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30 Before 30: Go to a Live Taping

24 May

In my 30th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

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I’ve been wanting to do this for years! But it’s not as easy to score tickets to these shows as one might think. The tickets themselves are free and are often snatched up by tourists. Over the years, I’ve tried to get tickets to the Tonight Show, to the Daily Show, to the Colbert Report, and of course, to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. All to no avail. It seemed such a fruitless endeavor that I kind of gave up.

As far as television goes, other than the occasional Netflix binge (currently obsessed with “Jane the Virgin”), the only shows I watch on a weekly basis are “Walking Dead” and “Last Week Tonight.” But I recently added a third show to my weekly, lazy tv time: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

I was interested by the first late night show hosted by a woman. (Really? It took till 2016 for that to happen?) But I already had my hands full with number-one-love-of-my-life-John-Oliver. I wasn’t looking for any more political satire in my life. Go women and all, but do we really need another one of these shows?

Yes, yes we do. While she tackles major issues like the presidential election and the Syrian refugee crisis, she doesn’t shy away from dedicating major chunks of her show to women’s issues. Abortion laws, fraudulent pregnancy centers, unprocessed rape kits. She makes my feminist heart pitter-patter.

So I added my name to a list of hopefuls for tickets to the show, not expecting to ever get a call. But a couple weeks later, on a Monday morning, I got a phone call from someone who works for the show. They had a bunch of cancellations and had tickets available. I dragged my friend Lauren with me, and we went to the live-taping.

It was quite unglamorous, although I didn’t expect it to be much. We sat in a holding room with about a hundred other people, until we were ushered into the studio. After 30 minutes or so, Samantha Bee came out to greet everyone and answer a couple of questions. She also introduced some personal friends she had in the audience including her father and her gynecologist. Of course she would invite her gynecologist. Of course she would.

Once the show got underway, it was a bit odd, to be cued on when to clap, and to watch most of the pre-recorded show off a screen. But I was starstruck to be in the same room as that tiny, feminist bastion of hope in her signature blazer and high heels. In between taping and setting up for the next segment, a DJ played “Bad Girls” by MIA, as Samantha Bee danced around while assistants fixed her hair. What. A. Boss.

30 Before 30: Ride a Mechanical Bull

8 Dec

IMG_3103In my 30th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

Every year my alumni group along with the other alumni groups in the Pac-12 athletic conference rent out a bar in Rockefeller Center across the street from the Christmas tree lighting. We get special tickets that get us past the police barricades and our own special stretch of sidewalk to see the lights of the tree go from off to on. This is my fourth year going and for the last two I’ve stayed in the bar when the tree lights up. It is kind of anticlimactic.

You know what’s also anticlimactic? Mechanical bulls. The bar we rent out is called Johnny Utah’s and, as far as I know, is the only bar in the city that has a mechanical bull. After I had enough Bud Lights in me, and I saw my friend Josh do it, I finally decided to give it a go.

The first time I attempted to ride a mechanical bull was actually eight years ago when I lived in Seattle. I went to a Seahawks preseason game and afterwards went to a dive bar with my friends. They wanted me to ride the mechanical bull they had there, but I kept saying I wasn’t drunk enough. So they bought be shots and beers until I decided I had enough liquid courage to go. As I stood in line with my friend Jess, the room started to spin, and I felt ill. I left the line to ride and told my friends I was TOO drunk to ride it. Needless to say, they were disappointed.

Back to my successful ride last Wednesday, I think my face says it all. I was nervous about getting whiplash or hurting myself (injury-prone lady that I am), so I told them to go easy on me. Alas, I under-estimated myself. I’ve ridden horses through the desert of New Mexico, up steep cliff sides in the south of Spain, along the glaciers of Iceland. This was nothing.  I felt a bit bored and uncomfortable that everyone was watching me. Bull riding also has this weird connotation of being a sexual display which made me feel icky. So after a minute or two, I let myself slip along the side and fall to the mat. Maybe I’d do it again, but I definitely wouldn’t tell them to go easy on me. My inner cowgirl is too strong for that.

