Sep 172019
 

Hello hello hello. Here are some pictures and whatever to memorialize this past weekend, which was a nice one, no complaints.

First, we went to the Pittsburgh magnet school fair thing and I’m not great at things like this because I never come prepared with questions like the one dumb bitch mom with mini-Princess Leia braids who rudely cut in when Chooch and I were talking to the admissions/Japanese teacher from one of the magnet schools Chooch has his eyes on. Yeah, this stupid C-U-NEXT-TUESDAY totally sidled on up and interrupted to tell this guy that they moved here from California and her dumb daughter, who is in 5th grade, used to be fluent in Spanish but since moving to this dump of a city, she has not had the opportunity to use it and can his school help, blah blah blah.

I was just glared at her. Like, are you fucking kidding me? Maybe in California dumb coozes like you don’t wait in line, but here IN MY CITY, WE WAIT OUR GODDAMN TURN.

Jesus!

Anyway, I want Chooch to go to this school and take Japanese.

Afterward, we went straight to Monroeville to attend Wendy’s daughter Summer’s 4th birthday party at Sky Zone. I have never been to one of these trampoline park things before, but I decided that I would also be jumping along with the party-goers so I made Henry pay for me and Wendy was like, “I hope Henry signed a waiver for you!”

Anyway, aside from Wendy’s husband and his one friend, I was the only other adult jumping so that was kind of weird, and I have to admit that I was SUPER HESITANT about this at first because I am an old hag now as of July 30th, and I was so afraid of breaking a bone or 8. I basically clung to Chooch and he was getting angry because he wanted to go and do the obstacle course stuff but I didn’t want him to leave me alone in the big basic trampoline area and then I kept getting paranoid that one of the bored-looking referee boys were going to police me for doing something wrong, maybe for hogging the same trampoline in the corner, and I hate getting yelled at in front of people but thank god I made it through the full 90 minutes without having a whistle blown at me.

The only other things I tried was the foam pit because Chooch said I could practice doing flips there and that was fine but I LOST ONE OF MY SKY ZONE SOCKS IN THERE and I was making Chooch search for it when Henry came shuffling over like he was the Sky Zone Sheriff and said, “Why don’t you just ask for a new sock?” so I went over to the sock counter and cried, “I LOST A SOCK!!!” and the nice boy said, “It’s OK!” in a soothing tone and gave me a new pack of socks and then I had an extra sock which I tried not to fixate on.

I made Henry keep my spare in his back pocket.

I also attempted to play dodgeball but it was just Chooch and me with three kids across from us and none of them would throw the ball at me because I think they were afraid of breaking the old hag.

Chooch eventually talked me into doing a flip, and I did one but then I folded forward really hard when I landed and felt things shift in my back so that was exciting.

Also, I made friends with a preteen girl who was trying to coax me into trying new things but her peer pressure didn’t work on me because I didn’t want this to be how I find out if my medical insurance is meh or shit.

But oh, for God’s sake, did I have so much fun! I jumped for nearly the full 90 minutes and I was a FUCKING SWEATBALL by the time our session ended and we went up to the party room for pizza and cake. Wendy thought it was hilarious and she told our boss about it at work on Monday—I don’t care, I want everyone to know that I am a JUMPING SUPERSTAR.

Rolling skating what? I’m a trampoline queen now.

Immediately after the party, Henry took me straight to Commonplace Coffee in Point Breeze to meet Jiyong, whom I haven’t seen in several weeks because she was on vacation. It was so nice to see her again! She hadn’t heard about Super M yet, so I got to tell her about that and then we talked about k-dramas and then she laughed at me because now I’m following that Korean celebrity that I saw at Incheon Airport and she thought it was the funniest thing, but I was like, “What?!!? I’m obsessed with him now!”

I really do appreciate our friendship! My Korean still sucks so bad, but it’s really nice having a new friend!

When we came home, Calvin spotted us from his window so Henry had to go and get him or he will throw a fit because he’s currently obsessed with coming to our house.

Everything was going swimmingly in our nonsensical Lego project until Calvin inexplicably disagreed with the placement of one of the pieces I put on and flipped out. I’m such a disappointment!

Then it was the next day!

Henry made Kodiak pancakes!

They were OK!

Also, I was in Big Pain from my liaison with the trampoline. But it was, curiously, my SHOULDERS that were sore, not my legs. Then I realized it was because I spent the whole time throwing my arms up in the air to propel myself higher. “Yeah, you looked like a big idiot too,” Chooch said.

Started to type in Silver Dollar City in YouTube, Silver Spoons theme came up, clicked it, watched a Guess the 80s Sitcom by Theme Song video, started thinking about how much I loved Moonlighting, and that’s how I spent my Sunday morning watching Al Jarreau videos.

Later that afternoon, Henry and I went to visit our Original Four Cats, our (s)Quad if you will, at the pet cemetery because it was Chuseok (that’s kind of like Korean Thanksgiving, if you will, where they honor their deceased family members).

Admittedly, it’s been a minute since we last came out here, not because we forgot about the cats, oh for God’s sake, I talk about that little babies all the time still! Just…life, you know?

I was excited to see that they built an actual Rainbow Bridge since I last was there! So excited that I cried.

And then we couldn’t find the damn graves because the plaques had sunken into the ground (not just ours—most of them it seemed!) so Henry started stabbing the ground with a knife that he got from our car and the whole time I was like why does he have this weird hunting knife thing in the car is he hunting humans when he’s allegedly “at the store?”

Anyway, he found some other plaques but not ours so now we have to go back when the damn office is open and seek help and a map.

I was really upset about this and screamed THIS IS THE WORST CHUSEOK EVER and Henry was like OK but it’s not Chuseok for us because we’re not Korean so…

…and then that made me even more upset because thanks for the reminder!

We went to get ice cream at Al’s Cone Zone afterward and I got raspberry Dole Whip which tasted SOUR AND DISGUSTING so I THREW IT IN THE GARBAGE and stormed back to the car and MAYBE THIS HAD MORE TO DO WITH CAT SADNESS THAN ICE CREAM PICKINESS BUT OH WELL.

And this has nothing to do about the weekend but Chooch’s one teacher uses this stupid fucking app to give kids points for participation or whatever and I discovered the other day that parents can also add to this when the kid does shit around the house.

Chooch is obsessed with it because the more GP or whatever it’s called that you collect, the more powers your stupid character has. I don’t know. It seemed dumb to me but I gave him 10 points for washing the dishes so whatever.

Anyway, just now Henry was bitching because no one ever turns off the downstairs lights before going to bed and Chooch cried, “it wasn’t me! She was still down here when I went to bed!”

WELL THIS WAS ABSURD because I distinctly remembered walking past that little asshole when I went up to bed – he was still sitting at the computer to be exact!!

So we started arguing about this and I went into that dumb app and did a custom thing where I DEDUCTED TEN POINTS FOR LYING and he didn’t think I was going to do it BUT I DID and he’s lucky I didn’t go after 500 like I was originally threatening to do!

LOLOLOLOL.

“Great. Everyone can see that,” he said.

WELL MAYBE DONT LIE TO YOUR PARENTS, YOU BIG STOOP.

“You shouldn’t have told her about that app,” Henry said before going up to bed.

And do you think any of us will turn the lights off tonight? LOL.

Sep 162019
 

We had about half of a day to explore Tokyo on Friday before having to take the train back to Narita Airport, so we decided to stay in the Shibuya area and try to knock out some main tourist-y things and do some shopping. The Disney magic had most definitely worn off, and we were back to being hyper-aware of Henry’s breathing, Chooch’s mouthiness, and my constant (THOUGH ADORABLE) whining.

You would think the serenity of the Meiji Shrine would have helped us BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

Actually, everything was fine that morning until I tried to get Chooch to pose for a picture under the Torii Gate (aka the entrance to Meiji Shrine) but he got all Surly Teenage Boy on me and tried to move away so I got SUPER BUTT HURT ABOUT THIS and decided in that moment that I was now going to make sure everyone had a really shitty day because that is the matriarchal leadership type I adopt in my household, bitches!

No, seriously, it was a fine day.

The Meiji Shrine is tucked away right in the city and once you enter, you feel like you’re hundreds of miles away in the forest. It’s so peaceful and tranquil (although I can imagine it’s the exact opposite on busy days!), and even though it was still overwhelmingly humid, it still offered a bit of a reprieve from the blazing sun and sizzling pavement.

Once you pass through the entrance gates, there is still quite a bit of a walk ahead before you reach the shrine’s Main Hall, but it is such a beautiful stroll. Being there made me REALLY CONSCIOUS of the fact that holy shit, we were in Japan.

I loved this display of sake barrels!

Chooch put on his fake nice face when these girls asked him to take their picture. And that’s not litter on the ground – Chooch set his water bottle there while he was playing amateur photog.

Those are barrels of wine behind them.

Before reaching the main shrine building, we passed through a courtyard that offered informational brochures and an AMULET OFFICE (!!!) where omamori of all different varieties can be purchased to bring you good luck, health, etc. Of course Henry wouldn’t let me buy any because he doesn’t believe in anything other than what he was taught IN THE SERVICE and from watching NCIS.

Also in the courtyard was a temizuya, which is a water ablution pavilion found at the entrances of Shinto shrines. The first one we came upon had a small tour group gathered around while their guide illustrated the cleansing ritual. I wanted to do it but for some reason, I got all fucking weird and was convinced that I was going to do it wrong and become haunted by a Japanese spirit for the rest of my life, so I didn’t do it.

From the shrine’s website:

This shrine is dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken (their tombs are in Kyoto).
Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912 and Empress Shoken in 1914. After their demise, people wished to commemorate their virtues and to venerate them forever. So they donated 100,000 trees from all over Japan and from overseas, and they worked voluntarily to create this forest. Thus, thanks to the sincere heart of the people, this shrine was established on November 1, 1920.

100,000 trees! I love that they were donated. It gives it such a heart-warming (not that the heart needed much hep warming up on that day), collaborative vibe.

I also learned that this type of shrine is a “Shinto” shrine. Shinto is Japanese religion dating from the early 8th century. It focuses on ritual practices that establish a connection between present-day Japan and the past, and followers of this religion have a belief in sacred power (called kami) in both animate and inanimate things.

Sooooo much more appealing than Catholicism!

This is the main shrine building. Those trees! I was obsessed with them. They look like they’re straight out of Dr. Seuss’s dreams.

Photos and videos inside of it are prohibited so I took this one from a safe distance away. I have this fear of being That American Tourist who overlooks a sign and gets hollered at (lol) by some white-gloved UNESCO cop. I might be a dick on the inside, but I do try to have as much respect as I can humanly muster when I’m being a tourist!

Chooch and I observed the elderly Japanese people around us who came to pay respects to the emperor, and then I saw a sign with instructions so Chooch and I followed along as seriously as possible because there’s nothing worse than a couple of foreigners who appear to be mocking another culture simply because they didn’t read the directions closely enough!

1. You may put some coins into the offertory box.

2. Bow twice.

3. Clap your hands twice.

4. You may make a wish if you like.

5. Bow once again.

We made Henry give us some coins and then we moved on to the bowing and clapping portion, though we didn’t do it as robustly as the men around us, but they seemed like seasoned pros at this and we were just a couple of n00bs, fresh from DisneySea.

Still, I felt a sense of….I dunno, purity? after moving through the steps.

In this area, you could write your prayer on an “ema,” which is a wooden tablet that can be purchased at the AMULET OFFICE.

There was another, less-populated courtyard off to the side of the main shrine building, and this also had one of those water cleansing things. This time, I felt less under a spotlight, so I partook in the water-pouring ritual, but I was still very stressed that I was doing it wrong and then I almost drowned myself on nothing more than a small palmful of water. It got up my nose and everything. I’m a true mess.

I mean, the steps really aren’t outrageous but Henry still had to read them to me over and over.

“Rinse your left hand…your left hand. LEFT. Your LEFT HAND. THAT ONE,” is basically how that went.

And then:

2. Rinse your right hand.

3. Pour water into your left hand.

4. Rinse your mouth.

5. Rinse your left hand again.

6. Rinse the dipper (allow the remaining water to run down the handle of the dipper).

Then Henry did it too and of course this was a majorly bonding moment for Chooch and me because we were born to scrutinize Henry’s every move.

“I DIDN’T DO IT WRONG,” is what he was saying here after Chooch and I launched into our celestial chorus of “YOU ARE SO EMBARRASSING.”

After an hour lost inside this forest in the middle of Tokyo, we started to make our way out but not before going into the GIFT SHOP so I could, god forbid, buy a magnet. We also bought some tins of traditional-y candy which Henry insisted on keeping in his man-purse so we had to continuously ask him for one, which was really frustrating and I had forgotten about that until just now so now I’m annoyed.

On that note, more Japan memories to come!

Sep 152019
 

Before I close the chapter on DisneySea, I just want to do a quick (lol yeah sure—nothing I do on here is quick) recap of some of the rides and the food we had!

I think we all agreed, hands down, that our favorite ride was Journey to the Center of the Earth. As a dark ride connoisseur and coaster enthusiast, I liked that this was a bit of an amalgamation of both.

As with every Disney park, the theming in the line was excelsior, so that was no big surprise. This was the first ride we rode that day so the standby line wasn’t outrageous yet.

I WAS SO EXCITED TO GO THROUGH THOSE DOORS!

My only beef with this ride was that it wasn’t long enough. And that’s just me being hard-pressed to find a complaint because, you know, balance or whatever!

Tower of Terror in Tokyo has a different storyline than the others, not that it matters too much because it’s all in Japanese! But we chose this Fast Pass over Toy Story Mania for that reason.

It’s funny, because I typically dislike drop towers and avoid them in every park, but I love Tower of Terror so much! And this one was just so much fun, mostly because we didn’t know what was going on!

It also pleased me that we were put in row 6 6 6, lol.

I love that Henry is blank while Chooch and I have the same squinty WTF expression. Also, I’m not used to being able to take pictures of the picture! Every other park is a BIG NO when it comes to that. But here, everyone just does it. It’s been a minute since I was at Disney World so I can’t remember if it’s like that there, too!?

