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#461 When you get in the car and notice someone filled up the tank

Nothing’s worse than popping into first and noticing you’re flirting with the big E.

Suddenly you’re late for work, the date’s on hold, and your party’s stalled in the parking lot. Yes, jumping in a car and noticing it’s out of gas ranks pretty high on 1000 Annoying Things, that non-existent netherlist we’ve mentioned before that also features #989 Realizing later in the day you missed a spot shaving, #988 When the person calls you back instead of listening to the voicemail you just left, and #987 When the cashier needs to replace the receipt tape in the middle of your transaction.

Yes, that’s why getting in the car with a superfull tank is such a great feeling. Your car pardner left a little surprise in the driveway and now you’re as far as possible from making an annoying pump run. Plus, isn’t it always hilarious when that little orange arm nudges itself up even higher than Full on the gas gauge, too? That’s when it’s winking at you saying “Okay, I was lying about the size of the tank. But now I seriously can’t take another drop.”

When it’s stuffed and you’re smiling it’s time to fly down the streets, baby. You’re rocking the full tank, you’re rocking the highway, and you’re rocking along feeling

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Neil, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February and underwent emergency brain surgery to remove it. During recovery, there were many things that I could NOT do, including drive. It has been 6 months and I have been overcoming barriers and slowly getting my life back. Given clearance to drive again is such a significant milestone in this journey. Mobility and independence after 6 months of medical restrictions while recovering from brain tumor removal surgery: Awesome!” -Cherisse

Photos from: here and here

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#462 Pain

It’s there for a reason.

Whether you’re shredding your legs on a raspberry bush, scalding your hand in hot water, or taking an arrow to the chest in the forest, I got bad news for you, brother: that’s gonna hurt. Yes, when our bodies take blows those powerful jolts make us cry salty tears, run for the hills, or crashland in hospital beds with limbs hanging everywhere.

But that pain really is there for three big reasons:

1. Stop! … Bandaid time. The first thing pain does is make you stop doing that painful thing you’re doing. Your brain focuses every neuron on getting you out of Danger Bay and returning you to Safety Beach. Stop! You’re lawnmowing your foot. Stop! You’re leaning on an oven burner. Stop! You’re dancing in much too baggy pants.

2. Long Live the Cast. Pain reminds us to take care of injured body parts so they can heal. We lean on crutches so our ankles can untwist, plaster broken arms so bones can set, and bandage cuts to prevent infections. Throbbing migraines send us to dark rooms and bum knees get us limping because that’s we need, sister. Pain’s just whispering advice to send us down the road to good health.

3. Fool me twice, shame on me. Pain’s whole plan is to get us to stop doing painful things long term. Think of pain as cranky granny shaking it’s finger when you sheepishly come schlepping up the front walk battered and bruised. “No more running through raspberry bushes, mister,” she starts. “No more checking hot water with your fingers. And stop playing medieval battle games in the forest.”

Now, if all that wasn’t enough, our egghead pals over at Wikipedia even report that people who don’t feel pain actually live shorter lives. Maybe that’s because pain’s just there to do a job for us. It motivates us to flee hurtin’ scenes, protects our body while it heals, and teaches us to avoid painful places in the future.

Pain’s our invisible Life Coach, sewn in to our bones, twisted in our DNA, and helping us all keep strong as we keep motoring on.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Yesterday I got home after having dinner out with my husband and baby boy (he’s almost 2 years old). When I laid my bag on the dining table I looked and saw two pieces of paper laying there. When I looked closer I realized it was 2 xerox copies… One of them had a little hand and the other one a small foot. I scratched my head and thought “what the heck is this?” Then I thought “maybe my son went out with his babysitter and she took these Xerox just for fun”… And it really was like this. The next morning my baby son was walking around the house with the 2 xerox in his hands and saying “my hand… my foot”. Adorable. My little awesome thing.” – Andreia from Portugal

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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#463 The sound of a cork popping

Last year my friend Baxter popped a champagne cork off his head.

