Aug 192022
 

Jumping out of order here, but on our way home from New Jersey, we stopped at Hershey Park for a do-over of our 2021 trip which was actual madness. This time, it wasn’t nearly as crowded (that is to say, we didn’t need to splurge on Fast Lane or whatever they call their fast pass) but I still walked away from the park with a not-so-sweet taste in my mouth. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it just feels so overrated to me?? Am I wrong?? Clearly, every other thoosie out there will excommunicate me from the club if they knew my opinion.

Anyway, I’ll just post some pictures and a few bulletpoints because we were only there from around 11:30 to 5:00 and nothing super memorable happened except for hating the family behind us on the walk to the gate, with a mom who kept gushing over her son toddler-ish Logan. “LOGAN, HOW ARE YOU SO CUTE??” she screamed at one point, to which Chooch tossed a disinterested glance over his shoulder and mumbled, “He’s really not, though.”

  • Chooch managed to get all of his missing coaster creds, except for COCOA CRUISER which we didn’t even know existed until several days later. It’s the kiddie coaster and I have no idea where it is in the park because Hershey is a clusterfuck to navigate. I am not going back for him to obtain this credit until they get an RMC, which RUMOR HAS IT will be happening next year. Literally the only way Hershey will ever get me to come back, unless I come across free passes. Then, maybe.

  • In line for Storm Runner, which was quite controversially closed when we were there last year and I had super high expectations for this Intamin, but after it cruised back into the brake run, all I could say was, “That was it?” AM I TOO PICKY NOW?? Am I a coaster hipster?! I felt the same way about Fahrenheit, which was also closed last year. These two were my most anticipated and I was really disappointed by both.

  • I will say though that the retheming of their standard, run-of-the-mill Vekoma boomerang is really fun though. It’s now themed after Jolly Ranchers and before each cycle, the lights in the station change and land on whichever flavor you’re gonna get. And by that, I mean that they built a tunnel that emits SCENTS when the coaster goes through it, so it’s supposed to stink like whatever color you get. Ours was green apple (ugh) and it didn’t really smell like it, but it was still a fun experience. Also, we waited in line for at least 45 minutes which I would never do for any old Boomerang.

 

  • Are you all Jolly Rancher’d out yet? BUT WAIT, THAT’S NOT ALL…
    • We got some Jolly Rancher sorbet. It was ok! Ironically, I liked the green apple best because the texture was like a sweet cloud lol.

  • We rode Skyrush and it was less painful for me this time. Henry didn’t ride it last year and thought I was exaggerating about the painful restraints (it has the nickname ThighCrush because of it!) but when we were standing in line, he started seeing girls getting off the ride with red welt across their thighs. MMHMM!!! I was so worried about self-stapling during the ride that I couldn’t enjoy myself. Rollercoasters should not be so painful that you have to watch How To Not Get Stapled on Skyrush videos on YouTube. Ridiculous.
  • The only ride there that I truly love and do not mind waiting in line for is the B&M invert, Great Bear. This ride is so great! But because it’s my favorite, Chooch was a big baby about getting into line because it was “too long.” It wasn’t any longer of a wait than that damn boomerang but OK SON. So then Henry was all, “I’ll ride it with you, please don’t throw a fit!” But by that time, Chooch had decided to be a martyr and also got in line so we ended up all riding it – yay, I win! In line, some kid had his hands up and out the entire time, waiting for someone to high five him but I watched him cough and sneeze into his hands and then wipe his nose with them too so NOPE. I’M GOOD. Also, a little girl got her legs stuck in the queue fence so that was exciting too. Really fun and entertaining line!

  • Fighting in line.
  • I just really love Great Bear so much. From the moment it started, I could feel the smile on my face and when I looked at the on-ride photo afterward, I looked SO CONTENT. Chooch and I actually had identical smiles on our precious faces and Henry just looked like Henry: unamused, having zero ounces of fun.

  • Then we had to spend an obnoxious amount of time at this stupid game, waiting for the ONE KID WORKING to NOTICE US, SEMPAI and give Chooch the fucking basket of balls that he paid for but instead, he kept getting snagged by all the bitchy soccer moms wanting to exchange the stuffed animals their kids won for OTHER COLORS. Oh my god, give me a break. And the lady next to us must have spent $100 on her three sons just in the amount of time we were there and Henry spat, “THOSE KIDS ARE SPOILED.” Sing it, Henry.
  • Finally got his basket of balls after I leaned across the counter and yelled, “EXCUSE ME” like a fucking no-good Karen but look, I was trying to LEAVE this park OK and the only thing standing between me and the exit was this dorky teenaged worker and his inability to multi-task.
    • All of that, and Chooch lost bigly.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Great Bear
  • Chooch getting his creds that he missed last year
  • The bucket of chocolate chip cookies Henry bought on the way out

LOWLIGHTS:

  • That fucking game
  • Candymonium being down on our way out of the park

MIDLIGHTS:

  • Everything else

Am I a hater?!!? I literally can’t tell. Hershey seems like the fucking DARLING PARK for all enthusiasts out there and maybe I need an official invitation to the Hershey circle jerk, but I just don’t get it? The coaster line-up isn’t *that* great, IMO. Am I being super unreasonable here?! Basically, in that amount of time, we rode 5 coasters. We didn’t even bother walking over to the side of the park where Wildcat (RIP) is even though I would have liked to have ridden Lightning Racer again because that was one of the coasters that I truly enjoyed when we visited in 2021, but at that point, I just wanted to complete the ERRANG COASTER CREDS mission and go the hell home.

Aug 182022
 

Today is a great day! First, my NCT127 bias has released a solo MV and it is exceptional as expected. Jaehyun is such a secret weapon. Oh my god, the tone of his voice. Scoop me up, I’ve melted.