I think 20,000 Leagues was the longest line we stood in (an hour? We rode it again later and the line was only about 20 minutes then!) but it was worth it and again, the crowds there were very mild and inoffensive so it never felt like being in prison, like how we often feel when we’re stuck in line for the Exterminator at Kennywood, having no choice but to inhale the farts of strangers and hear amplified Yinzer-speak in surround sound since that damn queue is indoors.

Henry smiled A LOT that day, and he really loved 20,000 Leagues. He was so excited when we got off the ride the first time because he wanted to know if Chooch and I spotted some shadow of a thing that was pushing our car through the water and we were like, “No, you lame-o” and acted like we didn’t care but then we had a secret conference outside of Henry’s super-limited range of hearing and decided we would have to ride it again to look for that.

Also, we didn’t know that we had a control in front of our seats that controlled a spotlight, but of course dumb Henry knew, so now we definitely had to ride it again.

Anyway, it was fun being at a park where Henry actually rode things! Usually he just “sits on a bench” and waits for us but what he really does is stocks up on soft pretzels without us so he doesn’t have to share. Rude ass.

I was obsessed with riding these boat-things all day! Apparently, it utilizes the same track design as Pooh’s Hunny Hut, if that matters to you.

Chooch and I rode it later in the evening, after getting in all of the big rides, and you have to choose between two different tracks—such pressure! I was mad because the one that Chooch chose for us didn’t seem like the best one, and then I was mad again because dumb Henry took a picture of us using his idiot phone which takes shitty photos.

I loved this ride because the ride attendant told me he liked my Oswald ears AND HE WAS REALLY CUTE TOO.

Everyone who works at DisneySea is just a brand new level of Happy, but you really have to expect that much from a Disney park. That’s one of things I appreciate about this brand is that, even if you’re not a big Disney aficionado like me (I haven’t cared about Disney movies/cartoons since the early 90s), the experience you get at the parks is so high-quality that the fact that you had to dip into the kid’s college fund to get there doesn’t even matter.

J/K, we didn’t dip into Chooch’s college fund.

He doesn’t even have a college fund.

HAHAHAHAugh.

The Aladdin area of the park was so beautiful, and Chooch and I definitely needed to ride the flying carpets.

If this was Kennywood, that would just be cement with weeds sprouting through the cracks, not a gorgeous fountain. (Sorry, Kennywood, but you know it’s true! You’re beautiful in other ways, but theming is not your forte.)

Again with Henry’s lame-ass phone.

Chooch and I rode this little kid Flounder coaster because we gotta get that coaster cred no matter what.

That brake run was rough, haha.

We also rode this adorable little ride but dumb Henry was too bust melting against a wall to take our picture like a good parent.

The carousel was in the Aladdin area too and it was delightful!

God only knows what I was jawing off about here, but it was wonderful to be in the shade!

Another family portrait on a carousel. We need an intervention.

Did you know that up until a few years ago, I had a huge fear of carousels because I have gotten stuck on the horses before? And by “gotten stuck” I mean that I am afraid of even the tiniest heights and have been actually too paralyzed by fear to attempt to slide off the damn thing and then Henry has to assist. But lately, I have been doing much better and I think that I almost cured.

I wanted to ride Tower of Terror again in the evening but those dumb asses were like 45 MINUTES STANDBY OMG THAT’S SO LONG because they’re spoiled.

We also rode some other kiddy rides, and we had Fast Passes for Indiana Jones and also Raging Spirits, which was the only ride that was a bit underwhelming for me. There were English-speaking people in line behind us and the one girl was freaking out because she had never ridden a roller coaster that went upside down and she was probably in her early 20s and for some reason this really lodged itself into my hippocampus and I still think about it occasionally.

It was OK! Not my favorite ride there, but still worth the ride.

Aside from Sinbad (it was closed for maintenance), we managed to ride all the main attractions on my list without wasting our lives in overwhelming queues or running around like maniacs, and I was extremely surprised. In my head, I had this day playing out to be full of stress, pushy people, more interfamilial hostility than Trump’s twitter feed, and hemorrhaging money.

But it was so peaceful and our walking-speed was more at a casual stroll after we nabbed that first Fast Pass. In fact, usually when we’re at an amusement park, we’re in such a hurry to get all the big rides in that we barely break to eat. But at DisneySea, not only did we have spare time, but the food was CHEAP! Now is the time in this blog post where we have a FOOD RECAP.

This adorable Donald Duck lifesaver was a savory bun stuffed with shrimp, and not just like, a measly wad of mushy shrimp paste, but this was loaded with hearty, meaty, shrimp.

These Toy Story mochi are pretty much the signature Tokyo Disney snack. Watch any YouTube video about this park and I guarantee they will make an appearance, and if they don’t, then that vlogger did it wrong.

You get three per order, one each of strawberry-filled, chocolate-filled, and vanilla custard-filled. They were so good and now I wish I had gone back for seconds because Henry and I shared an order while Chooch got his own. I have major regerts about that. I chose poorly. Stupid diet-brain.

However, I didn’t share my lunch with Henry! (Wait, shit, yes I did—my meal came with a side of potatoes and sausages and I gave him my sausages.)

We chose a place in the Arabian Coast port of call (which I have been consistently referring to as the Aladdin area) and I got this fucking fantastic udon lunch special. Anyway, I couldn’t believe how cheap it was for all three of us to eat there. I want to say it was about $30 as opposed to King’s Island where, even with one of us having a meal plan, it was like $60. Yikes.

Look at this gorgeous bowl! It was so filling and satisfying. Again, maybe DisneySea had the air poisoned with Positivity Pollution, but shit—at every turn, I felt like a kid being let out of the orphanage for the first time. I just kept saying, “This place is so great” over and over, while flowers sprouted out of all of my orifices.

Henry was like, “I’m going to buy this mango ice cream concoction for no reason other than I’m at Disney” and then Chooch was like, “I’ll take that, thanks.”

 

Shout out to the different popcorn vendors, happily churning out their wonderful smelling treats in every port of call! Each vendor had a different flavor (Chooch is on a major curry kick, so that’s the flavor we got). The caramel one, while not being the most exotic flavor, was definitely the most appealing one to me because that scent literally elevated the atmosphere in the entire area around it. I think it may have even borrowed one of those flying carpets to carry its sweet, buttery smell even further, because I kept catching whiffs of it all over the park. It was mesmerizing.

The curry flavor was great too! Really, the only one I wasn’t drawn to was the chocolate-covered variety because it was so hot that day and I couldn’t imagine eating melty popcorn with my hands. No.

And last but not least, we ate dinner at Zambini because Chooch saw it earlier in the day and totally latched on to it. We had pizza, and I demanded that we get both desserts on the menu, because each one came with a different limited edition souvenir thing, so now we have a little Pirate Summer plate and coffee cup. I’m pleased with this.

One more thing before I wrap this up: we went into pretty much every gift shop to search for Bambi shit for Chooch, and in the very last one we went inside, we finally found a Bambi shirt, and not only was it a nice design, it was only $20!! FOR A FUCKING DISNEY SHIRT.

I probably come across as some tight-wad coupon cutter, and I swear I’m not—I’m just accustomed to amusement park inflation and honestly we were prepared to really have to spend a lot of hard-earned Yen at DisneySea. Honestly, this day couldn’t have been any better! I am so glad that I campaigned so hard to have this added to my birthday vacation itinerary, because if you have to turn 40, you might as well soften the blow any way you can. And this definitely softened that blow. Disney is one of the few places on Earth where you can be a Forever Child!

Sep 142019
 

Friends, foes, family, foresters: I am here to tell you that I have nothing bad to say about DisneySea. Honestly. It was the one day from our vacation where we didn’t fight ONE SINGLE TIME. The park opened, we walked in, and it was like the air was being pumped with happy gas because even though it was 100 degrees, we genuinely liked each other that day.

We’re not Disney people but this park had a huge impact on us! And this might sound like a cop-out, but there is really no way I can illustrate just how magical this place is, aside from sharing photos. So let’s peruse my collection together, shall we?

DisneySea is built next to the Tokyo Bay and has seven themed “ports of call” areas. I’ve heard that this park is billed as the Disney for adults, and even though there is a huge (and BEAUTIFUL) indoor kids area, I can definitely see how this is true. There is one area that made me feel like I was in Cape May and I loved it which is hilarious because when I was a kid, we always took a day trip to Cape May during our Wildwood family vacations, and I was always so miserable about that. I hated Cape May as a kid! All my grandma wanted to do was shop and all I could think about was how I missing out on prime time riding rides on the boardwalk. (Morey’s Piers ftw.)

I mentioned in my last Tokyo post that DisneySea doesn’t use an app for Fast Pass, so when the gates opened, we had to walk-run (there are friendly Disney employees everywhere reminding you politely not to run and I already knew this from watching videos so I speed-walked like a good girl because maybe you don’t know this about me BUT I HATE BEING YELLED AT even if it’s someone just kindly reminding me not to do something I’m doing, I will take this and escalate it in my head and get totally butt-hurt and then I will keep replaying the moment until I’m convinced that I was yelled at.

I’m insane and my issues are plentiful.

Anyway, our plan was to pass up Toy Story because it’s identical to the one in the US, grab a Tower of Terror fast pass, and then speedwalk to Journey to the Center of the Earth for stand-by. This plan worked wonderfully!

Mysterious Island was amazing!! The theming blew us all away.

I was prepared for Journey’s line to be outrageous but stand-by was about 30-45 minutes! That ride was goddamn amazing but my favorite part was when Henry ripped his shorts when he was getting into the car!

(Unfortunetely, his rip wasn’t as disastrous as it could have been, and even though it was large, it was still unnoticeable. Ugh.)

I will have a separate post to talk about the rides and food, so let’s just keep looking at the glorious scenery, shall we?

Seriously, would you look at this area? I think we just ooh’d and ahh’d over everything for the first 8 hours of the day.

 

I’m not sure where all the people went that we saw when the park opened, because it didn’t seem very crowded that day. Don’t get me wrong, some of the bigger rides had really long standby wait times as the day went on (Toy Story and the brand new Soaring were basically big no’s if you didn’t have a fast pass, and we didn’t want a fast pass for any of them), but we weren’t fighting our way through hoards of people on the paths or in the restaurants. It was actually pretty weird.

And whenever we did have to stand in line, it was pleasant because people in Japan are polite and orderly. It really was like being in an Utopian amusement park.

Even though we were able to ride all the rides we wanted to, this park could still easily be a 2-day park, because there is so much to see and eat. The facades were so detailed and the shops in each port of call had different merch. Also, we didn’t see any of the shows because that’s not important to us, but if we had been there for a second day, I definitely would have penciled that in because this park inspired me to care about these things!

…and then we found out where all the people were, lol. There’s a big pirate show that happens several times in the main entrance area and people seemed to just loiter there all day.  Also, it was August 1st when we were there, and that was the day when the new theme and merch came out, so I think the enthusiasts were there just for that. We walked past a lot of people who were hanging out in that area with like 8 bags of merch!

Meanwhile, all I cared about was getting my ears (the process of choosing a pair is painstaking but I went with Oswald and Chooch got Dumbo ears and then instantly had reGERTS because it was, again, 100 degrees that day and now he was essentially wearing a terry-cloth headband, good job, dingus.

Venice Vibes, Very.

Basically just an excuse to sit down.

I wanted to jump into this water so badly that day. Did I mention it was 100 degrees?

Did I mention we were also in Japan?

You think you know humidity in America, but you don’t.

LOOK AT THIS CHILDREN’S AREA!!! It was inside Ariel’s Castle and majorly air-conditioned. We definitely took our good ol’ time strolling through this piece.

And the gift shop was inside a whale!

Again, I’m not a Disneyphile but shit, I wanted to buy everything I saw.

Pompously phallic.

In all serious though, I couldn’t stop ogling the majesty of this castle. The detail was sickening!

Halfway to heatstroke.

If you looked at those tiny tiles close up, you’d find little Mickey ears, Flounders, and other assorted hidden Disney sundry.

I can’t imagine standing before this and not being totally enchanted.

One of our many “should we jump” contemplations. Also, note that Chooch is wearing his Pie Jesus friendship bracelet!

Some areas of DisneySea are under construction and from what I understand, it’s in preparation for next summer’s Olympics. Getting a bit of a face lift, I guess! Some of the coaster enthusiasts I follow on YouTube were super annoyed about this when they visited a week before us, but it didn’t take very much away from our visit. If Journey to the Center of the Earth had been outright closed, then my tune would be very different!

Henry, reapplying sunscreen.

LOOK AT THIS VIEW! Also, that water was making me hallucinate. Or was it the sun. I don’t know, but I was feeling delirious.

(Don’t worry! We stayed hydrated all day and guess what? It was easy to do so because food and beverage prices were CHEAP there! I was shocked. I mostly kept refilling an empty bottle at various water fountains, but I did get tempted several times to partake in flavored drinks because, Tokyo. There was some fizzy grapefruit sports drink that was SO REFRESHING.)

You know a park is legit when even your kid keeps stopping to take in the views. I’m a very GO-GO-GO type of person at amusement parks, but this place made me want to slow down and relax.

My kimono-thing was protecting my skin big-time, yo.

Obsessed with this tree.

The theme for August was Pirates Summer and we were there for the first day of it, so that was pretty cool! I purposely ordered a dessert at one of the restaurants just so I could get a collectible plate, so I guess I’m a Disney person now.

This fountain is iconic because it’s the first thing you see when you walk through the entrance. Also, we tried to get Henry to buy a pair of ears but he is too much of a lamer, I guess. Now no one will believe that he actually had a good time!

Some Instagram models were doing an amateur photoshoot here so then we had to do one too.

Did I ever tell you about how Chooch despises Chip and Dale because they’re so much more popular than Bambi when it comes to Disney merch and sometimes, from afar, he will think he sees something Bambi-themed only to get closer and see that it’s Chip and Dale. So when he saw this Chip, or Dale?, at DisneySea, he had a moment of rage. I wanted him to get in line for a picture but he was like Chip (or Dale?) can go fuck himself.

