Monday, March 23, 2015

50 in '15 #43: Go an entire day without talking.

I think that the idealized version of spending a day without talking is that it would be seen as a form of extreme meditation: just me and my thoughts for 24 hours. Over the course of this day I would get in touch with my inner self and come out the next day as a slightly better version of myself.

Spoiler alert: None of that actually happened. The lesson learned is that I really enjoy talking. More importantly, if I went more than 24 hours without talking I'd most likely go crazy.

But I did it, and I suppose I should talk about that experience. I knew that the best time to accomplish this goal would be when I was away on business. That way Katie wouldn't have to suffer through a day where we just stare at each other. Second, you have to be prepped to do such a task. I bought a bunch of food so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone to order. I informed Katie that we would not be having our regularly nightly call.

And then I just settled into my hotel room for the day. There was frozen pizza. There was March Madness. And there was a whole bunch of quiet.

This was my view for almost the entire day (except when I forced myself to go visit the hotel's gym where I crossed my fingers and hoped that no one would come in and want to strike up a conversation while working out on the treadmill next to me—which, thankfully, never happened.)

I can now say that I have gone a full 24 hours without speaking a single word out loud. This is bound to surprise nearly anyone who knows me and is an experiment that I will gladly never repeat again as long as I live.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

50 in '15 #1: Send a secret to PostSecret.

Here we are at my second list challenge and this one popped up again. It's like they knew that I skipped this on my last list and really wanted to make sure I did it. I'm not one to upset the Day Zero Gods, so this time I made sure to get my secret put on a postcard and shipped out as soon as possible.

Most times I do any sort of art project it turns out nothing like I envision. This time was different. It turned out so well that I didn't want to send it in. Here's a little glimpse of the card...

I'm kidding.

If I shared it here it wouldn't be a secret! But I can tell you this, I sent it in two weeks ago and it hasn't ended up on their website yet. 

Honestly, I don't expect that it will. I don't have any secrets from Katie, and I have pretty much none from anyone at all. I'm an open book. 

Oh well, at least I did it.

50 in '15 #39: Do a full body detox.

We had just returned from a long weekend back home to Iowa/Nebraska where we ate all of the worst foods a person can possibly eat. There were giant plates of fried cheeseballs, onion petals and mushrooms from Bob's Bar in Martinsburg. I personally ate about a dozen spring rolls in one sitting in Cherokee, IA. The first night we were in town we ate huge plates of goodness from our favorite restaurant, El Ranchito. The last night we needed something fast and we ate stuffed crust cheese pizza from a Pizza Hut (yuck!). Throw in about 15 pounds of banana bars and we gained a dozen pounds over the course of our very short trip.

As you can imagine, our bodies were in need of some very clean eating upon our return to Florida. Since completing a full body detox was on our list, there wasn't going to be a better time than this.

Since I'm not a big fan of the idea of doing one of those crazy juice cleanses, we set the parameters of a “full body detox” to mean the following:
  1. We'd be doing all of the below-mentioned items from our return date of February 2nd through February 13th due to the fact that we have Neil Gaiman and a nice dinner already booked for the 14th.
  2. Ultra-healthy eating, i.e. no processed foods, tons of vegetables, minimal dairy. We pretty much ate like we did when we were crazy vegans, if not a bit healthier.
  3. Tons of water. Katie wanted to try drinking a gallon of water a day this month, so we worked that in.
  4. No alcohol. This one was tough! I love a good craft beer and Katie likes to have a nice bourbon after a long week, so nearly two weeks was impressive for us.
  5. Work in some exercise. We had the plank challenge to do, some long walks, a little pickleball. Basically, we just had to do some sweating to get those ole toxins out.
  6. Make sure to meditate. Because your brain is part of the body, so it wouldn't be a full body detox without getting your mind right.
  7. And finally, dry body scrubs and a massage. Because one must take care of themselves. Full body scrubs are mentioned all over the Internet when you search any detox and a massage because, well, just because they are awesome.
And we actually accomplished what we set out to do...almost. We cut the detox short and finished on the 11th instead. It was still a whole lot of days, so we felt good about it. We didn't do the meditation like I wanted to and we didn't do the dry body scrub thing, even though I went out and bought special scrubber thingies. Other than those, what I consider minor, things, we did it.

I won't say that it was easy. After awhile we really just wanted something carb-heavy to put in our stomachs. And the alcohol...that was tough. We basically just had to stay inside and hide so we weren't tempted.

The good news is that we lost all of the weight we had gained over the long weekend home (and then some). The bad news: when we were all done Thursday we craved junk so bad we went all out. We had drinks and dinner out and we probably undid the entire benefit of the detox in one evening.

