Wednesday, March 3, 2010

List Update: New and Improved (or at Least Longer)

One of the many fun things about last weekend's trip to Bar Harbor is that the drive up gave Leah, Siham and me all a chance to update and add to our lists. I posted my original list as a work-in-progress back in late December, and thought now was a good time to post the update. The original list had 49 possible New Things. Now the list is over the 52 mark at 59 (and that doesn't include the Serendipity List of cool "bonus" things that I've done because of the original list). But I don't expect that all of the things here will work out, and know now from experience that other new possibilities will pop up. Still, I think a rough idea is nice to have, so here the list as it stands, as of early March.

I am excited to report that I've discovered colored fonts, so like a small child, must use them immediately. Things I've already done are in green (my favorite color), ones in progress are red, and ones still to be done are boring blue. My earlier list grouped things by category. This one keeps roughly the same categories, but begins with a new category with two elements --the things I've already done, and the ones that I've begun but not completed.

Been There, Done That (or at Least It's in the Works)

1. Create a blog. This was the first thing I did. Funny how easy it turned out to be, once my friend Julia walked me through it.
2. Go to Nepal. Thanks to my gracious friends Cliff and Nicole, I had an amazing trip to Kathmandu for the New Year. What an incredible way to start off the year, and my travel plans. There's a picture above from Pashipatinath, site of a sacred river and temple complex where many go to die and be cremated.
3. Rock climbing. This and ice climbing were the things that intimidated me most on my whole list. But I luckily got to try this one out in Nepal, and it's hard to be (too) intimidated when you're being coached by a four-year old (as I was in the picture here of Jai and I on my first-ever climb). I thought it was great, and it's probably the activity I'm most excited to keep learning. Another of the pictures I've posted is from practicing on the climbing wall here at Saint Mike's, and I have to especially thank my student teachers, Josh, Amanda and Randall.
4. Ice climbing. Went with the Wilderness Program on January 16, and so happy I tried it, even though I don't think I'll make it a regular thing because it's just too cold!
5. Snow shoe hiking. Took my first snow shoe hike with Connor S. under Josh's leadership up Nebraska Notch and did a repeat a few weeks later with Ryan, Brigit and Alex up Camel's Hump (see #10 below). Who knew I'd like it so much?
6. Make fresh mozzarella cheese. Mark provided quite the tutorial for Valerie, Dan H. and I. We also learned the importance of labeling our reagents (or ingredients depending on whether it's a scientist or a cook who's lecturing you) if you don't want to put in salt when you mean to use citric acid.
7. Cross country skiing. Dan S. gave me a lesson in February, and I felt pretty stupid for having lived all these winters in Vermont without ever going. Better late than never, though!
8. Penguin plunge. When I told the student group that I’m going to the Dominican Republic with about the 52 New Things, they were all over it with suggestions. One was to participate in the annual jump into Lake Champlain (that is, through the hole that is made in the ICE) in February to benefit Special Olympics. Trip leader Erin and I did it, together with some other friends and turned out to be a lot of fun. I might even do it again next year.
9. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center in New York City. This was great. I went to New York City with Dan H., Alex, Michelle and Emily, stayed with my wonderful friend T. Richard, and my high school friend Angela flew in from Idaho to join me! Ironically, though none of them actually did the ice skating part with me -- my friends Aaron and Carolyn did that, and then Dan and I took the train home (yet another first). Fabulous weekend.
10. (1-4) Hike Camel's Hump in all four seasons. So excited about this one. It wasn't on my original list but I've already done the winter hike (twice actually, once with crampons with Conor D. and once with snow shoes with Ryan, Brigit and Alex). I think I'm going to try to do the spring one as a farewell hike with graduating seniors. Siham and Leah want to be part of Dan H.'s suggestion that the summer one be a moonlight/dawn hike that goes up in the evening and comes back down at dawn to catch both the sunrise and the sunset. Doesn't that sound cool? And of course, who would miss Camel's Hump, and all its glorious colors in the fall?
11. Try skate skiing. Once again, Dan. S. stepped up and taught me, and a group of SMC students who signed up through the Wilderness Program. In my opinion, harder than classic cross country (at least for a beginner) but also more fun.
12. Watch a sun rise in Bar Harbor, Maine. This was actually stolen from Siham’s list. She pointed out that, from October to March, this is the earliest place to see the sun rise on the East Coast. Leah and I invite ourselves along and we spent the last weekend in February having Cadillac Mountain all to ourselves. Needless to say, it was a tremendous excursion, and I just had to include a picture from the trip.
13. A few words (in 52 languages). My friend Matthew had the brilliant idea of learning how to say “May I have two beers, please” and “I love you” in a different language for every week of the year. I added "hello" and "good by" and so far have done 13 languages: Amharic, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Kiswahili, Korean, Lugandan, Mandarin Chinese, Nepali, and Portuguese.
14. Dance. My friend Crystal was the ultimate good sport, and is taking beginning ballet with me at the Flynn Center, our local performing arts space. We started in January and it's a 14 week class, but no danger that I'll be quitting my day job -- just as I suspected, no particular aptitude has been released with the donning of my ballet slippers.
15. Learn to use my digital camera. Don’t know why photography intimidates me so much, but it does. My friends John (who has his own awe-inspiring photography blog at, Alexander and Cailey have offered to help on this one, and I'm going to take them up on it. In the meantime, I've been taking highly amateurish photos for my blog postings with reckless abandon.
16. Knit a pair of mittens. I don’t feel the need to make a sweater or anything that ambitious, but mittens are different. My sister Katrinka, a world-class knitter, showed me how when I was visiting her and Brian and my niece Tigist at Christmas. Unfortunately, I only did one mitten and need to find a knitting coach here to help me do the other one.
17. Go to a college hockey game. For years Siham and I said we’d go together and never did. My friend Paul and I went to the last hockey game of the home season last week, and plan to go to some other college sporting events that I’ve never attended as well. Siham and I are still going to hit an early-season hockey game in December 2010, too.

