At the end of 2014, I hatched an ambitious idea to make a deck of cards with a list of activities to do on a weekly basis. I really enjoyed it, and though I didn’t necessarily capture every card with a picture, and certainly didn’t end up doing every one, it was a nice challenge as I made my way through 2015, one that I intend to repeat in 2016. Though the deck is due for some tweeks. To figure out what I want to do differently, though, it seems worth it to look back at what I ended up doing, which ones ended up being more difficult than I thought, which ones I didn’t try hard enough on, and which ones I got just about right. Before that, though, some thoughts in general:
- This was a really fun idea and I’m glad I did it because it made me do several things I said I was going to do but kept putting off. That was one of the points I made last year.
- Getting people to come over to my place is hard. I don’t have the most ideal place or location for hosting. I make up for this with quality food.
- The biggest mechanic shift worth making would be to shift drawing the cards to Sunday night. Too often, I was rushing out the door on Monday morning and I just forgot the cards, which often complicated some of them. They aren’t necessarily time sensitive, but giving myself Sunday night (normally a fairly chill one) to plan and execute some of the ideas seems to be more reasonable. And more likely to lead to quality results.
- Instagram ended up being the easiest way to keep track of it. I end up with a memory and a bit of accountability when there’s a picture and a few words. I set up a Tumblr, but it was just this other thing to keep track of, so I stopped posting there altogether eventually. It’s just worth admitting that Tumblr is not how I interact with the people in my life. That said, it does at least deserve a hashtag.
- You should do this too! This is more of a wrap-up, but I’ll be back with another post to codify the nature of the deck a little more, or look at the balance of activities, as I set it up again for next year. But there’s no reason you couldn’t swap Saint Paul for Oakland if you live in Minneapolis, because chances are like many folks in San Francisco, you might not ever go to this other amazing city right next to you. The locus doesn’t matter. The idea is to embrace the malleability of the concept. So perhaps it’s not going out to venues that matters as much to you, perhaps you don’t drink. Perhaps it’s a small gallery you’ve been meaning to check out, and or some exotic kinds of tea. The point is to challenge oneself to expand those horizons, whatever they may be.
In card order, here’s how I did:
1) Attend a live sporting event.
Lindsay and I went to a cold, cold game at O.co on Day 2 of the MLB season. Oakland vs. Texas. It looked nicer than it was weather-wise. They don’t have HD tvs in the concourse, but they have a surprisingly good craft beer selection. This was one of the easier ones to do, one I will definitely do again.
2) Only order things you’ve never tried anywhere you go this week.
I largely solved it by going places I’d never been previously such as The Mill, the finally open Diving Dog Brewhouse (I think the opening soon sign had been up since my first trip to Oakland), and Woods Bar & Brewing. Though I also used it as an excuse to get something different at Analog and Tony’s while I was down in Los Angeles I would have gone to Donut Friend anyway, but let’s attribute that to the card too. This was not hard, but forced me to rethink rote orders. It earned its spot.
3) Have people over for Tetris.
I mentioned getting people over for things was difficult, yes? This is one I eventually completed, but not the week it came up. The idea behind these was to challenge me to try and change that. But I can’t singlehandedly change commute times. This one could easily be fixed with slightly different wording such as “play Tetris with other people”.. Also I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was cheating at Tetris, so perhaps I’ll make it more open-ended game-wise. It did give me a good excuse to make borscht though…
4) Buy a record at a shop you’ve never been to.
Another straightforward one. This is one of those ones that I appear to have missed posting about other than when it came up, but I can tell you I went to Jack’s Record Cellar at Page and Scott, which is only open from 2-7 pm on Saturdays, and I walked out with a 12” of “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand. I even have the record to prove it.
5) Visit a National Park Service site you’ve never been to.
There are 59 National Parks, many of which I have never been to, and California leads the way with 9, but that’d be a tough goal. There are, however, many more National Park Service sites. They include things such as Alcatraz, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the John Muir homestead, and that’s just in the Bay Area alone. I was able to scratch off one that’s a little hard to reach with the help of Maya and Anthony, Muir Woods. It was nice. I would go there more if there were any way to get there without a car that made sense.
6) Visit a State Park site you’ve never been to.
