Today was Chooch’s first day of fourth grade and I’m trying to ask him how it was, and you’d think I was torturing him. The thing I remember most vividly about when I was in 4th grade was that there were so many “bad seeds” in my class that we forced our teacher into early retirement. Not sure how factual that is, considering my mom was the one who told me that.
Anyway, here is what I learned about Mr. Sunshine’s first day of 4th grade:
Fourth grade is cool. He likes it. Josh isn’t in my class and that’s good. (Josh is a bully & those two constantly have to be separated, plus his mom screamed in my face so they can both suck it.) Lunch was terrible because it’s a school lunch. He sat with David, a kid that left and then came back, apparently.
The principal said “I like your hair.” He doesn’t have hair so Chooch didn’t say it back.
He walked to school with DiMaggio.
Cassie didn’t talk to him at all and he’s acting like he doesn’t care and maybe he doesn’t, because he does have twin girlfriends now after all.
He didn’t see the HOT GYM TEACHER all day and then Henry said he’s not here this year, and I freaked out but then he said he was just kidding. Thank god. Hot Gym Teacher is literally the only reason I bother attending school concerts and Halloween parades.
Chooch has nothing else to say and we’re ALL IN A BAD MOOD apparently UGH!!! MONDAY!
Anyone who even casually knows me would probably say “obvi duh” upon hearing me declare that Warped Tour is my favorite day of every summer. And probably punctuate it with an eye roll. But it really is the one day a year that helps me relate a little bit to religious zealots, because being around so many of “my people” at once is a really powerful, exciting feeling. Much like being at one of those colossal mega-churches with people passing out and screaming.
A few weeks ago, I made a poster of all of my pictures from this year’s Warped Tour, which was one of my favorites.
And I feel weird saying that, because this year’s was rife was drama and controversy, starting with the allegations against Front Porch Step earlier in the year. This has been written about ad nauseum on the Internet, so I’ll keep it short: Jack Mcelfresh, the singer behind the Front Porch Step moniker, was using his scene status to lure underage girls via social media. Several of them finally spoke out about it via Tumblr, complete with screen shots of text messages and gross pictures he was sending them. I had never heard of him until we took Chooch to see Never Shout Never in Cleveland in 2013. We were hanging out by his merch table most of the night and he gave Chooch a free poster, which I thought was so nice, but also — we were there with the editor in chief of Alternative Press, so I’m not stupid. If I wanted my music to be acknowledged by the biggest publication supporting my scene, I’d give out free shit to a kid, too.
Now I just feel gross about it.
FPS ultimately was removed from Warped Tour; literally no one wanted to see his face after all of this. But then he made a surprise one-off appearance at the Nashville date which inspired massive outcry and widespread disappointment from those who had the misfortune of stumbling across him that day and everyone following along from home. This really put Warped Tour and its founder, Kevin Lyman, under a lot of fire and public scrutiny. Kevin defended his choice to allow Jake play in the Acoustic Basement that day by stating that he was working with Jake’s counselors and that this was part of his recovery process. While I have mad respect for Kevin Lyman for organizing my favorite music festival year after year, I will be the first to admit that this guy just shouldn’t even give statements to the media and he definitely should think harder before tweeting his opinions, because he is a master word-mincer. Every time he opens his mouth, he makes it worse! So he basically made himself look like a misogynist (and I truly don’t believe that he actually is) while essentially minimizing the issue at hand. Jake Mcelfresh is not the victim in this situation and he should not have been given a platform, even if it was only for one Warped Tour date.
That shouldn’t have even been an option. I will hand it to Kevin though, he made himself available every morning and invited any concerned fan to come and speak to him directly about this before the show.
So that was one big issue, and it was enough to start the #boycottwarped hashtag.
The second involved my old buddy, Jonny Craig! It’s never a dull moment with him. Quick backstory: the last time he played Warped Tour was in 2010, back when he was still in Emarosa. He caused a lot of drama and Kevin Lyman had to get Jonny’s mom to come out so they could attempt an intervention. Ultimately, he was told he’d never be allowed to play Warped again. But for whatever reason, Kevin decided to give Jonny a second chance, so five years later his new band Slaves was invited to play the second leg of Warped. (Emarosa played the first half.) Of course, Jonny started off by being super cocky about it, because everything Emarosa does, he thinks his idiot band can do better.
They managed to play…three dates, I think? Then people started commented on Jonny’s Instagram asking things like, “Hey, why didn’t you guys play today?” and of course, no one would respond. Well, Jonny sexually harassed their merch girl; it’s believed that he shoved his crotch in her face and made her touch him. I know, so uncharacteristic of him! He never even denied it, but still managed to make it worse by choosing douchey ways to express that what he did wasn’t “wrong.” He flat out replied “lol” to the merch girl’s vague tweet about how upsetting it is when alcohol turns decent people into monsters, which turned out to be her discreet way of alluding to what happened to her. Girl was traumatized, and rightfully so — she had only just met the band days earlier.
Some girl named Shelby who has known Jonny for some time and has also worked as his merch girl in the past, posted this ridiculous defense of Slaves online, about how women need to have thick skins to work in the music industry and that you have to expect things like this to happen, and how she can attest, without even being there, that Jonny was just joking around and that if you can’t “be one of the guys,” you should find a different job.
WHAT A WONDERFUL WOMAN! Teaching all these girls out there that they should just expect to be groped and humiliated by men, and if they can’t handle it, they’re clearly weak Lesser-Thans, right? So fucking sickening. Way to leave your own dirty finger print on rape culture, lady! The last line — really? So this girl should just go home and then Slaves can just carry on the rest of the tour like nothing happened? She should be punished but not them? I just…I can’t.
The bottom line is that being a merch person is still a job. Do you go to work expecting to be sexually harassed? Me either. So why should Slaves’ merch girl? She was just trying to make a living like everyone else.
All of this culminated into a huge divide behind the scenes at Warped Tour. First, Kevin kicked them off the tour, but then decided, for whatever reason, to let everyone involved in Warped Tour decide the fate of Slaves. They had a town hall meeting one Saturday night after all the fans were gone, where everyone was invited to say their piece, and then vote on whether Slaves should be kicked off or not. I have become Twitter friends with Jonny’s ex-fiancee, Amanda, over the last year, and she had a friend who was at the town hall meeting that night. She and I DM’d each other for hours that evening, on pins and needles waiting for the outcome.
Can I just pause for a second to say that this is a band full of dickhead members who tweet things like this?
Alex Lyman is the Slaves guitarist, and I honestly think he’s worse than Jonny Craig. People get fired from their jobs for saying things much less bad than this on the Internet. But it’s OK because he’s in band, right guys?
According to Amanda’s friend, about 300 people showed up that night to vote. It started with Kevin telling Jonny that he’s done with him, and he’s done with his band, but now it’s up to his peers to decide his fate. It was, obviously, a landslide vote to have them removed from the tour. Jonny was incredulous, and during all of it, he still wasn’t owning up to what he did to tip over that first domino. He kept accusing everyone of judging him based on his past, when sadly, it sounds like a lot of the bands that voted him off were doing so because they were worried that the Warped Tour environment was reversing his recovery process, while also trying to reason with him that getting drunk every night was not something that he should be doing. The rest of his band got real defensive about that and kept saying things like, “he’s an adult, he can handle it” which is hilarious because Jonny Craig is one of the most emotionally-stunted people I have ever encountered. He is the true definition of Man Child, which is why deep down, I honestly feel really sorry for him.
My favorite part of this latest Jonny Blows It Again episode is that a bunch of bands started wearing “Bring Back Emarosa” shirts. <3
Meanwhile, Fronz from Attila was having a major feud with The Wonder Years and Buddy from Senses Fail, who went on to tweet a virtual manifest of the state of the scene and how shit needs to change and Kevin Lyman needs to quit giving stages to these immature brat-bands. And Coop from Hands Like Houses posted a picture of himself flipping off the YouTubers tent and saying that he wishes the kids at Warped Tour would stop paying so much attention to the people who have nothing beneficial to say (truth), which incited an Instagram riot with all the teenage girls who are obsessed with the Warped YouTubers.
