Oct 292014
 

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I HATE EVERYTHING!!! First, We walked to The Hollywood Theater to watch Halloween. There was a Michael Myers statue that moves but doesn’t have the knife. Sadly! We got Popcorn and M&M’S. Also we got Raffle Tickets 2 raffle Tickets. Next, We were watching the movie. These kids said to Tommy a little boy that the Boogy Man was going to come after him. Tommy kept saying he saw the Boogy Man but it was Michael Myers. The Sheriff came in this house that the babysitter that baby sitted Tommy came in because Michael was in there and at the end of the movie The Sheriff shot Michael in the head about 16 time and Michael fell off of the balcony. He looked down and Michael was gone. Last, The movie ended and it was time for Raffle the last prize was a Michael Myers mask and we were 716770 and the winner was 2 Goth people with the number 716771 I freaked the eff out! I almost cried I said to mommy for the Goth people to BURN IN HELL!!! I knew they were Goth because they had black hair,the makeup Goth people wear, and they were black spiked shoes. Finally, We walked out and I forgot my jacket and a bunch of people came out and Brad and his Fiancee Casey I told them everything I was so mad about! I calmed down after passing the Fragile Stuffs store because there was a FLUFFY NICE KITTY CAT THAT WAS BLACK AND FREAKING WHITE!!! We were walking home and we ran half the way and on the other side of the street there was the scary guy that was like “Have you ever tried WEED? I HAS IT WAS SO GOOD ALSO HAVE YOU EVER HAD WHISKEY? That’s good to! I just got high and drunk yesterday!” (That’s not really what he said he was singing Ring Around The Rosy like a Drunk and high idiotic moron. We thought Henry was going to be in his underwear playing Xbox1 but he wasn’t. We got home and Henry was like HOLD ON! Because we were banging on the door! I told him everything and he was like You would of won if I was there. JK I never win anything! We would of won actually! Because we would of had 3 tickets and the one would be 716771 and we would of won! Laugh Out Loud!!! Wow that was a horrible and dreadful day.

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Oct 292014
 

 

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Today’s National Cat Day! Kind of bittersweet for me since in the last three years, our cat family has dwindled from 4 to 1.  Marcy was my first cat, and she’s still here. Even at the ripe old age of 17, she still has so much personality and venom in her veins. I asked her to pick out some of her favorite pictures and her response was to carve the letters D-I-E into my face with her eyes alone, so I picked my own favorites.

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Some facts about Marcy:

  • I got her in the spring of 1998 from a co-worker at Olan Mills. I volunteered to take her in, even though I was raised by a family who were 100% against cats and were Team Dog4l. I had no idea what I was doing but she quickly took over and sometimes it feels like she was the one taking care of me, in her own sadistic way.
  • She loves Cool Ranch Doritos.
  • She hates everyone but Henry.
  • She held Janna and me hostage on  the couch one time and it was hilarious and horrifying all at once.
  • She hates being pointed at.
  • She bullied our other three cats every chance she got, even though two of them were her own children.
  • She’s named after the band Marcy Playground. (Come on, it was 1998! John Wozniak was a babe!)

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She amazingly lets him get away with so much. If I did this, she’d turn me into a cleft palate commercial.

The Sue Sylvester of cats.

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Chooch didn’t have the heart to move her, so he was using a mound of stuffed animals as a pillow until I saw this and hooked him up with another pillow.

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She’s always been such a huge part of our family. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my time with her expires. :(

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Oct 282014
 

I know that Circa Survive and I go, like, way back and all, but this morning I was listening to their new single on repeat while getting ready for work something happened; a haze was lifted and it was like hearing them with virgin ears. I found myself holding my breath and almost dragged the mascara wand past my lashes and down my cheek.

All I could think was, “WHY ARE THEY NOT SELLING OUT ARENAS?” Don’t get me wrong: I selfishly love that I get to see them in intimate venues, but goddamn, this world is clearly being deprived of sweet, sweet music.

Every time I wanted to throat-punch a bitch today, I closed my eyes and thought of the second shelf of my curio cabinet, where I gently lay my concert tickets when they arrive in the mail, and how one of those tickets is for an upcoming Circa show in Philly this December which I am attending with my friends Terri and Christian and I could honestly just cry tears of joy right now. This is what has been saving bitches’ throats today.

(Also, Pianos Become the Teeth is opening that show and I am nearly equally as stoked to see them too because they blew my mind at Riot Fest and their new album is like WHAAAAT ARE YOU KIDDING ME so good. “Repine” honestly makes tears spring to the forefront of my eyeballs and I don’t even bother to fight it. Weeping feels so good sometimes.)

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Oct 272014
 

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CASTLE BLOOD:

I like the castle blood this year. First,  We got back from Knoebles and I was fricking tired.  We got FREE Tickets, Yay! So we went in and this guy was telling us stuff. He said we were on a quest to find a Broken Heart, Blue Sapphire, and a Brain. He asked who wanted to be the leader I said I wanted to. So we were walking and I held Erin’s hand. Next, We entered this Gravely’s Office and a Butler was cleaning Gravely’s desk and bookshelf. He gave us a ghost named Destiny she with us to protect us. Then we went into a Mausoleum where there we bones of animals, mermaids, and human skin. This guy said is we looking for anything and I said “Yes a Blue Sapphire. a Broken Heart, and a Brain. He said that we wouldn’t want the blue sapphire because it was stolen and said you wouldn’t want a stolen sapphire would you? We said no. So he gave me the thief’s hand. And we went on with our journey. Last, We went into the Gypsy Room but before that I got a ring from some girl to give to the gypsy. So we went in and I had to go sit on a chair and give her the ring but it wasn’t hers. So we went into the next room and there was a girl showing us the rings she got from her husband that she killed after. She said she was missing one so I gave the I had. That was the one she lost. She gave me a broken heart because the ring I gave her was from someone that left her. After that we entered the Cemetery and that was the last part and nothing really happened there then we went into the Gift Shop and I lost the Broken Heart there and so I got a FREE Pumpkin. I was bad after that and I had to go to bed when we went home. All in all, Castle Blood Is awesome the way it is now.

