Read this first! A 30-second summary of me and this blog!

Hey everyone,

My name is Neil Pasricha and here’s me in 30 seconds!

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#624 Hidden flavor pockets

Brother, I’ve made a lot of macaroni.

Yes, for a four-year period back in college I became a regular kitchen whiz at cracking open that flimsy cardboard box of thin, rock-hard noodles, boiling them up to a perfect al dente, and stirring in that magical ratio of milk, butter, and pre-packed cheesy powder to get it jusssssssst right.

Now, everyone has their own slightly-altered recipe for boxed macaroni. Some like it thin and milky while others prefer it bright, radioactive orange. Some like butter, some margarine, and some toss in a handful of chopped up weenies.

However, no matter how you whip up your noodly batch, I’m guessing you love biting into a surprise flavor patch of undissolved cheesy powder hidden amongst the creamy deliciousness. Yes, every time I scarf down a bowl, no matter how much stirring I’ve done, there’s always that deliciously hidden flavor pocket waiting for me like an old friend.

Yes, flavor pockets are those delicious sweet spots in the middle of your meal that explode like surprising fireworks finales in your mouth.

If you’re with me here, then come on, let’s go nuts and count down five of the finest:

5. The fat glob of guacamole hiding in your burrito. When you’re sitting in the cramped corner of a dusty Mexican joint, slowly peeling the tin foil off your burrito, chomping at blackened chicken chunks, lime-seasoned rice, and salty pinto beans, it’s an amazing feeling when you unearth a treasure trove of chunky guacamole from the dark, inner folds at the back. Note that this also applies to surprise sour cream squirts.

4.That one bright red chip coated in seasoning. Clearly the factory foreman at the Dorito Plant fell asleep at his station and accidentally kicked an industrial-sized tin of zesty bold barbecue onto the assembly line. Sure, materials costs shot up, the line was shut down for maintenance, and several union grievances were filed, but it all ended with you savoring a deliciously bright red, salty and supersatured chip.

3. The spoonful of ice cream with the giant cookie dough chunk. Fancy ice cream is a frozen clump with swirling lumps of caramel ribbons, candy-coated pralines, and marshmallow globs. Yes, all those wacky tastes are stuck in there like Hans Solo in a slab of carbonite and it’s up to you, the Luke Skywalker of the bench in front of 7-Eleven, to grit your teeth, furrow your brow, and get digging to help them break free of their frozen shackles.

2.That one lettuce leaf completely drenched in Caesar dressing. Mmmm, girl. The best part about sliding a creamy leaf of Romaine down your throat is that the leafy green actually gets rid of some of the guilt. “I think this is what the doctor had in mind,” you say to your friends, while thick Caesar dressing drips down your chin onto the tablecloth. “High in fiber!” (Note: This also works while eating collared greens soaking in bacon broth or broccoli florets drowning in a giant lake of Cheez Whiz.)

1. The clump of brown sugar in anything home-baked. This rare find gets top spot. Sometimes there’s a secret glob of pure brown sugar in the peanut butter cookie, oatmeal muffin, or slice of banana bread at Grandma’s house. Remember: not even the oven could prevent this sugary jewel from succeeding in it’s lifelong quest to tantalize your tastebuds.

Yes, flavor pockets are a nice little highlight in the middle of your meal. When those random bites surprise and delight, just close your eyes, tip your head, and savor every single molecule of flavor coating all the cracks and corners of your mouth.

So come on and let’s give cracking high fives and throat-screeching cheers for these magic little moments of pure joy.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, here, here, and here

— Listen to my podcast 3 Books with Neil Pasricha

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#625 Really, really short people

They’re short and there’s nothing they can do about it except learn to live with their shortness. For this reason, we respect them and think they’re cool.

If you’re really, really short, you feel it, because this is your life:

Forget seeing anything at concerts. Sure, everybody loves being behind you, but at what price? The standing area is a bad scene and mosh pits are strictly off limits. No, you’re stuck sitting at the bar or watching from the balcony.

• You can’t reach anything. Kitchen cupboards and closest shelves are bad enough, but the worst is when you find yourself somewhere alone and stoolless. People, if you’ve ever found yourself climbing the hotel bar fridge to reach the coffee filters or stepping on the metal grocery store shelf to reach the hot sauce then you know what I’m talking about.

• You can forget about that pro-volleyball career. You might still make it as a referee, but that’s about it.

• You’re constantly adjusting driver’s seats and mirrors. On top of that, really, really tall people complain when they get in the car after you and have to adjust everything because they can’t fit.

• Some roller coasters are off limits. Minimum height requirements are clearly relics from a discriminatory society that inhabited this land before us.

It really is a tough life.

So next time you see a really, really short person, break out the empathy. Remember: they’re short and there’s nothing they can do except learn to live with their absolute shortness. Sure, they buy cheaper children’s clothes, find the best spots in Hide and Seek, sleep easier on couches, easily avoid walking into tree branches, are more comfortable at movies, and curl nicely into cramped spooning arrangements, but they also have to live life with a lot of limits. In this upside-down and inside-out world, that’s worth something.

