Ten-dollar shoe strings.

I suppose the coasts have always had a reputation for being expensive places to live. And no doubt a destination for people who use arrogance like a tool to get ahead in practically every facet of life. But when I stepped into a shoe repair shop last week, these were the last two things I expected to encounter.

It wasn’t that the dude didn’t take the time to say hello. Or the fact that rather than putting a price tags on things, my total for a pair of shoe strings and a small jar of black polish was “give me $20.” The problem was that when I got home and laced up my shoes, the string broke. Twice. They’re just shoe strings, of course. But they were at least ten dollars and they should definitely last longer than not at all.

I’ve considered going back for a refund, but I’m not sure I have much of a case. Nothing was marked, there was no receipt and I paid cash as requested. And for what it’s worth, the second string was twice as long as I needed, so I cut it in half and it’s currently holding tight. Ultimately I got what I needed, but I still don’t feel good about it.

In the future, I’ll be taking my shoe maintenance business elsewhere. Maybe next time in back in Kansas, I’ll stock up on supplies.

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SmartRide

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Rainy day creativity.

Make annual batch of Christmas biscuits:

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Dismantle a Matchbox car:

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Paint it and put it back together to look (somewhat) like your own car:

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Find a picture of a cool house spotted on a sunny day bike ride:

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Draw it:

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And top it all off with a gingerbread house:

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Sentimental shoe box.

There’s no question that I’m set in my ways when it comes to certain things. I use organization as an excuse, but it may very well be familiarity that keeps me in the repetitive comfort zone.

First, and possibly most out of the ordinary these days, I still like paper bills and correspondence. Blame my advertising roots in direct mail or the fact that I still have faith in the postal service, but I still pay far more attention when I’m opening an envelope than an email.

Of course, once a paperwork shows up, it deserves a little respect and therefore needs a home. I have a two-step system that’s somewhat inefficient, extremely old-timey but almost 100% guaranteed to keep things orderly:

Step One: Attach outstanding bills and other urgent information to a small clipboard.

Step Two: Once the bills have been paid, calls have been made, issues have been resolved, etc the paperwork goes into a repurposed shoe box.

The problem with my “system” is that it can lead to an abundance of “important papers.” The last few years in particular have been hard on my organizational soul with multiple moves, job changes, divorce, marriage, auto trading and dog illnesses. All that on top of the fact that I tend be a sentimental person—and I like to keep sticky notes, short letters, postcards and of course receipts—means the bill box had grown into more of a deranged recycling bin. A few days ago, the lid popped off completely and I realized I was going to have to throw some things away.

The purge began. It led to old check registers from long-abandoned accounts filled with transactions at places I can barely remember. Lost reminders to finish things that never really mattered much in the first place. Love notes from people who now probably wish they’d never met me. It was a strange, wonderful ride down a twisted memory lane filled with potholes and shady characters.

I was tempted to keep things all over again but I eventually forced myself to tear it all into little tiny little pieces. Kinda like the confetti you might throw at a celebration. And as I considered all the small reminders of life lived, I decided it was a bit of a celebration. Of moving on. And of course, the power of paper to remind us where we’ve been.

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Double barrel.

I started a load of laundry around 8:30 last night and had time to kill until it was done. Spur of the moment, I decided to fire up HBO GO and revisit an old episode of the Sopranos. I’d absolutely loved the show the first time and figured episode one, season three wasn’t a bad place to dive back in.

The intro sequence began. And just as it had nearly a decade before, the song worked its way into my head. “Woke up this morning got yourself a gun…” When I finally went to bed a few hours later, that chorus was still playing on a loop between my ears.

…and it was still there when I woke up at 5 am.

Two cups of coffee later, I was strolling through the early-morning streets of North Beach when I heard a distant, drunken voice singing.

“Mamaaaa, just killed a man…Put a gun against his head, pulled theeee trigger, now he’s dead!” It gave me the creeps. As a former Midwesterner and friend of outdoorsmen, I’ve always tried to dodge the gun debate, but this particular set of circumstances felt strange to me. It wasn’t just a dude sitting in the dark singing about hurting people at 6:15 am. It was a moment that stopped me in my tracks and left me contemplating culture, violence and how quickly I needed to get the hell out of there. Queen fan or not, it was time to move along. 

Music-wise, I suppose it’s nothing a little Vince Geraldi can’t fix. Culture-wise, well, that fix is a whole lot more complicated.

All debate aside, take care and beware of what might get stuck in your head. If you’re up for it, try a little tenderness.

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