 

WEST DEER NIGHTMARE:

West Deer Nightmare was good and cool this year. We were in line and my shoe was untied and so I went into the light and I heard people laughing so I looked beside me and there was a clown standing right next to me. I said “Good day mate.” and then said “Hows your day mate?” Then I walked back in line. It took awhile to get to the front but then we did a lady opened a door and made us watch a video of dead people like Lizzie Borden’s mom and dad. I got a flashlight and kept shining it in GODFORBID HENRY’S eyes and he was pissed off. Then we went to an adult with a baby mask on and it was acting like a baby too. It was following us and mommy was so scared I laughed. We came into this room where there were REAL people under blankets, (Maybe they were supposed to come out) but they were sleeping. We were walking and Freddy Kruger came out of the wall and I said “Hi.” and then “Bye!” Mommy was scared. We went into this room where nothing happened but then I gave the flashlight back. (We were outside now) I warned mommy there was something behind us but she didn’t listen. Then about 5 seconds later VROOOOM VROOM (That’s my chainsaw noise) I ran so it could get mommy and GODFORBID HENRY. But it kept coming after me! Thats how good or may i say cool West Deer Nightmare was!

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HAUNTED EXPEDITIONS:

It was so awesome! But daddy didn’t want to go because he was being a wussy but then he realized he was to jealous and didn’t want to be a wussy and be on NBC News! We went on a hayride but it wasn’t a hayride it a trail. We waited in line for about 20 mins. But this guy with a pumpkin mask tried to scare mommy but i ruined it because i kept saying Hi to him. He was talking to me about the Krampus and scared me about the Krampus. We went in  and watched a video of the rules and then walked mommy got scared about 500,000,000 times. One time she got scared i peed my pants. No really i actually did. I’m not joking. Then we came to this thing that popped out from behind a tree and scared mommy so bad she ran and punched me in  the face. Oh god I hate her! Then a WEREWOLF came out and scared mommy I tripped, fell down the hill and Henry was so mad he yelled at me and said GET UP kind of like SHUT THE DOOR if you’ve never seen Erin’s Youtube.  Then the manager scared us! Then we waited for the other group. He went to go scare them and so I did too. I was the last scare. The manager said F*** and he said sorry i’m so sorry but mommy said i don’t care he has a mouth on him. So he said I mean FIDDLESTICKS. The hayride came back to pick us up and so we went on and drove and this guy came out of the woods and said Wheres Angie? WHERES ANGIE? Angie was scared and he saw her and pulled her into the woods. And daddy lost his hat on a tree like a LOSEERR*. That’s how cool and awesome I think Haunted Expeditions is.

 *(Erin here: Normally I wouldn’t care if Henry lost his hat because they’re just dumb Faygo hats but this time it was an EMAROSA VERSUS HAT! Luckily, the nice Haunted Expeditions kid leapt off the wagon like a goddamn hero, found the hat and rode his trusty golf cart back to the parking lot, where Henry’s dumb head was reunited with the best goddamn beanie in the world. PEACE OUT, BITCHES.)

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Oct 262014
 

 

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I have been dying to go back to Knoebel’s ever since I was there on opening day in 2013 with the DAFE crew. I know this sounds weird coming from the likes of me, and that this is the opposite of what I should like, but this park is ADORABLE. It’s all quaint and family-friendly, far away from the Big City and rife with fluffy dogs on leashes. And that’s just on a regular day! They have Halloween-themed weekends in October, so Henry earned a million brownie points (do those still exist? is there an app to keep track of them now?) by taking us there last weekend.

It was goddamn precious. Leaves on the ground. Hay bales painted like pumpkins. Ghosts hanging from the trees. A Halloween-music light show on the front of some building. There were no chainsaw guys or zombies popping out from behind garbage cans, but who the hell cares? Sometimes a little Halloween Lite is just as magical.

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Also, the novelty of amusement park rides in the fall!

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On the way through the parking lot, Chooch declared that whoever stepped on a leaf first loses. Because I am an 8-year-old too, I was all about this game and nimbly tip-toed past crisp leaves skipping across the pavement in front of me, all while giving Chooch sharp shoves to try and make him trip up, Once we crossed the threshold into the park, though, I decided that we should stop playing because I wanted to look around at the seasonal decor instead of keeping my eyes on the ground.

“Besides,” I added. “Everyone knows I won anyway, Chooch.”

“Hey! I didn’t step on any leaves either!” Henry cried from in front of us, and I laughed because what the fuck, guys? Who invited Henry to our reindeer games?

I didn’t know this until we got there, but Chooch could have worn a costume and participated in the trick-or-treating stops around the park. I am always so woefully unprepared.

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CHOOCH: I thought the skeletons in the car were Ron and Jim from the tombstone right in front of it.

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First up, Chooch waited in line for the much-anticipated new ride of 2014, Flying Turns. It was the longest line we’d wait in all day, because this bitch is a hot commodity. (It took something like 8 years to build it, I think.) They had cute Halloween decorations set up along the line though, so we at least had things to distract us from the violent thoughts and ideas our minds were drawing up regarding the three teenagers in front of us who were totally obnoxious and kept rough-housing (ladies and gentlemen, I’m officially my dad) and every time they would lower their voices and side-eye me, I was certain they were making fat jokes.

