Stunted Adults

Welcome to Our So-Called Adulty Life


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And A Snake Brings It All Full Circle

Last week, one of my co-workers told me, with eyes filled with terror and trauma, that she had seen a snake in her backyard.  She spun wild tales of snakes slithering amok all over our city and wanted to rally all of the exterminators to decimate these reptilian invaders.

I politely shook my head at the nerve of those pesky snakes and gently told her not to worry because, of course, they were just harmless little garter snakes.

Then I went all Jon Snow on her, telling her not to kill the obviously dangerous beasts in our midst because I am so noble, brave, and kindhearted.

There is no way this ends with anyone getting hurt….

But, much like Jon Snow, I know nothing.

NOTHING.

When I got home later that day,  I threw on some old cut-off jean shorts because I had to do some gardening and then, once I was done in the yard, I went inside and started cooking dinner.  Country Boy stayed out in the front yard to continue planting those bulk plants that I told you about back in March.  Yes, we are STILL planting them.  Country Boy and I have never met a project that we didn’t want to start and not finish.

A while later, Country Boy popped his head through the front door and asked for a glass of water.  I began preparing a glass of cold refrigerator water with ice to positively reinforce his decision to finish up the garden, but, before I could finish that artisan water cocktail, he stopped me and told me that warm sink water would be just fine.

I looked at him.

I knew I was about to ask a question to which I did not want to know the answer, but I just couldn’t stop myself.  I’ve never met a bad decision that I didn’t like.

So, I asked “What do you need the water for?”

He sighed, recognizing my error, and responded “To clean up all of the snake blood off of the driveway.”

I whispered, with eyes filled with terror and trauma, “Excuse me?”

And, he, with a barely suppressed eye roll, said “There was a snake, so I killed it with my shovel.  It got blood everywhere.  I just need to wash it off before it stains.  Relax.  It was just a harmless little garter snake.”

I said “Right.  That’s totally normal.  Here’s your snake-blood-cleaning water.”

After Country Boy went back outside, I took a few deep breaths and talked myself down off the ledge.  I reminded myself that snakes are living creatures that people keep as pets.  People also keep puppies as pets.  Ergo, snakes are totally the puppies of the reptile world.  And puppies are awesome.  So, snakes are awesome?  Logically, this was no big deal.

If a snake is good enough to be friends with Britney, then it’s certainly good enough for me.

All was well until I realized that I had BBQ chicken cooking on the grill.

The grill that was outside.

WHERE THE SNAKES LIVE.

And then I became like this guy, because snakes are not friends. SNAKES ARE NOT FRIENDS!

It was all terror and trauma up in my kitchen.  I did not want to go out in the backyard.

But, I also did not want to starve.

So, I took a deep breath and evaluated my options.

I quickly realized that there was only one option.  I had to go to the grill.

Apparently, my love of BBQ chicken trumps my fear of poisonous snakes.  It’s good to know that I have my priorities in order.

Maple-Mustard BBQ Chicken

There ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no snake scary enough, to keep me from getting to you.

But, I’m not dumb.

So,  I armed myself with a rake just in case Mr. Dead Front Yard Snake was friends with Mr. Alive Back Yard Snake and his crew.  I also cracked a Coors Light because liquid courage is never a bad idea.

And that’s how I found myself wearing grass-stained jorts, swigging a cheap American beer, and grilling meats while fighting off vermin with a homemade weapon on a Tuesday night.

I am totally one small step away from having fox in a box in my freezer and from serving raccoon to my holiday guests


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Nancy Reagan Was Totally Talking About Bulk Plants

When ErinGoBrawl and I were in college, we used to make weekly pilgrimages to the promised land.  And, by the promised land I mean Wegman’s, obviously.

Wegman's

Oh greatest of grocery stores, I pray every day for you to return to my life.

During those delightful visits, we learned many important life lessons, including that a few fresh vegetables can turn a packet of ramen into a gourmet dining experience and that wearing excessive eye make-up does not make it more likely that the cashier will sell you beer without an ID.

But, the most important lesson that we learned, which we repeatedly had to yell at each other when tempted by the bright lights of the dairy section, was this:

DO NOT BUY BULK CHEESE.

JUST SAY NO.  This is what Nancy Reagan should have been about.

JUST SAY NO. Maybe this is what Nancy Reagan was talking about?

It never tastes as good as you think it will, you will never eat it all, and it always ends in digestive distress.  Always.  Just ask ErinGoBrawl.  She knows.

I have fastidiously applied the Just Say No Bulk Cheese rule ever since, extrapolating the hypothesis to reach all bulk items.

I have never succumbed to the Sirens that are CostCo, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s (who named that company?  I mean, really?! How did that make it out of market research?), refusing to be seduced by their sweet discount songs into shipwrecking my already too small home on giant jars of pretzels, mountains of toilet paper, and industrial sized vats of vile mayonnaise.

I know better.

I know that buying in bulk always ends badly.

But, recently, that magic life-saving mantra escaped me just when I needed it most.

As you know, Country Boy and I have been remodeling our house for approximately 4.5 eons.  We are FINALLY on the last phase of the outside overhaul, which is the landscaping.  Because Country Boy is a landscape architect, our yard revamp is not going to just be a quick sod, shrub, and mulch job.  Oh no.  He has a much greater plan that I am absolutely in love with.

But, with great plans comes great time commitments.

As Country Boy began lining up nurseries from which to obtain his plethora of plants to transform our yard into the world’s smallest botanical garden, he began casually dropping little gems like “We’ll need to rent a UHaul to pick-up all of the plants,” “Most of these nurseries are over an hour’s drive away,” and “This could take months.”

Things that I do not want to spend one, let alone many Saturdays doing?  Riding in a UHaul for hours on end while shopping for plants.

JUST SAY NO.  Perhaps this is what Nancy Reagan was really talking about?

JUST SAY NO. Maybe this is what Nancy Reagan was talking about?

But, I really wanted my amazing yard to be finished.

And then, one of the nurseries told Country Boy that if he bought all 250 plants at once, they would give him a substantial discount and deliver those plants directly to our door.

No UHaul?!  No epic journeys to nurseries?! No belabored plant shopping with a picky professional?!  A discount?!

I am weary and they sound so inviting as they sing to me about days where I don't have to engage in absurd feats of home owner manual labor.

