Here’s a confession: I didn’t finish college. There are a number of reasons why, but none of those reasons have anything to do with not enjoying school. I love to learn new things. Almost too much – I never did settle on what my major would be because I had too many interests. I’ve tried to teach myself independently since then, with varying levels of success, but there are some things I want to learn that I just can’t do on my own.

Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Gardens

Chihuly’s work at the Desert Botanical Gardens

Thing #1: Learn How To Blow Glass

I can barely remember a time I didn’t want to blow glass. I visited a glass work studio with my school when I was a kid and, even though I couldn’t have been more than 7 years old, it made a huge impression on me. Pulling that red-hot glass out of an oven and turning it to something so shiny and beautiful – it’s practically magic. When I was in high school, I saw the PBS documentary on Dale Chihuly and was captivated by that magic all over again. I was lucky enough to catch his installation at the Phoenix Botanical Garden and it’s still one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen – the amazing colors, fluid quality, and dream-like shapes made the desert landscape a lot more interesting.

My near life-long love affair with the art form and the fact that it takes both time to learn and a certain amount of physical strength and ability is why I chose this for my #1 goal. This will take a lot of effort on my part. I have what I call ‘noodle arms’ – there are no muscles in there – and I hate the heat, so this might end up being more strength and endurance training than art form. I am okay with that.

Anna Bulbrook

Anna Bulbrook, of the Airborne Toxic Event. Yes, technically, that’s a viola – but would you have known that if I hadn’t said anything?

Thing #3: Take Violin Lessons

Music is a passion of mine, one of those things that makes life worth living. I’ve always wanted to be musical somehow but it’s never worked out – I can’t sing, I gave up the flute in 6th grade, and I failed at teaching myself the guitar in high school. Music is a language that just doesn’t click in my brain.  Or that’s what I’ve told myself to avoid admitting that I never tried SUPER hard to learn it.  Tim (the boyfriend) is an amazing guitarist – when I accused him of being born with natural talent, he reminded me that he played every day for a decade and sucked for most of that time.  So what would happen if I really focused and put the effort in? Maybe I could be musical, too.

I chose the violin because I love it, but also kind of because of a joke. A joke about Jack White. Stay with me: Jack White seems to have a soft spot for fairly mediocre female musicians (sorry Meg!) and I’m pretty sure that I could BE a totally mediocre female musician, so I thought I would start a White Stripes cover band in which I do all the lead guitar parts with a violin and then invite Jack White to join the band. Can’t you kind of picture him in a band doing covers of his own songs? Ah well, it makes me giggle anyway.

Bad Translation

“Say What?” by Mark J Taylor on Flickr.

Thing #7: Learn a New Language

I am envious of the multi-lingual.  I don’t know why but the ability to speak multiple languages is exotic, almost romantic. It probably comes from growing up in the states, where it’s rare to meet someone fluent in anything but English. I studied Russian in high school but have lost a lot of it since, started both German and French in college but didn’t finish either (online language learning is not for me, apparently), and tried to teach myself Finnish briefly a few years ago. I can say a couple of things in all of those languages but probably only enough to greet someone and ask for the bathroom. I’d like to do better than that this time. I want to hold a whole conversation in another language or, failing that, at least be able to read all the signs, book a hotel, find a restaurant, order some food, etc.

Right now, I’m thinking I’ll probably learn Spanish. It’s the most useful for me since I live in AZ and it’d come in really handy on the Camino de Santiago. But I’m not set on that so who knows? I am a woman of many whims (obviously).

Threadless Break Dance Tee

Thing #19: Learn How to Dance

I did say that I have trouble understanding music, so you may have guessed I don’t have much rhythm, but have I mentioned how embarrassingly clumsy I am? Because holy crap, I am SO clumsy. I’ve fallen over while just standing on flat ground. I regularly bump my extremities – it’s like I don’t know where my limbs are. You know how if you cut off a cat’s whiskers, they can’t figure out how big their body is? I’m like that all the time. It’s a curse.

No natural rhythm + clumsiness = I’m a bad dancer. It used to keep me from dancing at all, but as I aged and learned that no one (or at least no one I cared about) was looking at or judging me, I started to indulge. And whoa, though I am bad at it, I love it! It makes me feel amazing – on the dance floor, I can be physical and free and channel the mental energy that music gives me. I just have to hope no one is videotaping me, because I never want to see that from the outside.

Being able to do at least one dance well would be fantastic. I have no idea if there’s any practical application for it, but does that matter? Maybe I could break it out at parties or something.

This list isn’t about practicality anyway! It’s about doing some things that I *think* I will enjoy. And maybe I won’t – maybe glass blowing will be too hot and dancing will be too difficult and the violin will hurt my neck and eat up my fingers. Even if they’re all absolutely miserable, at least I will have tried them and given some of my more impractical dreams a chance.