Nov 222020
 

…before Henry completely obliterated the poor kid’s hair later that day.

Hello. Since school pictures for 2020 are up in the air as of now, I figured I better take matters into my own hands, use those same hands to dust off my camera, and drag Chooch to the cemetery for some portraits today. Of course it’s never that easy – I had to promise that I’d buy him some dumb Titanfall thing and then give him $10 cash on top of that (overall a pretty cheap deal until you realize that you’re the one who should be getting paid for this shit).

We left Henry at home because he had chores to do and SHOCKINGLY Chooch and I got along swimmingly, which confirms my suspicion that Henry is the catalyst.

Chooch wears a hoodie to “school” every day so it was kind of nice to see him wearing something with, I dunno, a pattern. And color.

I made him do a wardrobe change, and we also changed locations once too, which made him grumble because “that wasn’t part of the arrangement” but REMEMBER WHO THE PARENT IS, OK.

He does the “sullen teen” look so well.

OMG I just went upstairs to Henry’s Salon and he basically made Chooch look like he’s leaving for boot camp…I’m trying not to freak out.

That mushroom coif is gone-zo!

Well, this has been the latest edition of “I have a kid and here are some pictures of him.”

P.S. I just saw Chooch post-hair shaving and he’s actually not completely bald – Henry left some hair on the top lol.

Nov 202020
 

Dear Internet Diary,

I’m extremely unorganized when it comes to photos, which is awful when it comes to preservation but also fun when I randomly come across one when I’m digging in a drawer for a pen or safety pin or the glasses that I never wear. Here are some that I unearthed recently which I thought would be fun to share since the only other things I have to talk about right now are the recipes I’ve chosen for Henry to make for Thanksgiving, Taemin/SHINee stuff, and my continuously rising ire at people who STILL REFUSE TO WEAR A FUCKING MASK. I just…I can’t do it today. So let’s look at some old ass pictures, spanning various decades of shitty hairstyles!

  1. THE OBLIGATORY WILDWOOD SHOT

You guys. I remember this like it was yester-fucking-day and not OMG 1988. It was taken at my beloved Wildwood, New Jersey on one of my family’s summer vacations. Every night after dinner, we would go to the boardwalk, specifically Morey’s Piers, for some junk food and ride action. Here are some things I would like to point out about this photo:

  • I had just gotten my hair cut that summer and it was a huge deal because my hair is pretty long prior to this, and I got bangs too which was MAJOR YOU GUYS. I remember getting my hair done at a salon called Shear Talent which was down the street from my Pappap’s drywall company. This is notable because it was located next to an apartment that OLYMPIC WRESTLER KURT ANGLE* lived in sometime in the 90s and I know that this is true because my dad worked for the gas company and had to go there to like, read the meter or fix something back then, I don’t know. But he came home and was so excited and I was like “Oh.”
    • *I cared so little about this that I originally put “Engler” as his last name and then decided to google to make sure I even had the right guy. I did. That’s him.
  • My dad and Ryan and those other people are looking up because the boardwalk’s famous looping coaster, The Sea Serpent, had gotten stuck with people on it and this was major news because it was the 80s and we didn’t have Twitter and a psychotic president abusing it, and also maybe all the serial killers were on sabbatical.
  • *waves back to the stranger lady*
  • I fucking loved that shirt that I was wearing. I have no idea why I liked it so much.
  • This was the year I started to get fat and ugly.

