Monthly Archives: January 2012

#9 – Eat Medical Marijuana Edible

My hands are tingling. My eyelids are drooping. My body feels weightless. I am in a state of relaxation.

Seven minutes ago I ate 1/2 of a medical marijuana brownie for the first time in my life, and the effects have taken shape almost immediately. I feel great.

Taking "you are what you eat" to a whole new level.

I don’t do drugs, never have, mostly because I don’t want to risk not being fully in control of my ability to function. I’m also very much of the opinion that I should only ever do something if there is a valid reason to do it, and I’ve never had a reason to do drugs.

The anxiety I was feeling about going skydiving has disappeared. The nervousness that I have about interviewing Lou Ferrigno for an article on Monday is gone. The anxiousness about my pitch meeting with Comedy Central on Tuesday has dissipated.

I didn’t know how the brownie would affect me, so I only ate 1/3 of it to start, and then waited 10 minutes. I really didn’t feel anything, so I consumed a little bit more. That did the job.

It smells just like a regular brownie.

I’m not anti-marijuana or pro-marijuana. I have plenty of friends who are on both sides of that argument. I’ve seen the positive effects, like friends whose creativity is nurtured and friends who have overcame cancer with the help of the plant. But I’ve also seen the negative effects from friends who are inhibited from doing anything but sitting on a couch all day. Of course, that all likely has to do with the person.

It tastes just like a regular brownie.

The positive thing about not doing drugs is that I’ve always been worry-free when a potential employer has asked me to pee in a cup. Watch, now that I have some THC in my system, I’m sure I’ll be getting a call tomorrow to interview for my dream gig.

When I was younger I think people always assumed I was a pothead because my hair draped past my shoulders, I always wore flip-flops, shorts, and Bob Marley T-shirts. But that was far from the truth. In fact, I used to work as a public speaker for a non-profit organization focused on the importance of staying drug-free. I spoke to children at assemblies at junior high and elementary schools.

Regardless, I think the journalist in me always wanted to see how marijuana would affect me, since what I do for a living is describe in detail the specifics of an occurrence, and there are few things more unique than the feeling of “high.” I don’t like smoking, and I don’t want to hurt my lungs since I’m a runner, so I had to go the route of an edible.

My influence as a journalist derived from the work of former Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar, who was killed by police in 1970 while covering a peaceful protest. When Mr. Salazar was a young journalist he got drunk in public on purpose so he could be jailed to report on the police treatment of prisoners. Simply innovative with actions filled with risks. I followed in Mr. Salazar’s footsteps when I was 22 years old and just like him, was a young journalist at the Los Angeles Times. I was the only clown running into LAX airport during the middle of a bomb threat while everyone was running out. I had to cover the scene from ground zero so I could describe the scene. I broke national news while risking my life.

Now that I am in my career as a producer I still practice the belief that in order to truly create something original you have to experience it firsthand, which is why I have gone in front of the camera to show talent I work with that I wouldn’t ask anything of them that I wouldn’t do myself.

This brownie was my Mr. Salazar drunk in public. Actually, scratch that. This brownie was my running into LAX during a bomb threat.

I don’t know if my writing is different while under the influence of marijuana. I know it’s more freewheeling under the influence of alcohol. I don’t necessarily think it’s better or worse then. I think it depends on what I’m trying to write in that circumstance. I guess I will let you be the judge of this piece how an edible affects me. And I’m sure there will be plenty of people who judge this piece, like my family members who will probably summarize that a domino effect is about to ensue.

POST-MORTEM

I enjoyed the worry-free feeling that marijuana provides, but I won’t be consuming it in the future. I had to at least try it for the sake of writing about it. A great sense of my motivation derives from worrying that I won’t accomplish my task at hand, and people will find out I’m a fraud. That feeling of worry usually causes me to step up to the plate to deliver. Marijuana takes that worrying sense away. I also felt a bit of a hangover the next morning, which could’ve also been the chocolate, considering I rarely eat sugar.

As for my writing, my style has always been detail oriented with a punch at the end of sentences. I usually end pieces abruptly, and without warning. Reading the above portion of this entry I see the abruptness scattered throughout the piece rather than at the end. I also see a more free-flowing style without much care for coming up with the perfect transition. I don’t think this piece is that bad, but I don’t really hear my voice in it. Plus, I also like the feeling I get from writing, and I didn’t get to experience it in the above piece.

So no need to worry potheads, there’s more left for the rest of you. (See, there’s the abrupt finish I was telling you about).

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#8 – Drink Coffee

I quit caffeine on September 27, 2011.

That may not sound impressive to most of you, but I am extremely proud of that accomplishment.

Since the age of 12 I have guzzled diet sodas like they were the only thing keeping me alive. I drank more than a 2-liter of diet soda per day. My addiction to caffeine coincided with my diabetes diagnosis, because as a diabetic so many dietary restrictions are placed on you that you glam on to anything that won’t negatively affect blood sugars.

