Mar 272020
 

Hello from Week 2 of Covid House Arrest. Things are still weird but I’m grateful that I have a job that allows us to work from home, where I can stay safe with Chooch who is mostly fine to be around, I guess. We both have our moments. Then Henry comes home and creates all of the waves. Anyway, here is a weekday recap because perhaps one day when Chooch is an old man, he will want to reflect on these times with his grandchildren who will shake their heads and ask, “You mean people in 2020 didn’t have Pluto pods to retreat to while the Space Medics eradicated the virus harbingers with lasers?” and Chooch will be all, “No, things were super primitive back then. Civilization had a lot of rebuilding to do post-Donald Trump.”

MONDAY

Oh great. Another week of no structure/routine/discipline. Chooch and I scream randomly now for no reason and respond to each other with aggressively curt “ok cool”s. Welcome to Hell House.

I decide early on that I won’t lose myself to news alerts. This lasts about 36 seconds and I’ve circled back to Chest Pain City.

Chooch lit crackers on fire and threw them outside into the rain. This is where are now, activity-wise. Setting food aflame. Can we consider this some sort of school experiment? A home-ec/science crossover event?

“Put your headphones back on and listen to your dumb audio book,” Chooch spat after I told him to do something worthwhile.

My team at work has an email thread going where we’re sharing pictures of our pets but mine are sleeping in their secret spots so I share a picture of my non-furry pet instead – he is so happy!

He was in the middle of menacingly saying “what are you going to do with that?”

Henry forwarded both of us a text from the school and we both responded with CAPSLOCK’d shittiness, unbeknownst to each other. Mine was “OH FUCKING KAY.”

Chooch went outside to kick a soccer ball against the house and it hit him in the face, so I’m just going to go ahead and call that as my highlight.

Henry has been home for over an hour but is “napping.” Now we’re screaming MAKE FUCKING DINNER up the steps.

He finally came down and made dinner. I can’t remember what he made. Everything has melded together in my mind. I have to constantly look at my phone to see what day it is.

My friend Veronica alerted me to this!!

TUESDAY

Today is my mom’s birthday. Unrelated, Henry found her toilet paper and dropped it off on her porch. Weird timing, but happy birthday! Enjoy your toilet paper!

Meanwhile, Chooch and I are decidedly office nemeses now. I was trying to listen to an audiobook (“Station Eleven” – super good and um, very timely) but I kept hearing his stupid YouTube videos playing in the other room, even over my headphones so there was a lot of TURN IT DOWN!!!s happening. And he was like, “I can hear your stupid audio book through your headphones!” and I was like, “I HAVE TO KEEP IT LOUD TO BLOCK OUT YOUR STUPID SHIT AND THE BABIES CRYING NEXT DOOR!”

Then I had to call into a meeting and Chooch kept screaming, “SHE SAID YOU’RE ANNOYING!”

“I have it muted, dumb-stick,” I scoffed. Like, does he think I was born yesterday?

It really was a super long meeting though. In other work news, one of the group emails I was on featured a discussion about what cozy clothes we were wearing and I had zero will or desire to participate. I’m basically feral at this point. Don’t talk to me.

No wait, talk to me! I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT ANYMORE!

On my break, Chooch and I ran laps around the empty church parking lot across the street. I’m too afraid to venture anywhere farther than that.

Then we looked up allegedly “easy” vegan recipes that we could potentially make during the day since our chef isn’t home, but the first one I put on immediately wanted us to peel a potato and I screamed PEEL IT YOURSELF and started to look for another recipe video but lost interest at an alarming speed and put on a Booktube video instead. But then Chooch found some “Easy Naan-type bread” video but it called for lemon juice for some reason and we don’t have that, so he texted Henry “bring home lemon juice” 8x and Henry responded, “Do you need lemon juice?” because he thinks he’s so fucking funny, about as funny as a fifth grade science teacher from the 70s.

Anyway, Henry came home from work with the lemon juice and suddenly Chooch is a bread baker. I had zero hand in it, which is probably why it turned out ok. He came out of the kitchen with a ball of dough in his meat-mitts and said, “Mom! Look!” and I was like, “Holy shit, that looks like real dough and not that weird-ass paste shit we made last week!” which, to be fair, we determined was my fault because I threw the recipe in the air and just plopped everything together in a bowl at once, and apparently there is a reason why you need to mix the dry ingredients alone and then SLOWLY add the wet shit LITTLE BY LITTLE. Who knew?!

I guess a trillion bakers before me.

They turned out really good and we’re actually un-raw in the middle I like the ones we made last week.

Other than that, we just screamed at each other A LOT and fake-fought.

I finally started watching Itaewon Class that night and finished two books. Henry said, “I hate ‘Reading Erin'” and Chooch said, “Same.” Apparently I shush them too much and get really irritated when they try to live their lives around me.

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Park Seo Joon is so good!

Then I finished reading “Confessions” by Kanae Minato (40th book of the year!) and went to bed.

WEDNESDAY

Somehow I broke my back. It’s probably from sitting in a non-office chair all fucking day long.

The law firm wanted people to submit selfies of their home work spaces and I looked much better in my other attempts but I had to use this one because Drew’s in the background. I dunno, kind of cheesy but I appreciated that they’re trying to do things like this to keep the mood light-hearted during these stressful times. It’s like, every time I start to feel like I’m going to have a heart attack, I remind myself that literally the whole entire world is in this together. Kind of make it seem a little less lonely?

Back to reality: Major mom/son conflict off and on all day. We are basically just siblings fighting control.

Henry came home and immediately started talking to me while I was clearly listening to an audio book so I snapped.

“She does this to me all day,” Chooch said, buddying up to Henry. “I hate Book Mother.”

“I hate Book Mother, too,” Henry mumbled but then Chooch and I reunited in our mutual need for dinner so we both turned on Henry WHO WENT AND DID LAUNDRY INSTEAD so we had to make our own dinner?! Faux-chicken nugs it is.

Oh wait back up: before Henry went to do laundry, he first had to take his daily “post-work nap” which lasts forever. While he was up there, I was scrolling through Instagram. My friend Jessy posted a video of her husband cutting down a tree in their yard with a chainsaw. My phone was still connected to the Bluetooth speaker in our bedroom so I let the video play on full blast, promoting a string of “WTF” and “fuck you” texts from Henry. Quarantine entertainment.

While Henry was doing laundry, we found a three-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe but we didn’t have sugar substitute so Chooch texted Henry and asked him to get some but then proceeded to ignore all of Henry’s texts asking “WHAT KIND OF SUGAR SUB” because he was too engrossed in Minecraft which he has literally been playing since he was like 4 at this point when will it end. So Henry brought home a box of generic Splenda and Chooch and I had to open packet after packet to fill a half cup but halfway through a 1/4 cup, I decided to actually look at the recipe and felt suspiciously like we were doing it wrong – it was the wrong kind of sugar substitute! We needed granulated stuff that sounds like urethra. I forget what it’s called now. Anyway, Henry said to just use less and it would be fine but holy fucking shit Chooch essentially baked Splenda patties with a peanut butter essence. I had two cookies 90 minutes ago and my stomach hurts and I feel like my throat is coated with sweetener please send help, should I swallow fire?

We scream-laughed a lot today. We’re all perched on the lunacy fringe over here. Come visit. Oh wait, you can’t.

Watched the This Is Us season finale and promptly went in the backyard to dig my grave.

This drama premiered tonight in Korea and I hope that it finds its way to Netflix or Viki soon because KIM MYUNG SOO as a CAT? Yes.

‪Auto correct on Duolingo changed “butcher shop” to “bitch ship.” I have little else going on so this is in the running for highlight of the day. ‬

I’m going to bed soon, with the frightening wonder of what food project Chooch will attempt tomorrow.

THURSDAY

Woke up to a new Winner video! I shared it with my team at work, and received approx. zero replies.

I was so fidgety before logging on to work for my late shift that I, get this, CLEANED THE DISH STRAINER in the kitchen. I DID THAT! I don’t think I have ever performed an act of greater domesticity. COVID-19 has broken me.

Don’t worry, the rest of the kitchen is still an absolute pit.

While I was at the sink, I observed that HNC and Slut Life were both in the driveway!! HNC was fiddling around in his garage while Slut Life was preparing to drive out of his garage. I’m not sure if they had any interaction prior to this because I wasn’t paying attention, but I started watching just in time to catch Slut Life peel out of the driveway, causing HNC to stand at the bottom of the driveway, hands akimbo, watching him retreat while shaking his head in disgust.

I started speaking to Chooch in a new, made-up accent. He immediately asked me to stop.

Chooch was watching some video about death row inmates’ last meals and he’s angry for some reason that Timothy McVeigh chose two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

“Why is that so terrible?” I asked.

“He probably got a stomach ache!” Chooch cried.

“He’ll probably be dead before he notices his stomach hurts!” I yelled and so that’s how we fought about mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Yay henry ordered us dinner from Zenith! He said when he went to get it, one of the owners asked, “Do Erin and Chooch have cabin fever yet?” I love that the Zenith people know us haha.

Yeah boi seitan BBQ, rice noodle salad, and pumpkin cake.

Chooch got lasagna and then remembered that he doesn’t like lasagna after he ate nearly the whole thing. Teenagers are fucking dumbos.

OMG Peenlop’s tongue lol.

Well, all hell just broke loose and we had a faux-battle because Chooch wants to make oatmeal raisin cookies and I was like, “But we got cake from Zenith” and he was like “YOU RUIN EVERYTHING” and I was like, “GOOD GOD JUST MAKE YOUR DUMB COOKIES, BITCH BOY” but he was like JUST FORGET IT and started fake-crying so then I went over and we started play-hitting and Drew was like THIS HOUSE IS STRESSFUL and then Henry tripped over the cat tunnel and I almost peed my pants and Henry was like YOU TWO ARE FUCKING ANNOYING and went upstairs to take a nap…at 5:45PM. Cool.

Meanwhile, Chooch the Crybaby is in the kitchen making his stupid cookies because he apparently has awakened a latent baking gene while in COVID-lockdown.

Here’s where we are right now, 7:30PM:

I wish Janna never showed him how to use this lighter!! (Actually, I secretly secondhand learned how to use it then too lol.)

Knife throwing starts next week.

Thursday ended with us watching the first two episodes of the new Kim Myung Soo drama that I posted the trailer for in yesterday’s recap which sent me on a full-blown Infinite video watching spiral (Kim Myung Soo is a member of Infinite when he’s not busy lighting up televisions with his perfect cherub visuals) and then Chooch got super cat-psycho (he gets so annoyingly affectionate with our cat Drew) so we screamed at him to go to bed and you know now that I think about it, aside from Chooch and I being home together during the day for the time being, things are honestly not much different than they were pre-quarantine: it’s still fucking pandemonium here.

FRIDAY

It is 3:07pm and I have almost nothing to report. Today is the blandest of all the other bland days. I spent a lot of time on calls for the first half of the day and that was greatly annoying to Chooch but,  you know, welcome to the world of shared work spaces, pal.

