#715 Looking at how much dirt came off something you just cleaned

the person who owns this hand is smilingMy apartment looks over a busy downtown intersection.

Shredded bird feathers, swirling dust funnels, and car exhaust fumes cover my balcony in a thick layer of city grime.

If you come over and go out there, I’ll tell you to put shoes on or suffer shocking sockicide. Don’t believe me and your white socks will suffer a case of career-ending blackfoot. It’s a toxic and sad way to go and generally results in grabbing a new pair on the way home.

The worst part isn’t the balcony floor, though. It’s the table and chairs. They get slimed too, but are harder to cover up. I can’t just say “Oh, before you sit down, grab a plastic bag from under the sink and tuck it into your jeans. Thanks!”

No, I can’t do that, I won’t do that, I don’t do that. Instead, I grab a hunk of wet paper towels and slide them all over the chairs and tables while my guests watch with jaw-dropping disgust. The thick mat quickly turns the blackest black you’ve ever seen and I sort of smile and wave it in their face before going inside to throw it out.

And you know why I smile? You know why I wave it in their face? Besides the fact that I’m not a very nice person, I mean. Well, I’ll tell you why: because I’m proud of how much dirt came off. To me it’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s the same as showing your sister that Swiffer cloth with every square molecule covered in dust and cat hair. It’s the awe with which you stare at the McDonald’s napkin that just swabbed all that wet, yellowy grease off your forehead.

Looking at how much dirt came off something you just cleaned causes this big swelling inside you. It’s a few rich, satisfying feelings all swished together. It’s accomplishment, cleanliness, and most of all “I’m glad I’m not sitting in that.”


winner of the dust awards

Photo from: here

Illustration from: here

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#717 Sleeping with one leg under the covers and one leg out

rad radHome temperature is important.

Head in the freezer, hands in the oven, whatever your move, just make it. Pick a temp, baby, then bake it. Pump up the thermostat, bang on the rad, or crank up the air. If you’re hot, ditch the sweats, if you’re cold, slip on slippers.

Home temperature is important.

If you’re not feeling comfortable you just won’t be happy. Roommates want it hotter, spouses want it cooler, and you may want it jussssssssst right, so you’ll need to tweak dials and add layers until you figure it out.

And you eventually will. And you’ll think everything is great. And everything will be great.

Until it comes.


head_in_fridge_72dpiYes, before you flick out the lights and slip into golden slumbers, you must first guess your Sleep Comfort Zone (SCZ or “See-Zee” for short). And See-Zee’s ain’t easy. If you’ve ever woken up with the shivers or the sweats, then you added too many blankets or slept too nude.

If you’re on your own, there are ceiling fans, heating vents, and your general sweatiness to consider. If you’re with a pet or a partner, you’ve got double the hot-breath factor and a lot more sweaty legs under the covers.

If you’re like me then your eyes might blink open in the middle of the night as you realize that you’re uncomfortable. And if this happens, then just hook yourself a solid and toss one leg out of the covers and one leg under them.

Also known as the Toe Vent.


The Toe VentPhotos from: here, here, and here

Illustration from: here

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#718 When you sneeze and a stranger says bless you

catch those free blessingsWarm Sunday dinners with family, late nights drinking with friends, studying with a group in your basement.

All of these are high odds scenes for scoring a blessing after you sneeze. Chances are good that if you explode in a loud bang of spit and phlegm at the dinner table, at least one of your aunts will say “Bless you” and there’s a good shot everyone will chime in. Same when you’re grabbing wings or cramming for biology.

But when you’re on your own it’s a whole different story.

Tapping on a laptop at the coffee shop, washing your hands in the restaurant bathroom, double-stepping up the escalator on your way to work.

These are low odds scenes for netting a blessing. The people around you don’t know you and maybe don’t notice you. But when you sneeze and there’s just silence it’s a bit awkward. I always feel a little lonely in those situations. “Didn’t anyone just hear me sneeze?” I want to ask. But instead I just finish washing my hands and wonder if my released spirit is now floating around the urinals.

This is why there’s something cool about a stranger saying bless you. It’s even better when you say nothing before the free blessing and they say nothing afterwards. Like a friendly smile on passing escalator or an empathetic laugh behind you in line, it’s just a momentary little politeness blip.


deserves a blessing anywayIllustrations from: here

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#719 Shoving handfuls of popcorn in your mouth really fast and spilling it everywhere

ready for shovingGet a move on.

Hot popcorn isn’t going to be hot forever. It’s time to chow down by stuffing big, spilly handfuls of salty buttery goodness in your mouth as fast as you can.

Because hey, popcorn’s the perfect snack for non-stop shoving. Silverware isn’t needed and a scoopful of the bumpy corn pops fit easily into anybody’s hand. And popcorn’s soft and chewy which makes it ideal for the quick bite-bite-swallow technique. Lastly, popcorn’s often a shared food. If you don’t shove it in really fast you might get stuck with the broken burnt pieces at the bottom.

So just keep on shoving and shoving and shoving some more. And after each big swallow make sure to drop your jaw open slowly like a trash compacter, with popcorn bones and oily kernal shards stuck to your lips and tongue, and wait for the next big delivery.

Should be any second now.


skip the silverware and go face firstIllustrations from: here

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#720 The final seconds of untangling a really big knot

undo that knotI don’t know how to tie my shoes.

I know, I know, it’s terrible, it’s embarrassing, but I seriously can’t tie my shoes the way most people do. I just — my fingers don’t slide the right way. When I try the loop-around-and-pull-through move I end up with a limp and loose version of the finished product. As a result, I’m stuck with The Bunny-Ears Method also known as The Double Loop or Grandma Knot. Yes, I make a loop with my right hand, a loop with my left, and then I tie them together. It’s a tiny bit slower, but that’s not the worst of it.