I didn’t quit caffeine for any particular reason, other than to see how it would affect my body. I easily noticed the positive effects. I fell asleep easier and I lost some water weight. There was only one negative effect, which was that at around 2:30pm everyday I felt lethargic. I wasn’t getting my daily energy boost. That feeling eventually wore off though.

Despite my prior addiction to caffeine, I never once in my life had a cup of coffee. Hot drinks don’t appeal to me, and I was already drinking plenty of cold beverages loaded with caffeine.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to indulge in coffee, but never did. When I was younger, before my Mom dropped me off at school we stopped at Starbucks so she could get a morning coffee. My younger sister picked up the habit, as did everyone else in my family, but just like with the menudo, I was the odd one out. Maybe I’m adopted.

This past Christmas I received a Starbucks gift card from someone who clearly doesn’t know my tastes. I’ve been using it to buy an occasional $2 dollar water and $3 dollar muffin.

I could have gone the rest of my life without ever tasting coffee, but Last Tuesday I gave up my 26 years of coffee sobriety and bought a tall, iced, vanilla latte.

I was really low on energy because I had been putting in long hours on multiple projects. I needed a pick-me-up. I know nothing about coffee drinks, however, so I enlisted the help of regular coffee drinkers to see what they order.

I first asked my Mom. She told me she gets a Venti, Decaf, Soy Latte, no foam, with cinnamon. I then asked my buddy Trevor, who said he gets a Tall, iced coffee, half sweetened, soy milk with a little extra ice. Finally, I asked my friend Samia, who said she gets a Tall, soy, extra hot, sugar free, hazelnut latte or if it’s red cup season then she gets a Tall, soy, extra hot, peppermint mocha. But if it’s hot outside she gets a Tall, soy, twice-blended, mocha light, frappuccino, add coconut syrup if available, with whip.

With such specifics I think all three of them, especially Samia, thought I was going to bring them a drink. Instead of going with one of their suggestions, I checked out the Starbucks website and noticed their selections under 200 calories. One particular item on the list stuck out: Tall, iced, vanilla latte.

With my order set to go, I visited the closest Starbucks to my house, which is in a Vons. I feel bad for the employees who work there, because the Starbucks in grocery stores are kind of like the minor leagues for baristas. There are two sad little tables, and the smell of Panda Express taunts them all day long. The only positive is they don’t have to deal with hipsters writing screenplays on their Macbook Pro’s, since Vons isn’t conducive for loitering.

Working at grocery store Starbucks is like playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Yeah, you're part of the franchise, but not really.

I walked up to the barista behind the register, and ordered like I had been ordering coffee my whole life. She then relayed my order to the lady behind the coffee machines. The lady behind the machines asked her to repeat my order twice, as if she looked at me, looked at my order, looked at me, looked at my order, and she couldn’t believe I was ordering a Tall, iced, vanilla latte. I couldn’t help but feel a little self-conscious that I ordered something not befitting of what a man should order.

Don't look at me like that.

I waited two minutes, received my drink, looked it up and down, and proceeded to my car. Once in my car, I took my first ever drink of coffee…and magic ensued.

Where have you been all my life?

I was oblivious to everything else around me. I had never tasted anything so delicious. It could have been because I hadn’t had caffeine in nearly four months or it could have been that coffee is the best thing ever invented. I partially hated myself for waiting 26 years to indulge in the magical beans.

Once I slurped up every last ounce, I then disclosed to various people my experience with my first ever cup of coffee. To my dismay, many were adamant that iced coffee doesn’t count as coffee, and that I needed to try hot coffee. I was surprised to find out that such hard lines were drawn in the coffee world. I wonder if the bean pickers in Colombia are aware that their efforts aren’t fully appreciated if the beans they picked end up on ice.

About two hours after my last sip of coffee my stomach started churning, and gas tried to push out my bottom. I didn’t know why my insides were being ripped apart, and then I recalled that coffee is a laxative. It was quite the nightmare ending to what started out as a fairytale experience.

I don’t foresee indulging in a daily coffee, because I am enjoying remaining caffeine free. Plus, the deliciousness that I experienced was not worth the pain I suffered, which proves that anything that tastes good is bad for you.

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#7 – Eat Menudo

Craig Ferguson once told me through the television, “Talking about comedy is very tricky…It’s kind of like if you like hot dogs maybe you shouldn’t know what’s in them.”

For me, the reason I never had taken a bite of menudo is because I know what’s in it. As a child I grew up with the smell of pig feet and cow stomach in the house, because my family makes menudo from scratch for the Christmas holiday.

For those that don’t know what menudo is, it’s a Mexican soup that is relatively inexpensive to make since it’s made from the scrap body parts of farm animals that most people don’t want to eat. It’s also a meal that is quite communal for Mexicans because it takes hours to make and requires several steps, allowing time for laughs, chats, and sharing.