I know shit like this happens every year, but it seemed especially bad this time around, resulting in Kevin Lyman to give another cringe-worthy interview in which he seemingly chose his words in haste, leaving them open to easy misinterpretation. (Warped Tour will never be a 21+ event, guys. That’s not what he meant. Kevin knows his Warped Tour bread-and-butter demographic is the teen girls!)
It’s depressing to see that most of the people defending Jonny Craig are GIRLS. The victim-shaming on Twitter alone is enough to make me want to cry for all womankind and scream at them to get off Twitter and go burn a fucking bra. And then I read comments about how bands have been doing shit like this forever and how come it was OK back then, it was brushed off as “Oh, that’s so rock n’ roll,” but now all of these bands suddenly are expected to be held accountable, and the scene is becoming so “pussified” and “sensitive.” How about, no—it wasn’t OK back then. But I think it was easier for bands to get away with bad behavior in past decades because their lives were more secretive and more protected. With social media, everything is out there. It’s easier for smarmy musicians to bait underage girls, and it’s also easier for them to get exposed for doing so. It’s better, and it’s worse.
This is why I’m relieved that Robert Smith of the Cure has barely any Internet presence at all. He still ensconced in beautiful mystery. And how rare!
The one silver-lining I took from all this drama is seeing how many bands I respect speak up about the state of Warped Tour, offering solutions, begging the ones who are giving the scene a bad name to hear them out, trying to resolve beef without violence, and just ultimately coming together in an effort to make this community stronger. Also? There are a lot of men out there in this scene who give a fuck about women’s rights and are willing to go to bat for us. Misogyny and rape culture is rampant at most music festivals—not just Warped—and in many music scenes, but it is refreshing to see that this is something that my scene is being vocal about and recognizing that shit needs to change. The discussions that have been going on all summer long over at Absolute Punk have been smart, intelligent, and a sign that there are people out there who are open to change and willing to fight to make this scene good again. Also? Asshole behavior and sexual misconduct will not be tolerated or brushed off as “it’s just rock n’ roll, bruh.”
It’s a lot to think about, and something that we’ve been talking about a lot in my house, Chooch included. As a music-lover, I don’t want to ever stop going to Warped Tour. But as a self-respecting woman? Things need to change, and soon.
There comes a point where it’s not actually just about the music anymore.
The downtown Pittsburgh Macy’s is closing and there has been a real bonanza of liquidation sales going on. People at work have been all excited about it, telling me about how you can get linens and other house-y things for next to nothing, and then laughing at themselves when they remember that I’m not the household member responsible for purchasing such things.
However, it occurred to me last weekend that there are a ton of mannequins there, and what will become of them? So I set a reminder on my phone to ask Glenn first thing Monday morning, because Glenn used to work at Macy’s (WITH TERRY!).
This is how it went:
Me: Glenn, how was your vacation ok but seriously, do you still have connections at Macy’s?
Me: Because I need to know if there are mannequins and if so, can I have one.
Glenn: Why don’t you just ask Terry?
Because Terry still works there sometimes! Great idea!
So that went like this:
Me, popping up in Terry’s office doorway: Terry, serious non-work-related question!
Terry, not looking up from his computer: What’s up, Erin?
Me: IS MACY’S SELLING THEIR MANNEQUINS?
Terry: Yeah, everything is for sale.
Me: HOW MUCH ARE THEY?
Terry: I don’t know. There are all kinds, old, new, you’d have to go look. They’re all on the third floor.
So then this is how my conversation with Henry went:
Me: WE HAVE TO GO TO MACY’S THIS WEEKEND.
Me: MANNEQUINS. TERRY SAID!
Henry: Oh for fuck’s sake.
And then after finally getting Henry to dejectedly agree to Mission: Mannequin, I had this conversation with Chooch.
Me: WAKE UP WE HAVE TO GO DOWNTOWN.
Chooch, murmuring: For what?
Me: A mannequin.
Chooch: OH COME ON!!!
And this is how I ended up on the third floor of Macy’s, stepping over a jumble of enough Art Deco furniture and framed stock pictures to decorate a 1980s porno set, ready to elbow some douchebag in the ribs when he held his gaze just a tad too long on the mannequin that I had already claimed but was waiting for Henry to come back with some Macy’s broad who had no shits left to give about answering mannequin questions.
But I got my fucking mannequin! Henry lugged it over to the service desk and paid for it with much unhappiness.
“Do you want a cart for that?” a nice man asked as we began our journey out of Macy’s and back to the car as a four-piece family.
“No I’m good,” Henry sighed with his penis between his legs, and then, this is my favorite part, nearly whacked the man in the face with Mannequin’s sassily extended arm.
Luckily for Henry’s modesty, we parked in a garage that is very close to Macy’s, so there wasn’t much public ground to cover while transporting the mannequin back to the car. Not that anyone would have given us a second glance—it’s downtown Pittsburgh. People lug around all kinds of weird shit down there.
There were two old women waiting in the parking garage as the elevator door opened to spill us out on the second level.
“Oh my!” one of them laughed. “All I saw was that hand first!” as Henry stepped out behind the mannequin. We all had a good laugh, and Chooch was all, “what happened? What did she say?!” Because God forbid he’s not included in something.
When we came home, Hot Naybor Chris was in the driveway. He asked us what we were up to. Henry said, “Not much” and I cried, “We went to Macy’s and bought a mannequin!”
HNC thought about this for a moment. “OK. Cool!” he responded, determining that this wasn’t the weirdest thing he’s seen us bring into our house over the last 10 years.
Anyway, I’m just so excited to finally be able to have the Christmas tree I’ve been dreaming about since I was a teenager! I feel like I chose the right one. Something about her really speaks to me and I just can’t wait to paint her all glittery and then strangle her with garland.
One of Henry’s co-workers quit last month and the trickle-down effect has made for a pretty bummer summer. Things came to a head on Sunday and Henry and I had a big fight (don’t worry, Chooch wasn’t here). I know it’s probably surprising considering how much of a bullheaded, bipolar Leo I am, but Henry and I don’t actually have many big fights. But we’re both stressed out and annoyed, and beyond ready to wave adios to Sucktown USA. So we were all YELL YELL YELL and DOOR SLAM and then I spent the afternoon alone in the cemetery. I honestly thought, “Is this it? Are we done?” And then it was “Good luck finding someone else to emasculate you on the Internet, you plain-dressed asshole. Because it felt like that, and over something so idiotic which ceased to even matter about 2 minutes into the goddamn argument!
Really, I want to find that guy who quit and punch him in the dick. Motherfucker.
Big huge Canadian sorry if this got too personal, but god forbid anyone think my life is perfectly curated performance art. Surprisingly, my dirty pantaloons swaying in the breeze is relevant to this story.
My main concern was not HOW WILL OUR SON SURVIVE THE BREAK-UP OF HIS PARENTS!? but more ARE WE STILL GOING TO SEE HOWARD JONES TONIGHT?!
Oh, yes we are. I had been looking forward to this all summer!
And it turns out, going to see Howard Jones was kind of just what we needed: it was practically a Date, because Chooch decided he would rather stay home with his grandma (what a loser). Henry even brought a blanket to sit on (ugh) since the show was outside in a park. (And free! This meant that Henry had less stress than he usually does when we go to concerts. Plus, he actually somewhat likes Howard Jones, so this was one of those rare times that Henry isn’t Frown Personified.)
Hartwood Acres is in one of the nicer areas of Pittsburgh, so there were definitely certain types of people converging upon the park that evening, with their folding sporting event chairs and fancy wicker picnic baskets full of stemless wine glasses and mortadella slices. Like who do they think they are? William and Kate?
