#127 Little kids riding bikes

Babies stay put.

Set a newborn on a couch cushion, kitchen table, or pull-out bed and it just lies around making spit bubbles.

And sure, baby grows older, starts crawling, starts bashing into walls, but it isn’t until she begins riding a bike that everything really opens up. Yes, this is when it first becomes clear that: We taught them to control a machine!

Seeing little kids on bikes is watching them realize how far the world really goes. Pedaling around the block, racing to the store, everything seems closer together, and every day they want a little more. Soon they’ll be driving cars and flying planes to stars and zipping down highways, across oceans, and into brave new worlds.

When you see little kids on bikes make sure you smile and nod at these brave explorers.

Because today it’s the neighborhood.

And tomorrow it’s the world.


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Photos from: here and here

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#128 Whispering movie reviews with your friends while the trailers roll at the movie theater

Making movies ain’t easy.

Script ideas are batted around in basements, screenplays are slaved over under dim desk lamps, edits are massaged for months in coffee shop corners, ideas are pitched in glassy boardrooms, storyboards are drawn in dusty studios, phone calls are made and meetings are had, and months and months and millions and millions are spent assembling a cast and crew, scouting locations, and shooting every single second of the next big Hollywood blockbuster.

But all bets are off when the trailer is finally screened before your movie begins.

Slurping your Coke, elbowing the armrest, your eyeballs flash with explosions before whispering to your friend.

“That looks terrible.”


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#129 Making sure you have clean teeth at all costs

I stayed at my parent’s place last week.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my parents go to bed about four hours earlier than I do. Pajamas and dental floss come out around eight o’clock and a late-night mug of warm milk and some idle newspaper flipping fills the family room before bed.

After they crash I always head upstairs for three straight hours of surfing around online. Yes, I take care of important business like slipping into Wikipedia rabbit-holes and obsessively tracking the injuries of my Fantasy Football players.

Anyway, back to last week.

It was late and I eventually turned off the computer before zombie-walking over to the bathroom to scrape my pearly yellows before bed. So there I was, scraping away, mouth full of foamy suds, staring at my dark sunken eyes in the mirror, when suddenly something … catches my eye! While still brushing I quickly glance down at my wide-open bathroom bag on the counter… just in time to notice a giant spider scamper right out.

Yes, this was the mother of all spiders too. No tiny porch spider or flimsy Daddy Long-Legs here. Seriously, it was a full-on what-the-heck-is-that kind of spider. The sort of thing you’d expect to find nestled in a box of papayas straight from the islands or hanging out on the dock at the cottage.

And then it struck me.

The spider was probably crawling all over my toothbrush all day. Maybe laying eggs in there. Getting its googly-eyes and legs all over my bristles. And that toothbrush was in my own mouth… right now.

I stared quickly into the mirror with steely, bloodshot eyes and asked myself what sort of man I was. Was I a frantically freaking-out over spider germs sort of guy? No, I decided right then and there, that I was not. I was a clean teeth at all costs kind of guy. I was too far in to go back and I needed to hit the pillow with a fresh mouth.

As the spider quickly scampered into the floor vent, my brain flashed back to late college days stumbling home from the bar at three in the morning. No matter what, no matter when, my roommate Dee would always break out his bulk-size dental floss and give his teeth a good plucking before bed. “I can’t go to sleep with furry teeth and stinkbreath,” I remember him saying back then. “Clean teeth at all costs, no matter what.”

And whether its finger-brushing at the fourth grade slumber party, borrowing toothbrushes at the dorm room sleepover, or scraping with leaves or sweatshirt sleeves on a mountain camping trip, there’s just something about going to bed with clean teeth that feels right. It’s the end of a long day and the start of a good night. It’s part of the crisp crinkly sheets, fresh pillow dream scene. And it helps complete your Pajama Metamorphosis.

Forget about the tired legs, drained kegs, and spider eggs.

Just remember to obey clean teeth at all costs and sleep tight.


Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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#130 When someone you haven’t seen in forever suddenly pops into your dreams

Welcome back, fourth grade classmate. We forgot you existed, boss from the burger joint. Thanks for coming back for a tea, Grandma.

Yes, life is full of twists and tunnels and old relationships sometimes disappear into the well. So when someone from your past makes a Cameo Dream appearance, just welcome them back with a smile and a snooze.


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#131 When the plane skids down smoothly on the runway

I sat beside a Curled Up Ball on a flight recently.

Poor girl hadn’t been on a plane before and was gripping the armrests, gritting her teeth, and eyeballing the barf bag the entire trip. Me, I was enjoying unlimited tomato juice, an insightful in-flight magazine article about hotels I should stay at in cities I will never visit, and a beautiful red sunset over Care-A-Lot. But even me, Joe Cool, still suffers from Last Minute Freakout, always suddenly believing in those final few swervy seconds that we’re about to crash land.