I was weary and they sounded so inviting as they sang to me about days when I wouldn’t have to engage in absurd feats of home owner manual labor.

SIGN ME UP.

I immediately and effusively praised this as the greatest idea ever, and I insisted that Country Boy take the nursery up on its offer.

I was so overjoyed at saving hours of shopping and getting a discount that I overlooked one glaring detail of this plan that became painfully obvious on delivery morning.

We had just bought bulk plants.

BULK PLANTS!

And this was only part of the delivery.  My house was overrun by a veritable army of foliage.

And this was only part of the delivery. My house was overrun by a veritable army of foliage.

NOOOO!!!

WHAT HAD I DONE??  I KNOW BETTER!

As with everything that is purchased in bulk, operation landscaping has ended badly.

Because you know what happens when 250 plants arrive on your doorstep? You have to plant them. You have to plant them ASAP to avoid them being stolen and to avoid having to hand-water each individual pot to prevent a bulk-plant dust bowl.

fruit trees

In the ground you must go my little friends.

But, it is physically impossible for two people to get 250 plants perfectly aligned and in the ground in one day, which means that we had to start doing things like this at 10:00 pm on a Monday night after a 10-hour work day:

Headlight

Though its cold and lonely in the deep dark night, I can see plants by the Prius headlight.

It’s been well over a week of midnight gardening sessions, and we still have not managed to get our foliage army safely packed in the soil.  As soon as I arrive home every night, I reluctantly trudge myself out to the yard to commence planting and watering the never-ending battalions of plants.  I’m like Khaleesi, except for that my soldiers don’t respond to my commands.

I clearly need some dragons to finish this project.

I clearly need some dragons.

By the time we (hopefully) finish planting this weekend, we will have spent countless long weeknights and several 12+ hour weekend days furiously and frantically flinging dirt around our yard all while coddling our over-stressed and unhappy little green friends.

 You can do it little gardenia!  Keep on growing! PLEASE! DON'T LEAVE ME!

Don’t you know you’re supposed to be my loyal follower now that I have freed you from your enslaved pot?

And, in the course of this insanity, Country Boy and I are both exhausted and so sore that we can barely walk normally, requiring bulk-plant-discount-negating financial and emotional investments in Aleve, massages, and general disgruntledness.

So, to recap, buying in bulk has resulted in no euphoria, yet has produced a host of physically, emotionally, and socially destructive side effects.

She was TOTALLY talking about bulk plants.

She was TOTALLY talking about bulk plants.

Remember kids, Just Say No to Bulk.


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Tim Riggins Is Ruining My Career

Next week, I have a VERY IMPORTANT work moment.  It involves putting on a suit, standing in front of a large crowd, and advocating for a position that will severely impact the rest of someone else’s life all while being interrogated by a panel of very smart people.

So, in light of having to face that special kind of professional hell in the near future, I need to focus and prepare.

One of the main pieces of my presentation involves discussing a legal case named United States v. Veal.

Whenever I say the word Veal, all I can think about is Anne Veal from Arrested Development.

Her?

Her?

And then I think about Amber Holt, who is the character that Mae Whitman plays on Parenthood.

No one knows how to make me cry like Amber.

No one knows how to make me cry like Amber.

And then I think about Amber’s ex-fiancée Ryan York.

My heart is breaking all over again.

My heart is breaking all over again.

And then I think about Luke Cafferty, who Matt Lauria played on Friday Night Lights.

Clear Eyes.  Full Hearts. Can't Lose!

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose!

And then I end up daydreaming about Tim Riggins.

All roads lead to you.

All roads in my brain lead to you.

SERIOUSLY.

I just lost 45 minutes of my day to Riggins.

At this rate, my entire presentation is going to be “Dear Important People, I know I am supposed to be talking about mortgage fraud, but, instead, let me tell you about what Texas Forever means to me.”

I’m screwed.

I am going to need to fake both blindness and a pregnancy if I have any hope of winning.

I am going to need to fake both blindness and a pregnancy to have any hope of winning.


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I Ran A Marathon, And I Liked It

After five months of training, a namaste-killing explosion, and a runaway gallbladder, the time had finally come.

It was marathon day.

I woke up at the inhumane hour of 4:15 am, laced up my running shoes, and headed out the door without truly comprehending what was happening.

About an hour later, I was standing with my friends at the start line when my stomach dropped to my feet.  The caffeine  finally kicked in, I woke up, and I realized that we were about to run a marathon.

WHAT?!

I immediately recognized that this was a bad decision.  I was filled with terror.

But, I was trapped in a crowd with no clear way to flee.  And, you all know that there is nothing that I find more attractive than a bad decision.

So, this was totally happening.

The starting gun went off.

We were on the move in the midst of a pulsing crowd.

And, just like that, my terror was replaced with unbridled excitement.  I was running a marathon!! I WAS RUNNING A MARATHON!  I WAS REALLY DOING IT!

MARATHON!! YAY!!!

After a few minutes of that nonsense, I remembered that I had a long morning ahead of me and tamed my over-achieving adrenaline.  I took a couple of deep breaths, locked in my pace, and put my faith in my training.

It was all good.

But then at mile four it wasn’t all good.  The course was still very congested with 25,000 runners, I had zoned out, and I had lost my friends in the crowd.  I was alone!  Adrift in the sea of sweaty masses!   Never to be found again!

And I didn’t even have a volleyball to keep me company.

Things were not going according to plan.

But, my surprise solo time turned out to be just what I needed.  I reflected on how much I had changed for the better since I started training in September, I reveled in how proud of myself I was for not giving up on this insane idea to run a marathon, and I rocked out to my music.  With each passing mile, I felt stronger and more relaxed.

Watch out world — I am carefree and running a marathon!

It was magical.

But then at mile 10 everything fell apart.  I was bored and hungry.  My shoulders hunched as I despaired over the fact that I wasn’t even half way done.  The sun had risen and was beating down upon me with a tropical fury that had no place in the era of the Polar Vortex.

It was decidedly not magical.

Screw Gatorade and water, where is the pastry aid station?

My mind was invaded by all of the advice that the assorted marathon vets in my life had dropped on me.  Snippets of articles that I had read about proper pace, hydration, and nutrition bombarded my brain.  Was I doing it right?  Was I following the rules?  What if I was making mistakes?

