Shhhh, I’m Listening to Harry Potter and Swerving to Miss the Bugs Sent by Voldemort Himself

Ok, so I allegedly,have a problem.  I personally don’t think it’s a problem. But I am told by Kara and Carter that I am sick in the head.

Hi, I’m Kate, and I am a compulsive window washer. It’s been twenty minutes since I last used my wiper blades.
I’m telling you kids – I go through wiper fluid like nobody’s business? (THAT’S WHAT THEY MAKE IT FOR, RIGHT??????) But it’s not a sickness. It’s a safety issue. A buggy windshield obscures your vision, which could lead to dismemberment, decreased sex drive, night terrors, hallucinations, anal leakage, palpitations, trouble breathing, or, in some cases, death. (Maybe I pay too much attention to the side effects at the end of every pharmaceutical commercial? Maybe?)
Ok, so maybe it won’t cause anal leakage, but the rest is totally legit!
Allow me to set a scene for you. (Imagine me as Sophia from the Golden Girls.)
(P.S. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop reading this minute because you’re a heathen and you’ll make my blog dirty by reading any further.)
(P.P.S. Don’t leave me. We were just starting to have fun. It’s so lonely here.)
Anyways. Picture it: North Carolina. A bright sun shines high overhead as you drive the winding highway through the mountains. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince plays quietly in the background. I am trying to ignore the sounds of Carter chewing his beef jerky (It’s like he’s chewing gum, people. I mean, really!) Kara is asleep in the backseat, taking a cue from Rigby’s book, and looking quite like a crime scene herself. I am listening to the soothing voice of Jim Dale as he narrates the scene in the potions lab, where Harry first discovers the potion book. (Spoiler alert: It’s Snape’s! Dun dun dun!!!!!) All of a sudden, a swarm of kamikaze bugs fly into the windshield.
ME: HOLY SH*T!!!! [Reaching out to pause Harry Potter on tape (I think we all know I’m not going to miss a minute of that)]
CARTER: Wha id it? (Mouth full of jerky, remember?)
KATE: The bugs!  Look at the windshield! It’s like they’re trying to kill us!
CARTER: [Swallowing meat wad] Babe, we’re in the mountains. There are bugs. Bugs fly. You probably just drove into a group of them flying the other way. They don’t have a prefrontal cortex. They can’t plan for sabotage.
KATE: How do you know?!?!?!
CARTER: I repeat, no prefrontal cortex, no organized leadership, no bug army that is out to wage war on your Volvo wagon.
It’s a losing battle with his rationality, not because I think he’s right, just because he’ll get frustrated and threaten mutiny and then we’ll never get to the beach. I push play and am lost again in the soothing lull of Jim Dale’s vocals. But the windshield is so gross. I pull the lever towards me to activate the wiper fluid.
ME: Jumping Jehosephat, Carter, the bug goo is everywhere!!!!
CARTER: So just run the wiper fluid again.
[ I do this, even though I know what will happen. ]
ME: GAH!! It’s so much worse! Now it’s smeared all over the place! We have to stop!
I pull over at the nearest gas station and with the squeegee window washer thing (Yes, that is the technical term. Look it up.), I clear away all of the bug thoraxes and innards that were smudged all over my sweet Sephronia’s window (that’s the name of my car. Keep UP with me, people!) 