(Chooch can’t write his thoughts on those kids because I won’t let him swear of make violent statements, so he said he has nothing to say then.)

Did I mention that there were signs along the way that threatened an approaching weigh-in? Because of the type of coaster this is, and physics that make my brain bleed, the ride attendants have to make sure that the weight is dispersed between the cars in a very precise manner and that SOME RIDERS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO RIDE TOGETHER. I texted Henry and said, “Great. I have to get weighed just to ride this thing? I want to die.” And he was all “lol.” I’m sorry, how is my body dysmorphia/eating disorder/obesophobia FUNNY? Fuck you, Henry. Have fun sitting on benches all day with the old people.

Turns out, it wasn’t that big of a deal. There were three large metal plates on the coaster platform that you had to stand on with your riding partner while waiting for your turn, and the weights weren’t displayed, and even if they were, it was a combined total anyway. Chooch and I got the front car and several pre-teen kids filled up the other two and I guess my thunder thighs didn’t break the ride because we made it back in one piece.

All of that for a ride that seemingly lasted for all of 40 seconds and was just OK.

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Meanwhile, Henry had been roaming about like a child predator on the loose, and won Chooch some stupid plush peace finger thing, but it says YOLO on it. I kept hoping Chooch would lose it.

CHOOCH: I had it put in my sleeve and I kept acting like it was my hand and just holding it up.

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I think that the Phoenix might be my favorite wooden coaster of all time. It makes me laugh so hard that my face hurts (I KNOW, I KNOW: AND IT’S KILLING YOU). The second time Chooch and I were in line for this, we had an actual argument over where we sat the first time (he said it was the third car, BUT IT WAS THE FOURTH).

Anyway, the first part of the Phoenix has you going through a tunnel, which is fun on its own, but at night it was all foggy and lit up with Halloween shit! IT WAS SO EXCITING! CHOOCH AND I SCREAMED LIKE ASSHOLES!!!

CHOOCH: When it was nighttime, me and mommy were just talking and then we didn’t even know a hill was coming up and we screamed like idiots.

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This park is really not that big at all but Chooch and I would have been lost, literally, without our maps. Except that later that night, we had our maps and still got lost, literally, when Henry was naïve enough to think we could handle finding a bathroom on our own. Yeah, good one, Henry.

After Chooch and I went on a ride called Fandango and he continually cried YOLO instead of POLO when the ride operator wanted us to play Marco Polo, I decided it was time to break for food before I lost consciousness or murdered some nearby campers. Whichever came first. So Henry got in line to procure food for us (pierogies and potato pancakes!) while Chooch and I went to find somewhere “nearby” to sit but apparently it wasn’t near enough for Henry, who had a hard time finding us. MAYBE IT WAS INTENTIONAL, HENRY.

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We took pictures of ourselves while sitting next to two scarecrows who were apparently on break. Remember when we all carried around 35mm film cameras and practically no one took selfies because what a goddamn waste of film? Those were the days.

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Then Henry pouted because he didn’t want anything from the place Chooch and I chose to get food from, like he wasn’t grazing the entire time Chooch and I were on the rides. No one’s crying for you, Henry.

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CHOOCH: While we were in line for the Black Diamond, daddy was creeping on us and everybody else. He went on the side of the Black Diamond to look at the eagles, I guess. That’s what he said. Nobody else had a group of two and they needed a group of two for the coaster, and we were the only ones that had two and we got to line jump and it was so awkward. But I was happy because we actually got to go on quickly.

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CHOOCH: This lady was eating an apple and it was so awkward because she was creeping on people and I was laughing.

I only took this picture because I’m jealous of people who can eat apples without cutting them up first. SORRY THAT I WASN’T RAISED ON A FARM!!!!

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I know, it sucks to be at an amusement park!

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Oct 252014
 

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We got Chooch’s school pictures back and I’m pleasantly surprised to report that he kept his cat bowtie on. (Actually, he took it off as soon as he got to school and then put it back on right before pictures were taken.)

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Then a week later, Henry finally took him to get his hair cut, so now he looks like a completely different kid. (I don’t know why he’s mean-mugging in this photo; he was so happy to be wearing his new cat Vans!)

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Henry bought Chooch the latest Sia album today (he sings “Chandelier” with such unabashed moxie that it actually brings tears to my eyes, WTF is happening to me) and you would have thought it was a puppy the way Chooch reacted. Then he immediately pulled out the liner notes and started reading the lyrics. One of the many reasons physical copies of albums will always trump digital.

And now I will leave you with this interesting quote that happened during pre-haunted house dinner at King’s tonight:

I asked Chooch what he would do if he woke up in an orphanage. He said, after killing the “orphanager,” he would “Annie his way home.” I wonder if that’s similar to last week when he accused Henry of “Kevin Bacon’ing” his way around.

(He’s been obsessed with Kevin Bacon ever since he watched Footloose last year.)

(I’m so behind on blogging that I pathetically wrote this in the car in between haunted houses.)