But then I realized something.

Marathons are a lot like life.

The only way to get through them is to take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and just keep on keepin’ on the best way that you know how.

True that, Matthew, true that.

So, I did just that.

I relaxed.  I banished all pastry-related thoughts from my mind.  And, I went back to running how I damn well felt like running.  And, as usually happens, after I shut down the pity party and quieted my thoughts about what I “should” be doing, things got better.  By mile 12, I felt my inner-Phoebe creeping back in.

I easily cruised to the halfway point, which was where a few awesome friends were waiting to cheer me on and where Country Boy was waiting to join me for the back half of the race.

Country Boy was more than a smidge skeptical of my plan to run a marathon less than a month after I lost an organ via abdominal surgery, so he told me that, since he was pre-med for one entire year in college, he was basically a doctor and was going to run with me to keep an eye on all things medical.

Country Boy also, and I suspect primarily, ran with me because he is amazing and knows how to be supportive of his I-can-do-it-all-on-my-own wife in just the right way.

With Country Boy by my side, the miles ticked away.

We laughed, we talked about utter nonsense, we moved together in comfortable silence, and he knew exactly how to motivate me:

Hang on Leo! I’m coming!

A few miles later, my friends showed up, and they showed up hard.

As the crowd thinned out, I finally spotted my friends who I had started the marathon with and was able to catch up to them.  Together, we totally had this thing.

A marathon? Bitch, please, I’ve got this on lock.

At mile 16, two of my college friends were waiting for me with a sign to remind me that, at the end of the marathon, there would be all of the beer.  Just for me.  All of the beer!

1555435_10152225889309243_124609384_n

Much as when we were in college, that is all the motivation that I need to do anything.

A few miles later, boredom and exhaustion were poised to make another assault on me.

But then, in the distance, I spied a very large panda clinging to a tree.  We’re talking 6’4″ large.  Next to Andre the Giant Panda was a giraffe and a banana.  They were also human-sized.

I assumed I was just experiencing some light hallucination.  That seemed like something that could happen.

But then my eyes popped open.  Those were people in costumes!  And you know what kind of people would do that?

People who I would be friends with.

I picked up the pace and, sure enough, that was my panda, my giraffe, and my banana!  Alongside a whole crew of other smiling familiar faces.  I couldn’t believe it!  I mean, I could because this is totally normal behavior for the type of people with whom I associate, but I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening so early in the morning!  And for me!

The Beatles were right, I do get by with a little help from my friends.

Who knew it was possible to laugh hysterically during miles 18 through 20 of a marathon?

By the time I got my case of the giggles under control, I realized that I had crossed the 20 mile mark.  I had never run further than 19 miles before in my entire life.

Every step I took was a new record!

It was incredible.

And then it started to rain.  And not in an “oh, isn’t this refreshing” kind of way.  Oh no.  It was raining in a soaking, horizontal, sunscreen running in your eyes kind of way.  I was soaking wet, cold, and blind.

Just when I was ready to call a rain delay, I heard some familiar voices.  My college friends were back!  They were standing under a tree in that crazy monsoon to cheer me on!  Again!

Upon hearing their voices, I wiped the sunscreen out of my eyes, regained the power of sight, and kicked it up a gear.  It was time to keep on livin.  If they could show up in the rain for me, then I sure as hell could show up at the finish line for them.

This rain ain’t no thing.

I was back on the upside of the roller coaster that was my marathon experience.

I had a huge smile on my face, I was chatting Country Boy’s ear off, and the miles were flying by once more.

Running

23 miles down, the sun was back, and I was straight chillin’

But, what goes up must come down, especially in marathons.

Around mile 24, I hit another wall and I hit it hard.  I knew, logically, that I only had 2.2 miles to go.  I was totally there.  I was going to cross the line in 20 minutes or less.  No big thing.

But it was totally a big thing.

I managed to make it past mile 25, but I felt defeated.  My running friends had slowed down to drink water, and I regretted not joining them.  Every step felt like it was sure to be my last.

But then, out of nowhere, two more of my friends popped out onto the course.  I was so excited to see them that I started jumping around in the middle of the street, much to the extreme displeasure of every other runner.

Not only did my friends surprise me with their appearance, but they also started running with me.  It was so unexpected, so kind, and so needed.  We smiled, we laughed, we took selfies.  The other runners continued to not be amused, but I was having a great time.

Yes, those are my friends photobombing your serious marathon experience. Sorry!

After we climbed the last bridge of the marathon, my friends and Country Boy peeled off the course.  It was time for me to finish what I started.

I turned the corner and, much to my surprise, there was the finish line.  It was right there.  RIGHT THERE.  A huge smile broke across my face, and I sprinted across it.

tumblr_mhocu7tv1e1qh9nffo1_500

F*ck yeah I just crushed a marathon!

The feeling when I crossed that line was incredible.  I didn’t feel tired (even though I was) and I didn’t feel destroyed (even though my muscles were).  Instead, I felt energized, I felt strong, I felt proud, and I felt incredibly loved by my friends, my family, and, most importantly, myself.

I was unshakably happy.

I dedicated five months of my life to running.  A lot.  Even when it was inconvenient.  Even when it was hard.  Even when everyone in my life hinted that I should give up.

But I didn’t give up.

Instead, I became mentally and physically stronger than I ever thought was possible.  Not only did I run a marathon, I did it while smiling, laughing, and having the time of my life.  To me, that, and not my finish time, was the true victory.

I found my happy place in the simplicity of just putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where it took me.

You should try it.


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My Very Own Kato Kaelin

Despite the fact that I have spent the past decade living a champagne and croissant fueled life in the heart of a major city, I seem to have all too regular run-ins with feral vermin, particularly those of the raccoon persuasion.

And this year is no exception.

A few months ago, Country Boy and his hapless but hilarious assistant (me) finally finished revamping our tiny backyard.  We managed to squeeze in a deck, an in-ground hot tub, and a covered porch that is the home to a gorgeous white outdoor couch.

photo (2)

This joint is straight up Shangri-La.

But, Shangri-La ain’t cheap, which means I have to drag my ass to work every day to pay for my little slice of paradise.

I came home from work earlier this week and wandered outside to get my zen on.  Sliding into that hot tub would make every argumentative telephone call and curt email melt away.

But, I immediately felt that something was amiss.