I finished “Lock Every Door” by Riley Sager. It gave me strong “Nightmare on the 13th Floor” vibes, where all of my Made for TV movie fans at!? Holla at me if you remember that one.

Nightmare on the 13th Floor | VHSCollector.com

Meanwhile, Chef Chooch-R-Dee accidentally paid $2 for some vegan recipe app which angered Henry but I was like, “Oh well, start cookin’, buddy.”

During my lunch break, we braved the streets of Brookline so I could mail something. I took tissues with us so that I wouldn’t have to touch the handle of the mail box outside of the post office. It seemed like the few people who were out were practicing safe social distancing measures, except that we saw our nemesis CVS cashier—“1212”—-standing outside of the store talking to someone and there only seemed to be TWO FEET of space between them so that’s cool.

One of the groups I’m a part of had a check-up call today and it was really awkward because we had to take turns talking alphabetically while everyone else stayed muted, so it just felt like I was bombing at open mic night, big time. I’d say something and pause, and of course no one was responding because they were muted, and I was like gulping for air on my end. It was so uncomfortable. In my other group, it’s just like a free-for-all on these calls, lol.

Chooch’s Instagram memories reminded him that on this day two years ago, we were at Everland, an amusement park in South Korea. THANKS, INSTAGRAM. I’m going to wear my Everland headband in honor of that memory.

Henry is home now. Chooch is showing him a recipe from his new $2 app that he wants to make and it requires a “nine-spice mix” and Henry was like “the fuck is that” and it turns out it’s another recipe, so basically a recipe within a recipe, and now Henry is like, “THIS IS TURNING INTO A 5-20-FORTY DOLLAR RECIPE!”

“We have warm water,” Chooch said, reading off the ingredients five minutes later. Literally one of the only ingredients we have, lol. Henry wants to kill him.

Oh! Henry brought home fudge brownie M&Ms which now holds the title for highlight of the day. CAN ANYTHING TAKE THE CROWN? Only time will tell.

Friday afternoon lunacy selfie! One day, Chooch and I will have so many stories to tell about this time while we’re roasting chestnuts over an open fire, preferably in whatever haunted mansion he’s bought me from his math genius career earnings. I’m tired of sitting at this desk, but thankful that that’s pretty much my only complaint right now.

Chooch is revisiting his Shane Dawson obsession so I have heard his big dumb mouth in the background pretty much all week and I am definitely not a fan.

Holy fucking shit, in the last hour, Slut Life has come and gone at least 5x!! Like, he leaves and then returns within 10 minutes – maybe he should just walk!? And it’s so annoying because his bass is SO LOUD in his car and it takes him forever to maneuver the car into the narrow-ass city garage that we have in these houses. I just texted HNC about it. I AM “THAT NEIGHBOR” who watches the neighborhood from the dining room window and I literally do not care. This shit runs in my family. Gimme my binoculars.

(We actually did find binoculars at the living room window when we had to clean out my Pappap’s house. My Aunt Sharon was serious about Neighborhood Watch.)

Logged off work and Chooch and I went across the street for some churchyard Fündopop fun times!

Also!! HNC texted me back and said that he and Slut Life got into it the other day and Slut Life peeled out of the driveway (I witnessed that!!) and he apparently kicked up a chunk of asphalt in the process! HNC is writing a letter to the landlord since calling him didn’t work. He said he mentioned me in the letter. I’m so excited! I get a mention!! No one ever mentions me anymore!!

On that note, I think I will put this weekday roundup to bed. If anything amazing (doubtful) happens between now and the time I go to bed, you best believe I’ll be updating this. But life in isolation is pretty boring, and you know what? THAT’S JUST FINE. I feel, I dunno, blessed to be bored right now, like I should have an embroidery of that hanging in my kitchen or something.

Mar 252020
 

For today’s virtual quarantine road trip, let’s visit the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth, Michigan, where our friends Bill and Jessi took us one summer in 2014. I liked it there. Sigh.

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It might seem weird since I’m a vegetarian and all, but what I was most looking forward to in Frankenmuth was eating at one of their famous Bavarian chicken joints. There are two to choose from: Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s, and they supposedly HATE each other. My friend Michelle told me that the two families basically built Frankenmuth so no matter which place we picked, it would be a big deal.

I mean, if you’re like me and give a shit about these things.

Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn really are right across from the street from each other, but there were no picketers or chicken dinner sabotage that I could see. No one was egging each other’s windows or passing out derogatory flyers. But since Roadside America mentions their rivalry, I know it must be true. I just wish it was more blatant and spectator sporty.

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I personally wanted to eat at Bavarian Inn, because it just had more of a Black Forest aesthetic to me, but Bill kept piping up with the merits of Zehnder’s, which just looked like some dumb colonial slab and not at all lederhosen-y. Turns out Bill might have eaten there once sometime in his liftetime and I think he forgot to tell us the part about how a Zehnder’s busboy saved him from choking on their world famous chicken dinner so now he feel indebted to them.

But then Jessi mentioned that she has eaten at the Bavarian Inn before and liked it, so PRAISE JESSI, we settled on the Bavarian Inn because girls rule! There was no blantant anti-Zehnder’s propaganda inside the doors of the BavInn (my new, sweet pet name for it), but I should have at least wrote “for loose bowels, call Zehnder’s” in one of the bathroom stalls. Ah, hindsight.

Fuck you, Zehnder’s.

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I want shutters like that on my imaginary never-house. 

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I anticipated a long wait, since this  seemed like the type of place that was like the Disneyworld of Old Country Buffets* for elderly tourists, but we had a table within 15 minutes!  And even had a scantily-clad Bavarian beefcake entertaining us with an accordion. (I mean, he was showing a lot of thigh and calf, but not a lot of below-knee, because that was covered with a modest swath of wool.)

*BavInn isn’t even a buffet so I have no idea why I wrote that, other than the fact that it’s 150 degrees in my house.

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I told Chooch that this place was going to be like the Hooter’s of Frankenmuth, with Bavarian boobs spilling out of corseted beer garden dresses. Partially because I was trying to get him stoked on eating there (he’s at that age, guys; boobs are everything), and also because that’s what it looked like in my hopes and dreams. Turns out the waitresses’ costumes were way more modest than the accordion player and his scandalous leg-skin.

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There was no cleavage to be had. Not even of the accidental variety.

Back to being a vegetarian: I was pleasantly surprised that the Bavarian Inn had an entire vegetarian menu! Bill said he only asked for it because he overheard someone in front of him asking for it. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to ask because places like that usually don’t cater to my kind and I was fully prepared to just get some side dishes but instead I got to have vegan chili and BY GEORGE it was fucking great. It had quinoa and perfect little cubes of sweet potatoes and was just a true delight my tongue even though I can’t imagine a real Bavarian eating that on their lunch break at the cuckoo clock factory.

It didn’t matter, because I still ordered a side of SPAETZEL. You guys, spaetzel. That is my ultimate comfort food because my Pappap, whose family was from Austria, made a huge pot of these buttery Alpine dumplings every Christmas and they were just spectacular. After he died, my mom tried to carry the torch but they just never tasted quite right. And then I asked Henry to make them one year for Thanksgiving but his came out really small and pathetic because he doesn’t have any of the good European regions in his genes, I guess. I  mean, I still ate them of course because anything coated in that much butter is still going to taste rad. But I just haven’t had any as good as my Pappap’s, not since 1995.

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And these noodleturds were by no means bad! Bavarian Inn has their shit together but these were just seasoned in a way that deviated from my Pappap’s spaetzel perfection. I still ate the ever-loving fuck out of them though. Why wouldn’t I?

Can we talk about our amazing waitress Kristi for a minute? Chooch spilled his lemonade all over the table so she swooped in and moved us to a clean table right next to us, all without making Chooch feel like a heel for being a normal 8-year-old who spills things in restaurants. And she brought us copious amounts of this delicious sweet bread (bread that’s sweet, not sweetbreads) which we enjoyed with ridiculously magical homemade strawberry jam. And our lunches were delayed so Kristi also brought us out bowls of German potato salad, coleslaw and something else that I forget now, but it was all perfect and made me want to book a Globus tour ASAP.

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Chooch was really anxious to sayeth Prayers from the Psalms before he ateth his chickeneth. (Everyone at the table got chicken, because duh—Bavarian Inn is world famous for that shit. Maybe one day they’ll be renown for their faux-chicken too. Now I wish I had ordered the fake chicken patty on pretzel bun. Oh well, there’s always next summer when we go back and stay at the Bavarian Inn, because yes, they have a huge resort-y hotel too. WITH WATERSLIDES.)

My second favorite part of the experience (hello: Spaetzel #1) was when I mused out loud about the comfort of the waitresses’ dresses and then a few minutes later, upon Kristi’s return to our table with more iced tea for Henry, Bill asked her what might have been the creepiest thing she had been asked by a man all day:

“Excuse me, but is your dress comfortable?” he asked casually, like he works for Cotton and it’s his job to determine a woman’s comfort as research for the next commercial featuring some random blond actress who can also kind of sing alright.

The Fabric of Our Lives: Dirndl Edition.

“You know,” she said after thinking about it for a few seconds, “it really isn’t too bad. It’s the nylons that drive me nuts, though. I can never wait to get home and peel them off, you know?” And Bill nodded knowingly.

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PSHHHHH. You wish, Zehnder’s. In your dreams.

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This is the back of the glorious Bavarian Inn. Surely there’s a nook or cranny somewhere in which I can live undetected.

You know I must have been stuffed full of spaetzel when I declined dessert, and they obviously had streudel, you guys. Motherfuck, do I love streudel. My grandma’s side of the family always made some sick streudel.

Streudel and spaetzel. These will be served at my pretend wedding. By Bavarian beer maidens, all named Gretchen.

Jesus, is it any wonder I’m a slut for Bavarian things? My childhood memories practically reek of edelweiss.

Mar 232020
 

SATURDAY: a blend of reading books, watching YouTube videos, exercising, eating, fighting. It was a real mixed bag.

In the late morning, Henry and I took a brief walk around the neighborhood – it’s important to still get some air but we still gotta be safe about it so there’s definite strategy and major awareness involved. I was impressed to see that most people we passed were maintaining their distance, but I was HORRIFIED when I witnessed a family of four going into Pitaland–it’s a market so it’s still open because it’s essential, but it is SMALL and gets crowded VERY EASILY. So really? Both parents and two kids all needed to go inside together during a fucking pandemic? What fucking assholes. I bet they didn’t even wash their hands afterward either. Stupid people!

I want to say that I can’t believe there are people out there not taking this seriously, but…my opinion of humanity is not very high.

Henry spent a lot of time working on my huge Seoul Subway wall art over the weekend and I’m so happy about that!

It is going to light up, God willing* and also play the Seoul subway music, which Chooch and I have been obsessed with since our very first subway ride. I need this joy in my life again!

