Stunted Adults

Welcome to Our So-Called Adulty Life


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12 People, 8 Lobsters, 1 Mission: A Holiday Travel Saga

As we stare down the busiest travel day of the year and a major storm in the Northeast, I am brought back to Christmas 2004.

This was the first holiday season that Country Boy and I were engaged, and we decided to split Christmas between our families.  We drove from our apartment in Boston to Connecticut to spend December 23rd and the first half of Christmas Eve with my family before heading back to Boston to catch a flight to Indiana to make it to Christmas Eve dinner with Country Boy’s family.

As our gift for Country Boy’s family, we were bringing them a traditional New England Christmas Eve dinner to go with their new New England family member.  So, after we cleared security at Logan International Airport, we headed to an in-airport seafood outpost to pick up our pre-ordered and pre-packed 8 live lobsters.

Everyone was tucked in tight on Christmas Eve night.

Twas the night before Christmas, and the lobsters were nestled all snug in their dry ice beds.

The lobsters, Country Boy and I arrived at the gate and  patiently waited.  We watched our plane pull up to the gate and we got ready to board.  We thought that we would be in the air and on our way in a matter of moments.

That did not happen.

Instead, over an hour later, US Airways cancelled our flight on account of “weather” and re-booked all of us on a 6 am flight the next morning.  While in the re-booking line, we met a band of 10 kids in their mid-20s who were also trying to make it home for the holidays.  They, strangers until that afternoon, had started out in New York City with tickets on a direct flight to Indianapolis, but, after having that flight cancelled, they flew to Boston in the hopes of catching our later flight to Indianapolis.

With our rebooked tickets in hand, Country Boy and I bid adieu to our new friends and hopped the subway back to our apartment.

We all reconvened at 5 am at Logan.  Country Boy and I had eaten absolutely horrific take out and stayed up all night keeping our lobsters alive.  Our NYC-based friends had stumbled upon a disco-themed Jewish singles mixer and were still covered in glitter.  We were all in kind of a weird place, but it was Christmas morning and we were going home.  Everything was going to be all right.

The gate for our flight was crawling with exhausted people.  The time for boarding passed, yet there was no US Airways agent at the gate.  We could see our plane.  Were we just supposed to seat ourselves?  The tension in the air was palpable.

It looked a lot like this.

It looked a lot like this.

Finally, a lone agent approached the gate.  She grabbed the microphone and said “Your flight has been cancelled.  There are no more available flights today.  No one will be rerouted.  Please go home.”  And then she dropped the mic, literally, and ran away, again literally.

The gate erupted into pandemonium.

Through the chaos Country Boy, the lobsters, and I pushed our way to our NYC-based compadres.  The 12 of us huddled together and instantly unionized.  The Indy Bound Crew was born.

WE WERE GETTING OUT.

One dude, who had no luggage, sprinted for the empty desk at a nearby gate and picked up the magical red telephone.  The rest of us spread around the periphery and kept watch while he worked the phone.  He quickly convinced someone at US Airways that he was a gate agent who needed to rebook passengers, and we then passed the phone around and rebooked ourselves on an American Airlines flight that was leaving for Chicago.  From there, we would hop on another American Airlines flight to Indianapolis.  As this was going down, an actual US Airways gate agent approached our stronghold.  We locked eyes.  I stared.  He turned and ran.

khaleesi

I was the Khaleesi of that gate.

We had 30 minutes to make our new flight.

All 12 of us ran across the airport towards the American Airlines terminal, with the lobsters and luggage in tow.  We set pick and rolls.  We hurdled luggage and small children. No one was left behind.

We had 25 minutes.

We came sliding up to the American Airlines ticket counter to retrieve our new boarding passes.  It was mobbed with angry and exhausted travelers.  The line was easily 350 people deep.

But, WE WERE GETTING OUT.

We stood at the side of the ticket counter, scouting for an open representative.  As soon as someone came available, the luggage-less dude sprinted to the counter.  Before she could point out the line, we swarmed her.  We told her what happened.  She told us that, before she could process us, we had to get a vouchers for boarding passes from US Airways.

WHAT?!

But, we would not be stopped because WE WERE GETTING OUT.

We had 22 minutes.

We took off sprinting back across the entire airport, with the lobsters and luggage in tow.

We had 17 minutes.

We came skidding up to the US Airways ticket counter.  The line there was at least 475 angry and exhausted people deep.  We cut them all without looking back.  We swarmed, scared the hell out of the ticket agent, and managed to procure 12 vouchers for flights to Indianapolis on American Airlines.

We raced back across the airport for a third time in less than 15 minutes, with the lobsters and luggage in tow.

We had 13 minutes.

We yet again cut the entire line at the American Airlines ticket counter and procured our boarding passes.  We were on our way!

We had 11 minutes.