And then I saw it.

There were muddy prints all around the hot tub.  Around MY hot tub.

pawprints_by_pool

No.  NO.  NO!

I knew those paw prints.

I had seen them before.

They come with beady little eyes, a mask, and paws.

Ready for the catch

WHAT ARE YOU DOING BACK IN MY LIFE?!

WHAT?!

How in the hell was there a raccoon in my hot tub?

I live smack in the middle of a city, a tropical city no less.  While I do have a one-story house, it’s an urban house.  On every side of my house, there is another house within spitting distance.  There are high-rise buildings within walking distance.  There is no nearby forest filled with wildlife.  Hell, this place is barely hospitable to pigeons.

Yet, there were those unmistakable paw prints.

This raccoon had clearly packed a suitcase, took her last $200 and her record collection, and hopped a bus to make her way in the big city.

sherrie christian

Looks like someone watched Rock of Ages a few too many times.

But, then I turned around.

It was immediately apparent that I was not dealing with some sweet, misguided raccoon who was fresh off the bus from Kansas.

Oh no.

I was dealing with an entirely different sort of beast.

There were also paw prints all over my new white couch, eventually ending in a circle in the corner where the raccoon had decided to stretch out and assume her lounging position.

photo (3)

Apparently, this is a raccoon only VIP area.

You know what else was on my pristine, white couch?

A half-eaten avocado.

WHAT?!

Not only had this raccoon taken a dip in my hot tub and sprawled out on my couch, she had also managed to procure some local, organic produce for her afternoon snack.  Apparently, everyone knows that nothing pairs better with a day of leisure than some guacamole.

Raccoon eating avocado

Can someone pass me the cilantro?

And my little ‘buddy” did all of this while I was trapped in an office working hard to finance the entire operation.

I was clearly dealing with a professional.

The raccoon version of Kato Kaelin had moved into my backyard

The raccoon version of Kato Kaelin had moved into my backyard

How did this happen to me?!  How did I become both the sugar mama and the maid to a freeloading vermin of leisure?

I sat down on my violated couch to ponder how my life had taken such a turn.  After a few moments, a shocked gasp escaped my mouth.

I had a realization.

You know what a hot-tub lounging, guacamole-eating urban raccoon probably has?  An iPhone.

And, you know what an iPhone has? The Internet.

And, you know what the Internet has? My blog post from last Christmas about how I risked family scorn and exile, because I wasn’t willing to eat raccoon.

Kato the Raccoon apparently misinterpreted that as an open invitation to take up residence in my pool house.

Sorry, Kato the Raccoon, but you will not be the Ryan Atwood to my Seth Cohen.  You have got to go back to Chino right now!

Sorry, Kato the Raccoon, but you will not be the Ryan Atwood to my Seth Cohen. You have got to go back to Chino right now!

I always knew the Internet would ruin my life, but I just never expected its weapon of choice to be a feral woodland creature with a penchant for Mexican food.


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Bad Idea Batman

Now that I’m squarely in my 30s, I am a regular on the toddler birthday party circuit.  Rarely a weekend goes by that I do not find myself face-to-face with a mob of sugar-fueled munchkins.

When I was in my 20s, I could immediately spot the person at the bar who could provide whatever was needed should someone need to increase the fun level of their night.  Now, I can immediately spot the parent at the party who can provide whatever is needed should someone need to increase the fun level of their juice box.  I can also identify the source and deliciousness of a chicken nugget based on sight alone.

These are my new life skills.

On Sunday, I went to one of these birthday parties at my close friends and neighbors’ house for their four-year-old son, who holds a very special place in my heart for many reasons, including because he was the cause of the great nun-cident of 2009.

As Country Boy and I were about to leave the house to walk to the party, our friend called and asked if we could bring over the ladder that we had borrowed from him years ago because he “needed to put Batman on the roof.”

We assumed that our friend was referring to a Batman cardboard cut-out that he wanted to put up on the roof to greet the kids since the birthday boy loves Batman.  We thought that was a very cute idea, albeit a smidge dangerous that someone was going to climb up on the roof.

We had assumed wrong.

Shortly after we arrived, a man started gathering all of the kids in the backyard.  I figured this was just some parent who wanted to lay down the rules of the sandbox because his precious little wonder had a shovel swiped out of her hand.

But then this guy started whipping the toddlers into a frenzy.  Their hands were in the air.  They were screaming.  They were AMPED UP.

This guy wasn’t a parent.  He was a hype man.

Just as I wondered aloud “Why the EFF is there a hype man at a kiddie birthday party?!” this happened:

Batman Roof

Not a cardboard cut-out.

That was Batman, he rolled with a hype man, and he was on the damn roof.

I thought it was kind of questionable that a grown man in tights and a speedo was standing on a roof, but I figured that he would be safe if he stood still and just waved to the adoring kids below him.  And, it was an amazing surprise that all of the kids absolutely loved.

But, Batman didn’t stand still.

Batman decided to dismount the roof.  And, instead of using that nice, safe ladder that we had provided, he was going to jump down.

While I don’t know much about kids, I know a lot about bad ideas.

And this was a bad idea, Batman.

After some obvious hesitation, Batman hung himself off the ledge, dangled for a minute in a decidedly unsuperhero-like position, and then dropped to the ground.  Everyone at the party over the age of 4 held their breath while waiting for the telltale yelp and crunch of a broken ankle.

Because that is the look you want on your audience's face when you make your grand entrance.

Because that is the look you want on your audience’s faces when you make your grand entrance.

Batman, however, shook off the rough landing and began working the crowd.  He was a professional, after all.

Shake it off, man, shake it off.

Shake it off, man, shake it off.  And, yes, that is the hype man in the background working it for his boy B.

I assumed that the period for bad ideas had passed, that Batman would greet the kids, that Batman would lead everyone in singing happy birthday, and that Batman would then be on his way.

I had assumed wrong.

Batman decided, after that roof debacle, that he should do more stunts.  Specifically, he decided to do a flip over the head of the adorable birthday boy in a small backyard filled with toys and unpredictable children. Batman commanded the newly four-year-old to “not move” and then he ran at him full speed and  jumped.

Bad idea, Batman.

Someone really needs to introduce Batman to the concept of Safety First.

Someone really needs to introduce Batman to the concept of Safety First.