(Personally, I love Chip & Dale. I had one of their videos in the 80s and it was the kind that came in the giant padded case. I watched it all the time!)

The Aladdin area was so beautiful, I could have cried.

But Mermaid’s Lagoon had my heart. Those under-the-sea aesthetics really snatched me, you guys.

I wanted Chooch to make friends with all these children but he was like, “I just want to touch the water, not make power moves.”

I’m such a Disney fraud that I didn’t even know who Duffy was until I started researching this park.

SHIT YOU GUYS. JUST OMG THESE LOOKS. If DisneySea was a kpop group, then Mermaid’s Lagoon would be the visuals.

Although the Arabian area wasn’t exactly horse face, either.

DisneySea at night is a big fat mood. My heart was actually fluttering.

We stayed until the park closed and yes, we were fucking BEAT but it was worth every second we were crucified by the sun.

I’ll have one more Disney post to recap some of the rides and foods, so look forward to that, or don’t!

****

Once we were off Disney-soil, Chooch and Henry were free to argue over directions and fare machines again, so that was fun.

Sep 132019
 

Sometimes when I don’t have five things to talk about on a Friday, I make them up.

But today I genuinely have five full things to share. OR DO I.

DREW & THE SOJU BOTTLE

My car Drew, love her, she’s real sweet & presh, habitually scratches my prized Devil rug on the back porch and it drives me insane. I was standing in the kitchen after work on Wednesday when she dove right into my rug with her dumb claws and I kept yelling her name over and over, imploring her to stop.

But she would not.

Why, you ask? Because cats are assholes, don’t ask me stupid questions.

In a flurry of panic, I grabbed the closest thing to me–an empty bottle of soju–and shook it at her.

No, I didn’t throw it, I just shook it. And not even aggressively either.

“What…did you think that was going to do?” Henry asked me slowly.

It was a moment of desperation, ok?!

EDDIE MONEY

Today at work, Todd emailed me and all it said was “RIP Eddie Money” with a link to one of his YouTube videos. I replied and said that I once, years ago, got in trouble for allegedly videotaping his free concert at the Pittsburgh Rib Fest.

“I knew you would have a story,” Todd emailed back.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT HE WAS IMPLYING but it’s true. It was 1999 or 2000, and Lisa and I went to the Rib Fest at IC Light Ampitheater in Station Square (my Pgh homies are like, “Dang girl, that WAS a long time ago”). Back then, even though I was already a vegetarian, I would always go to the rib fests because they would get killer classic rock bands to perform (like .38 Special and Bad Company!). When I saw that Eddie Money was performing that year, I was like, “LISA WE HAVE TO GO” and she was like, “Remind me why we’re friends again.”

Back then, I was super into taking my camcorder everywhere. I had been like this since 1995. You could say I was an OG Vlogger, but be thankful YouTube wasn’t around back then. Or any social media. (I know my friends are. Especially the ones I’m no longer friends with, lol.) Of course I had that damn thing with me at the rib fest, because I needed to get mullet footage, which was always the second best reason to go to the rib fest. Pittsburgh is a real treasure trove of mullets.

On our way out of the ampitheater, a gaggle of guards surrounded me and demanded that I hand over my camcorder.

I was totally blindsided by this. WHAT HAD I DONE? Did I accidentally record a government-sanctioned murder and now I was toting around high-profile evidence?

“You can’t film the concert,” one of the guards said, still reaching for my camcorder.

“I wasn’t filming the concert!” I cried defiantly. (Erin Rachelle Kelly, Hating Authority Since the 90s.)

But they kept demanding that I hand over the tape, and Lisa was hissing, “Just give them the tape!” like it was the keeper of a snuff film.

I kept swearing that I wasn’t filming Eddie Money, so one of the security guards said, “OK, play back part of it and show us,” and I very happily did so because I knew it was just going to show a bunch of drunk Yinzers swaying with me making some lame commentary behind the camera.

But no, when I hit play, it showed the literal 3 seconds of footage from when I casually pointed the camera at the stage, zoomed in on Eddie Money, and said, “We’re at an Eddie Money concert, you guys.”

The guards smirked at me and went back to demanding the tape, so now I had to go with a different tactic.

“MY GRANDFATHER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY IS ON THIS TAPE AND HE PASSED AWAY,” I cried.

I think making it personal really played to their emotions (one of the guards was a woman and she seemed sympathetic), plus I was like 19 or 20 and didn’t look like someone who was going to sell bootleg Eddie Money tapes on the black market, so they warned me not to do it again and then they let us leave.

Lisa was so embarrassed because this happened right in the middle of the entrance to the ampitheater so people were milling about and rubber-necking the whole time. BUT I’M SORRY I WASN’T GOING TO GIVE UP MY TAPE.

And yes, I still have it! MAYBE I WILL UPLOAD IT TO YOUTUBE!

If I ever find a way to play it.

THE SIDEWALK ATTACK

I went for a walk last night to burn off the annoyances of the day (it was my work-from-home late shift day but I was having problems logging on so I had to go into the office at the very last minute and I hadn’t washed my hair and I never go anywhere with unwashed hair and I just felt like a monster so I was like DON’T LOOK AT ME to all of my co-workers and it was just awful I hated yesterday very much). Anyway, I was walking along the sidewalk when suddenly, from the side of a wall next to me, some disgusting rodent-thing shot out at me and ran across my feet.

I jumped and yelped like a real DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, you guys. My heart was like thundahhhh against my ribs. Hoo boy.

“Well, what was it?!” Henry asked me, after I came bursting through the door yapping about how I was attacked.

“….an empty bag of potato chips,” I mumbled. I GUESS YOU COULD SAY IT WAS A REAL SNACK ATTACK.

“Wow. Too bad you didn’t have an empty bottle of soju to shake at it,” Henry deadpanned.

C U N T

I was talking to Margie at her desk the other day when someone from another department came out of the stairwell. Margie told him to have a good night and that she would see him tomorrow, but he said, “No, I’ll C U NEXT TUESDAY!”

I waited for him to turn the corner before pulling a super concerned face and hoarsely whispering, “OMG MARGIE HE CALLED YOU THE C-WORD!”

“He what!?!?” she cried incredulously.

“Yeah, he called you a…” and then I mouthed “cunt” because Work Erin is like SO PROPER AND WHOLESOME.

Oh, the layers I put on before leaving the house.

(I didn’t have time for any of them yesterday though so I was in rare form.)

Turns out, Margie has never heard the expression “c u next tuesday” but she knows it now. I felt good knowing that I enlightened her and now no one will ever be able to pull that one over on her again.

PUNCHFIAT

On one our walks, Chooch spotted a Fiat at a red light and said, “Oh my god, recently I was walking with Markie (little neighbor kid) and he did punchbuggy no punchbacks on me, but it was FIAT!” Chooch shook his head and scoffed, “He’s so stupid.”

I started to laugh at this and then said, “Wait…..that was me who said that!”

I remember it vividly because it was the day we were going to Kennywood and I was so excited because I never beat him at the punchbuggy game (I actually hate this game so damn much), so when I saw what I thought was a punchbuggy, I shouted it with such passion and slugged his upper arm.

I’m not stupid, I just have bad eyes!

****************

To conclude, here’s one of my current favorite songs and this video is relevant to this blog post because she’s basically me in the 90s following my friends around with a camcorder. (Somewhere out there is Janna thanking god that I’m out of the “I’M MAKING A DOCUMENTARY” phase. I’ll always terrorize my friends with words on this blog, though!)

Sep 132019
 

We had such a wonderful day at Holiday World and here is a big-ass photo dump to prove it!

You already know we were there for the VOYAHHHHHHGE, but the truth is, Holiday World as a whole is so much fun. Yes, there are lots of bad tattoos there, but the people are friendly and the employees are so happy to see you! I was having such a grand old time that I was only mad for a two seconds that Henry wore his dumb Creepy Uncle sunglasses and ruined our family picture.

Still hasn’t outgrown that mascot-love. Actually, later on in the day, he ran off to go to the bathroom but saw this mascot and another one (the Halloween cat) and got some employee to take a picture for him. I can never get him to post pictures of our family trips on Instagram, but he posted THAT one all on his own. And I wasn’t even in it! I CAN NEVER GET HIM TO POST PICTURES OF US ON INSTAGRAM!

HE’S ASHAMED OF ME.

Holiday World might be relatively unknown to the general population, but it’s pretty legendary in the coaster circle, and it’s racked up numerous awards over the years. In fact, the 2019 Golden Ticket winners were just announced last weekend, and it won Best Water Park Ride for Wildebeast and  2nd place for Best Wooden Coaster (The VOYAHHHHHGE, obviduh)!

Last year, Henry skipped out on the Raven but this year we dragged him on. I think he’s trying harder to keep up with Chooch and me because he rode EVERY ROLLER COASTER on this weekend trip except for T3 at Kentucky Kindgom.

And the kiddie coasters. He’s not cool enough to be That Guy on the kiddie coaster.

We had to st and in line for about 30 minutes and it was like the world was going to end for Chooch but Henry and I entertained ourselves by ogling the questionable tattoos. For instance, when we were in line for Thunderbird, a guy in front of us had “Volkswagen” tattooed on his forearm. Like, the actual word.

And it was BIG, too.

He seemed like a pretty normal guy, otherwise.

There was a young couple in line for the Raven playing Heads Up and the clues the guy was giving her for “bobcat” were “name of a machine company” and “wild animals found in Utah.”

He asked the guy in front of us if he had any better clues for her and the guy was all, “no, your clues were pretty darn good” and I was like, “NO THEY WEREN’T. IF THEY WERE PRETTY DARN GOOD, SHE WOULD HAVE GUESSED IT.” I would have said “wild feline with a popular man’s name.”

Or, you know, “Goldthwait.”

Stupid asses.

I was obsessed with the idea of eating at the Plymouth Rock Cafe because it’s…wait for it…THANKSGIVING STAPLES! And they have a vegetarian plate too which is a choice of THREE SIDES and A ROLL OR CORNBREAD.

Um, hello, cornbread.

Well, this was the only time we were disappointed with Holiday World. It was the only time we encountered ambivalent employees, they were out of half of the sides (it was only 1pm!) so instead of getting corn and broccoli salad, I had to get some kind of stewed cinnamon apples and macaroni and cheese in addition to the sweet potato casserole that I had my eyes on, and it was just…a lot. Like, it didn’t LOOK like a lot, but I honestly thought I was going to have to be part-time bulimic at one point afterward, just to get some relief.

But then sweet potato casserole WAS SO GOOD. I can’t even lie, it was really good. The corn bread was a big (actually small) dry wad of disappointment, but we also got pumpkin pie and it was way better than I expected! I thought it was going to be the firm, gelatinous kind but it was the smooth and creamy consistency that I love!

So, mixed bag for Plymouth Cafe.

Henry had some kind of meat and he liked it.

It was about $50 for three meals and three pies, plus Henry and Chooch both got drinks which seemed dumb since Holiday World has free drink stations all over the park just like Kentucky Kingdom. I think this was a pretty reasonable deal? I mean, we were all so full that no one wanted to eat dinner later on and we basically had to talk ourselves into getting ice cream before we left.

Oh, the challenges of being us.

Here we are getting that coaster cred! When we were in line, there was one mom in front of us and I was confused because why was she alone? I thought maybe her husband and children were already on and there was no room left for her, because before the operator closed the gate, the lady asked, “Would it be OK if I sat in the back seat?” and the operator asked the little boy in the back seat if he minded, and he very chivalrously said, “Not at all!” and so the lady dumped her purse in a bin and boarded the train and that is when I realized that she wasn’t with any of those people, she just wanted to ride the Howler with all of her fucks abandoned in a bin with her handbag.

That’s my kind of mom.

Also, we were relieved that she got to go on that train because that put us first in line and we wanted the back seat, haha.

I think it’s funny that Henry stands off to the side with all the other non-riding parents and takes pictures of his kids.

Not the worst kiddie coaster in the world!

I love our carousel selfies! I think it really captures our true family essence lol.

I called this a lion approx. 5x before the word “tiger” came to me and I felt like Barb mixing up zebras and giraffes.

Santa! He waved to me!! While we were having out nearby, another old man walked by in jeans and a white T-shirt and Henry, “Look there’s Santa!” And I said, “No dipshit, Santa is right over there with his elven handler.” But Henry said, “No, it’s the Santa from last year!” AND IT WAS! AN OFF-DUTY SANTA! I was devastated to learn that there were two different Santas! I really thought it was the same one.

We went inside the Christmas candy shop and Henry let Chooch make his own bags of taffy, a task that Chooch took extremely seriously. We were in there for a good long while too and it was kind of ridiculous and I was starting to get annoyed because it was the one place that was actually pretty crowded and no matter where I went, I was in someone’s way. Then after we paid for the damn bag, we started to leave when Chooch was like, “Oh shit, I didn’t even see all the taffy over on the other side” and one of the flavors was egg nog so I was mad because that sounded fun and he ruined my life basically by not including this so I grabbed an empty bag and said, “GET TO WORK” and this time henry and I helped him because apparently you can’t trust a kid to get the good taffy.

The Legend is such a rough ride, but it’s so much fun! A werewolf howls right before you go down the first drop and for some reason, this just tickles me.

One of the times we rode it, the ride attendant was going around checking our seats (he ended up groping me and then said something that sounded like, “Nice to see you again” which I’m sure wasn’t right but I was still stuck on the fact that he groped me) when a young couple appeared at the exit and told the ride operator that they left their bag in the shelf and described it as a “black crossbody that says Supreme on it” and I laughed to myself and was NOT surprised when The Groper was unable to locate such a bag. He kept holding up other bags and the ride operator was getting so pissed and reiterating that it was black and said Supreme.

When he held up some other thing, the ride operator screamed IT SAYS SU-PREME ON IT!!!! I was dying. Maybe he was describing boobs that Groper had brushed against during the day, it would be an easier game for him to win.

Anyway, I couldn’t believe they were holding our train back for this bullshit.