We hit the security line.  It was wall of people.

But, WE WERE GETTING OUT.

We made like the Mighty Ducks, got into a V, and pushed our way up the side lane for flight crews to the front of the security line.

quack, quack, Quack, QUACK!

quack, quack, quack, QUACK!

After sending the luggage-less dude first to hold the plane, we all scrambled through security before the mob behind us could find their pitchforks and torches.

We had 6 minutes.

We took off in a full sprint towards the gate.  I yelled at the slower members of our team as if I was Bobby Knight pre-anger management treatment.  There was no option but to hustle.

LET'S GO [TO] INDIANA!

LET’S GO [TO] INDIANA! NOW!!

We had 2 minutes.

We raced up to the gate to find luggage-less dude in a full-scale filibuster.  He was standing in the plane door, singing Christmas carols, and refusing to move until every last one of us was present and accounted for.

We took roll call, we high fived, and we boarded our plane.

WE WERE GETTING OUT.

We taxied out from the gate.  And then we sat.  And we sat.  AND WE SAT.

We watched the clock tick away our 40-minute layover in Chicago.  This couldn’t be.  THIS COULD NOT BE.

All of this to just end up stranded in Chicago on Christmas morning?

Finally, we took off.  As we approached Chicago, we realized that we would have less than 10 minutes to make our flight to Indianapolis.

We came up with a plan.  Luggage-less dude would hold the next plane.  To make sure he was the first person off of our current plane, the rest of us would use our luggage to block anyone else from getting into the aisle.  Once he cleared the gauntlet, then we would take off running behind him.

We landed and put the plan into action.

After the luggage-less dude cleared the jetway, we had 6 minutes to make our connecting flight.

We sprinted across Chicago O’Hare airport, with the lobsters and luggage in tow.

We had 2 minutes.

We raced up to the plane and, yet again, luggage-less dude was staging a filibuster for the ages.

We had 1 minute.

We took roll call, we high fived, and we boarded our plane to Indianapolis.  Upon take off, we erupted into cheers and tears while the flight attendant passed us free mimosas.

After 18 hours, the Indy Bound Crew was finally on its way home, 12 people and 8 live lobsters strong.

WE GOT OUT.

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Bonjour, mon amour.

I just returned from a two-week work trip in Paris. Well-timed, I might add, to coincide with Paris Fashion Week. I had the extreme pleasure of dragging my ass up and down the streets of Paris in ill-fitting suits and uncontrollable bed-head alongside women like these:

I just can't compete.

I just can’t compete in my polyester suits.

So, thanks Paris!

I love travel and don’t do enough of it, but in my line of work, there is no such thing as travel in the traditional sense. I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit some very cool places, but only able to see the sights contained within my hotel and conference room. I pretty much only have my passport stamps as proof that I’ve “been there, done that.”

Now, PN is an expert in all things Paris and had a lovely list of recommendations for me – all of which are still languishing in my inbox. You see, I worked 20 hours a day (roughly) and had no time for things like cafes and runs along the Seine. So although it was super cool to take up a two-week residence in Paris (PARIS!), I didn’t have an opportunity to fall in love with the city. I knew the cafe on the corner for a quick bite to eat, the security guard at our office space, and to always watch your step on the streets of Paris. Nothing fancy, nothing remarkable… until one evening late into my trip.

All I wanted to do was to avoid this.

All I wanted to do was to avoid this.

It was 3 am and my team was hungry. It had been a long day and it was stretching out before us into a long morning. I was lucky to be working with two Parisians who knew a great spot to grab a late night meal. Before we trekked over to the restaurant, one of them grabbed my hand and squeezed it tight before she whispered: “aligot.” Then she danced off down the street in her Chanel shoes (seriously, Parisiennes are remarkably well-dressed…).

At the time I was delirious and starving, so I simply smiled and laughed figuring that “aligot” was a French word that I missed in my last-ditch attempts to learn important French phrases. I sighed at my less than amazing handbag and footwear and hurried to follow her into the dark streets.

We sat down and I was immediately told to order aligot, no matter what I wanted for dinner. I sounded out the word to our waiter who laughed at my Americanness, but dutifully scribbled down my order of “meat and something called al-ee-go.”

When it arrived, my life changed forever.

Hello, lover.

That is sexy.

It’s like fondue and mashed potatoes made sweet, sweet love and created the world’s perfect food. It’s cheesy, it’s starchy. It’s heaven.

I nearly licked my plate clean. And it was from that moment on that I could say that I truly, madly and deeply loved Paris.

I have several tales of my French experiences (including when a group of amazing, leggy models and I joined forces in Charles de Gaulle to start a near riot at the Air France check in… another story for another day – just me and some models), but none of them will ever compare to the instant connection I felt with aligot.