Yes, he bent over the bottle, gritted his teeth and twisted, and managed to shoot that cork like a speeding bullet right smack off his forehead. He stared up with his mouth forming a giant O of shock as bubbles foamed up and dripped on the carpet and a painful dark red bruise slowly formed right between his eyebrows.

Still sounded cool, though.

AWESOME!

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– Email message –

“Hi Neil, here’s another thing I find awesome: Finding pistachios that have fallen out of their shell in the bag. When I have the munchies, not much beats a salty handful of pistachios. But when I’m rooting through the bag, I find that not all of them are created equal. In fact, there are four kinds of pistachios offering varying degrees of difficulty:
1) Shell completely closed: These ones are a lost cause, so I always toss them right back onto the bag. Maybe some other ambitious sole will try to crack them open, but more likely, they’re gonna find a home in the trash bin.
2) Shell just a tiny sliver open: These ones are tricky, but stand a chance of being eaten. Whether I throw these ones back in the bag or not will depend on two factors: a) How long my thumbnails are, and b) How hungry I am.
3) Shell open wide: These are great. When I’m peckish, I can open these ones in rapidfire succession without a hitch. Before I’ve even realized (because I’m distracted by Discovery Channel), I’ve ripped through like three handfuls.
4) The ones that have fallen out of their shells: These are the crown jewels of pistachios. No fuss. No work. Just
AWESOME!!!”

- Adrian

Photo from: here

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#464 When characters in movies visit a place you know

What a trip.

It’s always a big moment when the flickering screen features one of these special scenes:

1. The Hometown Spotlight. This is when the characters come visit the city you live in. Nope, don’t matter if it’s terrorists fleeing the country, teen lovers filling gas on a road trip, or Batman batflying around the world to kidnap someone from a glass building. All that matters is that you get a little connection with the flick and feel proud your local spot is on display. (Note: Hometown Spotlight may not apply in New York, L.A., or London.)

2. The Local Understudy. Here’s when you spot your hometown in the movie, but it’s playing the part of another city. Sure, they tried to fool you with the yellow New York taxi cabs or a couple skyline shots, but you spotted your city hall and a local newspaper box in the background. If you’re watching the flick in your basement, The Local Understudy sometimes features someone pulling out their cell phone and spending twenty long minutes confirming all the shoot locations.

3. The Suitcase Connection. Here’s when you and the characters share a travel spot. Maybe their budding romance takes them to your Honeymoon hotspot, their college classes take place on your old campus, or their raging, out-of-control Spring Break parties reminds you of your entirely appropriate and tasteful Spring Break parties.

No matter what, when characters in movies visit places you know they suddenly break through the screen and form a tiny little bond with you. Now in addition to the story, you’re suddenly wiretapping into secret memories and moments in your rusty brain. Nostalgia bombs go off as you see your old college gym and remember the heartbreak of getting cut from the junior team… smiles curl when Buddy the Elf gets a job where you once held hands with a young love on a chilly night … and hearts twist over forgotten trips as you relive old moments with friends from your past…

AWESOME!

Sign up for 1000 Awesome Things on email.

– Email message –

“My Mom, Nancy, is a beautiful “80-something” lady who is now on her third year of some incredibly hard health battles, the latest has been two battles with a rare form of cancer on her leg.  She’s had two surgeries and a skin graft with only a local anaesthetic, and sadly still needed to go back for a second round of treatments.  For Mother’s Day I bought her The Book of Awesome to read while waiting for her time slot for treatment every day.  She’s a fighter and she’s appreciating the little things now through 1000 Awesome Things. I attach a picture of her reading the book while waiting for radiation. I love you Mom.” – Laurel

Photos from: here and here

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#465 When a work friend becomes an outside-of-work friend

The nine to five brought you together.

Cracking jokes by the copier, swapping stories on the line, laughing in the lunchroom, you found a friend between policies, procedures, and paperwork. When you got together you started noticing you were just you, just hanging out, just laughing about your day.

Then one day your friendship zoomed to a new level. Maybe you grabbed a beer one night, got a surprise birthday invite, or became new texting pals.