That smell of farm animal scrap, however, hindered me from ever wanting to put it in my stomach. I am definitely healthier than everyone else in my family for not having 26 years worth of farm animal fat lining my body. But by not partaking in the tradition of the Mexican meal it makes me an outsider within my own family once a year. I don’t help that fact, considering last Christmas I picked up a pastrami sandwich from a Jewish deli.

Year after year, members of my family try to get me to try a spoonful of menudo, but I always refuse because of that awful stench. With my yearly refusal, their chiding that I’m not a real Mexican ensues. Their joking is warranted, however, because I was judging something without actually partaking in it. So, last Saturday in an attempt to understand my family’s ways and perhaps to see if my taste buds and sense of smell are on the same page I set out to chow down on a big helping bowl of the soup.

I love when non-Latino's attempt to pronounce Vallarta.

Most restaurants don’t serve menudo unless it’s a weekend, because of the long process it takes to make it. But if you ever need a Mexican food item or want to feel like you’re in Mexico then just visit a Vallarta grocery store. It’s one of the few chain stores in Los Angeles where the employees speak to you in Spanish before they transition to English if you don’t understand. I love seeing the faces of non-Latino shoppers during the checkout process. It’s like the employees are running on one of those automated systems that make you press 1 if you want English.

I approached the restaurant section of the grocery store and checked out their selection of hand made Mexican food. At first glance, everything looked delicious, from their rice and beans to their carnitas and pollo. Then I got to the soups section of the display, and I was met by the posole, which looked delicious. Too bad I wasn’t there to indulge in that. Right next to the delectable looking posole was my arch nemesis menudo.

Sizes for the menudo came in either medium or large, which irked me, because if there’s no small then isn’t the medium size actually the small size? The medium size was also quite large and it could have pulled as the large size if it wanted to as well. Regardless, I asked for the smaller portioned container and watched as the woman behind the counter filled my fate with heart disease.

I could have eaten the soup in the Vallarta eatery, but chose against it, and took it home, because I didn’t need to subject a room full of strangers to a potential upchuck if my past 26 years of disdain for the smell hadn’t fully dissipated.

When I got home I unveiled the soup and wasn’t too thrown off by the smell. It actually wasn’t too scary just sitting in front of me. After all, it couldn’t bite me, but I could bite it.

I don't know how the spoon didn't disintegrate in that liquid.

I grabbed a nice chunk of tripe in my first bite. It wasn’t so bad for cow stomach. Minus the fact that I felt like I was chewing on bubble wrap I was able to keep it down. Score one for me. Rather than just being a probationary member, I was one step closer to becoming an official card carrying Mexican.

So, this is what a heart attack tastes like?

With the success of the first bite, I felt more adventurous, so I went for a piece of pig’s foot. I took a big juicy bite and was immediately struck with disgust. All the emotions of the past 26 years came rushing back. I’m not a vegetarian, by any means, but the texture of the meat just didn’t feel right. I stomached the piece in my mouth, however, and moved on to another bite of tripe, hoping that it would serve as a chaser.

That bite of tripe wasn’t as welcoming as the first bite, and I barely choked it down. I refused to give up after only three bites, so I took another bite out of something that was unrecognizable. It looked like some sort of alien mutation, but I choked it down and immediately felt queasy.

It looks like the chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear that Mike Tyson bit off.

I had to give up after four bites. I was not feeling well. My stomach was churning. I was sweating profusely. My heart was racing… OK, maybe my heart wasn’t racing, and I wasn’t sweating profusely, but I was definitely feeling a bit anxious that I couldn’t get over the menudo mental block I developed from childhood. I sincerely gave it an honest try, but taste buds want what the taste buds want, and my taste buds don’t want menudo.

Still hungry, I cooked some frozen chicken breast and decided I shouldn’t waste all of the food I purchased from Vallarta, so I grabbed the corn tortillas, onions, and cilantro that came with the menudo and made some chicken tacos.

I'm a resourceful Mexican.

Since menudo is made from all the leftover parts of animals, I figured the appetizing leftover parts of the meal wouldn’t mind being made into something else as well. Mexican’s are a resourceful people, so maybe I did earn my Mexican card after all.

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#6 – Use Public Transportation in LA For A Day

Last week when my car was playing games with me I asked the world to stop spinning. But that bitch ignored my request, so I had to do something I greatly feared since I’ve been in Los Angeles; I had to use the bus for transportation.

I look at public transportation as something only poor people use because they can’t afford a car. It’s the only time in my life that I think I’m above doing something. The only time public transportation is acceptable for me is if I’m in New York City or another city that has an efficient system. In Los Angeles, if you don’t have a car I don’t know what you’re doing here. Move away. There are too many people here with places to go.

But last week I had a tight schedule and needed to get some errands done while I was charging my car’s battery. First stop on my list was Target and then to my pharmacy. Since I’m a virgin bus rider I grabbed a handful of quarters even though I didn’t know the routes and times of public busses, but thankfully I have an iPhone, which basically does my breathing for me.