I always expected that I’d fall in love with a starch/dairy combination. Who knew that he’d have a French accent to boot?


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The Bachelorette and the Bidet — A Modern Fable of Friendship

Once upon a time [last weekend], eleven women in their 30s and 40s, many of them mothers and all of them professionals [my friends], gathered in an idyllic beach house [my aunt’s] to celebrate the impending marriage of one of their own.

Because the beach house belongs to one of my relatives, I was the de facto organizer of the weekend.  Given our ages and stations in life, I figured that it would be a fun albeit relaxed weekend full of spa treatments, nice dinners, maybe some light dance partying, and perhaps a smidge too much champagne. It would be nothing like the raucous and out of control girls weekends that we shared while we were in our 20s.

There would be no strip beer pong after a night of fancy wine tasting.

We were classy adult ladies now.

Lady Grantham would approve.

Lady Grantham would approve.

I had no concerns whatsoever about hosting this crew at my aunt’s amazing and pristine vacation home or taking them out to my favorite spots.

And, for the first 36 hours, we kept everything classy or at least classy lite.  On Friday, we relaxed on the beach, we went for a dip in the pool, we drank fine wines and champagne, we cooked a nice dinner together, we had a dance party that favored Michael Jackson and Madonna, we told funny stories, and we all put ourselves to bed at a reasonable hour.  On Saturday, some of us went for a run, we had a little breakfast wine, and then we spent the day at a luxurious spa where we didn’t get kicked out or reprimanded, even when we mistook the fountain for a dipping pool and hopped in to cool off.  We were so smooth and elegant that the spa employees just assumed that they had been the mistaken ones and that their belief that the water feature was a fountain was wrong.

But then the lipstick started to come off the pig.

By the time we got into the cabs to go to dinner on Saturday night, everything got a little hazy.  I think that the restaurant appreciated our fun-loving and effervescent spirit since they sent over multiple rounds of complimentary shots, but we also sent several nearby diners fleeing the joint with horrified looks on their faces.  From there, we stumbled into more drinks, and dancing, and then more drinks, and then more dancing.

The good old days were starting to come back.

Long past all of our bedtimes, we stumbled back to the beach house with everyone miraculously accounted for.  After some late night binge eating, we crawled into our beds and passed out.  My last thought as I drifted off to sleep was that I was really proud of us for all making it home without anyone getting lost, losing her purse, getting into a fight,  crying, or vomiting.  That never would have happened in our 20s.  We had done good.

If we weren’t classy, we were at least classy-adjacent.

I woke up on Sunday morning to the smell of coffee and the happy chatter of my friends in the kitchen.

I swelled with pride thinking about what lovely and responsible people we had grown into.

I was a little bleary eyed, but managed to stumble out of bed and into the master bathroom to brush my teeth before joining the others.

When I went into the bathroom, it smelled a little rough.  I thought to myself “DAMN!  Someone dropped a bomb in here!”  I opened the window and grabbed my toothbrush.  As I was brushing my teeth, I woke up a little and then something caught my eye in the mirror.

I dropped my toothbrush in the sink.

My eyes grew wide.

I was afraid to turn around.

Oh Alan, I totally feel you brother.

Oh Alan, I totally feel you brother.

I took a deep breath.

I closed my eyes.

I counted to five.

I turned around.

I saw what I thought I had seen.

SOMEONE SHIT IN THE BIDET.

bridesmaids

Who let Melissa McCarthy in last night?

I just couldn’t.

I walked out of the bathroom and out into the hallway in a daze.

I took back every thought I had about us being classy.  We were not even klassy.  We were feral animals.

I ran into some of my friends in the hallway.  I was speechless as they asked me if I was okay.

They assumed that I was hungover and started making offerings of Excedrin and water.

That was NOT my problem.

Finally, I managed to mutter: “Make it go away.”

They still thought I was talking about a headache and pressed the Excedrin.

I pulled my words together and said ” Just go in there and look in the bidet and MAKE. IT. GO. AWAY.”  And, with that, I just keep on walking down the hallway and right out of the house in my pajamas.

PinotNinja Out.

Although no one knew who committed the bidet blunder, my friends all pulled together in my time of need.  No one said “it wasn’t me” and walked away.  No one seriously accused anyone else of being the secret shitter.  No one feigned illness to get out of helping.  Instead, while I was outside having a mini-meltdown over the fact that someone had defiled the bidet of my aunt’s fancy home, they worked together to immediately remove the offending item and bleach and scrub the bathroom within an inch of its life.  That bidet had never been more sparkling.

If that’s not classy, then I don’t know what is.

You know what those little embroidered pillows should say?  A true friend is someone who will clean the shit out of your aunt’s bidet even if she doesn’t remember if it’s her shit.

That’s definitely what Dionne, Whitney, Stevie, and Luther were singing about.


