A cure for malaise?
October 15, 2007 8:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for more fun than I'm entitled to. Safety, morality, and practicality are not concerns.

I've back at home after taking spending my two brief weeks of vacation on Burning Man and Beijing, China. Both places offered something I realize is sorely lacking from my life: wonderful novelty combined with spontaneity and reckless disregard for safety and moderation. I'm back in LA and settling back into my now painfully boring life, and I'm realizing that a lot of my boredom is self-inflicted. I'd like to do something about that.

What can I do in that could fill me with wonder, terror, and/or giddiness? Price is not an object, but please exclude activities which are pre-packaged and homogenized. LA-centric things are very welcome, but I'm open to just about anything.
posted by mullingitover to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Improv. Acting lessons (*that's* scary). Attending opera.
posted by amtho at 8:12 PM on October 15, 2007

Response by poster: That sentence should read "What can I do in LA that could fill me with wonder, terror, and/or giddiness? "

That's how I started to write it. Then I decided that the fun I'm looking for doesn't necessarily need to be in LA. That would be convenient, but convenience isn't necessarily a requirement if the activity is holyshitawesome enough.
posted by mullingitover at 8:12 PM on October 15, 2007

Take classes at The Groundlings School

Sing with Marty and Elayne at the Dresden on a Tuesday night.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:27 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Freebooting; parkour; swordplay; shipwreck diving; day trading; bar crawling on Sunset; wild boar hunting; archaeology [volunteering on a dig, or illegally Indiana Jones-style]; treasure hunting (preferably the kind without a metal detector); or joining a milita.

Also, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I would love to do any of these things, and have attempted at least several of them in the past. Please please please contact me if you're interested in doing these things with a partner -- I'm also in the LA area. My twitter is maxk.
posted by MaxK at 8:27 PM on October 15, 2007

You realize that there is someone, right now, sitting in their apartment, saying "Man, after that great trip to LA, where I could really let it all hang out, life here in Beijing just seems pallid and boring in comparison." And the people in the small towns near where Burning Man takes place probably say that all year long.

Meaning, it isn't the place, it's what you bring to it. Saying "what would be exciting?" is just too vague. Putting me in a room full of networking entertainment lawyers would give me a meltdown from the stress and the weirdness, but would seem totally normal to all the people already there. Someone else might say, wow, hanging out with the cholos in Echo Parque really gives me some thrills, and someone else will get excited by doing improv on a stage, but who's to say that either is something you would enjoy?

What you need to do is both really simple and almost impossible, which is learn to see your place -- your neighborhood, your city, your social circle -- with the eyes of an outsider, and to find all the parts you didn't know existed. We all say that we know our cities, but really most of us spend all our time in very confined areas and in even more confined social circles. That's why Burning Man and China are so exciting -- you can talk to anyone! Go anywhere!

Recapturing that sense of openness and possibility is what you need, not a list of exciting activities.
posted by Forktine at 8:48 PM on October 15, 2007 [11 favorites]

Demolition derby.
posted by pompomtom at 9:00 PM on October 15, 2007

climbing at Zuma or Stoney Point.
Pistols at Burro Canyon.
Misleading tourists with a fake 'Tour Leader' vest and a fifth of Jack.
Going out with me on Halloween, dressed as a pirate, 'boarding' unsuspecting bars as a crew of louts.
posted by tristanshout at 9:12 PM on October 15, 2007

If John Buchan is to be believed, the answer to your malaise is to be found by poaching. The answer is found to be risking reputation on a difficult sportsman's bet; not really a modern solution, but there may be lessons for you there.

John McNab is good book, if you like that sort of thing, by the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. What is interesting is that the protagonists pretty much exactly share your malaise, as indeed did Richard Hannay before he fell in with the Black Stone, so maybe unmasking an evil german (al-Qaeda?) plot might also relieve your ennui.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:13 PM on October 15, 2007

Response by poster: Forktine writes "Saying 'what would be exciting?' is just too vague."

MaxK's answer was great. I'm hoping for more in this vein, but it's the best answer so far. I also like pompomtom's answer.

fandango_matt writes "You also might ask yourself what, exactly, it is in your life that's preventing you from experiencing and appreciating the wonder and beauty and excitement that surrounds you. If your job is so mindlessly boring that you're looking for ways to stimulate yourself, perhaps you need a different job."

Nothing's preventing me except my habits. That's why I'm fishing for ideas. My job is definitely not contributing to my boredom, it's actually a great source of enjoyment. I'm just looking for additional exciting things to do with the other half of my life.
posted by mullingitover at 9:13 PM on October 15, 2007

what Forktine sed.

Also, go shrooming with some really good friends. Architecture is awesome.

Go to meat-market bars and pick fights with obnoxcious douchenozzle frat bous. It's great fun.