The iPhone has a Maps application in it, which has quite a functional option to choose directions based on if I plan on travelling by car, feet, or public transportation. I always leave the option of the three on the car selection, since Los Angelenos don’t walk anywhere either.

I typed Target’s address into the Maps app, and it told me to get walking to the nearest bus stop 0.4 miles away from my house. I started my destination on foot at 10:23am. Thankfully, I waited no less than 2 minutes for the bus to arrive, because a bus stop looks like the perfect place to hang out if you want to get raped.

So, this is where I'm going to die.

I paid $1.50 when I got on the bus, and sat down right in front. While everyone behind me got on the bus, I immediately felt out of place because they all had bus passes, signifying my rookie status compared to their routine.

While in the bus, I then noticed the majority of passengers were Latinos, which is a socio-economic statement that I couldn’t ignore. The bus ride started out quite anti-climatic. I didn’t really expect a party-bus-like atmosphere, but then I remembered the movie Speed started out anti-climatic too. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone on the bus who looked like Sandra Bullock.

Clearly this guy is so embarrassed he's riding the bus that he covered his face with a scarf.

The Maps app said it would take 7 minutes to go 2.4 miles to get to Target, and it was right on the dot. Tell me again, how did people figure out things before the iPhone was created?

I spent about 15 minutes in Target and picked up a new Mossimo sweater. I then entered in the directions via bus to my pharmacy. The Maps app told me it was going to be 23 minutes until the next bus arrived to take me 2.3 miles. How ridiculous is that? So, instead of waiting I walked along the same path that the bus was going to take me. I figured I would eventually pick it up on the route. I was at least being productive by burning some calories. I also wasn’t a sitting target to be kidnapped.

My chariot arrives

The bus eventually picked me up and I spent another $1.50 in quarters to drop me off 0.5 miles away from my pharmacy. That bus only had two people on it compared to the packed first trip. I began to feel more comfortable even though it had a slight aroma of urine wafting through the air. That bus also had upholstered seats for the urine to really get soaked in.

I think that grey stuff is fecal matter.

I picked up my prescription and returned to the previous bus stop, so that another $1.50 in quarters could take me 3.9 miles in 11 minutes and drop me off 1 mile away from my house, which I ended up walking the rest of the way. That final trip was way more interesting than the prior two, however, because a somewhat attractive woman got on the bus at the stop after I was picked up. I say “somewhat attractive,” because Speed built my expectations that Sandra Bullock’s are rampant on the LA Metro system.

Since the Speed scenario never occurred, I figured I’d create some action and try my game with no car attached to it. The woman sat next to me, and I initiated conversation. She was kind of shocked that someone was trying to talk to her on the bus, and I could tell she really wasn’t interested. Now that I think back to the prior bus rides, everyone was silent. I guess everyone is so unhappy they’re riding a bus that there’s an unspoken code not to commiserate. I eventually halted my attempt, but I wasn’t bummed because I have a car to return to, unlike her. Plus I’m going to blame my strike out on the fact that there was a seemingly homeless guy sitting next to us, which can make game spitting awkward.

Pretty smart advertising considering bus goers spend a lot of time hoofin' it.

By the time I got back to my house it was 12:38pm. It took me over 2 hours to complete two errands that would normally take me less than 40 minutes. I imagine I’d develop a greater sense of patience if I lost the freedom of my car and became dependent on public transportation. It’s not something, however, that I want to experience again.

I’m also glad I only had two errands that day, because I would’ve likely held off on any other things given the time factor. And through the bus riding experience I have an even greater respect for my car, because if I’m going to waste time it’s going to be in bumper to bumper traffic while I’m behind the wheel of my own vehicle that smells like urine.

I missed my car.

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#5 – Bake Cookies From Scratch

I am an excellent cook…if you count microwaving canned soup as fine cuisine.

What else would you expect from a 26-year-old bachelor?

I haven’t really tried to make too much food from scratch, because I don’t have patience. Plus, it’s so much easier to purchase food from people who are professionally trained to make it.

There are excellent cooks in my family, however, like my Mom who is extremely adept when it comes to baking. Every Christmas when I was younger, she used to make an assortment of different types of cookies, cakes, and desserts. People from around the neighborhood would visit to indulge in her artistry.

I never learned from her how to bake, simply just taking the time to slip into the kitchen to lick the leftover frosting on the spoons. Despite my rogue expeditions for frosting-laden spoons, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Last week, however, I felt a bit of a craving for chocolate chip cookies.

Because my car was having battery issues at the time, I walked to the grocery store with the gumption that I could bake cookies from scratch. I just as easily could have purchased the standard plastic wrapped Chips Ahoy, or the pre-made dough that you simply pop into the oven, but instead, I showed some patience and texted my Mom for her recipe with the necessary ingredients. She texted back saying chocolate chip bags usually have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies on the back. Who knew? Since I utilized all my patience in not buying already made cookies, I didn’t wait for her recipe.