*(I had a friend in high school who would say that. Like, if you were like, “Call me sometime” she would be all “God willing.” I wonder if God is still willing her life or if she took back control?)

Um, then we watched Ready or Not that night, which was so good and I haven’t seen Adam Brody in anything in a good long while and it made me yearn for The OC, ugh he was the best character in both of these.

But fuck, Ready or Not was wonderful. I love horror movies that are also comedic without being an outright spoof or parody.

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SUNDAY: I had the dumb idea that we should go out to the “wilderness” for a bit since it was such a nice day. We drove over an hour away to Ohio Pyle, which is in the Laurel Highlands for those of you not from Pennsylvania who maybe feel like looking a map because what else is there to do? WHY NOT LEARN SOME PENNSYLVANIA TOPOGRAPHY*?

*The word “topography” always makes me think of this amazing song:

There’s also a really fantastic version by A Perfect Circle. Shit, I used to love both versions so much. I need someone to hold me now.

OMG Henry remember when I was so obsessed with Jeordie White because of A Perfect Circle and I swear he looked at me at their concert in 2003 and I almost died?!

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I had a journal at the time that had a little spot on the front cover where you could slip in a photo, and I definitely 100% had that picture up there of Jeordie White in it, much to Henry’s delight.

Anyway, Ohio Pyle was a fucking hot spot, man. I don’t think Fayette County understands the concept of social distancing – there were little restaurants/cafes that were open and people were eating at tables outside! In Pittsburgh, all of the restaurants are now take out only during this pandemic, no exceptions! People were walking in groups! I was fucking screaming!

Luckily, once we got to the actual trails, it was way less dense with humanity, thank the fucking lord. We made sure to keep a good distance anytime we had to pass people, which wasn’t often, but I can tell that this is the last time we will attempt to do something like this for quite awhile, my good lord. I saw a guy sneeze! OPENLY! HE JUST…SNEEZED! STRANGERS WERE COMMINGLING ON A PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE!

I honestly thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

Log sitting.

As someone who compulsively molests signs and ropes, this warning really made me throw my hands up and retreat in shame.

This was after he pretended to slip and fall off the cliff, which made me scream, “CHOOCH” and promptly succumb to jello-legs. I hate him.

Social distancing over-achiever.

We were mostly alone in the woods, but every so often, I would look behind my shoulder and yelled, “Horde!” and pick up my pace.

“What is this, The Walking Dead?” Henry laughed without mirth. YES, HENRY. IT SURE FEELS LIKE IT. I have never been averse to fellow mankind than I am right now, March of 2020. Get the fuck away from me.

We were obsessed with this jungle-esque little clearing! Then this family came out of nowhere and were practically on our backs, I couldn’t fucking believe it. (Henry said they actually came out of the trail that was CLOSED AND PROTECTED BY THE SIGN THAT IS NOT TO BE MOLESTED.) I started speed-walking in an attempt to lose them and then I tripped and almost fell and Chooch laughed at me and I was like, “Oh OK, you tripped and ACTUALLY FELL ON YOUR FACE 15 minutes ago, at least I goddamn caught myself!” He’s such a little bitch sometimes! IT’S ONLY OK TO LAUGH WHEN HENRY TRIPS, EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

Which he did, by the way. Trip, I mean. Henry tripped. We all had our turn tripping but Chooch was the only one who fell, hahaha.

Got back in the car to leave and we all bathed in hand sanitizer. (Chooch literally did – he spilled half the bottle on himself because he’s a Big Dumb.)

 

Back at home, Henry made me some dalgona coffee – it was so good, but very strong! Now I want some right now. HENRY!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s just instant coffee mixed with sugar and maybe something else, I can’t remember. You have to either stir it by hand 400 times or use a mixer for 7 minutes, I think. Then you dollop it onto whatever milk/milk-like substance you prefer. It’s so strong and sweet! My friend Jiyong made it too and we KakaoTalked photos to each other since we can’t meet up during this time. We also chatted about dramas we’re watching so it felt like I had a little bit of normalcy this weekend, I guess.

I ended the night watching another shitty episode of The Walking Dead, which means that it was on in the background while I edited photos and added books to my Goodreads “want to read” list.

And we lost Kenny Rogers. I’ll cap this off with my all time fave K-Rog song, which I had on a cassette and used to play over and over while rollerskating on my front porch when I was like 8 or 9. Sigh.

Mar 222020
 

Since we’re all being responsible and self-isolating (RIGHT? Now is not the time to be deviant and rebellious!), I’ve been revisiting old blog posts and traveling vicariously through Past Erin. Last week, I was reliving Disney World 2016, and Thursday night I was re-reading my totally cringe-y recount of Australia in my 2000 vacation journal. (I was going to transcribe it here on this blog one day for posterity, but after reading it in full that night, I was screamed into a pillow and wailed, “OMG I WAS SO ANNOYING” to which Henry quietly murmured, “You still are.”)

Anyway, then I started reading recaps from our first Korea trip and I wanted to repost this particular day from Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, because the photos are so colorful and…I just need some joyous memories right now! If you could be anywhere aside from shut into your house right now, where would you choose to be?! Tell me. I’m starving for interaction. Sigh.

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Hello! The following is a collection of photos that we took with the actual camera (as opposed to my phone which is mainly what I used on this trip because CONVENIENCE) at Gamcheon Culture Village on Thursday, March 29th in Busan, Korea.

Gamcheon is considered to be Korea’s Machu Picchu and Korea’s Santorini. It’s also known as the “Lego Village” because of the brightly-colored block-shaped houses. It went from being one of the poorest areas of Busan to a thriving cultural village brimming with boutiques, cafes, and quirky art installations tucked away in the twisting maze of alleys.

Unbeknownst to us, there was something akin to a scavenger hunt that we found out about in the visitor’s center, so we easily spent the whole freaking day here. I’ll get into that more in the next post, where we will do a more in depth exploration of the village! But for now, please enjoy the beautiful colors of this village, and add this place to your bucket list because it was definitely a sight to behold!

The start of our Gamcheon experience, unless you count the long trek up the mountain.

There were so many photo op areas!

Korea loves their poop-themed food. (Also, because I know he’s going to bitch that I put this picture here, Henry’s not actually pregnant in this picture; his shirt was too big and was blowing in the breeze.)

Randyland vibes (but better, because this is Korea. Sorry, Randy).

Yes, I paid 500 won for this picture even though no one was around to know the difference! #respectforkorea

I had a picture similar to this one as my desktop background at work last year and when I got to look out over all these rooftops in person a year later, it felt so surreal. Fight to make your dreams come true, guys.

Oh, thanks for taking this picture, Henry, so that I can show everyone the BACKPACKS YOU MADE US LUG AROUND. Also, that’s Song Joong Ki in that Hite beer ad on the store window. I get so happy every time I saw his face!

Chooch was in novelty photo-posing heaven.

 

 

One of the many break-your-neck alleys. Surprisingly, we only had one close-call with Chooch that day!

 

Ugh, take me back.

I’m going to do this thing where I pretend like I’m a legit blogger instead of someone who writes on their dinky WordPress site using an app on their phone while laying in bed half asleep, and actually give you some FACTS about Gamcheon Culture Village. And by FACTS I mean various tidbits that I have collected from the Internet so that you don’t have to go Googlin’.

  • This area only had around 20 houses pre-Korean War, but then once the war started, Busan became an area of refuge to many Koreans, and the hills of Gamcheon acquired about 4,000 of those refugees. Shanties were erected out of scraps and rock, and Gamcheon became synonymous with poverty and slums.
  • Sometime in the mid-50s, Gamcheon was infiltrated by the Taegukdo religion, the leader of which helped them build up their shanties into better houses. But even as recently as the 90s*, this area was still considered to be the poorest part of Busan.
    • SHUT UP, THE 90s WILL ALWAYS BE LIKE 5 YEARS AGO TO ME.
  • Anyway, in 2009 some Korean tourism organization started panting over it like a mountainous slab of samgyeopsal and came up with the “Dreaming of Machu Picchu” project. Artists and residents teamed up and turned this town into the magical maze of art installations and culture that is now known for today.

GUYS DID I DO GOOD?!

All I knew about Gamcheon prior to visiting is that it’s a must-see in Busan and full of things I like: cafes, pretty views, and quirkiness. But I wondered how Chooch would like this place, since it seemed more geared toward touristy shopping and, you know, walking. When I was a kid, my family would go to Wildwood, NJ for vacation every summer which I loved because hello BEACH AND BOARDWALK. But there was always one day when we would take a daytrip to Cape May because my grandma loved it there and I absolutely hated it because it was so slow-paced and all we did was go in one boutique after the next and I didn’t care about that shit when I knew that there were RIDES WAITING FOR ME back in Wildwood.

Morey’s Piers for lyfe, yo.

But as it turns out, Gamcheon is pretty much a dreamland for people like Chooch who like to have something to work toward, a goal to achieve.

Because what I didn’t know about Gamcheon is that there is a sort of scavenger hunt you can partake in by stopping in the tourist center and getting a map. Hidden around the village are “stamping zones” where you go in with your map and have that certain spot stamped. I became immediately obsessed with this idea too and even backtracked to the entrance of the village because the first stamping location was in a small museum there and we had passed it up!

“We’ve been here for an hour and haven’t made it more than 100 yards yet,” Henry mumbled, because we totally pissed around when we first arrived, getting ice cream, waiting for Henry to find a bank, taking pictures at one of the photo points, waiting for Henry to find a map, buying dried flower tea from some old lady selling them next to her house, chasing a cat down an alley, waiting for Henry to stop yelling at us, buying postcards, and stopping at the Gamnae Cafe:

 

RUNNING MAN HAS BEEN THERE!!

I got a sweet potato latte and cherished every last drop of it while we kicked back and wrote out some postcards which sadly wouldn’t be mailed until we got back to Pittsburgh because we forgot to look for post offices in Busan and then the post offices in Seoul are closed on Saturdays! So, I was that totally That Person, sending international post cards from a post office five blocks away from my house in dumb Pittsburgh. Lame.

I know, I posted like ten rooftop shots in my last post about Gamcheon, but I was just so enamored by the colors!

 

 

 

 

 

In case anyone was wondering what Janna’s favorite picture of our vacation is, it’s this one. SHE TOLD ME SO ON INSTAGRAM AND ALSO IN REAL LIFE.

 

This is a really good example of what a lot of the alleys are like in Gamcheon. It was a breeding ground for sprained ankles. Surprisingly enough, Chooch only fell once, and it was UP a set of steps, thank god. I get jello-legs just thinking about him walking on steps, if we’re being honest.

One of my favorite things about Gamcheon is that you would find yourself wandering off the main road, into an alley full of residences* and then suddenly here’s a random room housing a confusing art installation. Mattress Factory vibes, for real, and you all know how much I love the Mattress Factory! This place was like walking through an artist’s dreamscape and I felt like a little kid again, all excited about what was going to appear next.