And then! It’s my KING’s birthday! G-Dragon! Kwon Jiyong! Is it weird that I’m over here in America, thinking about how much I hope he’s having/had a great birthday? Being his fan has been a wild ride. I love him so much!

How can you watch this and not want to stan?!!

In other news, this week has been d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g. I am so run-down from all the shit we did over the long weekend (even took a Covid test because I panicked, but no – I’m just good old tired I guess). I have so much to recap still but am zapped of all energy, ESPESH in my brain. I think my age is finally catching up to me.

I’m looking forward to having NO PLANS this weekend. I just want to go for a cemetery walk, read some books, get some lingering house stuff done, annoy Chooch, nag Henry, maybe watch a horror movie – you know, HOMEBODY THINGS.

That’s it for now. Look for copious coaster recaps in the near future. Wow, so exciting.

Aug 162022
 

We had so much fun riding coasters all weekend but the thing living rent-free in my mind right now is all the glorious boardwalk pizza we devoured. Last year, we only had Mack’s pizza and I was totally sold on the hype. (Chooch went rogue that year and had Hot Spot though and loved it which doesn’t surprise me because Hot Spot is totally amazing, although when I used to eat there with my fam as a kid, I don’t think I ever had pizza – I feel like it was always a hot dog??)

Anyway, if you don’t know this about Wildwood, there is a long-running debate over who has the best pizza and the two that have garnered the most popular votes are Mack’s and Sam’s. I was determined to try a slice from each this time to see where my allegiance lies.

We stopped at Mack’s first on Saturday for a lunchtime slice. Last year, I had a slice of white pizza and still maintain that it was the best goddamn slice of white I’ve ever masticated in my whole entire life. But this year, I wanted to go the olive route because that is my go-to topping like, when I die, if you feel so inclined to visit my grave, forget the flowers just bring a fistful of black olives to sprinkle on my tombstone.

Hoo-boy, Mack’s did not let me down. I was scared that last years’ experience was a fluke, but Mack’s secured their spot in my pizza palate for the second year in a row. I can’t explain it, but it’s the thinness that I love, a sweet-ish sauce, and SUPER GREASY. I love a greasy slice, I can’t help it.

Chooch was like, “It’s ok,” about his plain piece, because he rarely gets stoked for anything anymore (at least, not when he’s with his PARENTS).

I dunno even know what Henry got. Sausage probably. He liked it.

Almost immediately, we walked down to Sam’s for slice #2 (I wish I could say we ate our way down the boardwalk, but I know my finicky digestive system and gave myself a two-slice limit, sigh). Sam’s is much bigger than Mack’s and feels less intense – it’s hard to explain but with Mack’s you have to kind of shoulder your way past the crowded counter to the very small dining area and then you have pay cash after you order and I always feel panicked like we’re going to mess it up or something??

But Sam’s is larger and has a huge dining area, and it just felt way more calm somehow. Mack’s is CHAOTIC but so worth it.

Right off the bat, Sam’s lost points because they don’t have black olives as a topping. I got a slice of plain which was fine. I think though that I expected it to be difficult to choose which place I liked better, but I knew without a doubt as soon as I took the first bite:

It’s Mack’s for me, fam.

Look, I’m not going to hate on Sam’s because that pizza was fine! If I hadn’t already experienced the sweet, greasy glory that is Mack’s, I would have been completely satisfied with Sam’s. It was like your standard quick lunch fare, comparable to pizza I’ve had at various amusement parks.

But because I’ve had Mack’s and know of the super serious age-old MACKS v. SAMS competition, I was actually floored that anyone would choose Sam’s. I said this to Henry in my fanatical UP IN ARMS manner and he hesitated, like maybe he wanted to choose Sam’s but was scared??

Chooch opted out of second lunch, making me feel like a glutton. But he did try a bite of Henry’s and was not impressed because he’s suddenly a pizza snob.

However, he and Henry both had a slice much later that night at Olympic Flame, which was chosen on a whim. I noticed that they had a framed certificate in the front declaring them the 2022 winner of the best pizza award. Mu curiosity was piqued but I had too much cheese for one day and instead ordered a kalamata olive pita which was DELICIOUS, might I add. But don’t worry – that didn’t stop me from trying some of Henry’s green pepper slice and OK, Olympic Flame. I see you. That was a FINE SLICE, indeed, and in my opinion, worthy of that highest honor piece of paper.

It wasn’t as thin or as greasy as Mack’s, but still had a sweet-ish sauce, and the crust was sooooo soft and not the opposite of dry (M O I S T). I was a believer. Did I like it more than Mack’s? I DON’T KNOW! Probably not. I need to go back again next year and eat nothing but pizza. For science.

Chooch had been going on all weekend about the “corner piece” he saw but couldn’t remember where. We kepy saying, “You mean square slices?” and he would just say, “Corners.” Um, OK. He kept running up to every place we walked by in order to ogle the pizzas at the counter, until he finally found his coveted corners at Franconi’s.

The corners in question.

Here he is on the move with his piping hot corner which he declared the winner. I tried a bite, much to his infernal resistance and disgust, and it was pretty good! I think I would rank it right below Olympic Flame and much higher above Sam’s. I think now I just want to hate Sam’s on principal. Like, what kind of person actually thinks Sam’s is the best, I’m so confused about this!

“You like Sicilian pizza, then,” Henry said to Chooch.

“No, I like corners,” Chooch argued.

“Yes, Sicilian,” Henry pushed, and really, why do we set ourselves up for this frustration?? We should know by now that you literally cannot tell Chooch anything without him turning into Riley, Riley, Quite Contrary. Disagreeing with us is what gives him life, I’m convinced.

It’s now Tuesday and they’re still arguing about Sicilian pizza.

“I used to like Sicilian pizza a lot when I was a kid,” Henry mused on our nightly walk and I called him a cunt because I had no other response.

