Challenge Update #3

Forgive the clip show, but these quick postmortems allow me to press pause and remember the bigger picture – is any of this actually working?  Will I ever fulfill my manly destiny?  And most importantly, is it wrong that I spent an hour yesterday searching for potpourri on Amazon?  Look, guys, man blog or no man blog, that bathroom isn’t going to decorate itself.

Week 22: Build Something

Q and I spent this past weekend building IKEA furniture together, which I believe falls right after “irreconcilable differences” on the list of top reasons for divorce.  Walking through the as-is section at IKEA is like visiting an abstract art gallery devoted to broken relationships.  “Yeah, they managed to keep it together when he lost his job and she fell further in debt, but then they just had to go and buy that Svelvik bed frame…”

But we did okay!  We managed to fit all of the boxes in the car with only one temper tantrum (mine) and built the furniture with no injuries and only one utterance of “Well, just do it yourself if it’s that easy!” (again, mine).  The last time I built IKEA furniture I spent a half hour searching for a screw that was lost in the pattern of an oriental rug that served as our workspace (takeaway: don’t build IKEA stuff on oriental rugs).  I think I have Bruce and his workshop to thank for a more pleasant working experience this time around, not to mention a happy marriage.

Week 23: Go Fishing

I haven’t held a fishing pole since the excursion on the beach with the Rev, but I have consumed more fish.  In the post, I predicted that I would feel differently about the food on my plate now that I’ve seen firsthand how it gets there, but in reality nothing changed.  I found it easy to embrace ignorance again.

I would like to try fishing again, not only for a chance at redemption, but also because I found it to be a really enjoyable pastime.  It’s also nice that you can look like you know what you’re doing with very little effort.

Week 24: Hit a Baseball

I haven’t had a chance to practice my batting skills since that day on the field with my sister-in-law, when I realized how far I had fallen from my halcyon little league days.  But her excitement for the game left me inspired so I recently bought a gift certificate to the nearby indoor batting cage.  I’m hoping to get a quick pep talk from my littlest MANtor before I go.  Hopefully she’s got some fierceness to spare.

Week 25: Run an Obstacle Course

My boasting has backfired yet again.  When I mentioned that I get out of running a Thanksgiving morning 5K with my cousins each year by providing a weak excuse, I neglected to think they might actually read the blog post.  So they’ve invited me again this year, and despite spending the good part of last month trying to devise a better excuse, “practicing my lucid dreaming” and “helping Obama pardon turkeys” didn’t cut it.  So this Thanksgiving morning, I’ll be joining Q, my sister, and my cousins in running the Washington, D.C. Turkey Trot.  I’ll be the one in the back gasping for water and oxygen.

Week 26: Win at Carnival Games

Coney Island has shut its doors for the year, but Q and I got our money’s worth when we visited on Labor Day Weekend.  Thom, my fishing MANtor, mentioned that the hammer game (or Hi-Striker) I played at the end of the evening works better when you imitate swinging an axe, rather than the Whac-A-Mole technique I attempted.  Seems like a wood chopping challenge might be in my future, if only to return to the hammer game and avoid being heckled.  Okay, heckled less.

Week 27: Fight With a Samurai Sword

I haven’t picked up a samurai sword or its wooden equivalent in the weeks since my class, but Q did seem to enjoy my dramatic reinterpretation of what I learned, complete with imaginary opponents.

I’ll be honest: I don’t see myself joining the ranks of the samurai in the near future.  I’m more interested in hand-to-hand combat than weapons training, and I’ve already lined up one more challenge in that realm before this blog wraps up.

Week 28: Welding

I think if I were abducted by aliens and had to dissuade them from conducting scientific experiments on me, I’d try to find common ground in 70s sitcoms.  I’ve heard that antenna broadcasts from years ago eventually find their way into space, as evidenced by an I Love Lucy episode suddenly being heard by NASA’s space microphones.  I might not have all the facts exactly right, but I think that’s basically what happened.

I figure at this point, the aliens will be discovering classic sitcoms like All in the Family and Three’s Company.  Before they could bring out their probes, I’d attempt a Redd Foxx impression and call them all dummies, or if that wasn’t convincing enough, feigning a heart attack and calling out for my dear wife Elizabeth.  I think that would deflate the tension and we would all share a big laugh together.  I’d spend the rest of the time looking up old clips on YouTube with them before they released me back on Earth.

So yeah, I haven’t welded since that last time.

Week 29: Visit a Haunted Place

I didn’t get a chance to really celebrate Halloween this year, but Bunny Man Bridge more than satisfied my creepy quota.  I’m glad my sister and I visited the bridge on a day other than Halloween – I’m not sure the kids who partied there last Thursday night experienced the true dread and terror that surrounds the bridge when it’s quiet and there’s truly no one around to save you.

Despite learning that the legend bears no resemblance to the facts, I’m sure I’ll return to the bridge in the near future.  It’s a kind of pure thrill that’s exceedingly rare these days.  I’ll just leave the carrots at home next time.

Week 30: Work in a Restaurant Kitchen

First of all, my dad’s burn is getting better by the day, though it still makes me queasy to see a picture of it even in its current state.  Despite my participation, the festival itself was a rousing success, and as far as I know, injury free for the rest of the weekend.  Though if you find me back in the kitchen next year, I might be wearing something closer to my full body welding attire.

The bigger question I suppose is if my time in the festival kitchen had any effect on my cooking at home.  I haven’t seen it yet – the microwave is still my best friend in the kitchen.  But I do find myself using my oven mitts less and having more confidence with a knife.  I may be more Julia Roberts than Julia Child (I’m just assuming Julia Roberts doesn’t cook much), but I think I’m at least improving.  Okay, maybe she did some research for Mystic Pizza, fine, but she probably still eats out a lot.  That’s all I’m saying.