Monday, February 29, 2016

Firsts Changes (Change: part 4)

One of the big deal parts of 2015 for me is that it was a year full of "firsts." As we get older, "firsts" tend to trickle away into nothingness. Part of that is just part of the dynamic of being older. I mean, it's easy to have first events when you're a kid, because everything is new, so it just gets to be more difficult to "find" things you haven't done before. Or so it would seem to our "logical" minds. You can't have pizza for the first time if you've been eating it for 40 years, and throwing some broccoli on it hardly counts as making it a "first."

That said, there are so many things under the sun that, mostly, it's just because we get used to how things are and the way we do things and quit trying to try and do new things. As I said back at the beginning of all of this, change is uncomfortable and most people don't like to do it. But I set out in 2015 to do new things; I just didn't know some of the ways that was going to happen. So, in no particular order, things I did for the first time in 2015:

1. I fixed a toilet!
This is actually a big deal. I'm not the handy guy around the house. I don't really fix things beyond clogged toilets (Yes, I know how to wield a plunger.) and things of about that level. We don't have one of those people in our household. We lived in an apartment complex for nearly 10 years, and that was fine when we lived there, because we could just call maintenance if there was a problem with anything.

But, when you can hear your toilet leaking, you need to fix it or call a plumber. Or, well, lie awake all night listening to it. Yes, the door was closed. I have good ears and am a light sleeper.

Now, I'm not going to get into the details of this, but, actually, this should have been a pretty easy fix. Should have been. But... Let's just say things deteriorated. One thing of note: Our house is full of the DIY projects of the previous occupants, none of them done well or with any kind of materials you'd call "quality." So what should have been an easy fix turned into something much more... complicated... and took most of a week and three or four trips to Home Depot to accomplish.

But, hey! I fixed the toilet!
No, I don't care if you're not impressed.

2. Opera!
My wife has loved the opera since she was in high school. It was a field trip that did it. And the spectacle. And the costumes. And the singing. Maybe if I'd been to the same performance that she went to, I would have developed a love for opera, too.

Instead, my first experience with opera was during college and was with a travelling opera company that came to my college. It was less spectacle and more foreign film, and I didn't love it. Or even like it. Seriously, it was like watching a French film with no subtitles. One of those where the people only sit around and talk. Maybe the talk is fascinating but, if you don't know French, you'll never know.

So, due to my stated dislike of opera, my wife decided that we would just not ever go to the opera rather than go and have a bad experience of it with me. Through the years, I've tried to change her mind about trying it out with me, but she has been resistant to that. Finally, last year, I changed her mind (I think I said something like "You could continue to never go to the opera and never get to go to the opera, or you could, at least, just give it a try with me."), and we went to the opera! Four times!

Yes, it's safe to say that I like it.

We have one more coming up in June, and we're looking at next season, right now, trying to decide what we're going to see.

3. Camping
Despite the fact that we go camping in the Trinity Alps every year, I have traditionally not been a fan of camping. You can blame that on some childhood traumas, things like being hit in the face with a fishing pole and getting a fishhook in my eye during a trip with a friend's family and having my tent flooded due to bad instructions from my scout master on my one and only boy scout camping trip. Plus there's the fact that I hate not having access to a bathroom. The compromise to get me to go willingly to Trinity was that we rent cabins for that trip (which is awesome!).

My wife, though, likes camping. She grew up camping with her family and has positive memories of it from her childhood. You know, we actually sort of went camping on our honeymoon, but I look at that as more of just sleeping in a tent, because we were at a music festival and didn't cook or anything. We just bought food at the event.

I think this might have been the most surprising thing I did last year from my wife's perspective: I told her, "I want to go camping with you." To say the least, there was some amount of discussion after that one as my wife tried to figure out if either I'd gone crazy, been kicked in the head by a horse, or been replaced by an alien or replicant life form.

The problem, then, was that we didn't have any camping gear because why own camping gear if you don't camp, right? Also, you don't want to spend a bunch of money on something that you might never use again so buying a bunch of new camping gear wasn't exactly practical. We decided on a method of car camping which is actually pretty nice. Set up is quick and easy and the car is quite cozy. Of course, you have to have the right kind of car.

It was a great trip, even the night it rained. Many of the pictures I've been posting recently are from that trip, in fact. We plan to do more car camping, at least a couple of trips a year. Car camping allows us to be more mobile and spend more time doing things other than making and breaking camp. And, of course, there is no tent to clean out and store when you get home. I did actually intend to do a post about the trip but, at this point, that probably won't actually happen, so you'll just have to enjoy the photos.


  1. A fishhook to the eye would turn me off to camping too. Glad you got back into it though. I haven't been camping since my kids were young. I should get back into it. We had such good times!

  2. Not a fan of camping either. We did it when I was a kid and I preferred to hide in the camper than go out and get bitten by bugs. Or dirty.
    Fixing a toilet is a big deal. I've fixed ours twice now.

  3. I used to do a lot of camping, but I don't think I'd be into it anymore. I like my comfort of a nice bed and a nearby bathroom that's indoors. No way I'd ever get my wife to go camping short of some apocalyptic event where we had to stay outside or something and then she'd probably rather die than go camping.

    Now will you come and fix my slow leaking toilet? My quick fixes stop the running temporarily, but I fear a whole new float mechanism needs to be installed for a more permanent fix.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  4. I'm impressed! Fixing things can be hard. My toilet still randomly goes off when it isn't supposed to. And I can't believe your wife is the one who had to be talked into going when she loves it. It's good that you did though.

  5. I don't know which is a more terrifying image: a fishhook in the eye, or broccoli on pizza.

    But congrats on that toilet. I am still working on fixing OURS so if you happen to be in the Madison area and feel like fixing stuff, let me know.

    1. Briane: Take my word for it: It's the fishhook in the eye.

  6. I was pretty impressed with myself the first time I fixed a toilet. Alas, I got cocky one time and mangled the job, making things far worse than when I started. Ended up having to buy a whole new toilet... But now I know how to do that, too!

  7. I learned how to fix a toilet when every single toilet in the house (there are 3) broke simultaneously. What are the odds, right?

    Brandon and I both love and hate camping. On the occasions that it randomly snows and is suddenly icy cold, or there's a particularly huge rock digging into my back no matter how I roll around, or the smoke from the campfire keeps blowing into my eyes no matter how I move my head, or the ranger says, "Just as a heads up, a bear was spotted nearby!" ... yeah, that's not very fun.

    1. ABftS: The great thing about car camping is that you never have to sleep on a rock.

      We had a skunk one night. It wouldn't have been a problem except that it decided that its area was between our campsite and the restrooms.