I gotta get back to Wildwood next summer because now I regret not also trying a slice at Hot Spot, ughhh. And if you’re wondering why I didn’t have any on Sunday, it’s because I had a boardwalk smoothie bowl for lunch (listen Linda, I love me a fucking smoothie bowl and I had to put a moratorium on the grease intake until an hour later when I had some Curley’s fries.

Vacation, amirite. Now I’m back on that oatmeal and exercise grind!

Sigh.

Aug 152022
 

Yo yo yo. Here I am, Erin-Not-Kelly, coming at you live with some updates from the road. It’s 6:12p currently and we are finally on our way back to Pittsburgh after a weekend full of coasters and cry-babying (I didn’t get enough sleep ok??).

We went to Six Flags Great Adventure yesterday after leaving Morey’s Piers and had our best visit yet – it was actually absurd how good it was. I’ll recap that in full later but just to show you how much of a blast we had marathonning El Toro at the end of the night, here’s what my elbow looked like this morning:

I’m glad it’s just a bruise because I was worried that I actually chipped my elbow bone lol ugh.

We stayed in a Hampton in Horsham (LOLOL) PA which is near Doylestown which is where Anthony Green from Circa Survive lives! I know, you’re really fascinated by that. Anyway though the hotel was actually quite decent.

I wanted to go for a walk while Chooch was showering because I’m in this Workweek Hustle FitBit challenge and since I got late start this morning, I was in last place (gasp!). So we told Chooch we were doing this and Henry also grabbed most of our bags while he was at it since we were going outside. The walk itself was uneventful, but when we got back to the hotel, we ran into Chooch in the lobby, holding a plate of breakfast in one hand, a yogurt stick in his mouth, and his carry-on in his other hand, looking utterly lost. He thought we checked out I guess because he wasn’t paying attention to us as usual. He said he got everything out of the room but Henry was like I WILL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT and went back up. He left his Holiday World Voyage shirt and a brush there, plus Henry said the shower wasn’t even turned all the way off.

“It was like he killed someone and ran,” Henry muttered when he came back down, tossing Chooch’s shirt at his face.

So surly.

The breakfast buffet had little cornbread bars which was a nice surprise. I love cornbread unless it’s bad cornbread. This wasn’t the best but it was MOIST and more like a cornbread cupcake tbh.

Then we left for Hershey Park and I will obviously write about that later DON’T YOU FRET, but I will give you a bigly spoiler and say that it was another U G H experience there – not as bad as last year but meh enough that I will not be going back unless the RMC rumor is true because at this point it will take a RMC to motivate me. I just don’t think the coaster lineup there is worth the hype. Is it just me?! Because it seems like it’s just me. I like ONE COASTER there enough to willingly stand in line for it and it’s not even one of the ones all the enthusiasts circle-jerk around (Great Bear, if you’re wondering).

We did go to the Hershey Chocolate Experience thing afterward though to get some gifts for Blake since he checked in on our cats three times in the last month-ish. Chooch and I did the Chocolate ride while Henry shopped. This ride has better ops than any ride in the actual park, IMO.

And now we’re on our way home. I am so tired!! I think being an Old Person is finally starting to affect me. I woke up with a headache Sunday and today.

(Lol Henry just turned up the radio because Saturday Drip – NCT Dream came on and that is his BOP.)

We just stopped at a rest area with a 7-Eleven and it was the most chaotic we’ve been as a family unit in quite some time. We kept slamming into each other and openly bickering and then I got hit with a wave of drowsiness so great that it made me crash into a display of sunglasses (only one fell off thank god) and then when the cashier asked Henry if he wanted a bag, he said NOOOOOOOoooooooo like she tried to hand him herpes and I appreciate his environmental love even if it was performative but the way he said that really bugged me so I spat, “Why did you say it like that??”

“I can say it however I want,” he shout back with a haughtiness that didn’t sit well with me AT ALL and the cashier CHUCKLED so now she can get fucked too.

Now Chooch, he is still pouting because Starbucks was closing right when we got there, is doubly-pouting because he wishes he had got a hoodie in Wildwood – this after just bitching because he can’t feel the a/c in the backseat – and it reminded me that I got a Wildwood sweatshirt so now I’m wearing it.

“Wow you’re so cool,” Chooch mumbled. Lololol.

Buying this yesterday was a whole ass experience. I don’t feel like getting into it right now though.

I don’t know why this trip feels so much more exhausting than others since we we’ve only been gone since Friday night but when I say I am wiped out, I truly mean it. Saturday and Sunday were both exceptionally long & action-packed days. Good god.

But now we only have 90 more minutes until hooooooome!

Aug 142022
 

Hello from Wildwood! We got in around 7a after a night of very little sleep – the hotel was fine but I kept waking up because I was straight freezing and CHOOCH was on a call with MEXICO SQUAD until the wee hours so that kept waking me up too.

Too early to check-in, so we parked near our hotel (Island Breeze) which is right across from Surfside Pier so super convenient since that’s where the Coastin’ By the Ocean event registration and ERT was happening from 9a-12p.

So we used our free time to get breakfast at Andy’s (we all got an omelette variation and I had immediately regertz because I had been heavily leaning toward a waffle but then Chooch ordered first and got a spinach and feta omelette so then I thought IS IT SAVORY ME FOR ME TOO? and changed my order to a mushroom omelette at the final hour and I shouldn’t have done that).

Then we just walked around until it was time to check in to the Coastin’ By the Ocean enthusiast event. More later!

Henry doing the bare minimum, FYI.

Aug 122022
 

Yo yo yo we’re currently en route to Wildwood and I’m not doing a TRADITIONAL LIVEBLOG but here are some PICTURES.

Chooch has been into reading again ever since Mexico (thank you to his new friends for inspiring him to read again! He’s currently reading Bullet Train (Bad Bunny is evidently in the movie and Chooch’s “Mexico Squad” are obsessed with him so I assume this is what instigated his desire to read the book?) and is having such a good time with it that’s he’s intermittently cracking up in the backseat and has already rated it 5 stars on Goodreads even though he’s only 1/3 done.