It doesn’t help that the plane cabin dims all the lights before landing, either. It’s like “Welcome to an evening of theater!” In this evening’s production of ‘Will We Land Safely?’, the role of Peeing-His-Pants Passenger will be played by … you.

Curled Up Ball and I made brief eye contact as the Seatbelt Sign glowed brightly on our sweat-shiny foreheads. She looked at me for support and I’m not proud to say I offered none, instead giving her a fake smile and a loud gulp.

We swerved, we curved, we lifted, we dropped, and suddenly out the window it looked like we were at ground level but hadn’t touched down. Buildings whizzed by and we held on quietly and stiffly with our heads back just in time to finally feel the loud bounce of those tiny wheels slamming into the runway.

When the plane touches down everyone releases their collective breath and we get a loud and skiddy sign that we’re finally home.


Photos from: here and here

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#132 Playing music so loud you forget where you are

Get lost, elevator jazz. Hang up, hold music. Pack your bags, grocery store soundtrack.

Your whispering background noise is an insult to music everywhere.

Yes, when the soul-lifting beauty of music dissolves into fluorescent-dim worlds of three-piece suits, can-clinking carts, and phone calls to cable companies, it becomes Music Wallpaper – polite, pleasant, pastel-pasted.

Loud music demands attention.

Booming tunes shush coffee table conversations, ringing cell phones, and scattering thoughts. When songs slam your brain, bass shakes your bones, and chest-clenching notes sponge into you, it’s like you suddenly slip outside of being you…

1. Dark dance parties. I was hanging at my apartment a few weeks ago with old friends from school. After clinking drinks and chatting about old times we suddenly shoved all the furniture to the side, flicked off the lights, and cranked up the music. Mortgage rates, back pain, and job fears all disappeared into darkness as we slipped and skidded across sliding floors. Sweaty bangs, big smiles, and twenty-finger cracks squeakily lowered the velvety curtains on the backdrop of the world.

2. Airplane escapes. Cranking your headphones on long flights helps you slip into safe spaces in strange places. Rip-rocketing through thunderstorms at breakneck speeds in liquidless, security-screened worlds of emergency exits, recycled air, and screaming babies can be stressful. So pull on your hoodie, close your eyes, and slouch deep into the blaring abyss.

3. Midnight drives. Fresh farm air rips through open windows, painted lanes whip by, and skunk and hay bales fill your car as you twist down empty roads on your way home. Let the bumping radio snap you to attention and sing-a-long on the dark drive home.

Yes, loud music demands attention.

Suddenly all the energy the band bucketpoured into the recording flies straight out of your speakers and into your heart. Drum beats revolve as your worries dissolve and cymbals crash to pieces as your brain finally releases.

Let your self float away.


Photos from: Lumperjack and Laura Galley

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#134 Setting a new record for yourself in anything

My friends Mike and Kathryn had a baby last year.

I was out visiting them on the west coast recently and we spent a quiet night on the couch playing with their diaper-clad, chubby-legged, wide-eyed son Malcolm. We took turns rocking him, yanking on his toes, and holding him above our heads like Simba. To return the favor he giggled and waved his arms and legs around sharply and wildly like Bambi on ice.

The evening was pretty quiet until Malcolm happened to let out the giantest burp I’ve ever heard from a baby. It was a long and deep gut-clearing belch that was part tugboat, part T-Rex, and all class.

After the burp Malcolm’s emotionless, slowly blinking eyes didn’t seem particularly impressed but Mike got right into it. “Ladies and gentlemen!” he began, like a boxing announcer winding up the crowd. “We have a newwwwwwwwww … champion-of-the-world!”

Cuddling the Bald Burper on the couch, Mike went on to excitedly explain how Malcolm was constantly setting new records for himself. “We hit longest sleep recently and biggest dump was about six months back,” he said, putting his floppy-sweatsock feet up on the coffee table. “Haven’t seen a diaper that full since.”

Sure enough, these Guinness Book accounts of Malcolm’s record-smashing ways got us all talking about how setting a new record for yourself in anything is great. It feels like a small victory, like passing a little test, it feels like learning more about you, like pushing into that new personal best.

After all, there’s the longest speech you’ve given, there’s the most games you played, there’s the longest drive you’ve driven, and there’s the best catch you made. And although these white-ribbon finishes aren’t always surrounded by cheering crowds, flashing cameras, and newspaper headlines, the truth is that doesn’t matter. Because when you set a personal record you can whip out your personal notebook and make a personal note.

“Giantest burp ever.”


Photos from: here and here

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