So go on and throw them a smile and a nod, a cracking high five, and some quiet and humble respect.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#627 When your friends working in fast food restaurants give you a little something extra

Pile it onSure, sure, we’re all honest people here.

You and me, we’re driving the speed limit, crossing at crosswalks, and never double parking. But that doesn’t mean we don’t like bonus fries, extra-scoopy ice cream, or double cheese on our subs, people.

Yes, when the gal behind the smooth orange counter wearing the paper hat and pinstriped shirt is your pal from high school, it means it’s time for a little extra whipped cream and chocolate sauce on that drippy ice cream sundae.

It’s just the Fast Food Workers Pact.

AWESOME!

Photo from: here

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What’s a law that people routinely break? Like speeding or jay-walking?

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#628 Peeling your sweaty socks off under the sheets

Skip the shock.

People, we’ve chatted before about how bad your feet have it. Face it, they’ve been through a lot today so there’s no need to nail them with a blast of cold air before bed. Instead, just tuck them in tightly, tuck them in rightly, and peel off your socks using only your feet when you’re warm and comfy under the sheets.

Don’t worry — you can collect the sweaty sock mounds from the foot of your bed tomorrow.

Sweet dreams.

AWESOME!

Photo from: here

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#629 When it feels like the lyrics to the song you’re listening to were written perfectly for you

Maybe a quiet haze drifts in your dorm as you worry about upcoming exams and patchy friendships. Maybe your heart just got flattened by a runaway relationship and the knots in your stomach are twisting and burning. Or maybe you’re trekking cross-country with a backpack and a dream and are suddenly sucker-punched with a jabby stab of loneliness.

When you’re pumped up, pumped down, shaken sideways or rattled around, it’s always comforting to share a moment with a song or lyric that perfectly reflects your mood. Sometimes it seems like they’re singing right to you.

So come on and smile along, nod quietly to the song, and push ahead, plow forward, and soldier right on.

AWESOME!

Turn it on and soak it in

Photos from: here and here

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#630 That moment you wake up from a nightmare and realize it was all just a dream

With a dropped jaw, buggy eyes, and sweaty palms your hot, salty head pops up from your warm pillow in a heart-pounding state of emergency. After a second of massively intense panic where you zoom into brain-rushing, adrenaline-gushing overdrive, it just suddenly just dawns on you …

It was all just a dream.

It was all just a dream.

It was all just a dream.

AWESOME!

How do you spell relief?

Photo from: here

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#631 Coming back to your own bed after a long trip away

An ugly nightDo you remember your Worst Sleep Ever?

Man, I sure do. I tell you, it was back when I was in college and a few friends and I drove a skiddy van across a snowy highway in the middle of a blizzard to crash with my friend Chad. It was a cold weekend full of laughs and catching up with friends who had all been yanked apart after prom and high school gradumacation.

Now, it was late Friday night in this quiet college town when a few of us headed home to hit the sack. Of course, there were no fresh linens, soft pillows, or fluffy towels laying on pull-out beds there. Nope, all we had in that cold, dark basement were a couple ratty couches, a hollow wooden door to the blizzard outside, and a giant wall full of cheap ticking clocks all set to different timezones.

Don't try this at homeWell, what choice did we have?

We made little beds from couch cushions, used sweatshirts for pillows, and covered our shivering bodies with zippery, snow-smeared winter coats. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the clocks tick-tick-tick-ticked all night, and somebody got home really late and left the back door wide open. Nobody noticed until morning when all our teeth were chattering and there was a foot high snowdrift under the ping pong table.

It was a nightmare, but I know you’ve been there, too.

Power-napping on bumpy airplanes, crashing on a flabby futon or jabby mattress, sleeping in a rainy forest in a leaky tent, you’ve had your fair share. Bad sleeps, sad sleeps, sack-pillow heaps, weird alarm clock beeps, and through it all you enjoy long, fidgety nights of groggy pillow turns and fuzzy blanket burns.

But after those killer sleeps in nightmare paradise, it’s always a great feeling to return to the warm and cozy comfort of your sweet, heavenly bed. Yes, you’re like a bear scraping together filthy leaves and warm mud for a long winter of hibernation or a soaring eagle swooping home from the windy treetops to the twiggy goodness of your comfy nest.

Your dented pillow, warm flannel sheets, and preset alarm clock wait for you.

So welcome home, baby.

You made it.

AWESOME!

 

Twiggy comfortPhotos from: here, here, and here

— Check out my podcast 3 Books with Neil Pasricha

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#632 Slowing back down

Forget the click and dream a dream todayTime is an illusion.

Baby, we’re all just spinning, gninnips, spinning.

Electrons spinning in our tall, fleshy bodies, spinning on our big, wet rock, spinning in our bright, white solar system, spinning in our deep, dark galaxy, spinning in our brain-bustingly big universe.