Meanwhile I’m reading this which is blah:

Stopped at the same rest area in Bedford where we ran into Bridget last fall!

There’s a cool wall of Turnpike artifacts that I never bothered to look at until today.

I thought they were CHEERSing their Starbucks but I dunno what was actually happening. Also it annoys me that anytime Chooch GRUDGINGLY lets me have a sip of his drinks, he immediately gropes for a napkin to wipe off the lid. Dude, I’m your MOTHER?!

We are currently driving thru the stinkiest stretch of Pennsylvania, holy fucking shit.

At another rest stop. This guy is stocking the pastry shelf and HIS GIRLFRIEND JACKED HER FINGER UP TODAY REAL GOOD BUT SHE WON’T GO TO THE DOCTOR.

Omg another rest stop!

I dunno why this is so funny to me but Chooch obv. does not agree.

Trying to get a picture of the super moon that’s been evading him all night.

We’ll be at our hotel in Somewhere, NJ in about 20 minutes (11pm) and then tomorrow we’ll have another hour to drive before WILDWOOD so I am signing off now byeeee.

Aug 112022
 

I can’t believe I missed Duran Duran Day yesterday! I even saw it on the work calendar earlier this week and was all geared up to Simon Le Bon the shit out of my coworkers, but alas. Here we are, a day late and a…Duran short.

This is super cliché, but my all-time favorite Duran song is Hungry Like the Wolf. I was just a small tot when it came out, and it’s one of those songs that still triggers an emotional response in my brain and belly, and I want nothing more but to be transported back in time, riding to my Pappap’s house in my mom’s red Pontiac with the McD’s sweet and sour sauce stains on the backseat, ready for a long summer day of swimming. Ah, to relive the 80s!

My dad had several Duran Duran CDs in his garage music collection and I can remember sneaking in there during one of our many STAND OFFS and “borrowing” some of them to make mixed tapes with in the mid-90s.

And another strong memory involving this song was the time in high school when I accompanied Lisa to get her bellybutton pierced in Oakland. Her mom was also there since Lisa was a minor, and Lisa’s older friend / former babysitter Kim who I thought was SO COOL back then but then learned as an adult how decidedly NOT COOL she is when we had briefly reunited. Anyway, I had my camcorder with me because that was basically an extension of my arm back then, and I remember walking down the sidewalk and screaming I LOVE THIS SONG as we walked past a parked car with Hungry Like the Wolf emanating from within. (This is yet another reminder to get all of my old home videotapes converted – HENRY HELP WITH THIS PLZ AND THANKS.)

To this day, when I hear this song, I have to pause and take it in, marinate in that 80s new romantic synth bath. It just never gets old to me, and that opening laugh makes me giddy every time.

Pretty  much anything Duran Duran did in the 80s is my personal preference, but tailing Hungry Like the Wolf for my favorite is this masterpiece that they released in the 90s which I always associate with the way my bedroom was arranged at the time – bed to the right of the doorway, facing the window – which my mom did while I was in Europe with my grandparents. Every time I hear that song, I can imagine myself laying on my bed and watching the video on MTV on my teeny tiny white TV on the wavy metal shelf that I STILL HAVE as an adult. 

Anyway, I love when so many childhood memories are attached to a band.

P.S. My aunt Susie had the most majestic Simon Le Bon bouffant back then too – Simon Le Bouffant?

Aug 102022
 

Right after Chooch left for Mexico, Henry and I started to rearrange his room. Nothing too life-altering! It was just basically swapped out a bookshelf and dresser so that there’s more space to walk into his room now. The dresser was too long for the wall it originally sat in front of. Now you can actually open his bedroom door and walk in without getting Ikea “wood” jammed up into your hip!

We also strung up some fiesta bunting as a nod to his one-month home of Mexico.

I don’t think I ever realized that he has a PRIME VIEW of the Cure corner from his room. I’m sure this is so very thrilling to him.

Honestly, I was a nervous wreck all day waiting for Chooch. So many emotions! Happiness that he was coming home, anxiety for him traveling alone, sadness for him having to leave his new friends…I was a mess.

It didn’t help that his flight wasn’t due to land in PGH until around 10:30p, so it was a long ass day, my friends.

LUCKILY!! The lame-o church carnival across the street had an oldies cover band called THE WURMS performing. They played  Stray Cat Strut for approx. 20 minutes and then abruptly left. Henry said that was because they were “practicing” and by that I think he meant SOUNDCHECKING.

They did eventually come back out and went on to play other songs like my fave SECRET AGENT MAN and I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW, but then they reverted back Stray Cat Strut.

HNC was thoroughly enjoying the show, though, and that’s all that matters.

Drew, waiting for Chooch.

Anyway, then we went to the airport and picked him up but you already knew that.

The next day, Janna and Judy came over for WELCOME HOME TACO PARTY!

We even had a bowl of cactus because apparently that was Chooch’s favorite thing that he ate in Mexico but he was REALLY NERVOUS over the fact that Henry had prepared this for him. I mean, we got it at the local Mexican grocery store, Las Palmas, not from the plant section in Home Depot so I dunno what he thought was going to happen?!

I told him to do something for the picture and I guess he was still riding that GROUP PICTURE wave from Mexico because he actually did something instead of yelling at me for wanting a picture.

We were all so happy to have Chooch back and he actually told us stories and let us look at the SHARED ALBUM he has with his Mexico squad! I’m obsessed with them by the way. Earlier that afternoon, he was on a video call with them in his room and it was the purest thing ever, oh my dumb heart.

<3

Apparently, one of the girls in the group (not in his squad though) was a delinquent who lives in a penthouse in Philly and kept going to clubs all night and missing class and she ended up having her college credit revoked! And a fifteen year old girl in the group made out with a twenty year old local on the beach in front of the group leaders!