Yes, you turned a work friend into an outside-of-work friend, baby. It wasn’t easy but you took the chance, you made the leap, and now you’re rocking with someone new.

AWESOME!

The Book of Awesome is out in Australia and New Zealand with a pink cover!

– Email message –

“A week ago, I was about to take THE road test to obtain my driver’s license; stress level = MAXIMUM! Ten minutes before leaving for the exam center, I remembered my Book Of Awesome was supposed to arrive. I checked my mailbox, and here it was! I spent my last minutes reading a few awesome things, and when I left for the exam, I wasn’t stressed out anymore, I was just thinking of how AWESOME our world is, with or without any drivers license. And you know what? I GOT IT! AWESOME!” – Caroline from Paris, France

Photo from: here

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#466 Using milk instead of water

What’s up, instructions?

Why you gotta be recommending water in our pancakes, hot chocolate, and jello pudding? Why you trying to blandify our oatmeal, brownie mixes, and cream of mushroom soup?

Look, we’re sorry but there’s new chef in the kitchen and things are going to be a little different from now on. We’re talking creamier hot chocolate, puffier pancakes, and brownies that will make tears of joy spray out your eyes like a sprinkler system.

We’re talking about using milk instead of water, baby.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Thank you for speaking at the summit! I was sitting at the back and your story and words were so encouraging. My husband left in 2007 and my supposedly secure job was a goner when the economy took a down turn.  I was laid off exactly 90 days after I closed on my first house.  I struggled for the next 18 months to find something and 300 resumes and lots of bills later I found a job. So, two weeks ago I sent my son to Ohio to be with my family, packed up my house in Myrtle Beach, and moved into the basement here in DC.  I don’t know a single person here and have no support system to help with my son…however…there are some pretty AWESOME things I’ve seen: 1. A family who did not know me offered to let us stay with them for free, 2. Finally finding someone with the same stupid humor as me who travels 10 hours to be with me… and have brownie batter fights at midnight!, and 3. Skyping with my son and watching him blow ear plugs out of his nose and listening to him belly laugh over it!” – Candace

Photo from: here and here

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#467 Guilty pleasure songs

We’ve all got some.

Just the other day my friend Vanessa and I were grabbing breakfast when we started talking about guilty pleasure songs. As I doused a tower of pancakes in a tidal wave of syrup we laughed about those songs you don’t really tell your friends about. You know, it’s thosetracks on your iPod you’re afraid someone will find, your secret bubblegum pop playlist with the ironic title, or the last track on a distant mix CD that still pulls powerful strings on your achy breaky heart.

One of Vanessa’s guilty pleasures is The Sign by Ace of Base. Apparently her younger siblings got into it and at first the sugar-coated pop perfection swished and swirled together with Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys beats rising from their basement dance parties. But as she grew up The Sign separated itself and lodged firmly in her brain. Yes, it planted roots and settled in, growing catchy hooks… and fond memories.

For years Vanessa tried pretending her love for The Sign was ironic even though she knew deep down in her heart it was incredibly sincere. Her love never faded and the song kept making its way onto personal playlists and late night dream listens before falling asleep.

The good news is that as Vanessa got older she grew to accept the song, accept her musical loves, and most of all, accept herself. And maybe that’s the secret: Guilty pleasure songs are only guilty until you shout them to the world. So go ahead and don’t worry, we won’t judge you, because we have soft spots for The Bangles, Lionel Ritchie, and Toto, too.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Neil, I woke up this morning in the afternoon, 12:15 pm to be specific, and I poured myself a bowl of cereal. I ate it up while watching some tv, but as soon as I finished I realized it was lunch time. SOOOOO I proceeded to make myself a turkey sandwich with some chips and a cold can of diet coke. Waking up so late that it is necessary to eat two meals….breakfast and lunch.  AWESOME! Your blog and The Book of Awesome continue to make me laugh every day.” – Tess

Photos from: here

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#468 The moment of anticipation just before the first kiss

Stare into those eyes.

