The Celebration of Fifty New Things

Update on August 12th, 2012: Mission accomplished! I've now experienced 50 new things for the very first time, woohoooo! See below for more details! :)

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.
— Allen Cohen

This page is to celebrate the 50 new things I'm going to try in my fiftieth year on this wonderful, beautiful old planet. I started with my birthday on October 5th, 2011, and I hope to have them all completed by the same date in 2012. Those I've accomplished will be in bold, while possible things to try are in italics. I'm going to have to do about five new things a month, so please feel free to offer suggestions!

Later edit: on the prompting of a friend of mine, I should point out that you don't need to worry about whether I've done something previously or not, in your suggestions. For example, I'd gone kayaking previously, but never with manatees. So please feel free to make your suggestions! Even if I have done one of them before, I can still try them out in some new way. :)

Another edit, later still: it hit me today that many of these things would be more fun to do with friends. Therefore, if you'd like company and you're trying something new, or doing something you suggested to me, give me a call, please? Doing new things in a group is often more fun! Also: goodness, some of these things are rather pricey! I'm going to have to start saving up money, or figuring out who might be interested in helping out in doing some of these things, I can see. :)

    1. Learned to use a vinyl cutting machine. Not only did I do so in October shortly after my birthday in 2011, but I also made a nifty cut-out based on a rough sketch of a Russian shamaness's spirit horse. The cut-out decorates my little laptop, which I call my Valkyrie — because she is very mobile and takes me to wonderful places any time I want. Photo! :)

    1. Kayaked with manatees. In December 2011 I visited my parents in Florida, and they took me kayaking on the beautiful Crystal River. So cool to paddle lazily around such big, peaceful creatures!

  1. Participated in microfinancing through; December 2011. I love this concept — not only do I get to help others, but I can keep reinvesting over time and end up helping even more folks. My first investment was to the wonderfully named Amigas de Fe y Alegria. Later edit: they're fully financed now — yay! Repayments start in March, I think. Even later edit: Got my first repayment — woohoo! Think I'll wait until I can refinance someone else through with it. This is nice. :)
  2. Tinsel & feathers! It's funny… in making up potential things to try for this list, I find myself adding on all the ideas and events I've wanted to try for a while, but never got around to doing. Some of them are bigger, like "climb Halfdome," but some of them are small and simple. I guess what makes the difference is they're full of meaning for me personally. I like that. :)So in that vein I decided to try something I've found vaguely intriguing for a while: I looked into getting pretty feathers and tinsel in my hair. Anna, the lady I decided on, is very good — I highly recommend her! She runs Hair Tinsel and Feathers by Anna, and she's patient, very reasonably priced, helpful, and just a generally nice person. Because she's not in a salon I feel she's much more attentive to you as a customer, and she helped me pick out what were the best colors for my hair. Also, the cool thing about "tinsel" is it's really silk, which means you can wash both it and the feathers with your hair, with no problems. It was astonishingly easy to have put in, it lasts for several months, and I've already gotten several compliments (yay!), and handed out all the extra cards Anna gave me.In the photo you can see a few of the tinsel strands wound through the bun. The two feathers — one dark blue, one purple — are down low and curling up into the swirl of my hair, by the back of my neck.

    Anna also teaches both Zumba and pole-dancing, so if you go to her and are interested, don't forget to ask about them. I'm considering pole-dancing as something I've never tried before, although I confess I'm waffling a bit due to its "reputation." Then again… it would certainly be different and new for me.