The one bad thing about coming here so late in the season is that they close at 7 during Labor Day weekend. Can you believe that?! Now, there’s still plenty of time to ride everything, but with the park closing before sunset, there is absolutely no possibility of night rides, and the VOYAHHHHHGE is best experienced at night. It just really is, sorry. It forcibly takes you back into the pitch black woods and I know this sounds like a set-up for horror porn but…ok it’s kind of like that. And you wake up the next day with the bruises to show for it.

With about an hour remaining, we decided it was now-or-never for some Udderly Blue ice cream. We were still full from lunch but I wasn’t passing this up.

While we were in line, we briefly lost Chooch (lol) but then I found him on the nearby carousel, riding alone peacefully.

There was a family sitting at a table near where we’re standing and when the husband brought the ice cream over, the wife said, “oh. I would have thought it would be blue” and the husband was like, “they do have blue ice cream but the kids just wanted vanilla, so” and she was like, “well I would have liked to try the blue” and then it started to get these because the line was really long and the kids were being ungrateful pricks to begin with and now Wife is being passive aggressive and Husband words were starting to sound strangulated like he was projecting his desire to throttle her in her sleep. I looked at Henry said “Wow that could be us.”

I made Henry share this with me and he was angry because he wanted to get his own and I said “then just get your own” but now he was moping and said JUST FORGET IT and I wondered if now we were the ones being watched by another couple saying to themselves “Wow, they’re just like us.”

Another, Udderly Blue over Dole Whip any damn day!

Chooch and I got one final ride on the VOYAHHHHHHGE before the line closed and we fought back tears on the way out. This park, man. It’s so good. Get yourself there.

*****

The next day, we were an hour outside of Cincinnati on the way home when I asked where the taffy was.

“Goddammit, I left it in the hotel fridge!” Henry cried. I was way angrier about this than I imagined I would be and I don’t even really like taffy all that much. So yeah, our fight-free weekend was definitely over by then.

Sep 112019
 

Chooch, on the balcony of our guest house, in his too-big house slippers.

On Thursday morning, the first day of August, we woke up disgustingly early (5:00am) to get a head start for DisneySea. This was the ONE THING in Japan I was fully educated on. I read blogs, websites, watched YouTube reviews and vlogs until I was navigating this place in my dreams.

This was also why I was so irritable the night before though — STRESS. Going to any Disney Park can be nerve wracking because you want to be able to do all the things and have a good time without worrying about huge crowds but hello, we picked the fucking summer to do this. I can’t help it that I’m a summer birthday baby!

DisneySea still uses the old Fast Pass system, where you have to go to each ride and scan your ticket in the Fast Pass machine and hope for the best. I was STRESSED ABOUT THIS! But even more stressed about the act of actually getting to the park, which involved two transfers and theoretically would take about 45 minutes. (According to Google.)

View from the balcony. I was obsessed with the neighborhood we were staying in and sad that we didn’t have more time.

The streets were pretty quiet when we left the Green Hotel to start our Disney Journey. We stopped at the closest convenience store on the way to the subway station to grab some breakfast to take with us. Some of the tips I read said to get to the park as early as possible, up to 2 hours because the gates open, and eat your breakfast in line with everyone else. I was already accustomed to eating samgak kimbap in Korea so I grabbed the Japanese equivalent  to this – what most of the world is more familiar with: onigiri. I didn’t even pay attention to what Henry and Chooch got because it was fucking way too early in the morning and I was a miserable cry baby about that, never mind that this was my idea!

I have to give Chooch credit – he is a real take-charge kind of guy. Me? I’m more of a stand-off-to-the-side-and-let-everyone-else-do-it kind of gal. Especially when it comes to directional things.

I kept yammering on social media about how this was the only day that we had zero fights but I forgot about the early-morning subway arguments between Henry and Chooch. These two just literally cannot ever be on the same page (of the map) and then Chooch supposedly found some better way to go and Henry was like NO THAT’S WRONG and Chooch was like YOU NEVER LISTEN TO  ME and then Henry was like FINE WE WILL DO IT YOUR WAY and I was like IF YOU TWO FUCK THIS UP FOR ME, YOU BETTER RUN RUN RUN.

Basically, we took the subway from Ueno to Somewhere??? Station, saw this display of Kewpie Dolls, walked to WHATEVERVILLE STATION, per Chooch’s directions, couldn’t find it, walked around in tiny circles while looking up at the sky, saw a sign that said the name of the station we were looking for but couldn’t find the entrance, started overturning rocks to see if the entrance was under there, had a fight, drew a station entrance with chalk because maybe magic was on our side, said YES!! when an older Japanese gentleman paused and asked, “Disney?” and then pointed to the half-hidden staircase that we never would have found without his help.

Thank god for Chooch’s Mickey Mouse shirt.

(Honestly, we couldn’t believe how hard it was to find this opening!! I’m not sure if this ended up being the way Chooch suggested, or Henry’s original plan, but whoever decided this was the way to go surely fucked up.)

From that point on, it was OK. We got tickets for the train to Maihama Station and when there was a split second where we weren’t sure which way to go to find the platform, a group of excited girls in matching clothes blew past us, so we just followed them.

The train ride to Maihama was pretty quick, maybe about 15-20 minutes, and as soon as we arrived, that’s when the real mayhem began because that station was FLOODED with Disney-goers. DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland are right next to each other, so this is the main station that park visitors need to get to in order to take the Disney shuttle to either park.

I was on pins and needles at this point! The anticipation! Wondering how crowded it was going to be! And if we would fight with each other all day! If this would end up being a big let down and a wasted day!

SO MANY UNKNOWNS! Traveling is such a gamble. Especially when you throw something like this into the mix.

The shuttle ops are on point at Disney, so we didn’t have to wait very long for the next one to arrive.

Henry originally got a seat, but then gave it up to an older woman who bowed profusely at him and I wanted to tell her not to waste her bows on that dummy but, you know, they’re her bows to give, I guess.

So then Henry had to stand and hold onto the Mickey Ears for the whole whopping 5 minutes we were on the shuttle.

It was 7am by the time we made it to the entrance and there were already dozens of lines snaking out from the front of the gates. We secured a spot and got as comfortable as we could under the scalp-melting 95 degree sun, and then Chooch OF COURSE got sunscreen in his eyes and we looked like we were That American Family whose kid even cries at Disney because he’s a spoiled American, and then he kept using Henry’s shirt to wipe his eyes and Henry was like, “EXCUSE ME DON’T GET MY GENERIC MIDDLE AGED MAN POLO SHIRT DIRTY WITH YOUR SUNSCREENED TEARS, THANK YOU” and I was just staring at the time on my phone wondering how we were going to survive for two hours without causing a scene, but THEN GUESS WHAT the park actually opened at 8am, not 9am like I thought, so we only had to stand in that (actually pretty calm and orderly) crowd for an hour!

THIS IS THE FIRST THING YOU SEE WHEN YOU ENTER THE PARK! ICONIC!! I already forgot about how difficult it was to get out of bed at 5am, and the direction drama at the first subway station, and the literal scavenger hunt for the train station entrance. Because we were in DisneySea! But that tranquil moment would only last a second because our mad dash for Fast Passes started NOW and I had to focus. THERE WAS NO TIME FOR DAWDLING!!

Sep 102019
 

I made Henry drive us back to Santa Claus, Indiana for one reason and one reason only: TO RIDE THE MOTHERFUCKING VOYAHHHHHHHGE! If it was possible to take a rollercoaster to prom, I might still be pulling splinters out of my body right now.

That’s all I’m saying.

Because that’s pretty gross.

Anyway, I was so anxious when I woke up last Sunday morning. Henry was like, “Yo, calm down. This place doesn’t even open until 10:00” but I was READY. We left our shitty hotel (actually, it was pretty decent, but it was in desolate area next to a shuttered gas station and lots of empty lots where the weeds go grow wild, and it just made me feel uncomfortable) and had a very underwhelming breakfast at Subway because the only other options around there are Denny’s or gas station donuts.

We got to Holiday World around 9:20 and decided to just head on over to the entrance, where several lines had already formed. In the very front of one of the lines, we saw this tall young guy with shaggy hair and glasses who we also the day before at Kentucky Kingdom, so we knew he was one of our kind.

To our great joy, the entrance actually opened before 10 but of course we wound up being in the line with the slow-ass employee, some old man named Larry. But eventually our tickets were scanned and we were in!

However, only the main courtyard area was open, and the paths leading down to the rides were all roped off. We were standing by the roped-off entrance to the Halloween section when Chooch wondered if we should walk through the courtyard more and find the 4th of July area. He pointed to a map he had snagged earlier and showed us that it looked like it would be the faster route to THE VOYAHHHHHHGE.

“Yeah, but you probably won’t make it very far over that way,” Henry argued, never wanting to concede to any of our great ideas. “Just stay here!”

But I was with Chooch on this one so we made the trek to 4th of July world and planted ourselves in front of the roped off path over there. Our fellow coaster enthusiast was also over here so we felt confident that we chose wisely. Henry still wasn’t sold, even though Chooch kept trying to show him that the path we would have had to take by Halloween Town wasn’t as much of a straight shot as this one.

Chooch was supposed to be pointing at the VOYAHHHHHGE. Way to fuck up the picture, boy! (I just noticed that his shirt matches the sign. Unintentional, I promise.)

As the time ticked down, more and more people had accumulated behind us, but we were still at the front, right next to the rope, and evry Holiday World that moseyed on by totally faked us out like they were going to unhook the rope.

There were two teenagers standing next to me and I heard the enthusiast talking to them. “Just follow me,” he said. “I think I know where to go.” I knew for certain he was talking about the VOYAHHHHHGE and now I was really starting to tense up because I am a Leo and everything is a race that we need to win. You have no idea what a cursed life this makes. Sometimes, I just want to casually stand in line and not worry about getting the best spot, seat, first prize, etc etc. But no, my heart rate was up, I had to stress-pee, I was jogging in place and wringing my hands.

Why do I have to be this way. Even when I’m waiting for the trolley in the morning, I am like GUARDING MY SPOT IN THE FRONT like a crazy person, side-eyeing the people next to me, thinking to myself, “Yeah, bitches don’t dare cut in front of ME” while bouncing back and forth from one foot to the other.

Finally, at EXACTLY 10AM, some Holiday World guy came over to the side of the rope we were standing on and I started chanting, “DO THIS SIDE FIRST!” but he walked all the way to the left and took down the rope from that side like a real punk ass bitch.

We didn’t even wait for the rope to hit the ground—we jumped over it and FUCKING RAN like true ridiculous dumb asses. It was me and Chooch, the teenagers next to us, rollercoaster tycoon, and I dunno how many other kids.

Yes, kids.

It was all fucking kids, and…me.

But I gave no fucks! I ran like I had nothing and everything to lose at once! I ran like I had been training for this moment my whole life. I ran like a gang of chainsaw guys were chasing me through a field next to a farm at 2am in the morning on Devil’s Night and I was missing a shoe and bra and had twigs in my hair but I was NOT GOING TO TRIP AND FALL LIKE ALL THOSE FINAL GIRLS IN FRIDAY THE 13TH so I started to run like an ostrich, picking my legs up real high, kind of like how Urkel probably ran at his school’s field day, so that my feet wouldn’t trip over anything because I know my level of clumsiness and I am a pretty consistent tripper.

So now I’m running my face off, acutely aware that it’s just me and these kids, when Coaster Carl and the teenagers veered to the right.

“THAT’S THE WRONG WAY!” Chooch screamed to me over his shoulder, and in that moment, I put all my trust in him, my spawn, my coaster partner, my sometimes sworn-enemy.

And he led me to motherfucking VIC-TOR-Y.

The only other kids who had surpassed us continued to run past the VOYAHHHHHGE toward the semi-new flying coaster, Thunderbird, which was fine by us, because…………..

…..we got to be the FIRST PEOPLE IN LINE FOR THE VOYAHHHHHHHGE.

There’s a set of steps that we had to run up before getting inside the platform, and by that time, we were huffing and puffing but not any threat to blowing down the VOYAHHHHGE because our breaths were more wheezes at that point.

“Good morning, guys! You ready to ride this?!” one of the ride attendants laughed, and we were like “HNNNNNGGGGGGGHHHHHHH” while grasping our sides.

We still had some time before they were ready to send off the first train of the day, so I guarded our spot in the front while Chooch claimed the second row for Henry, who had walked a normal pace from the rope-drop area to the platform and calmly slid into the queue for the second row.

“Idiots,” he said, smirking at us. But I felt like a fucking WINNER.

Meanwhile, Loves Coasters, Can’t Read Maps had corrected his directional mistake and came barreling into the station, claiming the last row. And, after a few minutes, the queue was starting to fill up with all the normal people who don’t understand that running gets you there faster.

Eventually, the gates opened for us and we stuffed ourselves into the seats. My hands trembled as I buckled my seatbelt. That could have been blood pressure-related though.

And then, we were finally climbing that inaugural hill, and I felt #soblessed to be back there to experience this wooden miracle again. I wish I could properly convey how this coaster makes me feel, like a limp rag doll being whipped around by a derailed train careening down a mountain.

I asked Henry if he understands now, after finally riding it (HE DIDN’T RIDE IT LAST TIME, WHAT A LOSER) and he was like, “It was good” but I could tell that he just didn’t get it because he’s a n00b and I really think he’s just jealous that I imprinted on an actual roller coaster and will probably eventually be on some upcoming episode of MY STRANGE ADDICTIONS and he’s already trying to distance himself from me before the CONSUMMATION happens except this isn’t an addiction IT’S TRU LUV.

“I can’t believe I ran that fast and got to be in the front row on the first ride of the day,” I said dreamily later that day.

“I got second row, and I didn’t have to run,” Henry shrugged.

NOT THE POINT, HENRY. Running was part of the process, it elevated the experience, it MADE FOR A MEMORY. I will never forget that moment. I felt like a kid!

I love the VOYAHHHHHHHHGE so much, and thank god Chooch does too. I can’t believe we haven’t argued yet over who loves it more…

Sep 092019
 

I was sincerely pleased with this past weekend and wish to document it here for posterity.

HOWEVER, THERE WAS ONE TRAGIC OCCURRENCE.