50 in '15 #44: Go to five new restaurants.

Five new restaurants? Is that supposed to be a crazy challenge? I knew right away when I saw this goal come up on the ole randomizer that this would not be one of the items that we'd actually have to try and accomplish.

Since you are reading this blog about how I love trying new list-based things, you can probably guess that we are into checking out new restaurants. As a matter of fact I've often talked to Katie about trying less new restaurants so we can become a regular somewhere!

Anyway, as expected, it did not take long to try five new restaurants. We didn't set out to try and get this done fast, but here we are just under a month into 2015 and we can now tick this one off as completed.

The five lucky new restaurants were (in order of when we checked them out): Tryst, The Station House, Kobe Sushi, Jimmie's and Gateway to India.

Two of those were from Tampa Bay Times Top 50 list (The Station House and Gateway to India), one was a friend's birthday party (Jimmie's) and two just happened to be in the area at the same time that we happened to be hungry (Tryst and Kobe Sushi).

And how were the five new restaurants? I don't think that any of them are going to enter our limited rotation, but I didn't hate accomplishing this one.

Friday, January 23, 2015

50 in '15 #45: Contact someone with my own name.

The following is an interview that I, Dustin Hughes, conducted with a different Dustin Hughes (from Oregon) and another Dustin Hughes (this one from North Carolina).

Just to help keep all your Dustin Hughes' straight, Ive included our respective home states in parenthesis. The narrator I hired to conduct the interview is in italics. He's completely fictional and serves the purpose of tying all this together, but he's pretty awesome and we'll call him Mr. H, just so he has a name.

Hey! Great to be here. My name is Mr. H and I'm sitting here with Dustin Hughes and Dustin Hughes and Dustin Hughes today to talk a little bit about what we think is the best name in the whole world: you guessed it, Dustin Hughes! We got a lot to cover so let's jump right in to.

Gentlement, can you introduce yourself?

Dustin Hughes, here. I hail from the wonderful city of St. Petersburg, FL.

I'm Dustin Hughes. North Carolina.

And I'm Dustin Hughes from Oregon.

Awesome, so glad you could make it out today for this momentous meeting of great minds. I thought we'd start with a little talk about how our parents came up with the wonderful name of Dustin.

Dustin (Me) - My madre told me that she knew some lady who had a cute little boy named Justin and so that would be my name. My father said, “No way.” She said, “Fine, then it's Dustin,” and the rest is history.

Dustin (NC) - My mom wanted to name me Dusty after a popular Soap Opera actor at the time.

Dustin (OR) - Mom named me after Dustin Hoffman.

Simply fascinating! And now let's move on to something I'm sure you all hear a lot. How many times have people made jokes/references to Dustin Hoffman or Howard Hughes when talking to or about you?

Dustin (Me) - It happens a lot. Way more than it should. But I wouldn't mind being related to Howard Hughes. Am I right!?

Dustin (NC) - Seems like someone said something about Dustin Hoffman once, but that was it.

Dustin (OR) - I actually use Dustin Hoffman when someone on the phone didnt hear me clearly, and I use Howard Hughes, myself, for the same reason. Generally it goes " No, Dustin, like Dustin Hoffman, but better looking" or “Hughes, as in Howard Hughes but not as rich."

Ridiculous. You guys are cracking me up here. Are all Dustin Hughes' this funny? Anywho... Let's talk nicknames. Are people allowed to call you Dusty?

Dustin (Me) - Absolutely not. There was a girl in my junior high named Dusty and so I just always figured it was a girl's name.

Dustin (NC) - That is my nickname. My entire family calls me that.

Dustin (OR) - Only my older sister calls me Dusty.

Seems like that one is a bit all over the place. But I'm going to agree with Dustin from Florida on this one because I'm fictional and he created me.

Next question, If someone just happens to call you Justin instead of Dustin, do you call them out on it immediately or do you just keep on going like nothing happened.

Dustin (Me) - I'm usually too nice or too lazy to correct people, so I just roll with whatever while secretly stewing inside.

Dustin (NC) - I usually respond like nothing happened. Depends on who it is and what our relationship is.

Dustin (OR) - If i'll will meet them again I correct them, if it wont matter in the long run I leave it alone.

Sounds good, Justin. Oops, I mean Dustin! Last question. How do you feel about ladies named Katie?

Dustin (Me) - I married one, so obviously I like them. As a matter of fact, I think they are the best.

Dustin (NC) - I've talked to a few Katie's, but never dated them seriously. I'm very good friends with a few though, and they are awesome people.

Dustin (OR) - Never dated a Katie. The name Katie reminds me of a one of those dream girls who sleeps in a tee shirt and panties, instead of a snowsuit.