I also had to laugh because in addition to the language and culture group, there was a smaller group of students there for leadership and something, and every time CIEE would devote posts to them on Insta, I would get so angry because it meant chooch wouldn’t be in it. I kept screaming I HATE THESE LEADERSHIP KIDS! NO ONE CARES! and apparently the language and culture kids felt the same way lol. Chooch said it was so annoying because they weren’t a part of any of the stuff they were doing but always showed up for the excursions and no one liked them. They looked so boring!!

And that was pretty much the weekend, in case you were wondering. Preparing for Chooch and celebrating Chooch!

Aug 092022
 
Oh man, after the Red Arrow, we went to Newbury Comics and spent a good hour there. I went straight for the kpop section and Alyson came with me! I thought she was just humoring me at first, but she stayed with me the whole time and asked me questions about various groups and why some albums came in big boxes while others didn’t, and I was beside myself with excitement to be sharing this part of my life with a friend! And Henry was in such a good mood that he was like, “I don’t care,” when I ran over and asked, “CAN I GET STRAY KIDS,  TOO??”
Anyway, here’s my haul! (Plus the GOT7 album that Alyson gifted to me!)

On the way back to Alyson’s, she asked me to put on Taemin and I was like OMG GLADLY. You guys, no one has requested that I put on kpop before so this was…it was just a good feeling. I felt truly happy and seen! And then back at Alyson’s, I unboxed everything and she was like WHO DID YOU GET? because photocard anticipation is contagious!

I was really just in the most happiest zone all weekend, I swear to G-Dragon.

Later that afternoon, it was ICE CREAM TIME. We drove across the border to Massachusetts for some homemade Dr. Davis Ice Cream.

They had “frozen pudding” as a flavor and I homed in this immediately because I had never heard of such an ice cream combination before. I was going to make Henry order it in case I didn’t like it, but then he asked if he could sample it. Thank god, because he let me try it and it was NOT what I was expecting, so he didn’t order it. I was anticipating something akin to a Pudding Pop only not shilled by a serial rapist, but it was more like a muted vanilla with a hint of cherry? It wasn’t bad by any means, but also not what I was in the mood for.
I ended getting birthday cake because that’s totally my signature flavor tied with red velvet, and also a scoop of Grahamtastic, which was in fact extremely graham and tastic. I loved both of my picks so much, but Alyson’s was the most visually pleasing out of all of ours and now I regret not snapping a pic, but she had bubblegum in a cone with chocolate sprinkles, and it was just had THE LOOK of SUMMER FUN to it.

And then Ryan got a banana split which made me have major ordering remorse because maybe it was actually a sundae that I was craving after all?? UGH I should have made Henry order a SUNDAE!!

Henry ended up getting pineapple coconut or something and it tasted fine but it didn’t HIT my SPOT. Maybe he planned it that way so I wouldn’t be stealing bites?? But then he went back and got a second scoop of butter rum or something, I can’t remember but it was definitely a nursing home flavor and also, it was delicious.

In my zone, my ice cream zone.

Next, we went to Brookdale Fruit Farm! Henry and I had a quiet fight (mostly through flared nostrils and dagger eyes) over my want of a jar of CARROT CAKE SPREAD which Henry thought was OVERPRICED and then asked, “What would you even eat this with?” and I scoffed, “OATMEAL OR WHATEVER I WANT, ALSO NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS” and then I said, “JUST FORGET IT” and put it back but he snatched it back off the shelf and then we had a tug of war in front of an old guy and I never want old people to think I’m a jerk so I let Henry take it but then when we was in line to pay, I grabbed it and put it back on the shelf and then spent the next five minutes mouthing, “DIE, I HATE YOU” to him when Alyson and Ryan weren’t looking but then I was OK once we embarked on our ORCHARD WALK.
I think I just needed to be walked.
We had so much fun walking around all the baby apples and posing for Alyson!

Alyson, looking for frogs.

And now for some LOG PORTRAITS…

I love this picture because Henry looks like he’s hoping to be abducted by orchard aliens, like, “GET ME OUT OF HERE, PLZ, I’LL TAKE ANAL PROBES ANYDAY OVER THIS LOG PHOTO SHOOT.”

Did somebody say….”individually-wrapped prunes??”

My repertoire of poses is very sparse.
I knew this was Queen’s Anne Lace but I never knew that the black dot in the middle was supposed to be “blood” from when she pricked her finger making the lace! Alyson was basically like an orchard tour guide!

Muskrat Watch.

(Also this is how I learned that in Alyson’s region of America, groundhogs are called woodchucks! I never knew they were the same thing!

I so badly want this to be a Ludacris-branded Honeycrisp.

Ryan was taking pictures of a butterfly so then I had to do it too because I’m a follower.

We walked so much! I appreciated that they knew I needed steps and placed me in a scenario where I could achieve my goal. And also that they’re both FitBit users as well and understand the compulsion of counting steps. I love being outside so much and this was such a nice vibe. We did lose Ryan for an extended amount of time though because we got sidetracked by MUSKRAT WATCH.

By the time we made it back to the parking lot, the actual farm store had closed and we were the only car in the lot.

Then it was CEMETERY TIME, which I already posted about and a quick tour of downtown Nashua, where I learned that this fancy restaurant used to be a whore house:

…and that Stephen Tyler’s mom is in a nearby nursing home and he’s sometimes spotted around town!

Eventually, it was time to say goodbye since Alyson’s work days start really early and we had a long drive ahead of us the next day. It was so hard to leave though! Relaxing on their back porch & chatting was so much fun and it really sucks that there is nearly 10 hours of driving time between us. I hope it’s not another nine years before we get to see each other again!

I feel really #blessed that I got to see Bill and Jessi, and Alyson and Ryan, all in the same month. They are all on my very short list of favorite people. Thank you for making time for us, Alyson and Ryan, and for making my birthday so memorable and sweet!