I started my Saturday morning by walking to the post office to drop off some card orders. On the way there, I passed Parker’s and did a record scratch with my legs.

Backed up and got a closer look at the sign next to the door, which said THIS WAS THEIR LAST GODDAMN WEEKEND.

I actually felt panicked, wondering if we would have time to eat there at all this past weekend. I called Henry on my way home (after standing for a solid minute with some family, who I thought were waiting to cross behind the fire truck which had pulled out of the station; finally I asked “Are we not allowed to go?” and the mom was like “Oh you can! My kids are just watching.” Ughhhh. One whole minute, wasted!!) and wailed, “IM SO SADDDDDD PARKERS IS CLOSINGGGGGG.”

Luckily, he got home from work early enough (hate when he has to work on Saturdays) and we were able to grace Parker’s with our dumb faces for the last time.

They had a very limited Last Weekend menu, so I got the Wakey Wakey with no meat, and pasta salad. Chooch had to copy me, and Henry got something meat-y. While we waited for our food, “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” was playing and even though the place was full and upbeat conversation was being tossed about all around us, I still felt SO SOMBER. Then, when our food was served, the theme from St. Elmo’s Fire was playing and Parker’s Mom might as well have just taken that plastic sword out of the bagel and stabbed me in the heart with it before asking if we needed any ketchup.

OUCH. MY FEELINGS.

Luke came over to talk to us and explained that it was just too hard for them to keep Parker’s running while trying to get the new bar open. They will be serving food at the new place once it opens and it will be family-friendly during the day, so it’s not the end of the road—-but I just really loved this space and honest to god, I know it’s just sandwiches, but it was so much of an experience every time we ate there. Luke made us feel like we were regulars, and for as long as I have lived in Brookline (too long) I have never felt like I have fit in before. But Parker’s was SO CHILL and friendly without being fake.

It was like the closest Brookline could ever get to Stars Hollow.

Right before we left, “We Built This City” came on and I was like, “IS THIS AN ACTUAL HOUSE PLAYLIST? ARE THEY TRYING TO FUCKING MURDER MY EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW?” God fucking dammit!!!!

Anyway, the one hopeful thing that Luke told us was that they’ll be still running their catering business from the basement of Parker’s so that means they’re not actually getting rid of that place and maybe someday in the future they’ll make a comeback!

THAT IS MY HOPE.

Later that evening, Janna came over for Kpop Cardio Dance Night and it was a good one! I appreciate that she indulges me and has never once laughed off my obsessions. She even says things like, “This one is my favorite” and “I liked that last one” and doesn’t make fun of it at all! Afterward, Henry prepared a snack platter and I was like, “IS THIS CHRISTMAS OR HALLOWEEN” but who cares because cheese.

For the next three hours, I made Janna watch roller coaster and kpop videos and talked her ears off about the upcoming super group Super M and made her choose an NCT bias and then explained the concept of Produce 101 to her and she endured it ALL.

Janna is a real one.

Hey guys, here’s a shocker. The next day we were leaving the house to take Chooch to his piano lesson when there was a huge bang and when we opened the front door, lo and behold, a wrecked car was idling in the road in front of our house.

HOW MANY TIMES DOES THIS NEED TO HAPPEN?! We live on a straight road! There are no obstacles or harzards! The last two times this happened, it’s been an elderly driver in broad daylight. When it happens at night, it’s almost always a drunk driver. Scary stuff.

Anyway, Henry the First Responder leapt into action. I felt really bad because the driver was this super old lady with big-ass hair and she was so shaken. She used Henry’s phone to call her husband and Henry was talking to her in his creepy fake-nice weird uncle voice and it was so cringey.

Chooch and I just stood on the sidewalk, me holding my huge jug of water and Chooch antagonizing his nephew Calvin who was watching from his front window. We stood there uselessly for a long time, but at least Chooch was the one who called 911 so he contributed more than me.

So the lady hit one of the neighbor’s cars, and unfortunately, his car was also one of the ones that got damaged last summer when some broad forgot that she was on Pioneer Avenue and not the Demolition Derby and sideswiped like four cars along the sidewalk. When he came out of his house and realized what happened, he started screaming angrily like this was such a shock, and then caught himself and asked, “IS EVERYONE OK THOUGH!?” Nice save, bud!

The worst part was that traffic didn’t even slow down even though there was clearly a car stalled out in the middle of the road. I was getting mad that Henry kept standing there because I felt like he was RISKING HIS LIFE which was unfair to me because I have things I need him to do around the house for God’s sake!!!

We were standing out there for like 20 minutes and the dumb ass cops still hadn’t arrived, so I made Henry call 911 again because I guess maybe they didn’t believe Chooch when he called, and the broad started to emerge from her car and Chooch and I were like, “OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD” because we didn’t want her to die from vehicular manslaughter but obviously not enough to actually voice our concerns, so we just stood there and watched as she slowly made her way to the other side of the car, where she saw the damage for the first time and started dramatically moaning like some rich Falcon’s Crest matriarch and I felt very uncomfy.

Cops still hadn’t arrived, but the tow truck was like “BEEP BEEP MOTHERFUCKER$$$$$$$$$$$$” so we were like, “OK, let this dude deal with it” and after we crossed the street to our car which we keep parked in a parking lot because the first rule of living on Pioneer Avenue is not to park on Pioneer Avenue, Hot Naybor Chris came out of his house with an orange traffic cone and placed it in the road next to the broad’s crashed Cadillac, like that was going to slow anyone down. Literally, some bitch sped past the scene, shaking her fist at Henry and the crashed car, which was hilarious to me. Like, what are YOU so mad about, you dumb bitch?

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, the broad’s husband had arrived and he was equally as frail, so that was cool. I’m glad these two are still getting behind the wheel.

Henry said that while he was standing at the lady’s car trying to keep her calm, she asked him what he thought about Antonio Brown. Wow, even in a car crash this city so fucking football-obsessed.

I bought peach mint KitKats at the asian market during Chooch’s lesson and Henry was being such a tightwad about it. YES, NOVELTY KITKATS ARE EXPENSIVE BECAUSE THEY ARE, YOU KNOW, A NOVELTY IN AMERICA. Christ!

Then we came home and hung out with Calvin, who is currently OBSESSED with coming over to our house because Henry brought up a big container of Chooch’s old toy cars so he acts like he wants to see us but it’s just a ruse. He’s a little user! When Blake or Haley come over to get him, he starts crying and says, “Leave!” and tries to push them out of the front door. And I’m just like, “Buddy, it’s not that exciting here.”

Anyway, we walked to Scoops for some ice cream and Calvin got his Spiderman popcicle all over himself because he’s a kid and I was dry-heaving. Ugh kids are so gross! Chooch still, at 13, can barely eat ice cream without becoming as sticky as a flystrip.

I dunno why that was the first sticky thing that came to mind.

He’s cute though!

Then Henry made me kimchi jjigae for dinner and I was like PRAISE BE because it was finally cool enough outside to enjoy that cauldron of bubbling Korean flava.

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Cooler temperatures mean 김치찌개 time!

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In other weekend news, I accidentally started watching Pose and stayed for the poppin’ 1980s urban soundtrack and we bought Platinum passes for the Cedar Fair parks and even though they’re for the 2020 season, we can start using them now! I had to upload a picture of each of us for the cards, so Chooch and I took each other’s headshot but Henry was like JUST USE A PICTURE YOU ALREADY HAVE OF ME and I was like AYE AYE CAPTAIN so this will be on the card that Henry will be using for the next year and it’s probably not funny to anyone else but when I chose it, I actually started crying because I was laughing so hard and Henry just muttered, “I TRULY DON’T CARE.”

OK, toodles my noodles.

Sep 082019
 

Landing in Japan was SURREAL. I still couldn’t believe that we managed to make this leg of the trip work out and I was like, you know, feeling so hashtag blessed. I was also secondhand stoked for Chooch because Japan is his Korea, so I was happy that we were able to get him there. Hopefully he’ll remember this when it’s time to for the “should we put mom in a home” talk.

CHOOCH, YOUR MOTHER GAVE YOU THE BEST TRAVEL MEMORIES OF YOUR CHILDHOOD. NEVER FORGET.

Plus, he was excited because when we landed, we had to exit the plane onto the tarmac, and he’s “always wanted to do that” apparently?

The bathroom is Narita Airport was majestic. LOOK AT IT! I TOOK THIS PICTURE SO YOU COULD SEE!!

Full disclosure: we definitely don’t know much about Japan so we were kind of unprepared. Except that we at least already had a wad of Yen, at least. And in Korea, at least I can read it and know how to say basic things. Plus, Henry and Chooch have that subway system completely figured out.

(Not me. I just rely on them because I’m too busy looking at things and smiling.)

Having already been in Korea twice kind of killed the VENDING MACHINE EXCITEMENT for us. Now we’re just spoiled and come to expect that kind of convenience. *hair flip emoji*

Henry eventually figured out how to purchase tickets for the Skyliner Train that took us to Tokyo. I was so excited to get out of the airport and actually see some things! It was already about 6:30pm so we didn’t have much time for too many touristy things.

Henry immediately started watching his dumb Netflix shows (probably a Western or something) before the train even pulled out, so Chooch and I were cracking up.

I didn’t do anything on the train, not even write in my vacation journal, because I was too busy looking out the window and taking it all in. I get that we were in a completely different country from Korea, but I was still low-key stunned at just HOW DIFFERENT it was, even just looking at the scenery out of the train window! If I had to summarize it a succinct as possible, I’d have to say that Japan just seemed more green.

Our hotel/guest house was in Ueno, and that was one of the stops on the Skyliner train. Henry probably planned it that way, but maybe I’m giving him too much credit. Of course though since we were in a new country, Henry fucked up the directions and took us out the wrong station exit and we stood around sweating and arguing until he sorted his shit out, GOD HENRY.

*insert Henry & the School Girls joke here*

I assumed that sign meant that Chooch was supposed to hold my hand, but he WOULD NOT.

We found our hotel pretty easily once Henry got his directions righted, and I was excited because we had to keep our shoes in a locker! Also, most of my pictures are blurry from this night because it WAS SO FUCKING HUMID that the lens on my phone was literally wet and probably melting too.

The slippers they gave us were way too big for me and I had the hardest time walking up the steps in them. I think they girl at the front desk was totally annoyed with us but she kept smiling anyway because people in Tokyo are SO FRIENDLY. That was my second impression, after “wow, Japan is green.” It was kind of shocking because in Korea, it’s not that people are cold per se, but most that we encounter aren’t overly friendly, especially to foreigners, unless you’re in a legit tourist area, like Lotte World or one of the palaces, etc.

But here, it was like next level hospitality.

I didn’t take a picture of our room but it WAS A SHOEBOX. We walked in and one bed was RIGHTTHERE, and then a second bed was elevated a bit on a platform-like loft. Then there were two shelves on the wall with a TV, kettle, towels, and the smallest bathroom I’ve ever used in my whole life. At first we were like ARE YOU KIDDING but it’s amazing how quickly you acclimate when you’re fucking exhausted and also remember that you’re really only going to be using that room to sleep and shower anyway….so then it just felt cozy. Haha. And also kind of hysterical because yes, put the dysfunctional American family into the smallest room possible.

We were arguing about something, who knows what at that point, when I opened the window and realized that there was a shared balcony out there. So I went out to the hallway to access it and discovered a young European girl sitting out there, smoking. I was so embarrassed knowing that we had given her some belligerent noise pollution, but then she was concerned that her smoking was bothering us and I was like, “Look, your cigarettes are no worse than our loud mouths” except that IT CAUSES CANCER BUT WHATEVER.

She was nice enough.

I took this picture from outside the guest house. Chooch and I were cracking up because when we got outside to go exploring, I asked Henry if he had the wifi thingie and he was like SHIT so he had to go back inside, take his shoes off, and run up to the third floor. I couldn’t imagine why it was taking him so long but it turned out that he actually came back down when we weren’t paying attention, put his shoes back on, and then realized that he forgot his wallet in the room, so he had to take his shoes off again and go back up.

What a n00b.

But apparently he bonded with the European girl’s dad because he had to keep going back up to the room too BUT WERE THEY WERE ACTUALLY HAVING A SECRET RENDEZVOUS?

This was us waiting outside for Henry and instantly losing 3 pounds from sweating while doing absolutely nothing more than standing still. Asian humidity is on another level, you guys. Moist moist moist.

Green Hotel was just a 5-minute walk from the nearest subway station. Henry took us to the wrong side of the platform and didn’t realize it until after we bought our tickets but luckily the nice Subway fare attendant cut us some slack for being Dumb Americans, let us leave, and then let his buddy on the other side know what the deal was so we didn’t have to pay for new tickets.

What a nice freaking guy!

My first impression of the subway was that it’s not as good as Seoul, but better than anything I’ve experienced in America. It’s funny because in Korea, as soon as you step on the subway, PEOPLE LOOK AT YOU. Eventually they look away, but there’s definitely that foreigner curiosity there. In Tokyo, no one gave us a second glance so that aspect of it felt a bit more comfortable. But physically, the Seoul subway is definitely more comfortable. Their stations are better, too. (To be fair, we didn’t get to experience very many different stations in Tokyo though!)

Our half-assed agenda was to go to uber-popular Shibuya so Chooch could see the statue of the dog that waited for his owner to come back for him for like 7 years, not knowing that he had died. Wow. How uplifting!!

Is it weird that Shibuya Crossing seemed not as insane in real life?! I kept asking Henry, “Are you sure this is really it? It seems a lot smaller.” I mean, we crossed the street with everyone else and it wasn’t overwhelming like I was expecting it to be, but it was cool to do it!

I am soooo not an expert at Japanese stuff so we just walked around, checked out some shops, and took it all in with no itinerary or agenda. I didn’t even know where to start but all I know is that I wanted to buy everything I saw, especially all the cute makeup stuff! Even the Pokemon makeup, and I don’t even like Pokemon.