Listen, this never ending swirly-twirly headtrip can be a bit much sometimes, so we try to place some delicate order on our bumpy, chaotic lives. Yes, we tack calendars on our kitchen cabinets with organized checkerboards of days and weeks and months. We make plans for Saturday night, sleep in on Sunday, and head to work Monday morning. See, now instead of swirling and twirling, we’ve got minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and years and lives.

Drop a tissue on thisOh sure, maybe setting a calendar on the beautiful insanity of life is like placing a square of tissue paper on a hurricane. But without the structure and routine we’d just sort of wander around aimlessly forever, you know what I mean?

“Hey man, when you gonna finish college?”

“Dude, I dunno, maybe when my beard touches my knees?”

No, no, no, we need order, we want order, we crave order, we love order.

Order gives us birthdays, anniversaries, and hair appointments. Order gives us the recess bell, cake baking smell, and Christmas eves with the family. Order gives us company meetings, holiday greetings, and long weekends in the summer.

Order gives us a lot.

Be like the snailBut people, sometimes it’s great to slow down and get swirly-twirly, anyway.

Sometimes it’s great to set up a crinkly tent on the damp edge of a gushing river and camp out under the stars with someone you love. Sometimes it’s great to shutter in and veg out on the pizza-sauce-stained corduroy couch during a snowy winter break at school. Sometimes it’s great to slap on baggy khaki shorts and a bright, flowery shirt and fly to a distant island just to lay on a hot, sandy beach in front of the blue, glittery ocean.

Sometimes it’s great to step back and stare at the clouds and trees.

Sometimes it’s great to let your thoughts float high and float free.

Sometimes it’s great to close your eyes and let it all just slip away.

Sometimes it’s great to forget the clock and dream a dream today.

AWESOME!

Slow and steady, baby

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#633 Finding something you lost a really long time ago way after you gave up looking for it

Keep them closeIt happened late last night.

Cruising down the highway, heading home from the airport, my friend Shiv absentmindedly rifled through my passenger side door full of old computer-printed directions, parking stubs, and cracked jewel cases.

“What’s this?”, she asked, popping open a flimsy case and pulling out a dusty, scratched up mix CD. “It just has the date marked on it with a Sharpie. Uh, let’s see, what happened on November 14, 2006?”

“No way!,” I said, glancing over my shoulder and seeing one of my favorite mixes ever which I thought I lost two years ago. My mind suddenly flashed back to late summer nights zooming up the highway to my parent’s place after long nights with lost loves.

But isn’t it always like that?

Bolted out of our heartsCome on, you know and I know it: finding something you lost long ago after you gave up looking for it is such a great high because you already lived through all the emotions:

• Step 1. The Alarm. This is when your sunglasses or bus pass first go missing. It hits you like a rubber mallet to the forehead when you first realize it’s gone. Poof, just like that, as if your digital watch or favorite pen grew legs and Usain Bolted out of town.

Step 2. The Search. Next you organize the neighbors and head into the dark, foggy night holding lanterns and pitchforks before linking elbows and combing the cornfields until dawn. The next few days are a blurry haze of sleepless nights as you lay on a blanket on the damp riverbed watching the police boats drag the bottom for clues.

Step 3. The Grieve. The trawler nets can’t locate your cell phone or favorite glittery lip gloss so you’re forced to face facts and come to grips with reality. It’s gone, long gone, gone like the wind, and now all that remain are long, rambly stories late at the bar and lonely nights sobbing into your pillow.

People, we’ve all been there.

After you’ve lost, searched, and come up empty, you move on. Time helps, distance helps, but the memories never disappear. You try downloading songs from the mix tape and piecing them back together or go out and buy a new digital camera with an empty memory card to replace the one you lost with a full one.

But it’s just never the same.

… until one day

… a long time later

… …… … … when you least expect it

… … …… … … … the thing you lost comes back!

Disposable camera, permanent memoriesYes, while unzipping the side pocket of your travel bag you suddenly spot the diamond earrings that went missing after your cousin’s wedding four years ago. While reaching into the bowels of your messy trunk looking for a flashlight, you suddenly tug on a sweatshirt sleeve that’s been buried under a set of golf clubs since the Spring. And after you slim down and toss on the sassy blazer you wore to prom, guess what’s hanging out in that inside pocket? Brother, it’s your crumpled tie or that wind-up disposable camera with half the film used up from the big night.

When this happens your eyes pop and your jaw drops because you can hardly believe you’re seeing your old friend’s face right in front of you again. Chills rocket up your spine, love sucker punches your chest, and big salty tears well in the corners of your eyes before streaming like hot rivers down your cheeks.

You laugh, sniffle, and shake your head before giving the person beside you a big hug and smiling up at the world. Clouds part, bugles blare, and everything fills up with the giant swelling sensation of

AWESOME!

Get your bling back

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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