You might think I lack self-confidence.
The entire theme of Must Be This Tall To Ride has a sometimes serious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek I’m-just-not-good-enough vibe about it.
But I don’t want to mislead you.
While I do lack self-confidence about dating as a 34-year-old divorced father, and do get stage fright any time I’m trying something new in front of an audience, I am pretty sure of myself about many other things.
I like to say: I have a very high opinion of my opinions.
Not so much on life’s major issues. I recognize I don’t have all the answers there and respect everyone’s differing and often passionate viewpoints.
But on the somewhat irrelevant stuff? Music, movies, food, beer, wine, liquor, et cetera? I respect differing viewpoints much less.
For example, crunchy peanut butter is superior to creamy. And crispy bacon is superior to chewy. Oh, you like blush wines? Prepare to be judged and eyed suspiciously.
There’s a little bobble-head figurine at my office. Someone taped a small photo of my face on it. The “award” name is a spinoff of my last name.
To earn it, you have to say something sort of snobby or pompous. If someone catches you doing so, the bobble-head gets planted on your desk for a while.
The joke started after our entire department—about 20 strong—went on a group lunch. At that lunch, I ordered a fish sandwich. The hoagie roll on which it was served was stale. More importantly, it was refrigerated. Totally cold. Totally shitty. Unforgivable. I didn’t eat it. And like a good fishing story, it has gotten worse over time. Now, when I tell it, the bread had mold spores and was time stamped 1986.
The real irony is that the entire idea for the office award was concocted by the one guy at work who is actually snobbier about the irrelevant stuff than I am. He’s also my friend.
I like to say it’s not snobbery. It’s merely having refined tastes. Decide for yourself.
Farrah Fawcett Hair
It’s good shit!
At least, that’s what Capital Cities says on their mostly unknown, yet super-fun song Farrah Fawcett Hair off of their semi-new album In a Tidal Wave of Mystery.
National Public Radio’s Frank Tavares narrates as Capital Cities shares with you random things they think are awesome.
I like it.
And because I like it, I decided to do my own version.
Good Life Tips
You may agree with this stuff. You may disagree.
It’s entirely possible you won’t care at all.
But, in one writer’s occasionally not-so-humble opinion, your life will be enhanced by the following:
1. Drinking Bonarda
This is for all you Malbec fans out there. This red wine variety is also from Argentina’s kick-ass Mendoza Province—which is the country’s most-important wine-producing region.
Malbec is amazing because you can get fantastic bottles of it for $10. Bonarda is better. The problem? It’s harder to find. Unless I order it online, I have trouble finding it. But like my occasionally spectacular music tastes, it’s only a matter of time before this wine has a major breakthrough in the United States, and hopefully, beyond. It’s that awesome. Drink some. It’s good shit.
2. Grating your own cheese
You’re at the grocery store perusing the dairy aisle. I want to make tacos!, you wisely think to yourself because tacos are awesome.
And then you grab a bag of pre-shredded cheese. I’m standing next to you thinking: Hahahahahaha! Look how dumb that person is! I’m half kidding. Listen, I know you’re lazy. I am, too. You’re also thinking: It’s all going to melt anyway! No one can tell the difference! Stop right there. You ever look closely at pre-shredded cheese? Notice that spotty white layer of weird, oxidized film that grows on the outside? Yeah, that’s bullshit. I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge with your pre-shredded cheese any day of the week. Pause. Take a breath. Look to your left and right. You’ll notice some blocks of cheese. Buy that instead. Then take out your cheese grater you never use and shred your own cheese. It’s cheaper. It will take exactly 90 more seconds. But your food will taste 100-percent better. Grate your own cheese. It’s good shit.
3. Listening to Lord Huron’s Lonesome Dreams
I mention this band briefly in The 50 Lays Project, Vol. 2 post. I’m not saying Lord Huron is the best band in the world. I don’t even listen to them that much as I’m eagerly awaiting whatever they’re writing now. However, this is a band that the vast majority of people I talk to have never heard of. And it’s a shame. This band takes me places. They make me want to ride horses in the Old West, and sleep under the stars beneath a massive Wyoming or Montana sky. Lonesome Dreams was my favorite album of 2012—not because it was the best—but because it was the most unexpected. What’s better than a pleasant surprise? Nothing, right? Listen to this album. It’s good shit.
