Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tickle My Brain

This One Has a Happy Ending



In 2008, my parents bought me a new car.

It was a college graduation present.  The deal was that if I got a good scholarship and kept good grades, they’d purchase me a new car by the time I graduated.

I kept my end of the bargain by choosing a school that offered me a full scholarship and then graduating Magna Cum Laude*.

*You will find this post to be laden with similar bragging from me.  You've been warned.

I was home for Spring Break, and after dinner my dad asked me to take a couple pizza boxes to the recycling bin in the garage.

I opened the door to see sparkling new Honda Civic with balloons sticking out of the trunk.

I quickly remembered our agreement from four years ago and swiftly deduced that this car was mine.  Even though I knew it was coming, it was still a shock, and I was gleeful… almost to tears.

I quickly named him Dewey, and he was a significant upgrade to the car I had previously been driving named Putt Putt.

Dewey is still treating me wonderfully to this day.

*   *   *

Soon after I received Dewey, I took my sister for a drive.

“Niiice,” she said admiringly, getting into the passenger seat and buckling her seatbelt.  “But what does the turn signal sound like?”

I found this to be an odd question, especially as an initial query.  I don’t think it would even be in my Top 100 Questions to Ask Regarding a New Car.

In fact, I doubt I would ever ask this question at all.  The only possible scenario I can come up with, in which I ask “What does your turn signal sound like?” is if I was being a smart-ass Backseat Driver (See also: “Asshole”) to someone who wasn’t properly signaling to the rest of traffic when he turns or changes lanes.

“What does my turn signal sound like?” I repeated, making sure I heard her right.

“Yea.  Any good car has to have a decent-sounding turn signal.”

I reached to the left of the steering wheel and pressed the bar down, unleashing the sound and fury of Dewey’s left-turn signal:

“Tick-tock.  Tick-tock.  Tick-tock,” he said, dully.

“Oh!” she said, “That’s a good one.”

“What makes it good?” I asked.

“I don’t know exactly.  It has to be slow.  And it has to have a hollow sound.  I just like the way some of them sound.  I don’t know.”

I sat there listening to the turn signal and I understood what she meant.  I didn’t necessarily agree in thinking that it sounded beautiful, but there was something comforting about it.

For the record, this is what Dewey’s turn signal sounds like:

"Turning Left" by Dewey The Car         © 2012 Dewey the Car.


The acoustics of turn signals is something that my sister had obviously put conscious thought into before.  While it may seem to be a strange subject to be putting time and effort into weighing the pros and cons, it was something that she was well-aware of.  So much so that the sound of my turn signal was the first (and really only) condition by which she assessed the worth of my car.

It tickled her brain.

And I get that, because many weird things have tickled my brain, too.

For me, I derive great pleasure from the act of sitting in my car at a gas station, while the attendant washes my windshield.

My mouth drops agape and I just stare at the squeegee as it goes back and forth, wiping the dirt and grime off of my windshield.  Then, the squeegee flips over and I hypnotically watch it wipe away the water, one rectangle at a time.  This, added to the squealing sound of rubber-on-glass, brings chills to my temple and head, and sends shivers down my body.

Good chills.  Good shivers.

Sounds creepy, I know.

The only way to describe it is that it tickles my brain.  And I have no idea why.

Oh hell yes.
 
Perhaps it is the act of my windshield going from dirty-to-soapy-to-clean, all in a systematic method that slowly transforms the view before me from cloudy to clear.

Or perhaps it is some deep-seated childhood memory of being in the car when my dad was outside cleaning the windshield in the same manner and feeling adventurous, childlike, and safe.

Or maybe I’m just a freak.

All I know is that whatever it is, I enjoy the experience so much that when the gas station attendant comes back to hand me my credit card, I usually have to collect myself.  Or he has to collect himself, perhaps having caught a glimpse of me staring open-mouthed at him as he wiped my windshield.

Another thing that tickles my brain is the act of watching someone draw or paint.  As a kid, watching the art teacher bring something to life before my eyes was something that sent chills throughout my body, and still does to this day.