Aug 072022
 

Sunday morning, we picked up Alyson and then went to meet Ryan at his mom’s condo, which is in an old shoe factory and super trendy. I would consider dumping Henry and moving to Manchester, NH to live the single life in a swanky industrial condo.

The building kept some of the original factory things, which made it even more awesome. I am all for retaining history while repurposing a thing.

We got to briefly meet Ryan’s mom while Ryan was finishing up her breakfast – their relationship is adorable and is GOALS for me – although I’m not sure if being in a position where Chooch is my caregiver is something that I should really strive for.

Actually, I just started to clench up at the thought.

But the banter that Ryan and his mom was actually precious and entertaining!

After listening to some music Ryan is working on and dying over the in-progress track list of his and Alyson’s metal album about NOTARY THINGS, we drove to the nearby Red Arrow Diner, which is FAMOUS and real-life presidents have dined there! This is one of my favorite things to do when visiting a new place – dine at famous establishments!

Being scolded by Ryan!

“Now just so you know, this is a FAMOUS diner that ADAM SANDLER has frequented, so don’t go embarrassing me in here, you two!”

The Red Arrow is very very very tiny so we sat at the counter rather than waiting for one of the handful of booths to free up, and that actually turned out to be a great decision because it made me feel like I was a part of things. The two waitresses (Robin, pictured above, was ours and she was FANTASTIC and NO-NONSENSE) had some kind of fake-beef going on with the kitchen crew and it was pretty entertaining.

Henry sat on the same stool that once supported GUY FIERI’S diner-hopping buttocks so I had to immediately text my friend Bill, avid Fieri-hater, who responded with, “That is a cursed seat. I can only imagine the burden Sandra Bernhard carries.”

I brought a mug home with me!

Robin over there giving the kitchen crew a piece of her mind, probably.

J/K! Both Robin and the other lady would always say APPRECIATE YOU after yelling, “CAN I GET A MAPLE SYRUP?!” Also, it was such a tight and narrow space back there that observing both servers maneuver around each other was almost like watching a well-choreographed dance.

I look so tired here but I was extremely content – and hungry!

I had to send this to Chooch because when Romney ran against Obama, Chooch was a staunch hater. I remember being at work one night and Henry texting me that Chooch had popped off in Kmart about how he hoped THAT MITT ROMNEY would lose, lol – he was like 6 or something at the time but had a very firm politcal stance.

OK, I was teetering back and forth between sweet vs savory breakfast but I knew we were going to get ice cream later, so I went with the caprese omelet and RYE TOAST which ended up being the star of the show for me, Bob. It was the type of rye I crave – the thick, fresh, marbeled variety! I was talking about this toast for a solid three days afterward and Henry was just like BEAM ME UP SCOTTY.

I have no idea why my fingers typed those words with absolutely no prompt from my brain because I have never actually watched Star Trek nor do I remember the last time I even heard someone say that? Sometimes I think I become briefly possessed by people I have nothing in common with when I’m writing in here.

I love these pictures so much. Great food and meaningful conversation with awesome friends – the best combo!

ROBIN!

Oh yeah! Then the servers went around and asked if it was anyone’s first time, and if so, where were we from. I was super excited about this – WHAT DID IT MEAN? WOULD THERE BE A CEREMONY?? Especially when Robin ripped several stickers off a roll, held them against her chest, and said DON’T LOOK!

Then the other server RANG A BELL and made an announcement, calling out the locations of the first-timers! She forgot Pittsburgh though and I was sad, but then she remembered and went back and gave us a separate shout-out which was really exciting until I remembered that we were in a region of Pittsburgh haters (THANKS, STEELERS) so then I was trying to hide my face, lol. Anyway, Robin made us put on the stickers and I did so happily. This is also when I realized that there was another roll of CLEAN PLATE AWARD stickers and from then on, I was on a mission to clean my damn plate to get the AWARD.

Of course I succeeded and I was so smug about it, since Henry’s plate wasn’t clean.

BUT THEN HE GOT A STICKER TOO?? I was incredulous over this!

“You still have beans on your plate!!!” I cried, but he tried to legitimize it by saying that they were on “the saucer” portion of the bowl and “were served that way” and that he wasn’t going to “eat them off that plate.”

Um, OK? Seems ridiculous to me, but cook on.

Alyson later commented on Instagram that some people’s awards were won fraudulently, and now FRAUDULENT, FAMOUS BAKED BEANS is part of our TOLHURT repertoire.

My sticker, which was won fairly.

Thank you.

Oh man, we also nabbed one of these for the road, which we ate later that night and I wish we had opted for the bulk package that they offered.

My verdict is that the Red Arrow delivers. I can see why it’s famous and I already can’t wait to go back and try some pie with a side of RYE TOAST.

Thank you for taking us here, Alyson! Good call!

Aug 072022
 

true to form, we waited for him to come down the steps forever and then finally started to wonder where he was so Henry texted him and was like WHERE U AT and he was like BAGGAGE CLAIM?! He somehow walked right past us and we didn’t see him?! So our reunion was extremely anticlimactic.

BUT HE IS HOME, CHOOCH IS BACK!! HE IS ACTUALLY TELLING US STORIES RIGHT NOW IN THE CAR SO BYEEEE.

Aug 052022
 

Please allow me to get a little out of order here and skip ahead to our Sunday evening in Hollis, New Hampshire, where we stopped to stroll about an old ass cemetery. In Pittsburgh, we don’t have any that are *this* old obviously so I was glad for this chance to ogle some 18th century tombstones, after a full day of Famous Diner’ing, Kpop shopping, ice creaming, apple orchard walking – all of which I will get to soon!

1743!!!!

Blending in!

