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Top Ten Things I've Done

(That You (Probably) Haven’t)


I got this meme about six years ago, and thought it was incredibly fun... so much so that I emailed it as a challenge to this guy I had just started dating. He emailed it back with a P.S.: “And one of these is something I actually haven’t done. Guess which."

Reader, I married him.

Now, in most cases, #1 on my list would be “got a book published!”  But that’s not going to work here.  Luckily I was able to think of another ten...

1. Snowmobiled on a glacier.

This would also top the list of Ten Most Fun Things I Have Ever Done.  We had a really obnoxious guide who acted like we were morons for not already knowing how to ride snowmobiles, and then sped off with the clear intent of leaving us in the dust.  I stayed right on his tail all the way to the top of the glacier.  Take that, snobby Icelandic dude!



2. Successfully argued an asylum case for a woman from Tibet.

Later, someone told me that asylum cases from
Tibet are easy to win, and that’s why law firms give them to bright-eyed idealistic summer associates.  And indeed, the next two asylum claims I worked on, for men from Colombia and Bangladesh, were much weaker cases and did not go as well.  But I was so happy when the judge granted asylum, and I still wonder what happened to my client and to her husband, who was still in Nepal.

(And lest you think only Tibetans get asylum, in another case I was involved with, a man from the
Congo was granted asylum.  He was a Christian missionary who, in the Congo, would go around knocking on people's doors and offering to tell them about the Bible.  He said that when he did this in the Congo, people would invite him in and serve him food while listening with great interest.  "I heard," he said, "that it's not like that in America."  I kind of wonder what happened to him too....)


3. Beaten a contingent of soldiers to the top of an ancient desert fortress in the middle of the night.

Actually, they were only soldiers in training, and they had to find their own way up; after they all went running off in the wrong direction, their commander kindly showed us where the path began.  But still. The fortress was Masada, in Israel, an isolated rock plateau with 2,000-year-old ruins that plays a central role in one of my WIPs. 





4. Seen Aurora Borealis.

It’s one of those beauties of nature that, if it didn’t exist, no one could ever dream it up.  Like the
Grand Canyon.  Or the ocean.  I’d been dying to see the Northern Lights ever since reading The Golden Compass, and they didn’t disappoint.


Been attacked by a colony of biter ants.

This was at the end of an otherwise awesome canoe trip through a jungle in
Costa Rica, when I apparently pushed my way through the wrong type of undergrowth.  The funniest part (which was not funny until after I had showered) was the guide’s calm comment when he saw that there were ants literally swarming all over my body: “Oh, that’s not good.”



[biter ants not shown]


6. Realized at the end of a 3-day trip to Las Vegas that I had neglected to do any gambling.

In my defense, I spent two of those days on a hiking trip. Wait, maybe that’s not such a good defense.


7. Hunted with falcons.

Not really – it was a training walk designed to teach us how to handle hunting birds.  But the falcons do sometimes take it into their heads to go off after some small animal on their own. In fact, because I’m a religious Jew and Jewish law prohibits hunting purely for sport, I had to make sure this wouldn’t count as hunting. I vaguely recall calling a rabbi and starting out with, “So, this probably isn’t a question you get very often...”



8. Shut down Bloomingdales.

I was a toddler at the time, and I snuck off while my mother was shopping in Bloomingdales in NYC.  There was a city-wide kidnapping scare at the time, and when my mother frantically told a guard she couldn’t find me, they immediately locked every door in the place.  Nobody could go in or out until I was found.

9. Spent a day being driven around an island by two strangers, because I accidentally rented a stick-shift car and I don’t know how to drive stick shift.

The island was
Rhodes, and the rest of it is a very, very long story. I will substitute a picture.





10. Hiked alone in the jungle at night.

By alone, I mean without a guide, not without anyone – I’m not that crazy.  I was with a friend in
Costa Rica, and my goal was to reach a waterfall we had hiked to that afternoon, because one of my WIPs had a scene that takes place near a waterfall at night and I wanted to write some description.  Turns out, the description of a waterfall in the jungle at night is fairly basic: You can’t see anything.

And my parents will find out about this particular escapade for the first time if they read it here.  (Come to think of it, so will my friend’s parents.  Perhaps I should give her a call....)

So: What are the top ten things YOU'VE done that we probably haven't?


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:01 pm (UTC)
Fun post, though I can't imagine the Biter ants were a pleasant situation. Your guide was a funny guy.
Jul. 19th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
Um, no. I think that counts as one of my most unpleasant situations ever. :) But yes, the guide's comment was pretty great.
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
Leah, what an amazing list. I'm in awe of the things you've done.

I actually also climbed Masada. There were no soldiers involved. Actually there was no one besides my family stupid enough to climb it that day at 10am in the summer when it was 100 degrees.

Great post!
Jul. 19th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Awesome! I did it in the blazing heat once too (and yes, everyone else but me and my sister took the cable car), but I had this idea that I wanted to see sunrise from the top.
Jul. 19th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)
I did this meme a few years ago and felt pretty good about my list until some people commented and had also done about half of the things I'd thought were so original. So, I'm nowhere near as adventurous and exciting as you are. :)

Here are a couple anyway:

-I had to be rushed to the emergency room after my first attempt at changing a tire (and I still don't know how to change a tire).
-I got married in a castle.
-One day I ate bagels for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in three different states.

