Fine Dining

This week I had a taste of the finer things.


The Challenge.

Have dinner in a place with a dress code and a hefty price tag.


Why This Challenge?

The purpose of this challenge stems from my cooking. I am in no way a great cook, being mediocre at best. Additionally, I do not come from a family of wealth, so the restaurants I have been to previously were middle class. Delicious of course, but not anything amazing. I wanted a taste of the ‘good life’. Plus, treating my girlfriend always makes me happy.

The challenge part of this comes from my lack of money and need to save for such an occasion.


Execution.

The lack of knowledge about high-class restaurants in my area was a simple fix: Facebook. The top recommendation that was both not seafood (Natalie isn’t a fan) and not too expensive, was a Wine Bar and grill named Moo Moos. My lady and I got dressed up, went on in for our 8:15 reservation and were pleasantly surprised.

I was definitely out of my element and trying to go with the flow but Natalie seemed at ease in the environment.

You know your restaurant is fancy when they offer you 4 different types of WATER. A waiter comes and gives us the spiel about the menu, the specials, and his recommendations. I cut him off before he finishes because I feel bad: I’m on a budget and I know what I want. A single Dr. Quinn cocktail for the both of us, and two steaks.

He asks about sides and I think he is talking about separate dishes. Everyone there can see we, or at the very least I, am not meant to be there. The drink comes and the courier laughs at our game of Chinese chopsticks. The food arrives with complementary sauces (thank you Moo Moos) and Natalie and I both agree that they are the best steaks of our lives. If you are okay spending $50-$100 on your meal and live in Brisbane, I would definitely recommend Moo Moos Bar and Grill.

 

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Hungry Jack’s Sundae for Dessert

 

 


Lasting Impact and Lessons.

Dining in such a place has sort of kick started my desire for riches. It has also shown me the benefit of spending money on experiences rather than objects. I may have only been able to have that meal once, but it was fun and had a substantial effect on my mood. I would love to do such a thing more often.


 

June 21: The Stone Age, Sort Of

Day 21: No Tech.

Notice: I went through a spout of depression and complete absence of motivation, and so challenges 19 and 20 were not done. I apologize.


Why this Challenge?

Phones and laptops are terrible for you. Don’t get me wrong, they let us accomplish amazing things, but when they control us they destroy our attention spans, our motivation, our imagination and much more.

But they are also rather addictive, so scheduling in time without is kind of a necessity.


Execution.

I kind of cheated in the sense that I still had an alarm, however as soon as I stopped that, I turned off my phone and did not look at it again for the rest of the day. It was quite easy once I decided it actually.


What I’ve Learned.

My phone and my Laptop take up a ton of my day, and when I did not I have them I was forced to do other things. Granted, that was mainly just sleeping, but even with an extra five hours of nap time, I still got more done in the day than usual, which I think is just crazy. I shall do this more often.


 

June 18: Life Purpose

Day 18: Write a life image.


Why this challenge?

I have no idea what I want to do in life, and I hate it. My university course was a move of interest, and not something I wanted to pursue afterward. My work is simply a means to make money, even if I am learning a lot about alcohol and its culture. I have no idea what I want to do.

This challenge was set in the hopes that once I sat down my whole life’s purpose would come flooding out onto the paper.


Execution.

I was helping collect tickets at the door to a school dance concert, and between the two performances, I put pen to paper. I find writing such things by hand, rather than typing them, to be a much better idea. There is something intimate about it.


What I’ve Learned.

I still have no idea what I want to do in life. Perhaps there is no such thing as a life’s purpose, perhaps we have to make our own life’s purpose or perhaps it isn’t an issue at all. There is no physical future, much like there is no physical past, and maybe we have to keep that in mind with the topic of purpose. Do what you want to in your specific moment in time, and make the most of it.


I will be taking a day or two off of this blog, for personal reasons.

June 17: Tour De France

The challenge was simple: go for a bike ride. The execution was not simple.


Why this challenge?

I own a bike. I bought this bike a little over a year ago. I have probably ridden this bike less than ten times. That is why I chose the ‘challenge’.

The second reason for doing this is that I am the type of person who stays in his room. I will go to work, lectures, and be at home, that is all. But going outside is great, being around trees is amazing and simply being mobile is enjoyable. Staying inside is easy, however. Comfortable also.