30 Before 30

29 Sep
Don't entirely remember this picture from our bday celebration.

Don’t entirely remember this picture from our bday celebration.

It’s a bit unnerving to see the number 30 as the title of this post and looming ahead of me. But I remember being 26 and talking to my amazing co-worker, Kristina, when she was turning 30. She told me how excited and happy she was about life, her career, and dating. She told me that at that age, she knew what she wanted out of life and had a confidence to go after it that made things so much easier. But me, at that timid, mid-twenties age, I doubted what she told me and looked at my future with anxiety and fear.

But she was so right. And I leave 28 for 29 feeling the happiest and most secure of my life. This last year brought a lot of things that have done wonders for me. I got serious about kickboxing; I buckled down about school and finished my tech degree; I started listening to podcasts by Tara Brach about Buddhism. I went on adventures big and small. From riding horses through the New Mexican desert to stand-up paddle boarding in Maine to learning the Lindy Hop in Lincoln Center. I had an awesome year, and I see no reason why the next one won’t likewise be fantastic. I managed 10 last year, so here’s hoping I can expand that a bit.

THE STANDARDS

  1. Visit a new state 15 down, 35 to go.
  2. Visit a new country 12 down, 183 to go.
  3. Visit a new baseball stadium 7 down, 23 to go.
  4. Read “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion I have writerly friends who worship at the feet of Didion, yet I haven’t read a single book by her.
  5. Watch “The African Queen” I’ve added watching a classic movie to the standards.
  6. Make an Indian meal I order in Indian food quite a bit, and one of the new receptionists at work (who is Indian) likes to tease me that it’s a waste of money, and I could make it just as good at home. Challenge accepted.
  7. Eat a Ramen Burger There’s a place in NYC that serves a burger between two grilled ramen noodle loaves. I’m in.
  8. Visit One World Observatory 

THE LEFTOVERS

  1. Take a Sailing Lesson
  2. Go Scuba Diving I WILL NOT GIVE UP ON THIS.
  3. Go to a Gun Range
  4. Do a Juice Cleanse
  5. Visit a Whiskey Distillery
  6. Go to a Live Taping
  7. Ride a Mechanical Bull
  8. Take a trapeze class
  9. Go to a Monster Truck Show
  10. Sing at Live Band Karaoke I went on a first date a couple of months ago to a live band, rock and roll karaoke. It was amazing, and I regret not getting up and doing it. No chemistry with the guy. But SO MUCH chemistry with Arlene’s Grocery. Proof that dating can be rewarding.
  11. Go Sky Diving
  12. Learn to Play the Ukulele 
  13. Do a Knitting Donation Project

THE NEW CLASS

  1. Go Cross Country Skiing It sounds so New England to me.
  2. Compete in a Crossword Competition I am a nerd. I do the New York Times crossword every day and time myself. I think I’m ready to take my skills on the road.
  3. Take a Flamenco Dance lesson The fan! The little finger things! The stomping!
  4. Go Windsurfing When I was in Canada, I saw a couple of windsurfers on Georgian Bay. It looks terrifying and kind of cool.
  5. Get my aura photographed Sounds like bullshit, but I’m a sucker for these things.
  6. Go on a Ghost Tour I recently signed up for the New York Obscura Society, and they often have graveyard events.
  7. Go parasailing I can’t believe I’ve made it this far into my life without doing this!
  8. Run a 5K My boyfriend is deferring his NYC marathon eligibility to next year and wants me to train with him. But I don’t run. I hate running. I only run when I’m being chased. But he has convinced me that there are some fun 5Ks out there, and he seems to believe I am capable.
  9. Do an Escape the Room There are so many different kinds of these in New York. Ones with zombies. Ones for groups. Ones for couples. Basically they lock you in a room for an hour or two with a variety of puzzles that leads to the key to get out. I love puzzles! See #23 for proof.

