When I turned 30 (which was about 87 years ago), I promised myself that I'd take a class and/or make an effort to learn something new and challenging every year. I did this because I'd seen the horrible results caused by the death of the desire to learn and experience new things. It happened to my stepfather, and it basically paralyzed him. He became so fearful of anything new or outside of his "comfort zone," that he was consumed by the Grand Canyon-sized rut that his life had become. For the first few years, I was pretty good at keeping my promise. Now, with the baby and all, it's going to be harder to do. But I'm going to keep trying at least.
Here's a list of the random classes I've taken since I turned 30:
Creative Non-fiction Journal Writing
An informal class offered by Columbia College in Chicago. This was a pretty cool class, and I had some decent writing come out of it. The class was made up of almost all women--there was one brave dude. There were about 12 or 15 of us, and we met, read, discussed and critiqued. The best thing that came out of this class is that I met my dear friend Michelle. She was the best writer in the class by far. And she also had the funkiest haircut and cutest shoes. She now has a kick ass vegan/vegetarian culture magazine that she and her husband launched a couple of years ago. They're a couple of my favorite people.
Basic Manuscript Editing
Offered by the Graham School at the University of Chicago. I took this primarily for work (i.e., that's who paid for it), but I really, really enjoyed it. The anal-retentive grammar Nazi in me was very satisfied by what this class taught me. If nothing else, it made me realize that there are other people out there just as mystified by the function of a semi-colon as I am.
Early Country Vocal Duets
Offered by the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago. Man, I loved this class. The Old Town School is simply kick ass. I wish they had a version of it here in Austin, 'cuz I'd be ALL up ins. Anyway, in this class, you got paired with a duet partner (mine was a very pregnant woman with a nice, bell-like voice), learned songs with very interesting harmonies (think Louvin Brothers, Blue Sky Boys, The Carter Family, etc.), then performed them. It was joyous. Our teacher's critique of our duet stylings said that we "sounded like the female Everly Brothers." High praise indeed.
Intro to Tai Chi
A U.T. informal class. My favorite part of this class was arriving early and watching the students in the "Hip Hop/Street Dancing" class that was in the Union Ballroom prior to the Tai Chi class. Other than that, I didn't really get much out of Tai Chi. I wanted it to be more than it was. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mindset at the time. I'd certainly be willing to try it again.
A U.T. informal class. I really wanted to be good at tennis. Really, I did. But I've always had zero eye/hand coordination. This class only confirmed that for me. I was, by far, the crappiest tennis player in the class. People hated getting paired with me because I couldn't ever return their serves or volleys. Sad, sad stuff.
Kickboxing for Fitness and Self Defense
Again, U.T. informal. I took this class with a girlfriend, and it was all chicks in the class. It was an AMAZING workout--cardio, strength, etc. The hour FLEW by, and when you were finished, you felt that "good tired" you feel when you've worked really hard at something. You also felt sore, sweaty and tough as hell. The only problem? The instructor was the world's biggest glad ass. He lived, breathed, ate and pooped kickboxing, and was a tad too enthusiastic for my taste.
Intro to Hatha Yoga
Loved this class. I was taking it two nights a week during a very stressful period in my life. It felt indulgent and utterly peaceful. Plus, I had a total girl crush on our instructor, Raven. She was lithe, tattooed, naturally pretty and had this incredibly soothing presence. Plus, she was a damn good instructor. After the class ended, I took a few yoga classes at work, but it just wasn't the same.
Wines and Cheeses of Spain
No need to comment really. It was just super, super yummy and buzz-inducing.
So now, as approach another birthday, I wonder: What class should I take next? How should I expand my horizons--physically? Mentally? Will I have time? How can I do it with The Geej now in the equation? I'm not ready for any kind of "Mommy and Me" stuff yet, but I fear the quiet onset of The Rut.