#435 Food ogling

Check out that sexy plastic tray.

Welcome to the crowded food court, workplace lunch room, or high school cafeteria. Thin napkins and ketchup smears cover tables as wailing babies and french fry fumes fill the air. It’s time for lunch so your stomach’s grumbling and all you can think about is how hungry you are.

That’s when it happens.

A smoking babe struts by and all you notice are her enchiladas. A hot guy cruises over and all you see is his taco salad. Just then someone runs over your foot with their wheelchair but you’re too hypnotized by their thai curry to feel any pain.

Eyes pop and drool drips as you stand spinning in a neon daze. This is modern day hunting and you’re tray gawking with the finest. You know you’re food ogling when one of these classic moments happens:

1. The Shoulder Tap. You’re dining out with friends and you spot a couple eating something good by the window. You stare down at your menu and discover that it’s … just text! No steaming stir frys or scrambled slams staring up at you. Now you eyeball their meals and casually stroll by on your way to the bathroom to see what’s cooking. If you’re like me, you try and fail to find their meal on the menu. “They’ve got something covered in cheese and tomato sauce over there… but there’s no chicken parmesan listed.” Now you give a guilty smile and shoulder tap the waiter for help. Or for extra rudeness points you can yell across the room to ask them. Maybe even clink a fork on your wine glass to get their attention.

2. The Bad Trade. After reuniting with your three geek pals at the plastic food court table under the fake umbrella you notice three of you got cold sandwiches while one person came back with a steaming plate of hot lasagna and fresh garlic bread. Staring at that delicious lasagna is too much so finally someone snaps and tries to make a bad trade. “How about six inches of my sub for a few bites?” It’s a pathetic offer but they had to try. What have you got to lose besides bland lettuce scraps and a green tomato slice?

3. The Lazy Man’s Regret. There’s always one guy willing to wait ten minutes at the made-to-order pasta station in the caf or the omelet station at the hotel buffet. Sure, you think he’s a fool at first, but after he sits down you can’t help stare deep into his dish and curse your impatient ways. “I too could have had egg-white omelet with cheese and mushrooms.” Tears spill as you think about the cardboard scrambled eggs and cold chewy pancakes you just ate.

4. The Unobtainable Leftovers. That stack of microwaves in the office cafeteria is a leftover fashion show. This is where I stuff my freezer-burned chili while drooling over the leftover fettuccine and homemade curries popping out of other machines. These meals aren’t accessible to me, no line I can wait in, no money I can pay. So I’m stuck staring like a food ogling fool.

When we’re hungry our stomachs rule and office meetings, bathrooms breaks, and text messages fade to the background. Now it’s time to food ogle and fill your stomach by spotting ice cream sources, sniffing steaming coffees, and tracking back those greasy snacks so you can fill your belly with a whole lotta

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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#436 When the subway doors stop right in front of you

Come on in.

When you’re first in the car it’s time for some smoooooth sitting. Yes, you’ve got your pick of the seats before anyone else gets in there. Do you want the chipped orange plastic one in the corner with the Coke spilled on it or the stained yellow one in front smeared with smudgy newspapers?

Decisions, decisions.

Now, when the subway door stops in front of you it sort of feels like you own the train. After it screeches to a slow stop make sure you smile thinly, check your pocket watch, and tip your hat to the conductor before swishing your trenchcoat up into your private car.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here and here

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#437 Seeing a plane from another plane

Hello out there.

Staring out your airplane window and spotting another plane cruising calmly through the clouds feels a bit mysterious and magical. The open skies are suddenly traffic lanes from The Jetsons and you get to take a brain step back at how far we’ve come…

While our ancestors were painting ocean caves, sleeping in treetops, and crossing ice bridges into new worlds, I bet they never guessed in just a few years we’d be zooming across the planet through the sky staring at other people flying on by.

We’re going places, people.

And we’re going fast.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here and here

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#438 Your Almost Name

It’s what your parents were going to call you but didn’t.

Flipping through baby books, chatting at bedtime, you better believe your folks had alternate identities in mind before you borned out. They thought about nicknames, shortforms, and tributes. They thought about spelling, rhyming, and meanings. Basically, they thought and hoped and wished all kinds of things for you even before you made it here.