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How to Get Out of a Speeding Ticket Without Really Trying

Some (but not many, because let’s not get crazy here) moons ago, I was a student at a university whose location is most aptly described as centrally isolated.  This Shangri-La of Learning managed to be equally far from everywhere and equally close to nowhere.  There was no major airport, no nearby interstate, and certainly no trains.

In other words, there was only one way out of dodge, and it wasn’t pretty.

At the end of every semester, I had to pack up my not-exactly-trusty old Volvo station wagon, aptly nicknamed the Battle Wagon, and drive 7 hours to my parents’ house on two-lane roads after my last exam.  Yes.  That’s right.  Seven hours on windy 45 MPH speed limit country lanes despite having to cross through THREE STATES to make the journey.

It was ridiculous.  It was heinous.  It was an atrocity.  And, if you for one second think that seven hours alone on a country lane is a charming idea, you are sorely mistaken.  This wasn’t the English countryside in a jaunty little roadster.  Oh no.  This was Deliverance country at night in the Battle Wagon in the dead of winter.

Not the scenic journey you imagined, was it?

Not the scenic journey you imagined, was it?

One December, I had to make that journey immediately after finishing a grueling history exam.  I was exhausted, and, by the time I finished the test at 4 pm, it was already pitch dark outside.

I did a considerable amount of whining to the guy I was dating about the fact that I had to drive seven hours alone in dark, windy, and icy conditions to get home.  Whatever the opposite of being a trooper is, that was how I was behaving.

Not me.

Not me.

Once I had amassed an arsenal of Ani DiFranco CDs (it was 1999), coffee, and gummy candy (because exam taking = sugar rewards), I called the boyfriend to let him know that I was leaving.  He came over to my apartment to say goodbye until January, and, as I was hopping in the Battle Wagon after once more tearfully lamenting my travel fate, he produced something out of his backpack.

A little stuffed rabbit.

He buckled the rabbit into the front seat of my car and told me that everything was going to be okay because I had a friend to keep me company.

Welcome aboard pal.

Welcome aboard pal.

We laughed and I pulled away.

I promptly forgot about the rabbit.  There were gummy peaches to binge eat and songs about tiny plastic castles to belt.

I was driving through the most rural part of my trip and hadn’t seen another car or soul in many an hour when the glare of flashing lights hit my rear view mirror.

Shit.

Shit.

I looked down at my speedometer.  I was doing 60 MPH in a 45 MPH zone.

Shit.

What is it with me and having the worst luck with cops?

I pulled over and awaited my fate.  I was contemplating whether to play the “I’m an exhausted college student just trying to get home” card or the “I’m young and innocent and look at this adorable smile” card when there was a knock on my window.

An older officer looked down at me, gave me a warm grandfatherly smile, and motioned for me to open the window.  The “I’m young and innocent” card it was.

Mr. Officer, in a very sweet tone, said: “You were going a little faster than we like to go around these parts young lady.  Can I see your license….”

Then there was a long pause.

Mr Officer’s demeanor took a sharp turn for the stern and he barked “Out of the car, now!”

Me: “Ummm…Okay?  Can I just grab my gloves? It’s really cold out there.”

Mr. Officer: “No.  Out.  Now.”

Me (completely afraid since I was 19, had never been pulled over, and was in the middle of nowhere): “Yes sir.”

Mr. Officer than had me walk in a straight line.  He had me touch my finger to my nose while standing on one foot.  He had me recite the alphabet backwards.  He shined his flashlight in my eyes, nearly blinding me.  He definitely sniffed me.

Finally, he said: “Have you been doing any of the drugs?”  Seriously, “the drugs.”

Me: “No sir.  I just took an exam a couple of hours ago, had a cup of coffee, and then started driving home.  I’m a little tired from studying, but I’m definitely not on anything.  I promise.”

There was a LONG pause while he squinted at me, sniffed again, and kept looking over my shoulder into my car behind me.

What was going on? All that was in there was a bag of gummy peaches.  Did he think that they were some kind of new hallucinogen?

All the kids are doing it.

All the kids are doing it.

Finally, Mr. Officer took a very deep breath and he asked: “Well, if you’re not on the drugs, why is there a stuffed animal buckled into the passenger seat?”

That’s when I remembered my furry little friend.

Shit.

My only option was to commit.  The time had come to go big.

I responded: “Oh, that’s just Bunny.  She’s my co-pilot.”

I stared him down with a straight face.

Mr. Officer then rubbed his eyes, walked back to his car without another word or issuing me a speeding ticket, and just drove off.

He obviously knew better than to tangle with Bunny and PinotNinja on the open road.

Or, he thought he was the one having the hallucination.

Either way, Bunny and I sped off into the night unscathed and undeterred to continue our outlaw ways.

Bunny, no matter what happens, I'm glad I came with you.

