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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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#471 The moment at the bar when everyone starts singing together

Let’s go out.

Let’s grab friends, let’s grab drinks, let’s make it happen.

Now, if you’re like me then even though you love hitting a busy scene, you sorta end up sticking to your own corner booth or tipsy table with your own group of friends. Sure, sure, rogue eyeballs drift and linger, small-talk could be swapped at the bar, and elbows might accidentally disrespect the buffer, but for the most part most of us stick to our own teams.

That’s what makes it special when everyone at the bar suddenly starts singing together. It’s a rare moment of unity that usually goes down one of three ways:

1. Sports cheer. Everyone’s watching the home team on the big screen. When a goal is scored as the clock clicks down and it’s time to grab each other’s shoulders, sway side to side, and let the tears stream down those painted faces.

2. Birthday brotherhood. Have you ever been at a family restaurant when the staff started singing happy birthday and everyone chimed in? Yes, this is when the magic of the ten-year-old’s flaming cake infects everybody with birthday love. The best part is when you get to the part where you’re supposed to sing the person’s name. Usually it comes out like “Happy BIRTH-day dear girl-at-the-barrrrrrrrr….  happy birthday to youuuuuuuu.”

3. Late night sing-a-long. Everyone’s chit-chatting into the early morning when suddenly the DJ drops a fan favorite and cranks it up. Fists pump the sky and drinks slosh around as Bon Jovi or Guns N’ Roses gets everyone jumping.

Yes, there sure is something sweet and something special about that magic moment when everyone starts singing together. It’s like the loud chords shake us up, the screaming vocals sweep us in, and our whole sweaty, sloshy crowd comes together in a big beautiful moment of

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Greetings from Hungary! Behind me there’s the Buda Castle with the Matthias Church and I’m standing on Elizabeth Bridge over the Danube. There was a strong wind, I had to hold the book tightly :) And here’s my story: My boyfriend travels a lot because of his work. Now he’s working in Kazakhstan for a month. It’s the longest period of time we’ve been separated so far. It’s really hard to handle as we’re always spending all of our time together when he’s at home. But the arriving of The Book of Awesome and his departure to Kazakhstan happened on the same day :) And it helps a lot. Now every day I text him an awesome thing when I wake up to make his day better. And it works :)” – Eszti

Photos from:  here

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#472 Finishing your last exam

After sitting on a wobbly wood desk coloring in multiple choice bubbles for hours, you finally tip-toe to the front and hand in your last exam. Now you can say goodbye to biology, say goodbye to  photosynthesis, say goodbye to hypotenuses, and say goodbye to the hot stench of chalk dust and B.O. sitting heavy in the hot room.

Now you can say goodbye to early mornings, say goodbye to pop quizzes, and say goodbye to weekend homework.

Now you can say hello to summer.

It’s finally here.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Today I finally made my way to a bookstore to pick up The Book of Awesome. It took a while for my friend and I to find it … and he doesn’t know secretly I bought it for him! He’s a year older than me, and is going to college in the fall, but I have to stay home for my own senior year. So as a present, I’m giving him your book in hopes that on those hard freshmen college days he has a little something to cheer him up and make his day AWESOME!” – Katie

Photos from: here and here

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#473 When that social event you didn’t want to go to gets cancelled

Catch you next time, distant cousin’s baby shower. We totally would have been there, new coworker’s birthday party. Sorry it didn’t work out, someone we don’t know’s wedding.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“My parents, sister, and I were fortunate enough to spend my 20th birthday in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I had shown my father your website, leading to a copy of The Book of Awesome for my mother on mother’s day and then surprising me with one for my birthday. Today I spent some quality sand covered time reading your book after an afternoon sting ray spotting and snorkeling!” – Kat

Photo from: here

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#474 When someone who doesn’t like pizza crust gives you their pizza crust

Personally, I’m a crustless gentleman.

Gimme that melty tip of of cheesy goodness, gimme that pepperoni with crispy edges, and then gimme another slice.