The worst of it is that it often results in massive, tightly wound knots that take forever to untie.

The Bunny Ears MethodAs a result, I try to avoid tying my shoes altogether. Instead, I spend one or two minutes wedging and banging my foot into them each time I leave the house. Although this technique results in completely squashing the back of my shoe, I find it preferable than sorting out the grandaddy knot waiting for me down there.

But sometimes there is no choice.

See at some point my scraggly knot will lay lazily on the side of my shoe staring up at me with its sad, dusty face. And I can only smile wearily, shake my head, and sit down on the step, and get ready to slog away in the five-minute heavyweight title card of Me Vs The Knot.

order a pizza insteadI’m not going to lie: I often lose this battle, choosing instead to throw on a pair of sandals or stay home and order pizza. But there are also days where I come out on top. There are days where I stick my fingernail in there as hard as I can and pick and pick and pick until the lace finally starts to give. And then I start pulling it this way and that way until I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, the moment of truth, the dream becoming a reality.

Those final few seconds of untangling a really big knot happen in a hazy slow-motion. A twisted lace becomes loose, and then another, and then there is some frantic untying as it all comes undone.

Yes, whether it’s headphone wires, Nintendo controllers, phone cables, or skipping rope, it sure feels great during the last few seconds of untangling that tightly tied mess.


37_knotPhotos from: here, here, and here

Illustration from: here

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#721 Drinking anything through the little hole in a coffee stirrer

ready for sippingMy sister and I took skating lessons when we were kids.

For years my parents drove us down to the rusty old arena around the corner on Sunday nights. Cheap coffee, chilled sweat, and change room mold lingered in the air as we laced up our skates between other two-foot tall kids in big swishy snow pants.

They haunt me stillMost of my memories of the place involve hitting the ice head-first, hitting the boards head-first, and getting ice shavings up my mitts. But it was all worth it.

Yes, it was all worth it because I got to enjoy a celebratory chocolate milk at the end of each trip. And since chocolate milk was such big deal to me I did my final laps of the rink just dreaming about the stuff. And sure, I had many dreams on those nights — mostly of well-stocked first aid kits, dry mitts, and space heaters — but nothing was better than that chocolate milk.

Now, nothing made my chocolate milk last longer than drinking it through the tiny hole in a coffee stirrer. Oh sure, maybe it felt a bit unnatural at first, and I admit it’s probably not the greatest move for picking up chicks down at the drive-in or dirtbike tracks, but come on: how good does it feel to suck your cheeks in real hard and vacuum up your drink through that tiny pinhole?

Plus, there’s the Maximum Drinking Time (MDT) factor as well. While my sweaty buddies gulped down their milks in thirty seconds I got to enjoy mine over the next few days — taking it in drop by drop, molecule by molecule, and letting it just soak up and into my mouth every so sweetly.

People, if you’re with me then just suck it up kiddy-style once in a while.

For old time’s sake.


Fond memories

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#722 Watching seniors do water aerobics

seniors in aquafitSpeedos snapped on and earplugs pushed in, old folks dip into the local pool for a cardio session on water. And if you happen to catch a glimpse of the jumping jacks and karate kicks or happen to be in the game yourself, then you know how fun it is to see all the wet perms, dripping glasses, and smiling faces.

They just look so happy.



Photo from: here

Illustration from: here

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#723 Seeing a huge tree and remembering how small it used to be

they grow up so fastI was at my parent’s house this weekend and holy smokes.

The three tiny evergreens out the back window have now bloomed into thirty-foot monsters shading half the backyard.

Driving by your old school, visiting relatives you haven’t seen in a while, or just walking around the neighborhood you grew up in can give you that sudden sense of life slowly moving onwards and upwards.


Photo from: here

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#724 Placing the last piece of the puzzle

start with the edges next time kidsI don’t have the patience for puzzles.

If I’m hanging out at your house late at night and someone walks into the room shaking a big 500-piece box with a cover photo of a gray boulder balanced on a gray cliff, then I’m not having it.

Okay, I might help you find the corner pieces or start the first edge, but that’s it, honestly. After it gets into the no man’s land of middle pieces, and people start making stack-piles of colors, passing around the box-top and squinting, and silently trying to clip piece after piece after piece together, well I just can’t take it anymore.

When everybody crowds around the coffee table I start sulking and retreat to the couch where I occupy myself with productive jobs such as stacking all the coasters, finger-dragging the crumbs out the side of the cushions, or trying to eat a potato chip without chewing it, which is actually much more difficult than it sounds. (Quick tip: focus all your energy on sucking the flavor powder off very slowly and make sure to avoid all accidental biting in order to score a soggy and bland potato slice perfect for swallowing.)

But see, give it a shot!this is why it’s so great when somebody finally places the last piece of the puzzle.

There’s usually some giddy anticipation as the pace quickens towards the finale. All fingers get into the game, attaching major edges together and finally finding that one piece we all knew was here somewhere with the other half of the bird’s wing on it.

Hey, the last piece of the puzzle is great because it means you have the last piece of the puzzle. Let’s not overlook this fact. After all, who among us hasn’t picked up a cheapo garage sale special and only discovered it was four pieces short when you were putting it together? Talk about a buzz kill.

Secondly, it means you finally get to see the big picture. Up until that point it’s all poking, prodding, and passing around the dog-eared box top, but now we’ve got a poster. Some people even mount these things and stick them on a wall.

Lastly, there is a thick and heady sense of smoking satisfaction in the air. Even though I’m probably drinking a tall glass of wine and flipping channels past infomercials at this point, even I can feel it. The gang all pitched in, all helped out, and together accomplished the mission.

Now the party can really get nuts.


breathtaking boulders on the sunny cliffside

Photos from: here, here, and here

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