    Any moving's from the Mover
    Any love from the Beloved

    — Rumi

  3. My first American Tribal Style belly dancing class! Ever since I learned about it I've wanted to learn ATS belly dancing, or American Tribal Style — I've just been a little shy of doing so. Thanks to Janice, a good friend, I've finally located a good teacher in an excellent local dancing group! This last Saturday I attended my first class with Natalia of Persephone Dance Company, and very much enjoyed myself. Admittedly, the next day my arms and lower back were yelling at me, but it's definitely worth it. I'll be doing my best to regularly attend the Saturday morning classes.
  4. A wonderful but accidental first here: successfully took photos with my new xoom, then uploaded them to our server — all by myself! This might not sound like much to the heavily geekified, but it is for me. The xoom arrives with absolutely no help documents worthy of the name, which is an appalling lack if you ask me. As one of my sweeties is fond of saying, "If the user can't find it — it doesn't exist!"So (with a small growl of irritation) I checked out the Xoom for Dummies book from the library. However, despite the stupid title, the book has proven its worth for me. Today I used it to take some photos, troubleshoot an issue with the camera right afterward, beam happily at the Gallery, then figure out how to download the photos onto the house's server. Once that was done I uploaded them here, so readers can also see and admire my (*cough*) totally rad awesumsauce mad l33t skillz! Heh… figured why not go overboard, for my first try. :)An interesting side-thought: is a (very nice) possible unwitting byproduct of endeavoring to fulfill this "new things" list going to be more confidence and reliance on my own abilities? If so… I should have done this decades ago! :)
  5. Woohoo! I am now certified on the TechShop embroidery machine! Our practice to prove that we'd mastered the teaching was to make these cute little patches (the photo is slightly larger than life-sized), which I promptly gifted to one of my ever-deserving housemates. :)The embroidery machine is surprisingly flexible, even though it can take forever for it to work through the programmed stitching. However, the instructor mentioned that it is perfectly acceptable to set up the run, then sit next to the madly stitching machine while you're working on something else on your laptop or tablet. Also, I've been assured custom stitching is both feasible and easy to do once the stitching program has been learned, so that's next on my to-do list for costumery. I suspect, with some glittery thread, that really nice hip sashes could be made for belly dancing! Things are progressing nicely!
  6. Lots of great firsts on this particular weekend! First, I was a passenger on the Hawai'ian Chieftain, a two-masted tall sailing ship, which was a great deal of fun.
  7. I also helped crew the tall ship, by assisting in the handling of the ropes for the mizzenmast.
  8. Finally, I got to steer the ship! That was a lot of fun — especially dodging the (very indifferently crewed) little sailboat that seemed determined to nuzzle up against us.
  9. The next day, Sunday 19 February, I learned how to tie a sari. They're surprisingly comfortable, and much longer than I'd realized. My guess is it would be easy to make one, since it's just a rectangle of light cloth which is about 3' tall and something like 15' long, with the decorations concentrated on one end — the end that shows in front. Unfortunately the only camera I had was a little cell phone, so the photos are blurry. Had a wonderful time, though!We were at the ever-fascinating Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, at the Maharaja's Treasures exhibition. Funnily enough there was so much to do and see that we never got into the actual exhibition! We did see one Western-style carriage which was created by a British company, the Fort Coach Factory, in 1915 for one of the Maharajas of Bhavnagar. Talk about ostentatious display of wealth! The entire thing was silvered, with an enormous amount of embossed animals and plant-shaped curlicues writhing all over it. There were embedded gemstones on the outside as well, and fine silks and leather inside.All that said? I'd still have loved to see it being drawn by a fine matched pair — or better yet, gotten to drive it! :) Check out the rest of the beautiful little gallery of photos — enjoy!
  10. On Wednesday 22 February, the night of the new moon, I attended a Pongala ceremony to Devi, at ITP!
  11. I also saw the Vagina Monologues for the first time (on Friday the 24th of February), contributing to V-Day's international campaign to eradicate violence against women and girls. Amazing bit of data: the Monologues (with slight variations to keep it up-to-date with current events and to offer data relevant to the geographical area it is being offered in) has been on-going for fifteen years now!
  12. Another wonderful first today, March 4th: a women-only rock climbing lesson, where I did a chimney climb high enough to slap the top, woohoo! Firmly in the "well, DUH!" department: rock climbing is hard work!
  13. This was fun: Sunday 18 March, on the request of two of my former ITP profs, spoke as a graduate to one of their classes about the thesis writing process. Never been a teaching adjunct before! :)
  14. Saturday 3/24 attended a "Creative Transition" workshop in Berkeley, focusing on art and dance. Fascinating workshop & lovely location. Clearly I must slide more creativity into my life, to balance the delightful intellectual swamp of doctoral work. :)
  15. On Wednesday 3/27 had cranial-sacral massage therapy for the first time. Startlingly relaxing — I think I dozed off at one point!
  16. Attended a poetry circle workshop on 4/4 at the Campbell Library; rather enjoyed that. It was reassuring to discover (unsurprisingly) that I don't suck. :) The workshops are bi-monthly, and I think I'll be attending the next one as well.