2. Erin Rachelle Kelly, Babysitter Extraordinaire

From the looks of this picture, I would wager to say it was the summer of 1996. It was definitely taken in my mom’s living room and I can promise you that the camera had the timer set and was propped up on her antique roll-top desk. Here are some things I remember:

  • That broad (lol, we were like 16 but OK, Erin) in the middle is the KERI THAT WAS MENTIONED A FEW BLOG POSTS AGO WHEN I WAS V. MAD THAT JASON VOORHEES CHOSE HER OVER ME. And that’s her  then-boyfriend Dan who liked me first but I went on one date and passed him on to Keri, who ended up dating him for quite some time (I mean, probably like 6 months which was the equivalent to like 5 years in high school time) and then one time I had a little get together like almost a year after this picture was taken and he was there and seriously you guys I’m pretty sure he was on his way to sexually assaulting me when I was drunk and the only thing that stopped him was my friends Justin and Jon opening the door to the laundry room (the same one where I found out Gionni Versace was killed!!) and seeing that he had me pushed against the wall, at which point they escorted him out of my house and Justin drove him home. I ill never forget that.
  • I was definitely supposed to be babysitting my brothers here and I still can’t believe that my mom ever trusted me to babysit.
  • There’s a similar picture floating around somewhere in which my brothers are holding butcher knives.
  • I was the Overall Queen in the 90s.
  • Might try to bring back the “showing off the bruise on my thigh” pose.

3. If It Doesn’t Taste Good…

OK this is really bizarre because I have zero recollection of this photo but Chooch found it in his room when we were rearranging it a few months ago. I know that this was obviously from the vacation I was on that summer with my grandparents and Sharon but I’m not sure where exactly we were here, and I only vaguely remember the people here but I’m sure I could pull out one of y vacation journals to fact check, but that would almost imply that I’m a legit blogger and come on, we all know it’s “half-assed of GTFO” over here in these parts. There’s a bunch of fun facial expressions we can expound upon but when I first found this picture, my immediate response was to scream because that gentleman standing in the middle was the greatest. I believe his name was John and he and his wife really took a liking to my Pappap so they would often join us at our table for travel group dinners.

This man gave me the GREATEST advice of all time, and I think about it A LOT:

If it doesn’t taste good, put cheese on it.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have attempted to make food for myself and, after the first inaugural taste/forced swallow, I’d grab the parmesan out of the fridge door and give my plate a hearty sprinkling.

I tried to tell Chooch this story but he peaced out as soon as I said “Europe with my grandparents” because he hates hearing stories about my silver spooned childhood.

4. RICOLA

One of my best childhood memories was the time I turned 11 in Switzerland (Chooch is burying his head under a pillow right now). I was V.SHY then (I came out of my shell by 7th grade) and so, when the MC of the dinner theater thingie we were attending asked for volunteers to blow on the Ricola horn (honestly I have no idea what that thing is actually called but it’s in the Ricola cough drop commercials!), my grandparents and Sharon nearly shit their pants when I raised my hand.

It might have been my first YOLO moment!? I dunno, but to this day I prefer Ricola over everything else.

(Fun fact: I also received a birthday scroll from the restaurant that night, which is framed and still hanging in my house after all these years.)

(That’s a lie: It was hanging up until a month ago when we painted the dining room and still needs to be re-hung.)

5. Staircase Model

I know this is really crazy that I’m giving you all of these facts about myself on a blog that has my name in it, but here’s another:

I guess my aunt Sharon was trying to distract me of the impending birth of my brother Ryan which directly correlates with the RUINATION OF MY LIFE (j/k, I love my brother but I also really loved being an only child) when she took me to open auditions for some child modeling / acting agency. Apparently, she thought I would be automatically accepted since I already had like 4 years of posing in every single new outfit she bought for me.

I have no idea what happened to me, aside from the fact that my genes dictated my path and lead me straight to Homelyville, but now that I am an adult, I cannot pose for a picture to save my fucking life. But back then, I was SO GOOD at the arms akimbo/hip-jut combo. Now I just look like the entire precinct shouted SMILE!! while I was preparing for my mugshot.

Anyway, I wanted to include this picture in particular because I HAVE ROLLS OF THAT WALLPAPER NOW! The pattern is made from velvet or something and I can’t wait to do something with it.

***

Actually now that I look at these, I had bangs in every single one and now I feel like I want bangs agai—NO ERIN *SLAPS FACE* YOU DON’T WANT BANGS.