Henry brought two bottles of water and two packs of nuts: one was almond and one was mixed. HE ATE ALL THE MIXED NUTS WITHOUT ME.
I was going to live blog, but this was as far as I got because I was still being a bitter betty in the beginning: 6:31: At Hartwood Acres for Howard Jones. Hate everyone here. And I mean everyone. Henry got us Italian ice & I’m PISSED because he got me lemon and mango for himself. I WOULD HAVE PREFERRED MANGO. What an asshole.
Henry’s laser pointer was excited to see you. And don’t panic — Henry and I traded Italian ice. He was doing anything possible to keep me happy at this point.
Ha, remember when we used to make pendants of my paintings? I still wear them. Memories.
I was so angry at the people next to us. They had it all and I wanted it. It was Jim’s birthday (Henry saw his name on the present that was sitting there, taunting me, for the first 45 minutes of the evening) and we deduced that Jim wasn’t Dad but Mom’s Boyfriend. They brought a cake for him, candles and all, and the cake looked really good. I just sat there and stared at them the whole time as they shoveled cake into their idiot mouths, no shame.
I will say that Jim got some shitty gifts though. Quite possibly one of the ugliest button-downs I’ve even seen and an “art canvas” with some lame, inspirational saying printed on it. Kind of shitty gifts for someone who is expected to put up with those bitch daughters of hers, I hissed in Henry’s ear and he just went along with it because at least I was bitching about someone else, finally. It was bonding, and therapeutic, for us to hate other people instead of each other for once.
People-watching was at a prime that evening, and it’s a good thing too because we had a lot of time to kill. My favorite parts were watching the adorable airedale-ish dog in front of us. I wanted to steal her. And also stink-eyeing any douchebag who even considered for a second propping up their douchebag folding chairs in front of me.
Bill Deasy of the Gathering Field (a local Pittsburgh band that has been really popular with the older crowd for as long as I can remember) opened and remember in my previous concert post when I blah-blah’d about how now that I’m older, I try to have more patience and respect for opening bands? WELL THAT ALL WENT OUT THE E-WINDOW. This guy just irritated me so bad because I was in a bad mood to begin with and his music was boring and he talked too much and his jokes were only funny to old people.
Everyone around me was eating it up, though. Even the non-yuppies! Probably because they were all buzzed off their hipster IPAs at that point, though. I refused to applaud, even when Bill explained that he was the reason Howard Jones was playing here that night, because they met at some song-writing thing in France in the 90s and became friends, and now Bill is also on some entertainment council for Allegheny County in addition to being in a boring band, but I don’t clap for braggers.
I only clapped when it was over, and that was an exaggerated, forced hand-smack with a matching scowl on my face, like a bitchy hat-and-mitten set.
(There was literally nothing wrong with Bill Deasy. I was just being a witch-bitch. Which is something I’ve never called myself before, but somehow my fingers typed it so naturally.)
Finally, as the sun was setting, Howard Jones came out and the night turned into a giant, open-aired dance party. I wanted to go up by the stage but Henry was being wishy-washy about it, so we stayed on our blanket and “relaxed.” Yeah right — do you know how hard it is for me to sit still on a blanket?!
Even on our dumb blanket, we had a really great, unobstructed view. It didn’t matter after he started singing though, because I was more than content being wrapped up in childhood memories and the pure, unadulterated essence of 80s synthpop. Howard Jones makes me feel so happy and fired up. I didn’t need to bring a growler of Arsenal cider—like the rich, nautical-attired older couple in front of us did—to feel drunk. All that beautiful synth did it for me.
A few songs in, the middle-aged lady with the airedale-ish dog packed up her summer-concert-in-the-park belongings and left.
“Maybe she thought she was going to see Howard Jones from Killswitch Engage,” I said to Henry, with a shrug. I imagine she was sorely disappointed, if that was the case.
I saw Howard for the first time last March in Cleveland, after being a fan since I was a little girl watching “New Song” on Friday Night Videos. I never thought I would be seeing him twice in the same year! And for free this time!? I hope the county paid Howard the big bucks, because he deserves it.
It was the perfect way to calm our nerves, a healing end to a weird, belligerent day. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Henry still complained about his legs being asleep from sitting on the blanket, to which I smugly retorted, “Well, you should have STOOD UP like I wanted to.” Still, we even held hands when we walked back to the car! And when I said, “Wasn’t that fucking amazing?” I waited for Henry to mumble his signature “No.”
But this time he said, in a non-mumble, “Yes.”
Thank you, Howard Jones, for helping us reconnect.
Fred pulled back the kitchen curtains and took in the typical Pittsburgh sky: sunlight struggling to be seen through clouds in varying states of precipitation.
“It’s another beautiful day in Pittsburgh,” he smiled. A note clinging to his fridge against the weight of a Steelers magnet reminded him that he needed to buy more pierogis and pop, but first he was having breakfast with his best friend, Mr. McFeely.
Mr. McFeely was already waiting at a table when Fred arrived at Pamela’s later that morning.
“Fred, we picked a bad day to come here,” he spat sourly. “The place is full of kinderdicks!”
A cursory scan of the breakfast hot spot taught Fred that there were indeed many small children communicating their feelings in the cacophonic volume of basic banshees.
“Mr. McFeely, these children are the future Heinz laborers! The next Sophie Masloffs and Michael Keatons! They deserve to be here, eating potatoes lyonnaise, just as much as you and I.” Fred beamed happily, tucking a napkin into his cardigan.
“Fred,” Mr. McFeely sighed, “you are a good man.”
“I just really love everyone in my neighborhood,” Fred modestly waved off the compliment.
On the way to Giant Eagle later that afternoon, Fred’s car hit a pothole the size of Ben Roesthlisberger’s ego, splashing his Schneider’s iced tea into his lap. Fred shook his head and chuckled. “Maybe I should have taken the trolley!”
In Giant Eagle, Fred considered buying a pound of Isaly’s chipped ham but remembered he had 9 pounds of it in his freezer already.
“Will this be all for today?” the young, disinterested cashier asked Fred at the check-out.
“Yes dear, just came here for some pierogis and pop,” Fred answered, his avuncular smile causing crinkles to spread from his eyes.
“It’s soda,” she corrected him, making it clear she was one of those endearing transplants, here to attend college while constantly disputing the vernacular.
Fred took the bag from her outstretched hand, politely wishing her well while laughing softly to himself. He knew she would be calling it pop in no time.
When Fred arrived home that evening after a full day of tooling around town, some of the neighborhood children were playing a rousing game of Release. The playing field had spilled into his yard, but Fred didn’t mind; children were his favorite types of people. Especially Pittsburgh children.
Fred paused outside of his front door, smiling lazily at the sounds of prepubescent caterwauls and urban swears while casually sliding the gum band off of the stack of mail that arrived that day. His eyes had just fallen on an ad in the Pennysaver for the Immaculate Heart of Mary fish fry when his periphery caught a flash of something that made him involuntarily dry-heave.
It was a putrid color, the wash of ear wax.
The chroma of Cheetos’d fingertips.
The tint of Carrot Top’s unruly follicular chapeau.
The stain of Snooki’s skin after a summer at the Jersey Shore.
Fred felt the color drain from his face. His heart began thrumming against his ribcage and something of an unfamiliar feeling began rising up from his gut. It was a feeling he felt only thrice in his life:
● Once, when he was inspired to make his own crayons after airing a tour of the Crayola factory on his show, which resulted in him spilling hot wax all over his favorite cardigan.
● Once, when he came home after a particularly long day to find that someone had chucked his Pittsburgh parking chair onto the grass and brutally thieved his rightful parking spot.
● Once, when Lady Elaine Fairchild arrived to work drunk.
The orange flash was a Philadelphia Flyers jersey. On a child.
The feeling Fred felt was pure, unadulterated black and gold fury.
