Monthly Archives: October 2012

Chasing Mavericks

Posted on

I wasn’t supposed to be there–at the Far Rockaways. I wasn’t supposed to be doing a hobby at all that day. If this were still just a “project” –and not what I now deem a lifestyle–I would have fulfilled my quote with shark diving at the beginning of the week. But that’s not the case. I had booked two hobbies for the week–and I couldn’t have been more excited. However, I wasn’t supposed to be double hobbying with surfing–I was supposed to be in Pennsylvania–jumping out of a plane.

Less than 24 hours before my scheduled skydive, I received a call that my trip was postponed due to low clouds. It only took me several moments to visit a surf school website in New York, text the owner, and sign up for a class. I didn’t need to replace skydiving–but I felt compelled to.

Sometimes when one cloud covers–another wave of opportunity will present itself–quite literally–and metaphorically here, of course.

I admit—while putting my wetsuit on (initially backwards), I questioned if this was a bad idea–if just signing up for a surf lesson without thinking was really something I should have done. For a couple minutes–I decided it wasn’t. And then for a couple more minutes–I still believed it wasn’t. I wasn’t sure I would even have the courage to walk into the water–but I didn’t have a choice. After a brief sand lesson, our instructor had us stepping into the frigid waters of the Atlantic with the boards in hand.

And not before long I was getting pummeled by waves.

I should preface this by saying that I am terrified of ocean water–I see going into it as an unfair heavyweight battle where the little guy is well below the size of the big guy–and the knockout comes quickly–almost instantly. When I was little, a life guard saved me from the under-toe on some family vacation which paralyzed any positive thoughts I could have about ocean water and what could happen if I went in. During a trip to Bermuda, my mind was changed briefly as the water’s beauty and delicacy seduced me. But upon returning to the East Coast waters, my fears began to loom again.

After the first wave knocked me down on Saturday, I regained my composure, briefly, and I declared the ocean the champion. And instead of raising an arm in victory–it knocked me out again.

I cleared the hair from my face, and said a myriad of things to myself, “Well this was not my best idea.” “I should probably leave the water now.” “I should be jumping out of a plane today–not getting my ass kicked by some personified piece of nature.” Yet, I continued walking out to my instructor who was positive that after a few minutes of learning to stand on the board–on the sand–I’d be able to make progress on the water.

“Hop on that board.”

“Now?!”

He laughed at me.

Silly me–he meant just get on and lay down–not HOP. And of course he meant now. I struggled to get on the board, but after a second try I was up.

“Okay, now sit.”

So like a trained pup, I sat.

“Good. Now lay on that board. Move back a few inches. What’s going to happen is I am going to tell you to paddle…then I’ll push the board forward, and yell “Up.” When I yell up, You stand.”

“Easy,” I said, thinking to myself that I was more likely bound to go face first into the sand at the ocean bottom.

“Paddle, Paddle, Paddle…..” commanded Joel.

I rushed to paddle. But I didn’t know how fast or how slow I should be paddling. What if I didn’t get enough speed? But before I had time to readjust any of this, Joel yelled, “Up,” and I attempted to push myself to my feet.

BAM

Knocked out.

I covered my head so that if the board went flying it wouldn’t truly knock me out. I stayed underwater a second more, and resurfaced  before another wave crashed into me, and another one–and another one. And then finally, I found my balance, and realized that throughout those continuous wipeouts–something had happened. I had lost my fear. I was still here. I was still breathing. And I had gotten back up on my own. Bonus point for overcoming fear.

Even still, the ocean was now ahead of me by a score of at least 6 Hits.

Ocean 6: Libs: 1

I had a major comeback to accomplish. I stayed resilient and walked back out to Joel. “How’d that feel?”

“Really freaking good!” I exclaimed. “Nothing to be scared of. I’m really happy I tried to stand.”

Joel smiled, and pushed me out again. And as my two feet landed on the board I slipped off backwards.

Bam.

Knocked out.

Back up.

And out to Joel again.

“I’m going to get this,” I said to him.

I was set on earning more points during this battle with the Atlantic.

And then, with a magnitude of paddling, a swift push from Joel, and a command of “up,” I felt myself make it to my feet. Suddenly, it was like the rest of the water, and the beach, and the sky had disappeared–and it was just me on this foam board, flying. What was only a few mississippi seconds–felt like a beautiful lifetime.

