Stunted Adults

Welcome to Our So-Called Adulty Life


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.



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.


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.



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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


Good Friends Living Large In Texas Forever

Although its been years since it went off the air, I still cannot get over just how damn good Friday Night Lights is.

So damn good.

Good lord do I miss y'all.

Good lord do I miss y’all.

There are so many things that made that show amazing — the whisper yell, Coach Taylor’s pep talks, Landry’s surprising comedic flair, Tami Taylor’s hair — but one thing stands out.  The characters.  Friday Night Lights wasn’t a show about football.  It was a show about complicated people living in a seemingly simple place.

Indeed, these characters were so good, so damn good, that they did not disappear when network executives put an untimely end to their story.

Instead, much like the cast of the similarly phenomenal yet underrated Freaks and Geeks, the Friday Night Lights team has found a way to keep the story of their characters and the essence of Dillon, Texas alive despite having their show was taken away.

As Riggins predicted, they would all be “good friends living large in Texas forever.”


This kid always suits up and takes the field no matter what physical or mental illness he’s quietly battling.

For example, when we left Dillon, Luke Cafferty was on his way to the military.  When we pick up with him again he’s on Parenthood, which as you all know I love, as Sergeant Ryan York.  Luke/Ryan has completed two tours in Afghanistan with the United States Army.  We see how Luke/Ryan copes with the difficult aftermath of returning from war and how he has grown up to be a stronger and more confident person.  But, he’s still the same guy — seemingly simple on the surface but deeply complicated — and his love affair with Amber and mentor relationship with Zeek Braverman bring back his very best moments with his high school love Becky and with Coach Taylor. He’s still just a man desperately searching for his home.


Did you learn nothing from Riggins? Of course sleeping with Crosby is going to ruin everything!

When we last saw Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights, she had finally found a way to move on from Riggins and left for a bright future at Vanderbilt University.  She certainly put that educational opportunity to good use, because she came to Parenthood as Gaby Moss, a top-notch child behavioral therapist who worked with autistic children.  Lyla/Gabby is still sweet as can be, and you can tell she’s trying really hard to make the right choices.  But, she hasn’t been able to kick her bad habit of throwing all consequences to the wind after a few drinks and ending up in bed with the long-haired misunderstood bad boy.


One of these days, you’ll finally be able to move on from your past.

Post-high school Vince Howard is still wrestling with his demons.  Vince also came back to us on Parenthood where he’s Alex, a teenager with no family, a criminal record, and a battle with alcoholism.  Vince/Alex is still a great person at heart and he is still really, truly fighting to be better and make everyone proud.  But, he just can’t shake his penchant for self-destruction that remains both infuriating and endearing.  Just as with Jess on Friday Night Lights, Vince/Alex finds himself smart enough to fall for Haddie Braverman, a woman who is intelligent, ambitious, and fantastic, but he’s not smart enough to stop from sabotaging the entire relationship with a moment of sheer stupidity.  All you can do with Vince/Alex is keep rooting that next time around he’ll finally get it right, because he’s a kid who deserves to get it right.


Can we just elect Jess Merriweather as president already?

On the current season of Parenthood, we finally get to see what happened to Jess Merriweather.  Of course the girl who fought to be a football coach and not just a cheerleader watching from the sidelines turned out to be a bad ass fast talking campaign manager named Heather who got Obama elected and then swooped in to save Kristina Braverman’s mayoral campaign.  Jess/Heather’s domination of Vince Howard and Coach Taylor were just her warm-up for her future ability to use pure grit and ambition to get whatever she set her sights on.  No one puts Jess/Heather in the corner.

Beyond the Parenthood universe, two of my absolute Friday Night Lights favorites have also found a way to visit me every week.

New sunglasses, same exasperated look.

New sunglasses, same exasperated look.

Nashville has shown what Tami Taylor would do if she wasn’t a football coach’s wife who revolutionized education in small town Texas.  She would be Rayna James Country Music Superstar, obviously.  Have you seen that woman’s hair?  Have you seen her spunky attitude?  Have you seen that look she gets on her face when she’s been wronged and she is damn well going to do something about it?  Tami/Rayna was made to belt out songs about heartbreak and taking charge while strutting around in stilettos.  And, of course, she still makes time amongst all her taking names and kicking asses to help out any wayward girls who cross her path.  Juliette Barnes is totally her new Tyra Collette, right down to the troubled family, bad decisions about men, and surprising raw talent.


Every thought that Jason Street and George Tucker has is deep and meaningful.