Shaking the Pennysaver—now rolled-up into a Flyers-fan beating apparatus—into the air, Fred hollered, “Get off my lawn, ya jagoff!”
This is an original painting that I made for a Pittsburgh-themed blog exchange I participated in. It’s ready to hang and the story comes with it!
Our final day in Savannah was the best one. Octavia graciously invited us over for quite honestly the best meal we had on the entire trip – fruit salad, sweet potato hash with sausage (and a version with faux-sausage for me!), cheesy grits, eggs, and fried green tomatoes. And coffee in pretty cups!
All prepared by her husband, Dustin.
I’m drowning on my own drool (and not someone else’s, for once, you know, when I’m out whoring around) over here just thinking about it. I am always so terrible at hospitality issues. For example, if you were visiting Pittsburgh and came to my house for breakfast, I would hand you a Poptart, or guide you down the street to Eat n Park.
And that’s on a good day!
Octavia and Dustin’s kid, Tallulah, immediately glommed on to Chooch. I absolutely love when this happens. PAYBACK, CHOOCH.
Although, he only just pretends to be distressed by this. Deep down, he loves the attention. (But you guys, would you look at how freaking adorable she is? THOSE CURLS, THO.) They got along really well, if you don’t count the time Chooch was pushing her outside in a swing and accidentally slammed her into a tree, ugh.
Octavia’s house is stimulating in all of the best ways. They have two cats and a dog, and an entire room of instruments. It’s a musician’s wonderland and they told Chooch to have at it. He was like, “Seriously? You want me to make noise? YOU’RE TELLING ME I CAN MAKE NOISE?!” They very nearly acquired themselves a son that day.
OCTAVIA EVEN PLAYS THE ACCORDION. These people are swimming in talent and I kept hoping some of it would waft over my way.
And then she showed me some of her mixed media pieces and I was just like, “OK, when can we be sister wives already or nah?!”
As much as I was enjoying talking about art and music and our dislike for other mothers, it was getting later in the afternoon and we needed to hit the road. The plan was to spend the night in Charlotte, NC and continue on our way home the next day. Chooch gave Tallulah one of the birthday balloons that Octavia used to decorate our hotel room, and when that one was whisked away into the tree tops, he gave her another. Sometimes Chooch is not a dick!
As stoked as I was to gallivant around Savannah, this is what I was really hoping to do in Georgia. Casually talking all morning and into the afternoon was what exactly what I wanted and was honestly the zenith of the trip for me. I have a tricky temperament and there are a LOT of incompatible personalities out there for me. And I’m not saying that it’s not me, it’s everyone else — I am voluntarily admitting that I can be tough to get along with. (Just ask Janna. It takes a saint!) I start out fairly introverted and observant, until my comfort and trust levels go up. (Which doesn’t always happen.) But I knew within minutes of meeting Octavia that it was going to work, that conversation was going to be easy and two-sided, and that I was going to learn a lot from her.
Also?! SHE WAS BORN IN ROMANIA. We were bound to become friends at some point in our lives and I left her house that day feeling really good about things, and also determined to have some of my ribs removed so I can fold myself in half to better fit inside her luggage the next time she visits Romania.
I love when weekends start off with breakfast at Pamela’s with Wendy and Jeannie. Usually we go to the same one, in Shadyside, but Wendy decided to change things up this time and chose the one in Squirrel Hill, because it would be “more convenient for everyone,” which really means, “more convenient for Wendy and more annoying for Erin and Jeannie.” God, ever since she became pregnant, it’s become all about her.
Because I can never remember what the parking sitch is like near this particular Pamela’s, I wound up leaving way too early and ended up in a parking lot that was entirely empty and within perfect walking distance, with a good thirty minutes to spare—this is what happens when you’re a spaz about being late. So I spent my time wisely, listening to Icarus the Owl and the new Carly Rae Jepsen album, which is FIRE. I’m not even joking.
And of course, taking selfies with Large Marge:
Breakfast was great. Wendy spent the whole time talking about growing a human while Jeannie and I nodded and concentrated on our food.
“Did you know that Wendy’s pregnant?” Jeannie side-barred.
“I always forget that she is, thank god she’s so good at reminding at us,” I answered.
I think Wendy was about to tell us to shut up but then Pregnancy side-tracked her.
Later that day, Henry found some ice cream place for us to try in Butler, which is like an hour away from Pittsburgh in case you don’t live here and are like, “The fuck is Butler?” Professional Driver Henry loves driving and “getting ice cream” is less about the actual ice cream and more about the Adventure. It’s one of my favorite summer things!
Chooch slept on the way there, so we talked shit on him the whole time.
When we got to the ice cream place, it was around 5 so I made the unilateral decision that we should eat dinner first. Henry drove toward downtown Butler while I embarked on another frustrating field trip into the bowels of Yelp. I was really getting angry when we drove past some place called the Chop Shop and I started bitching about how we should just eat there because Yelp is a piece of shit. I checked out their menu and they had at least one vegetarian item, so Henry turned around and parked the car. I was still full from breakfast, so I figured I’d just get a salad anyway. Henry made the “if you say so” face and tentatively followed Chooch and me inside, bracing himself for disaster.
The vibe of the Chop Shop is small town gas station. Our waiter (BRANDON <3<3<3) was dressed like a gas station attendant and there was all kinds of old school garage paraphernalia strewn about. The booth was covered in the softest suede so my dumb legs didn’t stick to them since I was wearing shorts. IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS.
(The pain of pulling bare skin from vinyl seats, amirite.)
Aside from driving through Butler, I haven’t actually parked and gotten out of the car there since 1998, when I drove out there to get a tattoo from some dude I met when I cold-called his tattoo shop from the credit card terminal company I was telemarketing for. My impression of Butler was always that it’s out in the middle of farmlands and what the hell do these people do when they want to go to a concert? So I guess I was pleasantly surprised that we were eating at a restaurant that not only remembered that vegetarians exist, but actually had four different meatless salads to choose from.
And not stupid iceberg lettuce and cucumber salads, either. The salad I ordered had goat cheese and beets and GOOD GREENS. I am ridiculously picky when it comes to salads and I absolutely will not settle for regular lettuce. I hate lettuce. And the salad was big enough that it was totally acceptable as an entree.
We also ordered popcorn with siracha and peanut sauce for an appetizer, and the serving was enormous! Plus complimentary jalapeno cornbread?! I was in-fucking-love with the Chop Shop before my salad was even served, because I love cornbread, but I have had some bad cornbread. Ugh, this was the perfect ratio of sweet and savory, and it was MOIST AS FUCK. I can’t stand when cornbread has that dried-up nun’s vag consistency.
(Speaking of cornbread, I really miss that cornbread shit that ChiChi’s used to serve. It was like molten cornbread, just a puddle of this sweet ass corn splooge, oh how I long for some of that bastardized Mexican side dish goodness. Just because a few people had to go and die after eating bad green onions at ChiChi’s, the rest of have to be punished too!? Unreal.)
When we told Brandon how much we loved the cornbread, he came back with an entire carry-out container full of hunks of it and whispered, “You didn’t get this from me.”
“Give him a huge tip!” I urged Henry. “Like, $200!”
I mean, not that I had a crush on him or anything.
“Let’s write him a note on the back of the check!” I cried, because that’s what I like to do when I’m in love with the waitstaff or their coconut cream pie (although, I have also been known to write a scathing note or five hundred in my time, too).
“Yeah!” Chooch agreed. “Write ‘I’m in love with you, from Erin’.”
Ugh. Chooch is the worst.
Also, our check was less than it usually is when we go to shitty Eat n Park, so that made Henry’s blue-collar salary sing.
The best part about the Chop Shop is that my Yelp nemesis has yet to review it! I was thankful that I was able to enjoy my cornbread without Yelp nemesis’s sickening food-prose tainting my taste buds.
