Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stranger Things Happened in Milwaukee

Yowza, did we get happy last Saturday night on the Partridge Family Party Bus Stranger Party adventure in Milwaukee! What a wild and wonderful evening!

Our initial cozy group of ten met at a fireside table at the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery. ("Best Place" is the actual and very apt name.) After introductions and small talk, we hopped onboard the bus—with our traveler cups—to set sail that day for a six-hour tour. A six-hour tour… (Are you singing along? Because we sure did, all night.)

By our second venue, we were feeling so comfortable together and enjoying ourselves so much that our server at Bryant's Cocktail Lounge, Milwaukee’s “oldest cocktail lounge,” warned us twice to keep the noise down. It was a lovely place with terrific PERSONALLY TAILORED cocktails, but we moved on to where our loud enthusiasm might be better suited.

Over the next several hours, we cruised downtown Milwaukee, visiting a total of eight bars and pubs. They varied from Victor's on Van Buren, a hot local dance club that my 23-year-old son cringed about going to with his mother (oh, I danced, just to embarrass him further), to Who's On Third, Milwaukee's Pub (the BEST cheese curds in Milwaukee), to the Old German Beer Hall, where we sang the E.I.O Polka and took shots from a wooden shot-ski. (The last time I did a shot in a bar? Probably in the eighties. The next time? Don’t hold your breath.)

Midway through the night, our Partridge Bus morphed into the Pied Piper Bus. Our passengers more than doubled as we made adventurous new friends along the way, including a middle-aged couple, their power-lifting pro daughter, and their delightful companions. And, a special shout-out to Taylor, who was a hard-core trooper.

In between our stops, we sang, did classic TV trivia, laughed nonstop, and annoyed the hell out of our somewhat patient bus driver.

It proved to be one of the craziest and most entertaining nights I’ve ever had, accentuated by the company of a handful of close friends plus many new and random ones.

Ten other outings remain on the Stranger Party Tour over the next year, including our Jan. 24 events in Chicago, to cave-spelunking in Austin, to a scavenger hunt in Boston. The bar’s been set pretty high by the first two outings in Orlando and Milwaukee. Yet I have a feeling we’ll find a way to match that fun.

When’s the last time you did something for the first time? Those of us who joined in on the Partridge Family Bus escapade in Milwaukee can say: Just last weekend. 


Read about other upcoming events on The 52/52 Project's National Stranger Party Tour here: https://www.facebook.com/The52at52Project/posts/395041997326397


Friday, November 28, 2014

Take a Risk, Change Your Life, Meet New Friends, and Make Memories

Are you considering, but still on the fence, about joining in one of The 52/52 Project's Stranger Party National Tour outings? Here are a couple heartwarming responses I've gotten:

"I wanted to express to each of you how grateful I am for the time we spent together during the Stranger Parties! You guys have rocked my world and raised me out of a depression period that I could not shake! I am reignited and ready to take on the world (well, maybe not the whole world because that would be insane). So, thank you! Love you all and hope we can get together again!"

And this:

"Sherry has taught me a lot about risk-taking, I'm not very outgoing, little old shy me:). I didn't know what to expect. But it was a life changer. I had so much fun! I have to thank all of you for a trip I'll always remember!"

Wow. Can't wait to meet more new friends and for us to make new memories together! For details on joining one of our upcoming Stranger Party excursions, see the Events page: https://www.facebook.com/The52at52Project/events

Milwaukee is only a week away--sign up now!

Monday, November 24, 2014

From Strangers to Friends: Coming Your Way

I'm excited to provide an updated list of locations for the 52/52 Stranger Party Tour! Many dates are still pending--so check back often here and at The 52/52 Project's Facebook page. Hoping to meet up for fun, adventure, and the always amazing experience of meeting new friends:

December 6—7:30 p.m. in Milwaukee: Come on, Get Happy, as we rent the Partridge Family Party Bus for a pub crawl through downtown Milwacky, Wisconsin! Along the way we’ll test our worthless know-how of classic TV trivia and theme songs: http://partridgefamilypartybus.com/ Click on the Events tab to "join" and to see how to register through PayPal. Plenty of seats still available. Only $25 to reserve your seat for a fun night! REGISTER NOW!