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Oct 242014
 

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Fright Farm was scary 10/10. First, It took 1 HR to get there but I survived. When we got there the line was like 25 minutes long. There was a dj on a stage and then Taylor Swifts Shake it Off came on and i started twerking. And then 5 minutes for the Hayride to start. We have to sit at the edge of the Hayride it was like we would fall off. Next, after 45 or something minutes after the Hayride we went in the haunted house. It was scary 10/10. But Janna almost had a seizure. But she actually didn’t. Mommy was scared when I warned her about there was someone going to pop out. Then we went on the slide. I loved it. Janna almost fell on the steps so I warned her. She tripped on the steps one time. Last year, Erin and GOD FORBID JANNA said it took them forever to get through the maze. But when I was with them I said follow me but I purposely ran into a clown and he trapped me and Mommy in a corner and I ran. But the clown said to mommy Do you want to play death? She said No but the clown chased her in the maze. GODDFORBID JANNA tried to save her but the clown pushed her out of the way. She had a seizure. I said follow me again and they did and I lead to victory. Finally, We went to the last part. We got blindfolded and had to follow a rope. But sometimes it got higher and I couldn’t reach it so mommy said she had it and then It got lower and I could touch it again. I was scared like so bad I could cry and my eyes were closed and I almost fell asleep. We kept touching people and they said we were in line. But Erin’s blindfold fell off and they pulled it back up. We finally got out of terrifying death creepy maze like idiotic mean place. Then I had Hot Coco because it was freezing like a Winter Wonderland. Walking In A Winter Wonderland. When we were leaving Chandelier came on and that was my favorite part. In conclusion, That’s how I felt at Riches Fright Farm.

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Oct 232014
 

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Last night, Janna and I took Chooch to Rich’s Farm. This post is not really about that. (Chooch claims he will be guest-blogging about this and Castle Blood tonight; WE’LL SEE.)

This post is actually about how he and Janna could have easily filled in as Dorothy and Rose for Kristy’s Golden Ghouls group costume at Zombiefest last week.

Before we left Fright Farm, Janna decided to be nice and buy Chooch some hot chocolate. On the way back to the car, he spilled some of it.

“Did you spill your hot chocolate?” Janna asked, noting that he had stopped and was looking at his pants.

“No, I pissed myself, Janna,” Chooch said dryly. “YES, I spilled my hot chocolate!”

I mean, that haunted house was fucking awesome, but this might have been the highlight for me.

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Oct 212014
 

HELLO JUST CHECKING IN! Here is some stuff that I have made this past month. I have admittedly not had as much time as I’d have liked, and my list of custom paintings have been growing, so thank you guys for liking my stuff! It will never be something I take for granted, I promise. <3

Ok, let's do this.

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Custom portrait of my friend AJ’s dog, Diego. My cat Marcy was NOT happy about this one and I had fun flaunting it in her face.

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More skulls for prizes at work. These dudes are so much fun for me to make because it’s quick and I can paint them on the couch while catching up on my really important shows like Gracepoint (actually not feeling this show as much as I had hoped to though) and Red Band Society. I didn’t watch this last season of Teen Wolf fast enough and MTV took them off On Demand already, ugh. My life is so rough.

I’m going to be making a bunch more of these for the shop and they will be super cheap so you should buy one!

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Cupcake Cavalcade! I made this for my dear friend Kendahl’s birthday. CUPCAKES!
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I just made this variation of Somnambulant Skulls last night because I had a strong desire to work with crayons. The background is painted. This one is available on Etsy right now!

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A custom Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired mix tape painting for my friend Casandra. <3

I think Henry and I are going to start making larger pendants of my Twin Peaks, Lizzie Borden and Golden Girls paintings to sell at Horror Realm next March. Every time we try our hands at pendants, we end up failing miserably or losing interest, so who knows if this will happen.

I’LL KEEP YOU POSTED.

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Oct 202014
 

Livermore is a supposedly haunted cemetery in Blairsville, PA. There are so many conflicting stories on the Internet (HARD TO IMAGINE – it’s outrageous how many people think that this is the cemetery from Night of the Living Dead) but I’ll just summarize by telling you that there was a flood at some point and people died. Or they didn’t. You don’t come here for history lessons.

DON’T LIE!

I know you just come here to do shots every time I squirt out a typo.

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I thought it would be fun to stop for a quick visit since we were about to drive past it yesterday on our way back from Knoebel’s; it’s been at least 10 years since we were there last. I could tell Henry wasn’t exactly down with the slight detour, but he did it anyway because I own him.

It’s not really all that scary there during the day, because the end of Livermore Rd spills out into a makeshift parking area at the entrance of a bike trail, which is right near the cemetery entrance. In other words, our parked car was wishing running distance in case something wicked happened back there.

Hopefully.

First we walked along the old train bridge because we like to live dangerously. BUT NOT TOO DANGEROUSLY! I kept yelling at Chooch for being too close to the edge, I didn’t trust that FLIMSY FENCE.

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What a beautiful spot for a family portrait, I thought to myself and then made my puppets jump. This one is definitely a Christmas card contender.

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I got suddenly smart and had us face the other way. I’m a good piktchur-taker.

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Chooch and I were like WHY ARE THESE KEYS HANGING HERE and then Henry had to go and spoil all of our fantasies by going into a long, dull speech about how someone probably found them and hung them there in case the key-owners came back looking for them and we were like “STFU you’re stupid and boring.”

I’m actually surprised Henry didn’t take them for his gratuitous key collection that he keeps dangling in a clump from his belt like he’s ready to audition for the role of Schneider on a 2014 revamp of “One Day At a Time.”

After about ten minutes of being too close to the river, I quickly tired of all this supposed beautiful scenery and we all walked back toward the car, which was parked near the path that leads to the cemetery.

 

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This gate literally only keeps out truck-sized people.

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Henry REALLY didn’t want to do this.

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Pretty sure this was written in crayon. Also surprising that “cemetery” is spelled correctly.

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Henry wouldn’t come into the cemetery with us, opting instead to loaf (haha, loaf) near the handmade Livermore sign, hands in-pocket, head nervously whipping over his shoulder. He claims he was more worried about townies than ghosts. Oh ok.

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As soon as Chooch and I crossed the threshold into the graveyard, I experienced a pretty strong episode of déjà vu and it occurred to me that I was wrong: we have definitely been there before with Chooch. He must have been two and I remember that it was about to storm.
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SUDDENLY WE HEARD A TRAIN! IT SOUNDED LIKE IT WAS COMING STRAIGHT FOR US OMGGGGG GHOST TRAIN.