Out on the road again. We’re in a corridor now. Hermione is pissed at Harry for doing better in potions than her for once. She hates the potions book. (I’ve always identified with Hermione. She CARRIES Ron and Harry. Let’s face it. That whole horcrux destruction mission? NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT HER. And all the boys do is give her grief for being smart. And Ron is such a whiny b*tch sometimes. What is wrong with being smart? It’s not a quality you should make fun of someone for, asshats! Do I digress? No, of course not. That was all completely relevant.)
All of a sudden, another swarm of kamikaze bugs fly in the windshield. I begin to scream and start pulling on the windshield wiper lever like I’m driving a runaway cable car. (Yea, I’ve seen Meet Me in St. Louis. I know how it’s done.)
CARTER: What the hell is wrong with you?!?
ME: [rocking gently back and forth, white knuckling the steering wheel] The bugs, Carter. They know we’re here. It’s like the friggin’ Matrix out there! And they’re coming for us!
[Carter beats head against passenger window repeatedly] (He does this a lot. I wonder if he should go to the doctor for his obsessive compulsive disorder)
I would keep going, but  it was like this for the next 5 hours. But let’s look at the bright points, shall we?:
          No one died, despite the bugs best efforts. We thwarted them.
          Carter did not leave me.
          Carter did not leave me.
          Carter did not leave me. (Yea, I’m pretty damn grateful for that one)
          None of this hysteria interrupted Kara’s nap. She slept like the dead all the way to Hilton Head.
So I can admit that I (ALLEGEDLY)have a problem. And I have compiled some tips for you all so that you don’t suffer the hell that I do.
1.       Keep extra windshield wiper fluid in your car. They gouge the sh*t out of the price for it at gas stations. AND IT IS ESSENTIAL TO ANY ROAD TRIP. Like Vitamin Water. Or Pringles. Or Harry Potter.
2.       Jim Dale is the new Morgan Freeman. (Note: He’s actually rather old, but you knew what I meant)
3.       Ron Weasley is a whiny git.
4.       Don’t expect people to understand the importance of a pristine windshield. They won’t. And they will look at you like YOU’RE the crazy one for not wanting to die in a fiery inferno. Because in my mind, that is how all car accidents end. (I may or may not have watched a lot of RESCUE 911 as a child.)
5.       It is important to replace your windshield wiper blades regularly. If you don’t, the wiper fluid is moot.
6.       In order to pay for regular wiper replacements (which no one does often enough),you might want to start weaning yourself off of Starbucks, new shoes, brand name cereal, and joy. (But can you really put a price tag on safety?)
7.       Note from Carter: YES, YOU CAN, YOU CRAZY PERSON!
8.       RESCUE 911 is why I will never mow the lawn or ask my future, hypothetical, nonexistent children to do it. One time, I saw a kid get run over by a self-propelled lawn mower. Kid lost his leg. (I should mention that by “runaway”, I mean “lawnmower pushed erratically by a drunk uncle in a tuxedo tank top and jorts”) I’ve never been the same since.
9.       Hi. I’m Kate. I’m  a crazy person  OCD particular about a clean windshield, loathes   threaten throat punching when do not tolerate talking while Jim Dale is weaving a brilliant tapestry of J.K. Rowling’s words, harbor a deathly fear of jellyfish, and loathe hipsters and all of their disorganized “I’m a nonconformist but really I’m conforming to all the other unwashed, enkept nonconformists who don’t look in a mirror to check if their rose floral bike shorts match their frat tank that says ‘You’re drowning in the mainstream’ and don’t even know how ridiculous we look”  bullsh*t. You know the type.
Come on people. You know I’m right. About all of the above.
Happy Friday!