  17. Attended my first shamanic journeying circle at ITP on Saturday the 7th, after donating blood — also fascinating! I love learning all these new things, and even more so when I get to learn about myself as well. This too, I think, will become a fun regular thing for me.
  18. This was a busy week! The next day, at the urging of a friend (admittedly not a lot of urging, as I was curious :), attended a sexuality workshop taught by Midori. Love the way she clearly explains the psychological aspects of what's hot, what's not.
  19. Tonight, 4/11, attending a class at REI on how to use a map and compass, so I'll never get lost while backpacking.
  20. On Saturday 21 April at Los Gatos Creek County Park I and a housemate happily participated in a Campbell Community Cleanup Event hosted by the… Campbell mayor, I think? Seemed a nice guy, and there were quite a few more folks than they expected, which was nice! Park got well cleaned up, too. Yay! :)
  21. Later the same day, attended an absolutely wonderful taiko class with San Jose Taiko! I really want to figure out a way to take more classes with them — taiko is surprisingly thrilling!
  22. At the ASWM Conference, on Friday 11 May, made my very first scholarly conference presentation — with great success, woohooo!
  23. A surprising and unexpectedly entertaining new first: a lockpicking class gifted to me by one of my housemates! We attended the class at the San Jose TechShop; quite fun! I definitely need to practice. Bit startling how easy it is to pick padlocks, though… maybe I should try the front door too. ;)
  24. Housemate has also wonderfully gifted me with a genuine Shinto Gakutoku Omamori for "successful studies with true depth and breadth" from the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America! A definite first for me. ;)You're supposed to keep it on your person, but I'm really good at forgetting things in my pockets and later ruining them in the wash. So I tucked the omamori into my wooden hair pin, which worked quite well! I'm extremely grateful to the kami for watching over me and being so helpful, too, as I managed to pump out two 15-pg final papers for this semester in less than two weeks — whew!
  25. On the 4th of July, spent the night in Yosemite National Park — beautiful! ;)
  26. Drove through Death Valley. Believe it or not, they had an excellent free wi-fi connection in the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center, in the desolate-looking middle of the park!
  27. I think this is accurate: while remaining on the earth (as in, not riding an airplane), I changed elevation the most drastically. In one day I went from nearly 8000 feet in Yosemite to -190 feet in Furnace Creek, Death Valley! :)
  28. Visited the Temple to Sekhmet in Nevada for the first time, and left an offering with my prayers. I'd never before been to a consciously constructed temple to a goddess — as opposed to those who consider the earth herself sacred, as I try to do.
  29. Visited Las Vegas. Did not gamble, though I wanted to, since I couldn't find anything like good, clear directions on any of the machines. Weird. Also blogged about it. :)
  30. Walked the Mammoth Creek lava tubes in Utah — great fun! I had no idea lava left such jaggedy surfaces. Also saw the waterfall that shoots out of another lava tube, but didn't walk that one. :)
  31. Visited the Kaibab National Park. Alas, no sightings of the lovely but shy Kaibab squirrels.
  32. Visited the Grand Canyon! Must go back there — incredible.
  33. Visited the Petrified Forest National Park, which was startlingly lovely despite my being rained out. Took photos while holding the camera under my hat; cannot recommend the technique. :)
  34. Visited the privately owned Meteor Crater. Surprisingly fun! They are justifiably proud, I think, at being the first location in the world recognized as an actual meteor crater.
  35. Visited the Roswell UFO Museum, in weird New Mexico! Lots of fun. Also spotted the cunningly concealed mind control lasers!
  36. Visited Carlsbad Caverns, which is awesome and has Dr. Seuss plants surrounding it!
  37. While at Carlsbad Caverns, ate lunch almost 800 feet below the surface of the earth — nice and cool, woot! Ham and cheese; very tasty, no sand or rocks. ;)
  38. My always-excellent luck on Friday the 13th is still holding true, as I discovered and then visited the beautiful Caverns of Sonoma in Texas. Truly gorgeous cave draperies.
  39. Spent a truly lovely day in New Orleans; think I left my heart there too. Never fallen in love with a city before.
  40. While there I also rode in a mule-drawn vehicle…
  41. and a pedi-cab! Tremendous relief for my poor blistered feet, by that point.
  42. Also ate a really fantastic burger at Clover Grill, which claims to make the best burgers in the world — I won't argue! The burgers are cooked under a car hubcap, which apparently "seals in the juices," :)
  43. Went tubing down the Ichetucknee River with my sweetie! Tremendously relaxing and beautiful.
  44. Visited Florida Caverns State Park. I seem to be spending a great deal of time underground this vacation… I wonder why? :)
  45. Visited Paulo Soleri's Arcosanti, and bought one of the little siltcast ceramic bells. Strange, idealistic, and beautiful place. Also, on the way home I stopped in Blythe, CA! Mentioning this here because it's not really a first, but I like it. ;)
  46. Drove cross-country twice (along the southern edge of the US) on my own! Great fun; sleeper van for teh winzors! :) At one point I also drove in five states in one day — while traveling in a straight line, and not through the dinky little northeastern states. They were, in order: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida!
  47. Had two articles of my scholarly work published in an actual book: Unto Herself: A Devotional Anthology for Independent Goddesses — which is listed here as well as on, woohooo! :)
  48. Visited Lupin Lodge, a surprisingly relaxing "clothing-optional relaxation and nude recreation" naturist resort. Wonderful sense of community there.