Nestle is quite presumptuous that I will be using their chips in their recipe.

(On a side note, I’m still not used to my Mom utilizing text messages more than actual calls. I find it miraculous when the elder generation adapts to the times. It’s quite awkward, however, when I’m texting a chick and a message from my Mom pops on my iPhone. It’s like the technological equivalent of your Mom walking into your childhood room when you’re with a girl.)

Check out my unfinished countertops.

Upon my return home I realized I didn’t consider that I didn’t have a mixer. So, I grabbed a wooden spoon and by hand I mixed 2 sticks of butter, ¾ cup of granulated sugar, ¾ cup of brown sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract until it was creamy. Since the butter was relatively hard my right arm got quite the workout. I then added two eggs, and mixed those in.

If you like cookies, you probably shouldn't know what goes into making them.

I then added 2 ¼ cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking soda, and 1 tsp of salt and mixed it with the appetizing image from before.

It's starting to take the form of dough...I think.

After that, I added a bag of chocolate chips, which equals 2 cups, and also 1 cup of chopped nuts.

I think I invented a new form of trail mix.

From there, I put chunks of the dough on the trays. The fat kid in me was very tempted to just stop and eat the dough out of the bowl.

This looks appetizing...No wonder I used to weigh 300 lbs.

10 minutes later…voila. About half of the cookies came out slightly burned on the bottom, but the ones that came out right, were absolutely delicious. I had no idea they only needed 10 minutes in the oven. For some reason I figured it would take longer to transform from larva into butterfly form, but it took longer to mix the ingredients.

Masterpieces.

I guess my Mom did pass her baking genes on to me. I’m now curious what else I can cook or bake from scratch and actually make it edible.

It actually does taste better when you make it yourself.

Before I started this experiment I expected a scene straight out of I Love Lucy, where flour would end up all over me and the kitchen, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t know how often I’ll bake in the future, considering I don’t see many circumstances which will call for it, but it’s good to know I have the capability to do so.

Cleaning is what will prevent me from baking in the future.

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#4 – Fix Car Battery

Since I got my license on December 2, 2001 I’ve been pretty fortunate in my life when it’s come to my vehicles:

  1. 1985 white Ford Ranger – My first car that I owned for a week before trading it for my second car.
  2. 1995 red Ford Escort – Owned from December 2001 until April 2004 when my Grandparents bought me my current car.
  3. 2004 silver Nissan Xterra.

This was a smart car to buy when gas wasn't $4 a gallon.

The week I got my Xterra was one of the greatest weeks of my life. I earned a college scholarship, and drove my brand new car to my first paying writing gig. It has been with me for every non 9-5 job I’ve had over the past eight years. Given my heavy driving schedule of over 20,000 miles per year, I’m quite lucky it hasn’t required major repairs. I should probably knock on wood.

On Friday of last week I visited my friend and colleague Trevor Wayne in North Hollywood to discuss our yearly business goals. Before I left his place, my car battery had a slight hesitation when I turned the ignition. The next morning, I tried to start my car and the battery was dead. I knew I should have knocked on wood.

It shouldn’t have been dead after purchasing it in May 2009. I replaced the factory battery then just to be safe before I went on tour from Los Angeles to Portland with professional wrestlers. That’s an entirely different story, which you can read here if interested.

To this point in my life I’ve never had battery trouble, so I opened the hood with no idea how to fix the problem. Going under the hood for the first time by myself is not much different than going under a girl’s shirt for the first time. Both involve a lot of fumbling around. But after only trying three new things for this blog, I’ve already felt the inspiring effects, because I felt I believed I could solve the problem.

I opened up the hood and went back into my memory bank to think of how I witnessed my Grandfather and Uncle fix car battery problems in the past. The first thing I noticed was acid corrosion on the battery’s nipples.

I forgot to take a picture of the acid corrosion, but trust that there was so much green foamy stuff coming from the battery that I looked something like this.

I'm still waiting for Flubber 2.

I grabbed some baking soda, water, and some assorted tools to clean off the residue. My Mani Pedi from two days prior was immediately ruined. Once the residue was cleaned, I tried to start the car. No response, just more clicks than a tap dancer on speed.

I asked my Uncle for advice and he said it could be the alternator, which would mean something if I knew what an alternator was, but that most likely the battery just needed to be charged. He allowed me to borrow his battery charger, and an extension chord.

Once the charger was plugged in I grabbed the black and red clasps attached to it, and rather than guessing which one was for the + and – I asked my roommate. He came outside to call 911 if I electrocuted myself. I attached the nipple clamps correctly and let it charge for a couple hours.

If I was kinky, I might have alternate use for those clasps

The car started right up and I thought that was going to be the end of the story. My confidence was high, but just like the water heater, my victory was short lived.