We all split up and quietly observed the history. I was looking for either mine or Chooch’s birthdates because that’s what we do when we go on walks in cemeteries here and whoever spots theirs first wins. I didn’t see any 7/30 or 4/25, sadly :(

We were obsessed with the fact that GEORGEHENRY’s headstone was bigger than his parents and his dad was A DOCTOR! Probably the ONLY DOCTOR, even!

“What’s that finger-pointing symbol mean? I’m #1?” I asked, only moderately joking.

Hennry googled it and it apparently means that he’s going up to Heaven so I guess he’s the only one, because no one else had that.

Michael Myers in the Cemetery stance.

This one was my favorite.

I love how thin the headstones were back then.

Henry and I actually bonded a little over our shared disgust at the FONT that some of these headstones used, where the S looked like an F. HIDEOUS.

DISGUSTING!

Repulsive.

We were obsessed with this one because there was a 40-something age difference between these two.

Abigail and Ebenezer – classic.

DEATH BY ACCIDENTAL CANNON DISCHARGE, zzzzzzoinkers.

Lydia is such a great fucking name. Lydia and Enoch. I wonder if they were a fun couple, getting drunk on boot juice and spreading rumors about who has syphilis.

Man, this was a really peaceful, quiet interlude to an excellent weekend. I’m glad that it’s something we call could experience and appreciate together!

Aug 042022
 

I posted a bunch of these pictures on Insta and my friend Maya said, “Lots of genuine happiness showing through in these…” The Internet and social media definitely have so many negative contributions to life, but without it, I may never have made such true, real friendships, like with Alyson, and Bill & Jessi who we also had the opportunity to spend time with earlier this summer. It sucks that there is so much distance between us but when we get the chance to reunite, it’s literally a party and Maya is so right – you can tell that my smile is real in these! And Henry is, well, Henry.

Alyson and Ryan are both FitBit users so they understood my need to meet my step count for the day and suggested that we take a stroll through the nearby Greeley Park. I kept thinking of the metalcore band Greeley Estates and it was making me nostalgic for Warped Tours of yesteryear. Anyway, this park was so beautiful and forest-y.

Henry looks exactly the same in both shots lol.

I was really this happy all weekend!

The main attraction was the FAMOUS BATHROOM that serves as a backdrop for wedding portraits and the like. I can confirm that, for a public restroom, it really had the most majestic facade. Here’s a picture of NO PICTURES, PLEASE Henry.

Alyson snapped this one – we tag-teamed him and he was not pleased, lol. Two people obsessed with taking his picture? Oof!

I mean, I was drunk, but I didn’t think Henry was – this picture says otherwise!

Serious contemplation.

You guys, I love them so much, lol!

Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube People.

We had such a fun time running around like dummies, watching Ryan climbing a tree (Henry, alleged Tree Climber Extraordinaire according to his mom, suddenly “didn’t feel like” climbing the tree. SUSPISH.), and sitting on cannon things!

Henry found one of his beloved TOBY TREES so we all pretended to be pre-teen Henrys, tokin’ on Tobys. (I still don’t really know how/why anyone would smoke these?? I surely never did as a kid?!)

When we came back to the Wilson abode, Ryan and Alyson got to work on some clandestine dinner which turned out to be 순두부찌개 (soondubu jjigae)!!! I could NOT believe it and came very close to crying because it meant so much to me that they were willing to cook something Korean for me (ugh, apparently Henry was their consultant on this matter, but I give Alyson and Ryan all the credit!). I actually haven’t had any kind of 찌개 in quite some time so it tasted extra good and heart-warming!

Honestly, it turned out so great and was the perfect “I’ve been drinking all day” dinner!

And then a FRUITY PEBBLE CUPCAKE! It was so rich, a real chunky boy! Bigger than my fist! The cake itself was lemon, which is my second favorite cake flavor, next to almond, so I was super content. Korean food and a cupcake? The perfect birthday dinner!

As if that wasn’t enough, I was then gifted with the most recent GOT7 album and I screamed, especially when I pulled my bias Youngjae’s photocard! This was Ryan and Alyson’s first time watching a Kpop album unboxing and they were like WHOA.

“No one buys it for the actual CD,” Henry mumbled.

“Yeah, it’s all about the photobook and other surplus items they throw in,” I explained, holding up a sheet of stickers.

Ryan admitted that this was pretty smart marketing and now I want him and Alyson to do a whole boxed set with a photobook and stickers when they record their metal album about the notary stuff. (Alyson let me see her song list and it is EPIC.) She said she wants one of the pictures to be her angrily stamping papers.

I’m high-key obsessed with this album coming into fruition now.

Day One was so much fun! In honor of my new GOT7 album, I will end this with their member Jackson Wang’s new solo song, Cruel, which just came out last Friday and I watched it before we left for the weekend while Henry was doing all the work packing the car, and maybe this is why he forgot our entire toiletry bag and therefore had to make an early-morning Rite Aid run the next day.

 

Aug 032022
 

Here is what I have been able to snag from various corners of Insta, in addition to whatever crumbs Chooch feels like flicking my way.

They had the actual pinata party thing on week 3. There were a million videos of everyone taking a whack, but none of Chooch, that little jerk!

Yes, yes I am!

I mentioned to Sue at July’s casual lunch that this was something they were going to do eventually, and she was very invested in. I sent her pictures after it finally happened and she said that he should make guacamole for the pie party, and now my mind is spinning with various savory Mexican pies he can make!!

He said his group didn’t win but I even the losers got to enjoy the guac, I’m sure, so to me there were no losers.

I asked him where this was.

“A street.”

Cool!

They did a cooking class thing. This is a screenshot of a video that CIEE Yucatan posted in their story. I have notifications on and I’m always the first like on all the posts so I imagine I’m always the FIRST VIEW on their stories too. Thirsty but for weird reasons.

I need to ask Chooch what he was talking to that guy about in that small picture up there!!!

I think this was on my birthday, when he Facetimed me!!

And then whatever this is!

