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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That

I've got one more challenge and a retrospective to write up before my Thirty@30 project comes to an end. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel as I write my last words and post my last blog. (Or rather, my last blog of this process. Because I'm pretty sure it won't be my last blog at all. I've enjoyed myself too much to give up just yet.) I figure I'll feel very proud, very happy, and, in some ways, very relieved. It's been a joy, but it's also been a struggle. It's bought me distraction and comfort in hard times, but it's also been the cause of hard times.

Anyway. Expect more musings of this kind in my final Thirty@30 post. This post is something different. This post reveals a secret. The secret is this:

I didn't achieve 30 brand new things in a year.

I achieved 42.

These twelve extra things were mostly pretty small, and I was too demanding in my criteria to allow them a full write-up. But each of them contributed to the experience, to the year, and to the general ethos of saying yes. So this is their moment. Some of them have been waiting for their five minutes of fame for almost twelve months.

1: See Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap
There are almost no words for how much I want to break the sacred bond of The Mousetrap and tell you whodunnit. But I won't.

It was the butler.

OK. It wasn't the butler.

Or was it?

2: Take a bath with rose petals
Look, when you've set yourself the challenge of doing brand new things, and then suddenly find yourself with copious amounts of rose petals (long story), it's only natural to have a go at recreating American Beauty. I can confirm that Kevin Spacey did not turn up and that I, alas, did not emerge from the bath looking like Mena Suvari. I can also confirm that it was a pain in the backside dredging soggy petals from the plug hole. It did feel wonderfully decadent though. I'd say I was going to pull a Cleopatra next time and have a bath in goat milk, but knowing how difficult it is to milk those things, I'll have to pass.

3: Get a phone on a contract
Yes, you heard me right. I was Pay As You Go until I was 30 years old. I had an old Nokia with no camera and a strange ridge where I'd melted it on my bedside lamp. It made calls, sent text messages, and cost me less than £15 per month. I couldn't What'sApp, Tweet on the go, find out if a restaurant was any good, or read a book on it. Now I have a new Nokia and, like more or less everyone else, I keep it nice and close, just in case I get lost, forget what day it is, or have the irrepressible need to take a photograph of my food and send it to a friend. I find it extremely useful, and at the same time am oh-so-slightly disappointed with myself. It was a strange point of pride to be the only person I knew who was still PAYG.

4: Go to Romania
I went to Bucharest on a business trip, so I can't say I had the chance to see the whole city. But what I saw (from my chauffeur driven Audi, thank you VERY much) was utterly fascinating. And the people I met were truly lovely. Here's me with my Audi and my beautiful new Romanian friend:

5: Have a hot stone massage
I've never been much of a one for massages. They tend to make me feel uncomfortable rather than relaxed. But this. THIS. Holy Hot Stones Batman. This was amazing. Definitely an experience I would like to repeat. At regular intervals.

6: Be on TV
So, this wasn't an entirely novel experience, because I was in the audience of a children's TV show called Speakeasy when I was about 12. It was presented by Emma Forbes, and I imagined that she was looking right at me whilst we were filming, most likely thinking that I was a particularly impressive young lady. In truth, she was probably wondering why I was staring at her. Since my frizzy hair and dungarees never made it onto the small screen, I'm allowed to have this one too: On my trip to Bucharest I was a guest on a Money Channel TV show about law firms and legal directories. I not only had to speak intelligently about said subject whilst listening to a simultaneous translation, I also had to look pretty whilst doing it.  Which was a serious challenge.

7: Make my own cinnamon buns
I, too, was inspired by the Great British Bake Off. Alas, I don't think the results would have got me anywhere near the first round. The important thing is that I tried.

8: Make my own granola
Unlike the cinnamon buns, the granola was an unmitigated triumph. Despite the fact that I slightly over toasted it, and had to throw away several charred nuts, it still knocks spots off all shop-bought cereals. I even had fancy granola in a posh café the other day, and it truly tasted like cardboard in comparison. I never thought I'd be that person, but it turns out I totally am. I kind of hate myself, but seriously, it tastes so good.

9: Have one of my poems accepted for publication by a poetry webzine
I have a lot of poems knocking about, but am generally reticent about submitting them for publication. Some might say it's because I'm afraid of the rejection, and my instinct to argue about this probably makes it true. I was pretty chuffed when this one was accepted and published.

10: Do an online grocery shop
I genuinely can't think of much to say about this. I'm just not accomplished enough to make doing an online grocery shop in any way interesting. The most dramatic thing about the whole experience was when the delivery driver bought in some bottles of mineral water that I hadn't ordered. I politely turned them away, and a crisis was averted.

11: Indulge my temper, with unfortunate consequences for a piece of technology
I promise you, I am not a totally crazy person. Scout's honour. All I'm going to say is that I DO NOT recommend the Soleus GPS watch. It's not very user friendly. I'm still finding pieces of it in my garden two months after the event.

12: Get myself an emotional MOT.
In contrast with the things listed above, this is something to which I could very easily devote a whole post. In fact, I think I could devote a whole blog to the process. But maybe after reading number eleven, above, I don't really need to explain to you why I've decided to start seeing a counsellor. And anyway, I won't be writing a blog about it, because it is a hugely private experience. I thought twice and three times before revealing it here. But the fact is that I'm not ashamed of it. I actually think it's one of the healthiest, sanest decisions I've ever made in my life. That's all I'm going to say about that.

This whole experience has given me the courage to try all sorts of new things, and I hope I've picked up the habit of being brave. In the interests of honesty, there were also a bunch of challenges suggested to me that I decided not to do. I'll keep that list, and maybe I'll tick them off in the months and years to come. I hope so.

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