29 Before 29: Go Whale Watching

11 Jul

In my 29th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List HereAll Bucket List Adventures Here.

The SeaWolf II

The SeaWolf II

After the festivities of my friend’s wedding in Monterey, I was lucky enough to stay in California an extra couple of days to have a mini-vacation. My mother was able to drive down from Reno to join me for  West coast Mexican food, the world famous aquarium, and the dramatic events that occurred after I left my wallet on the roof of my car at a gas station and drove away. But let’s not dwell on my poor wallet, which I found in the middle of the road an hour later covered in tread marks with my IDs and cards bent inside. No, let’s focus on our whale watching adventure!

We booked a three-hour tour (going to refrain from making the reference) with a whale watching company on the Monterey Fisherman’s wharf. It was an early morning trip, and we did our best to bundle up although we had brought limited warm weather gear since we were visiting California in June.  As we left the harbor, the captain pointed out the birds, sea lions, and otters that populate a jetty. Little did I know, it was to be my favorite part of the trip.

Web-footed friends.

Web-footed friends.

The first hour was nice enough. We grabbed seats on the side of the boat and stared out at the Pacific Ocean as we headed to areas where the whales are. The smell of the sea and the crisp air somehow lulled me into a brief nap. When I awoke, I had the beginnings of seasickness, an insidious nausea creeping its way through me. At this point, though, we had reached an area where a number of dolphins were swimming by. My mother who loves the sea wanted to talk about the majestic animals, about the spray of sea water. I replied as still as a statue that if I moved or spoke, I might vomit.

From the corners of my eye, I saw my fellow tourists fall one by one, leaning over the side of the boat and releasing their breakfasts into the ocean depths. But I had cemented in my mind that I would not be one of them, so I remained frozen. The sea was angry that day, my friends. The wind picked up causing two things. One, the boat rocked back and forth by what felt like 10 feet. I stared out over the side of the boat to see water, horizon, water, horizon. Two, the sea air cut through the three layers I had managed to scrape together causing a numbing chill. We spent an hour chasing down whales as I looked, blank-eyed, straight ahead. I saw a couple of humpbacks as their bumpy backs surfaced one by one. And at long last I saw a tail fin of a whale come up out of the water. I felt satisfied and retreated to the inner cabin of the boat.

There I found a ragged group of tourists, huddling together, shivering and trying not to spew. I wasn’t in a condition to laugh, but thinking of the way that inner circle looked is comical. Tourists who wanted a sightseeing extravaganza who instead got the 18th century immigrant experience. My mother soon followed me into the cabin since she was also feeling cold. Once we got back to the harbor, we found the nearest cafe that had clam chowder and sourdough bread bowls to warm our chilled bones.

Despite this account, I loved it. I could have done without the choppy water and could have used a sunnier day, but being out on the ocean was nice. I’ve been on boats before and never had a problem, although I suppose most of the boats I’ve been on were small motor boats on mountain lakes in the Sierra Nevadas or large ferry boats floating from harbor to harbor. But isn’t there something about sea legs? About acclimating? My mother was absolutely fine and maybe that’s just because she has more boat experience? I’d definitely go again.

29 Before 29: Eat Ox Tail

21 May

In my 29th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

The tech manager at work, Jose, is notorious for being something of an epicurean. He’s a valuable friend to have as he’s always scouting the best Bahn Mi or the best Caipirinha in the city. Give him any neighborhood in the five boroughs and he can give back to you the must-eat at restaurants. He’ll often take hour-plus train rides to search out his next meal. Like I said, valuable person to have around.