California has a lot of parks. Some of them are not quite what they used to be. I biked down the beach on a rainy Sunday to the remnants of what the once accessible Thornton Beach State Park. You could only access this overlook, and while I’m sure you could hike around the old trails, I had better things to do than hike on coastal grounds that were probably closed because they can do things like collapse without notice. I want to be alive to explore another park next year, thank you very much.
7) Visit a City/Regional Park you’ve never been to.
The cards have to be specific enough that I don’t feel like they don’t mean anything, but flexible enough that I can satisfy them a variety of ways. For example, in addition to a quick trip over to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland, it was also a good excuse to go to the International Rose Test Garden in Portland. I also appear to have somehow done this one two different weeks? Not sure how that happened
8) Revisit a National Park Service site.
This one just came up this week! I haven’t been to Golden Gate Bridge in a bit. Seems like a good NYE activity if we get a half-day again.
9) Revisit a State Park.
This was the first one that came out of the deck. I felt like hell, I remember that, but I went to Angel Island again. Because everyone should go to Angel Island once a year.
10) Revisit a City/Regional Park.
Kristy was visiting this week. So I went to many parks that I’ve been to before, because you gotta show off a view like Bernal. No pictures, though. Saved those for Outside Lands.
11) Go for a hike.
This was a back-door excuse to do something else I’d never done: bike up to the top of the Oakland Hills. I met Paul and Erin at Sibley Ridge Volcanic Preserve. It’s a nice park, and I’d revisit that Oakland Hills ride one other time in the service of the deck later on.
12) Visit a bar you’ve never been to.
I’m sure I did this one. But I don’t have any honest recollection of where I went, and I didn’t post about it on the interwebs, so it must not have been a very memorable one. I can tell you I saw a lot of live music that week. I had cake for breakfast. I was cat-sitting. And I must have been to some bar, somewhere, at some time. That’s just on me to have a more memorable choice lined up for that one.
13) Order the third beer on the list anywhere you get a drink this week.
This was a fun little one that came up relatively early in the rotation. I didn’t end up with anything too questionable that week (Green Flash, Prohibition, Lagunitas all came up), and again, it’s about shaking one from the torpor of rote decisions we all make all the time when faced with the paralyzing nature of making decisions by…replacing it with another rote mechanism, but hopefully one that made me think?
14) Go to a brewery.
It was early. I still had the energy to write it up. I haven’t actually been back to either, but I have high hopes I’ll see more of that side of town in 2016.
15) Go to a distillery.
I go to a lot of breweries. I drink my fair share of beer. But I don’t really go to distilleries, and I haven’t honed my hard liquor preferences quite as much as my beer preferences. Thankfully, we have a wonderful small distiller right here in Alameda in St. George. There are others too, but that’s where I went. It was awesome. And it’s right next to Faction. And I had Souley’s brunch for the first time (I was actually the first customer for that). All in all, I have a lot of fond memories of this day.
16) Go to a winery.
Here’s one I didn’t end up doing. You know why? Drinking wine is difficult as a vegan. Still worth keeping in there possibly, but this one might get recycled into something else. I could stand one less drinking-based one anyway.
17) Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for brunch.
I didn’t take any pictures of brunch, but Lindsay and I went to Venus, I can tell you that much. And I have this picture of this Bloody Mary I had afterwards…
18) Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for lunch.
This ended up being surprisingly difficult. There are not that many places that have any vegan options worth my time near work that I hadn’t already been, so I went to Underdog over in Inner Sunset on a weekend. The sausage was great, the tots are just alright. I have confirmed that since this trip.
19) Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for dinner.
I went to Gracias Madre on a disastrous date. But I went to Gracias Madre. Let’s go back so I can replace that shoddy memory because the only thing good about the date was the food.
20) Go someplace you’ve never been in Alameda County.
There’s some fun flexibility to this one. Obviously adapt as your location requires, but I suggest this one. It might be too open ended. I ended up at Redwood Regional Park. I learned there’s a fair amount of elevation there, especially if you end up going down along the creek. Another good Oakland Hills ride, though. And great views.
21) Go someplace you’ve never been in Marin County.