I purchased my bike to ride to university, and the first time I did, a piece of glass punctured my tire. Being somewhat of an extraordinarily lazy person, I did not get around to fixing it until I moved, six months later. Since then, the main users of my bike have been the people I live with, which is great because if that wasn’t the case, it would probably have no users at all.


Execution.

As a direct result of my not using it, the bike was in disrepair. The joint between the handlebars and the rest of the frame was loose, making them not only wiggle but slide side to side. Add to that a semi-flat front tire as well as bad wheel alignment and you can imagine how difficult it was to ride. I could blame my housemate for not repairing the bike after he used it, but I could also blame myself for simply not using it at all. I choose option 2. The trip was only half an hour, around the immediate neighborhood, but it was pleasant, and the wind in my face actually improved my day.


What I’ve Learned.

Only buy things you will use. Like most, consumerism grips me to the core, urging me to always buy, buy, buy. Regardless of how much I scratch the itch, another object takes the pedestal of want. I make it sound like an addiction because it is, society is just built to see this addiction in a positive light.

Be honest with yourself for a moment, and ponder this:

Do you find yourself with no money at the end of every pay week? I do. I could work an extra couple of hours, or even get a better paying job, and I will always have no money. Because, much like a drug addiction, the moment supply goes up, demand does as well. Your wants swell to the size of your ability to acquire them. You get more money, and so you can buy better things.

Stopping yourself buying unnecessarily is easier said than done. Marketing is a billion-dollar business with the sole purpose of making you want. Businesses are in the business of making you desire their product, simple, and all the individuals in society perpetuate those desires. All of this is in the name of looking good. An average car might get the job done perfectly, but we want a Ferrari. I could wear an average t-shirt, but I want that branded logo. I could enjoy music from a cheaper speaker, but I want the one that is 50% more expensive, even if it is only 5% better. Why? Well, people will see it and think I am cool of course! I know it is stupid and yet it is so ingrained within society, human biology and my very self that it is incredibly hard to curb.

What is more, also in parallel with other addictions, your brain justifies it in any way possible. It will work much better, I will have it for a very long time so it is worth it, I got paid extra so I can afford it and plain impulsively purchasing with no regard are all tools the brain uses to reach its desired drug.

I bought my bike with full intention to use it but I did not. An ample amount of self-honesty and a dash of ‘I’ll be fine without it’ is essential to stop the addiction train in its tracks. Again, easier said than done.

I shall try.


 

June 16: Social Conformity

The task: Lie on the floor for 10 minutes in a busy area.


Why this challenge?

Anxiety sucks. I don’t have extreme anxiety or anything, just regular old social anxiety. When you think your shirt looks stupid and immediately assume everyone is looking at you, saying the same thing, or when you notice you are walking funny and start analyzing your walking which makes it worse and sets you into a downward spiral until you give up and sit down. That sort of stuff.

Heart thumping, adrenaline running through your veins and tunnel vision that accompany anxiety are all results from the fear response. You know, the thing that is supposed to prevent you from being eaten by a tiger. That fear response sucks but isn’t objectively a bad thing. What’s bad is when we let it affect our actions and stop us from doing the things we want to. So how do you prevent it from controlling you? Well, it is quite simple: become familiar and learn to be okay.

I first heard of this from a company called comfort zone crushers. Basically, they issue challenges that put you out of your comfort zone so you can grow as a person. Conquering fear and social anxiety sounds like a great thing to do to me, hence this challenge.


Execution.

I would first like to note that from the moment I got into my Uber, my heart was racing. I went to one of the major train stations in my city (Central Station) and asked the workers very politely, heart trying to tear out of its prison, if I would be allowed to. With thoroughly confused faces they declined. So, I rode the train to a lesser known station, in a sort of food court/shopping center and laid down, heart still thumping, just inside the entryway.

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A few seconds after I did so, the steady war drum in my chest died down to… a less intense war drum? (I didn’t know how to complete that metaphor) Why did it die down? Well, the fear was unwarranted. No one cared. The very worst thing I got were strange looks.