One of his favorite foods is Ox Tail. When he talks about it, he looks into the distance, his eyes glimmering like he’s dreaming about his first love, which ox tail might very well be. The fact that I’d never had it was unacceptable to him. Over the last couple of months he gave me restaurant suggestion after restaurant suggestion where I could find great ox tail. However, I never sampled the delicacy until I was in Spain.

Ox Tail hamburger at El Pimpi in Malaga.

Ox Tail hamburger at El Pimpi in Malaga.

Ox Tail bachelor number one was found at an outdoor Bodega Bar called El Pimpi in Malaga. After playing tourist for the day, my family and I sat at a table sipping on cocktails and beers while ordering small plates. I hesitate to call it a Tapas bar, but it was something like that. After noshing on olives and fried fish and goat cheese salad, I saw ox tail on the menu and decided to dive in. When it arrived, I was already full and regretting my spontaneity. I felt as thought I was letting my bucket list and my manager, Jose, down. Sure, the meat was ox tail, but it was just a greasy meat burger with mayonnaise. I only ate about half of it, despite it being delicious. Ox tail is rich and fatty, and I think combining it with something as heavy as mayonnaise was a bit overwhelming.

Ox Tail in Ronda

Ox Tail in Ronda

Ox Tail bachelor number two is so handsome and just what I was looking for. Ox Tail on the bone, cooked in light gravy of its own juices with potatoes. Again, it was rich and heavy with so much fat encrusting the meat. I’ve always had an issue with fat on beef. It was one of the things that pushed me to be a vegetarian, actually. I can’t handle the chewiness of it. I actually got a fatty piece of beef at a pho restaurant near my apartment not too long ago and spit it out onto the table, almost as a reflex. I tried to salvage my ladyness by scooping it in a napkin as quick as possible and shoving it in my purse, hoping no one noticed. Back to my ox tail, though, I did my best to eat around the fat and enjoy the rich meat. It was good to have it balanced with something as starchy as the potatoes. The hamburger may have suited me better, but this was the ox tail experience that I knew I could bring back to Jose with pride.

A Day in Tangier, Morocco

17 May

In my 29th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

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I almost feel as thought I am cheating by using my quick trip to Morocco as a way to cross off the “Visit a New Country” item on my list. By visiting a new country, I expect to spend some quality time there, get a feel for the place. This was not that. However, the rest of my Spring and Summer vacation time has been spoken for. So I don’t think I’ll get another adventurous trip until the Fall. So my maiden jaunt to Africa will have to do.

I was traveling with my family, and my parents had arranged for us to go with a tour group. I have never done anything quite like this tour group/bus in my travels before, and I don’t know if I would again. It was a good way to get an overview of the city, and it was nice to have an escort through such a foreign place. But being lumped in with 20 or so tottering foreigners, all of us flashing our cameras, some in our group acting rather rude, I felt like a bit of a spectacle. When I imagined visiting Tangier, I saw myself playing the role of a Beat poet for the day. Walking the kasbah, listening to the Arabic of the shop keepers, sipping mint tea in a cafe where the walls are covered in colorful mosaic tiles, riding a camel over sand dunes. The reality was not this. But, I still got a taste of Tangier.

We are making the same face.

We are making the same face.

I did get to ride a camel which had been a life goal of mine. I paid a Euro and a Morrocan man led me around for a minute or two whilst my family snapped pictures. It’s such an awkward, yet graceful animal. A couple of baby camels were wandering around as well. Again a Euro to hold the ropes and take a picture. We encountered a lot of this in Morocco, a constant barrage of street vendors. Children and men following us around with bracelets or bongos or camel statuettes, trying to negotiate, demanding we buy something. We were escorted to the hill with the camel rides, to an open square with snake charmers waiting for us, waiting for their Euros. It was a strange experience. At the end of the day, as we loaded back into the bus to take us to the ferry, a small child pestered my sister to buy a camel from him. He reached into the bus, placing the camel on her knee, refusing to accept her claim that she didn’t have Euros on her.

My sister's street vendor friend.