*(We were literally walking right open doors of peoples’ houses — there were signs posted everywhere reminding visitors that people do actually reside here and to be respectful and quiet; Chooch and I managed to keep our giddy braying to a minimum.)

Chooch loves posing for pictures on his own terms and this town provided him with so many opportunities! You think this post has a ton of pictures? You should see how many I didn’t post.

Before you raise hell about rude Americans being vandals, writing messages of peace on the wall of this little room was encouraged and markers were even provided! It was one of the hidden gallery-type spaces that we stumbled upon thanks to the map. (Finally, Henry got a map that worked.)

This room scared the shit out of me because those hands are motion-sensored and started clacking away when we walked in!

Imagine coming home drunk, though.

 

This is a picture of me with art in the back. In case you didn’t know.

Chooch’s review: “I really liked it there! I feel like it was my favorite place in Busan. My favorite part was following the map because it took us to really cool places like when we went through alleys and saw all of the cats and the scary motion-sensor typing thing. And ‘Henry’ couldn’t effing take it seriously and kept saying ‘shut up people live here’ and I was like ‘eff off mate.'”

We strongly considered visiting. Henry (and his lack of map-reading skills) was tearing us apart! But for the most part, our afternoon in Gamcheon was a good one…

…because Chooch was in control of the map. Henry didn’t know what to do with himself!

We made friends with two cute girls from Shanghai here after they asked me to take their picture. Henry thought it was SO FUNNY that everyday, someone was asking me to take their picture. I was once told I was stand-offish but clearly I’m not anymore. :/

 

 

Chooch was in his glory.

 

고양이! 
We followed this cat around for awhile and it was just the cutest thing ever and I want 
a Korean cat!!

 

I was obsessed with getting to this particular art installation because I had seen videos of it and Chooch was getting so annoyed with me because I kept trying to grab the map from him to see how close we were/if we missed it/if it even really existed. Finally we found it and he was like, “here’s your precious house thing” and I was convinced that it wasn’t it because it wasn’t moving and here that’s because IT WAS BROKEN.

Oh, I was so sad. But yeah, there’s a crank and if you turn it, the roofs will lift up and down.

 

This was inside a small market where we got the second to last stamp.

 

Cheetos chicken endorsed by Wanna One!

We made it all the way to end of the longest path in about 2 hours, I would say, and it was totally worth it. The weather was perfect that day and the town wasn’t over-saturated with tourists. Most of the time, it felt like we had the whole town to ourselves once we ventured away from the entrance. I suspect most of the people there that day eschewed the scavenger hunt portion of the Gamcheon experience. Their loss! This was such a highlight of the whole trip for me!

Anyway, once we made it to the bottom / end of the maze, we tortured ourselves by WALKING BACK UP TO THE ENTRANCE because we needed to catch that shuttle bus thing to take us back down the other side where the subway station was. It wasn’t so bad though because we just followed the main street back up to the top.

When Henry went inside the tourist center to inquire about the bus, Chooch slyly slid his completed, fully-stamped map on the counter and cleared his throat until the person working there noticed and gave him his reward of two free postcards.

Then we got street food!

I FINALLY GOT SSIAT HOTTEOK! So, “Ssi” means “seed” in Korean, and these Busan-specialty hotteok are prepared much like traditional Korean hotteok but THEN THEY ARE SLICED OPEN AND FILLED WITH A GENEROUS SCOOP OF SEEDS (pine, pumpkin and sunflower seeds). I had to wait quite a while for one because the ahjumma ahead of me had ordered like 10 of them. I really liked this lady a lot because some tourists tried to cut in front of me while I was waiting for my turn to order and she quickly scolded them. Then a group of school boys around Chooch’s age came walking by, as school was just letting out, and they very cheerfully and respectfully greeted her because she must be a popular fixture around Gamcheon, and I got so much joy out of listening to their interaction. She seemed like such a great lady!

And then finally, my ssiat hotteok was handed to me, piping hot in a paper cup, and I thought my eyes were going to roll back into my head. IT WAS SO GOOD. I wish I could hand them out to everyone reading this right now who has never experienced the tongue-burning glory that is hotteok. You can typically find them in the freezer section of your local Asian market but brother there is nothing better than being served one sizzling hot off a griddle-thing in Korea.

I probably ate more hotteok than anything else while we were there, now that I think about it.

Afterward, we caught the small bus at the entrance and survived a harrowing, careening recreation of a scene from Speed down the mountain. The bus was full so we had to stand and Chooch almost wound up in the laps of numerous ahjumma and at first I was annoyed by the driver’s recklessness until I caught a glimpse of him in the mirror and HE WAS SO FUCKING YOUNG AND CUTE.

And then we took the subway back to Busan Station, where we took the short walk to our hotel for the night. Thank you for reading my fake travel blog.

Mar 202020
 

MONDAY

Made Chooch exercise first thing in the morning. This isn’t vacation! I picked a workout that was annoyingly strenuous though and I don’t like hard workouts in the AM, so I guess the joke’s actually on me.

Chooch started watching some stupid show on Netflix called On the Block. I hate it.

The school is handing out Grab-n-Go lunches for the students. Chooch was like, “Thank god” and went to get one but I was like WHAT ABOUT MEEEEE?! Much to his chagrin, they were also passing out assignment packets, so now he has legit work to do, which made my PROFESSOR MOMMY’S ASSIGNMENT LIST backfire. :( He still wrote about bibimbap though because he could see how sad I was that my Thinking Chores don’t matter now.

At one point, I realized I hadn’t seen him in a while so I started screaming his name. He called back from his bedroom so I was like, “OH NO, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO SPEND ALL AFTERNOON LAYING IN BED WATCHING TV” but when I went up there, I found him sitting in a chair with a book. “You told me to read a book so I’m reading a book. ‘Mandatory reading time,’ remember?”

Oh yeah, I did say that.

So far, isolation was *shrug* because I work from home at least one day a week anyway, but WE’LL SEE HOW LONG THE NOVELTY LASTS. Adding a smart-mouthed teenager to the package really adds a new layer, though. But at least he doesn’t expect me to do things for him. I mean, he’s known me for 13 years now and is quite aware of what I am and am not capable of.

TUESDAY

I forced Chooch  to start the day with 20 minutes of K-pop cardio! He actually kind of put forth a bit of effort.

Chooch wishes he knew how to hard-boil eggs. “Same,” I say. Later, Henry comes home from work and points out that we already had hardboiled eggs in the fridge. We did not know.

Henry came home from work and we mauled him. WE’RE HUNGRY! FEED US! we cried.

Jesus, it’s only day 2, he sighed.

On my break, we walked to the library so I could dump some books off into the return thing BUT IT WAS LOCKED – originally, they were still going to accept book returns during  the isolation period, but I guess they changed their mind and there was a sign that says to just hold on to your materials until they reopen, ughhh I was hoping that at least one tiny part of my beloved library process would still be intact.

Don’t worry, we maintained social distance on our walk to the library, touched nothing, talked to no one, entered no store. Came home and scrubbed our hand-flesh off.

  • That’s too loud.
  • What are you watching, that’s dumb.
  • Shut up, I’m on a call.
  • Turn that down.
  • Shut up, I’m in a meeting.
  • Go watch a documentary.
  • Shut up, I’m in a training.
  • Mandatory reading time!

— Chooch’s compendium of things I yelled today, apparently, recited back to me in A TONE THAT WAS NOT A FAIR REPRESENTATION OF HOW I TALK, THANKS.

Saw an Instagram ad over the weekend for fire blankets and panicked that we might need those so I made Henry buy two. Instagram ads is the QVC for the next generation. Today they arrived. I didn’t even open the box because the excitement had already worn off.

WEDNESDAY

Chooch is letting me use his fancy gaming headphones for when I have to call into meetings, except that I found out the hard way that the mic doesn’t work. I emailed the Help Desk and they responded with instructions that were more than 2 steps so I replied, “That is too complicated. I will just continue to call in using my cell phone.”

Some group emails are going around because people apparently miss each other. I mean, I guess I miss some people but I’m perfectly fine in my covid-less cocoon at home, thanks.

Chooch chose the Zac Efron Ted Bundy movie as his choice of documentary when I urged him to watch something educational. I mean, that probably counts, right?

Then the Census came in the mail!

So far the most exciting part of isolation was cracking up with Chooch while trying to find what best describes Henry’s relation to me. We are deep in the throes of cabin fever slap-happiness. Check back tomorrow when we’ve surely resorted to acute psychological torture for fun. We ended up selecting “opposite-sex unmarried partner” in the end because I was afraid of going to jail, also one time before I started working at The Law Firm, I tried to get a job with the census and I had to take a test in the basement of the library but I guess I failed because they never called me back. I mean, it DID have word problems on it.

Why, tho.

THURSDAY

Chooch, at 8;50am: Don’t you have to start working soon?

Me, from the couch: Yes.

Chooch: Are you already logged on?

Me: Yes.

Chooch, in a parental tone: Oh OK, I was just making sure you’re ready.

NO HE WASN’T. HE WAS JUST HOPING HE COULD USE THE COMPUTER.

Chooch and I had a play-fight with an empty water bottle, still made less noise than Blake’s crying kids next door.  Our cat Penelope has basically stopped coming downstairs now because we’re here all the time and she hates it.

Had to call in to a short meeting using my cell phone on speaker. “Holy shit that was boring,” Chooch said from the living room when I disconnected. YES, I KNOW. THIS IS MY LIFE.

Around 5:00, Henry left to go and pick up our dinner from Onion Maiden because we wanted to try and be supportive I guess, saints that we are. I was still working so I was sitting at the computer for a good 5 minutes talking to Chooch only to find out from his silence that he went with Henry.

While they were gone, a cop car went flying past the house with the sirens on and then a police helicopter circled overhead for approx. 10 minutes. That combined with the coronavirus really gave me that nice “end of the world” sensation.

 

War Pig with cashew cheese and jalapeños, and Crucifier Rising dumplings. Chooch got the Kimmy Gimmler (comes with kimchi yessss) and the Bunn O))).

I love Onion Maiden but I don’t eat there very often for some reason that probably involves the fact that I don’t eat out at all very often because I’m pretty sure I have some type of eating disorder.

Henry wasn’t allowed to sit on the floor with us because he had meat. He was like WHATEVER I CANT SIT ON THE FLOOR ANYWAY and then that made me think of my birthday lunch at a traditional Buddhist restaurant in Seoul where Henry almost couldn’t get up after sitting on the floor and now I am so fucking sad. I miss you, Korea. Hopefully this pandemic ends someday and I can go back.

Chooch and I also shared a piece of Terrormisu. What a nice little quarantine picnic!

7:46pm: Chooch just chased me around the house, throwing an old spare key at me and I ran to Henry for help but he’s half-asleep in bed and mumbled for us to separate. Then Chooch laughed too hard and almost threw up on Henry.

It’s a…real haven up in here.

FRIDAY

“Chooch, we’re going to make bread today.”