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Reflections on a Rainy Thursday Morning

My future mother-in-law sent me a particularly inspiring chain email this morning. I usually gloss over the “inspirational part” to get to the anecdotes at the end, but this one was about staying young and being happy. Her subject line was “I hope you learn these lessons sooner than I did. Love to you.” How could I not read that? Maybe it’s because I’m getting married in EXACTLY 30 DAYS. (Yes, kids—let the countdown begin.) Maybe it’s because I’m embracing the expansion of my family. Maybe it’s because I felt especially awake this morning. But I read it. All of it.

Try everything twice, it said.
Keep only cheerful friends—the negative ones will drag you down (Pay attention to this, it said, if you are the negative friend).
Tears happen—let them. The only person who is guaranteed to be with us our entire life is ourselves (Think about that for a minute).
 Surround yourself with love.
Don’t take guilt trips.
Forgive everyone, love all.
Be kinder than necessary—people will remember.
Oddly, it was exactly what I needed this morning as I’m all bogged down with wedding plans, family concerns, and an insatiable and, due to the vegan thing, impossible craving for fro-yo.
A lot of the advice in the email is hard to swallow, and even harder to implement. I am at a point in my life where space is limited, both physical and emotional. I work a full time job. I’m planning a wedding. I’m writing a novel and trying to get this blog up and growing. I’m trying to build a home and life with my future husband. My father has cancer. I’ve lost two grandparents in the last 18 months. I live hours away from my family. In short, I don’t have a lot of emotional space left. I’m realizing that I need to fill that space with people that support unconditionally, who can usually see the silver lining. I’m realizing that I need to make an effort to do the same for them. I don’t have room for negativity, nor do I have the heart for it right now. I shouldn’t expect others to have space for my occasionally negative attitude either. Easier said than done. But  I owe it to myself and the people around me.
Part of this means coming to terms with myself and being ok with that. This is good advice for all of us. Like the email said, the only person guaranteed to be with us for our entire lives is ourselves. I think for the last 15 years, I’ve kept a cool, wary distance from myself. Adolescence makes us insecure, doubtful. And adulthood doesn’t help. I’ve spent so much time comparing myself to others, tallying where I’ve come up short. And I know I’m not alone here. Surround yourself with love. If you’re surrounded by people that love you and things and people that you love as well, I have to believe that those insecurities melt. And if you are surrounded by people that you love and have concern for, “I” will become a far less frequent vocabulary word. We can all get behind that.
Be kinder than necessary. I am guilty of the bare minimum here at times. I try to always be polite because I was raised to believe that manners matter. But I rarely go above and beyond. When I buy a Contributor magazine from one of the homeless vendors, I always give them $5 (the paper costs $1) and say God bless. Then I usually go about my day and forget the incident entirely. And I have been kind. I’ve donated more than necessary, I’ve smiled, I’ve given a blessing.
But Carter humbles me every day. He is kinder than necessary. There is a man who sells the Contributor on Carter’s walking route to work. Carter always gives him $5, and says God bless like I do. But Carter also knows his name, (It’s Eric.), andalways shakes his hand and asks him how he’s doing, how his day is going. They talk about the weather. They talk about job interviews that Eric has had. They talk about Carter’s school. Carter treats him as an equal and a friend, something I seem to fail at, albeit unintentionally. Carter goes out of his way to be not just kind, but a friend to Eric. My dad does the same thing when he travels to Washington, D.C. There is a homeless man who sits outside of his favorite Starbucks. My dad always buys him a coffee and a breakfast sandwich on his way into work. He makes eye contact with the man. He asks him how he’s doing. My dad is kinder than necessary. It’s not much, but it makes a difference. The man once told my dad that he is the only person that makes eye contact with him, that my dad is the only one that doesn’t go out of his way not to touch the man when handing him something. I am humbled by these men, all of them. We all get absorbed in our lives, but I am reminded by this email that Carter and my Dad are never too absorbed to be kind. It’s a shining example and challenge to me to follow in suit, not just to the Contributor vendor on my own walking route, but to the people at work, the people on the street, the people at the grocery, my family, Carter. Manners matter, but kindness matters more. And here is the real kicker, I’ve realized. It is important to learn to be infinitely kind. But it is important, too, to learn how to accept the kindness of others.
I’m glad I read the entire email. It made me examine a lot of the things I complain about. I am incredibly blessed and the changes that I want made in my life are mine to make.
And so, as promised, the joke at the end:
“Wine doesn’t make you fat. It makes you lean. (On chairs, tables, strangers, etc…)
I’m planning on doing a little bit of leaning myself tonight, with good friends and a Black Lemon Old Fashioned. 🙂

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"Picture of My Beagle Napping Like She’s in a Crime Scene" Wednesday

This is what happens when you leave your shoes on…

Subject: Rigby
8 year old female Beagle
Alias: The Pig.
Context: Rigby is the only dog in the world that naps in such a manner that she makes you want to draw the chalk outline of her and call CSI.

The plush thing stuffed into her “Old Nervous Lady-Dog Girdle” is none other than Lola’s favorite toy: a Baby Beluga Whale
(P.S. Rigby is self conscious about her pre-pubescent boy bosom(s) and is trying to enhance her appearance with the whale. Yes, while sleeping!)

(P.P.S. It’s obviously not a real whale. It’s a plush toy from the Shedd Aquarium. Calm down, PETA)

(P.P.P.S Ok, so Rigby may not be self conscious about her bosoms. It may have been a cruel frat-boy-esque trick played upon her while she slept. This is the human-to-canine equivalent of drawing a spiffy mustache in sharpie on someone’s face when they are passed out.)