Bunny, no matter what happens, I’m glad I came with you.


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Death by Deer: A Tale in which I Save My Husband’s Life and He Doesn’t Appreciate It

A few years ago, my husband and I went hiking in Yosemite National Park.

Everything was glorious.

Yosemite

What could ever go wrong here?

We were just happily traipsing along in the woods when, suddenly, danger struck.

Deer 1

Danger! Striking!

I froze.

My husband, however, continued to move towards that wild beast with his camera at the ready.

Deer 2

Work it girl!

Panic filled my entire being.

I had no choice but to whisper “psssst!” at him with a tone of dire urgency.

He did not respond.

Deer 3

He just kept on taking pictures

Terror filled my entire being.

I whisper-pssted louder.

He did not respond.

I channeled my inner Tami Taylor and whisper yelled: “Get over here!”

He gave me an annoyed look and continued creeping towards the ferocious beast.

I was then faced with an existential crisis.

I had said more times than I could count that I loved my husband so much that I would do anything for him.  During drunken karaoke, I had publicly proclaimed that I would catch a grenade for him.


But I had never had to deliver on that promise.

Until now.

I had to decide whether I would take a charging deer hoof to the jugular for him.  I broke out into a cold sweat.  I frantically pondered what kind of person I wanted to be.  I imagined my life without him.  I imagined what death-by-deer felt like.  I imagined death.

Before I knew it, I was racing towards my husband.  I grabbed him and yanked him away from the deer.

After about one minute of that show, my husband wrenched himself free and asked: “What is wrong with you?”

I explained, triumphantly: “I saved your life!  I sacrificed myself to save your life! I caught a grenade for you!”

He responded: “I repeat, what is wrong with you?”

I said: “I repeat, I saved your life!”

He scoffed: “From what?  The wonder of nature?”

I responded, now questioning his mental capacity: “No!  From the deer!  Did you not see them?  You were going to die!”

He questioned: “Yet again, what is wrong with you?”

I exclaimed: “What is wrong with me?!  What is wrong with you?!  The deer was going to attack you! When deer see people they charge towards them and trample them!  You should never be outside with deer!  How do you not know that?  Didn’t you grow up in the country?”

He, between fits of laughter, exclaimed: “That would be amazing!  If deer ran after you, that would make hunting so much easier.  I could just go stand in the woods, give a yell, and we would have venison for dinner every night.  Deer!  Here deer!  Come on over tasty little deer!  Where did you get that idea from?”

I self-righteously lectured:  “From my mother.  All growing up she told me that I couldn’t play outside in the yard any time there might be deer around because they would attack and kill me.  It’s real.  First, they look at you, then they charge…”

Suddenly, all the pieces came together.

Deer do not attack and kill people.  My mother just didn’t want to go outside 20 times a day with her 3 rowdy children, so she told us the tale of the killer deer.  Once that tale of horror was seared into our little brains, she could shut down our never-ending whining about wanting to go outside when she was in the middle of something with a simple “not now, I just saw some deer.”

She probably assumed that her children were intelligent enough to figure out that the killer deer was a Santa Claus style farce by the time they reached double digits in age.   That was a highly inaccurate assumption.

I still get credit for catching a grenade for my husband, right?


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Nevermind the Weird Old Lady from a Flyover State

Recently I spent two fast-paced days in lovely New York City for a work conference. I planned this trip some months back and then spent every day leading up the event thinking about my glorious Single Gal in the City trip (ignoring that full days would be dedicated to sitting in a cold, unfriendly conference room learning things).

I imagined a triumphant return to the city – I’d be fashionable, hit up some choice rooftop bars, drink cutting edge cocktails, stroll the Village window shopping, and just generally be fabulous.  You know, like I used to do.

So, how did I end up in extreme hangover pain after being the solo, unkempt old lady at the hotel bar sipping on a glass of overpriced red wine while being openly made fun of by NYU MBA students? When asked, I told them that I was a [professional], but I’m pretty sure they were all thinking “Yeah, that’s what all the homeless ladies around here say.” Touché.

I totally overestimated my abilities and apparently forgot that I’m not the same kid I used to be.

It started off okay. I got up far too early, actually did my hair and make up, hopped on a flight and landed at an ungodly early hour. Fortified by coffee, I actually got a bunch of work done before the rest of the city awoke and dragged their asses into their office buildings. I had lunch plans and an afternoon meeting (like an adult), so I marched up and down innumerable city blocks in my suit and heels feeling BAD ASS. Mind you, it was eleven hundred degrees and I’m pretty sure I broke some small bones in my feet thanks to my shoes, but BAD ASS. The end result: sweating like an Italian construction worker, limping like a wounded antelope. Think more “Bosom Buddies,” and less “9 to 5”.

Obviously this is all just an excuse to include the following.

