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The Year of Living Differently

I’m bored.

I could wax eloquently about the search for meaning in my life after a brush with death in the form of a particularly nefarious form of cancer. I could frame it in bucket list and/or YOLO terms, just to be multi-generational. If I tried hard enough, I could probably even find a way to put it in the context of world events, vis a vis the geo-political landscape in eastern Europe and its impact on agriculture prices.

But in the end it’s really just because I’m kinda bored.

The “it” in question is this, The Year of Living Differently, in which I plan on doing something new or different, that I have never done before, every single day for an entire year.

The idea got its genesis during my health hoohah, which I am now calling The Year of Living with Cancer. The night before I was going in for a massive surgery I wrote a piece called “21 Words,” in which I looked back on my life with what a not insignificant amount of regret. This is part of what I said:

I don’t think I took enough chances in my life. I’m not talking about risky stuff like bungee jumping or wearing white after Labor Day, but rather the chances we can take, both big and small, that can turn a good life into a great one. For instance, I think I would have had a career as a writer if I had more often ignored the blasted Midwestern work ethic that constantly whispered in my ear saying, “You need to have a job and a regular paycheck and health insurance and security.”

So if I may offer some advice, either to you or to myself if/when I live through all of this it is as follows: don’t be so fucking afraid. Take a chance or do something new, every day, even if it’s something small. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never visited. Take a different way to work and pay attention to what you are driving past. Introduce yourself to that guy at the bar or that girl on the bus or the person at the bookstore looking at the latest from your favorite author who might just wind up being your new best friend. Get a tattoo, learn how to dance, sing karaoke, go bungee jumping… whatever that thing is that you have wanted to do but haven’t… why not?

I lived through it, and although it took me awhile to get here, I have finally decided to take my own advice, mainly because now that the medical drama is over I am, as stated above, a little bored. The medical drama wasn’t fun, but it certainly kept me busy.

So I am committing myself to doing at least one completely different, totally new, never-been-done-before something every day. The “something” can be something big or small, time consuming or quick, easy or hard, but the key here is that it’s something new.

I haven’t come up with specific new things yet; I’m going to sort of go with the flow, which is a new thing for me right there. Normally I’m the type of person who plans obsessively, makes lists, organizes things in binders (including cancer), and the tries to stick to the prescribed program no matter how badly things go off the rails. But for this I’m going to try to be as spontaneous as a curmudgeonly 47 year old can be. So while I have some vague categories – food, travel, culture (pop and otherwise), etc. – I have not planned out every single one of the 365 days in 2014 like some might thing I would do. What the new something is going to be will as much of a surprise to me as it will be to anyone reading this.

I can tell you for sure that one of the new things will not be bungee jumping. Or jumping out of an airplane. No jumping of any kind, most likely, unless it’s rope although I’ve done that before so that probably doesn’t count as new. Jumping up and down at an EDM concert is possible but I am not holding a glow stick. In other words I’m not expecting earth shaking, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and neither should you. Eating a new type of sandwich might be as exciting as it gets on most days.

The plan is to update this blog every day. We’ll see how that goes, but even if I don’t write about the new thing every day, I will still do the new thing every day. You can still view all the posts about the Year of Living with Cancer via the link in the top navigation.

The Year of Living Differently begins January 1, 2014. I’ll be in Las Vegas that day so at least all this will start with a bang.

Day 1: New Year’s on the Las Vegas Strip
I start The Year of Living Differently with a bang and a big crowd

Day 2: The Shoe Car
There once was a car shaped like a shoe…

Day 3: Walking in LA
It shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is that I walked to lunch instead of drove, but this is LA after all

Day 4: Here’s the Story
I finally visit the Brady House

Day 5: A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course
A day at the track

Day 6: West Winging It
Memorizing the names of all of the presidents so that I am equal to many 5-year-olds

Day 7: Luck Be a Lady, Tonight
I try to beat the California lottery

Day 8: Tricky
I try to embrace my inner David Copperfield

Day 9: Say Cheese(cake)
I resist the urge to sample every cheesecake in the world

Day 10: Mixing It Up
Why yes, I’d love  cocktail

Day 11: The Great Wall of LA
I learn how much I don’t know about Los Angeles

Day 12: What the Hell is Rummikub?
Now I know…

Day 13: Radio Daze
I go back in time to help get me through my evening commute

Day 14: Keep Calm and Carry On
I try not to be… well… me

Day 15: Shaken, Not Stirred
James Bond would be proud of me

Day 16: The Boringest Place on Earth
I go exploring my Woodland Hills office park

Day 17: Differently Spontaneous
In which I close my eyes and point

Day 18: Passing Torches
What happened when my neighbor told me his dad has cancer

Day 19: Misadventures in Baking
What happens when I try to be creative with brownies

Day 20: Keep Moving
Reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Day 21: Remembering Sh@# I Didn’t Want to Remember
I go to see Dallas Buyers Club

Day 22: Muskrat Sam
I come out of the closet… as a Captain & Tennille fan

Day 23: Juggling
I try to keep some balls in the air

Day 24: Zoot Suit Riots
Learning about a little Los Angeles history

Day 25: The Cuban Press
I learn a new exercise (and will probably regret it tomorrow)

Day 26: Drag Queen Bingo
I play it, not host it

Day 27: What’s On TV
A complete lack of inspiration leads to a really boring Differently

Day 28: Brains!
I try to figure out exactly how stupid I am

Day 29: Survival Skills
What kind of animal will kill me eventually, I wonder

Day 30: Driving Me Crazy
A hellish commute makes me wonder about my driving skills

Day 31: What in the World?
I learn the countries of Europe

Day 32: Food Porn, Famous People, and Face Pleasing
I eat well, meet a famous person, and get a facial for the first time

Day 33: The Big Game
Thank you for being a friend… traveled down the road and back again…

Day 34: Record of the Year
I listen to all of the Records of the Year for the last 56 years

Day 35: We Both Like… Soup
It’s National Homemade Soup Day… so I home make me some soup

Day 36: Why Are the Birds So Angry?
Do you want to play a game?