Instead of driving back to the ice cream place that originally brought us out that way, we opted to just go to Madlyn’s down the street because it looked cute and Chooch was all WHY CAN’T I EVER PICK WHERE WE GO and that’s where he wanted to go.
I didn’t really care at that point, because I was so happy to have eaten a salad that didn’t taste like it came out of a prison cafeteria. So when it turned out to be one of those dime a dozen self-serve froyo joints, I didn’t throw a colossal fit like Henry was anticipating. I think what helped was that the teenage froyo clerk was fucking adorbs.
“Have you ever been here before?” he asked. We all said no.
“Well, are you familiar with self-serve frozen yogurt?”
Answering yes to this question apparently comes with a reward of being told, IN DETAIL, how the entire process works: from choosing a cup or cone; the difference between yogurt, sorbet, and custard; a perusal of the topping bar, where a staggering 100+ options lie in wait; and a nod toward the extra toppings, such as the sauces and whipped cream.
It was excruciating. I mean, the kid was adorable and clearly loved his job, so hats off to That Kid. But Jesus. I felt so on the spot after that, like he was quietly judging my choices and sprinkle-drizzling form.
(He failed to include in his instructional lecture that there was a plastic pan over which one is to perform the topping-dropping; I did not realize this until after I had already created a wasteland of intermingling topping crumbs all over the counter.)
Henry opted to put his froyo in a cone and was shocked to discover that getting the stuff in there is a lot harder than it looks.
I told Henry to use my method of capturing a totally non-creepy, unstalkerish picture of the Froyo Prince, but this was the best he was able to produce.
Then Chooch and Henry played Donkey Kong, which was amusing because Chooch gets so mad when Henry does better than him.
God, could he be any less like me? I am always so supportive of Henry when he’s excelling at something!
Afterward, Henry was the best dad ever and took us to Playthings Etc, which is a toy store inside of a STEALTH BOMBER. It’s so cool that it’s even listed on Roadside America. Just sayin’.
Tow young guys were working that evening and one of them immediately complimented Chooch on his choice to have pink hair. Chooch, while never tiring of the actual hair color, is super 100% over graciously accepting people’s compliments. His obligatory “Thanks” these days is bloated with derision and ruffled feathers. And to make it even worse, the toy store guy practically cut himself off from talking about Chooch’s hair in order to gush over my EYEBALL PURSE. Chooch literally threw himself into a full-bodied, “Ugh!” and stomped away.
“He hates it when people like my purse,” I explained.
“Oh….well, he has pink hair!” he shouted at Chooch’s retreating back.
I sometimes wonder what Chooch and I look like through the eyes of a stranger.
Random thing on the wall.
Most of the toys had demo versions that we were allowed to play with, which meant that Henry spent a large portion of his time there shooting Chooch in the back with various Nerf-like guns. I usually get bored in toy stores pretty quickly (shopping in general bores me now that I don’t have the corporate AmEx to use….or maybe “depresses” is more of the word I’m looking for), but this place was the shit because both of the guys were so great at interacting with the customers. They would pop around corners and say, “HEY! Have you ever seen….” and then start demoing something for us. It was exciting!
“Who wants to go outside and see human-sized bubbles?” one of the guys asked, and a bunch of us were tripping over ourselves to follow him out to the parking lot.
At one point, Chooch and I were looking at a collection of realistic animal masks that had a price tag of “Not Today,” according to Henry. One of the guys came over and started talking to us about the masks and I mentioned that we were really into masks and enjoyed doing photo shoots with them.
“She has a blog,” Chooch said with an eye roll and then walked away.
“Well?!” the guy asked. “What is it?”
So then I had to awkwardly tell him about my blog and I hope he never reads this, but hey guy, if you’re reading this, thanks for making our visit super fun! And we’ll be back for that fox mask real soon. Henry promised.
We did leave with a pug, though.
What started out as a simple trip for ice cream turned into an accidental day of local tourism, and I fucking loved it! The main thing I realized about Butler is that every person we encountered there was ridiculously nice and hospitable and now I want to go back and maybe make a friend or something I don’t know.
Before we left Savannah the day after my birthday, we swung by Wormsloe Historic Site because god forbid I visit Savannah without snagging a picture of this iconic sight. We tried to go the day before with Octavia but it was closed and Henry’s suggestion of, “Just take the picture through the gate” wasn’t a winner.
Apparently, you have to pay to enter the park, but the part of the road I wanted a picture of is like RIGHT THERE. So we parked at the entrance and Henry hissed, “Take the damn picture!” I had to step around a sign that said a bunch of words about visiting the information center to pay before taking a picture.
Ugh, I hate breaking the law. Henry made me do it!
I took one picture and then fled back to the car. Chooch couldn’t believe that I actually took a picture without him in it.
“Yeah but it’s Wormsloe. I didn’t want you to ruin the picture,” I said, casually shrugging him off.
Shortly after this, we began our drive home. While stopped in Orangeburg, NC, I made Henry pull over so I could take pictures of Chooch next to a corn field. Because these are things that I want to do while on vacation.
Chooch of the Corn.
This was actually when we were driving in circles, looking for a post office and Henry wanted to kill me and dump my fat body in that corn field over there. Imagine the creepy corn mutations my rotting corpse could potentially create!
Octavia talked about corn mutations when we were hanging out with her.
I will always think of her when corn mutations come up in conversation. :(
SHE TAUGHT US SO MUCH!
I’m almost finished writing about the trip, which I’m happy about, but it’s making me miss it even more! It was a good one, that’s for sure. Just not long enough.
Last week, we were on our wag home from getting ice cream, what a wonderful, wholesome, all-American family outing. At a red light on Rt. 65, I looked out the window and noticed we were idling next to a large pet store.
Chooch and I naturally started hounding Henry to turn into the lot, because we waned to splay our hands all over the fur, but Henry got really shady, and I mean ultra uneasy about our desire to stop at some local riverfront establishment to ogle the living wares. Now maybe a normal person would suggest this was because Henry was worried that we would try to bring home a Richard Gere-certified gerbil or some dumb beta fish; maybe you might assume that Henry was tired of being out and about and just wanted to go home and take his pants off; perhaps you think he saw his SERVICE porn dealer’s car in the lot. Or could be he was just tired of letting his two dependents constantly get their way. I hate when he utilizes his right to say no.
And these are all reasonable theories, I guess.
But I immediately cried, “Oh my god! It’s because you impregnated some broad in there, didn’t you?!”
Chooch joined in from the backseat.
Hypothesis for two, please!
“How far along is she?” I asked with faux-sincerity.
Henry was really agitated by now and when the light turned green, he floored it.
“You know, this place isn’t too far from where you work, so it’s plausible,” I rationalized, inspiring more flimsy arguments from Henry’s imaginary defense team.
Last night, Henry and I were on our way home from the Howard Jones concert at Hartwood Acres, when we drove past a pet store that’s for sale.
“Ooooh! Maybe the place where your pregnant mistress works put it out of business!”
“Yeah, speaking of that. Chooch almost told my mom about that but I stopped him in time, thank god,” Henry sighed.
“Why do you care if he tells her if it’s supposedly FALSE?!” I yelled, excited to put him on the spot again.
“ITS NOT TRUE!” Henry yelled. “I don’t want him telling her that because I didn’t feel like explaining to her why you were even talking about that in the first place,” he said in exasperation as I ate the last of the peanut butter cookie I was supposed to be sharing with him but yeah right.
Hmm. If he wasn’t guilty of knocking up some pet store clerk, then why is he trying to keep the story from his mom?!
How does that saying go? If it looks like a pet store clerk impregnator and walks like a pet store clerk impregnator, then Henry’s got a ho that probably smells like soiled newspaper and fish food?
YEAH. Something like that.
(I wrote this in bed and fell asleep a few times, so I’m sure it’s a great read!)