Later that night I got ready to go to Beso in Hollywood for Trevor’s birthday. I was going to drive the crew, since I don’t drink at all anymore. But the clicks of the tap dancing speed addict paid another visit to my battery, and my car wouldn’t start. I couldn’t help but feel that my Mom was back home in San Diego with a pin needle and a Hot Wheels car, preventing my departure through voodoo, since even though I’m an adult she still worries about me in the Los Angeles nightlife.

Since it was too dark to work on the car, I said “screw it” and waited until morning. Around 8:30AM I put the key in the ignition and the engine immediately turned over. My car didn’t start the night prior, but immediately started the following morning. It was more passive aggressive than my ex-girlfriend. Nonetheless, I charged the battery for the next nine hours just to be safe. Since that time, the car hesitates for half a second and then turns over…also not unlike my ex-girlfriend.

I am thoroughly shocked I didn't electrocute myself.

The fact that the car runs is victory in itself, but I do need to get a mechanic to look at it, since that half a second hesitation frightens me and we all know there is no such thing as public transportation in Los Angeles.

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#3 – Get a Mani Pedi

My fingers and toes are pretty jacked up.

As a child I had severe problems with ingrown toenails on my big toes. It got so bad that I needed multiple surgeries on both sides of each big toe where the whole nail was removed more times than I can remember. Eventually the roots were burned on each side so the nail can’t grow on the sides, resulting in extremely narrow toenails. On top of that, I’ve run 20 miles a week since November 2011, which has callused my feet. If feet disgust you then my size 13’s are your worst nightmare.

Soak 'em in.

As for my fingers, in addition to 14 years of being a type 1 diabetic and pricking my fingers 3-5 times a day with a needle, I have also broken the majority of my digits through playing sports as a youth. I have a lot of scar tissue on my fingertips.

Look how crooked my fingers are.

After all those years of damage to my appendages I figured it’s time I take better care of them. I’ve heard a therapeutic procedure for hands and feet is the notorious manicure-pedicure. The only problem with that treatment is that it’s a practice associated mostly with women, so I have shied away from ever getting one.

I am quite comfortable with my manhood, but I can barely say Mani Pedi without feeling a bit awkward. It’s a hard thing to say without sounding effeminate. Plus it’s especially foreign in the Latino male community, like my comedian friend Alex Reymundo jokes, “Mani-Pedi sounds like a Mexican NASCAR driver.” Regardless, I set out to get my first ever Mani Pedi. I knew I would need some assistance getting through this new thing, so I enlisted the help of my friend Samia Khan.

Quite frankly, Samia was not surprised to hear I had never got a Mani Pedi before, so last Thursday she invited me to get one with her.

Prior to our adventure, I told her I didn’t know if my fingernails were long enough to get it done. Part of me was probably trying to back out at the last moment by finding an excuse not to test my manhood. She told me to send her a picture. After examination, she said they were short but they could work with it. That was definitely the first time I “sext” messaged a girl a picture of my fingers.

When Samia and I arrived at the whole-in-the-wall nail salon in Culver City she told the head lady that we had an appointment for two. With Samia’s statement I noticed a wave of heads lifting from the steady position to examine what I was doing in a nail salon.

You could really hurt someone with those nails

The head lady sat me down and got to work on my fingernails while another lady grabbed my feet and plopped them in a bucket filled with warm water and got to work on my toenails.

If you read the definition in my calves it says "manly."

Before Samia sat at a station across from me she picked out a nail polish color. I know you’re probably wondering what color I chose. To answer your thoughts, I got a fluorescent pink. Not really. I didn’t go that far with the Mani Pedi.

It was hard to get comfortable in the open room. I couldn’t escape the thought that all the lady employees were talking about me, since they were speaking a language I couldn’t understand. It’s usually every man’s fantasy to have a room filled with women all staring and talking about him, but their looks were out of curiosity rather than infatuation. I tried my best to ignore the older white lady sitting diagonally from me who stared with an obvious look that said I was intruding in a club reserved just for women.

Samia’s presence definitely made it feel less awkward for me, and as I turned to my right I relaxed even more because I saw a woman who resembled and sounded just like my old friend, comedian Marilyn Martinez, who passed away in 2007. We eventually struck up a conversation with Marilyn’s twin. She couldn’t have been nicer with a wonderful sense of humor, just like Marilyn. I don’t think Marilyn would’ve came down from heaven just to get her nails did, but it certainly felt like one last hang out sesh with an old friend.

Marilyn's twin and I getting photo bombed by the lady in the window

I was getting comfortable with the somewhat flamboyant body positioning a Mani Pedi requires when I heard Samia giggling. I asked her, “what’s so funny?” totally thinking she realized me getting lost in the enjoyment of the hand and feet massage I was receiving. Turns out she is quite ticklish and the lady was scrubbing the bottom of her feet with a sponge type thing.

My paranoia was just Samia being ticklish.