One of my current CW guilty pleasures, Hart of Dixie, allows me to catch up with Jason Street, who now goes by George Tucker, but is the same old good guy who just wants to do right and make his small town better.  Street/Tucker is still prone to getting his heart broken by the small town’s Queen B with the important daddy and the perfect ponytail who inevitably cheats on him with his best friend.  Lemon Breeland is 2013’s Lila Garrity.  He also has not learned his lesson about the perils of befriending his small town’s local drunken and brooding loner who can’t get out of his own way.  Wade Kinsella is what happens when you make Tim Riggins tween-friendly.

I absolutely love that I know how all of these characters have evolved.  I love knowing that, when I turn off their latest television appearance, I’m not saying goodbye to them.  I know that they will always be back, and I can’t wait to see them again.

I’ve spent hours pondering how the Friday Night Lights characters have had such staying power.  Is it because Friday Night Lights and Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims hired actors who are actually, in real life, the very residents that he imagined inhabiting Dillon, Texas?  Or is it because those characters were just so damn good and complex that the actors and Katims are unwilling to let them go?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether its one or the other, or some magical combo platter of both.  All that matters is that this all exists.

Texas Forever.


Aerosmith Was Singing About Parenthood*

I love Parenthood even though it makes me cry every time I watch it.


Just looking at this makes my eyes well up.

Just looking at this makes my eyes well up.

For example, two weeks ago, I only made it 6 minutes and 40 seconds into the episode before I was bawling so hard that I was gasping for breath between snotty hiccups.  NOT EVEN SEVEN MINUTES in and I was inconsolable as a result of the look that Vietnam Vet Zeek Braverman gave to Sergeant Ryan York, his granddaughter’s off-again, on-again boyfriend, upon his return from a tour in Afghanistan.  In that one look was everything — relief, hope, happiness, fear, and understanding — that comes with the tangled mess that is returning home from war.

One look and I was out.

Y'all are lucky there was no video clip for this, because you would all be in danger of drowning in your own tears.

Y’all are lucky there was no video clip for this, because you would be in danger of waterboarding yourself with your own tears.

And that was not an isolated incident.  When it comes to ripping the emotions out of my cold little heart, Parenthood is a damn pro.

Take last season as another example.  Parenthood focused largely on the story of Kristina Braverman, the mother of three children ranging in age from 18 years to 18 months, who abruptly found herself battling breast cancer.  As she lay recovering from a surgery that would reveal her chances of survival, the following scene unfolded (get your tissues at the ready):

Take a couple of deep breaths and just let the tears wash over you.  Trying to fight them after that is useless.

But, Parenthood isn’t just a somber sob-fest.  The magic in it is that it deftly mixes humor with completely raw emotion.  The show understands that life is the most comedic tragedy ever written.

A clip from last night’s episode illustrates perfectly Parenthood‘s mastery of the happy cry.  Sarah’s and Amber’s discussion about her unexpected wedding to Ryan was that perfect mix of comedic moments — “I was wearing a tragic skort” — and feeling so powerful that there are no words for it — that poignant look shared between the incomparable Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman when Sarah says that she wants to give Amber the wedding of her dreams.

Happy or sad.  Good or bad.  Parenthood brings on the waterworks.  After last year’s season finale — where Jasmine married Crosby while a choir sang Make You Feel My Love (Download that song immediately.  You won’t regret it.  TRUST.) — I actually contemplated whether it was possible to die from tear-induced dehydration.  That’s how aggressive my crying was.

Country Boy is completely perplexed by my addiction to Parenthood.  He recognizes that it’s a well-written show with a cast composed of some of my all-time favorite television actors.  Where else can you find Coach Hayden Fox, Lorelei Gilmore, Nate Fisher, Ann Veal, Luke Cafferty, and Jess Merriweather all in the same hour?  It is simply glorious to have them all back in my life again.

However, despite acknowledging the amazing cast chock full of my best television friends, Country Boy doesn’t get why I would willingly watch something that makes me so emotionally overwhelmed.  He wonders why I would watch a show that so completely spends me that I often fall asleep on the couch in a crumpled heap the minute it’s over.

But, here’s the thing.

All that crying is actually amazing.  It’s cathartic.  It’s cleansing.  And, it heals me.

Watching Parenthood in the safety of my own home allows me to finally let my own guard down.  It lets me feel something about a fictional family that I won’t let myself feel about my own family.

I cry about Kristina’s illness because I can’t cry about my own family’s medical battles.