Day 37: Everywhere I’ve Ever Lived
I take a trip through my past courtesy of Google Street View

Day 38: Alanis, Kristen, and Me
I see a movie with Alanis Morissette and Kristen Wiig

Day 39: The NoHo Farmer’s Market
Where I buy strawberries and learn what a bolani is

Day 40: Lifesaver
I take some online courses to learn how to do CPR

Day 41: Random Acts of Kindness Day 1
I join in celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week

Day 42: Random Acts of Kindness Day 2
More random acts of kindness

Day 43: It’s Always Something
A new cancer doc, a new random act of kindness, and some memories of Gilda Radner

Day 44: Random Acts of Kindness Day 4
The drive-through

Day 45: Valentine’s Schmalentine’s
I try to keep up the acts of kindness on the most annoying day of the year

Day 46: Examples of Irony
I drive a long time to get to a car museum

Day 47: Four Years
Remembering February 16, 2010

Day 48: Capital-izing
Re-learning all the state capitals.

Day 49: Not the Kind of Differently I Was Hoping For
I get shingles

Day 50: The Trevor Project
Making a donation to a worthy cause

Day 51: Radioactive Shingles
I get a PET scan in a new place

Day 52: Savannah’s Squares
I learn more about one of my favorite cities

Day 53: 9 Things
How to lighten your proverbial and literal load

Day 54: Vegas A-to-Z
Something different for my Vegas column

Day 55: Quiz Master
I take a bunch of those random online quizzes

Day 56: Sideshow
I get distracted and forget to worry about my PET scan results

Day 57: When the Universe Speaks, Do You Listen?
The most random, amazing, insane chance encounter ever in the history of the world

Day 58: Vegas Differentlies
New restaurants, shows, and a fantastic cocktail

Day 59: Swank Suite
My job has its perks

Day 60: Rose.Rabbit.Lie
One of the most interesting and unique things I have ever done in Vegas

Day 61: Rick’s Mom’s Chili Cheese Dip
A family favorite moves to Nevada

Day 62:  You Don’t Need to Know Everything
I do something different today but I’m not telling you what it is

Day 63:  Flipping the Bird
A line in a sitcom makes me learn something new today

Day 64:  I Need a Drink, Roz
Bad day = trip to the liquor store

Day 65:  Glass

Day 66:  The Bill of Rights
I learn them (or maybe relearn them)

Day 67:  The Rest of the Amendments
I learn the rest of them

Day 68:  Pineapple Jalapeno Margarita

Day 69:  Haven’t I Been Here Before?
My second opinion results

Day 70:  Every Book I Have Ever Written
There are a lot of them

Day 71:  False Alarm?
I get my ultrasound

Day 72:  Neptune High
Veronica Mars at PaleyFest

Day 73:  Tire-d
A nail in my tire and a new discovery

Day 74:  Anger (but not in a bad way)
An angry chef and an angry comic make for a fun and funny night

Day 75:  Getting Lost
I go see “Lost” at the PaleyFest

Day 76:  Shaking it Up
An earthquake makes me get my act together

Day 77:  Park-ing It
Another night at PaleyFest, this time for “Parks & Recreation”

Day 78:  And Don’t Call Me Shirley
I get pre-checked

Day 79:  Knock Knock
Who’s there?

Day 80: Everywhere I Have Ever Worked
There have been a lot of them

Day 81: I Finally Have a Cronut
I approve

Day 82: Where Kimberly & Giles Lived
I visit a building related to to two of my favorite TV shows

Day 83: Boost
I get busy

Day 84: The Quilt
I get an amazing keepsake from my road trips with my friend Mary

Day 85: Quilt as Art
I reminisce after putting the quilt on the wall

Day 86: Disappointment, Thy Name is Cupcake
I try a new cupcake place

Day 87: American Horror Story
One last night at PaleyFest

Day 88: YouTubery
I don’t know why

Day 89: Block Party
Food and day drinking

Day 90: Look at the Flowers, Lizzie
I treat myself to something pretty

Day 91: Sharing My Story
April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

Day 92: A New Site or (3)
I launch several new websites at work

Day 93: The Book of Morm…
I see half of a really good show

Day 94: So You Think You Can Dance?
I admit to getting my groove on

Day 95: Following Through
I visit a restaurant I spied back on Day 73

Day 96: My Hood
I go explore my neighborhood

Day 97: Me Llamo Ricardo
I learn 20 things in Spanish

Day 98: Mi Chiamo Rico
I learn 20 things in Itailian

Day 99: Je m’appelle Ricque
I learn 20 things in French

Day 100: Food Frenzy
A new burger joint for lunch and a classic LA experience for dinner

Day 101: Food Frenzy II
I go hunting for cupcakes and wind up caught in a food truck free-for-all

Day 102: Cupcake Wars
Two cupcake places, four cupcakes, a battle to the death (maybe mine)

Day 103: The View From Here
I have dinner with a view

Day 104: Trapper Keeper
Discovering a (mostly) forgotten piece of California history

Day 105: Broken Toe-ing the Line
In which I reaffirm that there is very little urgency in urgent care

Day 106: Ab-solutely
A little improvement project

Day 107: Beach BBQ
I take a little drive on my lunch hour