Here’s another thing.  Just watching this video sends tingles throughout my body:


Or the grand-daddy of all brain-ticklings: when someone compliments my blog.  And I’m not talking about the compliment from another blogger.  These are nice, of course, but still somewhat rooted in the intention of support and camaraderie. 

Instead, I am talking about the out-of-nowhere, “I’ve been keeping up with your blog,” type of compliment from a reader.

This is what a beautiful girl (with whom I converse maybe once every two years) wrote on my Facebook wall:

“I get so exited when I see you've posted something new on your blog. Seriously, you're an awesome writer, and not in the 'everything is grammatical and concise' way, but in the literally laughing out loud, smiling the whole time, understand exactly what you mean, couldn't have described it more perfectly, write another post now so I can continue to revel in this amusement' way. Love it...”

That. Is. Brain. Ticklingly. Awesome.

I don’t post as often as other bloggers, but I do spend a decent amount of time figuring out what to write about, writing, polishing, and formatting.  This is time that could be spent watching television, reading, going out, or just mindlessly staring at a wall in an attempt to detox from work.  I don’t make any money through this blog – it is merely a hobby as well as me trying to connect with readers. 

So to hear someone say that they experience exactly what I attempt to make my readers experience, it makes this all worth it.

It’s a Brain Tickle partnered with an Ego High-Five.



Aside from being showered in compliments, what tickles your brain?


P.S.  Here is the newest thing to tickle my brain:

My niece!

Born yesterday, she is the reason I wasn’t around to post this piece until today, so you can blame her for that.

I'm suspicious that she may have purposely timed her arrival in order to attain a cameo in this post about things that tickle my brain.

However, I guess she doesn't really fit into the category of the mysterious things that tickle my brain.  Because my feelings for her are easily defined in one word.

Love.


Hopefully she inherits her mother's great taste in turn signals.

-Youngman Brown




95 comments:

  1. I actually have a weird brain-tickly spot between my eyes. If someone touches it, it makes my eyes roll back and do strange things, and gives me the shivers. Stupid nervous system, does whatever it likes.

    Congrats on your niece's arrival!

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    1. Is this for real? Like a soft spot that never went away?

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  2. CONGRATS to you & your sister
    Your niece is beautiful and healthy by the grace of God.

    May she have a very safe, happy and prosperous life ,Amen.

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  3. Congratulations, Uncle Youngman!

    As far as odd neuroses, I'm in the 'turn signal' boat myself. I drive a Ford Focus, and mine sounds similar to yours. The Cherry Bomb has been broken for a few months now, so I drive a lot of rentals. I check the turn signal sound before I pull off the lot, and have upgraded once or twice if I didn't like what I heard.

    Another vehicle pet peeve? Wipers. If they squeak, I slowly go insane...

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    1. Haha "Cherry Bomb," I like that.

      I agree with the squeaking wipers... mine are only annoying like that when it is drizzling.

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  4. First off Congrats!! The baby is gorgeous!!

    Seconldy, I love how your sister gets all gooey listening to a trun signal. What a great quirk. I knew TheLoveBug was sick once I heard her right turning signal go all quick.. I guess it's equivalent to real fast heart rate! haha

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    1. Thanks! I think so too :)

      I'm sorry that LoveBug was once sick, but I'm sure you just sped around the highways until she got better.

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  5. flattered to receive a cameo in the same post as your niece! I love this entry for many reasons. Congratulations on the new addition - she is precious!

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    1. Flattered to have received such kind words from you in the first place.

      And thanks!

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  6. Uncle M! Congratulations and you are excused for not posting in 5 days, 6 hours, 27 minutes and 16 seconds!

    Seriously happy for you and did miss seeing you around, but that is a good enough reason and as usual, great post! Loved the sound effects...

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    1. I am scared to check if those numbers are accurate.

      Yes, I was busy this weekend with friends, St. Paddy's Day, and drinking festivities, as well as traveling to PA on Monday to see my niece, but I am going to try to be around more this week!

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  7. Congratulations on your beautiful new niece! You know would tickle my brain? If my windshield wipers were moving to the exact beat of the music playing in the car. I've been waiting for that to happen for years and years, but it's always just a little bit off.

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    1. Oh, that reminded me that I sometimes do this when I am sitting at a light with my turn signal on. It is pretty cool when the sound of your own turn signal becomes in sync with the light of another car's turn signal, even if it is only for a moment.