As I surfed closer to shallow waters, I splashed off the board and was congratulated with a nose and mouthful of salt  water. When I surfaced–I fist pumped into the air, and yelled “I did it.” Joel looked at me and smiled from a distance, though I’m not sure he actually heard me with the crashing white waters. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t do this for him–or for anyone else–I did this for myself.

End of day score?

Ocean: A lot  –  Libs: Smiles

________________________________________________________________________________

Special Thanks
New York Surf School
surflessonsnewyork101.com

Advertisements

Swimming with Sharks

Posted on

“How much will it hurt if someone gets bitten by one of these sharks?” I ask one of our shark experts.

“It would just feel like a lot of pressure–it wouldn’t be “painful” really. But people have to worry for infection after getting bitten by a shark.”

“How likely is it that one of us will get bitten?”

“Not likely.”

I continue quizzing our instructors for a bit, with a smile on my face. Part of me is joking around, and the other part of me is serious. I mean–I am about to jump into a tank full of sharks!

But the truth is–I am not scared at all. A lot of people ask me how I feel before I dive into the more extreme activities–and honestly–I feel fine. It’s the more intimate–1 on 1’s that get me.

To me, jumping out of a plane (as I am doing this coming weekend–pending hurricane Sandy doesn’t destroy my plans), or swimming with sharks–is much easier than sitting down–or standing with a good friend and taking a lesson. I am much more intimidated by the talent driven hobbies than I am by the thrill seeking ones. At first this may seem surprising, but because the number one fear in the world–over dying–is public speaking, I get it.

As humans, we want to be accepted, we don’t want to be judged poorly, and we want to succeed at everything we try–I know I do. But if there’s anything this project has taught me–it’s that the only person judging us most times–is oneself.

At this current moment, with sharks swimming below me–I really just can’t wait to jump in.

I pull on my wetsuit, throw on my snorkel, and wait for my cue to duck underwater and take a look. When I finally do, I am amazed. I can see sharks swimming in the distance. And then I spot one swimming our way. He looks like he’s smiling. I laugh to myself. The laughter causes a small leak in my mouth piece, so I surface momentarily–causing me to laugh at myself again. I readjust and reenter the water. A fish flashes across my face–and then another one. And then from the side I see a shark with a nose shaped like a saw swimming toward our way. He’s waving his serrated edges back and forth as if he knows food is near. Our instructors pull us back until the shark is out of harm’s way.

We go back below. A shark comes toward me, and I imagine speaking to it.

“Hello Mr. Shark.” I quote Little Red Riding Hood, “How big your teeth are, Mr. Shark”

“All the better to eat you with, my dear.”

I laugh to myself, this time keeping my mouth on my snorkel. “Good thing sharks can’t really talk–and good thing this isn’t the rising action in a fairytale.”

But it is–it’s the rising action in my project–or what we should just refer to as my life.

I sit back in the shark tank and continue to take in the view. I ask myself how I got here–in a tank full of sharks.

“Easily,” I answer. “All I had to do was say yes.”

________________________________________________________________

Camden Aquarium
1 Riverside Drive
Camden, New Jersey

“You can’t go anywhere in neutral”

Posted on

Our introduction to motorcycle teacher looks at us: “You can’t go anywhere in neutral.” I laugh. Metaphors are everywhere.

When you get knocked down, the oldest lesson in the world is to get back up again. Since the season is just about over at Mountain Creek, where I crashed the downhill mountain bike over Labor Day, I had to find a way to get back up on a bike–even if it wasn’t the same bike. Since that little crash, I’ve been even hesitant in getting on my own bicycle. The trails at Mountain Creek are taken care of–and the roads in New York City are terrifying on a bicycle. Has anyone seen Premium Rush? or Paper Boy? I think I’ll stick to the safer bike paths–which I just haven’t had time to get to between hobbying–and more hobbying.

Even still, when it comes to bike riding, I’ve felt a bit stuck in neutral. I often look at Miss Penny Lane, the Paperback Rider (my red beauty of a bicycle that yes I have given a name), and sadly apologize for not taking her out more. Unlike a dog, she has no way of showing her sadness, but I know that those drooping handlebars are saying much more than just  “You left me in the wrong position.” They are really just saying, “You left me.”