There are somehow two cards left in the deck. I think I needed to turn over a week and do double because of when I started, but I also dropped a week when I was in Sweden, basically. Anyway, this is one of the two that didn’t get flipped. I did end up that way a couple times, and scouted out ideas, but I can just save them for later.
22) Go someplace you’ve never been in San Mateo County.
This came up the week of Noise Pop, which is a great week to do something like this, but a suspiciously tough week for a lot of other ones. You know those towers you see south of the city in the hills. Yeah, I went there.
23) Go someplace you’ve never been in San Francisco County.
I know, I know, this is phrased strangely, as San Francisco the City and San Francisco the County are the same thing. But it has to do with the wording of the previous ones. There are three Diego Rivera murals in San Francisco. Thanks to 2015, I’ve now seen one.
24) Explore a neighborhood you haven’t previously.
I actually just did this one today, though it came up weeks ago. I kept thinking I’d finally get over to the Marina, but really, why would I want to do that when I could get magnificent brunch and wander around a cemetery in Piedmont?
25) Explore Treasure Island.
One that I reshuffled into the deck because it came up the week of Treasure Island Music Festival, which was not the point. It came up again a couple weeks ago. It’s an odd, dilapidated, asbestos-filled place where you could probably film a post-apocalyptic movie, but there are some top-notch views of the Bay Bridge and a host of different angles to see the entire Bay from.
26) Try a new type of exercise.
This one came up a long time ago, and I just never got around to it. The intention is fine, the execution was poor. That’s on me.
27) Have people over for games.
Another one I didn’t manage to pull off. I have a decent, if dated, collection of board games sitting inside my coffee table. I’d love to use them again some day. But I have had trouble meeting people to play games with. They aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do, and…well, I’ve written about it elsewhere, but playing games while trans is a fraught thing. I may remove this from the deck, but I have some different ideas about getting this idea off the ground in another fashion.
28) Have people over for brunch.
Not even arguable. This was the most successful one that involved other people and my place. I need to figure out some better ways to host everyone again, because this was a hit. Maybe I’ll just get lots of pillows for us to sit on? Until then, I’ll keep finding ways to turn all these ingredients into delicious vegan food.
29) Have people over for dinner.
This one came together quite easily, as it happened. I made Julie Hasson’s veggies and dumplings, because…well, just make that recipe and get back to me.
30) Visit a new venue
This is the other one left in the deck, but I don’t need much help getting out to live music, and it’s actually difficult to do this because I do go to a lot of venues of my own volition. Still, there are more to explore, so it may stay, but I don’t feel strongly about. I’m not sad I missed it like the Marin County one.
31) Go see a band you’ve never heard of
I took this one to heart and went to an open mic night at Neck of the Woods. I didn’t see anything that I remember anything about, but there was this amazing sense of community that I felt I was almost interrupting by being there since almost everyone was an artist performing at it. It was an honor to see that aspect.
32) Watch the sunrise from Mount Davidson
Mount Davidson has a lot more mosquitoes than you think. Also, it’s beautiful any time of day. Only change I would make to this one is to broaden it somewhat, something like “Watch a sunrise from an iconic location”.
33) Visit an art museum
Did you know the Legion of Honor has a suspiciously good view of downtown on a clear day? It’s true! For whatever reason, I kept putting off a trip there, even though admission gets you into both the Legion of Honor and the de Young, which I am honestly five minutes from. But that’s why the deck exists. So I can see this. Or this. In person if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity.
34) Visit a history museum
Oakland has some cool stuff. Like the Oakland Museum of California. I need to get back because I didn’t really get through all of it, but I did get through most of the history portion. Just another excuse to get back to Oakland, I suppose.
35) Visit a science museum
I went to Cal Academy a couple times this year, but not when this card came up, when I was on vacation in Sweden. I didn’t really quite do a science museum while I was in Stockholm. I saw some art. And some transit history. And the effing Vasa. And quite a few more. But nothing that was quite science. An oversight that I will have to go back and correct, I assure you. I think I satisfied the exploratory spirit if not the wording.
36) Go to an event at a bar that is not live music.
Some cards were fortuitous. This, for example, led me to the Riptide for some Saturday Night Bingo, which sadly burned down a few months later. But worry not! The Riptide shall return, and perhaps I’ll revisit once again to satisfy this card next year.