My sister’s street vendor friend.

The majority of the day was spent wandering the kasbah which was the one time I was glad to be in a guide-led group. The streets were unlabeled and winding, spilling into a variety of alleyways with open shops and stray cats running to and fro, the vendors coming out of nowhere and lurking just one step behind with bongos, “Only two Euros!” While it was confusing and overwhelming, it was also the most exhilarating part of the day. It’s difficult to describe all the sights and sounds, and we were ushered through so quickly, it was impossible to soak it all up. We were taken to a large rug store and shown the handwoven rugs. We went to a pharmacy where a very excited pharmacist showed us all of his favorite products. Argan Oil! Saffron! Mint tea! Magic Lipstick! I got suckered into buying the Argan Oil and the Magic Lipstick.

In one of the stores of the kasbah.

In one of the stores of the kasbah.

For lunch we were taken to a cafe that served us couscous and vegetables along with some chicken on skewers. It was a modest lunch topped off with Mint Tea which was sweet and refreshing. While we ate, a small Moroccan band played and a belly dancer weaved her way among the tables as we tried to ignore the American tourist in our group who bellowed with indignity when the waiter asked him to pay for the bottled water he had asked for.

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I don’t want to paint a bad picture of what my day in Morocco was like, because overall I’m ecstatic that I got the chance to see it. It was so much to process in only one short day, and it’s hard to absorb such a foreign culture in a limited time. It was like window shopping and never actually going in the store. Maybe I will pull a Paul Bowles one of these days, move to Tangier, and lead the ex-pat life I’ve always dreamed of.

29 Before 29: Eat Ethiopian

2 Apr

In my 29th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

Important Ethiopian men of means?

Important Ethiopian men of means?

For our third date, he took me to an upscale Mexican restaurant in the Theater District. As we sipped on our margaritas and perused the menu, I noticed a strange menu item under the taco category.

“Wow, Grasshopper tacos, huh?” I said, thinking aloud.
“Would you actually want to eat that?” he said.
“I mean, I’ve never had grasshopper before. I’m game if you are.”
“It comes with two, so we’ll each have one?”
“Deal.”

So out they came. Grasshoppers, legs and all, piled high on guacamole and a corn tortilla. We spritzed some lime on top and each took a bite of our respective tacos. The first thing I noticed was the legs of the critters getting stuck in my teeth. They were bitter and with every crunch I could only think “exoskeleton.”

So on a later date, when he offered to take me out for Ethiopian, it didn’t seem to be as adventurous of a dining experience as it seemed when I made my list, but I was happy to knock it off, nonetheless.

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The Wine!

I’m not a wine drinker, but I wanted to try the Ethiopian honey wine. My date got the traditional honey wine while I ordered the blackberry honey wine. Both of our wines came from California, but honey wine is a traditional Ethiopian/Islamic drink, because the religion forbids alcohol that derives from grain or grapes. My blackberry honey wine was incredible. I like my wines on the sweeter side, and I’m blackberry’s number one fan, but I was also enamored with the honey aftertaste.

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The combination plate. Beef in middle. Lamb on sides. Lentils, chickpeas all around. And weird bread stuff in the background.

The odd thing about Ethiopian food is that they don’t use utensils. Not even offered at the table. Instead, we were given rolls of this sponge-bread with which to pick up the food. The food came out on a platter that also had a layer of sponge-bread. The bread wasn’t the star of the show that I was expecting it to be. I thought it would hold similar glorious revelations like Naan does for me in Indian cuisine. It wasn’t bad, just odd. But I suppose it’s not supposed to be the centerpiece, the actual entrees are.

The beef was incredible. Spicy, tender, full of flavor. And I liked the spiced lentils as well. We wanted to order the green beans, but they wouldn’t let us. It was kind of odd. We offered to pay more. But at that point, the waitress just decided for us what three vegetables we were going to have on our combination plate then took our menus. I didn’t want to offer up much of a protest. After all, I don’t know Ethiopian cuisine, and I didn’t have my heart set on anything in particular.