“……without HIM?” (HIM = Henry, clearly.)

“Yes! Someone posted recipes on Twitter. It looks easy.”

“Well, THAT’S something I can tell I’ll be quoting you on for the rest of my life.”

OK, scratch that idea. I just went back to the recipe I saw on Twitter and realized that there was way more to it than just this:

Apparently, the rest of the recipe was in the comments. It’s involved. Do we have baking powder? What is kosher salt? Something about sitting in a greased bowl for 30-60 minutes? I’ll pass.

In good, non-COVID news, Taemin has black hair again! Also, I really wish I was going through this pandemic hell in S. Korea, not the fucking dumb US. God, can we screw this up anymore? FORGET I ASKED THAT. DO NOT HOLD ANYONE’S BEER. GET BACK INTO ISOLATION.

UPDATE, 12:09:

Chooch is making the bread on his own. Where the fuck is the baking powder, he asked, gesturing to the open cupboard full of UNLABELED CONTAINERS OF WHITE POWERS.

‘This could all be cocaine for all we know!” I cried. Now Henry is on speaker phone. He is very unhappy about how this Friday is progressing.

Apparently the baking powder is in a plastic container that says “baking powder.” I would have hung up on Henry’s ass by now.

OMG IF I HEAR “BAKING POWDER’ ONE MORE TIME. This call has dragged on for like 11 minutes. Henry just yelled, “I have to go! I don’t have time for this!”

Lol, I found the baking powder immediately  and now Chooch is mad. He dropped the butter on the ground so I told him  to just wash it off but then we both looked at it and I said, “Um, just throw it out.” Then we fucked up because I dumped all the water in at once, before Chooch had a chance to “mix the dry ingredients” and then apparently even the the water was supposed to be added gradually? Why? It’s all going to end up in the same place eventually anyway?

I feel like we made some progress because after stirring it for a but, it resembles real life dough! I got bored though so now Chooch is doing the rest alone.

12:44PM This might go down as the worst idea ever. The dough is like melted paste – is this right!?

The recipe never told us what to do with the butter. We used our collective noggins to assume that it was for greasing the bowl, so then Chooch made me wash out the Pam that I had originally (handsomely) spritzed it with. We are now letting the dough sit for 30-60 minutes. Is it going to expand into a carb-loaded Jabba the Hut and suffocate us? TIME WILL TELL.

1:50PM: Time to cook this gooey blob! I just noticed that the recipe on Twitter said to HEAT A GRIDDLE. THE FUCK? I was like “Can’t we just use the oven?” and Chooch was like I don’t know so I was scrolling through the Twitter comments and I said, “Oh look! This person asked, ‘Can I use an oven'” and Chooch goes, “Yeah that was me. That was LITERALLY ME.”

I have a headache.

Good thing we have those fire blankets.

YOU GUYS I’m positive we didn’t make these as intended but, against all odds, they taste fucking delicious. The first one came out the most normal looking. The rest are like, dough scraps but still delicious.

We made a penis-shaped one for Henry!

A half hour later, I glanced in the kitchen. “I guess we should just leave this for him to clean up?” And then Chooch and I scream-laughed our faces off. I think we’ve reached peak isolation. It has to be all downhill from here.

Oh wait, but then Henry told me that he ripped his pants today and didn’t realize it until he went back to the office and one of his coworkers said, “Nice underwear.” Yes, this is my favorite part of today’s isolation.

In case you were wondering if beverage deliverymen are essential during a pandemic, that would be a yes. Henry still has to work and his skin is basically burning off his hands from manic-application of hand sanitizer.

5:00PM: Henry just came home and is so mad. “I’m not cleaning that!” he yelled, but now he’s in there cleaning it. Chooch let the “dough” dry on the rolling pin and Henry is very upset about this. Also, he tried the bread and threw it back on the plate. Chooch and I were so insulted, but then I took a bite, and you know, now that they’ve been laying there for a few hours, I can tell that um, these actually aren’t fully cooked, lol. It’s pretty raw, is that why my stomach hurts do you think?

Chooch reminded me that there wasn’t egg in it at least.

I doubt anything exciting will happen for the rest of the evening. My plans are:

  • cereal for dinner
  • exercise
  • read
  • watch “Kingdom”

If anything noteworthy goes down, I will update this!

Mar 192020
 

THE WINDOW” 

Hound at my window

Barking at the passersby

Comfortable he sits

Image result for dog at window

THE DOG PARK”

Arlie Dog Park sits

Filled with dogs on the daily

How I wish to go

Image result for DOG PARK WITH MANY DOGS

“THE MAILMAN”

Charlie sits right there

On the mat by the front door

For that darned mailman

Image result for dog at door waiting for mailman

“UNTITLED”

Petrified and scared

Standoff with outdoor rodents

SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL!

Image result for dog staring at squirrel

“BELLY RUBS”

I lay belly-up

Hoping for Master to come

I need belly rubs

Image result for dog waiting for belly rubs

 

Mar 182020
 

Well, weekends sure do look different, huh? Actually, mine still looks about the same because I’ve been practicing social distancing for the last decade haha. I already talked about my Saturday, which included hoarding books from two libraries, but here are some pictures from other parts of the week’s end, because what else do you have going on right now? Sigh.

Henry and I got some to-go coffee from Muddy Cup. They have a slew of St. Patrick’s-inspired specialty lattes on their menu right now so I’m glad I got to grab one before COVID-19 has them temporarily shuttered.

Henry made me a plate of banchan (Korean side dishes) for lunch, so that was nice.

Henry was scrubbing vegetables in the kitchen like a good apocalypse-preparing housewife, but then he only made enough for dinner that night so Chooch and I have been left to fend for ourselves during the week, after all.

Then we went for a walk in Allegheny Cemetery. Quite a few people were out, but we maintained our distance. At one point, an entire crowd of people (?!!?) started shambling in our direction, so we took a different path to avoid walking past them, and it felt exciting, like we were actively fleeing from zombies.

Yeah, we laugh now….

Drew slept on the wheelchair, clutching her little toy donut, and oh, how I wish to be a cat right now.

All our cats know is that their peoples are home more now. I can’t tell if they like that or not though.

When in isolation: mandatory reading time!

I guess next weekend we will try to get out and do more nature-y things if weather permits. But as of now, it’s nice to have less distractions from all the DIY projects I have on Henry’s agenda, like the giant Seoul subway map that will eventually be on the wall above the couch (hopefully).

Other things, not pictured: The new season of Kingdom is out, just in time! Prior to that, I had been catching up on the latest episodes of The Walking Dead but I swear to Good Glenn’s Dangling Eyeball, that show pisses me off so much. Every time it reels me back in with a decent story arc, it loses me again with shitty characters (Alpha may be the WORST villain on any show ever) and boring episodes of nothingness. (That episode where they were in the cave made me so angry.) I think the only character I care about anymore is Judith, which is hilar to me because all those seasons when she was just a pointless baby, I was always screaming, “JUST DUMP THAT LUMP AND RUN!” Anyway, all of this is to say that I’m glad to have a good, solid zombie drama back in my life. 킹덤 감사합니다!

Wow, these blog posts are only going to get more boring over the next coming days, lol.

 

Mar 162020
 

Hi, it’s me. Erin. Since Pennsylvania schools are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, I gave Chooch some writing assignments because I’ll be damned if his mind is going to subsist on YouTube videos and Switch games during this time. But then the school provided assignment packets so I guess I’ll lighten up a bit. Today, he has written about his favorite Korean dish, bibimbap, and he actually didn’t complain!

Bibimbap (비빔밥). Where do I even start. The Korean dish filled with crispy rice, sauteed vegetables, meat, or meat substitute, gochujang, sesame oil, and the best part, in my opinion, the egg. Bibimbap, in Korean, means: bibim: mixed together; bap: rice.

Well, I guess we can start off with a little history lesson. It is estimated that bibimbap was created in the 10th century in the Koryo dynasty by the wives of farmers who were just too busy to serve a large traditional Korean meal. Now in present day Korea, many families eat this common dish by using leftovers and mixing it together to create this fantastic meal.

Now, I have had many bibimbaps, but the best one I ever had had to be the one we had on our tour to the DMZ, or demilitarized zone. I don’t know why I loved it so much. It could have been the crispy rice, or the just perfect egg, or maybe even the delectable seaweed. Whatever it was made it very easy for me to just devour the whole Dolsot bowl.

There are many kinds of bibimbap, but the two most common are bibimbap and Dolsot bibimbap. Bibimbap is served at room temperature, while Dolsot is served in a hot pot keeping it nice and crispy while you eat it. It also differs from the region you are in, for example in Busan, we got to crack our own egg into our bibimbap and it also wasn’t served with gochujang (spicy red pepper paste).

We also had another kind of bibimbap in Jeonju, or the hometown of bibimbap. The one I had was basically just the original bibimbap, but with cheese melting on the top. I thought it was very good, because prior to my consumption of it, I was totally hangry. There is a trick to eating the Dolsot bibimbap, though. If you stir the vegetables, but keep the rice at the bottom, the rice will be crispy by the time you eat all the vegetables and it will taste 200% better, or if you add gochujang it starts to taste otherworldly.

Here I am eating bibimbap on my last day in Korea, so sad. ;-;

I did like every bibimbap I had in Korea, don’t get me wrong, but nothing compares to the DMZ one. So, if I were to make a bibimbap, I would choose Maanchi’s recipe,

But, without the meat!

Mar 142020
 

Hello from Brookline. So far, there have been no reports of anyone testing positive with coronavirus in my neighborhood, big it was announced last Thursday that a student at Chooch’s school may have been exposed to it from a relative who had traveled out of state, so his school, along with 4 other schools in Pittsburgh, were closed yesterday as a precaution and so the schools could employ “electro-magnetic” sterilization, which sounds super space-y.

But then on Friday, the governor announced that all PA schools will be closed for at least two weeks, at which point they will reassess the situation. Chooch, being a kid, is excited because it’s like a snow day on steroids, except that some of us could die, but that’s OK: live it up, kids.

Because of this, our director at work gave us permission to work from home, so when Chooch found THAT out, the desirability of staying home from school was suddenly tainted, lol. MOMMY AND CHOOCH TIME. I’m going to make sure he has designated blocks of reading time, he’s going to do writing assignments, and he’s also going to watch some documentaries.

(“I’m watching one on Ted Bundy, then,” he said today, and that’s fine. He can help me design some new cards afterward.)

So it’s kind of like being quarantined, but not. Henry still has to go to work, but I am happy that I won’t need to be taking public transportation now during such uncertain, unclean times.

Then I got an email from the library, saying that after today, they are going to be shutting down until the 31st. I figured this was coming because Chooch was there on Friday and the entire children’s area was closed off, and that’s where he and his friend Markie have to go to use the computers because Markie isn’t 13 yet so he can’t use the ones upstairs. So last night, I frantically made a list of some of the books on my Goodreads “want to read” list that are available at the local branch of my library, leapt out of bed at 8am, got showered and dressed, only to remember that the dumb library doesn’t open until 10, ugh.