Nov 182020
 

Feeling the need to shoot some bullets up in this piece today.

  • Like pretty much everyone else in the world, I have been super antsy and bored these last several months. You know it’s bad when nothing in your YouTube feed interests you anymore, so I cried uncle and queued up the ol’ Netflix, with which I have such a bad rapport.
    • Here are all of the shows I have tried to watch over the last month or so on Netflix and then gave up after 1 or 2 episodes:
      • Evil (what a fucking hokey snoozefest)
      • Sweet Magnolias (like Gilmore Girls with less witty banter/more predictable drama)
      • Virgin River (I really like the main lady and then my mind was blown when I realized the main dude is the guys from the Ring and Britney’s Toxic video, and I might actually try this one again at some point because I didn’t hate it but I was bored)
      • Northern Rescue (somehow I let this play through three episodes before realizing I wasn’t watching it anymore)
      • Dawson’s Creek (You know it’s bad when there are 27340927304 streaming services and you can’t find anything to watch so you decide to revisit Dawson’s Creek and can only manage to make it to the second episode before having second-embarrassment for your younger self that actually thought this was a good show. Does not hold up.)
    • Here are all of the (non-Korean) shows that actually hooked me and I would recommend to everyone, also on netflix:
      • The Unicorn (sometimes you need a feel-good American sitcom, and also a show with 25 minute episodes)
      • Dash + Lily (Um, this was fucking everything I needed and I cried a lot and also adored every single person on this show)
      • In the Dark (OMG does the CW actually have good shows on it again that aren’t just about super heroes or supernatural shit?? I haven’t finished the first season yet but I am obsessed with every single character and have laughed and cried. Also, the guide dog’s name is Pretzel. We love a good dog name.)
      • The Queen’s Gambit (I don’t know SHIT about chess but this show was fucking amazing and I am now considering learning Russian – because Korean is going so well lol.)
  • Speaking of Korean, I was reading “Shine” by Jessica Jung, former lead vocalist of arguably the most iconic Kpop girl group, Girl’s Generation, and I laughed because “noonchi ubssuh” was used in this after I just wrote about it on here last week! I’m used to seeing it Romanized a different way though which is the frustrating thing about when Korean words are written out using the English alphabet – there are so many variations when there is only one way  to spell it in Korean using the Hangul alphabet. But yeah, to review last week’s lesson, “noonchi” means like…to be self-aware, to be considerate of others, etc. And “ubssuh” means “to not have it.” So, they’re saying that the person is basically rude, clueless. I read that the literal translation is to gauge a person’s emotion by looking into their eyes, so basically to be socially aware, I guess. noon – eyes. chi – emotion.

  • UNPOPULAR OPNION: I don’t like Lizzo. I’m sorry.
  • The other night, I had a dream that I was standing outside of my Pappap’s house when a white pick-up truck came barreling down the street, made a hard turn into my Pappap’s front yard and plowed through the side of the upper garage, then drove off. I ran into the street screaming, trying to see their license plate, when I noticed that there was a woman walking down the street and the truck slowed down to say something to her. I asked her what they said and she was like, “he just said for me not to tell you who he is.” Then later, I was at Felix-from-“In the Dark”‘s apartment and the white pick-up truck was trying to kick down the door (which was just a flimsy piece of plywood) because he was trying to kill me and that’s when I saw that it was my birth dad who died right before my third birthday but was actually SURPRISE alive and my mom kept it a secret all these years which, if you know my mom, is actually something that could happen in my non-dream, awake life. So that was concerning.
    • Also I don’t think I have ever dreamt of my birth dad before and I rarely even think about him, so this was nice.
  • I feel like such an old hag but I hate the new Instagram and Twitter updates. I’m so tired of “Stories” taking over social media. If I don’t want your stories on Instagram, I’m surely not going to watch them on Twitter. Also, I thought “Fleets” was such a dumb name for them but then it finally clicked this morning why it’s called that and, well done Twitter, but it’s still stupid!! And now every time I try to post something on IG, it brings up Reels instead because I keep forgetting they moved all of THE IMPORTANT features. God I hate change. I miss the days when IG was new and no one I knew used it so all of my friends were random people who I added simply because I liked the photos  they were taking. YOU KNOW BECAUSE IT’S A PHOTO APP. Now it’s just a meme junkyard because all of the Facebook people infiltrated.