See also: I need to give my fingers a break from typing so here’s a photo dump, Blog.
Words cannot describe how beautiful Savannah is. I’ve wanted to visit so badly, that I was kind of starstruck to the point of not taking as many photos as I should have. (Yay, just what you guys need—more fucking photos!)
Octavia wanted to take us in this church but some asshole had to go and die and have their idiot funeral that day. Way to ruin my birthday, dead person.
Henry was happy that this plan was foiled by the reaper, because he dislikes being in god’s house.
I was stupid-scared of these steps, but Octavia said this warning was mostly there for drunk people and hobos, both of which I walk like on a good day, so that didn’t help. NICE TRY, OCTAVIA.
Henry was considering walking straight off into the river and drowning himself. Chooch was starting to that thing that kids sometimes do called TESTING THEIR PARENTS’ PATIENCE.
We spent about 15 minutes scrutinizing Forrest Gump movie stills on Octavia’s phone until we settled on this being the site of Chippewa Square where Forrest’s bench was. There were people on Segways congregating there before us, so maybe?
We saw an antique shop and Chooch wanted to go in but all I could think about was how I really didn’t want a replay of the Chooch in a China Shop episode of our weekend in Philly last winter.
Yeah! Me too! Bandwagoner!
Lastly, here is Chooch with the succulent/weed he plucked out of the sidewalk for me.
We started to walk back to the parking garage around 4:30, because it was HOT and we were all pretty exhausted. Thank god we left when we did because by the time we got back to Bonaventure for Octavia to retrieve her car, THEY WERE BASICALLY CLOSED. There were some workers by the gate and they tried to stop us from driving in but Henry was like, “We’re just taking her back to her car!” and then all exchanged blue collar, uniform-wearing hyuks and we were allowed to pass by. Henry is so weird when it comes to interacting with those kinds of people.
After saying our temporary goodbyes, we headed back to the “hotel” so we could rest for a little bit before attempting to find somewhere to eat dinner.
“What’s Octavia’s real name?” Chooch said from the backseat.
“Uhhh….Octavia?” I answered in my favorite condescending teenager tone.
This seemed to please him. He’s basically obsessed with her now.
After a few miles of listening to Chooch jaw off Octavia’s ear about video games and Henry suffering mild road rage, we found a place to park downtown. Octavia put her tour guide hat back on and we began our leisurely walking tour of Savannah. But first, Octavia needed to feed me because even though I had on my SWEET LITTLE ERIN facade, my hunger was quickly reaching Hulk levels.
Octavia suggested Kayak Kafe, knowing that there were vegetarian options. There were so many veg options, in fact, that it was difficult to choose! I eventually went for some sort of vegetable panini thing which came with LATIN SLAW!
On my birthday!
That whole cabbage challenge had me consumed for the entire month of July. There were times I ate coleslaw even when I didn’t even want to eat coleslaw just because it was endlessly funny to me. I feel like my dumb self-appointed cabbage challenge consumed more than should have. You know how they say that it takes x-number of days to make something a habit? Usually when referring to exercise? Well, after 31 days of forcing myself to reference cabbage in some way, I find myself automatically doing that still, almost at the end of August. So dumb. I’m pretty sure I won my challenge, because no one told me otherwise. Someone started to call me out on one of my posts and then realized that I dropped a Savoy bomb up in there. SAVOY IS A TYPE OF CABBAGE in case you’re a cabbage dodo. Now you know.
So step off.
(I actually didn’t know this until July, when I spent entirely too much time Googling “cabbage” and now I know everything in the world there is to know about cabbage, including a recipe for Transylvanian cabbage pie and home remedies for hemorrhoids using raw cabbage leaves. Facts.)
Now that I have you thinking about inflamed anal buttons, here’s a picture of my food!
I ate way too fast, as usual. And Chooch was fancy and ordered lemonade with strawberry pulp in it, which I didn’t see on the menu, so I was jealous. He was so smug about it, too.
During lunch, Octavia brought up THE SERVICE, because she too was in the Air Force! This is important to note because it was the first time Henry smiled in Savannah, when she asked him earnest (as opposed to Erin-style, a/k/a dickheadish) questions about what he did there. He was a crew chief!
“Did I know that!?” I squealed through my laughter.
“Yes,” Henry mumbled.
“No I didn’t! You never told me that!” I was almost choking on this.
“No, I did. A long time ago. You just didn’t care,” he mumbled.
I wonder if Henry ever feels bullied by me.
And then Octavia said, “So your name was on the plane then!” and Henry modestly nodded and I was practically flipping tables at this point.
HIS NAME WAS ON THE PLANE, HAHAHA! Oh my god. I just asked him if it was his full name, middle initial and all, and HE SAID YES. A plane with “Henry. J. Robbins” plastered on it! Oh god, thank you, Octavia, for uncovering this gem buried in Henry’s past!
After lunch, we went to a toy store that looked like my parent’s basement in the 80s. So much nostalgia, and so many “NO!”s to Chooch’s incessant toy-begging.
Finally, it was time for ice cream at Leopold’s, which was why it didn’t matter to me where we at lunch; I have been too fixated on Leopold’s even since Octavia first told me about Savannah’s ice cream parlor.
Here is a picture Octavia took of me not listening to Henry. <3
Octavia got lemon sorbet (or custard?); Henry got rum bisque because Octavia said that was her husband Dustin’s favorite and Henry is a follower; Chooch got something dumb probably; and since lavender wasn’t available, I felt an obligation to tutti frutti, since Leopold’s famously claims to have invented it. I’m not sure I’ve ever had tutti frutti before, and it’s not something I would typically order, but I really liked it! It was like a (good) fruit cake in ice cream form.
I liked Henry’s better though. :( DON’T I ALWAYS.
Here’s a picture of Chooch stealing another friend from me. Ugh. Anyway, Octavia is adorable!
One of the things I really appreciated about Octavia (and believe me, there are many!) was that she patiently listened to Chooch and I fight over who was going to tell the story of DONNA on the ghost tour, and then endured us racing to finish sentences before the other one tried to hijacked the story, because this is what happens when there is a story to tell and both of us want to be the one to tell it. And not only that, but she was totally on our side about it and started berated Donna along with us, so then “don’t be a Donna” became a thing and now I want to make t-shirts and Henry is like, “No, you mean, now you want ME to make t-shirts” and he hates the ghost tour even more now.
Chooch found a new Frederick. And also never shut up. OMG.
Meanwhile, I know that Henry must have been having an OK time because he was updating his Facebook and he never does that. He checked into Bonaventure and Leopold’s, you guys! I’m a Henry expert, so I know that these were good signs. Plus, we didn’t exchange any clandestine “I hope you fucking die” looks with each other at any point during the day, which is what we normally do when he’s having an awful time and I’m catching his bad vibes.
I guess Henry likes being in the south!
One of the last things we did during our afternoon stroll around Savannah was stop at the Coffee Fox for iced coffee, and Chooch excitedly borrowed my phone so he could take a picture of “boobs”:
I think it’s important to note that both Octavia and I like foxes (her photography business is named Two Fox!) so this somehow managed to make my iced horchata latte taste even better. Foxes are special. This whole day was special. I want to go back!
I took a bunch of pictures with my “real camera,” so I’ll post those separately. Don’t be a Donna.
Chooch sometimes tries to get us to be “a normal family.” Like he thinks that by ironically referring to us as “Ma” and “Pa,” I’m going to suddenly know how to cook and Henry’s going to slap on a baseball mitt and suggest a rousing game of catch before “supper.”
But then I’m like “Well then you’re going to have to start speaking appropriately and not like you’re halfway to perfecting the Aristocrats.” NORMAL FAMILIES LIVE ON TWO-WAY STREETS.
(I grew up on a dead-end private lane that was only room enough for one car to drive down at a time so if another car was coming, they’d have to pull into someone’s driveway to let you pass. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere for my stubborn, bulldozing family.)