And this was not just a bad idea, this was a very bad idea, because Batman could not actually stick the landing on a flip.  Instead, we were treated to many minutes of watching a grown man in tights repeatedly run, jump up in the air, flip over a small child, and then crash-land into a garden shed, a hedge, and a fence.

When it comes to awkward crash landings, Batman is tops.

Batman is no Keri Strug.

I assumed that, once he finished his series of unstuck landings, Batman would have met his bad idea quota for the day.

I had assumed wrong.

Not satisfied with risking death or serious injury to one child, Batman decided to make a bad idea worse.  He invited a gaggle of unpredictable toddlers to sit still in a straight line on the ground.  He was befuddled when the kids didn’t really grasp the concepts of sitting, a straight line, or stillness.

But, yet, this still happened.

But, yet, this still happened.

As is obvious from the final picture, this jump ended with a horrific head-first crash landing.

I assumed that, once Batman somehow managed to jump over the small children without killing any of them and only lightly concussing himself, he would get going while the going was good.

I had assumed wrong.

Next up, our questionable superhero had his hype man take out a rope, stretch it across the yard, and place approximately 10 rubber playground balls that were inflated to maximum capacity along the rope.  He then divided the kids into two teams and said the word every parent dreads: dodgeball.

Dodgeball.

WITH FOUR YEAR OLDS.

Who would ever knowingly arm a sugar-fueled toddler mob with actual weapons?!  And command them to use said weapons?!  On each other?!

Bad idea, Batman.

Dodgeball

Did you learn nothing from Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn? Dodgeball is for serious athletes only.

After three separate kids devolved into tears, the balls were put away and Batman grabbed the rope.

I assumed that, finally, he was going to call it a day.

As always, I had assumed wrong.

Instead, Batman decided to play tug of war with the toddlers.

Bad idea, Batman.

This activity required getting all of the kids to all stand on the same side of the rope and understand the concept of pulling.

Tug of War

They didn’t get it.

Once the tears of the fallen and dragged kids were wiped away, I assumed that this really had to be the end.  How could this possibly get any worse?

I had assumed wrong, and it got worse.

Batman and his not-so-trusty sidekick brought out giant hard plastic swords.

More weapons?!

Had we learned nothing from dodgeball?  Four year olds are unpredictable and subject to intense mood swings.  Who would ever give a weapon to an unpredictable and unstable person?  This would be like arming a herd of feral bipolar puppies.  There’s a reason why we don’t do that.

Bad idea, Batman.

Someone was definitely going to poke an eye out.

Someone was definitely going to poke an eye out.

And, as we have come to expect, Batman turned this bad idea into a horrible idea.

The whole point of having Batman at the party was that he was the birthday boy’s hero.  The birthday boy thought that Batman would protect him from the bad guys and save the day.  But, during the ill-advised swordplay, Batman let each and every child, even the birthday boy’s incredibly sweet two-year-old brother, handily defeat him.

Way to crush the dreams of every child at the party Batman.

Killing Batman

Not exactly the guy you want to rely on to save the day.

Finally, after all of that, Batman took his leave.  He waved goodbye to the kids, handed out his business card to all of the adults in the yard, awkwardly hopped over the fence, and ran towards the front of the house.

I assumed we were done with Bad Idea Batman once and for all.

I had assumed wrong.

Instead, Bad Idea Batman climbed back up onto the roof for his grand finale.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Just stop while you are really, really behind Bad Idea Batman.  Please.

After waving goodbye to the enthralled kids one last time, he took off running towards the front of the roof.  No one saw him jump, but, also, no one saw him climb back down the ladder on the side of the house.

There is at least a 60 percent chance that Bad Idea Batman has taken up permanent residence on my friends’ roof.

Because I look out for my friends, I decided to use the information on the business card to figure out who the superhero squatting on their roof really was.

Turns out, when he’s not Bad Idea Batman, this dude is attempting to make a living as a parkour instructor.

Bad idea, Batman.

But, it does explain everything.


43 Comments

Just Call Me Jay-Z

Two weeks ago, my gallbladder got its drama on, up and left me in a very public fashion, and became an Internet sensation.  Thanks to the antics of the organ posthumously known as Kallbladder Kardashian, I was left with three stab wounds in my abdomen, a digestive system held together by duct tape and magic, and a world of pain.

During those first few days, I felt as if my life as I knew it was over.

I was exhausted.  I had no motivation.  And, it seemed impossible that I would ever be able to replicate the greatness that was my pre-surgery exercise and wine fueled lifestyle.

It was time for me to retire from the game.  It was time for me move on to running a record label, buying a sports team, and spending my days with Beyoncé.

I get you H-to-the-izzO V-to-the-izzA.  I GET YOU.

I get you 2003 H-to-the-izzO V-to-the-izzA. I GET YOU.

I was totally on board with the Jay-Z post-Black Album retirement plan.

But, then I realized that I knew nothing about the music industry and I didn’t have enough money to buy an NBA team. And, Beyoncé didn’t return my phone calls.

I know that you don't like the telephone, but it's me Bey.  IT'S ME!

I know that you don’t like the telephone, but it’s me Bey. IT’S ME!

My surgeon, however, did return my calls.  And, late yesterday afternoon, I met with him to assess how I was healing after surgery.

After he gave me a quick once-over and asked a few questions, I got down to brass tacks.

I asked with trepidation, “So, can I go back to normal?”

He responded, “Well, that depends on what normal is.”

I took a deep breath, and just let all of my weird fly.  If I was going to be forced into retirement, I was at least going to go down in flames.

I explained “Normal for me would involve running a marathon in less than 3 weeks, consuming wine in bottle serving sizes, eating a shocking amount of dessert, and having impromptu dance parties.  Can I go back to doing all of those things, preferably tonight?”

The surgeon stared at me in contemplative shock for several moments.  He took an audible deep breath.  Then he said “I don’t know how you pulled this off, but you appear to already be completely healed.  So, yes, you can do all of those things.”

WHAT?!  He actually said yes?!  I didn’t have to retire?!

I was not prepared for that answer.

Not knowing how to quit when I’m ahead, I asked “Are you sure? I really don’t have to retire?”

