Firsts but not lasts (possibly)

According to my list, there are 80 things that I did for the first time in 2011. [The observant of you will notice that I counted 79 in Tuesday’s post. I remembered one while writing this one.] In all probability there were more than this, but some would have been too tedious to list (yes, even more tedious than ‘drunk a Corona’) and some – like my trip to Paris – contained multiple firsts that were too numerous to list in their entirety.

Because I’m still a researcher at heart, I’m going to do a little evaluation and comparison with the 2010 list. Checking the 2011 version of this post, I see that I listed 78 2010 Firsts (in the mysteriously named ‘clean’ version) and then classified them according to type. So here’s an evaluation of 2011’s Firsts:

  • Again, 14 were food/drink related (it seems I am a creature of habit). I did make a point of noting new places in which I’d eaten, which is an excellent pursuit as it means you remember good places to go.
  • Seven were geographical (i.e. new places – towns and suchlike visited).
  • Many were cultural (I lost track of what exactly I was counting as ‘cultural’) – museums, BBC recordings, plays, concerts – actually, it was with the latter that I got stuck. A concert at King’s Place was definitely a cultural experience, but was Take That at Wembley? 
  • There were 13 items in my Firsts for 2011 list. I definitely did four of them and kind of did a couple of others. Some were total failures – I didn’t have a single driving lesson in 2011, let alone contemplate either of the tests; and I didn’t visit a new country (though I did go to France thrice). 
2011 Firsts photographically & chronologically
[It took me more time to get those flipping photos in order than it did to write this post. 
Yes. I am that anal.]
Like last year, my biggest achievement was dance related. In 2010 I did tap dancing at Pineapple Studios, in 2011 it was ballet in Putney. I loved it and honestly, if the classes hadn’t been way beyond my level, in Putney and on Saturdays, I’d have totally been up for continuing. Last term I fully intended to take Beginners’ Ballet at the local dance school, but sadly it clashes with my home group night this year. But I still have my shoes (and a growing collection of Black Swan inspired leg warmers) so I’m all set. 
Actually, walking the Thames Path was possibly a bigger achievement in terms of physical exertion – never have I been so tired! But it, and the training involved, were definitely a contributing factor to my new found obsession with walking everywhere I possibly can. Friends in the East End find my passion for walking 5 miles to Bow utterly mental, but it’s something I’ve been doing almost once a week lately. 
Oh, and then there was Paris! And the rest of the French firsts – which all totally make up for not getting to a new country this year. Who wouldn’t have their first sight of the Eiffel Tower on a list of the year’s highlights? Not to mention learning how to scaffold in French… 
This year’s also marked several lifestyle firsts – a first sermon at St Mary’s; first job in a church; first term at Vicar School; first Macbook; my first experience of living in King’s Cross – none of which I could have put on a list at the beginning of the year. 
Like I said the other day, the project’s carrying on – in fact, I already have two Firsts booked in for next week – and I’m really pleased to see that other people have taken it up for this year too. Most excitingly of all, it’s not the case that the firsts are also lasts, so let 2012 also see plenty of seconds! 

Reviewing the 2010 Firsts – Part Two: Favourites

Looking back over the 2010 Firsts list, it brings back memories of many special days and several notable achievements. It’s hard coming up with favourites, but there are a couple that stand out.

Without a doubt, the biggest achievement was taking beginners’ tap at Pineapple Dance Studios. When I wrote ‘take a dance class’ on the original list, I think I envisaged some kind of community centre class, or possibly something at the gym where I could remain anonymous. I definitely did not imagine tripping up at one of London’s leading dance schools in the centre of Covent Garden (and location of one of 2010 TV hits of the year).

This was a definite example of saying “yes” to something I’d never usually touch with a barge pole. Chances were I’d never have had the nerve to take a dance class without the added security of at least one friend – so the fact that two colleagues began plotting a trip to tap was definitely a helping hand. I would also never have picked Pineapple as the location – the fact that a dancing friend of mine was in awe of my visit I think says a lot. But it’s one of those things that I look back on and genuinely think “wow, I actually did that – go me!”.