We were there specifically to go to Disney Sea the next day, so any free time we had was limited and therefore, I didn’t really spend much time researching what to do because I didn’t want to be stressed out about trying to fit everything in. So I was happy to just stroll about and look at things…

…until we started getting hungry. And by then it was after 10pm and I didn’t want to be out super late because we had to get up early the next day. So we decided to just head back to Ueno and grab something quick to eat near the hotel before we spent all night arguing over food.

We could have just eaten pizza at Mean’s, which I didn’t even notice until just now when I glanced at that picture, haha. None of us really wanted to sit down for a full meal at 10pm so we decided to head back to Ueno.

Art outside of Shibuya Station – I was obsessed.

These posters were all over the subway station. A few weeks after we came home from vacation, Chooch asked, “Did you see that picture of the guy in Toyko that looked like a Japanese Pee Wee Herman….” and I said, “OH YOU MEAN THIS GUY” and shoved my phone in his face. “Of course you have a picture of it,” he sighed, but I knew he was secretly happy.

Chooch and Henry argued at the fare machine, because this is tradition now, and then we managed to make it back to Ueno without killing each other. We stopped at Family Mart back in Ueno, which became a running joke since we were like ARE WE EVEN A FAMILY?!?! and grabbed some things to eat for dinner, which is difficult when you want to eat all the things!

We brought back an array of noodles and rice and cool drinks and pizza back to the room and stuffed our faces.

In my vacation journal that night, I wrote this:

“10:58PM: Ugh Japan is awful because of Henry. He is so annoying! We’re eating convenience store food and he said, “Here, have some pizza!” in this phony, kind voice so I said, “You sound like a church person” and Chooch started laughing into his ramen so Henry yelled at him and said, “THERE’S OTHER PEOPLE WHO WANT TO EAT THAT” and I said, “Yeah. ‘Other people.’ There’s a line outside the door.”

But then we all started cracking up and went to bed. Aside from the hunger games we went through earlier that night, it was a great day but we all definitely needed the sleep. It was a long day of traveling (airports are soooo stressful) and we had to get up super earlier the next day to start our Disney odyssey!

Sep 072019
 

Ever since we went to Holiday World in Indiana last summer, I have been begging Henry to take us back. He finally agreed to make the return (or, what I kept calling “the homecoming” in my head) during Labor Day weekend. Well, this got me thinking…if we were already going to Indiana, and we had a three-day weekend, why not make the most of it AND ADD KENTUCKY KINGDOM TO THE AGENDA. I mean, we have to drive right past Louisville anyway, I reasoned.

My greatest skill is the lucrative ability to wear people down until I get my way. Sometimes, all it takes is my perfectly-pulled puppydog pout. (OOOOH THAT ALLITERATION CAME SO FUCKING NATURALLY, SECOND GREATEST SKILL, BITCHES) but other times, I have to use my words wisely and manipulatively. I am almost always able to get Henry to say but I have to say that lately I think this has less to do with my queenly talents and everything to do with him being THAT BEATEN DOWN.

For any virtual coupon cutters out there, you will be as stoked as Henry was to know that Kentucky Kingdom offers a special deal for out-of-state visitors! It’s a pretty substantial discount (we got in for $29) PLUS!!! you get a wristband which enables you to get free drinks all damn day.

No, I’m not talking about once you purchase some $20 ugly ass souvenir tumbler. The wristband is all you need, and you walk up to any of the beverage stations around the park, go up to the KK person who will scan your band and give you a (PAPER!!) cup, and then you can get whatever Pepsi product or water that’s in the fountain.

As someone who doesn’t like soft drinks and often winds up dehydrated at amusement parks because even water costs $$$, this is a wonderful service and so much better than refilling a water bottle (that  already paid $5 for) at lukewarm water fountains all day. It was 90 degrees the day we were there, so thank you, Kentucky Kingdom.

(FREE SUNSCREEN STATIONS TOO, FYI!)

I know what you’re thinking though: why would you go out of your way to visit some mostly unknown park in freaking Kentucky? Well, it certainly wasn’t for the atmosphere! This park was small and (please don’t be offended if you’re reading this, KK) not very visually pleasing. I mean, it’s situated in a huge concrete slab shared with a convention center, and it’s just a really ugly area. It’s also right next to the Louisville airport, so…just lots of cement.

And if you know anything about me, you know that I hate water parks. I haven’t been to one since I was 13 and don’t plan on changing that anytime soon. But Kentucky Kingdom and their water park, Hurricane Bay, intermingle with each other, so you have to actually walk through the water park to get to certain rides. It made me uncomfortable.

So, you’re still wondering why I wanted to come here. THE COASTERS. I watch a lot of YouTube channels about theme parks and vlogs from coaster enthusiasts and every single one of them gives high praise for the coaster collection this unassuming park in Kentucky has.

Right away, we got in line for Lightning Run, a steel coaster that I have heard gets compared to Kennywood’s Phantom’s Revenge. This seemed nuts to me once I saw the coaster in person, because it’s…not big. It looks kind of lame, actually. So right off the bat, I was preparing myself for let down.

We only had to wait in line for about 20 minutes, and Chooch and I claimed the back row for our inaugural ride. Henry sat in the seat in front of us, and right away one of the ride attendants came over and told him he had to take his glasses off. Chooch and I were like, “Hahaha, he got yelled at” (he didn’t really, but we love to amplify anything that happens to him). I heard Henry say something back to the person, but then he didn’t take his glasses off.

WAS HENRY BEING DEFIANT?!

I tapped (OK, pounded) on his shoulder and asked him why he was disobeying the rules and he EVER-SO-CASUALLY said, “I have a sports strap on.”

A WHAT NOW?

A SPORTS STRAP!?

YOU MEAN A DORK STRAP?!?!

Chooch and I fucking LOST IT. Henry just shrugged and turned back around in his seat, probably reciting his mantra in his head (the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off). Why was this so funny to us?! Oh, I wished our friend Alyson was there because she probably would have thought it was funny too!

Since when does Henry have a “SPORTS STRAP”!

“I bought it before we went to King’s Island,” he muttered irritably when I pressed him about this later. “Why is it such a big deal.”

“What kind of sports do you even play?” Chooch chided, and then we started making up scenarios for which he would need to wear his sports strap, like when a military plane flies above and he has to whip his head back real fast to identify it, or when he’s visiting Cheetah Girl at Blush.

OK, enough about Henry’s dork strap. THIS COASTER SLAPPED!! Holy shit, I wasn’t expecting it be that intense, but once it went down that first drop (which was harrowing), that thing never slowed down. It was whippy and had insane air time hills. I didn’t think it was AS GOOD as Phantom’s Revenge, but it was really fantastic, unexpectedly ferocious, and completely memorable. I was actually shaking when it pulled back into the station and we couldn’t stop gushing over it as we walked through the gross water park to our next coaster, Kentucky Flyer, which was the new coaster for 2019.

I was excited about this one because it’s a Gravity Group woodie and ALL OF THE ENTHUSIASTS were so stoked about this and the reviews have been wonderful. Now, that being said, it IS billed as a “family coaster” so I did go into this with that knowledge….but I guess I was still expecting a little bit more than we got.

Even for this coaster, Henry had to go through the whole “I have a sports strap” rigmarole and I have no idea why a person couldn’t wear glasses on this particular tame coaster but I do respect and commend Kentucky Kingdom for having a policy and enforcing it every time. When I see people getting pissy because they’re told to put their phones in a bin, I get so frustrated. Why do you need your phone on a roller coaster. YOU DON’T. Leave the POV videos for the coaster experts who have permission to film these and also have safe equipment to do so. No one wants to watch your shitty, shaky videos that sound like you’re being murdered in a windtunnel.

I get so mad when there’s always that ONE PERSON who holds up the dispatch of a coaster because they didn’t put their shit in a fucking bin!!!!

YES, THIS HAPPENED SEVERAL TIMES THAT DAY. And every time the person would be shocked, like, “OMG I didn’t know.” Really. Because there are signs everywhere and recordings of the rules playing in every ride platform and also EVERY ONE KNOWS?! Kentucky, you got some dumdums residing in you.

Another coaster we rode, which Henry declined to ride (“NOT BECAUSE I’M SCARED!”), was T3, a Vekoma SLC. First, the boys standing in line front of me gifted me with odoriferous ass-spritzes so that was a delight. Love smelling the farts of strangers, especially while stuck in line inside an old, musty coaster station on a 90-degree day while the air is pregnant with humidity.

Also, the Gassers were wet from a water ride, so Chooch and I got to sit in their butt-puddles afterward BECAUSE THE COASTER WAS RUNNING ONE TRAIN OPS.

I am actually terrified of coasters like this one so I screamed my stupid face off from the crest of the first hill all the way back to the break run. It was so scary…but fun…but scary!

The next coaster was the one that I most intrigued about because it’s an RMC hybrid and if you know some things about the coaster scene, you know that they’re the manufacturers of the infamous LIGHTNING ROD in Dollywood. That coaster really made me want to ride every RMC in the world (the newest one is Zadra in Poland!). RMC is also really notable for taking shitty wooden coasters and refurbishing them into something wonderful and mind-bending. In 2016, this coaster came in second for best new ride, behind Lightning Rod.  So that really speaks volumes about how cool this coaster is!

And even still—NOTHING COULD HAVE PREPARED ME FOR IT. First of all, before you go down the first hill, there is an inversion, and the hang-time had me freaking out man. The airtime was sick, the overbanks were relentless, it was fast as fuck….I loved it. I look like I’m lifting weights in every on-ride photo because I was screaming so hard!

We rode it in the back, front, middle—every seat was an excelsior experience. There was one block of time when there was NO LINE, it was a total walk-on, so Chooch and I got off and ran (and I mean RAN) down the exit and back to the entrance. The second time we did it, Henry was loafing out front and yelled at us not to run and we were like, “Yeah OK old man.” Turns out it was because he wanted to join us for that ride but we didn’t know until he came huffing and puffing his way up to the platform. He’s lucky that dispatch for this ride IS SO SLOW or else we probably would have already been on the train and leaving the station.

And when I say they’re slow, I don’t necessarily think that’s on Kentucky Kingdom as much as it the patrons who just refuse to follow instructions. Like, buckle your seat belt first and THEN pull down the lap bar like they tell you to do over and over and if you’re deaf, they got you covered with signs, man. It was absurd how many people just don’t listen.

God, we had some good times on this damn ride. My favorite time in line was when we stood behind a middle aged man wearing an Ed Sheeran concert t-shirt and Dunkin’ Donut shoes and of course he kept popping up throughout the day. Actually, he really stuck out because most of the people there were, well, you know…very Kentucky. And also looked like they didn’t need anymore free Mountain Dew.

IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

But really, we didn’t have any bad people experiences, although I did see this one mom be a total bitch to the nice kid working in Scoops.

Thunder Run was the last credit we needed to get (aside from the kid coaster, which Chooch and I rode later but Henry was like, “I don’t count credits, so…”) and hoo-boy was this one a doozy!

I love me a good woodie and this one had its moments — but shit, I heard my back crunch as soon as we went down that first hill.

Thunder Run station selfie.

Henry thought he was going to get to ride alone but a single kid scooched on into the seat next to him which made me and Chooch crack up because who would willingly want to ride with him!? Meanwhile Chooch and I were still obsessing over Henry’s sports strap. I made him show it to me and then cried, “EW!!!!” like he had just exposed himself from behind a trench coat; he was so angry and spat, “I DON’T KNOW WHY THIS IS SUCH A BIG DEAL.”

Literally my favorite part of the day was every time Henry got to explain to a ride attendant that he was wearing one.

HENRY WAS OVER US BY LUNCHTIME. (Kentucky Kingdom has some satisfying flatbread pizza and they put the calories on the menu which I appreciate because I’m a psycho.)

I have never seen a carousel like this! What even is that elephant?!

I liked that there were vintage advertisments going around the top.

We wished our friend Tommy was here to ride the cock, lol. Chooch sent him this picture but Tommy never responded, I GUESS IT BURNED TOO MUCH.

Sometimes you just really have to take a step back and appreciate a good carousel when you see one, you know? I thought this one was really pretty.

I can’t remember if I previously posted this, but here it is again.

One thing I was sad about was that they have a 5D theater and one of the movies they show is Happy Family, but something different was showing the day we were there! The only reason I cared was because the same 5D movie was showing when we were at Everland in Korea and I wanted to experience it in English this time, haha.

Their kiddyland was actually pretty cool and had interesting versions of classic baby rides. I loved this one!

There weren’t very many extreme flat rides but they did have one of these new takes on the classic Enterprise. We didn’t ride it, but we did ride a different flat ride called Breakdance and while we were in line, some girl in front of us was mindlessly putting something in her mouth, I didn’t see what it was, but her dad totally snapped and yelled, “GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S GOING  TO  TAKE TO GET YOU TO STOP PUTTING THINGS IN  YOUR MOUTH!” so that’ll be a fun conversation to revisit when she’s older.

Then I made eye contact with her dad and it was chilling. I have a bad habit of putting my hair in my mouth when I’m concentrating and I was so afraid he was going to catch me in the act and yell at me too and look, my friend Kara has sent me articles about people having to get giant hairballs removed from their insides and that clearly hasn’t deterred me but sure, let’s try the raised voice technique.

I wish the ferris wheel was a different color scheme, but otherwise, it was still very majestic. We rode it (at the same time as Ed Sheeran Concert Guy and his family, and also a VERY CLOSE FAMILY OF FIVE who were all wearing polo shirts and touching every time we saw them; I call Mormons) and it was the first time Henry wasn’t interrogated about his glasses.

(Guys, no phones allowed on the ferris wheel either. It’s apparently state law that you can’t have phones on any amusement park ride and perhaps other states should consider this as well.)

When we first arrived at Kentucky Kingdom, country music was playing and I was bracing myself for a nauseating day. But the park actually played a good mix of tunes! Like when we were taking a break with some free drinks after giving Kentucky Flyer another shot (it was decent, and that’s my final opinion), Catch Me I’m Falling started playing in the water park and I was so excited!

HOW HAVE I NEVER SEEN THIS VIDEO!?!??!!??!!?!?!? The people jumping off the ladders make me nervous though. If Point of No Return had come on after this, I probably would have had to leave and find the nearest roller rink because parts of me were AWAKENING.