The majority of people either didn’t look or simply looked and kept walking without a second glance. A few people gave strange confused glances, and a lot more than I thought actually smiled at me. I was met with smart quips about stargazing and how it was a great place for a nap. At one point a child, hand in hand with his father, pointed at me, giggled and exclaimed: “look at that man Daddy!”. He was adorable and it made me beam. About halfway a girl, who I found out was named Lane, sat down beside me and shared a pleasant chat. After 6 minutes, I got up because I was already late for work and felt like I had conquered my fear.


What I’ve Learned.

One thing I have learned from studying psychology is that social conditioning is a tremendously powerful influence, drilled into us from the moment we are born. The reptilian brain, which all humans have, perceives social ridicule as a threat to your life and triggers the fear response in an attempt to save you. Your body treats any perceived threat, such as a tiger, starvation and you guessed it, social ridicule. We have the same response to an angry tiger as we do to the possibility of someone thinking we are weird.

Social anxiety is stupid. I mean, I understood that already, however now I know it to the core. Am I suddenly vanquished of all anxiety? Hell no, that wasn’t the point of the exercise. Am I better able to handle such things? Definitely. At least a little.


 

June X: Sunday Best

Today’s challenge: sew something.

A note: Someone told me that I should have been more specific with my list of challenges, and I am starting to agree. Bake something new and sew something are very broad objectives.


Why this challenge?

Sewing has always appealed to me. Not in the grandma knitting a sweater way, but more of a self-sufficient way. I am a fan of repairing your own clothes, or at least the concept of it, as I don’t think I have ever done so. Hence why this is a challenge.


Execution.

I may have cheated a little. I could not find anything that needed sewing, so I took an old shirt I no longer wear (was keeping it in case I needed to paint a house or some other dirty job) and ripped a hole in it:

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Through the magic of YouTube, I got the basics of sewing a hole shut, and I have had a three-dollar sewing kit that I picked up from Coles for a while, so I was set. Ten minutes later and I had successfully patched up my piece of chest cloth:

 

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No clue why I used green thread…

 

It isn’t exactly photogenic, but it isn’t a hole anymore, so I’d call it a mission success. It doesn’t need to look good for me, as I wouldn’t really wear a patched-up shirt to something that I need to dress well for.


What I’ve Learned.

Well, I have learned to sew holes shut obviously…

But I also found myself appreciating the virtue of patience, as well as the joy of simple, semi-repetitive tasks. Do I enjoy sewing? Well, no, I am not going to go out of my way to sew something, and it is not going to become my hobby, but I don’t really dislike it either. Plus I always enjoy learning a new skill.


 

4th June: Pleasant walks

All truly great thoughts are concieved by walking. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Day 4: go for a walk and explore a little of my neighborhood. I only had 4 hours sleep, as I was attending a friend’s birthday lunch (Happy Birthday Mikala) and obviously had work the night before, so I was definitely drowsy. The walk was pleasant nonetheless.


Why did I choose the challenge?

I moved into my current place about 6 months ago, and all that time I haven’t explored the surrounding area, even though I’ve been meaning to. Having knowledge of the areas I frequent is a big thing for me. I think it helps with my mental model of the place, and thus navigation. It also makes me feel like I know the area, which I guess is true after I explore, and this makes me feel more at home and less like a tourist.

 

I did it with my university, which was fun. I explored my two campuses during my breaks and found many little hidey holes, including more than a couple areas obviously used illegally (uni students hey).


Execution.

When I got off at my regular bus stop after lunch, I simply walked the opposite direction. Straight off the bat, I see this happen:

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This guy got pulled over for speeding, his fault I guess. Nothing special, so I pressed on.

Whenever something caught my eye or piqued my interest, I went there. Lots of things caught my eye. It was roadside pickup near me, and although everything was junk, it was still interesting. (I got a much-needed curtain rod out of the trip, how unbelievably exciting!). I don’t know if it is every day during roadside pickup, or just today, or even just Sundays, but I saw at least 3 cars exemplifying “one man’s trash, another man’s treasure”, and just circling the neighborhood looking for stuff. Kudos to them for taking the opportunity.

 

Speaking of treasure, have a look at this tiny little sofa:

 

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No idea why this was so funny to me.