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CHOOCH’S INITIALS!!

Earlier, I asked Chooch if he had anything to add and he mumbled from the couch, “No. Yeah! Tell them* about the tombstone with my name!”

“I already did,” I said.

“Oh. Then…no,” he mumbled and fell back into his stupid video game.

*(I wonder who he thinks comprises “them.” Cats, probably. My blog is the one all the cats read.)

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I thought the trees were making weird noises but Chooch said they sounded like normal tree-speak to him, so maybe I was just being paranoid. But it really sounded like the one tree was trying to spoil the end of The Crying Game.

I don’t know why I thought that but it’s late and I’m writing this in bed with the lights off like I’m telling the Internet a ghost story where the ghosts forget to show up. RSVPs don’t mean shit anymore.
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We rejoined Henry after awhile and headed back to the car.

“Look,” Henry quietly said. “A squirrel.”

“WHERE?!” I cried as if this was Jurassic Park and Henry hadn’t just pointed out something that we see 61818293 times a day in our backyard.

Meanwhile, Chooch was walking with such Frankenstein-esque force upon the leaves that it sounded like vertebrae were crunching and cracking beneath his feet. “WHAT? WHO?! WHERE?!” he screamed extra loud to ensure Henry, the squirrel, the squirrels cousins in Pittsburgh, and all of the restless Livermore souls could hear over the sound of his leaf-murdering.

Henry sighed. “Remind me never to take you two idiots on a stakeout.”

And I will now end this with the original post I wrote on LiveJournal after Henry and I first visited this place in October of 2004.

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Henry and I decided to try and scope out the Livermore Cemetery yesterday, during daylight. Livermore was once a town about an hour from Pittsburgh, that was flooded in the 1800’s. So of course it’s haunted there. The road that leads to where the town once sat is scary in itself; surrounded by woods with an occasional farm house here and there. The road eventually leads to a gate and you have to walk the rest of the way.

I would have been less frightened if the sun was shining, but it was miserably overcast. We walked along a trail for thirty minutes or so, over two old railroad bridges, with water on either side of us. Supposedly, if the water level is low enough, you can see the foundations of the town. I couldn’t see jack shit, plus I was cranky because the quest to find the cemetery seemed hopeless. Also, I hadn’t fed my fat face in like, two hours! I demanded that we turn around and go back to the car immediately before I died of malnourishment. Even walking proved to be a struggle for me, and I kept falling. My legs just kept giving out on me because I was so hungry. Henry, never picking up on the emergency of these situations, laughed at me and kept walking. Then I thought I saw a skull! But it was only a soccer ball.

As we crossed over the last bridge, Henry happened to look up to the left, and he shouted, “THERE! OVER YONDER!” And there it was, the Livermore Cemetery. A few lone tombstones could be seen on the edge of the hill, between the trees. Maybe it was just the sight of the cemetery itself that heightened my senses, but if I believed in God, I would swear to him right now that the atmosphere around us changed. The wind kicked up and there was a noticeable chill in the air. This is the part that elicited the trademarked Skeptical Father look from Henry: something grabbed my leg. Would I lie to you guys? It’s true, I tried to lift my right leg to continue walking, and something held the back of my jeans onto the ground for around three seconds. When I turned around to look, there was positively nothing that my jeans could have stuck to, and there was nothing on the bottom of my shoes.

From this point on, all I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears, and I grabbed Henry’s arm and power-walked him back toward the car, whipping my head over my shoulders every other second. I even made myself dizzy. I haven’t been this lethally afraid since we stayed overnight at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast last year.

My hair was slapping me in the face from the heavy wind. I reached up to swipe a strand of hair from my mouth, causing Henry to go ballistic on me.

Henry: “What did you just do!?”
Me: “Uh, I wiped the hair away from my mouth.”
Henry: “Oh, I thought you made the sign of the cross. I was going to say, if you’re crossing yourself and you don’t even believe in god, we have problems.”

There was a trail to the left of where we parked the car, and it was certain that that was the way into the cemetery. Henry pleaded with me to walk up with him, stating that “nothing was going to happen.” Now, I’ve seen enough movies in my twenty five years for this claim to make me lose control. “DON’T YOU EVER SAY THAT! YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP RIGHT NOW YOU STUPID ASSHOLE! DON’T YOU KNOW THEY WAIT AROUND FOR SOMEONE TO SAY THAT!? GET IN THE CAR!!” I adopted my ‘hissing through clenched teeth’ way of speaking for this moment; I felt it was the most fitting in my cache of tones.

And so we left. We ate at a restaurant that hosted the weirdest assortment of humanity I’ve ever witnessed. It was great fun, and it made me feel a lot better about myself. I especially felt better after I inhaled a soggy grilled cheese and fries and slurped my way through two cups of coffee. They had Presidential sundaes: Bushberry and Kerryberry (and strawberry for those who are undecided). I thought it would be so cute if Henry and I ordered our respective picks, but he didn’t want to play along. We left after I was becoming dangerously too engrossed in analyzing the differences between the two sundaes. (The Bushberry variety cost more!)

Something about the Valley Dairy restaurant made my courage surge, so I slammed my fist on the dashboard and demanded that we go back to Livermore straight away.

When we got out of the car after returning, we noticed that someone had dumped a garbage bag off the side of the path. Henry, being the curious garbage picker that he is, decided that he needed to have a closer inspection of the contents. Laying on the top was a piece of mail. Who litters a giant bag of garbage and leaves an envelope with their name and address on top? Ironically, the zip code on it was the same as ours. We thought that was rather coincidental considering we were nowhere near home. AN OMEN, perhaps. Livermore is partial to collecting souls from the 15226 area?