“We can’t move from this spot until this song is over,” I declared, not that Chooch and Henry had any objections — it was one of the only rests we had all day!

Can we all agree that 80s pop/new wave is the only music that should ever be played at amusement parks?

OK, I’m just going to put this out here—for as incredible of a coaster Storm Chaser is, I think Lightning Run was my favorite. It just made me crack up so hard and it gave me the epitome of rollercoaster stomach. Do NOT judge this coaster by its looks! Just like you shouldn’t judge the park in general by its looks, either! This is a real gem.

Chooch spotted a stand for frozen lemonade while we were on the kid coaster and then became obsessed with wanting one, but then he couldn’t find it later so while we were in (the hardly moving) line for the rapids ride, he sent Henry off on a mission to procure one for him, but then we saw an empty-handed (but still man purse-clad) Henry afterward who said it was SUPPOSEDLY closed, which was probably for the best because it would have been melted since it took us an hour to ride that damn rapids ride, I’m not even kidding, it was the only long line we stood in all day but it didn’t seem like it was long…UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE. The operations for this ride were so hideous. I have never in my life wasted so much time on a water ride HOWEVER!!! We got seated with some decent people after dodging a bullet and just barely escaping getting matched up with the family of 6 in front of us. THEY WERE A HOT MESS. One of them was wearing a Breaking Bad t-shirt and I can’t explain why he made me feel uncomfortable but he did, and then the mom and her boyfriend (I assume this was his role, I didn’t get the impression he was the dad) were so PDA that I couldn’t stand it and one of the adult sons was missing half his face. I felt really horrible for him and kept internally freaking out every time he’d turn around and look at me with his one eye because my empathy is the kind where my whole body will start to physically hurt when I see or even just hear about some type of malady.

Anyway, our raft was pleasant and I will say this —  this rapids ride was PRETTY EFFING GOOD. Unlike at Kennywood where there’s nothing to look at it, just fake rocks, this one actually had you going inside buildings and it was kind of penguin-themed, I think? It was entertaining!

We did eventually find the stand later on too so Henry was able to prove that it really was closed.

Chooch whined about wanting to play Criss Cross Toss all day long so we finally gave him money for it on the way out and he lost and then blamed Henry for not being “encouraging” and really this is kind of true. Good job, dad.

Verdict: If you’re a coaster enthusiast, get your ass to this park. I’m not sure how it typically is, but we were there on a Saturday during Labor Day weekend and aside from T3 and that rapids ride, nearly everything was walk-on. Plus, that out-of-state ticket deal is pretty damn sweet. I definitely plan on returning to this place sometime in the future! (Probably not next summer though — Kentucky is weird and driving through Cincinnati gives me the dry-heaves.)

And you know what? I think this may have been  the most Henry has ever ridden at a non-Disney park?! He seemed like he really had a nice time, too. Maybe he has a sports strap fetish.

As we drove out of the parking lot that night, I noticed that bruises had already formed around my elbows from Storm Chaser, haha. My bruise count would definitely go up the next day…

Sep 062019
 

I was so giddy when I woke up on Wednesday 7/31/19, because it was the day we were going to be flying to Tokyo! Look at Henry’s face! He’s clearly very excited and giddy about Travel Day, too.  I blogged a little about the events of that morning already when I was on the train to Incheon Airport so let’s just jump right on in!

Because Korea and Japan are neighbors, there were a ton of flights to choose from, but we found the best deal through Jeju Air. Henry kept sitting on booking the flight all the way up until 2 weeks before we left, so I was really starting to think that this leg of our trip wasn’t going to happen.

So, the main reason why I wanted to cram this into our itinerary was because of Disney Sea. I have been obsessed with the idea of visiting this park for some time now and spent the last year devouring every website and YouTube video I could find on it so I could be as prepared as possible. And to be honest, I could tell that Henry too was somewhat intrigued by this park so I just kept harping on him over and over until he finally cried uncle and snagged a hotel. But then I had to keep harping for three more months until he sealed with  the deal with a flight and Disney Sea tickets.

(Oh you better believe I kept playing the Birthday Card for this!)

I was oddly excited that we were finally going to be able to experience Terminal One of Incheon Airport. Because we have used Korean Air the two times we’ve flown to Korea, we have only been to Terminal Two, which is actually super new–it was only three months old the first time we flew in. But Terminal One is supposed to be just as impressive, and it didn’t disappoint. Incheon is so sleek, clean, sparkling, and exciting. And it has robots that will show you how to get to places within the airport and I don’t just mean they show you a map, but they will literally TAKE YOU TO WHERE YOU NEED TO BE.

They’re really cute.

We arrived at the airport around 1:30 I think, and our flight was supposed to leave at 3:30, so we had a little bit of time to explore…

Isn’t this so peaceful?!

Baby Shark was playing on this gigantic screen at one point and Chooch was pissed because I didn’t get my phone ready fast enough to record it so he could send it to Blake and Calvin.

SO SORRY.

Thank god he found photo ops later on…him and all the children.

So damn dumb.

The bathrooms in the Incheon airport are really clean and pretty, probably because they have signs discouraging travelers from doing stupid things like stepping on the toilets.

Chooch and I ate lunch at A Twosome Place, which was monumental because we always commented on them every time we saw one last time we were in Seoul, because what an exclusive name. Anyway, Henry made a big deal of not ordering anything to eat there because THAT WAS NOT WHAT HE WANTED and I swear he does this shit to set himself up for later complaining when it’s OMG SO LATE and he HASN’T EATEN YET. He’s the fucking worst.

This wasn’t one of those places that give you the buzzer that goes off when your food is ready – A Twosome Place at the airport does it the old school way BY CALLING OFF YOUR NUMBER ON THE RECEIPT so I sat there and internalized my panic because I am so fucking slow with Korean numbers but then Chooch was like, “Fuck waiting for our number to be called, I’m just going to lowkey troll the counter until they tell me when it’s ready.” The girls working there giggled at him and one of them said, “Next one!” so I blew out the breath that I hadn’t realized I was holding and quit stressing over which number system they were going to use and if I would be able to understand BECAUSE THE NUMBERS WERE THREE DIGITS.

Learning Korean is a struggle, you guys. A real fucking struggle.

It was getting closer to boarding time so we started to walk toward the gate when Henry decided he wanted to find a store to get snacks for the plane (I mean, he could have just asked the robot) and Chooch and I didn’t go with him because we ended up chasing an unknown celebrity instead!

“Hurry! We’re missing Fun Time” Chooch announced, and pointed ahead where a small group of people had gathered around some man in sunglasses. Chooch always spots these things first! If his current career path doesn’t pan out, he could probably get a job with TMZ.

Henry said, “It looks like Chanyeol,” right before he walked off in search of processed foods, except that he pronounced it like “Channel” and Chooch and I died of embarrassment. Anyway, it wasn’t Chanyeol because he’s from EXO and there would have been an entire security throng around him (though I did find out later that he was at the airport that day too!).

I immediately sent this to my pal Veronica because she is way more in the know than I am about Korean celebrities, but even she was stumped. I was searching the Incheon hashtag on Instagram and everything, to no avail. Finally, weeks later, Chooch posted it on some Asian entertainment reddit group and someone came through with the answer nearly at the same time my friend Jiyong texted me with his name too: Hwang Chiyeul!

I’m not very familiar with him, but he’s a singer and TV personality. We also saw him in ads the entire time we were in Korea!

Of course I’m obsessed with him now.

Meanwhile, it was nearly  time to board so we went to the gate but fucking Henry wasn’t there yet and time was ticking and people were boarding and we were getting more and more strung out and angry. Basically everything that Henry does makes us angry. And we couldn’t text the fucker because he had the wifi thingie. Then we had this great, short-lived dream of leaving without him until we realized that he had Chooch’s boarding pass and passport, lol.

Anyway, we eventually found the dumbass calmly meandering toward the gate with his bag of snacks in his meat-hand AND A LITERAL CAKE IN HIS MOUTH like he was headed to a big weeping willow in sleepy Savannah for a picnic and a nap, and were the last people to board, so that was cool.

Hopefully someday I will be able to take Jeju Air to Jeju Island!

And then, in around 2 and a half hours, we landed at Narita Airport, which was pretty surreal. BUT THAT’S A STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY. Probably tomorrow.

Sep 052019
 

After a sweaty day dripping perspiration around the streets of Insadong, we came back, freshened up, did a wardrobe change, and then set off for Digital Media City where we (just Chooch and me, Henry is lame) would be attending a live taping of a Kpop show! First, we had to have our traditional crack-up in the elevator though – we always played the “get on the elevator and leave Henry” game so that he would have to wait for another elevator and be all grumbly by the time he joined us outside.

It never got old!

(Well, it may have for Henry.)

Waiting outside for Henry — I hate when Chooch makes this face!!

Digital Media City is only one stop away from where we were staying in Hongdae, but we still left around 3:45 to ensure that we arrived at the SBS Prism building by 4:30, which was the designated check-in time.

A few months ago, we watched a video about this area of Seoul, and it’s literally built on top of a gigantic garbage dump that had, at one point, grown so large that it was 34x the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, the fuck….In 1996, Seoul launched stabilization projects to fix this and prevent further environmental contamination, and now this area is home to many broadcasting headquarters, housing, and beautiful parks!

The Prism building had a bunch of people waiting outside, but it was all of the locals who line up in hopes of getting to attend the shows.

So, each network has their own weekly Kpop shows, where the artists who are currently promoting new songs come out, perform their comeback or debut song, and then usually at the end, there is a voting system (they go by digital streams, album sales, online popularity voting…I’m 100% sure it’s rigged, but it’s still fun right?!), a winner is announced, no one is surprised, confetti pops off, the trophy is passed around by the winning group members and all of the other artists on stage bow respectfully to each other. Then the winning group does an impromptu, informal performance of their winning song which usually involves them fucking around with each other, doing weird dances, interacting with the crowd—it’s just fun to watch!

Every show will let in a certain number of fans, but most of them are first come, first serve, so people will literally start lining up at like 2am. I would have loved to attend Inkigayo because in my opinion, that’s the best one, but I’m on vacation, man. I’m not spending my limited free time in Korea sitting on the ground with a bunch of kids. No offense, kids or Korean ground!

Some shows have a lottery system, but you have to register on their website which is all in Korean and a lot of times you have to have a Korean phone number too, and again — it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get in!

So when I saw that there is a special ticket just for foreigners to attend SBS MTV’s The Show, I was like, “Paid. Done.” This was literally right after we booked our flight in March! It was the very first thing we had our itinerary, lol.

It cost about $150 for the two of us, and I noticed that the prices went up as the date got closer, so I would encourage anyone who is interested in this to book it early! There are limited seats and the shows do sell out, so don’t wait until it’s only a week or two out, because you want to have a better idea of the artists that will be there that night!

For us, there weren’t any groups that we’re major stans of (except Pentagon), but the experience itself was still gold! Here was the lineup that was released earlier that morning:

Fun fact: I won a hi-touch for KNK at the first KCON I went to and I realize while typing this that it might as well be an trig equation for most of you reading this so I’ll break it down in non Kpop-speak: In 2017, I went to a Kpop festival in Newark and won a opportunity for what is called a “hi-touch” which basically means a Kpop group stands behind a table on a stage and fans are herded past in a single-file line and you get to quickly high five / hand touch each member. I know, right? You can read about my experience here!

It was starting to drizzle so we went inside the building. I was so nervous and I have NO IDEA why! Our spot inside the studio was secure, but my stomach was doing The Flops. Check out the older gentleman behind Chooch – he was totally there alone, and I thought it was awesome because kpop isn’t just for young girls and desperate old broads like me. There was even this totally metal dad there with his teenage daughter, and I mean METAL. He looked like someone in one of the Swedish metal bands my friend Alyson likes, though I think he may he may have been German?

I’m telling you, when you’re in Korea, whether you’re a Kpop junkie or not, I really feel like this is part of the experience.

At 4:30, four different tourism company representatives stood up with signs, and everyone had to line up behind the one they purchased their tickets from. Of course, the lady from Trazy, where we got ours, was barely holding up her sign so it cause confusion because what else is new?!

But it ended up being fine, because everyone received a number after checking in with her so we were able to go back and sit down until it was time to line up again.

Basically, it was a lot of waiting and standing in (dis)orderly lines.

We kind of befriended the young girl in front of us because she was just as nervous and confused as us. At one point, Chooch announced that it smelled like a shoe store in there, and she started giggling. “That’s so random!” she laughed.

Then she started talking to the girl next to her (again, the line was NOT straight), and that’s how I found out that she is only 16, from Spain, lives in Equador, but is currently studying in Korea, and the girl next to her is 23, from Australia and a student at one of the universities in Seoul.

It truly was a vast collection of foreigners up in there and it made me happy to see that we were all coming together for one shared love. While we were standing there, several of the groups walked by upstairs and everyone screamed. I had no idea who were clamoring over because I have the eyes of a 80-year-old who spends most of her life in a cave, but it was sure exciting!

I found out later that it was Limitless and CIX!

Finally, we were taken outside the lobby and into a side door, up several staircases, and down a hallway that just screamed, “YOU ARE BACKSTAGE.”

Oh yeah, Henry left after we taken into the studio. He had big plans to go to a grocery store but instead he just went back to the room because he’s a lamer.

Anyway, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures or video once the actual recording started, so I took this picture before it started, when it was still “legal,” and then I put my phone in my purse for the rest of the evening so I wouldn’t give the security any reason to believe I was being That American and have me ejected.

Seriously — I got kicked out of a Chinese restaurant once years and years ago because I was falsely accused of eating crab legs off the buffet without paying and I was like, “OK bitch, I’m a vegetarian?” but that didn’t matter and me and the dumb broad I was with were actually escorted out and it was so humiliating. And ever since,  I take great strides to make sure that I don’t get kicked out places.

#NeverForget #CharacterBuilding

In that picture above, you can see the small rectangular holding cell — that’s where the people who were picked from the crowd get to stand. Us foreigners got really nice, comfy stadium seating in the back, and the view was actually perfect.

Hang-y light things!