 

 

I eventually got behind the QE2 hospital, and something definitely interested me:

 

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Nondescript dirt roads always offer intrigue.

 

 

It wasn’t as interesting as promised. All it had was a tube of toothpaste. Not joking. However, I did get told by one of the hospital guards that the forest on the left is government property and that it is a buffer between the hospital and the morgue. He asked me very kindly to leave. Five meters further down from the entrance I see this sign:

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Probably should have known not to go there. Oops.

 

But anyway, after more dull walking, and new curtain rod in hand, I headed home.


What I’ve learned.

Walking is pleasant. It gives rooms for your thoughts and the continuous movement gives room for your thoughts to simply move on, instead of dwelling too much. I should walk more often.

My entire trip was through suburbia, which solidified my want to not live in such a place. I like land, I like big yards and I looove scenery. I also really love stars, which you do not get in the city, unfortunately. Oh, and clean air. Clean air is great. Stars humble me, clean air is obviously amazing both for health and for the smell, and land gives a sense of freedom

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Thursday 1st June: Create a blog

Note: If you would like to see the list of challenges, scroll down to the bottom.

Do one thing every day that scares you. – Eleanor Roosevelt

This month I wanted to challenge myself.

     I will be doing one challenge a day for 30 days. These challenges aren’t objectively hard or anything, but they are challenges nonetheless. In addition to these challenges I have to handle normal life: work 4 days a week and 2 university exams. I look forward to it. It started off with me wanting to conquer something I had procrastinated for each day of the month, but it kind of ended with a list of things I have simply wanted to do for a while now. Day 1: create a blog, hence why this exists.


You’re probably asking yourself ‘Who the hell is this guy, how did I get here and why should I be reading this crap?’

The short answer:

I am Caleb, I have no clue how you got here, and you probably shouldn’t be reading this crap.

The long answer:

My name is Caleb, I live in Brisbane Australia, I study Psychology and Business at University and I work in a nightclub. That is essentially the bare-bones outline of myself. If you want more of the mundane, Go to the about section of my profile.

How did you get here? I honestly have no idea who you are or how you got here, but I’d love to know, so leave a comment.

Why the hell should you read my blog? Well, you probably shouldn’t. There are waayyy more productive things you could do, like running a marathon or painting a sheep. There are also way, WAY more entertaining writers than myself to read; I do not know any writing techniques, I do not even think I am that good of a writer and in fact, I am more than likely a terrible writer on account of me sleeping through almost the entirety of high school English. The fact is that I do not care if you read this blog, and I do not even know if I will continue this after the month: it is simply something to hold me accountable.


However, if you have read this far and haven’t thrown your computer/phone at the wall or vomited in your mouth a little, then why not stick around for the month? It will be fun! I will be doing a challenge a day for the entirety of this month (list below). If I miss one, feel free to abuse me in the comments 😉

The List

  1. Start a blog
  2. Give $20 to a homeless person or a busker
  3. Ban YouTube on my phone and my laptop
  4. Go for a walk around my neighbourhood
  5. Buy curtains
  6. Write a thank you letter
  7. Build a photo wall
  8. Call I relative that I don’t usually
  9. Bake something new from scratch
  10. Sew Something
  11. 2 hours of straight meditation
  12. De-clutter my room
  13. Learn a poem from scratch
  14. Do a 24-hour fast
  15. Learn the Wim Hof Method
  16. Lay on a busy sidewalk for 10 minutes
  17. Go for a bike ride
  18. Write a life image
  19. Read the Quran
  20. Go Camping
  21. No Technology for 24-hours
  22. Make my bed (with hospital corners)
  23. Dance like no one is watching for 15 minutes (subject to change)
  24. Write a page on what my dream house would be
  25. Talk to a stranger
  26. List 30 things I am grateful for
  27. Skydive
  28. Learn a song on guitar
  29. Invest in the stock market
  30. Recap the month

I will do everything in my power to complete the list in order, one a day.


Tonight I have work from 7:30pm-4am (which will probably turn into 4:30am). I take the bus home and get home at 6am.

I have work Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except the weekend I have tests, which are on the 9th and the 12th. These will not get in the way of the challenge.


See you tomorrow – Caleb