  • Last night, Chooch dramatically declared that it was “face mask and The Unicorn” time, and to “don’t disturb him.” Of course, I hid behind my bedroom door while he was applying th eface mask in the bathroom, because I had a clear shot of his bedroom from  the crack in the door and wanted to take a clandestine photo, but then he came out of the bathroom and immediately shut his door when he went into his room! So I blew my own cover and ambushed him with my phone. He wasn’t very pleased, but I’m the leader of this household and do what I want. ( just think it’s funny that he pulls his hair up into a unicorn horn-esque ponytail which is apropos here since he was watching The Unicorn (he kept craning his neck from the dining room while I was watching it a few weeks ago and then decided to just watch it on his own because he tries so HARD TO BE LIKE HIS MOMMY.)
  • It’s been a week and a half and I’m still done laughing at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. I keep meaning to buy a commemorative shirt.
  • Chooch has Civics now that he’s in 9th grade and he was worried in the beginning that he was going to hate it but turns out, he really enjoys it a lot and we talk about politics all the time now on our nightly strolls and if you had told me even as little as 5 years ago that one day I’d be having animated political discourse with my son for fun, I’d be like, “LOL fuck a politic amirite.” If there is one thing to credit Trump for, it’s that his complete fuckery made me actually care about shit, I guess.

  • Chooch and I went to the library yesterday to pick up books we had ordered. Usually, I still call ahead and do the curbside pick-up but honestly, there is typically no one else inside the library so we feel relatively OK going inside with our masks. On the way to the check-out counter, there is a “grab-and-go” table with paper bags filled with books, in case you’re trying to spice up your reading life with some mystery books and by mystery I mean literally that you don’t know what books are inside. They do have labels though so you at least know the genre, and Chooch of course honed right in on a bag of holiday cookie books. I started to shake my head no because what the fuck do I want that for, but one of the librarians said to him, “Go ahead, you take that if you’d like” and he smirked at me. At least he had them use his own damn library card for them though, and then on the way home, I was like “You know, if you’re going to make cookies, maybe you can make some boxes and give them away as Christmas gifts.” So then of course I actually made myself excited for that because I like buying cute boxes and shit and Chooch happily started to make a list of cookies he chose from the books and then we made a list of recipients. But then I was like, “Shit, is this safe?” so I had to google “Can you give people homemade cookies during the pandemic” (2020 is the year of bizarre google searches, isn’t it?) and apparently it’s fine as long as we’re not blowing dandelions at people when we hand them over (we plan on just dropping them off on porches and mailing when needed, so I think it should be fine?). And trust me, we’re all manic hand-washers here at the Palace Pioneer and our kitchen is like a sanitary station because I’m obsessed with it being clean ever since we redesigned it, so you can eat our cookies with confidence.
  • When Henry and I were at Lowe’s on Saturday, a 90s-ish song came on the radio and I was like “Shit I haven’t heard this song since….probably whatever year it came out” but I couldn’t think right away who it was and I almost NEVER have cell service in Lowe’s so my Shazam wouldn’t work and Henry can NEVER fucking hear the overhead music in stores ISTFG, so I had to wait until we got outside before I could google the lyrics. “Oh wow,” I said. “It was Filter, and I never would have guessed that. I kept wanting to say it was…..you know….” but I couldn’t think of the fucking band’s name! “You know, the singer is Perry….shit what’s his last name….you know, he created Lollapalooza.” Henry shrugged. “Side project was Porno For Pyros? DAVE NAVARRO!??!!?” Sill Henry was like, “Shit I know who you mean but I can’t think of the name either!” and by now I was tonguing tears of frustration off my cheeks. “And I was supposed to see them at Mellon Arena that one time with Wonka? We had pit tickets, but I had a migraine and couldn’t go and gave my ticket to that kid I met in line for the Cold show!?” Henry was just like, “THAT DOES NOT HELP ME” because I don’t think Henry and I were dating yet lol. Anyway, he finally remembered it hours later and he gave me clues until I finally shrieked JANE’S ADDICTION and Chooch was like, “WTF is happening never mind I don’t care.”
    • So the whole reason I’m telling you this boring ass story about two old people trying to remember an old band is because yesterday in the book I was reading JANE’S ADDICTION was referenced and I fucking swear this happens to me so often, that it actually scares me! Fucking synchronicity.
    • Oh, the song was “Take a Picture” by Filter, but I only really ever liked their older song “Nice Shot” because it reminded me so much of hanging out with Lisa in high school. We were the perfect of example of opposite’s attract because where she was super into alternative and metal, I was a little yo-girl constantly trying to slip my Bone Thugs n Harmony tapes into the cassette player of her Jeep. ANYHOO, she really liked Filter and before we would leave her house for whatever daily idiotic adventure we were about to finds ourselves embroiled in, she would ask me which shirt she should wear and I’d always pick Filter but then she started making me choose between just two shirts so that I wasn’t making her wear the same shirt every time.
  • Chooch and I went for a walk on my lunch break and I tried to tell him the Jane’s Addiction saga and he was like, “mmhmm cool wow” and I was so mad that he didn’t find it interesting but then we both saw an albino squirrel and….what was I talking about again?