Ha, that's the best I can do!
Jul. 19th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
Must hear more about the changing tire story. And that's awesome about getting married in a castle. I got married in a wedding hall across the street from a car dealership. Quite the romantic setting.
(no subject) - x_think_twice - Jul. 19th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leah_cypess - Jul. 19th, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
That is really, really cool... especially the adventures you ran into rather than sought! :) And not being able to see the waterfall at night?! THANK YOU! It so sounds like something I'd want to try! :)
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
I know - you'd think I could have figured that out in advance, right? But I'm glad I didn't, because it was a really cool experience.
Jul. 19th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
I'll try, but don't know if I can think of TEN things!

1. I was the first foreigner ever to go to my elementary school in Japan.
2. I got married in a Buddhist temple, wearing a red and blue kimono.
3. I've gone for a jog in Bagdad, at dusk, in plain sight of a mosque known for harboring snipers who shot over the fence and onto our running "track." And I didn't wear my helmet or kevlar vest. (Note: this is showing off my idiocy more than anything else.)
4. Held onto a sundial for dear life and stared at the full moon while in the midst of active labor. And then I had my daughter a few hours later (but not outside by the moon, unfortunately).
I can't think of anything else right now, and since I'm supposed to be writing, I'll save the rest for blogging. :-)

~ Amber Lough (www.naptimewriter.blogspot.com) --- can't remember my livejournal pword.
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
So cool that you're going to blog about it! Your four top any of my ten, that's for sure.
Jul. 19th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
You are one adventurous chick, Leah. :) Things I've done that you haven't? Hmm...

-I flew over the Hoover Dam in a helicopter.

-I planted crops in Santa Fe (mostly I was in charge of spreading the manure).

-I took a Greyhound from Dallas to New York one spring break.

-I got robbed on a train in Zurich. (I was asleep at the time though, so it wasn't that exciting.)

Man, don't you wish you were me? xD
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
Ironically, the helicopter flight to get to the glacier was the scariest part of the trip for me. I hate flying. *And buses, and getting robbed, and probably manure too. Hmm, I guess that answers your question...)
Jul. 19th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
Wow, what a list!

I've been on a bunch of 3-day trips to Vegas where I neglected to do any hiking.

Jul. 19th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
What!? But Vegas is well known as "America's hiking ground."
Jul. 19th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
This is hilarious, Leah! I am so impressed with your adventurousness and the breadth of your travels.

Most of my cool things happened in the Galapagos: had an underwater visitation by a sea turtle and a penguin--at the same time! I will have to think of more unusual things, though.

On an unrelated note, I met your editor at Vermont College this weekend, and she is so nice and fun! She agreed with my assertion that you are lovely and a rock star, which of course only increased my asteem of her. :)
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
The sea turtle + penguin thing is awesome. If you have stories more unusual than that, I want to hear them!

And thanks. I love my editor, and now I know where she was tweeting from so ecstatically all weekend. I hope you had an awesome time!
Jul. 19th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
This has got to be the best Top Ten ever.

Jul. 19th, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
Well, I was going to do something informative and useful like everyone else, but then I figured I'd just show some vacation pictures instead.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 21st, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
Wow. If it had been a "Top Ten Skills I Have That You Probably Don't" meme, I don't think I would have done quite as well! I'm curious about how/why you learned all those skills, but I must admit the rabbit blooddrawing tops my list.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - leah_cypess - Jul. 22nd, 2010 03:08 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
what a fantastic top ten! a few of mine:

i almost messed up aretha franklin's and james brown's entrances to a party because i had on an itchy dress and got in the way!

lived on crackers and oranges for a week in Taize...then returned very svelte for my wedding in NYC.

spent a day on the set of Sesame Street (and secretly made an adjustment to the magazine rack in Hooper's Store).

had my lunch stolen from my hands by chimpanzees at a game park.

Jul. 21st, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
Cool! Why crackers and oranges? And what was the adjustment? (No questions about the itchy dress, I almost messed up an entire wedding ceremony once because I was dressed too warmly and was desperate to get indoors...)
Jul. 20th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
You have had some incredible adventures! None of mine are coming close. (I am actually splitting mine with my sister and we can still only manage 8.)

1. Touched a glacier.

2. Jumped off a cliff.

3. Had an author spend the night at my house!

4. Took a hike by moonlight up North.

5. Got hit on the head by a 20 lb. block of ice as a child that fell off of a house. (My parents told us to stay away from that corner, but it was the best spot to play polar bears.)

6. Spent a day in the bell tower of San Marco in Venice.

7. Explored Florence at night.

8. Got lost at a world famous ski resort.

Jul. 21st, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)
"Jumped off a cliff" probably tops my list of "Things I Am Way Too Chicken To Ever Even Think About Doing." (You can see why I went with my list instead...) And YIKES about the 20 lbs of ice.
Feb. 14th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
Ten Things!
1. Hiked the Great Wall of China, and not the touristy bit.
2. Dipped my feet in the Straits of Magellan.
3. Lived on a very small tropical island in the Northern Marianas.
4. Eaten scorpions and grasshoppers.
5. Bungee jumped 300ft in Queenstown, NZ ... naked.
6. Sat and listened to icebergs slooshing and melting in Patagonia.
7. Gone skydiving in Maine.
8. Lived in a lighthouse for two summers, also in Maine.
9. Had a foot long mohawk, at times blue.
10. Been a DJ, or at least on the radio, in three continents.

website: http://travisburnhambooks.com/TheEvils/index.html
blog: http://travisburnham.blogspot.com/
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/travis.v.burnham
Feb. 14th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
Re: Ten Things!
Wow! Those are all awesome.
Feb. 29th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
And until now I thought the coolest thing you ever did was show up at my house on Purim dressed as a Roman gladiator. With a sword.
Feb. 29th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
That would have been number eleven. And hey, who is this?! (I showed up at more than one house that Purim, you know.)
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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