(P.P.P.P.S. I’ve just been informed that certain youths do not understand the rules about shoes and passing out. Allow me to elaborate for you heathen whippersnappers. If at a party, or anywhere, really, a person passes out with their shoes off, they are vulnerable and clearly just want to go to bed. This means that they are entirely off limits. If, however, a person passes out with their shoes on, then society has deemed it not only acceptable, but necessary, to draw any number of body parts on them. I don’t make the rules, kids. I just cite them.)

(Note: The “Old Nervous Lady-Dog Girdle” is a very real thing. Sure, it just started out as a comfort harness because she couldnt wear her collar because she has a giant mole thingy on her neck. Sure it looks ridiculous. Sure, it’s a girdle ON A DOG. Sure, we burned girdles to exercise our feminist rights and demonstrate that we cannot be contained! But isn’t Rigby exercising her feminist muscles by choosing to wear one because it makes her feel good about herself, even though all of the neighbor dogs laugh at her and her comfort girdle? Of course she is.)

Tune in next week for Rigby sleeping in the “Cone of Shame” on “Picture of My Beagle Napping Like She’s in a Crime Scene” Wednesday.

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The Nekked and the Nude

My sister hates two things:

1.       Being naked in front of other people. Or nude, for that matter.

2.       Being touched by strangers.

(Note: There IS a difference between being naked and nude. Allow me to enlighten you: Nude is when you have your clothes off for a moral purpose, such as bathing or knowing your wife in the biblical sense. Naked [or Nekked, if you’re from anywhere near the South…or southern Illinois] is when you have your clothes off and are up to no good. Savvy? Good.)

So just to reiterate, Kara hates two things:

1.       Being nekked, or nude, in front of other people.

2.       Strange people touching her.

All very legitimate things to hate, right? We can’t all be touchy nudes, now can we? Nooo, nooo.

My bachelorette party was this past weekend. (Bear with me, I promise the dots connect.) It was a relaxing, fun time that began with pedicures, cosmos (LOTS of cosmos), a casino, and three hours of sleep. The next morning was to be a relaxing end to a great weekend wherein myself and all the bridesmaids and I were going to get massages. ( See the connection now? I promised it was there. )

For my sweet baby sister, the prospect of a massage is the single most horrifying event she can imagine.

ME: Kara, why don’t you just get a facial instead? Lots of chemicals, minimal touching. That sounds like your kind of hour, right?

KARA: No, I want to do what the rest of you are doing?

ME: Well I hate jellyfish and if you all decided to pull a Dory and swim with them I sure as hell wouldn’t “want to do what the rest of you were doing.”

KARA: What?

ME: You know, like in Finding Nemo? When Dory swims through the jellyfish and she and Marlin almost die? You KNOW I hate jellyfish?

KARA: [blank stare]

ME: Come on! It was a good analogy!

Le sigh.

But my fearless maid-of-honor decided to boldly go into the fray, i.e. terry cloth robe and slippers.

When the others, myself included, left the massage rooms and entered the “Tranquility Room,” everyone had this sleepy, relaxed, after-glow sort of look. …Except Kara. I can’t really accurately describe the look on her face, so I drew you a picture.

Yes, kids—that is the clenched look of terror. No relaxed, sleepy look for our girl. Oh no. I’ve left the dentist looking more relaxed.

I obviously wasn’t in the therapy room, but piecing together what I know about Kara, and massage therapists, I can safely speculate how the hour went. And so, I present for your reading entertainment, a dramatic reading. Buon Appetit.

 The Tale of Kara the Tense

Scene: Our gentle maid-of-honor has reluctantly slipped into her terry cloth robe and slippers, locked her locker, and braced herself. The others are still changing. She waits by the door.

KARA: [LOUDLY] I don’t know about you all, but they will not get me to take my under wear off. I left it all on. It’s like my one protection against these people.

[Stares from the women in the room, all of them super naked under their robes]

ME: These people?

KARA: Yes. These people. Why in God’s name would you ever go to school to make a living touching people. It’s insane.

BRIDESMAID 1: So… what are you going to do?

KARA: [Fist held aloft like Braveheart] ENDURE!

Scene: Tranquility Room. The sound of water cascading gently over smooth stones fills the room with aquatic music. The bridal party sprawls on reclining lounge chairs, sipping orange water and chatting quietly. Kara sits on the edge of a lounger and rocks steadily back and forth. Massage therapist enters.