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  8. Your niece is beautiful. Babies, even the ones not related to me, in hospital hats with goopy eyes tickles my brains. I guess it's no wonder that I achieved my only big goal in life...to be a stay at home mom.

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    1. That is a good goal!

      Yea, her hat was pretty gangster, I'm not gonna lie.

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  9. Congrats on the arrival of your niece!

    I know what you mean about getting compliments from non-bloggers. It is a bit extra rewarding when you find out someone has been following your blog the whole time and gives you such a compliment.

    I share a link to all my posts on facebook but I really have no idea who is reading them. It's extra special to find out who is and that they like it!

    It tickles the brain for sure! Squeegees are cool too! Whenever I see a squeegee, I always think of that scene in the movie The Matrix when he is in a office and there is a worker outside cleaning the windows.

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    1. Yes, especially from someone who you talk to rarely or not at all. Always pretty cool.

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  10. Oh so happy for the new addition to the family!

    Here's what tickles my brain...words and how writers put them together...like you put them together!

    This quote is taken from a book I am reading on the relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell (ie. Alice in Wonderland) in a book called "Still She Haunts Me" by Katie Roiphe. "Think of the sensual rush of the words, the play in the ear. These are the kind of words that could get caught and reverberate, that could lodge in the mind and twist thoughts around themselves like blankets."

    Pretty awesome, huh?

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    1. Sexy!

      It is true, though. In college I actually used to like when we would have to go listen to a poet speak for a class. There is one poet who read a poem that was so amazing, I ended up buying his book. I'll have to dig it up and share the poem with you.

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  11. In the 90's someone started mass producing those sandscape art frames. It was a picture frame with water in it. Sand sat at the bottom and there was bubbles at the tip. If you flipped it over the bubbles would float up and trap the sand, which slowly fell down between the bubbles forming mountain ranges underneath.

    It was such a simple thing, but time would just cease to exist when I was in front of one of those things. They fascinated me and I could watch them for hours.

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    1. Oh man, I hadn't thought of those things for years until you mentioned it. I loved them too! I would stand in the store and watch them and similar visually stunning products for hours.

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  12. Being an expectant father I'm a sucker for any baby related pics/posts....congrats on your uncle-hood!

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  13. " Because my feelings for her are easily defined in one word.

    Love".

    That sentence just gave me goosebumps. (in a good and very soppy way) She is beautiful.

    What tickles my brain? The power of words and the beauty of music.

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    1. I'm glad to have given you good goosebumps.

      And +1 on words and music :)

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  14. Since the subject has been breached...the movement of windshield wipers induces tickling of my brain. But it can't be too fast, and it can't be too infrequent and, most importantly, it has to be raining with just right amount of consistency so that the windshield is nearly overrun with a watery glaze before the heroic wipers come to grant vision to the driver.

    There is something hypnotic about it, and I will watch from the corner of my eye the swaying, and listen to the rhythm. And really, it's an obsession I never even thought about or questioned until I read this post...

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    1. I'm sorry to have brought this to the surface.

      Please, please don't get into an accident!

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  15. She's friggin adorable. That's awesome for you and your family. I'm not posting this as a blogger by the way. I'm posting as a reader, like I always do. Now you have me wondering what tickles my brain.

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    1. Thanks man!

      Yea, I didn't mean to sound harsh about the comments from other bloggers. I love them! I was just trying to make the point about how extra-special the ones from random readers are.

      And yes, you do always post as a reader, and it is much appreciated.

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  16. I've not heard of brain tickling before but now I have I like the phrase. Sometimes it's the little details that tickle our brain and sometimes it's the bigger picture.

    Congratulations on you new uncledom.

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    1. Yea, I'm pretty sure I invented it, or at least in regards to things that give me chills/make me happy.

      Thanks!

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  17. Congrats on the safe arrival of your gorgeous niece. Just adorable.
    Comments from unexpected people tickle my brain.
    A good foot massage will make me go gooey
    A compliment from a customer will get me smiling
    and selling a painting just about makes me explode from brain tickles.

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    1. Your paintings make my brain tickle.