So it was time to get back on a bike–even if it wasn’t Miss Penny Lane–the Paperback Rider. Last Saturday, I headed to the Motorcycle Safety School in Brooklyn with my Living Social Deal in hand. Our instructor introduced himself, allowed us to introduce ourselves, we watched a short video and then we shook hands with the clutch on a motorcycle.

Bad.Ass, I thought out loud. My co-riders smiled at me. This was going to rock.

We barely picked our feet off the ground, but we did go from neutral to first gear, and from one end of a parking lot to another. “This is awesome,” I laughed out loud, thinking how I had sadly written motorcycle riding and driving off during my freshman year of college when I wrote about the dangers of it for a writing class. “I could do this forever,” I added to my thoughts.

It felt good to switch gears.

The truth is–you can’t go anywhere in neutral. You have to switch gears–pick your feet off the ground–and feel the wind in your face. There’s no looking back–only ahead–at the wide open road.

I believe I see a twinkle in my eye

________________________________________________________________________________

Special Thanks
Motorcycle Safety School
ridemss.com

The Sweet Life

Posted on

“It’s great that you’re doing more than one hobby a week–it means it’s a lifestyle,” – Kimberly Manley 

When I was growing up, my mom told me I was allergic to chocolate–okay, not necessarily chocolate–but caffeine. I spent birthday parties on the sidelines with the gold Diet Coke can, as opposed to the red regular Coke can. I sat on the sidelines, desperately, as children dove into ice cream cakes that had chocolate crumbles, and I indulged in Swedish Fish–instead of Hershey bars. Even still, I watched Willy Wonka religiously, dreaming that I might, one day, swim, like Augustus in a pool of delicious melted chocolate.

By the time I was 10, I had gone through my fair share of red bumpy breakouts from cheating on my caffeine allergy. I was concerned that I’d never be able to indulge in the sweet satisfaction of a Snickers–but as I now understand, we can outgrow our childhood allergies–and somehow and some way I broke free from my sad, unsweetened childhood, and right into a sweet lifelong addiction–of chocolate.

Someone once asked me if there was a type of chocolate I didn’t like–and I said, “Are you crazy? I don’t discriminate against chocolate. That would be silly. You can set me  up on a blind date with whichever, and I’ll be quite content. Add peanut butter to any of it–and I’ll be in heaven.”

It’s amazing that I reached the age of 24, without ever having made chocolate myself. Post half-marathon 2012, my friends all came over, melted chocolate and covered an assortment of goodies for me as a treat for completing my half-marathon–as well as for having gone three months without chocolate to aid in my training. While they took care of the chocolateering, I went off and bought everyone coffee. I’m not much of a baker, so  I left it to my friends, who seemed much more capable of not burning down the house.

But then, as the hobby year continued, I decided it was time I learned to make chocolate–besides I had learned to brew beer this year–and I don’t even drink…so it was probably time I learned the process of chocolate-making. A couple months back, my co-worker sent me a link to a New York Times article that featured a chocolate shop in the Lower East Side. I forwarded the piece along to my other co-workers, and we planned to organize a time to visit.

But on a rainy day in New York City, I had no other choice but to dig into my emails of hobby suggestions, for something fun to do–regardless of already having two other hobbies scheduled for the week.

A good friend had asked me if I wanted to hang out and told me she was really excited for whatever adventure we found!

Originally, I had planned to just pick out a museum or a movie, but my insides growled at me, and my heart seemed to be trying to make out words between each beat. “Don’t be ridiculous-beat-Libby. You know you’d rather-beat-try something new-beat-than-beat-go-beat-back-beat-to-beat-the MOMA.” And my heart was right–I’d rather try something new than see the same exhibits I’d seen before, so I visited the chocolate shop’s website, listed in the article, and booked a lesson for two.  (Don’t worry my co-worker friends–I am still in to return and make more chocolate!!!)

By 3:45pm, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, my friend and I found ourselves hands deep in melted chocolate. I could smell the sweet scents of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate all around us. As Aditi Malhotra, our knowledgeable instructor, and the owner of Tache Chocolate,  took us on a quick tour of her own Chocolate Factory, she showed us one of the machines that continues to produce melted chocolate all day and night long, I could feel my taste-buds jumping. Suddenly, my dreams of swimming in a pool of chocolate seemed more realistic.