New Countries

18. Dominican Republic. I’ll be participating in a school sponsored international service trip with a crew of fabulous Saint Mike’s students and led by our outstanding fearless leader, Erin, from May 18 – 28.
19. Jordan. At least two weeks in June. This trip is part professional development, part personal interest and part opportunism. I’m developing a class on the Millennium Development Goals for Fall 2010 and using Jordan as a case study, and I’m starting to expand my water scarcity research to the Middle East for obvious reasons, and one of my students, Connor is applying for our College's Provost Research grant to do some of the fieldwork in-country with me (that’s the professional part); several friends have told me that Jordan is a totally cool place and especially that everyone must see Petra (that’s the personal interest part); and two of my all-time favorite people (both of whom know Arabic), Siham and Jamila, have agreed to go with me (that’s the total opportunism part).
20. Lebanon. If you’re going to go to Jordan, doesn’t it make sense to see Lebanon on the same trip? What a silly question. The correct answer is obviously yes.
21. Syria. A maybe, but Jamila is advocating for it, and I think it sounds exciting…
22. Spain. A European country I’ve never been to, but could incorporate as a stopover with Siham in Madrid on the way to Jordan.
23. Denmark. My Journalism colleague Jerry and I recently learned that we'll be presenting a paper at an international conference at Cambridge University on interdisciplinary work in the social sciences, and I want to expand the trip on the front or back end (or both) to go to some other new European destinations. Denmark is the clear front runner, but there are some other possibilities that might get added, including other Scandinavian countries and/or the Netherlands.

Tackling the Fear Factor

24. Bike maintenance. My friend Dan H., who has already been a part of a bunch of other things on the list, has agreed to teach me how to fix a flat and general bike maintenance. Unfortunately, he just broke his leg, so we'll be waiting a bit on this one.
25. Snow boarding. Dave, Derek and Cailey have all offered to give me lessons, and have warned me that it involves falling a lot and winding up with a very sore butt. During the upcoming March spring break, I'll be making one or more of them make good on their promises (and warnings).
26. Car maintenance. There are a couple specific things I really need to know how to do listed in the category below, but I might just go for broke and sign up for a beginner car maintenance class.
27. Downhill skiing. Technically, this is not a new thing, since I skied a little in high school and college. But it’s been almost 20 years, and I’ve never done it in Vermont, so I’m counting it. Dan, Cailey and Drisk have all offered a refresher lesson, and Siham, Leah and Jess are coming up during March spring break to take part in the fun.
28. Drawing or painting class. Gary suggested this to me last summer and claimed he saw a look of panic on my face. That means this is the year to try it, probably this summer or fall.

29. Basic stuff with tools. I don’t know anything about home maintenance or repair. Not anything. Still not sure what my plan of attack will be, but I think I need to do it, so it's staying on the list.
30. Power point. I need to learn a bit beyond the basics that currently allow me to make the world’s most boring presentations. I think I am intimidated by all things design-related, but I definitely want to give it a shot, and my youngest sister Donna has offered to help.
31. Surfing. Leah took a look at an earlier version of the list and said she could provide the location, boards and instructors if we wanted to give it a try, so of course I added it. We'll be trying this one during the summer at a beach near her home. It can’t be any harder than snowboarding. Right?