37) Read a new book.
This was the second card. I read California because why wouldn’t you? Edan Lepucki wrote a good read, and it triggered some curious ideas on my part. Which is the point of reading, after all.
38) Read an old book again.
I’m not gonna lie, I don’t remember what I reread because of this. Hawk by Steven Brust, most likely, because for some reason I hadn’t reread it already, which is unusual for me vis a vis Brust books. Or it could have been the first Amber book. I really don’t remember. I do remember it was definitely not some Huxley because I’d probably still be looking up words from that.
39) Write a short story.
This turned out pretty alright. Can you tell I was listening to a lot of Pulp when I wrote it?
40) Write a poem a day.
An old idea. I remember a lot about 2005. I wrote a lot of shitty poems, mind you, but writing every day will lead to that as well. It was nice to write some clever and openly trans poetry, though, that’s something I didn’t do much of before. They were okay, but honestly, the one I wrote at the beginning of the year is the strongest of the batch I shared on here last year.
41) Take a ferry somewhere.
This ended up being one I did differently than I imagined. I drew the card, thought I’d do a ride through Marin and have a little fun going around by Tiburon on bike. Instead, I booked a last minute trip to Minneapolis to drink Minnesotan beer, see some frozen waterfall action, and play some VFW Bingo. But I took a ferry to Alameda and drank some California beer first.
42) See a movie in the theater.
Before 2015, I’d never been to the Castro (the theater, not the neighborhood). They have a man playing an organ that sinks below screen level before the show! What is there not to like? I saw The Lineup, a 1958 cop movie that was all shot on location in San Francisco. Anyone with any interest in old San Francisco should just see the amazing sequences shot at Sutro’s, among other things in the film.
43) See a play.
I never see plays. But I did see one this year. It was called Stupid Fucking Bird. I liked it. A lot. But I still didn’t end up seeing any more theater this year. Just not my thing without a little nudge. Keep nudging, I suppose.
44) Hang out in Dolores Park for an afternoon.
Here’s another one I never got around to. I don’t know. This is just not me. But perhaps I will get around to it next year. It deserves another shot. One of the points is to do things outside of my comfort zone, too.
45) Do something you haven’t done before in Golden Gate Park.
Golden Gate Park is big. No bigger than that. Nope. Still bigger. It’s over a thousand acres. There are bison and fishing ponds and windmills and a giant cross and a fake waterfall and horseshoe pits and…well, I could go on. There’s a lot there. I finally went to the Conservatory of Flowers. It was a good idea.
46) Surprise a friend with something unexpected.
The pie looked really good in the picture, but it did not mail well. Better luck next year, I suppose. If that’s the surprise I choose at all.
47) Do something in San Jose.
Lots of good intentions behind this card, but without a car, getting to San Jose is a ridiculous mess. The timing just didn’t work out for this one.
48) Volunteer for something.
This one took some time to payoff, hard to plan to do something like this the week it came up, but I did finally start volunteering at the SF LGBT Center, so it worked.
49) Bake a cake.
I baked quite a few cakes this year, but this one was special. I veganized my grandfather’s old recipe for chocolate easy-iced cake, and I’m not sure my family would have known the difference. I’ll have to give that a shot the next time we’re all in one place.
50) Only make recipes you haven’t tried when cooking this week.
This one just came up recently. I made some things that turned out okay. I don’t need too much motivation to try new recipes and ingredients, but it’s a fun card.
51) Watch a sunset from Grandview.
It’s a beaut of a park, isn’t it? And the winter sunsets are totally different than the summer ones. Again, I don’t need a ton of motivation and I might shift this to a watch at an iconic location one.
52) Ride at least 100 miles this week.
I am just over 3,600 miles, which works out to just about 70 miles a week. But 100 miles weeks happen sometimes without extra motivation. In this case, I already had a trip down to Santa Clara to see Jerry in a rainbow, but I ensured I cracked 100 with a trip across Golden Gate up to San Rafael. It’s easy to say I’ll ride tomorrow because I will, but I wouldn’t mind getting in a few more rides like that.
That’s it. Another memorable year (almost) in the books. Thanks for coming along with me! Now to fine tune this for 2016.