Then there are the Firsts which have had a notable impact upon my day to day life – like waxing. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’m now a total convert (legs only) especially since finding a fairly cheap establishment just round the corner from work. Or my introduction to the Hummingbird Bakery which has opened up a whole new world of cupcakes to me, as well as new baking joys.

There was also an unplanned First which has now become one of my top London tips. When my American boys came to visit, Ian suggested we climb the Monument – something he’d done before but I hadn’t. In a city of great expense and hideous tourist traps, the climbing of a tower for £3 is something of an oasis. It’s now something I recommend to all visitors and would be more than willing to do again when friends come to town. Plus, as well as fabulous views of the city, you get a certificate – what’s not to like?! 
Oh, and 2010 could probably also be described as the year of karaoke. From timid karaoke virgin in January, to Queen of the microphone (and playlist) in November, it’s been quite a journey. The mic no longer holds any fear for me and I’m personally of the opinion that the more public you do it, the better. This has to mean that 2011 holds many more comedy karaoke evenings – it’s just fortunate that I have circles of friends who also believe it to be a great form of entertainment. 
Now, if I could just resolve my tendency to sing with my eyes shut…

Going back through the highlights of 2010 is making me quite excited for what could happen in 2011. Bring on more randomness, ridiculousness, leaving of comfort zones and most of all, more firsts!

Reviewing the 2010 Firsts – Part One: Evaluation

The whole concept of the 2010 First was one of the better things to emerge from a slightly bizarre beginning to 2010. A conversation with the lovely Annabelle combined with a feeling that I could achieve anything in this new year, set me on the path to do as many new things as possible.

There were two aspects to the plan. One was the list I drew up early in January, consisting of things I’d like to do during the year; the second being the idea that I’d keep a record of everything I did for the first time and that I’d actively pursue such ventures. The original list was a great encouragement throughout the year, while the idea of saying yes to things found me in a lot of new places – Olympia for the horse of the year show being the most recent example from the week before Christmas.

Oh, and there were two lists. One’s accessible via a link above, the other is hidden away on my anonymous blog. Some people know about some of the ‘secret’ firsts, but trust me, they’re mostly not that interesting. In fact, I can reveal that one of them was ‘Wore a vest top at the gym’ – which is a first, but something of a pathetic one, especially given as vest tops became a crucial component of my summer wardrobe. This year, as I come up with a new list, there’ll be firsts I want to achieve that won’t be included on the blog mostly in order to preserve my image.

Looking back at the complete list, it is truly a random assortment of events and activities. The ‘clean’ version (I’m just trying to make my life sound more interesting you realise) consists of 78 items, of which…

  • Fourteen were food/drink related and generally involved eating ‘new’ substances like olives, cherry tomatoes and new cupcake flavours. 
  • Eight involved new geographical locations, though several were work related visits, which may be something of a cop-out. 
  • Nine involved singing in some form, either me doing it, or me listening to other people do it.
  • One was definitely a failure – including ‘tried (and failed at) pole dancing’ was possibly over-ambitious. Although I most definitely had a go at it, I wasn’t successful, therefore can it count? 
  • Only six of the 78 were on the original list. Having said that, I only missed three and a half of the original list. [It’s a half because I’d wanted to go to a spa, and although I stayed at a hotel with a spa – and used it – it wasn’t exactly what I’d classify as a spa trip as I was actually working, so no massages could take place.]
Also, having just re-read the list I’ve remembered that I now willingly eat olives. After over two and a half decades of avoiding the things, I’ve discovered they’re actually quite nice. Thing is, after eating them in January, I’d forgotten I now eat them – maybe I need to keep a list in my wallet to remind me. 