After a minute of silent deliberation, I finally heeded and followed Henry up the path. It was blocked off after a few feet, but this was not to deter Henry. He was eager to show off his trespassing prowess.

I’m getting antsy with this, and it also makes me feel kind of creeped out as I rehash it, so I’ll speed it up.

We came across the entrance to the cemetery

and crossed over the threshold. I thought for sure the sky was going to start hailing fireballs at this point, but everything was actually very quiet. From this point on, the time we spent in the midst of crumbling tomb stones was very leisurely and calm. I even started to zone about ice cream sandwiches, so it really couldn’t have been all that bad there, right?

Naturally, we couldn’t leave until we argued over the camera settings, which is customary for us. It certainly lightened the mood a bit. Until, as we began to walk back to the entrance, Henry pointed out that while it was windy everywhere else, it was absolutely still in the cemetery. Shut up, right? His observation made my heart threaten cardiac arrest for the second time in two hours, and I said, “Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that it’s haunted, right?” Henry shrugged and kept walking. Shrugging is not a good enough answer for me and I began to tug on his arm, begging him to tell me why it wasn’t windy. The phenomenon didn’t seem to be plaguing him as it was me, and he mumbled some half assed Discovery Channel explanation. I paused, letting it sink in, and said, “No. It’s because it’s haunted. OH MY GOD IT’S HAUNTED!! OH MY GOD THERE’S NO WIND!!! EVERYTHING IS DEAD IN HERE AND WE’RE GOING TO DIE TOO!!!!”

And then we got in the car and left. The end.


And the pièce de résistance:

Ha ha.

I mean, what? You don’t think that’s real?

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Oct 192014
 

We came to Elysburg, PA yesterday for Knoebel’s HalloFun, which was wonderful and I have many pictures to share later! Now we’re taking a roundabout way home so we can stop at Castle Blood, and I asked Henry if I should live blog since there is nothing else to do while in the car but argue. He said no, so that means yes.

9:40am: We just left Mom’s Dutch Kitchen, right across from our hotel. The world’s most miserable waitress works there and it was hard to forget her from last year when we ate there. She asked if we wanted coffee and I said yes, not thinking that she was going to bring Henry coffee too. HENRY HATES COFFEE. HENRY IS A COFFEE-HATING FASCIST. So then she kept eyeballing his untouched cup when she would walk by so I had to keep dumping some of it into mine because she is so fucking scary. Anyway, we’re en route to Punxsutawney. Chooch is mysteriously upset about this.

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10:00am: I mean, I can think of worse scenery to be stuck looking at all day.
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10:20am: Henry bought a bag of fresh roasted peanuts at Knoebel’s last night and left them in the car overnight so now it smells like nursing home farts in here, ugh.

Also, I saw an exit sign for Lamar and begged Henry to stopped there and in his typical indignant tone, he cried, “WHAT FOR?!” And I bluffed, “Because I heard good things about it?” First he said no and then realized he needed gas anyway so he took the exit and I was all excited until we realized we ate lunch here yesterday.

11:15am: “Hi” by Xiu Xiu just came on which threw me into a wild car-dancing spree, which is incomplete without manic finger-pointing in Henry’s face. That’s his favorite part.

11:40am: Just stopped at some ancient McDonalds so Chooch could get Monopoly things and I wanted coffee but then changed my mind when Henry was ordering so he got all pissed because apparently that was the only reason he stopped and then I got mad because Chooch is basically in the backseat eating lunch now when we were supposed to eat lunch in Punxsutawney and he didn’t even get Monopoly pieces!!!!! UGH!!

11:51am: Just passed an army convoy thing so I got all giddy because I like to barrage Henry with questions about military stuff and he always answers me like I’m someone who gives a shit. Anyway, I was like DO YOU THINK THERE ARE MORE ARMIES IN THE BACK? Henry said he doesn’t know, maybe. DO YOU THINK THEY’RE PLAYING CARDS AND LOOKING AT PLAYBOY? Henry just sighed, “Yeah sure, Erin.”
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12:25pm: Took a quick detour through DuBois because Roadside America told me to check out Dr. Doolittle’s Creamery and it was totally disappointing. Shitty ice cream (mine was supposed to be Tiramisu but just tasted like ‘cold wet’) and everything was just a pile of construction. But at least Chooch got to have his picture taken with Bigfoot. (And then Andy Gibb’s “Everlasting Love” came in the car as we were leaving so now I’m not angry anymore.)

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1:41pm: We’re in Punxsutawney, enjoying the plethora of ways Chooch keeps mispronouncing it. Saw Phil in his enclosed burrow thing but couldn’t get a decent picture. Walked along a nature trail at Gobbler’s Knob, where Phil’s shadow makes or breaks him once a year, and heard approximate 78 gunshots but Henry didn’t seem worried. The most exciting part for Henry was finding something new to obsess over. Move over moss!

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America, meet your new cat, er, groundhog:
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2:02pm: Stopped at County Market to get souvenir magnets, and I mistakenly called it CountRy Market so now Chooch will be riding me about this for weeks because god forbid…Anyway, the one lesson I learned there is that their bathroom is NOT A HOTEL:

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2:19pm: I’m ironically listening to some Sunday Super Gold program on one of the local radio stations and it’s all really corny music, obviously, but then some song came on about a hobo on a train and I was like “UGH THIS IS TERRIBLE-SOUNDING!” Turns out it was Joan Baez, who I can’t stand ever since last week when I watched some Woodstock documentary, so then it made sense because otherwise I would NEVER hate a song about a hobo on a train. God.

3:42pm: Stopped at Livermore to revisit the supposedly haunted cemetery after 10+ years since our last ridiculous visit. More on that later, but here’s some nature bullshit.