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    2. Glad to know I'm not the only freak who goes gooey over a foot rub!

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  18. Congrats on the addition and the fact you captured an amazing turn signal SFX.

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    1. Thanks, but all credit should go to Dewey the Car :)

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  19. Your new niece is adorable! What's her name?

    I was *just* thinking last night that my boyfriend's turn signal sound is extra loud when there's no music on. The sound was good, but it could be toned down a bit.

    I'm a fan of the window washing as well. Even though our gas stations are supposed to be full service (by law), they never do it. I have to ask.

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    1. I try not to use real names on the blog, so we will just call her "Miracle."

      I don't know if our window washing is required by law, but I only get it maybe 2% of the time. Womp womp.

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  20. Car-related tickles? Sitting in the turn lane I will look at all the turn signals I can see and try to determine if any ar in sync. Nope. How do they do that? It's brain candy to me.

    Also, fog. Watching the fog roll in, either from the beach over the dune, or across the bay, gives me the warm-fuzzies.

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    1. It has been off-and-on foggy in Sea Isle City for a week and a half. Very, very weird.

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  21. Congrats Uncle. First time I have read your blog but it caught my attention on thebloggess because I had seen you comment on tellingdad or InMyMynd, I can't remember which. Glad I dropped in because you tickle my brain,lmao.

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    1. I'm sorry about the Anonymous. I don't know how to use this "select profile" thingy and ended up with anonymous on it but my name is Sheila

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    2. Haha no problem, I appreciate the comments regardless.

      Glad to have you!

      Delete
  22. The other night one of my short people came up to me as I was working on a paper at the computer, put his little hand on my shoulder and said "Mommy, I know it's not easy taking care of us alone. I just want you to know you're doing a good job. Don't worry so much". Sage, and mind-tickling love from a 9 year old.

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    1. Aw that is so cute. That kid is going to be a hit with the ladies!

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  23. Congratulations, Uncle Young MB! She's adorable!

    What tickles my brain? Too much! I'm fascinated by bloody everything sometimes! For example, it rather tickles my brain that I listened to the entire clip of your turn signal.

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    1. I have an extended version if you'd like to listen.

      Delete
  24. Congrats!!! I have to agree with Brea but take it a step further. Baby laughs tickle my brain. If I'm having a bad day, I will go to youtube, pull up a video of some baby about to pass out from laughing so hard and instant mood lifter. A couple other things that tickle my brain are extremely tall men with short women (I guess they don't like to kiss during sex?) and really fat women with bone skinny men (I guess she doesn't get on top much...or does she?)

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    1. One night back in college, my roommate and I stayed up until 4am watching videos of babies laughing. It is kinda creepy, in hindsight, but their laughter is completely contagious.

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    2. Very contageous, but then their crying and screaming can make you wanna stick an ice pick through your ears. God had to do something to make up for it I suppose, hense the baby giggle. Stops us from being a species that eats our young.

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  25. You're a uncle! That's wonderful! I'm about to become a great aunt. We have weird age gaps in our family. My neices and nephews are all my age! You look good holding a baby, I just make 'em cry! :(

    I love Dewey's turn signal, slow and steady like a metronome! I think you and your sister are my kinds of people!

    It tickles my brain when someone tickles the backs of my knees, back of my neck and my feet! Yup, I'm weird like that! I also love staring out the window when it's raining! I go into a mini-trance! :)

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  26. Congratulations on your niece.

    As to what tickles your sister's brain - believe it or not, I actually pay attention to car's turn signals too. I wouldn't say I'm like your sister in the sense that I'd ask you to flick your turn signal for me, but I would pay attention to the type of sound it made when you did use it.

    Since you asked - one big thing that tickles my brain is being able to say "check out what I just did." Like you I love getting comments on my blog. Since I'm still semi-new to this world and am trying to build a stalker base, I even love when other bloggers post - I love the support. And it's neat feeling like I'm sorta making new friends.

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    1. I agree completely about the making new friends thing :)

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  27. Congratulations on the latest brain tickler!

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  28. Wow, this post made me think. It inspired a fun conversation with my kids, too. Out of that conversation, I have decided that watching rain run down a window tickles my brain. I love the way it trails and how the droplets come together and break apart again. And you know what, before this post, I had forgotten that. Thanks. Ellen

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    1. Aw, I am glad that I helped you remember!