Wow! Looks like I've accomplished my goal of 50 new things, and then some! I find, however, that I don't want to stop — I've still got so many new things I want to try! I'll keep adding new experiences for this year, I think — just for fun! I like feeling adventurous about learning. :)

  1. Slept in a yurt! I think I could really enjoy living in the round. :)
  2. Went bowling! We played two full, um… sets? Games? Good heavens, I'm awful at it! Scored 50 and 47 points… out of a possible 300! Interesting, but not really something that fires me up.

More details soon! :-D

Future possibilities:

Crossed-out means I've done it! :)

  • Cook with herbs grown in my herb garden
  • Get my song played on the radio (?!)
  • Dance in an ATS belly dancing performance
  • Kayak with the otters in Monterey
  • Waltz in Vienna (love to, but… financially unlikely, alas)
  • Teach a course on women's spirituality
  • Design and build a temple (hmm… should see if I need a license to be a priestess — that'd be another first if so)
  • Perform a wedding
  • Have a boudoir photography session
  • Hold a signing session for a book I've published — love this one!
  • make soap
  • plant an herb garden
  • ride a zip line
  • rappel in a cave
  • pan for gold, crack a geode, & mine for gemstones!
  • Mardi Gras in N'Orleans? (next year maybe)
  • Burning Man? :)
  • Try shamanic journeying?
  • Tour on bicycle / kayak / horseback / motorcycle?
  • Publish a novel! Maybe a book of poetry?
  • Climb Halfdome?
  • Learn more fascinating new skills at TechShop?
  • Post an Instructable
  • Set up an Etsy shop
  • Growing/planting organically?
  • Train a puppy to some specific skill, e.g. tracking?
  • Volunteer at a woman's shelter?
  • Act in a play? Sing/play in a band?
  • Bake a pie
  • Host a holiday-themed party (Halloween will be after my next birthday, after all).
  • Make a really good Sarmatian-themed costume.
  • Make a pair of boots?
  • Silkscreen a tambourine
  • Silkscreen a 4-color design onto a shirt
  • Make a ceremonial rattle
  • Finally see the Northern Lights?
  • Learn to weld: arc, mig, tig, whatever! (Definition from Lou: Arc is short for "electric arc," and welds with the power of the spark gap. MIG means "Metal Inert Gas" and is a form of arc welding which produces better, cleaner welds because the weld happens in a cloud of less-reactive gas. TIG is Tungsten Inert Gas, and is an electric arc welding which produces a shockingly nice weld and welds amazing things because of the tungsten gas and rod used. :)
  • Cosplay an anime character — would this be new if I've already cosplayed comic book charas?
  • Take the Road Cycling class from REI.
  • Take the Sea Kayaking Class (the wet entry/exit one) from REI.
  • Go to a hot springs
  • Get a job as a tour guide? Hakone, someplace new to me, maybe?
  • Learn a new foreign language — Russian, Icelandic, something else?
  • Wear a bikini in public — mmmaybe. Must tone up first. :)
  • Skydive (or go to iFly)?
  • Get paid to give a speech or presentation (where, on what, to who? Research this).
  • Color my hair an impossible color – definitely! :)
  • Go up in a hot air balloon?
  • Learn to change a flat bicycle tire
  • Learn to use a wood lathe
  • Learn a new art or craft or new aspect of a current art or craft (look into this more — bookmaking, maybe?)
  • Learn to make an ethnic dish in a new style?
  • Learn to develop my own photos?
  • Create a ritual to share with family/friends for a holiday I don't normally celebrate — definitely!
  • Visit a live volcano? (find the closest one)
  • Put a message in a bottle and either send it up in a balloon (use a plastic bottle) or throw it in the ocean?
  • Write and then record/perform a song — definitely!

What are your thoughts and suggestions? What amazingly cool things have you done for the very first time? :)

12 Responses to “The Celebration of Fifty New Things”

  1. Lou Erickson
    December 31st, 2011 at 16:02

    This is a hard question! I'm not sure what you've done. The "first time" aspect blows away a bunch of the things I'd suggest.