And I’ll leave you with a classic Girl’s Generation video:

Nov 172020
 

Hello. Welcome to another edition of “weekend?” or “just another random lump of weekdays?” It was OK. Nothing exciting. I mean, what do we expect to happen on weekends during a pandemic, anyway?

Henry had been on “vacation” the prior week, so I’m not sure if he was treating the weekend like his last chance to live it up before returning to work, or if it was more of a COUNTDOWN to returning to work, because that was A LOT of “at home time” with me and Chooch. He got a lot of work done on various projects (FINISHED NONE THOUGH) and that just kind of bled into the weekend.

I went with him to Lowe’s on Saturday, where he made me languish in what has to be a contender for the Most Boring Aisle in the World. Then I asked him what he needed these alleged “hooks & eyes” for and that just elevated my boredom to Snooze Level, my god.

But I guess he needed shit in order to hang up my giant Seoul subway sign (and by that I don’t mean “hang on the wall” but “hang from the basement rafters” because he’s not anywhere near finishing this bitch yet) which he got a moderate amount of work done on over his “vacation week.” Here is a video of him working on it Friday night while listening to 2nd generation Kpop (aka the best kpop):

https://www.instagram.com/p/CHjRELph2UP/

Side note: if you’re ever like, “Aw, I really miss seeing people’s noses” during Covid Days, just go to Lowe’s. Lots of fucking dumbasses with their schnozzes hanging out of their masks. Fucking assholes.

I pretty much spend every day soapboxing about this bullshit country. It’s gonna be wild when I’m an old lady one day, telling my grandkids about the time selfish people in America cried like bitches over having to cover their big fat faces with a piece of fabric. FABRIC.

Assuming the anti-maskers don’t kill me first.

I’m pretty sure I spent a large portion of the weekend, when I wasn’t micromanaging Henry, ranting about Covid-19 and the stupidity of half the country. PLEASE STAY HOME FOR THANKSIVING!!! DO NOT BE SELFISH. I get it – some people are very close to their families (can’t relate) and not spending a holiday together feels like it could kill you but guess what, spending the holiday together ACTUALLY COULD KILL YOU OR THEM. I’m so glad that I generally don’t have holiday obligations and I truly do feel bad for those who do, but please be smart about this.