Hot girls sleeping in anything but a snowsuit! That Dustin Hughes from Florida must be one lucky guy. Actually all these Dustin Hughes' are lucky guys. Great name, great lives and good all around people.

Until next time, this has been Mr. H. Special thanks to our guests Dustin Hughes, Dustin Hughes and Dustin Hughes.

Thank you, and goodnight.

50 in '15 #5: Stay in bed for a whole day.

Stay in bed for the whole day? That's got to be easy, right? All you have to do is relax, read a couple books, maybe watch a couple movies. If you throw in a nap or two, it'll be over before you know it.

The thing is, it really isn't that easy. First off, staying in bed all day is something for young people. I remember being a teenager and sleeping entire days away. Usually this came after a few days of no sleep at all, but in happened, nonetheless.

The problem with being an adult is that there are things to do and errands to run. Our free days are limited to two per week and to spend a full one of those in bed doesn't seem like a great use of time.

But if it shows up on the list, we do it. Simply lying in bed and sleeping all day sounded like a terrible option, so like good little over-planners we spent the night before filling our nightstands with all the things we wanted to accomplish while we were stranded in our bedroom. We had big plans. We were going to read books and watch movies and do some sketches and I was going to write a short story.

And rules! You know I like to have lists of rules to go with my lists. This one was simple. I had to stay in bed all day with the exception of a five minute break each hour because I'm old and if I stayed in bed for 24 hours my back would lock up and I'd likely never get out of bed again.

When it was all said and done we certainly didn't accomplish everything we set out to do, but it wasn't bad. The feeling that we should be doing something more productive was unavoidable, but we both got some reading done. One of the Cannes' film festival winner's was watched. We ordered food in and Katie didn't get too many weird looks from the guy delivering ice cream to our house at noon. And I didn't get any disapproving nods from the pizza guy when I answered the door in my pajamas at 5:30pm.

If I had to pick one positive thing from the experience, it would be being locked up together on a little king-sized bed island together talking and hanging out. A normal day would have us out and about doing things, being productive, and that's fine and dandy, but there's something to be said for setting aside a day to be together secluded from the outside world.

50 in '15 #49: Go to the ballet.

We've spent a little time during the first few days of the New Year trying to get together a game plan for getting things done and were happy to notice that The Mahaffey would be hosting a ballet to start off the New Year. Getting things done just three days into the year? Yes, please!

The Mahaffey is a wonderful theater that has the added bonus of being walking distance to where we live. Throw in the fact that this performance of Black Swan had the reasonable price tag of $37.50 a ticket and we had no choice but to get ourselves fancied up, make some quick last minute dinner plans and have ourselves a classy evening at the ballet.

I have now learned that there are no words in a ballet so I was a little bit at a loss to what I was actually watching and now (without first checking the Internet to see what the story is) will attempt to translate what I saw.

Act I: It's the Prince's birthday and he's having a crazy party with lots of dancing. The Prince is a bit of a player and is dancing with all the ladies. Then his mom gives him a crossbow as a gift.

Act II: Now that Mr. Prince has a crossbow he needs to go hunting. And where better to do that than Swan Lake. But wait! There's a dark wizard who decided that he had a plan to turn swans into hot ladies in an attempt to worm his way into the castle. The Prince then falls in love with a swan.

Act III: Another party! Mom parades out some ladies for our Prince to pick from, but he's all like “Nope, sorry Mom. I have already fallen in love,” and in strolls his lovely swan. But wait! She's now dressed in black! Chalking it up to her goth phase, they dance the night away. The real swan walks in and is all like “What the heck! Who's that emo swan?” and runs away heart broken.

Act IV: The Prince, realizing his error, runs to Swan Lake to find his real love. There he encounters the dark wizard again and they proceed to have the least manly fight of all time. The Prince wins. He gets the right Swan. Happily ever after.

Wait one moment while I check Wikipedia...

And how did I do? Not bad at all! Turns out I'm not the worst all time at watching the ballet. I missed a few things but, as a whole, I was pretty close. Minus the emo stuff, but that's only because Swan Lake was written in 1875 and they didn't have the word yet.

Even though, I'm a story guessing professional, the important part (at least to us) was the dancing and the was something to see. I don't know much about ballet dancing outside of watching Black Swan that one time, but everything I saw was impressive. How anyone can spin around in 200 circles while standing on the tips of their toes (or do any of the other moves) is beyond me.

Would I go again? Maybe, if it was cheap. Will Katie drag me to one again? Definitely.

For posterity, here's a crappy picture as they really don't like it when you use your phone at these sorts of things, so I had to be sly and sneak this one during the final bow.