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5:55pm: Just left Jiojio’s, where we ate pizza that Chooch hates because he’s a weirdo. We decided to hide from Henry while he was still inside paying, because we haven’t hidden from him since last night at Knoebel’s, which backfired. Henry pretended like he knew we were hiding but I THINK HE IS LYING. Then I realized some elderly couple was walking through the parking lot and smiling at us because they probably they think we’re such a sweet family, HAHAHA.

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7:05pm: WE’RE AT CASTLE BLOOD, KBYE.

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Oct 182014
 

When my brother Corey was texting me pictures of the Amish guys working on our dad’s roof, it brought back fond memories of the time my other brother Ryan and I stalked the man who was building our back porch when we were kids. I knew I had written about it at some point, so I searched my LiveJournal archives and now I am sharing it here, because I think it’s kind of funny how I am still basically the same person as I was when I was a kid.

I have a different dad than Corey and Ryan, so clearly our penchant for stalking comes from our mom.

++++++++++++++++

What was the best summer ever? Could it be the summer of ’92 when we hosted a French exchange student (that deserves it’s own entry)? The summer of my nineteenth birthday party marathon? No, my friends. It’s the summer of 1994 that wins this title.

My parents were in the process of having a back porch built onto our house. This was a big deal for my brother Ryan and me, because stalking one of the workers became the sole reason we got out of bed each day. I mean really, who wants to swim and lay out in the sun when you can be violating someone’s privacy?

We would run from window to window, snapping pictures of him. One day, Ryan even chased his truck up the street. Those pictures turned out fabulously. I’ll never forget the day we discovered his name was Gary. We ran into the house, erupting into shrieks and giggles.

After a week of wasting film on this fine craftsman, we decided to incorporate a little more extremity to our game. More thrill, if you will. We needed a bigger adrenaline rush. The next obvious step was to collect Gary’s cigarette butts and beer cans. When you’re young, you want souvenirs for everything you do.

We would wait until he would go to his truck, then sprint out in the backyard like scavengers, picking through the grass in search of a butt or two. Once we accumulated enough to satiate our pursuant appetite, we brought our treasures in the house and stowed it underneath the couch in the family room.

Stalking Gary consumed so much of our summer. How much, you ask? So much that it infiltrated the summer of my friends, as well. Christy was in Atlanta (I believe) for some sort of academic camp. I wrote her a letter and enclosed one of Gary’s cigarettes butts for her to cherish as well. I just wanted her summer to be as rich as ours had become, thanks due to Gary. I wrote letters to every one of my pen pals, detailing Gary’s every action and movement. Everyone clung to the Summer of Gary with bated breath.

Unfortunately, the fun and games ended when my dad unearthed our stash of memorabilia under the couch. Now, any other dad would have rightfully accused us of smoking and drinking. Not my dad. Luckily for us, my dad recognized the extent of our weirdness long before this incident, so he believed our tale and we escaped punishment. The downside was that he forbade us to continue our game. Something about we were embarrassing him or something.

I often wonder what Gary is doing these days, and if he knew he was being stalked. Was he flattered? My mom says ‘nay.’

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Oct 172014
 

Last night was Parent/Teacher Conferences, f/k/a Open House, at Chooch’s school. Chooch kept mouthing off last week about how it was actually on Monday and I was like, “Yeah right, shut up, kid. What do you know?” Because, really. Who listens to an 8-year-old, amirite? Kid has gotten his seat moved like 18 times since the beginning of the school year, so I figured he was trying to thwart any chance of a Parent/Teacher powwow.

Henry and I got to the school a few minutes early. Like any other time we’ve gone to these things, the door to the school was wide open and the hallways were lit. A giant WELCOME PARENTS banner hung in the hallway.

Which was empty.

Typically, there’s a bake sale table set up right inside the doors and parents milling about. But that night, it was eerily quiet.

However, the door to Chooch’s classroom was open and the lights were on, but no one was there.

“Maybe she went to get dinner,” Henry suggested. So we continued to walk up and down the hallway, looking at all the artwork (in my case, making fun of it because I’m a dick), until I noticed that it was now 5 minutes after we were scheduled to meet with the teacher.

“Are you sure it was tonight?” Henry asked me for the 87th time; I was very indignant and sure of myself the first 58 times he asked me, but I have to admit that I was now beginning to doubt myself.

“I mean, that’s what I chose!” I cried defensively. A paper was sent home and I circled “Thursday” and “6:30.” I WAS SO SURE OF IT UP UNTIL NOW.

Just then, a lady burst through the doors and ran up to us.

“Where is the library?” she wheezed from her heroic jog.

We shrugged, so she asked the janitor who told her to follow the signs. I noticed those signs but didn’t think anything of them, but when we asked the janitor if there were conferences going on that night, she told us, “Yes, in the library. Follow the signs.”

That’s weird that the signs wouldn’t blatantly say that, I thought to myself. They said something else that related to parents, Parent Nation or something, so I guess good old Open House was going through its third name change. Good to know. I guess the library was like the meeting place? We’d meet the teacher and she’d escort us back to her classroom? Seemed stupid. But then again, all school things seem stupid to me.

We walk into the incredibly small library just as the school principal is in the middle of talking about the best methods of approaching other parents. Everyone looked up and gave us a warm welcome, and one lady stood up and made a huge commotion over rearranging seats at the table to give us room to sit.

This must be Chooch’s teacher, I thought. She seemed so happy to see us!

There were 8 other people there, sitting at this table, and they all seemed pretty enrapt in the discussion. Some people were even frantically scribbling notes (and not just doodling; I checked).

I figured it was a mix of other teachers and parents, that this was some kind of program we’d have to sit in for a little while before conferences began.