Yes, for my money Belly Space Analysis dictates I’m better off grabbing another slice from the box rather than chomp away at the crust’s puffy blandness. So I gaze up at the feasting lions clawing the pizza zebra to bits around me and offer up my crust to anyone who wants it.

Sometimes I even leave a little cheese and sauce at the edges to sweeten the deal.

If you’re a crust lover this is when your eyes flash fast and you growl at the others before tearing it from my hands and ripping it to shreds.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“I have been a fan of 1000 Awesome Things since #708. When I heard The Book of Awesome was out, I was SO excited! I couldn’t find it at my local bookstore but my grandma lives in a different state than me so when I visited I checked her bookstore. Lucky for me, they had it! In fact, when I asked the man at customer service about The Book of Awesome, his face beamed and he immediately said yes. As it turned out, he was also a fan of your blog before the book had come out. He led me to the shelf, and there, in the middle, stood the book.” – Sam


Photos from: here and here

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#475 When your guests do the dishes even after you told them not to

It’s dinner party night.

Yes, sweaty and flushed, you run around baking bread and breaking eggs before that doorbell bing-bongs, the guests ping-pong, and everyone sits down to eat up your delicious homemade meal.

Of course, you enjoy the dinner — you love it, it’s great — but you don’t really enjoy it. No, you’re running around refilling glasses, folding napkins, scooping seconds, warming pies. You’re cleaning crumbs, wiping babies, and keeping an eye on the kids table. While everyone sits and chats you’re a Tasmanian Devil of dining room insanity, whipping into a whirlwind and making sure everyone enjoys their meal.

By the end, you’re completely and utterly exhausted. Your bones are bleeding, your skin is stinging, and your body is aching for a tender hug from a cushy couch.

This is why it’s great when your guests offer to do the dishes after the meal.

“No, no, no,” you say. “Sit down, sit down, sit down.”

But they insist, but you insist, but they insist, but you insist, but they insist … and then finally you just stare back at them with hollow, broken eyes and give up.

Now you crashland on the cushy couch as your guests fill the sink and bubble up the suds. And what a beautiful moment of sweet relief it is when you walk back in there and see everything sparkling clean.

Plus, for the rest of the week to get to enjoy the Treasure Hunt that comes with finding your own dishes in all the wrong cupboards. But it’s no big deal so just smile and enjoy those Gravy Boat Rescue Missions and Wooden Spoon Search Parties with a smile.

Yes, this one goes out to guests who wash the dishes even after we told them not to. Today we say thanks for love, thanks for the memories, and thanks for scrubbing the crusty casserole dish.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“I just finished my Master’s degree and despite a never-ending job hunt move home in three days to live with my parents.  I have no clue where I’ll end up in the next six months and can’t help but feel defeated at times.  Regardless, reading The Book of Awesome helps to remind me that while jobs and homes may change, some things will always remain AWESOME!” - Amanda

Photos from: here and here

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#476 Biting off the last piece of the popsicle without losing any of it

Careful now.

You started strong but now you’re down to the drippy ice-cold clump in the middle of the stick.

You can’t reach it from the top, you can’t reach it from the bottom, and using your fingers or a fork is cheating. No, you’re going straight in and facing the big risk of a cherry chunk of icy goodness crashlanding into a neon pink stain on your shorts.

There’s no time for stalling so put on your game face and let’s get to it.

Take a deep breath and carefully twist the stick upside down really quickly while tilting your head sideways and loudly sucking your way into a tongue-twisting, teeth-tightening, gravity defying moment of pure popsicle biting

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“I’m a teacher of the blind who teaches braille to kids. I seriously want The Book of Awesome in braille! I’ve begun leaving little pieces of ‘awesome’ around my class in braille and we go for ‘awesome hunts’. These kids have it hard…i mean, REAL hard sometimes. Life’s hard when you can’t see, but there’s also a bunch of awesome stuff that you can do when you can’t see too! Thanks for making me a better teacher by teaching my kids how to BE awesome, and SEE the awesome in their world!” – Rachel

Photos from: here and here

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