All in all, it was good! I would definitely go back. If for nothing else, for more of that blackberry honey wine.

Burnt Well Guest Ranch, New Mexico

19 Feb

In my 29th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

Overlooking the land with Candyman (my horse) and Charlie (right).

Overlooking the land with Candyman (my horse) and Charlie (right).

I found out that I had one vacation day that was going to expire at the end of February. The reasonable thing would have been to have a staycation and catch up on errands. But I felt overdo for an adventure, even a mini one. So I got it set in my mind that I was going to visit a horse ranch in a state I had never been to before (both items on my 29 before 29 list.)

At the tender age of 6, I had changed my life’s ambition from becoming a princess to becoming a cowgirl, and unlike a lot of other childhood dreams, it never went away. After graduating college with a somewhat useless degree, I began researching dude ranches that might hire me. I wanted to spend my life in the saddle, around animals, embedded in the wilderness. Things didn’t work out that way, but I never stopped dreaming about it.

Marilyn! Their only longhorn cattle.

Marilyn! Their only longhorn cattle.

So when I started looking for a place to visit, I knew I didn’t want a hokey dude ranch. I didn’t want to be taken on trail rides and have Western culture put on display for me like a watered-down version of what ranch life is like. I’m from Nevada, after all. I’ve been to the rodeo. I’ve ridden horses since I was six. I didn’t want or need to be coddled. In my searchings, I found Burnt Well Guest Ranch which is a working cattle ranch run by a small family, the Chessers. To supplement their income, they take in guests and allow them to tag along on their day to day. It’s exactly what I was looking for.

Upon my arrival, Kim (the family patriarch) met me up at the airport in his pick-up truck. He jumped out in his cowboy hat and introduced himself with his country twang. I hopped into the truck and noticed a large, shotgun sitting in the driver’s seat. This was the real deal.

New Mexico sunset with a storm rolling in.

New Mexico sunset with a storm rolling in.

The next couple of days I spent the majority of my day on a horse, either with Kim or his son Tye and sometimes both of them. We rode through the pastures checking on the cattle, especially looking out for heifers that had recently given birth. I was in the saddle so much that all the muscles in my legs were cramping, but I ignored it as much as possible. I was elated to be back on a horse, to feel them break from a trot to a canter, winding their way around cacti. The cowboys told me that the leg pain goes away on day four. It made me want to call my job and quit, just so I could stay in New Mexico and ride until my legs had acclimated to a cowgirl life.

Jonah, my favorite of the three horses I rode.

Jonah, my favorite of the three horses I rode.

At lunch and at dinner, I went into the Chesser home with Kim where his wife, Patricia, made us amazing tex-mex meals using beef from their ranch. We would sit around and trade stories. For as interesting and different their lifestyle seemed to me, they were equally awed and astonished as I told them about life in New York City. As I told stories about dog walkers and animals wearing clothing and shoes, they sat incredulous. The more we talked about it, the more ridiculous I realized it really is. All day, I watched their border collies running alongside the horses, herding animals when need be, but mostly just running along. They’d stop to roll in the dust, chase jack rabbits. It was refreshing to see dogs being…dogs.

Snow in the morning. Melted within the hour.

Snow in the morning. Melted within the hour. Riding on Creed.

On my second day, they let me watch/help as they prepared some calves. They vaccinated them with large gun-like syringes, sprayed them down with dewormers and branded a couple of them. One unfortunate bull got castrated. I stood in awe as they caught it in a large metal chute. Tye roped its legs so it couldn’t kick, and Kim bent down with a knife and a severing tool called an emasculotome (it was on my vet tech exam last month) and castrated the bull in under five minutes. His hands were covered in blood as he tossed the testicles into the dirt and let the border collies eat it. Not for the weak of stomach. I watch castrations all the time at work, but it made me a little dizzy. Kim turned to me and asked if that’s how we do it in the city, I shook my head and laughed.