Things I Want to Know How to Do or Make

32. Jump start the car. My sister Donna pointed out that it’s a bit ridiculous that I’ve made it this far in life without this basic skill. Siham offered to show me.
33. Change a flat tire. Like jump starting the car, I’ve somehow managed to skate through life without knowing up to now, but I think it’s time to learn.
34. Cook an Indian meal. Wouldn’t it be neat to be able to make some of the things I love to order at Indian restaurants? My friend Tara offered to give me lessons, and I'll be taking her up on it starting during my spring break in March.
35. Bake croissants. My friend Dean, a professional baker, is willing to guide me through this one at his home kitchen/bakery. I recently discovered that it's a multiple-day process, so scheduling will be trickier than I first thought, but he's still willing to do it, so we will.
36. Learn to do a one-footed spin and a single jump on ice skates. I know some fundamentals like backwards and forwards crossovers and 3-turns, but I think it would be fun to be able to do a trick or two. Julia has offered to provide some tutoring the next time she visits, probably in March.
37. Sea kayaking. I’ve tried kayaking once or twice on Lake Champlain, but want to try it out on the ocean. My friend and former student Kate, who I actually met when she taught me how to fall out of a kayak, says she’ll take me out to try it this summer, probably off the coast of Maine.
38. Brew beer. Dan and Derek were volunteered by another of our friends, Ted, to show me how it’s done. My colleague, John O. has also volunteered to show me, so I'll definitely be learning.
39. Star gazing. In addition to being willing to show me how to brew beer, I asked John, who teaches astrophysics and gives talks on questions like how old the universe is (how's that for a mind-stretcher?) to give an evening lesson looking up at the sky. He kindly agreed, though we'll wait to till it's warmer and clearer out.
40. Glass blowing. One of my favorite places to go in the world is Tacoma, Washington. It's the home of my sister Katrinka, brother-in-law Brian and phenomenal niece Tigist. Pat and Kathy, Brian's father and stepmom, live there as well, and all five of them have been big supporters of the 52 New Things. Next time I visit, Katrinka and I are going to do a special new thing -- sign up for an afternoon of glass blowing instruction -- in celebration of the fact that Tacoma is also home to the world-famous glass artist Dale Chihuly.
41. Learn to play an instrument. Although most of the serious relationships in my life have been with musicians, I am musically completely illiterate. While we were snowshoeing Connor S. suggested that I add learning some basics with a musical instrument, and that seems a very wise idea. Hopefully this summer or fall.

Never Put Off Till Tomorrow…

42. Go to Quebec City. Leah, Siham and I added this one to our list last weekend in Bar Harbor. Leah and I have always wanted to go, and Siham has wanted to return ever since she visited and stayed at the B&B that Edith Piaf used to use when she was in town. So, we'll be heading there this fall.
43. 24 hours in the city that never sleeps. Another really fun idea that came out of the Bar Harbor trip. I've already been to New York City once for the 52 New Things, to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. But Siham, Leah and I are planning to go back (and of course, everyone's invited) for a 24 hour no-sleep visit. The itinerary is still in formation, but so far it includes a visit to the Statue of Liberty and an early-morning breakfast at an all-night diner. We might take the train there and back, so we can sleep the eight hours coming and going.
44. Contra dancing. A bunch of friends have been suggesting it for forever. I’m going to take my friends David and Kristin N. up on their offers to go with me.
45. Bird watching. I’ve always been curious about this, and my friend Kimberly is willing to let me tag along with her.
46. Do a hike in New Hampshire. As a Vermonter, it’s not exactly an insurmountable distance to travel, but I’ve never done it. My friends Leah and Kate B. have offered to do the hike with me.
47. A moonlight snowshoe or excursion on cross country skis. I think this sounds so cool, but I missed the ones the Wilderness Program does them every year. Luckily, I have enough friends who are past and current student wilderness pros that I am highly confident I can do some arm-twisting during my spring break to make this one happen.
48. Go camping in Vermont. In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never gone camping in this state. My friend Melissa organized a highly-acclaimed group camping trip last year, and suggested I could join it this summer.
49. Visit the Rokeby Museum. For years I’ve driven by it on Route 7. My friend Valerie was the one who mentioned that I could put it on the list.
50. Do nothing. I thought this was an inspired idea from my student and fellow AIDS activist Madison. She suggested having a day of doing nothing but sitting, reflecting and listening. I want to try it.
51. Eat a Vermontster. Probably the most famous Vermont pig-out opportunity is the Vermonster, a ginormous 20 scoop ice cream sundae at Ben and Jerry’s. My Dominican Republic group suggested this one, but very kindly also offered to help me eat it, so we will have a gluttonous festival of dairy consumption together before embarking on our trip.
52. Martial arts class. I've always thought it would be fun to take a martial arts course, but never gotten around to it. This year I will, and Kristin J. might be up for it with me.