We then started making everything from chocolate covered Rice Krispy bundles to sparkling milk chocolate sea shells.

“If I don’t walk out of here with chocolate all over my face, I want my money back,” I joked. But not before long I had chocolate smudges on my hands, my arms, and even a tiny part of my sweater. –And at the end of the day, I had a pound of chocolate to take home–and plenty of new chocolate loving friends.

And while I’m not quite sure that I am ready to open my own chocolate business yet, I am pretty sure it’s now officially the time that I can promote my project as a lifestyle–rather than just a project.

And that’s what I call a sweet, sweet success.

________________________________________________________________________________

Tache Chocolate
http://www.tachechocolate.com

Checkmate

Posted on

In New York City—it’s not every day that a stranger tells you that they have faith in you—or that they believe in you—or that they even want to sit down and chat with you—even for a few moments. I can attest to this—because I often try to sit down and talk to strangers.

 So when all of this happened–on a Friday night in Union Square, you can imagine my surprise, and my joy over it.

The truth is, I wasn’t expecting to sit across from a man in the middle of the park. I had another hobby planned for the week, but upon discovering that the original hobby wasn’t going to happen, I decided to try something more relaxed, novel, and New Yorky—so I headed to the park, found a chess player who didn’t have an opponent, and sat down.

 “Can we play?” I asked.

 He rolled his eyes at me. “I guess.”

 I wondered why he was so upset. I clearly hadn’t done anything wrong yet—except appear to be a novice who didn’t know the difference between a knight and…well a horse….

 I sat quietly for another moment, hoping he wouldn’t ask me to leave.

 “I’ve been waiting here for an HOUR for my friend. An HOUR. I HATE waiting,” he said as a distraught look overcame his eyes.

 “I hate waiting too. It means people don’t value other people’s time. I’m sorry that happened to you.”

He rolled his eyes again.

 “I mean it,” I said. “Waiting sucks.”

He smiled. “Waiting does suck.”

 “What’s your name?” I asked.

 “David.”

 “Good. David, my name’s Libby. Nice to meet you,” I smiled and held out my hand. He shook it.

 “How much is this lesson going to cost you?” He went on.

 I smiled. “I’m not sure, but there’s an ATM over there…and”

 “Now we’re talking.”

 And then before I knew it, he was teaching me the first eight moves to make on a chessboard. He was lifting pawns…sliding knights…building a moat—I mean…setting up opposition. Let’s just say he was doing his thing.

 “This is how I teach my 8 year old son. You got it? Good. Now show me the first 8 moves you can make on a board.”

 I went to move a piece.

 “No,” he sternly objected. “Not right.”

 Reminder to self—don’t pick an intellectual hobby when you’re looking for something calm.

 I tried again.

 “Good.  You’re a quick learner.”

 Now try another move…

 “Can I tell you something?” I stuttered.

 “Yes…”

 “I am playing chess tonight because I am doing this project, where I try one new thing a week—for the entire year…”

 “Well then let me ask you something,” He said, shifting the attention, and smiling. He lowered the volume of his voice.

“Okay…”

 “Have you ever slept with a black man before,” He began to laugh hysterically—as did I, before responding—“Not this week.”

 We laughed together and I told him he should try stand-up.

 “Naw…not for me.”

 “Well then come to a show sometime,” I responded, as I told him that I do stand up.

 “You do stand-up” he said. And we continued to converse while I slowly (kind of) learned some new tools for the next time I sat down in a chess match.

 And just as we were finishing our lesson, one of his friends came along.

“Man—meet Libby—she’s a comedian. She’s going to be famous one day. I am going to see her on Comedy Central…she’s funny. She’s going to be a star. People aren’t going to believe me when I say I know her.”

I don’t know what made him say this—I don’t know what energy was in the air—but I do know it made me smile—a big smile. He didn’t even know me—and he believed in me.

 Let’s just say—he didn’t check a mate that night with his joke—but he did indeed open my eyes—and my heart.

 The truth is, when a stranger has faith in you—after only moments of knowing you—it is an incredible feeling—and it makes you wonder how you’ve ever doubted yourself.

Checkmate.