Pupils grow wide and hearts thump fast as brains jolt and thoughts rollercoaster around. Conversation jumbles and stumbles before fading into footnotes as fingers touch and linger, thoughts twist together, and eye contact drifts and sways before catching and connecting as everything goes quiet…

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“A few weeks ago my Dad was hospitalized with a severe heart condition, and had to undergo a major surgery. It’s been a stressful few weeks, but The Book Of Awesomehelped me get through it. I read it out loud to my Mum and brothers in the car on the way to and from the hospital and we forgot about waiting rooms and needles. And the awesome thing that I’d like to contribute? Doctors and nurses who save the lives of people we love!” – Katie

Photo from: here

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#469 Seeing a dog that looks like a dog you know

My sister and I killed Dale.

Well, to be honest, the poor goldfish didn’t stand a chance. Nina was six and I was seven when my parents let us have our first pet and the slippery slugger swam in our front hallway for ten happy days before being savagely murdered by overfeeding.

See, we wanted to show Dale our love so much we cleaned his bowl regularly, taped ocean drawings to the back of his home, and fed him every time our TV show went to commercial break.

He wasn’t a suicidal glutton when we got him but we turned him into one. It broke our hearts to flush him down the toilet and we cried hot salty tears as we watched his tiny orange body swirl furiously into the sewer system.

Dale was the first pet I ever had.

Dale was the last pet I ever had.

My brain tried for years to forget him … but my heart just never could.

Sure, I took baby steps, moving forward, moving on, hitting the books in high school, driving off to college, and finally coming back to the big city a new person, a different person, with all my pet-murdering baggage behind me.

Pets completely disappeared from my life. I skipped their stink aisle in the grocery store, avoided eye contact with dogs on the sidewalk, and told friends my allergies prevented me from scratching their cat’s disgusting belly.

But this all changed a few years ago when I found myself living with a girlfriend who needed to dog sit for her parents for a few weeks. I wasn’t working at the time so I became the primary doggiver.

Toby was a tiny black pup who I kept my distance from for a few days. But pretty soon his puppy eyes, sideways glances, and the way he’d lie on my legs while I watched TV warmed my heart. He was my gym buddy and got me jogging in the park. He was my shopping partner and waited patiently outside the store for a lick of ice cream. He was my bodyguard who growled at every dog down the hall. He’d lick up crumbs I dropped on the kitchen floor, cry whenever I left the house, and run around like he’d won the lottery when I came home.

People, I’m telling you: We bonded like glue.

Yes, when Toby finally had to leave I was heartbroken. I stood in the middle of the rain-slicked road watching his paws pressed against the back window of the van slowly disappearing into the distance. As I gazed back up at the apartment building everything felt hollow and empty inside.

Life savagely swirled me and Toby in different directions and I’m sad to say he died a few years later. However, these days every time I see a dog that looks like him my heart does a tiny flip and I remember all the good times we shared. Yes, I run up to that confused Placebo Dog on the street and scratch him behind the ears as my mind photoflashes to Toby sniffing tree trunks, chasing balls at the park, and running with a wagging tongue straight into my heart …

If you’re with me here then you know that seeing a dog that looks like a dog you know reminds you of childhood pets, neighbor’s yappy mutts, or your Grandpa’s best friend growing up. You wonder if they’re long lost descendants of your old friends and you smile at the four-legged memories bubbling up from long ago, popping out of nowhere just to say hello.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Today, my ex husband got married. I was a bit down, so I decided to treat myself to a chick flick (Letters to Juliet). Then I decided to stop by the bookstore, and look for a PostSecret book and The Book of Awesome. A wonderful woman took me to PostSecret, but when I was ready to find The Book of Awesome, the next woman couldn’t find it on the shelf. The system said they had two copies available. Sure enough, they had just gotten them in yesterday and hadn’t put them on the floor yet! So…On a crappy day, I managed to snag a copy of the book that hadn’t even been put out yet. AWESOME!!” – Sarah

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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#470 Finally getting the perfect picture

AWESOME!

Photos from: Nat and Ago Mazzarelli

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