But sometimes, in between stupid animal masked photo shoots and spastic road trips, I’ll throw the poor kid a bone. So I promised him that we would play Life when I came home from work last night because he played it with his twin girlfriends (TWINS) and is obsessed with it.
(Or obsessed with the fact that he played it with TWINS!)
I FINALLY GOT MARRIED!
It’s been YEARS since I played Life and it seemed A LOT different and more complicated than I remember. This may be because I was relying on Chooch’s wishy-washy instructions. The career I blindly chose was TECH SUPPORT and I was so angry because I did something similar to that for awhile and wanted to die the whole time. And I definitely did not get that much money for it, either. However, Henry’s career was “Artist” and he made much less than my tech support gig.
I don’t think Tech Support was a career the last time I played this. New Life sucks. I want the old one back.
Chooch kept losing turns and having to pay bullshit fines and was so angry about it. He started to cry at one point but tried to play it off. But, we have similar gaming tempers so I knew that his tears actually meant that there was a fiery fury being stoked with the Devil’s poker, so what did I do? I discreetly cheated until I won, bitches!
People cheat. That’s life. There’s your lesson, son.
Icarus the Owl just made a video for their new single and I’m so stoked on it! My absolute dream is that they will tour with Artifex Pereo and Emarosa. I would cry through the whole thing.
Lately, I’ve been jamming so much shit from Blue Swan; Top Shelf; and Kurt Travis’s brand new label, Esque. I highly recommend perusing their catalogs, my friends! Snooping labels is how I find a ton of the music I listen to.
In other music news: Riot Fest is only a few weeks away and it’s pretty much all I can think about. And Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album came out today and in heaven. This is the best pop albums in YEARS if you ask me. I love her so much.
I work late shift today, so I have a few hours this morning to spend with Chooch and Judy. Judy is currently irritated because John Cena is on whatever Regis & Kathie Lee is called now. “I don’t see what’s so great about him,” she just spat from the living room. And Chooch is sitting behind me at the dining room table, playing Solitaire because god forbid I’m using the computer so he’s playing DARK AGES GAMES. Now Judy is yelling at him because he doesn’t remember what the first card was that he turned over? Is this what they do all day? Oh my god.
John Cena is on the couch now. WILL JUDY CHANGE HER OPINION? She just either half-chuckled at something he said or she’s choking on the horrid coffee I made this morning. (I think I used the wrong measuring spoon?)
“Stupid,” she just said with disgust.
I used to love watching Regis and Kathie with my grandma, but I always haaaaated Kathie Lee and her stupid stories about her dumb son Cody. I made a Frank Gifford Glenn the other day, but I didn’t like it so maybe today I’ll make a new one with Kathie and her big mouth in the background. Now that I think about it, my grandma is also the one who taught me how to play Solitaire so the parallels here are astounding.
Now Chooch and Judy are playing Life and screaming at each other about the rules.
I haven’t done a throwback Thursday in a few months, and today I came across an old LiveJournal post from 2006 about the first time my friend Kara and I met in person! 10 years and three babies later, we’re still friends! Thank god for Myspace and awesome taste in music. Kara, I can’t believe Blogathon alone didn’t scare you away!
Sometime last summer, I received an email notification that someone wanted to add me as a friend on Myspace. I was surprised to find out that it was neither a:
[a] screamo band from Idaho
[b] girl trying to break into porn
[c] married middle-aged man looking to just chat, he swears, with a young chick
Instead, it was a real life girl, Kara, from Pittsburgh who actually seemed to be adding me out of sheer interest and not to bolster a high friend count. A glance at her profile told me that she could type and spell properly, and didn’t have an annoying layout spewing out the latest Mariah Carey single, forcing me to scroll up and down in search of an off button. We began sending messages back and forth, making empty promises to meet up real soon for coffee. I didn’t have much faith in that, because the only other time I tried to meet someone from MySpace, she blew me off three times in a row (once was because she got her period).
But then a coffee place opened up in my town of Brookline (and it was about time since the only places around this dump to get coffee is an Eat n Park with awful service or a varied selection of gas stations) right by Pizzarella, no less! I figured this would be a great opportunity to meet Kara, until I sent Henry there one day for a smoothie and he was told that they had no refrigeration. The second attempt to humble them with my patronage was shot down when I wanted a cappuccino and was told that their microwave was broken. If they’re making their cappuccinos in a microwave, I don’t think I want one after all. I’m glad that I discovered this before having Kara meet me there, since I feel like a representative of Brookline and taking her to a bunk coffee house would be sure to hurt commerce.
Another month went by and we finally solidified plans to meet yesterday at an Eat n Park near her part of town. She was already there when I arrived and I feared she would flee in horror as I waddled through the doors with the thunderous steps of a pregnant Godzilla. The most recent picture of me on MySpace was taken in November, when my face was half of what is now, so I hope she wasn’t too startled.
As we walked back to our booth, I begged her not to laugh as I kept my jeans hitched up with clenched hands to prevent them from slithering down my hips. Still, the crotch was halfway to my knees by the time we were seated. I embarrassingly told her that I’m between sizes in maternity pants.
After the initial awkwardness of saying hello 3 dozen times, laughing nervously, and trying to decide what to order (which is hard when two pages of your menu are glued together by an unknown and hopefully not unsanitary substance) everything went well. We lounged around in the booth for two hours drinking coffee (YES I HAD DECAF, GOD) and laughing at our waitress who looked like Gerard from My Chemical Romance. Then the smoke alarm went off and everyone sat there, staring stupidly at one another. “Should we leave? Is there a fire?” The host slouched past us and mumbled, “I wish this place would burn down” and judging by his lax movement, we figured we weren’t in any danger and there was no need to evacuate. But oh, that was the most excitement I had experienced all week!
I don’t think that I scared Kara away (I’ve learned through trial and error over the years what subjects to avoid) and she claims (CLAIMS) that she had a nice time and would like to hang out again. I hope so, because I have this feeling that all my old friends are going to head for the hills once my chitlin’ is born. She said she likes babies!
That night, Henry treated me like I had just come home from 1st grade after making my first friend, and gave me that “I’m so proud of you” look. I realize that I’m a bit reclusive in my pregnant, unemployed state, but really, I’m not that bad. OK, I am. It’s just that you think you have a lot of friends until you actually need one of them, so I started to pull away from some of them. I’ve been very disenchanted with my selection these days.
Then I took my prenatal vitamin this morning like a dumbass (I always take it at night) and threw up so fiercely that I was seeing bright starbursts around the edges of my vision and one of them morphed into Cap’n Crunch, which is the second time I’ve seen his likeness outside of a cereal box (the first was within the scalloped texture of my old apartment’s ceiling).
When the Spill Canvas announced that they were going to tour in honor of the 10th anniversary of their album One Fell Swoop, my heart swelled up like a beautiful cardiac balloon, and then popped in a matter of .002 seconds because ow, that album, just ow.
Honestly, I haven’t kept up very much with the Spill Canvas since their 2007 release (“To Live Without It” was my 2007 summer anthem). Hearing this tour announcement rejuvenated that old love for their music and I bought my ticket right away. Only one ticket because I knew Henry was definitely not feeling this one. (As if he ever “feels” any of them.)
But then, a few days before the show, my brother Corey texted me.
“Are you still going to the Spill Canvas show alone?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied with a sad face emoji.
“Well, not anymore because I just bought a ticket!”
I almost cried! I wouldn’t have minded going alone, but I definitely preferred having someone with me, and Corey and I haven’t seen a show together since The Cure in 2008! I became ridiculously giddy (what else is new) about it! I was also hoping that this would help dull some of the inevitable emotional pain that was bound to be exacerbated as soon as Nick Thomas began to sing.
Music makes it really hard not to live in the past.
