Mystery Solving

“Desperation turns to Delight”

I’ve been living a double life.

Outside of my home, I’m a loud, energetic and mostly happy writer. I go to work, I eat nice foods, I pay a monthly subscription to The New York Times (support journalism!), and I probably should work out more than I do.

At home, I’m a loud, energetic, and mostly happy writer also, but there are unique moments where I have to turn into someone else. When the moment calls for it, I transition from “Joey” to “Inspector Detective Joey.”

Basically, I solve mysteries.

What type of mysteries, you ask? Let me solve that for you.

*takes puff on bubble pipe*

Just this morning I solved the mystery of the missing makeup remover. Kate asked where it was, I located it, and then shouted: “Mystery Solved!”

It’s those type of mysteries that I excel at. The kind where I sniff out clues of the most nefarious kind.

Last week it was the case of the missing left shoe that left me puzzled for nearly three minutes. Luckily, I followed the trail of socks and was led to the scene of the crime, the living room. After greasing a palm or two, I discovered the absent shoe, hiding beneath our couch. I returned to it to the client, a classy dame who I happened to live with. Case closed. Mystery Solved.

My most difficult case so far drove me nearly to the depths of madness. In anticipation of our vacation that we’re embarking on next week, Kate and I have been organizing and packing things. However, I was unable to locate my global entry card, and instantly, Inspecter Detective Joey was on the case.

This perplexing piece of plastic was nowhere to be found. Unlike most cases, which take a maximum of four minutes, this one haunted me for days. In a fit of desperation (you know the type I’m talking about), I began to empty out drawers on the floor and go through old receipts.

While I did locate records of past misdeeds from my youth, no global entry card was found. Kate watched my investigative zeal turn into passionate panic as I scoured through the three places in the house that I put stuff.

And where was the offending ID card hiding? In the drawer next to the door where I put my watch upon getting home from work.

Another classic Whodunit answered. Case closed, Mystery Solved.

Mystery Solving – 4 out of 5 Stars

Cereal

“Breakfast Crackers”

Millennials. We get a bad wrap. We’re the cause of…all of the world’s problems. We’re entitled, lazy, and are constantly destroying solid American pillars.

One of those institutions? Cereal. Depending on who you believe, we’re either too lazy to clean up after ourselves to eat cereal, or we’re focused on healthy breakfast options more than the previous generation – long story short, cereal sales are down.

To be fair, ever since I left the nest at the ripe old age of 18 (and then summarily returned at the age of 24, only to fly again at 25), I don’t buy cereal. Buying cereal means I have to buy milk, and I don’t drink enough milk to not have it go bad in my fridge. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing or smelling bad milk, but word on the street is that it’s an unpleasant experience.

Don’t get me wrong, cereal is absolutely delicious. Especially the kind we ate as children. Who wouldn’t want marshmallows for breakfast? Growing up I had three favorite types of cereal.

Honey Bunches of Oats – This combination of oat clusters and nuts always felt like it was the healthiest. No wrong could come to my body as long as I started the day with a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Kix – Kid Tested, Mother Approved. A bowl of these plain colored orbs were a true treat. Especially when you threw them at friends.

Lucky Charms – Obviously Lucky Charms makes the cut. I considered putting Golden Grahams as my third option, but the magical mystery of clovers and rainbows were too enticing to pass up. Holy shit this was just a bowl full of sugar crack. I feel like Lucky Charms may have been the root cause of a lot of ADD diagnoses.

So we’re killing cereal, but like a magnificent forest, sometimes there needs to be destruction for greater growth to occur. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m all about fiber. And you know what is a great source of fiber?

Cereal, that’s what. So while I’ve traded in my horseshoes and tasty red balloons for brands that help me poop, it’s nice to feel like a Millennial that isn’t killing something.

Cereal – 3 out of 5 Stars

Tevas

“Like Sandals for Really Really Cool People”

It’s been very very hot in California this summer. In a gross way. In a way that our state has burst into flames all across the mountains and valleys.

Right now, the largest fire in state history is burning, it’s called the Mendocino Complex fire, and it’s the size of the entirety of Los Angeles.

Fire PSA over, I’m just trying to make a sympathetic point that it’s hot.

Now that I’ve got you freaked out by wildfires, and in an emotional state of support, let’s talk about Teva Sandals.

