Day 8: Explore way behind the scenes in an Omnimax theatre

I love small, secret places that involve steep staircases and using lots of jangly keys to open doors. I asked a friend to help me accomplish my new act of the day and he showed me the back rooms of the Omnimax theatre he supervises. We climbed up a very sheer stairway to the projectionist room and the archival area where stacks of old reels are stored. I had been in some back rooms of the theatre before but hadn’t stood at the very top. The theatre is five stories tall and domed; it was showing a documentary about tornadoes at the time. The contrast between the overwhelming movie screen and the small archival loft made me feel like I was watching a twister out of a tiny attic window.

Day 7: Let myself off the hook

Mondays have been hard for me lately. My days off are Sunday/Monday, so Mondays are my Sunday. I have my counseling appointment in the morning and I try to get grownup things done, like laundry, dishes, banking etc. I’ve been having some intense sessions lately, which make it difficult to get a lot done afterwards. Today was a particularly emotional day and after finishing the bare minimum of chores and goals I decided to let myself off the hook for the rest of the day. This is a new act for me–usually I just push through the difficulty and drag myself from one activity to another, motivated mostly by guilt and self-loathing. I decided to acknowledge that today was difficult, prioritize tasks and let some of them wait.

Day 6: Write rough draft of comic book issue

Long car trips through the Midwest are very conducive to creativity for me. Maybe it’s the liminality of the experience, maybe it’s meditating on long fields of soybeans punctuated by visits to gas stations, maybe it’s because there is nothing to do and you can only listen to so much NPR. The Husbandit and I have been working on a graphic novel for a while and about a third of it has been created on I-65 and Indiana 37. Writing in the graphic novel format and writing with another person has been a new experience for me; I’m enjoying working with someone who has a strong sense of narrative structure (plot fills me with fear) and in a format that brings together words and images. I’m intimidated by the process of researching and plunging into the comic book publishing world, but I’m booking ahead regardless.

Today we outlined the panel layout and wrote a rough draft of the text for the first issue. It is a little overwhelming to be thinking about visual and verbal storytelling at the same time.

Here’s to Minor Arcana: Issue O, Juan Diego’s Amazing Day. May we do you justice.

Day 5: Make Risotto and Attempt Bike Ride

So my planned first act was “take a bike ride with step dad and have heartfelt father-daughter time.” It turned into “stare angrily at unexpected flat tire” then “trudge up long hill wearing ridiculous pants.” These were all new experiences, but I wanted to do something a little more positive, so I learned how to make risotto from the Husbandit. It involves a lot of stirring, but it turned out delicious.
I’m glad I attempted the bike ride though. I’m self-conscious about how slow a biker and runner I am, so it was a good step to push through that fear in order to do something I wanted to do, even if it didn’t turn out in the end.

Day 4: Go to a new movie

So, I feel like I’m cheating a bit, since I’ve been to movies before. However, I did forgo an old standby love, the Muppets, for a new movie that I knew almost nothing about except that it was based on a book I kept meaning to read. I saw Hugo, based on the Invention of Hugo Caberet.
I really enjoyed the film–I found myself very inspired by it and I loved the visual world. It felt like reading the kind of book I loved as a kid. There were intrepid orphans, fantastical machines, mysterious adults and some haunting momments. It made me want to go home immediately and create a story, which is a wonderful way to feel. It also made me want to cut my hair in a 1920s style bob, which is a little frightening, since I’ve had long hair since I was old enough to no longer wear a baby bonnet. Who knows, maybe in the next 361 days that will be my new act.

Day 3: make tortellini from scratch

Today I learned how to make tortellini from scratch. My mother and I have made ravioli from scratch before, but never tortellini. Since we were going to serve the tortellini as a Thanksgiving entree, we made a pumpkin and asiago cheese filling, then mixed a simple dough. We chilled the dough, then rolled it out using a hand cranked pasta roller. It felt a lot like making Play-Doh spaghetti with the plastic machines and rollers. We had bought a rolling pasta cutter, that looks like a pizza cutter’s older, more sophisticated sister but ended up using our ravioli frame to cut out perfect little dough squares. Like the modern, crafty women we are, Mom and I learned to fold the individual tortellini from YouTube.
Our first tortellini were lopsided and lumpy, but as we made enough to feed 7 people they got a little more even. They were easier to cook than ravioli since they were smaller and less likely to tear. I found them delicious and my mom and I ended Thanksgiving dinner with the traditional high five of successful cooks.
I’m always a little nervous about trying something new when it involves hospitality, like bringing an out of town friend to a bar I’ve never been to, or cooking something new for a dinner party. I hate messing up in front of other people and I’m also a very nervous hostess. I tend to overplan and flutter around all night, desperately checking to see if people are having a good time. It was a risk to try making something new for family on a day that is associated with tradition and welcome–but I’m glad I did it.

Day 2: Learn to play “speed”

I am not very good at games.  I say this with shame because as a nerd, I really should be good at games.  If nothing else, I should be good at them from sheer repetition–my friends are all avid board game players, RPG players and video game players.  I’m usually the one accidentally putting a Jack on top of a King, figuring out for 9 millionth time how to roll initiative or attempting to drive stick-shift on Mario Kart.  I’m good at narrative; I can make up a great story about why we are buying up Park Avenue, or opening the portal by Miskatonic University but when it comes to strategy I really suck.   

Today I asked my staff at work what new thing I should try today and they decided that I needed to learn a card game called speed.  I actually really enjoyed it.  The rules were pretty simple and it involved playing cards fast.  The staff member I was playing with is very competitive and so am I, so we got really into it.  I was pleasantly surprised that I won the 4th game.  I feel a little less intimidated by the upcoming 5 months of inside games, a.k.a. Chicago winter.