Anyway, I got there right at 10 and Chooch and I put on gloves that were available on a cart of sterilization products, and I acted like all those preppers hoarding toilet paper, except instead of Charmin, I had an armful of fiction.

I checked out 7 books, plus I still have 4 already checked out, so I’m hoping this will tide me over! Especially since I will have extra free time on Saturdays for a bit because Jiyong suggested that we hold off on meeting up for now, considering we meet in a perpetually-crowded Panera. Paneras are gross enough without a pandemic in the midst. Henry said he will help me practice my vocabulary though which scares me but we’ll see; maybe he will actually help.

But he will probably fall asleep.

Don’t judge me by YA/Teen Fiction selections, OK! Sometimes I like having something light to fall back on after reading something especially scary or ultra-literary.

I hope everyone’s staying safe, smart, and healthy out there and don’t forget to check in on your elders. It’s fucking scary, but we will get through this if everyone takes it seriously and stops doing selfish things.*

*(For instance, all of those idiot YouTube travel vloggers are still out there traveling for content and it makes me so angry. Especially when I see them getting all combative and responding to coronavirus-related comments with snarky slapbacks like “We’re healthy and not worried about dying from it but you do you #thumbsupemoji” NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE. That’s exactly what I was saying too A MONTH AGO when we started to consider postponing our trip that’s scheduled for April, except that MY sentence had a “but”: “…but I don’t want to risk contracting the virus and spreading it to those who are weaker/older/more susceptible than me, just because I wanted to go to some amusement parks and have fun.” That is the part that not everyone is grasping. We will go another time. Right now, the most important thing is to stay sanitary and informed. Fuck those people.)

UPDATE! I remembered that another library exists within walking distance so I ran down there and expanded my pile. Look, I can’t request books during this time so I need to be prepared! Worst case scenario, I start pulling from Chooch’s bookshelf. Minecraft 101, oh boy.

Mar 122020
 

I’m trying to support Asian establishments as much as possible since this pandemic has stoked the racism fire. Yesterday, I restocked my snack pumpkin at Lotus Foods then got coffee at Bae Bae’s Cafe, and tonight we ordered dinner from Tong Garden.

This was my fortune, which is SO APROPOS it makes my stomach hurt.

I keep thinking that someday this will hopefully be a distant memory, a chapter in an upcoming Trump Sucks biography, a segment from VH1’s I Love the 20s that makes us groan, maybe even something that WE CAN LEARN FROM?! One day there will be a list of Worst Coronavirus Responses and the good ol’ bull-headed USA will be right at the top.

Mar 112020
 

Feeling nostalgic & going through my Korea photos. I loved taking daily elevator OOTD snaps with Chooch. I’m too stressed out and tired for much else right now so here is a collection of those photos before I retreat to my corona-bubble. Stay sanitary, smart, and healthy out there, chingu.

This was actually a mirror in one of the subway stations, not the elevator from our hotel, SO SUE ME.

Maybe there will be more Korean elevator selfies in my future but right now I’m just mainly hoping that we find a vaccine for the coronavirus, the world can get back to “normal” whatever that means, and that the American racists will go back into their hidey-holes. The anti-Asian vitriol is one of the saddest parts of this pandemic. :(

Mar 102020
 

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season so perhaps you want to hunker down with a plate of Do-Si-Dos as your companion-cookie of choice while reading another stupidly-titled blog post of mine. (And not Dos-i-Dos, which I originally typed because I couldn’t remember how to spell the dumb Girl Scout cookies, but apparently, Dos-i-Dos is a marijuana strain, so here’s your fun fact for the day!)

(Unless you’re a regular Spicoli and already knew that.)

(No judgment.)

I’m doing this bulletpoint-style because my mind is so fucking broken and scattered into a million dangerous shards, so buckle up, baby.

  • Saturday started with Henry taking Chooch to his future-new-school for a math placement test, which started at 9AM. Chooch was grossly excited about this and I was like, “I’ll just hang back, m8*” While they were gone, the mail came which included a congratulations letter from the school district because apparently some artwork of Chooch’s was submitted to a citywide art show thing, I don’t know, I can’t remember and I don’t have the paper in front of me, but it was chosen and we have some reception (with light desserts, lol) to go to and I’m really excited to see what the (light) desserts are and also what this mysterious piece of art is because evidently, Chooch himself has no idea what it is. I think it’s pretty FUNNY that he spent most of his life at his current school thinking that he sucks at art and dreading art class because the art teacher was such a dumb bitch who, according to an alum from that school, loves to criticize and terrorize young, impressionable children. I’ve written about her before on here and honestly, I’m kind of sad that she left at the end of last year because I never had a chance to properly lay into her with Scalding-Hot Erin Words. But, now the school has a new art teacher and THIS was the result. He suddenly remembered that he actually likes art!
    • *The last book I read was about a bunch of British teenagers, so……….
  • In Korean news, I was right about something and Jiyong was wrong! And then I was so smug about it and she was like, “OK.” (I was translating a sentence and used the word “bo-tong” for “usually” and SHE SAID I WAS WRONG AND TOLD ME TO USE A DIFFERENT WORD and I was like slowly erasing my word and writing, with hesitation, her suggestion, but then she was like, “Wait….no, you can use bo-tong. Yes, that’s right.” And that’s the word that the textbook had in their translation on the next page, what what. It was a small, very small, victory. But I take what I can get.
  • Later that night, Chooch needed new shoes so we went to Kohl’s and I had this really weird moment where I saw a shirt that I liked and couldn’t remember if I had it so I asked Henry, “Do I have this shirt” and he was like, “Hilarious that you think I ever look at your clothes” and then I was like, “No, I think I have it. Yeah, I do.” So I didn’t buy it, but then when we got home, I looked in my closet and couldn’t find it, so I was like, “DID I MEAN TO BUY IT BUT THEN PUT IT BACK?” and of course Henry is useless when it comes to remembering anything from a month ago, but my memory is usually pretty OK and I absolutely had no recollection of putting the shirt back, or paying for it, or ever wearing it aside from when I tried it on—that much I remembered from a month ago! Last night, Henry was getting ready to buy it online because we had Kohl’s cash, and he was going to pick it up today, but for some reason, I thought the in-store price that I saw on Saturday was lower, so I was like, “Eh, just hold off. We’ll just buy it at the store” so he didn’t buy it and good thing BECAUSE I RANDOMLY FOUND IT IN MY CLOSET THIS MORNING, probably because I wasn’t looking for it. And yes, I wore it to work. Anyway, this is my totally ridiculous cautionary tale about what happens when you have too many clothes.
  • Sunday, the weather was so gorgeous! I always say that March is so underrated. I get so hopeful every time this year because we get so many little tastes of spring, a reminder to HANG THE FUCK ON, BUCKAROOS. Henry and I went for a walk in Schenley Park that afternoon and talked about the fate of our upcoming trip…
    • We ultimately decided a while back to postpone it in light of the coronavirus. I know there are so many people in America who think everyone is overreacting, and they don’t understand why we’re afraid to go to Germany when the CDC hasn’t issued any travel warnings or restrictions for that area, but look: there are more and more cases being reported daily in Germany and that general part of Europe. It is SO CLOSE TO ITALY. While all three of us are healthy people, and we’re not worried about dying from it, there are so many at-risk people out there and as much as I love having fun and traveling, I am not selfish enough to carry on with a frivolous trip where we could potentially bring COVID-19 back with us and then spread it to those who are at-risk. Nope. Nope nope nope. We will go later in the year, that’s OK. It’s not the end of the world.
      • OR IS IT?!!??!!?
  • In non-corona news, I got really angry on the drive to the park, because some dumb Halsey song came on and I ranted to no one (Henry doesn’t listen to me) about how I am so ready for this trend of female pop singers singing like woodland creatures to be over. I want to drop-kick Haley’s voice back over the Bridge to Terabithia. BUHBYE.

  • In around-the-house news, Henry finally hung up some of my clowns and fixed the faucet in the kitchen which has been fucked for years (really hard to turn off the cold water side) and suddenly he felt inspired to fix it but then he admitted it was really because he decided to not half-ass it for once and actually look to see that the problem was AND THEN FIGURED IT OUT LIKE A REAL BIG MAN-MAN.

  •  Then I completed my 30 book challenge for the year! 30 books since January! I rule at books! I immediately set off on foot to the library to return it (there has to be some library-specific OCD sub-diagnosis for this) and then Henry drove by on his way home from The Store. He did a doubletake and I mouthed I FINISHED BOOK THIRTY!!! and I bet he was like wow obsessive book-readers make me hot. Or…not.
  • Later that night I remembered that This Is Us exists so I started watching the newer episodes from the second half of this season and then remembered that this is the worst show in the world while I gagged in tears and phlegm.

Peace out, Girl Scout (but not any of these annoying ones aggressively screaming at people to buy their damn cookies on the boulevard).

Mar 082020
 

Here are some photos from last Sunday before I got sick.

We had decided to kick off Henry’s Coffee Corner again (this ship started to sink before it even left the dock, let’s be real here), so he chose Carnegie Coffee, which is in…you know, Carnegie. Not something I would have picked but OK.

I never bothered to take any pictures because we got there at 1:42 and were met with a sign on the door that said they were closing at 2 for a private event so that really lit a fire under our collective asses. I wanted to just go somewhere else, because I had a book under my arm and would have liked to have sat down and read a chapter but cook on, Carnegie Coffee.

It seemed comfortable enough inside – ample seating that extended to a second floor, and you know how much seating means to me. But he staff was unsmiling, and then Henry had a weird interaction with some weird-ass who came up to him and asked if we were in line. We were, in fact, in line, but the guy said, “Oh, because the line is usually over there” and pointed to the other side of the column we were standing next to. Really buddy. Sorry we’re not fucking regulars in your dumb townie cafe.

So that really set off Henry and then I was secondhand mad about it too, especially when the d-bag actually went over to the right side of the column and stood there, like wow, you’re really sticking it to us, Line-Standing Warrior.

I got a vanilla rose latte. It was fine, but now I associate it with the stomach flu, so that’s great. Chooch got hot chocolate. Henry got iced coffee I think, who can be sure. That stringent line stander got freakin’ hot tea because of course he did. He probably took it back to his table to daintily slurp while carousing Craigslist for, I don’t know, 1950s dinghies.

(?????????????)

Then we got our drinks and left because god forbid, 2:00pm event.

It was a decent enough day, weather-wise, so we decided to take a stroll, much to Chooch’s chagrin because I guess he had important things to attend to at home? We were in the same area where Janna and I went to see that play, Mumburger, last year, so we scoped out the posters for upcoming shows for that little theater and Henry and Chooch seemed moderately interested in maybe possibly attending a future show, so we’ll see if we can shoot some culture up Henry’s butt after all.

I got to see some churches and Chooch pet copious amounts of dogs (lol, actually just 2).