    Host a halloween party.
    Make a really good Sarmation-themed costume.
    Learn to weld (arc, mig, tig, whatever).
    Cosplay an anime character.
    Take the Road Cycling class from REI.
    Take the Sea Kayaking Class (the wet entry/exit one) from REI.
    Go to hot springs (Esalen Institute or others).
    Get drunk.
    Go to the Grand Canyon.
    Get a job as a tour guide (at the Winchester Mystery House?).
    Learn a new foreign language.
    Wear a bikini in public.
    Skydive (or go to iFly).
    Go to a nudist resort.
    Get paid to give a speech or presentation.
    Color your hair an impossible color.
    Drive a jetski.
    Go up in a hot air balloon.

  2. Collie
    December 31st, 2011 at 16:04

    Oooh, some of these are really nifty, Lou! (although the 'getting drunk'? …not so much ;). Thank you for your feedback — this is going to be fun!

  3. Lou Erickson
    December 31st, 2011 at 16:13

    I was trying to think of things you'd never done, and that's hard. You've done a lot of cool stuff.

    Also, getting drunk doesn't have to be awful. But I didn't think it would make your list.

  4. Waya
    December 31st, 2011 at 19:55

    Get a tattoo
    Learn to use a wood lathe
    Learn a new art or craft or new aspect of a current art or craft (I'm thinking of trying shisha, which is the style of embroidery you see in Asian and Indian clothing where tiny mirrors are stitched to the cloth)
    Learn to make a dish in a style you've never tried (I was thinking Vietnamese for me)
    Learn develop my own photos
    Read a new fiction author
    Create a ritual to share with family/friends for a holiday you don't normally celebrate

  5. Collie
    December 31st, 2011 at 20:04

    Oooh — those are great ideas, Waya — thank you! :)

  6. Rick
    January 1st, 2012 at 9:37

    Hmmm, I'm trying to think out of the box here. Please feel free to ignore any or all of these:

    Drop acid
    Visit a live volcano
    Have a sexual encounter with someone other than the opposite gender
    Visit the Smithsonian
    Get a massage
    Give a massage
    SCUBA dive
    Put a message in a bottle and either send it up in a balloon(use a plastic bottle) or throw it in the ocean
    Try to appreciate a musical genre that you believe you hate
    Try to live one day without your sense of sight
    Write and then record/perform a song
    Reconcile with someone from your past whom you believe wronged you
    Make love on the beach

    These and many more if you order by midnight tonight!! :-)

  7. Laughing Collie
    January 1st, 2012 at 11:41

    LOL! What does it say about me, I wonder, that I have already done or would be interested in doing any and all of those suggestions — except for the first one? You're the third person so far, also, who has made suggestions which are going to require some… adroit writing so as to keep this page (if not the list itself) safe from the NSFW categorization.

    Thanks for the great ideas! This is going to be fun. :)

  8. Rick
    January 1st, 2012 at 19:06

    I didn't think you'd be too keen on the recreational pharmaceuticals, but I also think everyone should experience an hallucinogen once just to see how easily our brains can be fooled. It puts reality, or our perception of it, in an interesting perspective. Perhaps magic mushrooms if you'd prefer to stay 'natural'.

  9. Lou Erickson
    August 13th, 2012 at 13:34

    Congrats, Collie! I thought 50 things was a bit of a stretch. I should never have doubted you.

  10. John R. Schmidt
    August 13th, 2012 at 15:44

    Hubba Hubba–GREAT burlesque, celebrates all sorts of bodies, with humor; best way in is via Bombshell Betty's Burlesque

    The shows I MC aren't exclusively ATS, but are very friendly. Happy to talk about them.

    Welding: arc is Electric Arc welding, MIG and TIG are (Metal/Titanium) Inert Gas welding. Techshop is good at these.

    You could go up in the diridigible rather than the hot air ballon…

    Apple pies are very fun.

    You don't need a license to be a priestess.

    Rather than "get drunk", how about "Experience cocktail culture"?

  11. Collie
    August 13th, 2012 at 21:36

    You doubted me, Lou? ME?!

    The fools! They thought me mad — but they were wrong! Muahahahahahaaaa*coughcough*bleah! Er, yeah, no… let's not add choking to death to the list… :-D

  12. Collie
    August 13th, 2012 at 21:55

    Hi there, John! Some quick questions: oooh, are you a TechShop member too? Where is there a dirigible that gives rides to random folks? Where & how would one experience cocktail culture? Want to try and do lunch sometime, or is that still a lost cause for you? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

Leave a reply

Bestiaries depict mythical, moralizing animals, but are also potential allegorical sparks that can bloom into brilliant mental bonfires. My bestiary is this mythologizing animal's fascinated exploration of beauty & meaning in the wonder of existence -- in the hopes of inspiring yet more joyous flares of intellectual passion.



Collie’s Bestiary