I cry about Sarah’s struggle to let go of her selfish addict ex-husband because I can’t cry about the bad relationships that are plaguing some of the people who I love the most.

I cry about Crosby’s and Jasmine’s wedding because I can’t cry about the tidal wave of emotions that are hitting me as both of my younger brothers get married this year.

I cry about Zeek and Camille’s struggles to start Act III of their lives together, because I can’t cry about my parents having two very different ideas of how to spend their golden years and that they don’t seem capable of reaching an agreement.

I cry about Ryan’s struggles to return home from Afghanistan, because I can’t cry about the overwhelming worry I have for my veteran family and friends even once they are home safely.

I cry about the love and loss shared between the Bravermans, because I can’t cry about my fear that I will be utterly lost without my family and that I can’t prevent them from one day being taken away.

I cry about all of the meaning in the moments of silence shared by the Bravermans, because most of our family interactions occur in those moments between the words.  Those moments when we are trying to find the words and take in everything that is happening around us.  When we are grasping to accept the change that occurs as we all grow even though everyone wants every moment to last just a little bit longer.  I feel those moments all of the time, but I just push them down because I don’t want to be the one who falls apart.

In sum, I love Parenthood because it lets me feel ALL of my feelings without having to explain them.  Or justify them.  Or feel like I should be stronger than I am.  Or worry that everyone in my family will think I am a crazy, emotional wreck.  When Parenthood is on, I can just point at the screen, shrug, and bawl away, because I’m crying about someone else.

So, thank you Parenthood, because there really is nothing better than a good cry, especially one that you didn’t know you needed.

* Oh Bravermans, I’ve been cryin’ since I met you.


The Jackson 5 Were Singing About the New Season of The Voice*

For the first three seasons of The Voice, I was a die hard fan.  I freaking loved that show.

And not just because of this dude, although, let's be honest, it didn't hurt.

And, not just because of this dude.  Although, let’s be honest, it didn’t hurt.

I loved that show so much that I actually voted for my favorite contestants.  I NEVER do that.  Indeed, despite my love of all things reality TV, I have never voted for any contestants on any show other than The Voice,  not even for So You Think You Can Dance, which, as you all know, is one of the great loves of my life.

Seriously, I never voted for Twitch yet I regularly and fervently called in for Vicci Martinez, Juliet Simms, and Casadee Pope.  What can I say, I love me a good rock and roll diva.  Also, the coaches on The Voice were so amped up about their singers that I felt compelled to help a sister out.

If someone can motivate me to actually participate in anything, they are damn good.

I was convinced that I loved The Voice this deeply for three reasons.

The first reason is the legitimately talented contestants.  Let’s be honest, all of these cats are WAY too talented to be reality television competitors.  But, yet, somehow, there they were chilling with Carson Daly.

How can you argue with a show where this happened?

You can’t.

The second reason is Blake Shelton’s charm.  I know he can be a little much with all that Oklahoma and Miranda and aww shucks accent, but I am totally a sucker for it.  How do you think Country Boy conned me into marrying him?

You will always be a tall glass of water on a hot day to me.  And, apparently, also to Cee Lo.

You will always be a tall glass of water on a hot day to me.  And, apparently, also to Cee Lo.

The third reason, of course, is Adam Levine.  Every Victoria’s Secret model lines up to date this guy, and I don’t think it’s for his sparkling conversational skills.

Please and thank you.

Please and thank you.

During the first three seasons of The Voice, I often rolled my eyes at Christina Aguilera’s aggressive cleavage and diva antics, especially her weird feud with former Mickey Mouse Club cohort Tony Lucca.  I had a similar bare tolerance for Cee Lo Green.  While I did love Puurfect the cat, I often didn’t get Cee Lo’s musical choices and generally found his chill demeanor a bit of an energy buzz kill.

I mean, really Cee Lo, you were responsible for this atrocity against music:


That was more offensive than your weird head tattoo this season.  It’s henna right? Please say it’s so, Cee Lo, please.

By the time Season Three ended, I was over both Christina and Cee Lo.  I didn’t necessarily get what they added to the mix other than maybe a little sass and a little quirk.


You two were the anchovies in the Caesar dressing. No one would miss you when you were gone.


On Season 4 of The Voice, Christina and Cee Lo both went on hiatus to work on their albums.  While I’m neither a big Shakira nor Usher fan, I wasn’t upset to see them added to the line up.  I figured that the replacements would have little effect since the crazy talent, Blake, and Adam were the core of the show’s success and Christina and Cee Lo were just fillers.

