Saturday, December 29, 2012

24 New Things

During winter, it is not uncommon for me to slip into periods of hibernation. In this respect, I am not unlike a bear or my spirit animal, the squirrel. The month of December seemed to go by rather quickly and I suspect that it is because I spent exactly half of it sleeping. Multiple alarms rang daily, cats kneaded, and a small globular cactus was slipped under my pillow to no avail. Nothing could rouse me to consciousness.

When I awoke from my Odinsleep, stretching my atrophic limbs, I looked at the clock and was alarmed by how much time I had wasted. The entire month seemed to have gone by without me. There was so much I had planned to do. I started taking Vitamin D supplements, convinced that seasonal depression and a lack of sunlight must be partially to blame. Then I discovered that they contained trans fats and stopped taking the Vitamin D supplements. I began to research Vitamin D phototherapy.

Since I am mostly motivated by some balance of new adventures and creative mischief, I can’t go on equally dividing my time between my job and my pillow. It will not do.

My friend Sara (whose blog you can find here) compiles a list of things she wants to do before her next birthday every year. I've read several other lists on a number of other blogs and I decided to create a list of 24 new things to do before my 24th birthday. I will reproduce it here, for purposes of accountability.

24 New Things

1. Get a driver’s license
2. Compile a collection of short stories
3. Go to a new country
4. Try Ethiopian food
5. Try Sri Lankan food
6. Eat at Dirt Candy
7. Go to a raw food restaurant
8. Drink traditionally prepared matcha tea, with the froth and whatnot
9. Take a belly dancing class
10. Make sushi
11. Get a henna tattoo
12. Go to Philadelphia
13. Spend a day reading children’s books in a bookstore or library
14. Learn to play a song on my children’s accordion
15. Make a carnivorous plant terrarium from a tank
16. Write handwritten letters to people I don’t talk to often
17. Sew a dress
18. Learn to give a proper back massage
19. Read a graphic novel
20. Make lip balm from scratch
21. Watch Pulp Fiction
22. Spend a night in candlelight when the power is on
23. Go to the Museum of Sex (I already have the tickets)
24. Go to a community swap

Friday, December 7, 2012

Story Slam!

Reading in front of people makes me feel like I’m going to asphyxiate. It’s almost as bad as giving improvisational speeches. I hope I never have to be a best man. In spite of all this, I treasure a masochistic enjoyment of reading to crowds of highly critical strangers and all of the minor seizures that come with it. 

Over the weekend I did it for the first time in two years and it was thrilling, much like running away from an explosion in slightly tattered formal wear.

When the literary arts journal Gigantic Sequins advertised a story slam at the Stonewall Inn to benefit the Al Forney Center, I wanted to be part of it. Dave and I went into the city, got some excellent falafel, and joined in on the story slamming festivities.

The storytellers shared novel bits, creative essays, and short stories and I learned about Norwegian food and bikram yoga and New Jersey. In the tradition of American television, there were three judges who critiqued each piece and gave gratuitous fashion advise.

I wish I talked to more people rather than clinging to my table and my Dave – next time, perhaps, I will give myself a quota. (i.e., Today I will talk to five strangers no matter how sweaty it makes my palms.) I did get the chance to speak to Ian and Kimberly Ann from Gigantic Sequins and they were very kind and welcoming even though I was the only person in the room (save Dave) that they didn’t know.

When my turn came up, I read this story that I posted on my blog last year. (Dave, always incredibly supportive, let me read it to him a hundred times on the subway.) The spotlight blinded me from seeing any crowd in front of me at all, which was perhaps why I didn't begin the reading with my customary asthma attack. At the end, I was at the mercy of the three judges.

“I have to admit, I was skeptical when you came onstage. I mean, orange and sea foam? Not many people can pull that one off, and yet here you are, pulling it off – well, not really, but your writing redeems you,” said the judge with the mustache.

After the readings, I was picked to be one of the three finalists by the judges. As a finalist, I received two tickets to the Museum of Sex and an egg shaped sex toy that was very much made for a man. Our fates were left up to the audience, who applauded loudly to choose a finalist. It was a close call, but in the end, I won.

At this point I was too excited to act like a human. I was a blushy mess, unable to accept the prize gracefully. I kept kissing Dave on the cheeks, and when another reader tried to kiss me on the cheek I thought he was trying to whisper something in my ear. Note to everyone: Never try to kiss me on the cheek, there is no telling how I will interpret your body language.

Thus, I left the story slam with Museum of Sex tickets, a men’s sex toy, one hundred dollars, and a whole lot of love for Gigantic Sequins. (This is hardly surprising. A gerbil with an automatic hand gun is featured on the cover of the most recent issue.) I think every once in a while I have to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable.

Check out Ian's pictures from the event here.