The transition from 2010 to 2011

Unquestionably, one of my highlights of the past year was my 2010 Firsts list. It became quite a talking point amongst certain friends, with some joining in to help me tick things off the list and others becoming inspired to create their own. In fact, it captured some people’s imagination so much that on New Year’s Eve/Day I was awoken in my sick bed at 1am by someone tweeting about it (my phone likes to tell me when people mention me in tweets).

Actually, that tweet asked the question that several people have asked in recent weeks and becomes particularly relevant in these early days of 2011. What will happen to the 2010 Firsts now that it’s 2011?

I’ve given this quite a lot of thought and this is what I’ve come up with so far…

Hands-down, this has been the best project I’ve got stuck into. It’s opened up a wealth of opportunities, got me doing things I’d never normally consider and actively encouraged me to achieve things within a certain length of time.

A lot of it has been to do with confidence building – saying “yes” to things that I’d usually back away from. (This is not to say that there aren’t situations in which one should just say “no”…)

Keeping track of everything I’ve done for the first time is a nice way to record the passing of a year and reminds me of a range of places I’ve been, things I’ve done and people I’ve spent time with.

I want to keep doing things for the first time, to carry on saying yes (when appropriate) and to set myself challenges for the coming year. So I guess the answer to the question is that I’m working on a list for 2011. Some of the list will be things left over from last year (like going to Paris and taking driving tests), others will be new things – but I’m not quite ready to share just yet. This means that if you have any suggestions, I’m open to them – but I’ll ignore anything I’m definitely not up for, like bungy-jumping.

Oh, and for the next few days I may amuse myself by reviewing the 2010 Firsts list. Forgive me, it will be both self-indulgent and tedious, but my mind is still befuddled and this will be a good way to ease back into blogging.

2010 Firsts

All the things I accomplished for the first time during 2010. 

Why I did this is explained here.

Joined Twitter

Stayed in Thurlby, Lincolnshire

Successfully negotiated a rope swing
Eaten Colin the Caterpillars (and begun an unhealthy addiction)
Moved up to level 3 plank in pilates
Eaten olives
Performed solo karaoke in front of total strangers
Had my hair styled in a Marilyn Monroe-esque fashion
Filmed a music video
Rowed for at least 10 minutes on the highest setting
Been to Ely (beautiful Cathedral)
Got asked to sing BVs (without having to audition)
Attempted needle felting
Visited Webbs of Whychbold
Been commissioned to be the official photographer at an event
Consumed a MaltEaster Bunny (and a couple more for good measure…)
Travelled to Northampton (not keen to go again)
Visited the Hummingbird Bakery
Tried (and failed at) pole dancing
Climbed the Monument
Listened to the jazz stylings & funky soul of Liz & Hilary Cole
Been to the 100 Club
Baked Pineapple & Coconut cupcakes
Taken a car through a car-wash
Read a book whilst cycling at the gym
Visited Royal Holloway College
Gone to Chichester (for all of 15 minutes)
Eaten cherry tomatoes
Created my first YouTube tutorial
Sung with RBCS
Eaten a Black Bottom cupcake (one word: wow)
Walked all the way from home to work (6+ miles)
Bought and cooked with courgette
Reversed around a corner
Conducted a job interview
Played poker
Driven over Tower Bridge
Gone to New Wine
Worked in a cafe
Ordered pizza online
Baked marshmallow cupcakes and Red Velvet cupcakes
Bought clothing in Topshop
Owned a size 12 dress
Visited Broadcasting House
Owned something from FCUK
Driven onto a ferry (& used the Woolwich Ferry)
Been to a play at the Olivier theatre
Attended ‘Last Orders’ at Greenbelt
Drunk sherry
Listened to the Wittertainment podcast
Visited the Swedenborg Society
Led a student group
Run around Southwark Park
Visited the Highgate Mennonites
Stayed in Leicester
Chaired an AGM
Been to a service at St Paul’s Cathedral
Owned an iPhone
Drunk absinthe
Sung with the Swingle Singers
Attended the Olympia Horse Show
Flown from Birmingham International Airport