The stares from ladies continued, but they eventually got better. One cute blonde girl even gave me a smile like, “how you doin?” I returned her glance with a smile and she blushed a little. Good to know I still exude some masculinity while participating in an act associated with females.

Clearly I am the definition of a man.

I finished before Samia so I approached her station while the lady painted French tips on her toenails. She asked me what I thought of the experience. I could notice the major difference in how much cleaner my finger and toenails looked.

Can you see the difference in "Palmela?" That's what I call my left hand.

My hands and feet unquestionably felt healthier. Incorporating a Mani Pedi into my lifestyle probably won’t happen, but I can see getting one again in the future, even though it still feels awkward to say Mani Pedi. Most importantly, the experience allowed me to develop a newfound respect for what women do to look good.

Ladies, I appreciate what you do.

While I was giving the post-mortem, however, my eyes must’ve wandered because Samia told me to stop looking at her feet. I by no means have a foot fetish, and was just trying to see what was going on. But if I ever develop a foot fetish I now know the perfect place to hang out.

To see Samia’s manicured nails you can check out the adventures of her on-camera career via her wonderful blog KHANversation Pieces or follow her on Twitter.

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#2 – Learn to Tie a Tie

I can count the number of times I’ve worn a tie in my life:

  1. My Mom’s second wedding in 1997.
  2. My high school senior picture in 2003.
  3. My Grandparents 50th wedding anniversary party in 2004.
  4. A scholarship interview with the CCNMA in 2004.
  5. My two job interviews with the San Diego Padres front office in 2007.
  6. My college graduation in 2007.
  7. My job interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2007.
  8. My friend Antoinette’s wedding in 2009.
  9. My friend Jason’s (@NievesComedy) wedding in 2011.

For those first 7 occasions I was still relatively young and living at home in San Diego, so my Grandfather tied those ties. For number 8 on that list I was in the wedding, so I wore a suit that was required for the wedding party. The tie that came with the suit was pretty cool because it was fancier than a clip-on, yet it didn’t need to be tied. For number 9 on that list I needed a new suit because of all the weight I lost last year, so I got one when I was in San Diego. I went shopping with my Grandfather, because even at 81 years old he still dresses way nicer than I do. When I tried on the suit he still tied my tie. I kept it tied and took it back to LA with me to slip over my head at a later date. That’s when I realized I needed to learn to tie a tie myself.

I clearly don’t wear ties that often, but I thought I should learn because now that I am 26 years old, everyone around me seems to me growing up by getting married, having kids, buying houses, and getting “real” jobs. While I don’t fall into the expected norms of society by wanting those things, I am expected to attend the celebrations of my friends who have acquired those wishes. And I imagine it wouldn’t be appropriate to wear my customary shorts, t-shirt, baseball cap, and flip-flops to those celebrations.

The weird thing is that I have quite a few ties, and I don’t even know why. So, yesterday I grabbed the first two ties in my closet and got to work.

Pharrell and I are the only ones who can pull off a salmon colored tie

I then typed into Google “how to tie a tie” and this URL popped up first. I clicked it and discovered that there are four different ways to tie a tie. I clicked on the one with the coolest name, Windsor, and got to work. http://www.tie-a-tie.net/

I was happy with the discovery of the site because it provided videos with an English dude, Hendrik, showing what to do in each step. I figured the site was credible because the English are very proper and I assume that applies to formalwear as well. Plus, the name Hendrik is about as English as it gets, so I figured he was a legit English dude. Also, according to Hendrik’s video, his site was featured on CNN, and CNN is where Larry King called home for decades, and no one can argue that he can’t rock a pair of suspenders. Regardless, I don’t have any idea what possessed Hendrik to create the site, but thanks for having a lot of spare time, buddy.

I clicked the video and got to work. Hendrik was moving quicker than I anticipated and I had to track back more than a dozen times to get what he was saying. A number of things went wrong. I went the wrong way through loops, started with the skinny end on the wrong side, and when I did do things right it would be too short. (That’s what she said…OK that’s the only time I will do that). After about 20 minutes I stood with an untied, wrinkled tie and a new hatred for Hendrik, because after each failed attempt he kept mocking me with his finished tie.

I blew off Hendrik’s instructional video, because I didn’t want to develop a hatred for all English people. I figured Hendrik put me on the right path so I closed my laptop and tried to accomplish the feat on my own. Low and behold, I tied the tie on my very first attempt.

Now that I know how to tie my own tie I imagine I’ll be wearing them more frequently, because I think I look pretty damn good in them.

"May I take your order?"

I look so good in them that I think I’ll wear a tie for occasions not commonly associated with formalwear, like when I go to the beach.

Playgirl centerfold? I think so.

The only problem is, I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to my Grandfather that he is fired as my tie tier.

As for Hendrik and me…we’re good.

Slip on ties are like slip on shoes...it's just more efficient than tying them.