MASSAGE THERAPIST (MT): Kara? Are you ready?

KARA: Pray for me, ladies! And if I don’t come out in an hour, call the police, for I’m surely dead.

Scene: The massage therapist leads Kara down a dimly lit hallway, the sounds of ocean waves and spa music drift. Kara assumes that she is obviously being led into the bowels of Hell. They arrive at Therapy Room 7.

MT: Kara, I’m going to step out for a few minutes. Please take off your robe, there’s a hook on the back of the door. Leave your slippers in the corner. Please lay face-down on the table, under the sheet, with your face in the cradle. I’ll be right back.

Scene: With the resolve of a Revolutionary War soldier about to face his certain death of dysentery, Kara removes her slippers. She takes off her robe, throwing it onto the hook, and races for the massage table. She climbs under the sheet and tucks it around her body as best she can, tiny fists clenched.

{KNOCK KNOCK}

Scene: The MT enters the room and begins bustling about, arranging the lotion, hot towels, and other accoutrement of her trade. She moves to Kara’s side and pulls the sheet down to her waist. Expertly, she begins to rub the lotion on Kara’s back to begin the massage.

MT: Kara, you’re very tense. Can you try relaxing for me?

KARA: [Through clenched teeth] I’m relaxed!

MT: Kara, I don’t think you are. It’s like kneading a wooden table-top back here. All of your muscles are contracted. Can you take some deep cleansing breaths for me?

[Kara begins to hyperventilate]

MT: Ok, Kara, just breathe normally. Let’s try again. Try to relax.

KARA: I told you. I’m f***ing relaxed! Ok!? Don’t you people know relaxed when you see it?

Scene: And so passed the hour. Kara, clenching all of her muscles for dear life. Massage Therapist, trying like mad.  

 THE END.

It’s funny, right? Eventually, you would have thought, the massage therapist would have given up, put a hot towel on Kara’s back, and read Cosmopolitan magazine to her, quoting facts about “29 Ways Tickle his Fancy in Under an Hour.” But given the look on Kara’s face, and the broken appearance of the therapist’s thumbs, I think it’s safe to say that Kara had a persevering therapist who will likely have to reconsider her career choice. How can you massage nekked people if your thumbs are broken?
(Note: Ok, her thumbs weren’t really broken. But she did look exhausted. And a lot like she wanted to kill someone. Probably Kara. But it’s ok, because Kara looked exhausted. And a lot like she wanted to kille someone, too. Probably me.)

She’s probably going to kill me when she reads this, so I will follow this post with the lessons to be learned from this weekend:
1.       Underwear will not protect you from massage therapists and their touching you. They will just work around it. They’re devious like that.

2.     Southern Indianan Men do not like participating in Dirty Bachelorette Dare. They are shy creatures and won’t help a lady out with her dare card even if she faces ridicule for not completing it.  

3.      Put your veil on when you get to where you’re going, wedding or otherwise. Yes, this goes for all veils. My bachelorette veil got shut in a car door. I very nearly died.

4.       Ok, so I didn’t nearly die. But I very nearly got a bald spot from it.

5.     Ok, that’s not true either. But it did hurt.

6.      Laughing at a traumatized person post-Swedish massage is mean. But it is also impossible to avoid.

7.    It’s a good sister that would traumatize herself with a massage to be one of the girls just to make my bachelorette weekend perfect. You’re the best, monkey.  

 Tune in tomorrow for my better version of the Wordless Wednesday post:

“Picture of My Beagle Napping Like She’s in a Crime Scene” Wednesday

Ciao!

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I’m like the least vegan-y vegan ever

If you’ve watched HBO’s new series GIRLS (And if you haven’t, you friggin’ should!), you will recall Shoshanna’s argument that she is “like the least virginy-virgin ever.” Well, my friends, I am the least vegany-vegan ever. Case in point:

Scene: Whole Foods Market. It is a sunny afternoon, the first of July, and the heat is oppressive. Our gentle new, dedicated, albeit reluctant, vegan enters. She is in search of three things: Vegetable Protein so that she can continue her running regimen without dying, nutritional yeast so that she can fake her way through her favorite food in the world of macaroni and cheese, and chia seeds. Because somebody told her to eat them. And just like Jessica on True Blood, our gentle vegan always does what her maker, erm, resident vegetarian expert, tells her.