Chooch was really unimpressed with both churches. OK DAMIEN.

A thing we saw.

Then we went to Fresh Thyme (Henry and Chooch love this damn market and I’m just like, OK it’s still boring) and I washed my hands there twice and lubed up with hand sanitizer, came home and started to watch Knives Out with them and then 35 minutes into I excused myself to tend to an Olympian Vomiting Event which, on a scale from Hipster After a Bloody Mary Bar Brunch to Regan’s Pea Soup, I would rate myself a solid Carnival Ride Puking Scene From “Problem Child.”

Image result for problem child puke scene gif

Really looking forward to a better Sunday today!

Mar 062020
 
  1. You Dropped Something

We had to go to Chooch’s new school for an information session on Tuesday where we learned that basically his high school is a College Lite and I had mild panic attacks listening to the student ambassadors talk about course loads and declaring your focus, and this is also how I found out secondhand that Chooch scored a 99% on the PSATs, which I learnt when I overheard him telling his friend’s mom, so that was great.

During the information session, while we were looking at slides and listening to the very young and energetic principal talk, a little girl two rows in front of me was pulling on a beaded bracelet and it snapped, sending fake gemstones scattering along the floor. Her older sister, presumably another future student of this school, helped her picked them up, but she missed two.

There was a boy in the seat behind her, and he tapped her on the back. I thought he was going to point out the forgotten jewels, but instead he was just handing her a paper that floated off her chair while she was assisting her little sister in gem retrieval. I wanted to lean forward and whisper, “YOU FORGOT SOME” but there was never a good moment. So I sat there and stared at them, feeling more and more anxious about it as the presentation went on.

Finally, it was over and everyone started to stand up to leave. The mom of the girls was sitting there, still, so I tapped her on the back. As she turned around, I said, “You dropped something,” and at that exact moment, the iced-whatever from Starbucks that was balancing on her lap toppled over, ice cubes clattering all over.

“Well, now I dropped another thing!” she said with a laugh BUT I DON’T THINK IT WAS A HUMOROUS LAUGH.

“Good job,” Henry muttered and I was like, “I DIDN’T MEAN FOR THAT TO HAPPEN!” I was just so concerned about those stupid gems and I didn’t want them to leave and realize they didn’t get them all. It could have been some meaningful bracelet!

“I doubt they would have given that kid anything of value,” Henry said and THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEAN, MEANING AND VALUE ARE NOT THE SAME.

Ugh.

2. Flippin’ Fun

If you’re here for the latest in the saga of Hot Naybor Chris and Slut Life, then, well, stay here. It’s getting RILL PETTY, you guys. Like, almost even too petty for the likes of me, and we all know I’m stuffed to the gills with that there ‘pett.’ HNC called Henry the other day and luckily I was home so I was able to hear the tale about how Slut Life left his car running in the driveway, so HNC went over and knocked on his door.

No answer.

HNC went in his house and got a beer, then sat on his porch to wait for Slut Life to emerge, but now Slut Life had shut the door!! (Sorry, I had to seek out Henry to fill in gaps of the story but Henry just admitted that he wasn’t really listening to the phone conversations; wow, much neighborly.) So HNC went over and kicked the door this time and now Slut Life answered.

HNC: STOP PARKING IN MY PARKING SPOT!

Slut Life: I WENT TO THE CHURCH* AND THEY SAID I COULD PARK WHEREVER I WANT!

But when HNC did Slut Life’s voice, he made it all high-pitched and whiny and I almost peed my pants.

*(There is a church across the street that allows us to park in their lot.)

Henry is so over this drama but I can’t get enough. And then I noticed two things the other day:

  • Slut Life put up a “privacy curtain” on the side of his porch, presumably to block out HNC’s side of the house, but it’s basically just a window blind and it got all torn up and twisted in today’s wind storm.
  • HNC’s wife has one of those yard banner stakes in the ground next to their sidewalk and she had a banner hanging for every fucking holiday. Well, now Slut Life has one on his side of the yard and it says FLIPPIN’ FUN. WHY IS THIS SO FUNNY TO ME.

3. NEW NCT127 VIDEO!!

I missed these boys!!

4. Exciting Journal Page Showing

I thought it would be fun to grab an old journal, open to a random page, and take a picture to share a page of my past with you provided that it’s not one of the pages where I drew a map to the buried body, etc. So for today, you get this one, which is ironic because I was just watching Fitch videos last weekend, I guess because I had on an Armor For Sleep playlist on YouTube since I was so excited about buying tickets for their anniversary tour, and Fitch is just a natural progression from there.

Anyway, here’s a page from 2003:

Also, I have vague memories of that gas mask thing, which present themselves every now and then in conversation but it started to become one of those things where I was like, “Did I dream that? Did I really do it?”

I wonder what I bought with the $50. Probably more CDs to join Finch.

5. Lunch Break Tackle

Wednesday afternoon, (good lord I couldn’t remember how to spell ‘after’ and kept trying to get away with ‘aftner’) I was doing my thang, on the phone with Hank-a-lank, walking down the street alongside of the Benedum Center. I was just about to cross by the entrance to the alleyway where the buses and trucks park to unload for the shows at the Benedum. We call it “Cellphone Disco” alley because there’s this weird red LED thing with a sign above it that says Cell Phone Disco. It’s like, art. You know how that is. Just look, don’t ask.

Anyway, I’m just about to step off the curb to cross in front of the alley when I get body-slammed out of the blue by the backside of some youngish guy who had come tearing out of the alley. He had hit the ground right before me and did a weird spin in the air, which is how he ended up hitting me with his back.

At this point, my gut instinct, I’m sorry, was to scream my fucking face off. It was my best haunted house scream. The quintessential “where’s my Scream Queen crown” shriek. The IS SHE SEEING TAEMIN FOR THE FIRST TIME OR BEING STUCK WITH A CATTLE PROD??? wail.

Time stood still.

My perpetrator was now spinning around to face me. He clasped both hands on my upper arms, maybe to comfort me, but probably just to regain his balance. “Sorry,” he panted, face all red from the, the what? The chase? Was he being chased? Because after this strange 1/2 second of intense eye contact, he spun around and took off down the sidewalk, in the direction where I had just come.

“What the fuck was that?” Henry asked slowly. And now I was laughing. Like, cracking up. Adrenaline, I guess? The relief that it could have been something fatal and it wasn’t, it was just some harmless guy (or was he?! I MEAN WHY WAS HE WAS RUNNING HE DIDN’T LOOK LIKE A JOGGER) he essentially provided me with the most human contact I’ve received outside of the house in…weeks? Months? When was the last time someone touched me!? I DO NOT EVEN KNOW.

Meanwhile, not one single motherfucker on that street stopped to see if I was OK. Seriously. Not even a curious rubberneck, a lookie-loo. My scream was traveling down that block, too. STRONG ECHO.

But man, I sure did send the pigeons flying.

Anyway, I put a moratorium on the walk for that day after nearly getting tackled to the dirty street by some stranger, so I circled back around and headed back to work. And then, a block away, I SAW HIM AGAIN. He too had circled back around, but the opposite way, so now we were walking (yes, now he was walking, and looking extremely winded) toward each other. I tried to get a stealth-shot, but it came out blurry since I was moving.

My would-be assailant (far-left), cats & dogs:

 

[ETA: An hour after I posted this, Henry went to the store (of course). He just came home and reported that Slut Life took down his wind-mangled privacy curtain and threw it into a garbage can on his porch. Things move fast around here! WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT, ONLY TIME WILL TELL.]

Mar 042020
 

Hey-o, the month is over and here I am with a run-down of the books that helped me pass the time & forget that it’s winter. Somehow, I started the month on a weird possession kick. I guess because I started watching these “Booktubers” (god, I hate that term, it’s so dumb, like me) talk about their latest favorite horror books because that is my genre of choice but I have been so far-removed that I needed guidance on where to start, who’s on trend, etc.

One interesting thing to note is that I read two books, by chance, that each referenced the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 which I never knew about and I actually thought it was made up when I read it in the first book, but by the second reference in a different book, I was like, “HMM MAYBE I SHOULD GOOGLE THIS…” Oh, and also two books featured broads pissing on a grave.

(The weird coincidence for my January books was that two of them used the word “palimpsest,” what a random-ass word.)

The hits-n-misses were pretty even, I would say. As I did last month, I had hyper-linked the titles so you can get legit synopses, because my book summaries tend to be major mouthfuls – I have definitely bored Henry to tears on our walks around town!