Chooch’s teacher happily slid some handouts to us from across the table. Those, in conjunction with another woman complaining about how hard it was to get the principal at her school to respond to complaints, made me eyes start to glaze over.

And then—wait, why was this lady speaking about another school?

Chooch’s teacher seemed to be doing most of the talking and all I heard was “INVOLVEMENT! COMMUNITY! CHILDREN!” Basically three things that I’m not about.

They started talking about a food drive at one point. And a Latino Parents Group.

After about 20 minutes of this, Henry spoke up and asked, “Excuse me, but is this the parent teacher conference?”

Everyone turned and stared at us.

The principal repeated the question back to Henry and said, “No….those were Monday.” And then he said what this thing was but I can’t remember now because I didn’t care enough.

“You’re welcome to stay!” Chooch’s Teacher who clearly is not actually his teacher because his actual teacher was probably home watching the HOCKEY GAME WHICH IS WHAT I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING, said warmly. “And please stay!”

“Yes, stay!” everyone said collectively like it was a fucking cult. A cult of parents! The worst kind!

“Well, we’re here now, so why not!” Henry said with a laugh, at the same time I was beginning to stand up to leave. So I sank back down in my uncomfortable chair and side-eyed him menacingly.

We got more handouts.

Then people got to ask questions.

“Boy, there are so many issues to comment on, it’s so hard to pick!” laughed the Asian dad next to me and I was like STFU this is dumb. This is around the time I began to notice the broad ethnic spectrum in the room. I guess it was some urban parents’ group, I don’t know, but there was a lot of concern about crime and violence within the schools. Apparently, this was some kind of monthly round table and this month it just happened to be hosted by Chooch’s school.

I thought this meant we were nearing the end of the thing, and I was getting especially eager to leave. My face was still flushed with the horror of having eyes on me and I felt like my scarf was slowly choking me. Also, it was really hot in that room and I wanted food. But not their food. It looked weird and meaty.

Then some dumb lady with a baby started firing off questions about how Chooch’s principal handles bullying in the school, and that part of the night was actually supremely interesting to me. I also liked hearing how much the principal enjoys interacting with the kids there. For Christ’s sake, he knew we were Chooch’s parents as soon as we asked him about the conference.

Since we were on the topic of bullying, one of the ladies who had been studiously scribbling notes piped up about the program they’re doing at her school for bullying. “We’re doing these skids,” she kept Skids? Like skidmarks? That’s all I could think about, and I was trying not to laugh but everyone was just nodding earnestly. “Parents are going to get on stage and be bullied in these skids,” she said.

OH. SKITS.

“OK, we’ve only got about 30 minutes left, so I’m going to hand it over [some other lady] for the trivia portion of the night,” Not Chooch’s Teacher announced. She started passing out sheets of fluorescent paper and I was like, “No, I’m not doing this. Peace out, bitches.” So I kicked Henry under the table and we politely excused ourselves.

“Well, it was nice meeting you all, but we’re going to have to leave now. Only got the babysitter for an hour!” Henry said jovially. OK MR. PERSONALITY.

The principal walked us out to the hallway and we had a nice conversation with him about Chooch and how he’s doing but then Not Chooch’s Teacher came running out with a clipboard and said, “I know you guys were here accidentally, but we would love it if you gave us your name and number so we can contact you about future events!”

And because I just can’t say no, I signed the dumb thing and didn’t even put down Planned Parenthood’s phone number instead of mine.

Then Chooch’s principal (whose name I’ve apparently been mispronouncing for the last year) promised to tell Chooch’s teacher that we were there and would still like to talk to her.

“Yeah, I just don’t want her to think that we, you know, blew her off,” I said matter-of-factly and the principal laughed nervously like saying we blew someone off is suddenly edgy and provocative.

***

When we got home and told Henry’s mom what had happened, Chooch stood up and cried, “I TOLD YOU CONFERENCES WERE ON MONDAY!!!!” He was one smug little fucker.

 

 

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Oct 162014
 

Things got interesting today when my brother Corey sent me this text:

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Immediately, I turned around and recited the text to Glenn, because he clearly cares about everything that goes on in my life.

“OK,” he said,

“AMISH PEOPLE, GLENN!”

He just shrugged and went back to “work.”

But then Corey started texting me pictures and I was practically falling out of my seat. Mean Amber shared my joy in this, surprisingly! I guess we have Amish people in common.

I think at some point Glenn tried to offer some boring Amish People anecdote, but I fell asleep. They built a chair for someone he knew, I’m sorry, but my eyelids are crashing down and my ears are set to LALALALA.

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Then Corey said that they were blasting Christian rock and country music, but our dad said that there was a third guy with them who was not Amish, so this Secular music blarin’ was OK.

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THIS PICTURE IS EVERYTHING!!!

By the time Corey sent me the second photo above, I had officially lost it.

“WHO IS TAKING THESE PICTURES?!” Glenn the Amish Photograph Police Officer demanded to know.

“My brother,” I said in a ‘duh” tone. “He’s basically exactly like me, but 24.”

The look of horror that spread across Glenn’s face was priceless.

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“OMG HERE’S A PICTURE OF THEM ON MY DAD’S ROOF! THEY’RE ON.MY.DAD’S. ROOF GLENN!” I cried excitedly.

“Well, if they’re building a roof, then of course they’re eventually going to be on the roof!” Glenn yelled in Glenn-fashion, which is mostly just a slightly louder mumble.

Fuck, I miss everything while I’m at work.

(Of course, now I’m embroiled in an internal Amish or Mennonite quandary.)

UPDATE!

It is now Friday, October 17th and Corey has sent me photos of my future Amish husband. I CAN’T WAIT TO CUT A HOLE IN A SHEET!

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OMG THIS ONE.
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