Papa H drove Corey and me to the Altar Bar around 6pm on Sunday. I made him drop us off a little bit down the street though because I didn’t want people to see us and laugh.
Because that’s clearly what people would do.
When I was going to Pitt, Henry would sometimes drive me to class because parking was such a pain. I’d have him drop me off so far away, in no man’s land, that it practically negated being given a ride in the first place.
The line to get in was short and seemingly void of douchebags, so I was optimistic about the crowd. My compromise to Corey was that we could stand upstairs on the balcony, and honestly that’s probably where I would have ended up anyway had I gone alone because that’s the kind of mood I was that day. You know that mood. The “get the fuck away from me” mood? Just don’t touch me. That’s what happens when it’s 90 degrees and humid and you don’t have air-conditioning in your house, I guess.
I’ve only seen the Spill Canvas once before, at the 2007 Warped Tour in Cincinnati. I was this close that time:
So I didn’t mind being on the balcony this time around.
Since Papa H was picking us up, we both got some drinks and then grabbed a good spot along the balcony a few minutes before Bonfires started their set. As suspected, the crowd was definitely older. A couple in their mid-to-late 20s (this is old considering the types of shows I go to!) moved into the spots next to me, but they were plain, emotionless, and unmoving. In other words: they didn’t bother me. I was entertained by the girl’s constant need to Snapchat throughout the entire night though. Watching her take a picture and type “Bonfires,” I started chanting in my head, “Use the fire emoji. USE THE FIRE EMOJI. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO USE THE FIRE EMOJI. YES! SHE USED THE FIRE EMOJI!!”
Bonfires wasn’t bad once their sound situation was remedied. The first song sounded like a preschool music room disaster but then everything was good after that. I saw the singer when we were standing in line; he was wearing a Fuck Seaway shirt so I figured he was cool. He seemed super stoked to be on tour with the Spill Canvas and I know this because he kept saying, “THIS IS SICK. BEING ON TOUR WITH SPILL CANVAS IS SICK. YOU GUYS ARE SICK. I’M SICK. NO REALLY I’M GONNA BE SICK.” Real energetic vibe from those guys. I liked it.
I guess you could say I thought they were sick.
While they were playing, another couple squeezed in between me and the Snapping girl. I HATED THEM. The boyfriend was this big beefy fucker with gorilla arms and a wide wingspan. He took up so much room against the railing and his poor girlfriend was left standing sideways, two fingers touching the railing, trying to peer over his massive shoulder.
Somewhere around this time, Nick Thomas (the singer of TSC) favorited my tweet from earlier in the day, which said, “Seeing Spill Canvas tonight. Pour one out for 2005.” I showed it to Corey, while saying, “No big deal.” We talked for a little bit about our respective feelings for the band, how it reminds him of high school and for me, of course, it’s another Christina band. Why did she have to be my only friend who liked this shit?! I wish I could associate all of this music with someone I still like.
“The Tide is probably my favorite song of theirs,” I said to Corey about the Spill Canvas.
“That’s not on One Fell Swoop though, is it?”
“No, thank god,” I laughed. “I don’t think I could handle hearing that song tonight!”
The next band was [something] Summer. A bunch of older dudes who weren’t listed on the official lineup that the Spill Canvas had posted, so who knows. I honestly just zoned out during their set because they did very little for me and by this point, the gorilla and his submissive Fay Wray had left, their empty space immediately filled by two super drunk blond girls.
And I mean SUPER DRUNK. The one closest to me was completely leaning against me and I was like, “Bitch, don’t be mistaking me for your support system.” So then I kept pushing back until they retreated to a couch behind us, and proceeded to spend the next 25 minutes taking urgent selfies, according to Corey.
I usually don’t have to deal with drunk idiots at my normal shows, so my patience was zapped by the time the third band, Milly, started. They’re a local Pittsburgh band and at first I thought it was going to be terrible, but I ended up liking them. And I wasn’t just pretending to because they had family members standing behind us, I swear.
Everyone always says that becoming a parent will change you, and even though I still feel the same in most regards, the one thing I rarely do anymore is make fun of the little, opening bands. I used to be so ruthless and cruel if I disliked an opening band when I was younger, but now I feel so guilty if I start to have snarky thoughts, because those are someone’s kids up there, and what if it was Chooch? (I mean, not like he would ever be in a shitty band, but you know.)
At some point, another couple squeezed in next to me and at first I thought it was going to be OK, but then I started to pick up on weirdness between them and I realized that they were fighting and making up almost the entire time. It was really uncomfortable, and at one point it got so public that I turned to Corey and yelled, “MAYBE THEY WILL LEAVE.” And I don’t give a fuck if they heard me, either.
The guy was yelling, “I AM HERE FOR YOU. I AM DOING ALL OF THIS FOR YOU!” and she just kept on mouthing off and telling him not to touch her and it turned out that particular fight was because she had to go to the bathroom and was afraid to lose her spot!?
The more I paid attention to them, the more I was like, “Oh wow, so this is what it’s like to stand next to me and Henry.” Especially when he touched her back and then sarcastically yelled, “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to touch your back!” followed by an eye roll. It was amazing. Again, I paid more attention to them to whatever the fourth (FOURTH!?) band was.
Way too many bands on this bill. I was not happy about it at all.
Taking Back Sunday came on over the sound system after the fourth band left the stage, prompting a giant singalong. It was beautiful.
But finally, at 9:45, the Spill Canvas took the stage and from the moment Nick sang, “In one fell swoop it became clear to me / that I despise you entirely” I was entranced. Nothing around me bothered me anymore. They played the entire album and talk about being taken back….my Lord. Dormant feelings were stirred, forgotten memories were dusted off and knocked back into the forefront of my mind—-it was surreal, like an out of body experience, like floating against the ceiling of the Altar Bar and watching it all from another time.
I know, this reads like every fucking show I go to. I can’t help it! I’m just that fragile and sensitive.
I noticed that my Instagram and Twitter feed was abundant with the broken heart emojis that night. I’m so original.
At the beginning of “Natalie Marie and 1cc,” someone started pounding on my back. I went into fight mode because I thought some drunk asshole was trying to push me out of the way. I spun around, ready to rip out some hair, only to find Corey with a sugar-high face, squealing, “I LOVE THIS SONG!!!!!” It was hilarious and also adorable. I’m so glad he came with me! The Spill Canvas means a lot to both us for our own separate reasons and that made the evening more meaningful. Feelings. Meaningful feelings. All of the emotions. Emo emo emo.
And you know, not just a night to get drunk at a show and act like a Yinzer d-bag. Seriously, a fight started to happen at one point in the crowd, but luckily it quickly petered out. Who the fuck fights at a Spill Canvas show? Get a fucking grip, Pittsburgh.
It just felt like such a gift to get to hear that entire album performed, some of the songs they have never played live before. When they came back for the encore, they had already played the entire One Fell Swoop album, so they ended the show with a full-band performance of The Tide.
I was standing next to a curtain and it was all I could do not to bury my face into it and cry.
Heaven’s not a place that you go when you die, it’s that moment in life when you actually feel alive.
Here’s the full song if anyone cares to have their heart eviscerated:
Papa H was waiting for us down the street when the show ended a little after 11:00; we excitedly gave him a recap of the show during the drive home. Henry was just like, “What about my uninterested expression makes you think I care?!”
And then I told him they played The Tide and he was kind of like, “Hnnnnnnngggg. Then I’m really glad I wasn’t there.” I tortured him with that song for a very long time.
These band reunions/10-year-anniversary album tours are killing me. I’m going to the Armor For Sleep “What To Do When You’re Dead” tour next month in Philly (with Terri!); and then Jason Gleason is rejoining Further Seems Forever for the Self Help show in March, which has made people speculate that something more may be coming from them; plus Circa Survive touring for Juturna—my pathetic little emo heart just can’t take all the nostalgia.
The next day, Corey texted me and said, “Ugh, I want to relive last night!”