1. Saturday Night Ghost Club – Craig Davidson

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I started off the month strong with this one. This is a collection of short ghost stories that the main character experiences as a kid in Niagara Falls (in the 80s, even!), but they’re all interwoven and has a bit of a twist at the end which was actually quite sad and did, in fact, make me cry. What I really liked about this was that it was written from the perspective of the main character as an adult. He grew up to be a neuro-surgeon, so each chapter starts out with an anecdote about the human brain, which all ties in at the end. It’s a smart book, and a very quick read; I read it in only two sittings. Highly recommend!
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This book came up in so many BookTube horror recommendation videos, and I picked it up because it’s an exorcism plot. I knew going into this that a lot of people were crying that it was an Exorcist rip-off, but to the author’s defense, it does clearly reference that in the book. I’m really torn with this one. It started out just fine and actually made me jumpy because, and here is where Henry will roll his eyes but he can cook on because he pointedly refuses to watch horror movies revolving around churches and exorcisms BECAUSE HE IS SCARED, I truly believe that people can become possessed. In fact, I went through a heavy phase in 9th or 10th grade where I actively tried to let the devil in. “I used to stand at my bedroom window at night, facing the woods and cry ‘HERE I AM DEVIL, I’M READY!” I guess I was too eager. Satan wants someone who plays hard to get. He wants the chase. When I told Chooch about this era of my life, he just murmured, “Wow. Good job.” He doesn’t care about my sordid past.
Anyway, back to this book. Overall, I didn’t like it and wouldn’t recommend it. I didn’t care about the family it focuses on, and the twist was kind of ‘…..’ What really ruined it for me, no spoilers, is that there are “blog posts” interspersed throughout the book and they were SO ANNOYING. Every time I read it, all I could think was, ‘God, this is probably what it feels like to read my own blog.” It was super obnoxious. Like this blog.
People on YouTube keep saying that this author is like the new horror king or whatever and if that is the case, I am clearly just not capable of being scared anymore, I guess.
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Oh man, this fucking trash book.  I was so excited for it. An exorcism set in the 80s? YES PLZ. But this book was not scary, and the writing was on par with like, RL Stine. Except that this was supposed to be for adults (am I wring about this? was this actually YA horror?! that would make a lot of sense). I didn’t give a single shit about any of the characters, and it reminded me of the dumb, bullshit, stream-of-conscious stories I used to write in my notebook in 7th grade, like the one where my best friend Christy married then-rookie Pittsburgh Penguin Jaromir Jagr and in real life my family hosted a foreign exchange from France that summer so I wrote him into the story too because he was in love with Christy and it was just the most indulgent, ridiculous story that I literally wrote in pencil and I would give anything for a copy of it today but I know it would make me cringe 3 pounds off my face to read it and that is how I felt about My Best Friend’s Exorcism.
I had two of his other books on my “want to read” list but now I’m nervous.
I always feel bad about ragging on a book though because I know that it’s like the equivalent saying someone’s baby is ugly, so I will end this with two positives:
  • I appreciated that each chapter was named after a song from the 80s;
  • The edition I got from the library was really cool because it was like a high school yearbook:
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THIS BOOK. It was one of my favorite books of the month, and year even though we’re only 2 mths in. I didn’t know much about it going in and I think that’s for the best because once…the thing…starts happening, I was like, “OK, we’re doing THIS? Let’s go.” The writing?
*Italian finger kiss, washing hands first though* The characters? LOVED THEM ALL. The dialogue? Yep, I can hear these bitches in my head. I was so excited about this book that I couldn’t even talk about it without getting choked up and it’s not a SAD book. It’s hilarious! It’s scary! It’s bizarre! There’s a crazy twist! This book was totally my style, from the writing to the plot. If it wasn’t a library copy, I would have kissed it with tongue.
I keep trying to get Janna to read it but I don’t think she has yet because this is the kind of book that you read and then immediately want to talk about as soon as you finish.
To give you a small taste, whenever I see stuff written about Bunny, people always say the same thing: It’s like Heathers meets the Craft meets Frankenstein.
100% accurate. The only synopses you need. Go read it. It’s fantastic and I want it to be a movie now.
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This is a possession story told from  the perspective of the woman who gets possessed and it is fantastic. Short and sweet. Some genuinely laugh-out-loudable (???) moments while also maintaining a certain amount of tension. It was so interesting to read a story from the possessed’s point of view, watching her marriage suffer as she slowly loses herself.
Super quick read. Would recommend if you like possession tales and, like me, are back to pondering how to let the demon inside. DOOR’S OPEN, MOTHERFUCKER.
Disclaimer: it didn’t legitimately scare me, but it was fascinating.
I picked this up on a whim from the teen section of the library, having just read a slew of horror novels and needing something light to carry me over until my new batch of book requests came in. Obviously the grilled cheese on the cover is what drew me in.
This was a great coming of age tale about a boy in high school whose family moves and now he’s forced to go to some Catholic school even though he’s atheist. He walks in with the worst attitude, not even bothering to make it work, because he figures his family is just going to move again someday anyway since his dad is always having to relocate due to his job, and who wants to make friends with Catholic school dorks anyway? Then he realizes that not everyone in that school fits perfectly into a Catholic mold and he’s invited to join the club for heretics, which is great until he decides that they should start making anonymous statements, which then end up going too far because what’s a teen novel without the dramz.
I dunno, man. I really liked it. The characters were likable, the writing wasn’t cringey, it was a bit different from your normal high school novels. I think this might be a series, and if that’s true, I will probably read on, motherbookers.
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UGH I hated this book. The writing was soooo annoying. The man dragged out the simple action of throwing another log on the fire into an entire paragraph. Just page after page of gratuitous descriptions, extremely unlikable characters (oh this person died? WHO CARES). The plot sounded so enticing too: several famous horror novelists spend a night in a haunted house, etc. The house itself did give me the creeps, but the book was so fucking boring and I figured out one of the twists very early on, however, I will give him props for the ending. The VERY end-ending.
I don’t recommend this.
Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone
My friend Elissa recommended this to me and it was a fucking JOY to read after Kill Creek. The horror was so perfectly subtle, so real. Each chapter alternates between several children growing up in what appears to me a semi-rural German village…in the 60s? 70s? Did we ever really know? The cruel things that they do each other is scarier than any haunted house/possession plot, in my not-quite-obtained English degree opinion. Loved this one – thank you, Elissa!!
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Oh shit, my first Karin Slaughter! I kept seeing this pop up on BookTube and my favorite book reviewer, Kat, highly recommended it.. She has yet to steer me wrong – this was a GREAT thriller! I’m always so hesitant to pick up thrillers because sometimes the writing can be so basic and it turns into…reading just to read. But the main characters in this one were so fleshed-out, and I felt INVESTED. It was also truly scary because again – real life horror, man. However, maybe I’m just desensitized but everyone was like, “THIS IS THE GORIEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ” and they were issuing trigger warnings for violence but, eh. I mean, the descriptions weren’t a walk in the park, but I didn’t need to keep a vomit pot  next to me (that was Sunday night, thanks stomach bug), if you know what I mean.
I can’t vouch for her other books, but if you’re looking for a good, chilling thriller with actual good dialogue and characters you can root for, try this one. But I guess, trigger warning for extreme torture porn?
The Perfect Nanny
This book is short, and I kind of wanted more, but I also appreciated the succinctness of it. It starts with the aftermath of children murdered by their nanny, not a spoiler, and then goes back in time to show, in short paragraphs, what transpired to get her to that point. It’s set in Paris, so if you’re a Francophile, definitely pick this up, perhaps in its original French format!
I devoured this, couldn’t wait to get to the end. I really started to fucking hate the parents of the kids, and it was all because of very slight and subtle things, so props to Leila Slimani for accomplishing that.
Nothing to See Here
AHH, TIED WITH BUNNY AS MY #1 BOOK OF THE MONTH. I cannot even explain this other than to say, it was my style. The plot was so nonsensical, but framed in a sense where it made just shrug and say, “I guess this isn’t really that big of a deal, OK, I’ll roll with it.” I had the biggest book-crush on the main character and wish she was real, and you know I’m usually *eye roll* when it comes to children, but the two little kids in this book stole my heart and they will fucking steal yours too and also the main character is always slipping in a “fuck” and “fucking” in every sentence to the point where I was actually reading the whole book in my own voice.
Oh, and you best believe I cried at the end.
Read this and tell me you didn’t also fall hard for Carl. I kept picturing Will Sasso.
The Haunting of Hill House
Literally a classic and I have shamefully never read it until now. I’ve seen the 1999 movie, and of course the recent series loosely based on this novel, so needless to say I was well past due. What a great book! I was so worried that it would be too dry but it was…moist? No seriously, the characters were so colorfully written and the house, just as it did in the series, gave me chills even while reading this in broad daylight.
Reasons She Goes to the Woods
This was hard to ingest at times because this girl was a real piece, but it’s essentially what Baby Teeth really wished it could be. Each page is a new chapter detailing some incident in the life of Opal, starting from when she was a very small girl all the way to her teen years, and she is pretty fucking messed up. I loved it. Super quick read too!
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This was the book that I got from that “Blind Date with a Book” thing at the library where the books were wrapped in paper so it was a real mystery. When I saw that this was my choice, I was like, “Oh.” Definitely not something I’d have chosen on my own and maybe a normal person would have just straight returned it, but now I felt invested. So I did eventually read it and it was…OK. I didn’t care much for any of the characters but the setting was so cozy and made for a perfect winter read, if you’re into choosing books based on that.
Basically, people get stranded in a countryside inn. Then people start dying. Oh no! I didn’t care when anyone died, to be honest, but I wanted to find out who did it which ultimately kept me from DNFing it. It was…you know…a’ight. It’s a book that you can read.
“The writing was very simple. Basically, it was like a book that you could read,” I explained to Henry.
“OK. I’m not illiterate!” he huffed.
It’s true though. This is the kind of book you give to an elder relative who you think should fuck off of Facebook and read a goddamn story. Will I read any of, what was her name? Shari Lapena? Would I read any more of her books? S’mrobly not.
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)
OK am I dumb? This is a fucking YA book and I was so lost at times when it came down to the actual “WE’RE LOOKING FOR THE LEY LINES!” part of the story that the actual PLOT actually became secondary to me and instead I stayed for the characters. Wow. Love them. All of them. I would happily take any raven boy (I mean, if they were over 18) and could so vividly picture each of them in my mind (I mean, if I were under 18). Maggie Stiefvater wrote the Shiver series, which was a werewolf trilogy that I super-loved, I think it came out 10 years ago? Maybe more? So when I saw that in my reading absence, she wrote a new series, I had to check it out. I will definitely be moving on the book #2 as soon as the dumb library gets it for me.
Maybe by then I’ll start to understand what they’re doing?
The Devil Crept In
Fuck this book. BookTube is always going on about Ania Ahlborn, how if you love horror, you have to check her out. How she is this budding indie horror writer. Ania Ahlborn, Ania Ahlborn, Ania Ahlborn.
Ugh, I didn’t like it. I really wanted to, but it was so boring and I hated everyone in it. It’s told mostly from the point of view of this 10 year old boy who has echolalia? And maybe I’m an asshole for saying this but it was really trying to read his dialogue, and I would get so angry because he’d do this thing where he ended his sentences with rhymes but the words were kind of, advanced? So I would be like, “WHY DOES A 10 YEAR OLD FROM SOME HICK TOWN IN OREGON KNOW HOW TO RHYME LIKE THIS” and that just made me angry. Also trigger warning to child abuse and graphic animal stuff.
What I liked the least about this book was that there were chapters from someone else’s point of view which were interspersed throughout and they were dreadful. Also, a really horrible, small, bold font was used for these particular chapters and I was not pleased. Neither were my eyes. Ugh, I wanted this book to be so much more but instead I was left extremely frustrated.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
Thankfully, I had enough time left at the end of the month to squeeze in one more, and this one was a gem. Some of my friends reading this might remember that I was actually offered a job at a funeral home, pre-Chooch, and I had to regretfully decline the offer because it interfered with my college classes at Pitt. I think about this all the time, and how I ended up not even finishing college anyway, and I should have just done it. And then I even considered dropping out of Pitt and going to actual mortuary school but the lady who gave me (and my friend Alisha) a tour basically discouraged us by saying that you essentially need to already have family in the business or else the odds of you running your own funeral home will be slim to none. Well, I wish this book was written before that because maybe I wouldn’t have been so quick to, uh, bury that dream.
So this book is different from what I expected: I thought it was going to be a straight-up memoir, but it’s so much more than that. Caitlin uses real-life anecdotes to teach us about a wide range of funerary customs, history, and her general disdain for the American death industry, and if you close this book without having a lot to think about, then are you already dead, maybe? Because I finished it and screamed at Henry, “WE HAVE TO HAVE A GREEN BURIAL. HENRY, WE HAVE TO. GOOGLE IT. FIND ONE NEAR US.”
Yeah so if you’re a cemetery frolicker like me, or maybe have seen a few seasons of Six Feet Under, you might like this book. Caitlin has a real “sitting down with a friend for coffee” writing style that I enjoyed very much. I will probably read more of her books.
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And that’s it – my February wrap-up! I fear that March will have much less books, but that’s OK. I started the month off with a real good one and have several other potential bangers in my stack, so we’ll see how it goes! I’m 2 away from smashing my 35 book challenge!