I would say that this movie used to be my career inspiration, but that would be disingenuous because it still is. (If anyone says anything negative about this amazing film or Ms. Parton, I will cut you).

And, goodness, I am not fashionable anymore. Not that I’ve been trying lately – something about living in the middle of nowhere on a super tight budget with a Twin Mom Physique really kills your drive to look nice most of the time. But I pulled out some choice pieces, thinking “I can pull this off for 48 hours.” Instead, I looked like a clearance rack at a WalMart in some decidedly not awesome locale.

 

This seems appropriate.

This seems appropriate.

I’ve apparently been gone for too long. I used to relish the idea that no one was friendly, but was seriously crushed when people were outright nasty. I know that Bitchy Resting Face is kind of a thing now, but I was trained in the late 90s by a Manhattan native about City Face. You are pissed. You are important. You have places to be. And you will stop for no one.

So when the students next to me at the hotel bar (seriously, dudes, WHAT WAS YOUR EXCUSE FOR BEING AT AN UNREMARKABLE HOTEL BAR?) were openly hostile and mean-spirited, I was totally floored. What was worse was the realization that this actually bothered me. I have come to rely on the jovial nature of fellow bar goers and commuters. I had totally lost the cool, twenty-something don’t-give-a-damn sheen from my urban years.

To show those assholes, I sat there, enjoyed my overpriced wine, chatted with the bartender, and then enjoyed another. Turns out the bartender was from a small town near where I was born. We high fived over our roots and he shared stories about douchebags that he has kicked out of the bar in the past for being too drunk. We laughed and laughed and laughed. It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I realized he had slipped me my check without asking, urging that I sign. Dude was kicking me out and I didn’t even know it? UGH.

And there’s nothing to magnify your inadequacy quite like a hungover cab ride in the wee Saturday hours to the airport at neck-breaking speeds, with 80s hair rock blaring the whole way. I couldn’t even form words, let alone ask the cabbie to turn it down. I… backed off of a cabbie? I did. I don’t even know what to say, other than “look at my life, look at my choices.”

Apparently, I need to manage my work trip expectations from here on out. I am pretty sure I could be crowned Queen of the Conference if I attend something like this:

But I guess this is the world telling me I’ll never regain the credibility needed to work in the City again.

Whatever, dudes, beer is way, WAY cheaper here and Target totally has some decent clothing lines. So, I win.

*sob*


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Family Vacations Turn Me Into John Belushi

My husband, Country Boy, has three younger siblings and we took each one of them on an international adventure while they were in college.

Sounds great, right?  A chance to create an awesome memory together and to bond as adults.

And, I’m such a good person for doing this for my in-laws, right?

Wrong.  Because, despite my best intentions, as soon as these trips began I turned into Bluto and these kids become my Delta Tau Chi pledges.

Bluto

The second I encounter an in-law while out of the country, this happens.

Seriously, I managed to accidentally haze them all.  And I hazed them hard.

My initiation ritual is the PinotNinja Death March (trademark pending).  Screw cotillions and bar mitzvahs.  In our family you aren’t an adult until you survive a brush with death on a mountain that was caused by your bungling wino sister-in-law.

First, there was Country Boy’s oldest younger brother.  Back in 2009, he was studying abroad in Geneva and we flew over to visit him. It was late October and we took a day trip to Montreaux.  It was lovely.

DM1

Just a nice afternoon relaxing by the lake while eating some crepes.

Not satisfied with my fancy foreign pancake, I decided that we HAD to get up close and personal with the Swiss Alps.  I had read about this great hike in a guidebook and the cog railroad that would take us 10 miles up the mountain to the trail head left from just down the street. Once off the adorable train, we would take a nice walk to the top of the mountain, check out an amazing view of the lake, and then catch the train back down.  I convinced Country Boy and his brother that it would just be a lovely afternoon jaunt.  No big deal.

When we went to buy our train tickets, the woman at the ticket booth asked me “Are you equipped for the mountain?”  Between the three of us, we had one Toblerone bar, one coat, three gloves, and no water, so my answer to that question, obviously, was “Yes.  We’re equipped.”  It was only October and we were all relatively fit people.  What could possibly go wrong?

We got off the train and everything was perfect.

DM2

Does it get any more Swiss than this?

But, then, about two miles into the hike, we encountered this:

DM3

Three people. One coat. Intermittent snowfall. Hmm….

And, then, we had to traverse this:

Crossing the "almost bridge"

It’s kind of a bridge?

After managing to survive the circus trick that was crossing that “bridge,” we shivered our way to the summit while bickering about who was hogging the jacket.  We then started to hike back down the mountain only to realize that we had missed the last train off the mountain for the night, it was starting to get dark, we were exhausted, and we were starving.  There was nothing on this mountain other than a few sleepy farms and we hadn’t seen a car or another person in about 6 hours.  So, we had no choice but to find a way down, which we knew was approximately 14 miles.  We spent the next two hours running down the mountain (thank you gravity), taking any trail or road we could find heading towards the lake, as the sun set in front of us.