I repeat, I WAS SO WRONG.

I tried hard to watch Season 4.  I really did.  I loved Michelle Chamuel and wanted to see her through the season.  But I just couldn’t.  The magic was gone for me and I stopped watching The Voice less than halfway through last season.  I even found Blake and Adam to be utterly unbearable.

Your hips may not lie, but they didn't make me want to watch The Voice.

Your hips may not lie, but they didn’t make me want to watch The Voice.

That’s right, I stopped watching Adam Levine smile and beg people to choose him while wearing a tight shirt.  That is how bad things got.

When I saw this season’s premiere of The Voice appear in my DVR last week, I wasn’t sure if I was going to watch it.  That first night, I didn’t.  But, a few nights later, Country Boy was working late and The Voice was the only show in the DVR that I knew that I could watch without him without risking bodily harm.

So, I took a big gulp of wine and fired it up.


The talent was AMAZING and having Christina and Cee Lo back in the mix changed everything.  The show was fun, snappy, and entertaining again.  Everyone’s personality was on full display in the best possible way.  At the end of the two hours, my face hurt from smiling so big.

Also, Christina and Cee Lo are hilarious.  How did I miss that before?  And Christina’s little black fan is definitely the new accessory that I need to rock immediately.

Turns out you are the cheese in this macaroni.

Turns out you two are the cheese in this macaroni, not the anchovies in the Caesar.

In fact, The Voice Classic Edition Revisited was so good that I wasn’t even annoyed with Carson Daly, which is saying a lot because that Jennifer Love Hewitt reject is objectively and undisputedly annoying, especially when he’s subtly trying to work multiple product placements into every segment (we see you Kia and Starbucks).

Beyond the lovable coaching crew, Season Five is amazing for another reason.

And that reason is named Tessanne Chin.


I’m calling it right now.  Tessanne is going to dominate this season and we are all going to fall madly in love with her.  She will be The Voice‘s Kelly Clarkson. Mark my words (which are in no way identical to what I said about Juliet “who??” Simms a few years ago).

Christina and Cee Lo, let me tell ya now, I was blind to let you go.  You two are the secret ingredients that make The Voice the addicting television confection that it is, and I want you back.

No, I want you!

No, I want you!

*  Oh Michael, you always know just what to say in any situation.


Stunted Conversations: Just Call Me Dr. PinotNinja Because Seth Cohen Is Canada

Thanks to the following interaction with ErinGoBrawl, I have finally figured out my calling in life.

PinotNinja:  I have only just started reading Vulture’s List of 100 Pop Culture Things That Make You A Millenial, but it is SO RIGHT.

ErinGoBrawl: Although I seriously love this list: (1) I’m a 1979 baby and (2) I seriously refuse to be lumped in with the Millenial generation because, with the exception of this list, they are identified as everything entitled and over-privileged in this world. Though under some definitions I think we are called Gen X, we are also firmly in Gen Y. But damnit, I do love this list. LOVE IT.  I mean, it’s like they took everything that I love unabashedly and plopped it in a list – “the baby sounds” in Aaliyah’s song.  Yes. Perfect. Please.  Damnit, Millenials.

PinotNinja:  I don’t think we can fight it much longer.  This is our generation and everything that we love, even if we hate them.  I suppose this all makes sense. We did hate basically everyone in high school and college and have managed to stick with mostly the same group of friends for the past 15 years. That is what any good self-loathing millenial would do.

It’s not like Summer Roberts or Blair Waldorf ever made new friends or liked anyone (except for Summer and Che, but Che was actually Andy from Parks & Rec, so who could blame her because I TOTALLY want to be friends with Andy and April, even though April TOTALLY would not have me as her friend. But then one time she would sing Time After Time with me and it would be amazing and all TOTALLY worth it).

ErinGoBrawl: I can’t even breathe I am laughing so hard at your parenthetical below. YOU ARE AMAZING.

PinotNinja: If only I could get a PhD in Josh Schwartz soaps with a concentration in NBC comedies. I would clean up in that program.

ErinGoBrawl: Have you heard of Anne Helen Petersen? That’s actually what she does! She’s a professor.


I can actually get a PhD in Josh Schwartz soaps with a concentration in NBC comedies?!

Chris Pratt, you are my string theory.

Chris Pratt, you are my string theory.

Best. News. Ever.

Since that moment, the little hamster in the wheel inside my brain has gone on a Jesse Spano style caffeine pill binge and I have not been able to stop thinking about my future career in academia.