Man, I’m so excited to see him this weekend!!! Maybe at some point I can get him to do a recap on here of his favorite moments, LOL j/k we all know that’s not going to happen.

Aug 022022
 

Ahhh I’m so excited for these upcoming recaps but also sad because it means the weekend is over. OK, lemme set this shit up for:

I always get depressed on my birthday – not because of AGING, although that’s NOT GREAT. I feel like I whine about this every other year so we’ll skip the history of my birthday depression this time and go right into the remedy: planning something fun so that I have a thing to look forward to. This year, Chooch would be missing my birthday because he chose Mexico over me, so I decided that I wanted to go somewhere for the weekend just to get away and have All of the Fun. I can’t remember why but my friend Alyson and I were engaging in our patented giddy texts – probably something about Hot Naybor Chris or Henry crossing the street, who even knows with us! And it got me thinking that I haven’t seen her in way too long! I had to go back in my blog to find the exact year, and I’m pretty sure it was the winter of 2014 when she was in Pgh to see a band she loved/was friends with and I hung out with them later in her hotel room, where we drank good wine and ate chocolate made by BOBBY BLITZ’S wife.

That was her third time here in Pittsburgh, visiting, and we had only gone to visit her in New Hampshire ONCE so it was definitely our turn. I asked her if she’d be up for it and she said YES and when my birthday weekend was one of the options she suggested, it felt like it was meant to be!

We’ve known each other since 2005, where we met on LiveJournal and I am so thankful that our long-distance friendship has managed to stay solid over all of these years. It’s not often that someone else scream-laughs over the same senseless shit as me!

We left Friday morning and the plan was to get to our hotel in Nashua around 9pm that night and meet for breakfast in the morning, but if you read my liveblog, then you know I managed to stretch Friday out until near-snapping point and we didn’t arrive until 1AM. LOL, sorry Henry.

When we got to Alyson’s Saturday morning, I ALMOST cried. ALMOST. I was just so emotional! Every year, I would write, “MAYBE <INSERT NEXT YEAR> WILL BE THE YEAR WE SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN!” and finally, 2022 was the magic year. YEAH. BOI.

The only request I had for the whole weekend was BREAKFAST AT PARKER’S MAPLE BARN. Alyson took us here in 2013, where she famously grilled Henry about TED NUGENT. 

I was irrationally mad that Henry and I both wore purple. Especially since his shirt is the shade of purple I like most. Ugh.

First we had to sit in the quarantine room and wait for a table. The hostess even came and SHUT THE DOOR and I started to panic because there was no handle on our side of it!! But then Alyson got the TABLE READY text and Henry strode right up to the door like he had built it himself with tools he carries around in his trunk, and wrenched it right open. We were so in awe.

J/K, no one cared.

But then as one of the hostesses was gathering our menus, she was talking on the phone / bluetooth the whole time about what sounded like personal matters. I was like, “Wow, I don’t want to say this out loud and bring down the mood, but this broad is being super rude.” When we got to our table, Henry kept going on and on about “was there in a hole in the floor?” and finally I snapped, “OMG what are you talking about??” and he was shook that we didn’t see the other hostess behind the register, laying on the floor.

“Oh, was that who our hostess was talking to?? I thought she was on the phone. I was going to say, wow she’s so rude” and Alyson said she was thinking the same thing!

I dunno, I just asked him about it again and his story is awfully convoluted. I have no idea what was happening. “Maybe there was a downstairs,” I don’t know,” he just said exasperatedly so now he has the hostess standing on steps to a storm cellar instead of laying prone on the wooden floor.

We saw SAID HOSTESS a few minutes later, walking about like she hadn’t just been allegedly lying on the floor, so I’m not sure what the hell Henry thought he saw. But now I’m obsessed with knowing.

The main reason I wanted to come here was for the maple coffee – I had never even *heard* of or considered the possibility of maple coffee before  my first visit to Parker’s and scoffed a few years later when STARBUCKS came late onto the maple scene.

It was just as divine as I remembered!

We all had delicious breakfasts but I think Henry won the fast breaking game by choosing DEEPFRIED over grilled when the waitress asked him how he wanted his side of French toast cooked. Holy shit I never want non-deepfried French toast ever again after tasting that.

Henry, post-bathroom emergence.

Henry took this so it is v. unflattering toward me but I need every picture of Alyson and me together so I did not delete! Also, one of the signs is in Korean! It’s the one on the righthand tree, all alone.

Basically the same picture but this filter always tickles me.

Alyson took this of Henry exiting the gift shop, where we bought maple syrup for Chooch and some candy.

After breakfast, we went the long way back to Alyson’s so that we could stop at a nursery called The House on the Side of the Road, I think? It was so cute! They give you small bags of freshly popped complimentary popcorn to eat while plant-perusing!

I bought these two babies and Henry said he was surprised that was all I walked away with. Trust me, I was eyeing up so many more!

Back at the Wilson Residence, we finally met Ryan, who put mimosas in our hands and we proceeded to have the most relaxing / sloshy afternoon, chatting about everything, watching Alyson angrily highlight a misspelling in her cocktail recipe book, and watching the wildlife in their backyard. Also spying on their neighbors, so you know I felt right at home!!

I brought Alyson some Narcisi wine because she was the only person who thought my brother Corey’s and my obsession with this place was funny. She and I alone killed this bottle, plus I took copious swigs of all the delicious frozen drinks she was serving up to Henry.

Yoooo, I was plastered! I drink so infrequently these days that even one drink hits me hard. But, it was my birthday and we weren’t going anywhere, so I kept drinking!

Then, and I can’t even believe this happened and Henry swears he didn’t tell him to do it, but Chooch Facetimed me from Merida!! He was at the beach with his friends and he even let one of them talk to me! I was probably slurring but he’s used to me being weird on the phone so he probably didn’t notice. Alyson got to talk to him too!

This is a good spot to end Part 1!