January (date TBD)—Chicago: Because, seriously, who wouldn't want to ice-skate in the Windy City in January? The good news is we'll be skating indoors. The bad news is we'll be skating on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building. Toughen up, ye who are afraid of heights! We'll cap it off with a fun dinner and drinks.

February 21—Toledo: We'll be TRAPPED in Toledo. We'll need to use our wits to get out, before time runs out. A great dinner with all our new friends will follow. http://www.trappedtoledo.com/

March 28—Austin: Now’s your chance to finally get over those pesky personal fears like acrophobia, claustrophobia, nyctophobia, and entomophobia, as we master the messy and somewhat frightening art of cave spelunking.
http://www.longhorncaverns.com/wildcave.html. Evening festivities still pending, per the know-how of our co-hosts, Insane-in-the-Mom-Brain, RachRiot, and The Kick Ass Social Club.

April (date TBD)—Boston: Nothing here but old-fashioned fun in a slightly crazy new way, while we take part in a group scavenger hunt. The only caveat: If you’re on my team, be prepared to meet a brutal taskmaster. We’ll win this thing, or else: http://www.watsonadventures.com/public/location/boston/

May 23-24—Denver area: Join me for a night of séances and ghost-hunting at the haunted Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King penned The Shining. The next day, any survivors (or those who choose to forgo the ghost-hunt) will grasp hands and grimace our way across the Royal Gorge Bridge, the highest freaking bridge in the U.S.: https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=royal+gorge+bridge+colorado+walking&ei=UTF-8&fr=chr-greentree_ff&ilc=12&type=903578

June (date TBD)—Cincinnati/Newport: If you’ve had a lifelong burning desire to roll around inside a human-sized hamster ball, here is your opportunity. Yes, apparently this is a thing. Barf bags not included. After, we'll fight off any lingering nausea with dinner at Newport on the Levee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BpHJckNZns

July (date TBD)—Toledo: Join us on the mighty Maumee River while we compete in the Partners in Education’s famously fun Dragon Boat Festival. Be prepared to show off your teamwork skills and your muscles. Word is, you’ll need to make up for a huge slacker in the boat. Celebratory dinner and drinks following, of course.

August 13-16—Southern Ohio: We’ll join the fabulous Brittany Gibbons and a cabinful of friends we haven’t yet met, at Camp Throwback. Relive your best childhood experiences with traditional camp activities like archery or arts and crafts—updated for adult fun by drinking margaritas around the fire pit: http://www.campthrowback.com/

September 19—Southern Indiana: No obstacle too great for those of us taking part in The Stranger Party Tour of 2015! Unless we’re competing in a Rugged Maniac Race. And then, all bets are off: http://www.ruggedmaniac.com/events/southern-indiana/ Those who aren't too exhausted can join us for some evening camaraderie.

October—Location, date, and activities still pending


Why are we holding a National Stranger Party Tour? Out of The 52/52 Project's personal new challenges last year, being part of a "Stranger Party" proved to be the most popular--and the experience readers said they would most enjoy. Trying something new and semi-crazy with a diverse group of people of all ages and backgrounds will lead to the most intriguing conversations you've ever had--and lots of laughs. Read more about our very first stranger party here: https://www.facebook.com/The52at52Project/posts/264552507042014, and see The 52/52 Project's Facebook page for photos from our inaugural Orlando stop in November. 

More details and registration information coming. Check back here and at the The 52/52 Project "Events" tab. And share with your friends!

Hoping to meet up with many of you on the 52/52 Stranger Party Tour!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Harvesting Your Talents at the Winter Wheat Festival

Just a reminder that I'll be presenting a session at the 14th annual Winter Wheat Festival, a celebration of writers and readers, to be held Nov. 13-15 at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Produced by the literary journal "Mid-American Review," the festival includes appearances by authors Sharona Muir, Anne Valente, Marcus Wicker, and Allison Joseph. In addition, participants can attend their choices of 56 diverse and interesting workshops.

On Saturday morning, Nov. 15, I will lead a session on "Enhancing Your Narrative Non-Fiction through an Anti-Bucket List." I'll be talking about The 52/52 Project and also discussing how attendees can change their lives through their own experiences outside their comfort zones.

Winter Wheat is a terrific (and very affordable) event for writers seeking to sharpen their skills, as well as aspiring writers looking for a great place to start. For more information about the festival's events and registration, click here:

http://casit.bgsu.edu/midamericanreview/winter-wheat/

Monday, October 27, 2014

Crashing with Class

It's not often I find myself the normal one in the crowd. Then again, this wasn't the kind of crowd I generally run with...

I knew, when "20/20" contacted me, that wedding-crashing was the topic of the segment. I can't say, however, that I was aware of the particular slant they had planned for most of the show. I bit off half my fingernails while watching the first 45 minutes.

I wish they had managed to capture the goal and the essence of The 52/52 Project, with a brief mention that wedding-crashing (with a conscience) was just one of 52 new challenges I checked off a list last year. Yet rather than proving to be a cautionary tale (it wouldn't have been my first time), I was relieved I appeared to be the moral of this story.

My national TV debut provided an unexpected and bizarre finish to my year of new adventures. I faced another huge challenge--talking in front of a camera for a national audience--with little time to plan or prepare. 


When you choose to put yourself out there, it's amazing what you can do.

Maybe that's the real moral to any story.

If you don't want to watch the whole segment, skip ahead to 4:55 in the video here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Going out with a Bang--and a Crash

Thank you to everyone who tuned in to "20/20" last night, especially those who endured the preceding hour of miscreants and marauders, pondering--as I did--how exactly I might fit in.

As footage continued of serial criminals, psychopaths, and dancing hamsters, I slunk down into my seat and began questioning my judgment in advertising my appearance. Because this clearly would NOT end well.

My mother murmured something about regretting that she spent the last two days calling everyone she knew: including our dentist.

When the camera suddenly opened up on a shot of me at my laptop, my mother and friends shouted in unison. I guzzled half-a-beer and waited to see how my story would play out.

Admittedly, I was perplexed there was no mention of The 52/52 Project or how my wedding-crasher escapade fit into an entire year of new personal challenges. Within that context, I think my story's angle would have proven clearer and more interesting.

But that disappointment was far outweighed by the positive slant my story was given: especially considering how the interview might have been sliced and diced. Instead of fitting me in with the rest of the cast of characters, the producers chose to give me a slightly-less-crazy, nontraditional wedding-crasher status.

The clincher appeared that, even though I'd walked in off the street to mingle with the crowd and enjoy a couple drinks, I'd brought the bride and groom a gift. (Well, of course I did. I do have a FEW social skills.) And the news correspondent's final line about my segment provided me with full redemption: "If you're going to crash, crash with class."

One reader friend said I was "a rare voice of sanity amidst the criminal horde." Huh. "A rare voice of sanity." That was something I didn't often hear. I guess sometimes it pays to run with a bad crowd, even it's only on-screen.

My national TV debut proved to be an unexpected addition to my year of new and strange adventures. While it didn't play out exactly as anticipated, the strangest and most exciting experiences seldom do. As I learned early on in The 52/52 Project: Sometimes the best plan is no plan at all.

And, as one reader pointed out, the experience allowed me to finish out my 52nd year with a bang--or should we say--a crash.

Today is my birthday. I am 53.

Cheers to a new year of living life.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The One Where They Allowed Me On National TV

A still-shot from our shooting: looking far less terrified than I was.
Breaking news from The 52/52 Project: I will be featured tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 24, on the ABC show 20/20. 

Total craziness. And it started the very next morning after I posted a quote on my 52/52 Facebook page about fate--and making sure you opened the door when opportunity comes knocking. Ahem.

Quite the whirlwind experience. An editor from the show was researching a story on Monday about wedding-crashers, and she happened upon a story about my own 52/52 wedding-crashing experience, which had been published just a few days prior. Pure serendipity.

Long story short: They contacted me and we jumped massive hoops to make it happen. After being on again and off again for three days, we taped Wednesday night. 

So, I'm making my national TV debut this Friday, Oct. 24, at 10 p.m., on 20/20. And you guys thought it would probably be on "America's Most Wanted."

If you tune in, you may wish to make a drinking game of it: a drink for every time I mumble, "um," or adjust my bra strap. (Surely they'll edit all that out??) 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Stranger Party Tour of 2015

I'm excited to provide a tentative list of locations and events for the next leg of The 52/52 Project journey: The Stranger Party Tour of 2015 (beginning in November 2014). A few locations are yet undetermined, and several dates are pending--so be sure to subscribe to this blog by email and follow my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/The52at52Project

Hoping to meet up with several of you for fun, adventure, and the always amazing experience of meeting new friends:

1) November 10 and 11—Orlando: Be sure to wear your elastic-waist pants as we eat and drink our way through every country around the world at Epcot. The next evening, we’ll burn off all those calories through nonstop laughter while playing Drag Queen Bingo: http://hamburgermarys.com/orlando/

2) December 6—Milwaukee: Come on, Get Happy, as we rent the Partridge Family party-bus for a pub crawl and sightseeing through Milwacky, Wisconsin! Along the way we’ll test our worthless knowledge with Silly Sitcom Trivia. Among the highlights is certain to be the requirement for each passenger to sing a TV show theme song at one of our stops. Just $25 to reserve your seat on the bus, with reservation information coming soon: http://partridgefamilypartybus.com/

3) January—Pending

4) February—Pending

5) March (Date TBD)—Austin: Now’s your chance to finally get over those pesky personal fears like acrophobia, claustrophobia, nyctophobia, and entomophobia, as we master the messy art of cave spelunking: http://www.cloud9living.com/austin/wild-cave-spelunking

6) April—Boston (Date TBD): Nothing here but old-fashioned fun in a slightly crazy new way, while we take part in an outdoor group scavenger hunt. The only caveat: If you’re on my team, be prepared to meet a brutal taskmaster. We’ll win this thing, or else: http://www.watsonadventures.com/public/location/boston/

7) May (Dates TBD)—Denver area: Join me for a night of séances and ghost-hunting at the haunted Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King penned The Shining. The next day, any survivors (or those who choose to forgo the ghost-hunt) will grasp hands and grimace our way across the Royal Gorge Bridge, the highest freaking bridge in the U.S.: https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=royal+gorge+bridge+colorado+walking&ei=UTF-8&fr=chr-greentree_ff&ilc=12&type=903578

8) June (Date TBD)—Cincinnati/Newport: If you’ve had a lifelong burning desire to roll around inside a human-sized hamster ball, here is your opportunity. Yes, apparently this is a thing. Barf bags not included: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BpHJckNZns

9) July (Date TBD)—Toledo: Join me on the mighty Maumee River while we compete in the Partners in Education’s famously fun Dragon Boat Festival. Be prepared to show off your teamwork skills and your muscles. Word is, you’ll need to make up for a huge slacker in the boat.

10) August 13-16—Southern Ohio: We’ll join the fabulous Brittany Gibbons and a cabinful of friends we haven’t yet met, at Camp Throwback. Relive your best childhood experiences with traditional camp activities like archery or arts and crafts—updated for adult fun by drinking margaritas around the firepit. Tickets are on sale NOW: http://www.campthrowback.com/

11) September 19—Southern Indiana: No obstacle too great for those of us taking part in The Stranger Party Tour of 2015! Unless we’re competing in a Rugged Maniac Race. And then, all bets are off: http://www.ruggedmaniac.com/events/southern-indiana/

12) Pending

More details coming, so stay tuned. And please share with your friends. Hoping to meet up with many of you on the Stranger Party Tour of 2015!