The show started promptly at 6pm and it was nuts to watch all the cameras swiveling and the different fan site representatives sitting a few rows in front of us, editing photos in Photoshop seconds after the pictures were taken. This shit is serious business.

The hosts of The Show are Yeeunfrom CLC and Jeno from NCT Dream, which I forgot about originally and when I saw all the girls with their NCT lightsticks, I was briefly hopeful that NCT Dream was going to be there since they currently were having a comeback.

Image result for yeeun and jeno the show 2019

They were standing SO CLOSE to our side of the seating too! Whenever they were MCing, they were facing us with their backs to the stage and it was fucking exciting, even though we had no idea what they were saying because in case you weren’t sure, subtitles don’t appear in real life.

Each artist performed one song, and they moved it along with razor-sharp precision. It was perfect for someone like Chooch who enjoys things like this….to a point. He does lose interest quickly, but this was fast-moving and fun and there was NO downtime, so he didn’t even have a chance to drift off.

We both really loved all of the performers, but my favorites were Dongkiz, VAV, CIX, Saturday, and Pentagon. However, since VAV, CIX and Pentagon were the three top groups that were competing for the trophy at the end, their performances were actually pre-recorded, so we only got to see about 1 minute of a live performance and then they would stop dancing, wave to the crowd and walk off the stage. KPOP SHOW SECRETS REVEALED! I knew that bigger groups, like BIGBANG and EXO for instance, typically pre-record their performances and I always wondered how that worked since they are always there at the end.

I don’t know. It’s still confusing to me.

Like, some of the groups performed two songs, but we only saw one because the second one was recorded earlier.

Here are the videos of my favorites from the night:

CIX: They were the winners of the night! They are a brand new group that recently debuted over the summer, featuring members of the defunct Wanna One (RIP) and some YG trainees. I think they’re going to go far! This song was stuck in my head for the rest of the time we were in Korea, and the dance IS SO GOOD.

Pentagon: I’m still bitter that E’Dawn isn’t with them anymore, but they never fail to make me smile. I was so happy to see them perform again after seeing them at KCON in 2018! If you don’t think this song is fun, then GTFO.

(J/K, you can stay the fuck here, I’m trying to be more inclusive LOLOL.)

Saturday: THIS SONG REMINDS ME OF THE STUFF THAT GOT ME INTO KPOP! The adorable, quirky, sugary girl group bops. The whole time I watched their performance, all I could think was, “This is peak Korea for me. It can’t get any more heavenly than this.”

(But then a few days later, it did.)

Dongkiz: I have never heard of these guys before this night and they’re not even really a rookie group anymore, but this performance won me over. They are so joyful! And the Ghostbusters sample! And the actual ghost mascot! And their cute dance moves! Chooch and I fell hard for them.

OK, honestly I could sit here all night posting videos and then it would eventually just be every single stage because they were all so entertaining! There wasn’t one group that made me go, “Eh, they’re not for me.” I enjoyed them all!

It was over around 7:30 and as we stood outside in the courtyard of the Prism building, texting Henry, two girls ran past us in a Big Hurry.

“Something’s going on!” Chooch yelled, peeling out of the lot in his Mystery Van.

We ran (crowd mentality) in the same direction, around to the other side of the building, and that’s where we saw some fansite paparazzi standing on actual ladders, taking pictures with their gigantic $878947293874 lens of the idols being interviewed inside the lobby.

I texted Henry and told him what was happening, and he eventually meandered over to us, because he had already returned to the Prism building – he must have missed us!

It was a good thing that we followed those girls, because even though we had to wait and be patient for about 45 minutes, some of the idols actually exited the building  right by where we were standing! (The path from the doors to the road were roped off and security was there, so we couldn’t stampede them, even though I’m sure if certain other groups were there that night, a dinky rope wasn’t going to stop anyone.)

It took us forever but I think we eventually decided that this was Dongkiz?! I don’t know enough about them to know for sure! It could be 1Team too.

But here is a collection of videos that Chooch snagged because let me tell you, that boy got caught up in the excitement and was acting like he STANNED every single one of these idols!

View this post on Instagram

Kpop idol sightings outside of The Show on 7/30. It was so much fun!

A post shared by Erin (@ohhonestlyconcerts) on

The other group in the video is for sure VAV. And in the first Instagram video I posted earlier in this literal novella ends with CIX driving past and it is so cute (we actually figured out that they were leaving through a different door so we ran over to the other exit just in time to watch their car pulling away!).

You guys, this was exhilarating! I felt so legit! This was a bucket list item FOR SURE.

I wonder if Chooch will tell his kids about it someday…

…and I wonder how weird they will think it is…

Afterward, we went back to Hongdae. Chooch and Henry ate at Mom’s Touch but I was pouting because I wanted Isaac Toast but THEY WERE CLOSED. Like, since when does anything close at 9pm in Seoul.

Chooch was fucking exhausted, lol.

We watched some buskers on the way back to our room and then tortured Henry with Slaphappy Hour.

This was hands down the best birthday of my whole entire life—OK, tied with the one two years ago when I went to see G-Dragon in Toronto, was second row from the stage and got to be like FIVE FEET FROM HIM during his performance of “Untitled.” That too was a pretty fucking bar-raising birthday.

NOW WHAT WILL I DO FOR MY FIFTIETH?!

Sep 052019
 

Real talk here for a minute: I need a break from furiously trying to recap my summer for posterity so I am going to regale this quiet corner of the Internet with some photos of us riding some of the rides at Kentucky Kindgom, because I think they’re kind of adorable and they’re the best kinds of family photos we ever manage to take.

I guess because amusement parks are where we fight the least!

(Note that I said “the least” and not “never.” There was definitely still bickering at Kentucky Kingdom, but it was minimal!)

I especially love getting a group selfie on carousels. Maybe if I find the motivation to get off my ass this December, I’ll make this into our Christmas card, YOU NEVER KNOW.

This was our first time at this park, and I will always hold it close to my heart now because Henry actually rode every coaster but one, and even did RE-RIDES which he barely ever does! LOOK AT HOW STOKED HE LOOKS HERE ON STORM CHASER! I posted this on Instagram and it got more likes than the picture of me and G-Dragon’s dad, which I’m not salty about at all OK I AM. Get your priorities straight, IG friends!

And then this one, from Thunder Run, which we all rode just once because it was a back-breaker. Henry’s partner, though — was he even actually riding this ride?

Wow, Henry was clearly having an alright day!

I actually got in a fight with Henry after getting off this ride because he didn’t get the ENTIRE ZEPPELIN IN THE PICTURE, WTF IS YOUR MALFUNCTION, HENRY???! So then we didn’t talk for like 10 minutes because I called him a stupid idiot and he really showed us by sitting out the next ride on Lightning Run.

“I’ll take another picture later!” Henry barked after I tossed him my signature weener-withering glare, and I yelled back, “NO YOU WON’T BECAUSE I’M NOT RIDING THAT THING AGAIN, IT ALMOST MADE ME THROW UP!” and then we all started laughing and were back to being a functioning dysfunctional family. Aw.

Chooch and me, getting our coaster cred on the little kid coaster. That’s us in the back but Henry the Amateur Photog fucked up this picture too.

THE FLYING DUTCHMAN! I fucking loved this ride, it was so cute and totally suited my aesthetic.

I WONDER WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT. J/K we were ragging on Henry.

I look like I’m smiling here but I remember this moment and I was definitely scowling at Henry.

And here we are, being a cute mom and son duo on the Breakdancer, which is the type of flatride that Kennywood desperately needs! I love these types of rides even though they can quickly put me out of commission if the wind blows the wrong way, I swear to god. But I tempt the fates every time!

So these are some pictures just from Kentucky Kingdom. We also went to my beloved Holiday World over the weekend so I have lots of reporting back to do here soon because recapping amusement parks is what I live for! I hope turning old doesn’t stop me from enjoying the rides any time soon. :(

Sep 032019
 

Funny how turning 40 was no big deal when I was in my favorite place in the whole entire world! And actually, I turned 40 even earlier because of that! I think a few years ago, this birthday milestone may have hit me a lot harder, but in the wise words of Aaliyah (or whoever wrote her songs, hopefully not R Kelly but I’m too L-Z to look it up right now), “age ain’t nuthin’ but a number” y’all.

And on this wonderful July 30th (a Tuesday, in case I ever come back to this blog post in the future and want to know), I sprung out of bed and was SO GIDDY because it was finally the day Chooch and I would be attending the live recording of one of the weekly kpop music shows: SBS MTV The Show.

But…more on that another day!

Fun fact: Chooch had to check out every vending machine we came upon in the subway stations and he got really excited when he thought one of them had a Rubix Cube in it but then it ended up being condoms!? He of course didn’t tell me about this until later so I have no idea how he made that mistake.

First order of business was to have a leisurely stroll around the Cheongyecheon Stream and find something delicious for my birthday lunch (which is never hard to accomplish in Seoul, let me tell you).

I just really liked this colorful building, OK?

Before heading to the entrance of the stream, we continued another block or so to Gwanghwamun Square. Each time we’ve been in this area, there have been protests (peaceful ones) and today was no exception. The protesters are always elderly people, and on this day I believe they were protesting something involving the US and ROC military exercises. Apparently, protests and demonstrations in the plaza itself are illegal, so the protesters are often seen lining up across the street from it.

A statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin looms over the entrance of the square. He led Koreans to victory during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598) and is just one of many reminders of the hardships this small country has fought its way through.

In the distance, you can see the Blue House, where the President lives (follow the peak of the mountain and you’ll see the Blue House roof). In front of that, but obscured from view in this picture, is the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

At the beginning of the stream is the Cheonggye Plaza and you can’t miss it thanks to the icon spiral of the Spring Sculpture, which is a piece of art that:

“represents new life for the once decrepit stream area. The sculpture was created by Dutch artist Coosje Van Bruggen and Swedish artist Claes Oldenburg.

The colorful ribbons that stream down the side are inspired by the traditional dress of Korean women. The colors of blue and red represent the unity of opposites in nature and human spirit. The shape was inspired by a shell rising up like a pagoda.” – The Seoul Guide

It’s really a cool landmark! “Oh wow, it’s a shell,” Janna said when she was over here watching our endless slideshow but I promise it was more enthusiastic than you might be imagining!

How awesome would it be to work nearby and spend your lunch breaks in the summer with your feet in the stream or taking hour-long walks away from your desk in the spring? I’d be there every day. It’s over 5 miles long!

Henry’s favorite moments in Korea was when we were on opposite sides of water.

There is artwork all along the stream.

At night, there are beautiful lights illuminating the water, night markets, music performances…it’s, as Henry would say, really hopping.

I didn’t realize at first that this mural says Seoul!! Also, Chooch is 100% a natural when it comes to posing for pictures while my basic instinct is to pretend like I’m playing vertical Twister.

Don’t ask Henry to take your senior pictures.

If it hadn’t been 90 degrees that night with literal boughs of precipitation waiting to break above our heads, I would have dragged those two along for the full five mile length of the stream. But…because of the aforementioned weather elements, we decided to go back up to the street and find a place for lunch, since it was nearing noon and it’s always better to find a place to eat before you actually get hungry, that is the key to not killing your travel companions.

Henry realized we were pretty close to Insadong, so that is where we went!

Poop bread!

Sadly, the place were I got my artwork last year was no longer in Insadong. :( This little shopping center is super touristy (the whole area is, really) and you will likely see it recommended on any Seoul travel videos or lists you come across, but it really is pretty cool. The shops are cute, the alleys are chockful of traditional restaurants and tea houses, there is great street food (this is where you can find the famous dragon’s beard candy vendors), and all of the store names are in Hangul which adds to the authentic Korean feel. I recommend this area for souvenirs!

Since it was MY BIRTHDAY, we ate at a vegan restaurant tucked away in an alley. This isn’t some trendy hipster vegan joint, but a legit traditional Korean place where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor…

Henry was THRILLED.

“I’m not going to be able to get back up,” he groaned.

It was so humid that day that I had to pull my hair back and Chooch consistently looked like he was just dunked in a pool.

So I was fucking STOKED when I saw that mul nangmyeon was on the menu!!

This is a cold noodle dish which was extremely off-putting the first time I ever had it—I flat out HATED IT. But then I found myself craving it…and now I just love it so much. The broth is ice cold and for this vegan version, made from fruit. In the center, you get a freaking NEST of buckwheat noodles, and usually very thin slices of pears and radish top it off. Then, you add squirts of hot mustard and vinegar to the broth, stir it all up, and slurp it while the spiciness shoots up your nose.

I.LOVE.THIS.DISH.

Chooch had a vegan version of samgyeopsal and made a real huge mess and then found out the hard way that he doesn’t like perilla leaves, and Henry had some mushroom noodle thing, but I honestly wasn’t paying attention because I was working so hard on eating my noodles and have you seen me eat noodles? I am a monster. But, I was’t going to ask for scissors!!

I’m pretty sure the waitress hated us because Chooch and I kept cracking up and Henry was doing his dumb “I’m speaking to a Korean” accent every time he had to talk to her, and then there was a table of Indian people and Koreans behind us who were all conversing in English about their cultural differences and Henry was like, “I THINK THEY ARE HAVING A BUSINESS LUNCH” and we were like, “OK you’re cool, Henry” and then Chooch totally crashed into the back of one of them when he got up from the table and I pretty much ran out of there while Henry paid, BYEEEEE.

We went to Osulloc afterward, which is a really famous and popular tea company that started on Jeju Island. We bought some tea for Chooch’s piano teacher (WHO JUST TOLD US SHE IS MOVING TO HAWAII AND CHOOCH AND I ARE SO SAD) and Janna (whose tea was confiscated by TSA at JFK airport so drink up, bitches) and then Chooch and I both got matcha lattes because we’re the best.

Casual walk back to the subway…

…but not without stopping at least one convenience store, holla.

Gotta end this with another picture from our guest house. This view might not be anything special to you, but it is everything to me!

We rested for a bit and changed clothes in preparation for the BIG BIRTHDAY EVENT which is coming up later, maybe tomorrow, who knows I am drowning in blog posts!