Assuming I Can Swing It and/or Don't Lose my Nerve

53. Visit Alaska. It’s the only state I haven’t been to. Kathy suggested adding Manitoba along the way to see the polar bears and I love that idea, so it's now part of the plan.
54. Do a meet-up in Latin America. Five of the coolest of my college’s recent alums – Derek, Dan, Drisk, Ted and Zack – are planning a Motorcycle Diaries – style trip from the bottom to the top of Latin America. Only they’re doing it the hard way, with bicycles instead of motorcycles. Assuming they can pull it off, I’m going to fly down in the fall and meet up with them for a visit to either Argentina or Chile.
55. Try falconry. This was my friend Kimberly’s suggestion, and we’ll do it together if we can find a place not too far away.
56. Fencing. Ditto on the fencing possibility, which I think will be a lot easier to locate.
57. Visit other new countries. In addition to the new countries list above, I'm always up to add to it. If other opportunities come up, or people have suggestions of new countries to see (or new places in countries I've already seen), I'm all ears. Please suggest away!
58. Take a flying lesson. This was a brilliant suggestion from my friend Henry. I love flying, especially in small planes. I know it’s bad for the planet (and also expensive), but if I can manage a lesson just once, I think this would be so very worth doing.
59. Get a tattoo. I've never wanted a tattoo because I never had anything that seemed so unique to me that I thought I'd be willing to wear it continuously. But I'm flirting with the idea of ending the year with my final new thing being a permanent reminder of all the other new things -- a small "52" etched somewhere on my being (shoulder, ankle or arm, most likely). Interestingly, most of my under-25 friends think it's a great idea, and Julia even offered to get tattoos together. Most of my contemporaries have raised polite questions of the "are you sure?" variety. We'll see (and if you have a compelling argument one way or the other on this weighty question, I'd love to hear it).

So, that's the list as it stands right now -- and I am sure it will continue to evolve as the year unfolds. But one of the best things that has happened as a consequence of doing 52 new things has been all the fabulous opportunities it has given me to learn from, and spend quality time with, new and old friends. I've discovered people I thought I knew have all kinds of hidden talents and expertise. It's also been a wonderful, (and humbling) experience to reverse roles with many of my past and present students who have taught me everything from rock climbing to ordering beer in Lugandan. Please take a look at the list and see if there are things you'd like to do or add -- or teach. If there are, post a comment or shoot me an email. I hope that everyone's year is filled with many new things!



    compelling argument, no?

  2. Ok trish, i have some input. I'm headed to Jordan in three weeks, so I'll you know how that goes. I'm also in the process of getting a visa to Syria for a trip in April. I have been told by many that if I don't see Damacus, while I'm this close, I've wasted a trip.

    If by late June, no one has showed you how to jump start car or change a flat, give me a call. My dad would not let me get my license until knew how to do these things plus change the oil and add wind shield wiper fluid. I can even do a pretty basic tune up. This also goes for the basic stuff with tools category, my dad taught me well.

    Also I may suggest two trips, a summer weekend in Vancouver can not be beat. One of my favorite cities and I must make a plug of Istanbul, if you haven't already been. I'm here till mid-June and I have become a pro around the old city.

    One more - I have season tickets to UVM Mens Hockey if you and Siham would like to see a game early next season, let me know.

  3. Let's be sure to set the date for Rokeby. I'll find out when it opens again for the season. I am also up for contra dancing (when is the next one at SMC?) and star gazing.

  4. First off I'm offended that you would call my favorite color blue boring! I'm not boring Trish! And I cannot wait to be back in VT solely for the purpose of jumping on board with your 52 things. I have lots of quality Trish time to make up for. I love the idea of 24hr in NYC, of course the hike, and I should probably have Lex teach me basic car skills too!

    p.s. even with my fear of needles, I am pro-tatoo.

  5. My step mom loves tattoos, and she says that the best time for a tattoo is when you're going through an important time in your life. This seems like a great reason for this. That way, it's less about what it is and more about what it represents.

  6. Love, love, love all these ideas. Sorry, Kate, for calling blue "boring" and I CERTAINLY did not mean to imply that you are boring by association. How could you ever think that? You're one of the coolest people I know! I wonder if there's any way I can find a cheap flight to Turkey for a quick trip before mid-June...

    And yes, Julia, your argument is very persuasive :). So far between these posts, emails I've gotten and Facebook commentaries, I'm leaning more and more to get the tattoo. Especially since my sister Katrinka, who has a pierced nose and who claims I'm always copying her, thinks it's a good idea, which means she will stick up for me if my parentals don't.

  7. Hi Trish,
    We've never actually met but I'm a St. Mike's student and I just came across your blog and love this idea. Congrats on all that you've done so far! I'm currently studying abroad in South Africa and wanted to suggest that you visit here if you haven't done it already. Your HIV/AIDS work may have brought you here before, but if not try to put it on a list for the future!

    Sarah Regan