We came skidding into Montreaux just as the sun dipped below the mountains on the other side of Lake Geneva.  We congratulated ourselves on not dying on a Swiss mountain and my brother-in-law promptly passed out from sheer exhaustion.

Opps.

I swore that I would not do this again.

So, when we went to Chile to visit Country Boy’s second younger brother last December while he was studying abroad, I researched a great hike to do ahead of time.  It was on our way back from ConCon (where we had already almost died), promised great views of both the Pacific Ocean and the highest peak in the Argentina, and how cool would it be for the three of us to do a hike in the Andes together.  A lifelong amazing memory, right?

Wrong.

The guidebook did say that this was one of the hardest hikes in Chile, but I didn’t believe it.  There was no way that could have been right, because it’s not like we were in Patagonia.  And guidebooks exaggerate all the time to make sure that couch potatoes and grandmas don’t end up in over their heads out in the wilderness.   But, we were young and fit.  This was going to be no big deal.

Plus, the trail map said that the hike was only 7 kilometers.  We could do anything for 7 kilometers.

DM7

We decided that there was no way that we were hiking to that cloud covered peak. That would just be ridiculous. We were very wrong. That cloud covered peak was exactly where we were headed.

At the outset, everything was cool.  The trail was a little steep, but we still felt totally under control.

DM13

Just a little walk up the side of the mountain. I knew hiking the Sendero Andinista trail would be no big deal.

And then this happened:

DM9

See that big slope of loose rocks? That was the trail. Apparently, they have not yet heard of safety first in Chile.

And then there was this:

DM10

The trail map said to just walk right on up this sheer rock face. Just right on up there. Is this a map for mountain goats?!

Luckily, at that moment a wave of fog rolled over the mountain.  This was lucky because we assuredly would have died trying to scale the rock face and because it also caused us to realize that we have been hiking for over 6 hours, still had not reached the summit, and the sun was starting to set.  Turns out that the trail was 7 km each way, not round trip, and because the terrain was so treacherous it had taken us forever to get up the mountain.  This was a critical error.

So, yet again, I had led everyone into a situation where we needed to run down a mountain, in a foreign country, to beat the onset of freezing darkness and death from strange international animals.  We made it down, just in the nick of time, but not before getting into multiple stress-induced screaming fights and sustaining multiple injuries (including a concerning amount of blood loss on my part when I tumbled down the side of the mountain and into a giant life-saving thorn bush).

Opps.  Again.

Last month, Country Boy’s younger sister was in Seattle for an athletic training camp, so we decided to meet her in Seattle and take her on an adventure to Vancouver and the San Juan Islands since she had never been out of the country before.

The third time is the charm, right?

Nope.

Not wanting to tempt fate, I opted out of doing any hiking while we were in British Columbia.  Just urban walks and bike rides for us.  Once back into the good old US of A, I figured that we were safe.

We were not.

We arrived on Orcas Island around noon and immediately hopped into kayaks and spent a couple of hours chilling with the harbor seals.  While on that delightful outing, I spotted a mountain.

You know where this is going.

After we got out of the kayaks, I consulted the trusty interwebs and it told me that we could do a great hike to the top of Turtleback Mountain in about 3 miles on an easy and well-groomed trail. While I was mapping out our route, Country Boy and his sister had found an ice cream shop and procured gigantic chocolate ice cream cones to eat for sustenance. Perfect!

And, at first, it was.

So idyllic.

So idyllic.

But then Country Boy’s sister got really quiet.  She muttered something about not feeling well, but it didn’t sound like it was serious.

And then shit got real.

Literally.

My poor sister-in-law got a panicked look on her face and said that she needed to get off of the mountain, and back down to the restrooms by where we parked the car immediately.  Turns out that kayaking for two hours, wolfing down a huge amount of dairy, and then briskly climbing a mountain was not an award-winning combo for her body.

So, yet again, we took off sprinting down a mountain while danger was imminent.

DM19

Just once I would like to walk down a mountain.

We didn’t make it down in time.

Opps. AGAIN?!

But, I couldn’t just leave it at that.  Making someone soil themselves wasn’t enough for me.

The next morning, we had some time to kill before our ferry back to Seattle.  I had read about a hike.  It was just 3 miles and only had a 200 foot elevation gain, so I dragged everyone to the trail with the promise that it would just be a “light morning walk.”

We started hiking and it seemed like we were going downhill at a pretty steep grade, but I confidently proclaimed that the trail would level out at any moment because the elevation change was so minor.  Because we were going downhill, we didn’t really realize how far and how fast we were going.  Then Country Boy checked his watch and realized that we needed to hustle because our ferry was leaving relatively soon.

