speed blender and also I'm not a very good cook. But I like the taste. It's both refreshing and hearty, if that is possible.

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

4 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 cup fresh apple juice or cider
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water (a bit less if you like a very thick soup)
2 large stalks celery
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 pitted and soaked dates (or 2 tbsps agave)
1 tsp salt
Dash of soy sauce
Dash of onion powder (or some fresh onion if desired)


Blend in a high-speed blender. Serve chilled or warm. You could also steam the squash beforehand for an easier blending experience.