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Even though I don’t really believe that 2012 will mark the end of the world, I’ve decided to pretend I do. Why?

Well, at the end of last year, I realized that my schedule was so packed that I rarely had time to spend time with friends or try new things. I also had a mental list of projects I’ve been putting off for years. Some are not particularly fun, like gather-up-all-the-old-electronics-and-take-them-to-be-recycled. It’s so easy because of the electronics recycling center at 7343 W. 15th St., but the world may really end before I go. However, there are also things I’ve wanted to do or learn that I know I’ll enjoy but simply haven’t made time for. On the off chance that the world is ending, why not start?

The first thing I checked off my list was learning chess. I was so obsessed with checkers as a kid that I never asked my dad or brother to teach me. As I entered adulthood, I felt terrible about this lack of basic game-playing knowledge, but I still never got around to learning. Finally, I mentioned it to my friend’s 14-year-old daughter once and she said, “I can teach you!” When it became a way to spend time with a kid I adore, I had extra motivation, and I’m pleased to say I now know the rules and even beat her once. I’ve yet to beat my husband, but I plan to do so before the world ends.

I got started on another project while my friend Lindsay was in town last month and she found a book on transforming T-shirts at Pumpkin Moon in Oak Park. I have a ton of concert tees in my closet from my teen years when I was incredibly insecure and bought all of my clothes in XL. I’m a sentimental gal, so I couldn’t bear to part with them and promised myself that someday I would do something with them. Thanks to that book and its sequel, I’m now in the process of making my old shirts into new shirts, skirts, dresses, bags and accessories. It’s like getting a whole new wardrobe for the cost of thread and ribbons!

This got me on a D.I.Y. clothing kick, so I was thrilled when my friend BethEllen suggested we start a knitting circle at the Beacon. Yes, I know knitting at a bar sounds odd, but there are a few of us who’ve been interested in learning and BethEllen offered to teach us. If it becomes a regular event, I’ll be sure to let you know. I believe the Forest Park Public Library has hosted knitting workshops in the past, and I plan to keep my eye out for future crafty events there.

Our library is a fabulous resource if your 2012 goal is to learn new things. There are computer classes galore if you’ve been meaning to brush up on those skills. Also my fellow Review columnist, John Rice, teaches “Bridge For Beginners” on the third Tuesday of every month at 7:15 p.m. So if bridge is one of those games you’ve been meaning to learn like chess was for me, check it out on Feb. 21.

Learning from others is one of my favorite things, and I’m really interested in learning from Forest Park Review readers about what else is going on in town that I should explore, both in my columns and my life this year. We’re having a reader night on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. at the library, which I plan on attending. I hope you’ll stop by and share your insights with me.

Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.