Get a job as a bike courier.
posted by porpoise at 9:17 PM on October 15, 2007

Rough sex dates from Craigslist.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:22 PM on October 15, 2007

But the motorcycle, get some maps and a highlight pen, git yer motor runnin'.
posted by artdrectr at 9:23 PM on October 15, 2007

posted by artdrectr at 9:25 PM on October 15, 2007

Rent an exotic car, like a Dodge Viper or a Ferrari. Take it out on the freeway at 3:30 AM (not 2 AM - that's when all the drunks are out in LA; by 3:30 AM they'll all have crashed) and see how fast it will go.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:25 PM on October 15, 2007

second skydiving!
posted by Kifer85 at 9:33 PM on October 15, 2007

Here in LA it can be pretty exciting getting on an elevator and saying hello to people in a captive environment. It is fun watching them get off on the next floor. Sometimes I say goodbye also!
posted by snowjoe at 9:44 PM on October 15, 2007

Since you had a good time at Burning Man, I would try to hook up with some local burners. The (SF) crowd I camped with does some pretty cool and wild things the rest of the year too. They have some LA burner friends who I here are pretty wild.

Since Burning Man, I've been working on some fire art for next year with a couple friends. It fulfills most of your requirements.
posted by pombe at 9:59 PM on October 15, 2007

I'm a boring nerd. I'm socially awkward, introverted and like a fish out of water in any gathering larger than two people I've known for at least five years. Yet, I want excitement and recognition and adventure and to meet people cooler than I am on equal terms.

What works for me is slam poetry. Not the open mike stuff, a real slam competition, where your innermost thoughts and feelings are revealed in three minute increments and judged by strangers on a scale between one and ten.

There is adrenaline, as you have to perform, and you have to compete. The audience is usually into it, paying close attention and then hollering like fiends once you're done, and it will be filled with strange and exotic and generally interesting people, who respect and admire you, because you're doing it, doing poetry like a rock-star. You can do it in khakis a polo shirt and sensible shoes, and it doesn't matter. Slam, and you belong.

Of course, much like haiku or the sonnet, slam poetry has its own formalisms you must adopt and break as the situation requires, and these conventions make it easy to come up with the five or so poems you need to compete. Coming up with five or so poems that can win on any given night is much harder, and not many people bother. Just get up there, and enjoy the rush.

This will lead to friendships with the sort of people you may consider fun, and lead to other interesting and exciting stuff to do. Worked for me... still a nerd in sensible shoes, but also a warrior poet with blood like icewater at the mike.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:13 PM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

Learn to fly and/or build a crazy-fast road-registerable car.
posted by polyglot at 10:14 PM on October 15, 2007

Skate board the Angels Crest Highway
posted by hortense at 10:24 PM on October 15, 2007

Hang out around the Survival Research Labs people?
posted by soviet sleepover at 10:31 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sierra Madre has a volunteer Fire Department (so does The Walt Disney Studios, but you have to be a Disney Employee I think)

Go back to school (I've been a firefighter, EMT, and in the USN and the scariest thing I've ever done is going back to school at 37:)

Join the SCA? nerdy but fun!

posted by legotech at 11:50 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Auto racing, buddy, auto racing. If price is no object, there's no limit to the terror you can inspire, followed by the giddiness you can experience. Years of computer racing games under my belt, and I thought I'd find actual track driving (not even racing) boring, until the first time I did a four-wheel drift at around 110 mph through a turn in a street car (on a track, of course.) Go to race driving school, and go from there. Plus, even with all the emphasis on safety and the equipment you wear and have in your car, it's still dangerous -- just the way you like it.
posted by davejay at 12:31 AM on October 16, 2007

learn how to throw knives.
learn a martial art.
take survivalist training.
learn how to swing dance.
get rid of cable.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:19 AM on October 16, 2007

Explore the flood control canals, and take photos for me.
posted by kowalski at 4:52 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

free-diving seems pretty intense
posted by letahl at 6:18 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Go down to the LA river in Silverlake with a buddy, a couple of flashlights and a good pair of boots, pick a tunnel opening and spelunk. One of them goes all the way to Eagle Rock and is full of stalactites, but you'll have to find it for yourself (hint: it's on the north bank).
posted by Scram at 8:22 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Become street performer on Venice Beach. Perhaps you could juggle chainsaws, eat fire, etc...
posted by chump at 9:18 AM on October 16, 2007

What is freebooting?

Here are some ideas: take up a combat sport, with a limited time to prepare for a competition. Downhill Mountain Biking. Learn to skateboard. Rock climbing/Mountain climbing/mountaineering? Also, I totally agree that parkour could be cool. Go to auto racing school?
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 7:22 PM on October 16, 2007

i took a flying trapeeze course that was surprisingly awesome. i know you said no prepackaged experiences, but i'll tell you, when you're three stories up and you lean out over the abyss to grab the bar from which you might plummet and die- well, the "packaging" ceases to be foremost on your mind. i suspect skydiving is similar.

what about being homeless for a weekend? on friday night, leave your apartment with no money and just the clothes on your back. go to a part of the city you're not used to. don't come home til sunday night. anything could happen!
posted by twistofrhyme at 9:01 PM on October 16, 2007

What is freebooting?

I think it's like freebasing, but with footwear.
posted by kowalski at 6:28 AM on October 17, 2007

Freebooting is theft, pillaging, plunder or piracy.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:34 PM on October 17, 2007

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