The surgeon paused, shrugged, and then responded, “Listen, I gather that you are the kind of woman who just does whatever she wants.  If I tell you no, you will just look for loopholes and badger me into saying yes.  And it’s late and I’m tired.  And, after a few weeks, you’re in better shape than most people are months after this surgery. So, you know what?  You win.  Do whatever you want.  We both know that you will anyway.”

Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth twice, I said thank you, shook his hand, and got the hell out of his office before he changed his mind.

Like Stannis Baratheon, I will take my victories any way that I can get them.

Like Stannis Baratheon, I will take my victories any way that I can get them.

And then things took a turn for the amazing.

When I got home, I immediately threw on my running shoes, cranked up my favorite work-out playlist, and took off on a five-mile run at my pre-surgery training pace.  Why do things in moderation when you can be excessive?

Hello old friends.

Hello old friends.

Despite initially appearing to be a smidge over-ambitious, last night’s run was one of the best runs that I’ve had in a long time.  I literally felt like I was flying.  I was back and ready to make the marathon my bitch.

Apparently, it’s easier to run with stab wounds than with a failing organ.  Good to know.

I returned home from my run to an invitation from my neighbor to come over for dinner since he had made too much food for himself.  Given me new-found freedom from my post-surgery diet of water, jello, and plain bagels, I grabbed Country Boy and a bottle of wine and sprinted across the street.  Within a few hours, I had defeated a giant plate of BBQ, the bottle of wine, and at least half a package of soft batch chocolate chip cookies.  You know, just a light mid-week evening meal.

Hello other old friend.

Hello other old friend.

After that festival of gluttony, I felt absolutely fine.  Actually better than fine, because, well, wine and cookies.

Country Boy and I eventually made the long walk back across the street to our house.  I had planned to get going while the going was good and go straight to bed.

But then I heard the sweet, sweet sounds of a young Michael Jackson coming from the stereo that I had accidentally left on when we went to dinner.

And then I realized that he was singing my jam:

So, obviously I had to dance.  And I danced hard.  I spun.  I got low.  I slid across the floor.  I might have even twerked a bit.

When the song finished, I took stock of myself.

I was a bit sweaty, but, otherwise, I felt fan-f*cking-tastic.

I had run, I had pounded wine, I had nearly overdosed on cookies, and I had danced like a boss.

My retirement was officially over.

Just call me Jay-Z, because I’m back in the game and better than ever.

31-Roc-Boyz


178 Comments

Even Lindsay Lohan Is Better Than Me (Otherwise Known As Adventures in Organ Removal)

I’ve had many a low point in my life, but 2014 may have just kicked off with the lowest yet.

On January 2, 2014, I learned that Lindsay Lohan is better than I am.

That’s right.

I can’t even bring myself up to Lindsay’s level of competence.

Better than me.  Sad but true.

Better than me. Sad but true.

Wow.

I had no idea things had gotten so bad.

It all began the prior Sunday.  As I’ve let slip, I’m training for a marathon.  After a week of holiday gluttony (champagne, cheese, cake, lather, rinse, repeat), I had to pay the piper and slog through a 15 mile run.  I was unusually thirsty during that run, but I just chalked it up to too much boozing.

All your fault.

All your fault.

I guzzled liters of water and Gatorade, but I just could not quench my thirst.  Over the next few days I continued to deteriorate.  No matter how much water and how relatively little champagne I drank, I just could not get hydrated. Although I’m generally a ravenous eater, I had to force myself to eat a single piece of pizza for dinner. Despite treating myself to naps as soon as I got home from work, I was constantly fatigued.

It was the hangover that would not die.

I was suffering from the Betty White of hangovers.  No matter how old it got, it still had a shocking amount of spunk and stamina.

I was suffering from the Betty White of hangovers. No matter how old it got, it still had a shocking amount of spunk and stamina.

On the evening of New Year’s Day — nearly 24 hours since I had last hit the sauce — I was swept with a wave of nausea.  This struck me as odd, because, while my body has often rebelled against my questionable judgment, nausea has never been its weapon of choice.

As with most things in life, I decided that the best way to deal with this new development was to sleep it off.

The next morning, I shot out of bed at 7 am and knew that something was wrong.  I immediately threw on jeans, grabbed my book, told a still-sleeping Country Boy that I was going to the emergency room, and ran out the door.

As I sat down in my car, I realized that I was FINALLY having my very own Stars — They’re Just Like US! moment.

Stars -- They're Just Like ME!

Stars — They’re Just Like ME!

It was obvious!

I was clearly suffering from dehydration and/or exhaustion.  Granted I had previously thought that “dehydration” and “exhaustion” were just code words for “light cocaine addiction,” but I now realized that they were actually legit medical conditions and that I had them.  Lindsay Lohan had just been really misunderstood all of these years and now we had something in common.

I get you girl.  I GET YOU.

I get you girl. I GET YOU.

My illness would finally be my ticket to a stay at Promises Treatment Center in Malibu.  If its a good enough place for my girl Britney to recover from “dehydration,” then it’s certainly good enough for me.

It was about time I finally ended up where I belonged, which is amongst all of my celebrity friends.

It was about time I finally ended up where I belonged, which is amongst all of my celebrity friends.

As I pulled up to the ER, I chastised myself for over-reacting and was gripped with fear about the amount of money that this little jaunt was going to cost.  I realized that I probably didn’t need to go to the ER if I could drive myself there.

But, as you all know, there is nothing that I find more attractive than a bad decision, so I marched myself right on in.

At first, everything was seemingly on track.  After about 45 minutes of sample taking and test running, a nurse came into my room, poked me with a needle, and hooked me up to an IV full of fluids.  She stated that I would be getting two bags of fluids to re-hydrate me and two bags of potassium since my levels were low.

I almost squealed in delight. I had dehydration!  I was going to join my celebrity friends at Promises!

But then things took a turn.

Someone else came into the room with an ultrasound machine and did a scan of my entire abdomen.  She didn’t say anything and then just walked out.  This raised a few red flags, but I kept my eye on the celebrity prize.  I convinced myself that they were just making sure that I wasn’t knocked up before they handed me my ticket to Malibu.  They only do ultrasounds for babies, right?

Wrong.

About 10 minutes later, a doctor rushed into the room. After discerning that I had come to the ER alone, she told me that I had to get someone to the hospital immediately to serve as my medical decision-maker, that I had been admitted to the hospital, and that I was going to have surgery to remove my gallbladder as soon as a surgeon was available.