My first encounter with Tevas was when I was 13 years old, and with a group of Boy Scouts and parents (Thanks Dad!) I backpacked into the Grand Canyon and spent 4 days in a magical place called Havasupai.

This is not to be confused with Lake Havasu, the popular spring break destination. A grueling 10-mile hike is the only way to get to this secluded and beautiful destination. We wore hiking boots to get in there, but once there all of us enjoyed the heavy duty protection of Tevas, while still being able to swim in waterfalls and the lake without wearing wet socks.

After that moment, I thought Tevas were basically the Dippin Dots of shoes – the future. High school and college quickly proved me wrong. Since I didn’t go to UC Berkeley or live in Boulder, Tevas weren’t commonplace.

Senior year of college, I took an ill-fated canoe trip through the Everglades. I ended up being hospitalized for five days, but that was completely unrelated to my footwear choices. My roommate and I wore Tevas, and passed the time by getting in hotly contested debates with the trip leaders about the superior merits of Tevas over the other mainstay of what I like to call “Tactical Sandals,” Chacos.

I hung up my Tevas for almost half a decade after that, until I took the free trip to Israel known as Birthright. I traipsed all across the contested holy land in my Tevas, and while feeling no stronger ties to religion, I was struck with holy fever for my sandals.

All of these moments led up to yesterday when the local news told me yet again that it was going to be a scorcher in Los Angeles. I work in a fashion-forward office, so I decided to roll the dice and rock my trusty Tevas to my job.

Turns out Los Angeles wasn’t the only thing that got roasted yesterday. My fashion choice was met with a small section of support, but the overwhelming vibe was that I shouldn’t mix Tevas with Trabajo.

Tevas – 3 out of 5 Stars 

Blisters

“The Worst Type of Bubbles”

For the first time in my life, I went to Comic-Con. I was down there for a work event and ended up spending almost seven days in San Diego. Unlike my last journey down south, this excursion wasn’t full of quaint towns and delightful bloody marys.

No, this was all about the job. I won’t get into the details, but I worked with a dedicated and passionate team to put on something that had never been done before at such scale, and I’m incredibly proud of the output.

My feet strongly disagree.

The life of a professional writer is rarely physically strenuous. Mentally taxing at times? Yes. It’s tough to stare at a blank document and then figure out what to fill it up with. But writing takes a low physical toll on my body – my fingers are most impacted as I have an annoying tendency to snap my fingers when I’m searching for the correct word.

For six days straight, I was up and on my feet. Pacing, running, walking, I was never sitting down. Part of my role was to lead a team of nearly 100 people, and I channeled my former lives as a teacher and camp counselor by making sure they never saw me sitting. If I was asking them to stand, then I had to be the Superman of standing.

After one day, my feet began to pulse with fiery pain. By day two, blisters began to form, and on day four every night was a terrible ritual of slowly peeling off my shoes in gentle motions.

In the few hours of downtime I had, I dragged a coworker to buy new socks, thinking that would remedy the problem (it didn’t). Resigned to my fate, I woke up each morning, put on my shoes with a grimace, and trudged out into the hotel lobby.

All in all, my feet and heels are healing, so I don’t regret a single moment. This experience has made me respect shoes that nurses and waitresses wear – suddenly rounded Keds and Sketchers don’t look so dumb after all.

Blisters – 1 out of 5 Stars

Blue Cheese

“I’ve Made a Huge Mistake”

I’m a fan of the fromage.

As I slowly ease into my thirties, unlike most of my peers, my digestive system hasn’t thrown me any warning signs that I should chill out on dairy. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t a kid who drank milk, but cheese has always settled well with my system.

Boring it may be, I’ve always been an extra sharp cheddar guy. I’ve found in general that I’m a fan of the hard cheeses over the soft, the savory over the sweet. Goat cheese with honey is nice, but give me something that I need a real knife to cut through and I’m happy as a mime who found the perfect black and white sweater.

When it comes to stinky cheese, the jury is still out. I have a large nose – I don’t know if that gives me extra olfactory powers, but I normally try to avoid eating things that smell like shit. I was at a BBQ the other day with some truly stinky cheese (there was a special contraption designed for this cheese) and I had a slice of the stink. To be honest, it tasted a bit earthy, like mushrooms, but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

Then there’s my relationship with blue cheese. It’s a complicated one. It hits notes that I think I would like, it’s relatively hard and it’s savory. However, every time I order it, I find it absolutely overpowering.