We turned around and saw this:

DM15

Umm…We have to go back up that?! In a hurry?!

The three of us then spent the next 45 minutes hauling ass up the mountain.  We were sweating profusely. We were swearing.  We were grunting.  Our bodies were screaming in pain.  Our spirits were shattered. Once we made it back to the trail head, I realized that the sign said 1200 foot elevation change, not 200 foot.

Opps doesn’t even begin to cover it.

At least I never made anyone accidentally kill a horse?


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Adventures in Stupid Cooking

As ErinGoBrawl explained earlier this week, I have long dabbled in the art that is Stupid Food with her and BigBrawler.  Recently, the dudes in my life found a way to kick things up a notch in that department.

What could be more ridiculous than Stupid Food?

Stupid Cooking.

Back in December, Country Boy and I went to visit his younger brother (the Giant) while he was living in Santiago, Chile.  The three of us took a weekend trip to the tiny beach town of ConCon to get in some surfing.  After a long day on the beach, we stopped at the market and grabbed a few bottles of wine, a box of spaghetti, and a jar of marinara sauce for dinner.

We took this haul of epicurean goodies to our apartment, which was a rickety three-story wooden building that was precariously built into the side of a cliff.  While such a structure should have made us fear for our safety, the stunning views of the Pacific made us forget all about it.

Safety Schmafety

Safety Schmafety

Once we soaked in that view, we decided that, since spaghetti was such an easy meal to make, we should wine before we dined.

And, wine we did.  Somehow, when we weren’t paying attention, two delicious bottles of Veramonte Primus slide down our gullets as we watched the sun set over the Pacific.

But, we decided that getting a little accidentally drunk was no big deal because all that we needed to do was make some spaghetti.

That is a task so simple that three drunk people working together can totally do it, right?

Wrong.

Everything started out fine.  We unpacked the spaghetti and sauce out of the grocery bag.  We found a pot.  We filled it with water.  We placed that pot on the burner.  High fives were exchanged.

And then we tried to turn on the burner.

Nothing.

High fives were retracted.

After a few moments of hard thinking, we realized that all we needed was a match to light the pilot light.  I scoured the kitchen for matches, but found nothing.  All three of us then scoured the entire house for matches.  We found nothing.  We actually cursed the fact that all of us were non-smokers.

I suggested just calling it a night and having cereal for dinner.

But, Country Boy and the Giant would not be stymied!  They were dudes!  They were drunk dudes!  They were going to produce food!

In a moment that he still describes as “sheer genius,” Country Boy remembered that the apartment had a gas-powered tankless water heater, which he had previously noted because it seemed like a horrible idea to have a flame-based water heater located on the rickety wooden deck of a rickety wooden building.  But now, that gas-powered water heater was the greatest idea ever, because it required a burning flame to operate.

So, Country Boy and the Giant, so named because he is 6’7″, concocted a plan.  Country Boy took a cardboard cereal box, flattened it, and twisted it to make a torch.  He then instructed the Giant and I about our tasks and sent us to our posts.

Here’s how things went down:

The Giant was stationed in the bathroom closest to the water heater.  He turned on the hot water in the shower.  The running shower kicked on the water heater, which then tripped the burner in the water heater.

Once the burner was tripped, Country Boy shouted to the Giant.  Country Boy then stuck his cereal box torch into the water heater and lit it with the burner.  Then, because it was so windy on the cliff side, the Giant stood between the wind and the torch and shuffled along next to Country Boy in order to serve as a literal wind shield until Country Boy got the flame inside of the apartment.

Once inside, Country Boy yelled to me.  I turned on all of the burners, flooding the kitchen with gas, as he sprinted up a spiral staircase carrying the rapidly burning torch above his head while screaming “FIRE IN THE HOLE!”

Never has that phrase been so apropos.

Country Boy came sliding into the kitchen and threw the torch at the stove seconds before the fire would have burned his hands off.  Miraculously, the burner lit without injury or explosion.

SUCCESS!

This guy had nothing on us.

This guy had nothing on us.

Shortly thereafter, we had a spaghetti feast and commended ourselves repeatedly on our ingenuity and steely nerves in the face of potential death.

Totally worth risking death for this.

Totally worth risking death for this.

Later that night after the wine haze wore off, I decided to clean up the kitchen.  I opened the cabinet next to the stove to put away the oven mitts, which I had taken out before we had started cooking.  Right there, on the shelf closest to the stove, sat a giant box of matches.  You know, on that obvious shelf that I had looked at multiple times while proclaiming that there was no matches to be found anywhere in the apartment.

Oh.

This guy was actually us.

This guy was actually us.

Perhaps stoves should come with breathalyzers.