On Top of the World

Posted on

“I’m through accepting limits–cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change-but till I try, I’ll never know”
-Wicked

The sun is beginning to set over Manhattan, but the plane I am piloting is just rising over Jones Beach. The sky is a mix of blue, red, purple, orange, and yellows too. It’s beautiful.

-Photo taken by Kimberly Manley

I try to reflect on how I got here, 2,000 feet altitude on a pilot lesson that
will take me up the Hudson River, back down the Hudson River, around the Statue of Liberty, up the East River, and back out to Long Island.

The answer is simple. Because I said “Why not?” 

The first time that I ever felt on top of the world, truly on top of the world, I had just reached the top of a chair lift on the side of a mountain in Bolzano, Italy. By the time I reached the top of the mountain, I couldn’t tell you if I was still in Italy or if I had crossed the border into Austria. No one spoke Italian, and everyone seemed to be speaking German. I hadn’t an idea what anyone was saying, but I didn’t care–I was simply on top of the world.

I should have known in that moment how adventurous I was willing to be–but it didn’t hit me then. In fact, it took me until my second flying lesson, on September 23. And to be more exact–it took me until the plane I was piloting was sitting parallel with midtown-Manhattan. 

“This is amazing,” I just kept saying to myself. “Amazing.” I took in the views, I managed the controls, and I reminisced on my first flight, and the year of activities that had taken place behind me–and the rest of the year that would be culminating ahead of me. As the sun continued to go down, my visions only became more clear. Tears even filled my eyes.

-Photo taken by Kimberly Manley

I don’t believe that I’ve ever taken on a challenge of such great magnitude before–one that set me off into the world to tackle my fears, overcome my personal issues, and become an all around go-getter. This flight, now, gave me the time to see that.

I look to the back of the plane, and I see my friend Kim. I ask in the microphone on the headset how she’s doing. I can hear her smile as she says she’s doing great.

And I know in that moment, we were right where we needed to be–on top of the world.

______________________________________________________________

Special Thanks

Global Aviation Corp.
http://www.globalaviationcorp.net

If you can make it here: My First Audition

Posted on

I moved to the city nearly three years ago, and while I call it “home,” I’m not quite sure I ever went through my official initiation– that is until this past weekend, when I attended my first audition.

Now. I should stop for a moment. I have many, many friends here in the city who are actors and actresses, and in no way, shape, or form am I attempting to take away from their hard work and effort—by calling auditioning a hobby—because for most all of them it isn’t. Auditioning is serious business and leads to amazing opportunities.  More closely, auditioning resembles job interviews—Ideally, you only go to one of those every so often.

But this audition was a bit different. Unlike my friends who have practiced, rehearsed, and memorized their lines, I had to do nothing other than be myself and hope for the best.  I auditioned for a game show—which is quite a bit different than auditioning for a television pilot, series, indie or feature film. It’s about auditioning for a chance at having fun—and winning money. And that’s a hobby I could really get used to!

Now your big question. What game show was it? … Wheel of Fortune? Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Jeopardy.

Nope.

A brand new one—that features a hypnotist. This audition was for a game show pilot—which seemed even cooler. How awesome would it be to be the first contestant on the next big show!?

And even though the audition wasn’t for my future Emmy or Oscar winning role—I still got nervous. “What if I say something embarrassing while I am hypnotized?” What if I can’t be hypnotized?” “What if I DO get picked for this game show pilot?!” “What if I do win money?!” “What would I use the money on?!”  (That answer is easy—more hobbies—and traveling).

While I can’t dive too much into specifics—because I truly don’t know any part of the show other than the fact that someone tried to hypnotize me, I can tell you that the experience of applying—and finding out that they wanted me to even come in and audition at all was exhilarating in itself. I consider that the first win of it all.

My friend, Adam, who is on his own journey, travels the country, and runs the site We Own The Moment, came along with me—and I believe he said it best when he explained that it’s amazing how many opportunities there are to do something like this every day in New York City.  And he’s right–there are SO many opportunities. I began to question myself. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? Why hadn’t I auditioned for ANYTHING sooner?

I could go into the psychology of why I hadn’t—but for now I think I’ll just start focusing on the present which involves a stack of casting calls…because hey…why the heck not?

________________________________________________________________________________________

In honor of the theme of hypnotism, I thought I’d include the recent Joseph Gordon-Levitt skit from SNL:

%d bloggers like this: