Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dare Us to Move: Take Two!

Hey all--it's been a while.  Most of a year, I know.  But life got a bit crazy for a bunch of us last fall.  Several dare takers entered their senior year of college, some of us found full-time work after a few years of freedom.  Whatever the reason, we've been slow to talk up the dares this year. 

Forgive us.

We still really want your dares!  Last year, we were able to provide several young writers with scholarships to the annual retreat.  We hope to do the same this year!  So please, pull out the wackiest dare you can, toss it out our feet.  We will accept! 

Just note a few of our dare-takers are now on hiatus (due to that senior year thing and a tiny little event call graduation!).  Check back because you never know when they might come back. 

In the meantime, please dare away!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Intro: Eleanor

Name: Eleanor, a.k.a. EclecticElegance

Location: Colorado Springs, CO.

Hiya! :)

Right now I'm a senior in college, concurrently majoring both in English and Chemistry with an emphasis in pre-dentistry, but I also love to write.

When I joined CleanPlace almost three years ago as a freshman in college, I had not written any fiction in five years and almost no poetry for a year. Once I started sharing my writing on there and receiving feedback from the other members and the mentors, I rediscovered my muse. Now I've written more in those two years than all my other years of writing in middle school and high school combined, and my poetry and prose are both much more vivid than they ever used to be. There are things I continue to learn to balance in my writing as I discover my voice, but CleanPlace reawakened my longing to capture life in the lyricisms found in the written word. Since I've been on CleanPlace, I've been published in my college's literary arts journal twice and have read my poetry at an open mic and a poetry slam at school, and now I am focusing on submitting work to contests and online magazines.

Though I'm typically a cautious person, I do have an adventurous streak that longs to set out on epic quests. :) I'll attempt any sort of challenge you'd like to throw at me, provided it falls within the rules laid out here. Like sing songs in a crowded hallway between classes with a friend. Anything that makes others smile. So dare me!

I'm usually roaming about eastern Colorado--going to school, hanging out with my family, tutoring Chemistry, or hiking with one of our three doggies. I also love playing my antique violin from the late 1800s, even though I can't do the vibrato just yet. I've also been known to wear random costumes on campus--a rose-colored Victorian outfit, complete with a white parasol, to my 19th Century British Literature class, or my red cloak, speckled with Scarlet Pimpernel flowers, to Biology one Wednesday last spring.

I await your dares with much anticipation! :)

(Bio page updated 5/13/2012)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dare: Michelles at Michelle's

Dare: My second dare was to gather people named Michelle in front of the old Michelle's restaurant/candy shop downtown. (Sadly, it's been closed for several years, and nothing new has gone into the space.)

It sounded cute and fun until I realized . . .

I don't know anyone named Michelle.

Almost. The only Michelle I know currently lives on the other side of the country. This presents a certain amount of problems, since the dare didn't include the cost of flying a Michelle across the U.S.

I put off my dare, figuring a solution would come to me. It was Nia (Sara) who suggested pictures of people named Michelle. Then I just got busy, until last week, when Nia called me and said, "Let's do your dare on Thursday!"

So on Thursday, Nia pulled up in the driveway. I grabbed my one Michelle picture and a jacket and ran out the door. That's when the thunder and lightning started.

The rain held off for the most part, only sprinkling while Nia and I hurried from our parking spot a few stores down. When I stood in front of Michelle's, I felt very vulnerable holding a metal picture frame while lightning flashed way too close for my comfort. (Which explains that not-so-thrilled expression on my face.)

We were never in any immediate danger, as Nia could tell you, but I'm always very jumpy about thunder and lightning. Having my picture taken outside during a thunderstorm was a scarier experience than eating peas!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dare: Take Cookies to a Nun

This turned out to be surprisingly easy and productive, if a bit nerve-wracking at first. Google informed me that there's a center for women recovering from substance abuse run by Sisters of the Good Shepherd close to my apartment. I called them up and the nun who answered had no idea how to handle my bizarre request to drop off cookies on a Saturday night, so she gave me the cell phone number for Sister Marguerite, the manager. Sister Marguerite was extremely friendly, and accepted my proposition, agreeing to meet me at the administrative office, so I bought some cookies at a nearby grocery store.

She gave me helpful directions, and even left the gate open for my arrival.

When I was about to leave she asked if I had any questions for her, so we sat down in her office and chatted about the homeless shelter some Stanford friends and I are planning to launch in the next few years. She promised to call if she came up with any potential contacts for us. She was very astute, and intuited the dare I had been given when I asked to take a picture with her. She seemed to like the idea of Dare Us To Move when I explained myself :). Thank you for sending me on this quest, Sara, and for getting all of us moving, David.

P.S. I'm planning to email the picture of Sister Marguerite and I to Sara, who gave me the challenge, but I'd rather not post the photo online, because I forgot to ask her if that was okay with her.

Dare: Face Your Fears (Part Five)

Part I: Eat Something You Haven't Dared to Eat.

When I walked into Crepevine, this dare was the last thing on my mind. I started scanning the menu in my usual fashion, reading the ingredients of each option until I found one that displeased me and hastily skipping to the next prospective dinner. After a minute, I noticed to my dismay that I was nearing the end of the list with only a pittance of meals having survived my rigorous filter. I perked up when I realized that made this the perfect restaurant to try something I wouldn't have dared to eat. Reversing my algorithm to seek out the least tasty item on the menu, I succeeded far more rapidly. The Florentine Savory Crepe contains a total of 3 raw ingredients that I would eat on a less masochistic day: spinach, jack cheese, and the crepe shell itself. They just happened to be the three mildest ingredients and succumb to the villainy of of mushrooms, glazed onions, and, my newfound arch-nemesis, cottage cheese.

I foolishly gulped down all of the tasty carrot juice before starting on the monster crepe, leaving no safety valve by which to wash out the taste.

Just the sight of cottage cheese makes me cringe.

But I would not be deterred.

And though it was painful, I can now say with certainty that I need not taste cottage cheese again for another five years.

Yum incarnate rewarded my conquest.

Part II: Meet Someone You Haven't Dared To Meet.

While I've had a plethora of fantastic opportunities to complete this dare on account of interactions with fellow bus and metro passengers and pedestrians, I make a habit of avoiding carrying my rather expensive camera through one of the less safe neighborhoods of San Francisco. All this to say, that this dare was far more deliberate than the previous one. With my camera swinging against my chest, I rode my bike up and down 3rd Street, which had provided no end of interesting characters unlike most people I typically interact with. After 45 minutes of failures and lacks of courage, I heard a lot of singing and locked my bike to the support of a nearby tree. It turned out the singing was coming from a Baptist Church, but there were some guys chatting in Spanish outside the building next door, so I asked them what that building was. They explained that it was an Alcoholics Anonymous, so I asked if everyone was welcome. They said yes, so I headed in and started chatting with Jorge, who was lounged on half a row of chairs near the back. He opened by asking how my day had been in Spanish, which made me realize that this AA was intended for Spanish speakers.

I explained that I'd had a long day, and he asked where I was from (Alabama) and whether I had problems with alcohol (no) or drugs (also no). "I'm actually just here to meet people," I stammered, to which he shrugged a "that's cool." The service was just starting, and I had a meeting at the same time, so I bailed promising to return next week when I had more time. Jorge informed me it would be same-time, same-place.

I didn't feel like it would've been right to take photographs at an anonymous meeting, so I snapped a shot of the entrance. (I also falsified Jorge's name.)

Part III: Summarize au Haiku.

Cottage of the mind
splurging bitterly enchains
our dour existence.

Dare: Haggis and Haggis and Haggis, Oh My!

Unfortunately, some of my friends know me a bit too well, specifically that I'm a picky eater who does not easily try new foods. So Mrs. Burklin dared me to not only try haggis, but to eat at least ten bites. I first tried it in Glasgow as part of another dare, but I was not impressed. It was like a mushy, spicy meatloaf made of sheep innards. Fortunately, Scotland has no end of ways to prepare haggis, and just like the South back in America, Scotland loves deep frying.

So I had haggis fish 'n' chips style! And yes, french fries are called "chips" over here. As it turns out, the haggis was not only edible but enjoyable, and if I ever go back and don't feel like trying out some other Scottish dish, I know I'll be going back for more haggis. And just in case you have any doubts, here's my "clean" plate!

And as you might observe, yes, I had ketchup with the haggis. To complete the dare, here is a little limerick:


I went to a café for haggis,
and thought there was something amiss.
But the meat was superb
so the truth could disturb
naught of my sheep innards' bliss.

Dare: Link Goes to Scotland (The Scottish Milk Bar)

When MangyCat dared me to go to a Scottish pub and order a glass of milk, I'm not sure that she realized just how perfect a dare that was. For those of you who are not video game nerds, allow me to explain. One of my favorite games is called The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, in which you play a hero named Link, who always wears his green garb and a sword. As it is a kid-friendly game, they never make any direct references to alcohol. This does not stop them from including a bar in the game. Instead, the bar serves milk which Link can use to replenish his health! So when Mangy asked me to go order milk from a pub in Scotland, I immediately made the connection to the game and carried out the task with pleasure!

Here I am with two of my flatmates at the William Wallace, a great and friendly pub right by campus. We asked to take a picture of the place, and immediately the bartender offered to take a picture with us behind the bar, so that was awesome! Unfortunately, they didn't have any milk, but we had a good time nonetheless.