ME: Excuse me, do you know where I can find vegetable protein powder?

KINDLY WHOLE FOODS ATTENDANT (KWFA): Oh yes! You must be a vegan!

ME: Yes, I am.

KWFA: Awesome! I’m a vegan too! It’s so nice to meet other people who believe that eating murdered animals is disgusting!

ME: Murdered animals?

KWFA: [puzzled look] Well yea! They were murdered. Of course.

ME: Oh, I’m sorry, there’s been a misunderstanding. I’m like the least vegany-vegan ever. Cancer scares the sh*t out of me. So I’m doing this 6 week vegan cleanse, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll at least go back to eating dairy after this nightmare is over. There is no joy without cheese.

KWFA: [horrified expression] But that’s… stealing! You’re stealing the milk from the cow!

ME: Is it? Really?

KWFA: Murder and stealing! And you’re ok with that!?!?!

ME: Well, I do believe in the food chain.

Scene: Our gentle vegan fans the KWFA with a large kale leaf to revive her. She clearly fainted because she was so horrified by the realization that she had confided in a person who had been raised by sailors and wolves and believes in the food chain.

ME: Ma’am, I feel like I should clarify. I don’t believe in the jumbo farms that pump drugs and horomones into our animals and never let them outside. That’s pretty wrong. But I think that if the cow got to frolic in the grass for its life and was then… erm… ushered into the next life by a kindly cow farm attendant, that that can’t be too bad, right? And if we didn’t milk them, their udders would explode. It’s painful. And it’s science. And is it really my fault that the bees leave their honey unattended? I mean, honestly. That’s like having a pet raccoon and not putting child locks on the silver spoon drawer. Ma’am? Ma’am?

Scene: The Kindly Whole Foods Attendant faints again. Our gentle vegan notices that the nutritional yeast is at eye level, grabs it, gently covers the face of KWFA with the Kale leaf, and dashes for the register. She may or may not trip over the immobile leg of KWFA and sustain a massive bruise on her chest from landing on the bottle of yeastiness. As she leaps to her feet, she ponders what a gross word yeast is.

Author’s Notes:

1.      Nutritional yeast does taste a bit like cheese. It definitely looks like the food I used to feed my goldfish, Margaret. Who, I might add, lived to be 9. No, I am not exaggerating. Ask my mother. 9. Perhaps if you are good readers I will tell you the tale of Maid Margaret the Fish that I Won at the Fair someday.

2.      For your information, Margaret is a perfectly normal name for a goldfish. What the hell else would I have called her? Buttons? Mittens? Fluffy? She was not fluffy and could wear neither buttons or mittens. Way to rub that in, a**hat. Margaret, on the other hand, is a perfectly acceptable “Don’t get your hopes up, old girl” sort of name. And as she was a goldfish I won at the fair and then took on the Farris Wheel with me, I was preparing her for her potential doom. Which she foiled. FOR 9 YEARS.

3.      I did say “cow farm attendant” to the Whole Foods lady. Why? Because it sounds good.

4.      I made one of those vegan cookie dough blizzard thingies and they are surprisingly AMAZING. Carter inhaled his. I shall narrate:

ME: How is it?
CARTER: It’s good. I mean, the texture is different because there are no eggs in the cookie dough. And the ice cream tastes like bananas.
ME: That’s because it is a banana. I literally blended a banana with almond milk. It’s a nutty banana.
CARTER: Yea, that’s what I said. [snarf snarf snarf]
But soft? What word from avid carnivore breaks? It is silence! And the “blizzard” is a success!
5.      Wheatberries. A supergrain. I made tabbouleh with them for my Vegan Extravaganza! for the 4thof July. Learn from me, kids. Wheatberries are not a “Holy sh*t, I’m in a hurry” food, no matter how much you may want them to be. They require significant chewing. And I do mean significant. As in lots. As in, I chewed each spoonful for like 5 minutes. But hey? Can you really put a time stamp on health?

(Note from Carter: YES, YOU CAN.)
(Note from Kate: Shut up, Carter. Tabbouleh has always been to grain-y for you anyways. What do you know?)
(Add’l note from Carter: [glares, sighs heavily, and leaves the room])
(Add’l note from Kate: See? I win.)
I always do.

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