      Sometimes I feel like this is what blogging is all about!

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  29. hahaha I do appreciate a good turn signal! And who doesn't love blog compliments. And, AWWWW BABBBBYYY!!

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  30. Congrats on the new niece!
    That head massage really does look like the best in the world-wowzas. I also remember the squeegee as a deep-seated memory! However, these days I have to do all the squeegeeing myself and it's just not quite the same.

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    1. Yea I might travel the world just to get that head massage!

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  31. LOL this is a great post! Anyway, congratulations on your little niece!

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  32. A barin tickle thing for me is the sound of windshield wipers when it is pouring down rain. LOVE It.

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    1. Haha that has been a popular response. And you know what. Now that I think of it, it tickles my brain too!

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  33. You truly are a talented writer, in the "you tickle my brain" kind of way. Congratulations on your beautiful niece. I loved this post getting to know more about you and your sweet words about your sister.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words :)

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  34. okay, i'm not just saying this to tickle your brain, but i really and thoroughly enjoyed reading this. all of it. great piece. it made me chuckle, raise an eyebrow, and smile. a lot.
    congrats on your gorgeous niece!! i suspect you'll make a fabulous Uncle!

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    1. Well thanks so much. You tickled my brain.

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  35. Congrats on your latest brain tickle! She's beautiful!

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    1. Thanks! In just three weeks she is already so much bigger :)

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  36. How can a baby not tickle your brain? Nice piece, Uncle!

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  37. I used to get the brain tickles when someone would braid my hair when I was younger. Strange? Yes. And when someone was looking over my work while I was standing there - also strange. Although the window washer thing is pretty strange too. Congrats on becoming an uncle!

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    1. I didn't get my hair braided, obviously. But I used to get chills when people would do that "concentrate" game, where they pretend to crack an egg on your head.

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  38. OmG! You had me at the recording of the turn signal. Awesome brain tickle!

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  39. Great post. You captured so many inexplicable emotions. I couldn't agree more about watching someone paint/draw and the blogging praise as great brain tickles. What else? When someone shows me how to do something, but what else? Now you've got me thinking...

    Anyway, great post. Can't wait to read more of your stuff.

    P.S. Congrats on the birth of your niece.

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    1. Thanks so much Christie. I like when people watch me do something, also. As long as they are not judging.

      Delete
  40. I like that phrase - brain tickling. Now you'll have me going around the whole day wondering what tickles my brain.

    Your niece is adorable!

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    1. Haha sorry for hijacking your thoughts all day.

      And thanks!

      Delete
  41. I had a similar experience of being rewarded with a Toyota upon graduation but I had no idea it was coming and was floored. I wish I could say she was still around. But after I moved to the city my sister inherited her and drove her into the ground. I can't even remember the sound of her turn signal. :(

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    1. R.I.P. Toyota - "She ticked. She tocked."

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  42. Where the frickety frack do YOU live where someone washes your window for you?!? I'm sorry, I kinda got stuck on that and then had to go back and start over when I realized I was absorbing nothing.

    ~The G is Silent

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  43. Congrats on your brain-ticklers, both new and old. May you receive many more...

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  44. Turn signals and door chimes...these sounds are critical. And all that gas station stuff is self-serve where I live :( I would love that.

    Love the picture of your niece...baby-love is the best brain ticklers of all :)

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  45. Wow, you're a good looking man. Are you single?

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  46. Hmmm, I had an old Kharman Ghia eons ago. Every time I'd use the left turn signal, the horn would honk. Does that count?

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  47. I just jumped here from the LOL post and I am love with this idea of what tickles my brain, great way to phrase it! My brain is tickled by words, of course, also lying on the ground staring up at the trees and watching the leaves sway, animals, staring out at a big lake or the ocean...okay, I'll stop :)

    Also, because of your LOL post, I'd say this tickles my brain:

    "I reached to the left of the steering wheel and pressed the bar down, unleashing the sound and fury of Dewey’s left-turn signal:

    “Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock,” he said, dully."

    Made me LOL for real :)

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