Sometimes when you find out your Almost Name it feels odd and uncomfortable — like putting on an itchy shirt, clenching your fist after waking up, or walking out of a movie and realizing your foot’s asleep. Maybe you let your mind wander and daydream about a new life where your Almost Name takes top billing and your nicknames, identity, and major life choices are all dramatically affected. You wonder how your life could be different — would you be more confident? Less passionate? More artsy? Less annoying?

Nothing’s the same when you’re Nancy.

Everything changes when you’re Chuck.

Now, my Almost Name is Paul.

Yes, it was a close call and my parents switched over to Neil at the last minute. I’m pretty sure Neil Diamond or Neil Armstrong got the name bouncing around their brains like a ping pong ball. But somehow Paul got tossed in the can before I showed up and my entire Paul Life got tossed with it.

And maybe that’s one reason Almost Names are so great: they remind us how lucky we are to get something else. I mean, it’s fun letting Almost Names add frames and borders to our lives … because it helps us feel a little more sure of ourselves and a lot more

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#439 Checking somebody out and not getting busted

Sunglasses are a form of comfortable and protective eyewear that help prevent strong sunlight and UV rays from damaging your eyes. They are a popular fashion accessory, too. Try them at a restaurant, in a car, or on the beach.

AWESOME!

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#440 Correctly guessing an old password you haven’t used in a while

I knew you would never leave me, PIN.

AWESOME!

Photo from: here

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#441 The point on a road trip when you’re really far from where you started and really far from where you’re going

Do you know that rickety bridge scene from the movies?

Violins screech and kettle drums swell as our hero tiptoes across a dangerous rope bridge swinging wildly over a dark canyon at the pulsing climax of the film. The audience gasps and grips their armrests as she kicks a loose plank and the camera painfully watches it whip and shatter against the rocky cliffside before falling into the deep river rapids below.

But after some tense moment there’s a beautiful wide shot of our hero stepping slowly past the saggy midpoint of that flimsy bridge… and that’s when she first commits to going all the way. Turning back isn’t a shortcut anymore, turning back isn’t an option, and so she firms those lips, steadies those hips, and plows forward with steely-eyed determination till she gets to the other side.

Scenes like that remind me of hitting that beautiful middle-of-nowhere midpoint on a road trip. You had the guts to tiptoe out of your neighborhood and now you’re a highway explorer whipping past barns and water towers, twiddling with new radio stations, and staring up at a whole new world just a few feet away…

AWESOME!

Photos from: here and here

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#442 Figuring out how we got on this topic

Do you ever find yourself chatting with friends when someone suddenly says “Hey, how did we start talking about this?”

That’s when you find yourself quickly unwinding your off-the-rails conversation by jumping backwards through scattered anecdotes and interconnected stories. As you unravel the jumbly mystery you’re suddenly a speedy detective racing back through the universe at warp speed to tighten a couple screws so your tightly twisted brain can relax back into a world that makes sense again.

AWESOME!

Photo from: here

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#443 Looking up while underwater

Sunlight shimmers and glimmers across shaky waves as treetops twist into melted shadows. Silence clogs your ears as you drift alone in your secret underwater chamber deep in the ocean darkness or shallow in the backyard pool. Bubbles scream up all around you as you float like an astronaut in zero gravity and the world around you just smears and smudges and drifts away.

AWESOME!

Photo from: Chris Keeney Photography

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#444 Driving over a small hill in your car

Let’s hit the suburban roller coaster.

When you’re a little kid riding backwards in a wood-paneled wagon there’s few things as fun as hitting a gut-twisting bump over a little hill on the highway. Or maybe you’re at the back of the schoolbus, bouncing like jumping beans as you ride the waves, laughing with your snot-nosed pals amongst the slippery nylon seats on your way to the science center. Or maybe you’re just cruising down dark roads, slipping through shortcuts, and winding off the freeway and rolling over those small hills gives you a small little lift on your long drive home…

Bumps in the road make life more fun.

AWESOME!

Photo from: here

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