I’ve even started my dissertation: The OC was actually an Animal Farm-esque satire of the international political climate in the early 2000s.

The beautiful faces are deep metaphors about international political instability.  Really.  I promise.

The beautiful faces are deep metaphors about international political instability. Really. I promise.


Just hear me out.

Seth Cohen is Canada, Ryan Atwood is the United States, and Marissa Cooper may be Saudi Arabia (that part of the theory needs some work).

You see, Canada is the nice funny guy who for some reason is friends with the guy who beats everyone up. He’s the Seth Cohen to the United States’ Ryan Atwood in season one.

Seth always has Ryan’s back, like Canada usually followed United States foreign policy at that time, but he’s also the first to pull the victim country aside and apologize, to say he didn’t know what came over his friend, and to say that he would do his best to keep it from happening again, which is much like Canada’s diplomatic policy regarding the war in Iraq. Seth never has a problem talking a little shit about Ryan and his tendency to be too aggressive with his fists, love of leather wristbands, and his inability to have a functional relationship with any other kids at school, but he never really says it to Ryan.

Seth/Canada keeps its mouth relatively shut, because Seth/Canada knows that without Ryan/the United States he’s just some kid who no one pays attention to because he eats lunch all the way over on this side of the world. On his own, Seth couldn’t even get Summer to look at him, but, with Ryan, the guy is a babe magnet who has to choose between two girls on Chrismakkuh. Like it or not, Canada needs the United States to get anyone to pay attention to this side of the world, but that doesn’t mean it can’t apologize for its behavior and be a little defiant, as long as it’s not too defiant (see Seth telling Ryan that beating up various people is a bad idea, but not going as far as to physically stop him from doing it).

In addition, Seth loves shuffleboard and Canada loves curling. Both are games that involve using a broom-like object to slide a puck down an alley drawn on the ground.

Totally the same thing.

Totally the same thing.

Seth has an irresistible but dorky affinity for comic books. Canada has an irresistible but dorky affinity for “artists” who have the goal of taking over the world with their musical stylings through their superpower of belting out ballads while wearing odd spandex-laden costumes.  Sounds kinda like a comic book to me.

That number was made for ComicCon.

That number was made for ComicCon.

And, Seth loves the cold weather. Canada is cold.

Ipso facto, Cohen is Canada.  Canada is Cohen.

As is noted above, Ryan Atwood is the United States.  My Marissa being Saudi Arabia theory is still in the works, but here’s what I’m thinking. The United States and Saudi Arabia really shouldn’t be friends, because of pesky little things like September 11th and human rights.  Similarly, Ryan and Marissa really should have broken up long before they did, because of pesky little things like Oliver, overdosing in an alleyway in Tijuana, Volchuk, and generally being a hot mess.  But, yet the United States and Saudi Arabia share a tie that binds (oil), much like Ryan and Marissa do (teenage hormones).

The poster child for investing in green energy.

The poster child for investing in green energy.

That Josh Schwartz, such a fucking genius.


Who Ever Would Have Thought That I Need To Be More Like a 13 Year Old Girl?

As I was watching last night’s Emmy Awards red carpet coverage, one celebrity caught me eye.

Nailed it!

Nailed it!

When Kiernan Shipka came floating across my screen in that classy, elegant, and timeless ensemble, I put down my plastic tumbler of wine and took note.

She was effortlessly chic.  Everything about her was impeccable, particularly those shoes, yet it looked like she just threw on the dress and stepped out the door.  No overdone hair or garish make-up here (take note Anna Faris).

If there ever was an easy, breezy, beautiful Cover Girl moment, this was it.

I realized, as I looked down at my ratty flip flops and the hole in my 15-year-old jeans, that it might be advisable for me to focus more on my sartorial skills.

I need to be more like Kiernan.

That lady is always a class act.

Nailed it! Again!

Nailed it! Again!

And again!

And again!

In addition, Kiernan is always classy, gracious, and well spoken.

I remembered seeing her on an episode of Inside of the Actor’s Studio, where she calmly and effortlessly slipped off her shoes and did a brief yet elegant ballet demonstration for James Lipton without the slightest bit of nerves.

I realized, as I looked down at the giant bruise on my thigh from where I ran into the coffee table (visible through the giant hole in my jeans) and recalled my bidet-related shenanigans of last weekend, that it might be advisable for me to focus more on my grace and poise.

I need to be more like Kiernan.

Then I realized something else.

Kiernan is 13 years old.



And she is more put together than I am.


Of course she is.