There was absolutely no mention of Promises.

WHAT?!

Lindsay is good enough for Promises, but I’m not.  I can’t even figure out how to properly retain my organs?!

How could this be?  HOW COULD THIS BE?!

I burst into tears from the sheer shock of all of it. Not my finest moment, but I really was not expecting to lose an organ when I got out of bed that morning.

I'm still kind of like a celebrity?

I’m still kind of like a celebrity?

After I pulled myself together, I called Country Boy and was whisked off to do a bunch of extra tests to make sure I wasn’t dying of pancreatic cancer before finally arriving in the operating room around 9 pm to bid adieu to my gallbladder.

The anesthesiologist arrived, and he was 100% unadulterated bro. He had a diamond stud in one ear, he had carefully groomed two-day scruff, and he punctuated EVERY sentence with a “ya feel me, right?”

This dude was my doctor.  Seriously.

This dude was my doctor. Seriously.

As Dr. Bro and I were cracking jokes about the creative drug cocktails of our past, he tapped a vein and started mainlining me.

Dr. Bro then said: “Are you a cheap date?”

I responded: “I think so.  My head already feels tingly. This is like in college when I wouldn’t eat all day, would pound shots of jager, and then totter off to a party in a short skirt.”

Dr. Bro said to Country Boy: “Man, I don’t know if you want to be hearing these stories.”

I chimed in with “It’s cool. We went to college together. He knows he married a classy broad.”

And then I passed out cold.

I’m nothing if not consistent.

Maybe we are kind of alike after all.

Maybe we are kind of alike after all.

I woke up from surgery at midnight in a world of pain.

About two minutes after midnight, I realized that hospitals are gross and that I did not want to be there any longer.  The sheets were scratchy, the smells were weird, and the other guests were making a lot of undignified noises.  This was not a proper place for Princess PinotNinja.

Precisely, Blair, precisely.

Precisely, Blair, precisely.

One of the nurses made the mistake of telling me what I needed to do in order to be discharged from the hospital.  She said that all I had to do was drink juice, eat an entire sandwich, and walk the length of the floor three times.  She then said that it takes most people one to two days to complete those tasks.

My response to that was a very mature “f*ck that noise,” and then I got to work.  Within three hours, I had pounded an absolutely foul sandwich and was walking laps around the hospital floor while swigging from a juice box and pageant waving to all of the nurses.

After a lot of commentary about how I was having the most miraculous recovery that had ever been seen, the nurses sprang me from hospital jail at 9:30 am and I walked out unassisted with a big smile on my face.

As soon as I got into the car, I crumpled into a ball and started screaming in pain. Country Boy gave me a perplexed look, which quickly morphed into a knowing glare once he realized that I had just put on an Academy Award worthy performance because I wanted to get home to my fancy lululemon lounge wear and 1000 thread-count sheets even though I was clearly and absolutely not ready to be discharged from the hospital.

A girl has to do what a girl has to do.

Last weekend was a blur of pain and it will be another few weeks before I can get back to running and causing trouble, but I’m definitely on the mend and getting along just fine without my gallbladder.

Only I would go to the ER thinking that I was Lindsay Lohan and end up losing an organ.


32 Comments

Babies, Roast Raccoon, and Chakras: A Rural Yuletide Tale

Back in 2006, after more than four years together and just after the time period for an annulment on our marriage had expired, Country Boy decided to take me to his maternal grandparents’ farm in Northern Indiana for the first time for Christmas dinner.

The farm is a three-hour drive from Country Boy’s parent’s house, and, at his parents’ insistence and for reasons that are still unknown, we took only two of the available four cars to travel to the farm despite needing to transport nine adults and one toddler in a car seat.   Nothing says family bonding like wedging yourself  into a two-door Saturn with four big guys.  I bet you can guess who was riding bitch between Country Boy’s 6’1″ and 6’7″ tall teenaged brothers.  That was the moment that I truly understood the many meanings of the word “cozy.”

clown car

It looked a lot like this except that, instead of clowns, the car was filled with corn-fed giants and one very overwhelmed PinotNinja.

Once we arrived, unfolded ourselves from the back seat, and regained feeling in our limbs, I was ushered into the farmhouse to say hello to Country Boy’s family.  As  I walked in the door, I realized that I had missed the memo that the official holiday outfit on the farm was Wranglers, a plaid shirt, and cowboy boots.  Contrary to what I had learned growing up in Connecticut, a cardigan and pearls is not always appropriate.

It also became apparent at that moment that I was the only woman in the house between the ages of 18 and 25 without at least one baby on my hip.  This fun little fact was repeatedly pointed out to me as I was asked eight (EIGHT!) times over the course of less than an hour why I had not had a baby yet.  One relation actually asked “Where’s your young’un?” before asking “What’s your name?”

Not to be outdone, Country Boy’s 10-year-old cousin approached me and very shyly asked “PinotNinja, are you going to die?”

Way to bring the heavy little girl.

As I pondered how to explain to this sweet child that, one day, we will all move on, she decided to throw me a follow-up bone as I was obviously struggling, saying “I meant soon.  Are you going to die soon because you must be really sick since you haven’t had a baby yet?”

WHAT?!

I asked her where she heard that, and she said that her mom and Country Boy’s grandmother had told her that I had to be dying because I didn’t have any babies.  SERIOUSLY.  Because I didn’t have a kid at the ripe old age of 26, it was assumed that I must be terminally ill.

I have never needed a drink so badly as I did at that moment.

But, there was no drink to be had because Country Boy’s grandmother considers alcohol to be “the devil’s elixir.”

Apparently, news of the 21st Amendment has yet to reach rural Indiana.

Apparently, news of the 21st Amendment has yet to reach rural Indiana.

Yes, you read that right.  This was a completely dry Christmas dinner with my in-laws.  There was no alcohol ANYWHERE.  There wasn’t even any cough syrup in the many medicine cabinets that I checked.

After negotiating myself through that sober procreation minefield, I was ushered into the kitchen to sit down for dinner.

What was for dinner you ask?

Oh, RACCOON.

raccoon

How nice of you to join us at Christmas.

Yes, Christmas dinner was mother f*cking raccoon in a mother f*cking crockpot.

I AM SERIOUS.

Raccoon.  The kind with a mask and paws.  The kind that eats your garbage.  The kind that has never been featured on the menu of any restaurant anywhere ever.