4. Watching Breaking Bad
If you already watch, you already get it.
If you don’t, you either don’t care or are someone who is tired of hearing about it from your friends.
But if you’re on the fence? Watch this show. There’s an important lesson here, and it has nothing to do with drugs or criminal behavior.
Thinking you’re going to die can eliminate a lot of fear and compel someone to live with a heroic, courageous purpose. To take the bull by the horns, tap into your inner Jesse Pinkman and say “Not today, bitch.”
We’re all going to die. Let’s not wait until it’s imminent before we start living courageously.
Or maybe I’m thinking too deeply about it. Maybe it’s just a kick-ass show about dudes cooking meth. Watch Breaking Bad. It’s good shit.
5. Volunteering once a week
You think your life sucks? I do too, sometimes.
We can all use a nice, fat serving of perspective once in a while.
I know a place where about 150 people line up for a free meal every night. Afterward, all the men have to shower in the same room and wear hideous pajamas supplied by the shelter. Then they sleep on horribly uncomfortable three-inch-thick mats that can’t smell very good next to one another on a floor because it’s better than whatever other living arrangements they have. Ugh.
Do something for others, even if it’s just for an hour a week. I think you’ll find you’re not just helping them, but also yourself.
Volunteer. It’s good shit.
6. Pouring your beer into a glass
A brewmaster taught me this when I was writing a magazine feature on pairing beers and cooking with them. Maybe you think it seems tedious. Maybe you think the beer already tastes good in your bottle or can. It can taste better. You release the energy within and the full potential of your beer when you let it splash against the bottom of your glass as it’s poured. You can see the beer working, the carbonation dancing from the bottom of your glass to the top. Those are little magic bubbles of awesome waiting to mate with your taste buds.
Do the right thing. Pour your beer into a glass every chance you get. It’s good shit.
7. Soaking your vegetables in water and vinegar
Fill up your sink. Dump some vinegar in like it’s dish soap. Toss all your fresh produce in there and let it soak for a few minutes. Then, refrigerate it, chop it up, or whatever it is you’re going to do with it. Vinegar is an amazing all-natural cleaning agent. I swear, there will be ZERO vinegar taste in your food. I despise the taste and smell. What you will also find, is that the vinegar soaking will prolong the life of your vegetables as they sit in your refrigerator. About twice as long, in my experience. Try it. See for yourself. Soak your vegetables in vinegar water. It’s good shit.
8. Frying your own taco shells
Oh, you like flour shells? Fine, I do too. At least you’re eating tacos like a smart person. But if you need a little variety once in a while, it would behoove you to try frying your own taco shells.
Step 1 – Buy soft corn shells. They’re inexpensive and come in large bundles.
Step 2 – Pour some Canola oil into your frying pan and turn the heat to medium.
Step 3 – Using a pair of tongs, fry both sides of the shell for a bit, then fold in half like a traditional taco shell. It might take a little practice. They’re so inexpensive, you won’t be pissed if you mess up one or two.
Step 4 – Prop them up on some paper towels upside down by leaning them against something. I just use an upside-down coffee mug. Let them drain and crisp up a bit.
Step 5 – Eat. If you already fry your own shells, you’re nodding right now. If you don’t, your mouth will orgasm, especially if you grated your own cheese.
Fry your own taco shells. It’s good shit.
9. Praying the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
I don’t care whether you believe in God. Just read the words and respect the message:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
It’s my favorite prayer. I try to say it every day. I have it hanging up in my closet. Give it a shot. Or at the very least, contemplate the message. It’s good shit.
I can’t think of a good No. 10 right now, and I want to go play with my son. So, that’s what I’m going to do.
Everyone already knows being an attentive parent is a good thing.
Love your kids. Be in the moment with them.
It’s good shit.