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#1 – Fix A Water Heater

I am not good with my hands.

Unless of course it involves writing or I’m naked with a lady. Hell, even when a lady isn’t present I’m still good with my hands.

When I shake hands with someone I often receive a comment about my naturally soft hands. My hands have maintained a tender touch because I’ve never really had a job requiring manual labor. Most of my jobs have made use of my brain, which is fortunate because there is a disconnect when it comes to working with my hands. It really doesn’t make sense given my superb hand-eye coordination and athletic coordination.

Nearly everyone else in my family is good with cars, tools, or household repairs. Trust that I am the brunt of a lot of jokes in my family, since my grandfather Augie was a machine gunner in the Korean War and a mechanic for the Ryan Aeronautical Company for 40 years. My comedian uncle, Rene, knows how to do anything involving construction and cars. In fact, when he was first starting out as a stand-up comedian he laid the tile of the San Diego Improv just to get more stage time from Improv founder Budd Friedman. Even my grandmother Gloria puts me to shame, since she has been a hairdresser for about 50 years.

With people like that in my life it was never a priority for me to learn how to do the things that they already knew how to do. I am also the type of person who learns on the job. When the San Diego Union-Tribune first started paying me to write at 18 years old I had only ever written one article for my school paper. I learned how to be a journalist by getting paid to do it. So, I jokingly blame my Grandfather and Uncle for taking my options to learn common tasks often associated with the male gender.

With that back-story, I went to take a shower the other day and no hot water came out. I had to get going with my day so I didn’t have time to figure out the problem but I assumed it had to do with the water heater. Alas I went out into the world without a shower, which throws off my level of comfort. I usually take a shower to wake me up in the morning and then one at night after a workout. I didn’t get home until really late and didn’t have time to fidget with it then either. I asked my roommate to take a look if he got a chance, but he’s home even less than me, so I knew he couldn’t get around to it before me.

It kind of looks like a punching bag.

I woke up the next day around my customary time between 10am-Noon and smelled like wet garbage because I hadn’t showered in over 40 hours. I most definitely did not want to mess with the water heater, because involving me with anything related to fire and gasoline is just asking for trouble. I once started a fire in a science lab in seventh grade. 2011 Joshua would’ve probably waited for someone else to fix the problem but because of this new endeavor to try 101 new things in 2012 I figured I should start with learning how to fix a water heater. Plus, given the grease in my hair and the skunk living in my arm pit I really didn’t have a choice but to figure out the problem, because it could have been days before my roommate could take a look at it.

This is what I look like without a shower in 40 hours. If only you could scratch & sniff this picture.

I went to the side of the house where the water heater is stored, and opened the closet door. I had no idea what was wrong, but I was immediately unnerved because of warnings like this:

If that was a little brown guy that very well could be me.

Thankfully there are instructions on it that gives a suggestion to restart the pilot light if the water heater isn’t working properly.

I followed the instructions by removing the blue covered protection plate and then turned the nozzle to PILOT while turning the temperature to the lowest level.

I got to the part in the instructions that read if I smelled gas then to let the area air out for 10 minutes. Who determines that 10 minutes is an ample amount of time for gas to dissipate? Images of me blowing up the house suddenly popped into my head, because I only waited 9 minutes and 30 seconds.

I then held on to the RESET button while pressing the IGNITER button multiple times.

The instructions said to get down near the pilot light window to see if the light was ignited by the reset attempts. When I got down there I couldn’t see a flame. The light from the sun pouring into the closet was drowning out any sight of the flame. I figured I did everything right, so I continued with the instructions, which said to turn the nozzle back to the ON positions and then reset the temperature to the desired selections.

I immediately heard the flames kick in, and the images of me blowing up the house returned. I didn’t smell any gas earlier but I waited 10 minutes anyways. I think it was 10 minutes. I hope it was 10 minutes. Instead of running in the opposite direction I went back to the pilot light window and looked through it at an angle to see flames erupting from the bottom. Apparently I can follow instructions.

My victory was short lived, however, because as I supported my rise off the ground I pressed against the uncovered metal portion of the water heater, thus burning my hand. Any happiness from teaching myself a simple household repair was momentarily burned away.

I went back inside to test the water temperature, but it was still cold, so I went back outside to the water heater. I listened carefully and heard some sizzling at the bottom of the machine. I surmised it was condensation that was falling to the bottom of the water heater and that it may take a while for the water temperature to heat back up. The water heater had been off for so long that condensation had developed.

I was happy with my minor household repair. The people in my everyday life were probably happier since I could then take a shower.

What are you doing in my bathroom?

I know this probably sounds ridiculous to most of you who are homeowners or over the age of 21, but let me remind you that I am just a clown who can write, so I consider it quite an accomplishment that I didn’t end up doing the backstroke through flames, like the little guy on that warning label.

Ironically, the water heater broke two days later, through no fault of my handiwork…I think.

If all else fails, go buy a new one.

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