There was no way that was going in my mouth, especially sober.

But, before I could run away, Country Boy’s grandmother pushed a steaming plate of vermin fricassee into my hot little hands in front of Country Boy’s extended family.  I knew that a simple “no thank you” was not going to cut it.  You see, I was on very thin ice with Country Boy’s grandmother. I knew that she didn’t come to our wedding because we served “the devil’s elixir” (wine) and played “the devil’s music” (rock and roll).  I knew that she referred to me as the Big City Hussy behind my back and believed that I had corrupted her sweet grandson.  I knew now that she believed that the only acceptable reason for my not breeding in my early 20s was that I suffered from a terminal illness.

But, I also knew that there was no way in hell that I was eating that raccoon.

My options were very limited, so I had no choice but to take a gigantic gamble.  I was going big because I couldn’t go home.

Despite the fact that the night before I had eaten bacon-wrapped filet mignon in front of Country Boy’s younger brothers and sister who were sitting right next to Country Boy’s grandmother and the fact that every item on the table involved an animal product, I told her that I could not eat her roast raccoon because I was a vegetarian.  Starvation tastes better than road kill.

I then shot a glare at my young siblings-in-law that sent a visible shiver up their spines.   They all got the hint and kept their little traps shut about the fact that I had only become a vegetarian in the past 30 seconds.

PinotNinja — lying and threatening children on Jesus’s birthday since 2006.

After my delicious Christmas dinner of air, Country Boy’s fringed leather jacket wearing uncle cornered me.  I had never really talked to him before, and the horrified look on Country Boy’s face when he saw his uncle pull me aside tipped me off that this was not going to be an ordinary conversation.

fringed jacket 2

Never trust a man wearing one of these. Just don’t.

Country Boy’s uncle me if I believed in the higher power.  Since it had already been a day, I threw caution to the wind and decided to hop on that train and see where it went.

I told Country Boy’s uncle “sure, I believe in the higher power.”  And, with that, we pulled out of the station and hurtled towards crazy town at top speed.

Country Boy’s uncle proceeded to tell me that, through the higher power, he would be able to cure that pesky terminal illness that was keeping me from popping out babies.  He told me that he would speak about me to his prayer circle and that they would call on the higher power to move to energy of the universe to realign my chakras.  With my chakras realigned, all of my illnesses would be cured without the need for those “pesky know-it-all doctors.”

Awesome.

Who knew that a Boston album could solve the nation's health care crisis?

Who knew that a 1970s power rock band could solve the nation’s health care crisis?

I navigated away from the uncle and took a moment to gather what was left of my sanity.  I turned to see Country Boy putting on his coat, and, feeling a wave of relief wash over me, I asked “Are we heading home?” by which I obviously meant “Are we headed to the nearest market where you will buy me all of the wine to make this evening disappear immediately?”

His response, however, was “Not yet.  I’m just going outside to shoot my uncle’s AK-47.”  Because you know who needs a semi-automatic weapon with a night scope?  That guy.

Fantastic.

While Country Boy was outside firing a machine gun into the darkness, his uncle came back for another round.  He approached me, fringe swishing, and emphatically pronounced “You are a red with hints of purple.”  I had no idea what that gem meant, but i just nodded and acted like I did because I was not about to ask a question that I didn’t want to know the answer to.

Luckily, before that conversation could turn back to babies, roast raccoon, or chakras, Country Boy swooped in, grabbed me by the arm, and told me that it was time to climb back into my cozy spot in the Saturn.

That was the best Christmas gift that I have ever received.


36 Comments

The Day That Danny Castellano Stole My Heart

Mindy Kaling and I had been an item for nearly a decade.

She won me over as soon as Kelly Kapoor made her grand entrance on The Office, which, as we’ve discussed, was a, if not THE, defining television show of my lifetime.

With Kelly, there was finally a television character to whom I could relate, because, obviously, I had this exact same conversation, as well as many variations on this theme, while at work:

We were soul mates.

When Mindy lived out my fantasy to star in a low-budget pop music video with a rap breakdown, I thought I could not love her any more:

But then Mindy taught me that I had even more love to give when she created and embodied Mindy Lahiri, the heart and soul of the hilarious The Mindy Project.

Mindy Lahiri does things that I have done:

The 24 Most Relatable Mindy Lahiri Quotes From "The Mindy Project"

She has done things that I totally could do:

And she has done things that I really want to do:

The 24 Most Relatable Mindy Lahiri Quotes From "The Mindy Project"

With Mindy as my comedy beacon, no day was too dark or indiscretion too embarrassing.

My love for all things Mindy Kaling was ridiculous not only for its depth but also because, by all rational accounts, I should hate her.

That bitch stole my life.

Seriously.

Mindy and I are roughly the same age, we grew up in roughly the same quaint New England town, we went to roughly the same college, we both moved into roughly the same tiny and overcrowded apartment in roughly the same Brooklyn neighborhood after graduation to chase our dreams, and we are both roughly obsessed with writing about the same things (pop culture, lip gloss, and methods for smuggling booze in our undergarments*).  But, yet, despite Mindy and I being roughly one and the same, she’s the star of her own comedy empire and I’m not even the star of my own living room.

WTF universe. WHAT.  THE.  F*CK.

But, for some reason, I loved Mindy despite her wronging me so hard.  Instead of wanting to cut her, I wanted to trade thoughts with her on the enigma that is the latest Kardashian holiday card.  I really thought that together we could unlock the secret to their power and stumble our way into the Illuminati.

Because I only had eyes for Mindy, I didn’t pay attention to the supporting characters on The Mindy Project (except for James Franco for the obvious reason).  Sure they were entertaining and had great comedic timing, but I wouldn’t have been heartbroken if any of them, like receptionist Shauna, were unceremoniously written off of the show.

But then, last week, everything changed.

Mindy and I are over.

Because this happened:

Your eyes are not deceiving you.  That was a perfect rendition of the PRECISE choreography from Aaliyah’s Try Again, which is, of course, one of the all-time greatest music videos EVER.

Screw diamonds, a recreation of a classic early 2000s music video is what a girl really wants.

I will never be the same again.

Dr. Danny Castellano has stolen my heart.

 

 

* Also, why is this not a real thing?  I need it and I need it now.