Lucy, the one-eyed border collie, resting by the branding fire.

Lucy, the one-eyed border collie, resting by the branding fire.

It was everything I wanted it to be. Fresh air, lots of horseback riding, a sample of what a cowboy life looks like, delicious food, a chance to see the stars in the sky at nighttime, fascinating stories from warm-hearted people. I know I’ll be back.

29 Before 29: Visit the United Nations

9 Feb

In my 29th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

General Assembly Hall

General Assembly Hall

This morning, after walking the dog that I’m sitting for and grabbing myself a blueberry smoothie, I left the country. All it took was $20 and an online reservation.  I passed through the security at the United Nations building on the East River in New York City and entered international territory.

I’m currently staying with a pug, Ellie Mae, and her cat brother, Lucas. They are regulars of mine and happen to live about a block away from the United Nations. So when me and their owner set up a couple of days for me to stay with them this February, I made sure to also set up a UN tour for myself.

Glass mural representing a world of peaceful collaboration.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It was only an hour long, and I was the only American in my group of about 20. It was great though. We got to see all of the assembly halls, including one that had a session going on. We got to see a number of different gifts to the UN from member countries. I found it fascinating and wished that I had studied International Affairs in college so that maybe I could somehow work there. They do a lot of interesting work, and it’s amazing that 193 countries come together and try to make the world a better place.

I was particularly moved by a display by a Brazilian artist of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration was drafted by a committee in 1948 headed by Eleanor Roosevelt and enumerates the basic rights that every human being is entitled to. It was sad to read some of them, such as the right to education or the right to be free from torture and know that many people in our world are denied these rights.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It was a fun diversion on a bitter February day. I also learned about the website Free Rice which I learned about in college. It was created by the UN as a simple education tool. It has trivia and for every correct question, they use the money from the ad sponsors to donate 10 grains of rice to countries in need. Finally, a way to waste time on the Internet and not feel guilty.

29 Before 29: Read Catch-22

18 Dec

In my 29th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

catchI’ll come right out and say it. I didn’t finish it. I got a little over halfway through, and I found myself not wanting to pick it up. I found myself dreading my reading time and preferring to listen to “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now” on repeat until I had memorized the background Spanish vocals. La indecision me molesta. Si no me quieres, librame. I had to put the book down unfinished. I had to do it.

It’s not that I hated it. I think my problem with it was manifold. One, I expected too much. I’d heard it was the funniest book ever written, and I thought I was going to spend a lot more time laughing than I did. There were funny, satirical parts, for sure, but I wasn’t falling out of my chair. Two, it doesn’t have a plot, or at least a structured plot. The book weaves in and out of time, jumping from character to character, scene to scene. It’s hard for me to become invested in a book like that if I don’t have a story or an idea I’m following. Three, I tend to never like books about war. I’ve read a number of war classics, and they just don’t do it for me. It’s like Sci-Fi. It’s rare for me to find a book in the genre that pulls me in. I have never been able to put my finger on exactly why that is. Four, I got the point within the first couple of chapters. War is absurd! All of it. It is a surreal, weird thing to send a bunch of men to a foreign country to kill people in order to make diplomatic progress. Bureaucracy and government are likewise absurd. Joseph Heller does a marvelous job of satirizing this, but once I got his gist, I wanted to move on.

But, again, it’s not to say that I didn’t like it. His prose is stunning at times, and I was amazed at the variety of characters that he built. I adored the “Major Major Major Major” chapter. I just couldn’t finish it. 300 pages in, and I wasn’t invested in what happened. Plus with a January book club book on the way and this stack of beauties on my bedside table, I didn’t want to waste any more time on something that I felt I had to finish, that I was obliged to read. Life’s too short for that.

My darlings.

My darlings.