During my time in Bangkok, my roommate and I would catch a craving for good old American hamburgers about once every two months. Luckily, there was an “American” burger restaurant named Dukes a few malls away (Thailand is all about malls), so we made our pilgrimage.

Every time we went, I would peruse the menu, be immediately tempted by the standard cheeseburger, and then I would be seduced by the Blue Cheeseburger.

“Joey, you got that last time and you hated it”

“That doesn’t sound like me, I’m sure this time will be different”

It wasn’t. Every order of the Blue Cheeseburger resulted in me having to push the overwhelming hamburger away from me, as my roommate bellowed with laughter.

Kate is going through a chop salad phase right now. I’m a fan of any salad that makes its main focus bacon, but the blue cheese makes it a hard salad to swallow.

True happiness is a rectangle of extra sharp Cracker-Barrel cheese and a box of wheat thins. Any other cheese will leave you feeling blue.

Blue Cheese – 2 out of 5 Stars 

Buying New Jeans

“I should do this more often”

I’m a terrible clothes shopper. I exist in two realms of shopping:

1. I will simply buy the first thing I see, without trying it on, to accomplish my fashion goal as fast as possible

2. I will find something I love, balk at the price, leave the store, and 99% of the time revert to realm 1.

There are few things that I take the time to try out – but through trial and error, I’ve realized that purchasing a new pair of jeans is worth the dedicated effort.

For years, I was a Levi’s guy, and I still have a strong brand affinity with them. For half a decade I wore 511’s in grey and blue. Then through a series of gifts, I branched out in terms of my jean brands.

No matter the brand you prefer, getting a new pair of jeans is almost like getting a new family member. Realistically I have about four pairs of pants that I wear regularly. So if I break that out, I’ll be wearing each pair about 90 days out of the year, basically a pair of jeans per season.

I also wear jeans until they’re in tatters. Whenever I visited home from college, my mother would throw away my jeans that had more than two holes in them. No matter how many cries of “they’re perfectly broken in” I said, her response was always “they’re just broken”

What I’m getting at is, I added a new pair of jeans to my rotation, and I’m pleased with the results so far. The breaking in process has just begun, but there’s no worse feeling than spending your hard-earned wealth on jeans, only to discover a few days later that they aren’t the fit you were hoping for. And you know my policy on returning things. Luckily, these aren’t in that category

Next time you shop for a new pair of jeans, take your time. If you choose correctly, they will accompany you on adventures for at least two years. They’ll take you camping, through the rain, on dates, into new countries, and who knows where else. Just make sure they fit.

Buying New Jeans – 3 out of 5 Stars 

Raking Leaves

“Outdoor Punishment”

Growing up, there were a few constants in my life.

A. According to my sister, I chewed too loud
B. Fantasy novels
C. There were leaves to be raked

Our backyard had around 20 incredible oak trees. One of the trees was so big, we had to build our deck around it. These trees were integral in my love of the wind, but they also dropped leaves, which became the bane of my allergies and my existence every weekend.

I believe chores are an important part of building self-worth and character in a child, but holy shit did I hate raking leaves.

We had this long and narrow strip of concrete that was nestled in between the back of our garage and the beginning of our backyard deck that seemed to naturally collect all the leaves in the world. Also, it seems that all the dust and pollen decided to come along for the ride.

In the fall and summer, every weekend involved me doing an hour of labor, and 95% of those labor revolved around leaves.

I would throw on a bandana and rake pile after pile of dead leaves into a plastic trashbin, then trudge down across my yard and dump the leaves down the side of our hill. It was my own personal Sisyphean task. My eyes would sting from pollen, dirt would be lodged under my fingernails for days, and after the hour was completed, I would spend the next two sneezing.

I hadn’t raked leaves since I was 18, until a few weeks ago when I visited a friend’s house in Echo Park. We’ve been friends for almost a decade, and one of the things we’ve bonded over is a love of projects. Together we’ve built a chicken coop, a gate, new stairs, cleared brush, and more.

Signing up to do yardwork, I began to rake leaves for my friend, and I was filled with a sense of dread as the first world trauma of raking leaves came rushing back. After arranging a few piles, I quickly switched tasks and didn’t even give them a glance.

Also, what are these memories that people on the east coast have of jumping on leaf piles? Sounds like an opportunity to get slugs on you, or worse. Pass.

Raking Leaves – 1 out of 5 Stars