It stresses me out so much you guys that I have been having covid nightmares, such as Saturday night when I dreamt that I went to dinner at Bob Evans and they sat me at a table that was super close to another table, so I tried to move my table away and the people at the other table got super offended and then I suddenly had this lucid moment inside my dream where I realized that I was at a restaurant after I spent the last nine months preaching about how people shouldn’t eat in restaurants during the pandemic, and I could feel, inside my dream, the blood rushing to my face because OMG I’M A HYPOCRITE AND WHAT WILL MY INTERNET FRIENDS THINK OF ME NOW and also SERIOUSLY, I CHOSE BOB EVANS OF ALL PLACES??

Anytime I have ever eaten at Bob Evans, it’s looked like a nursing home field trip up in that piece.

Sunday was really dreary for most of the day, and then by late afternoon, it cleared up but a really scary windstorm kicked up and I started to Final Destination’ing the situation and decided it was time to retreat back to the house before a street sign became dislodged and decapitated us.

I don’t even know what else to say. I’m depressed. LOL, aren’t we all. I’m gonna slap myself in the face a few times and maybe squirt some whipped cream in my mouth until I gag. And then who knows maybe my next post will be more exciting. But I doubt it.

Here’s a new Taemin performance from his recent promotions. All I can say is thank god for Kpop because it’s really keeping me afloat these days.

Nov 152020
 

Well, October was not a very fine month of reading for me. I DNF’d a bunch and even returned several to the library without even starting them because just seeing them sitting on my coffee table was the exact opposite of “bringing me joy.” I was really hoping to eye-swallow some good old-fashioned horror but…it didn’t play out that way, sadly. I read 17 books in October so let’s talk about the first 8 SHALL WE? (Now that I’m looking at my Goodreads, I see that I did have a good bit of 4s and 5s, but none of those were horror, really, I’m so sorry to let you down, October….)

  1. Mayhem – Estelle Laure

Mayhem

As soon as I saw that this was a retelling/twist on The Lost Boys (the vampire movie, not Peter Pan), I was like WHERE DO I SIGN UP which, duh, was obviously the library website.

Ugh you guys I had such high hopes for this and perhaps that’s where I fucked up. I know better! Low expectations or GTFO!

There were a few “Oh I see what you did there” moments that referenced The Lost Boys but I just wasn’t feeling this. There was some extremely weak plot line involving a serial killer on the beach but I felt that this book was such an unorganized mess that I kept forgetting there was even an end game.

And the writing was very…cold, like if this book was a person, they’d be stand-offish with resting bitch face. If that makes sense. It does to me, OK!?

2. The Patient – Jasper DeWitt

The Patient

This is mostly unrelated but the first thing I thought of when I was adding this book to the blog post was where I walked the day I listened to the audiobook of it (through Dormont) and that the new-ish restaurant in my hood unveiled a cauliflower and parsnip soup that day which I desperately needed to have so Henry got it for me after work and that’s what I had for dinner that day.

These two facts are more memorable to me than the book itself, of which I can remember the names of approx. zero characters.

The interesting thing about this about this  though was that it was supposed to be a collection of threads from some now-defunct Reddit-like medical forum, where a doctor detailed a really bizarre experience with a notorious patient at a psychiatric hospital. I was really feeling it for the first half but then it just kind of got really dumb and predictable. I think I gave it a three, though because the plot was relatively unique (to me).

3. Mapping the Interior – Stephen Graham Jones

Mapping the Interior

This is my second book by this author and I think I sadly have to admit that he just sadly isn’t for me. I really want to like his books! They get such a great reviews. But his writing style just ain’t it.

This was supposed to be like a ghost story I guess but at the heart of it, it was a pretty solid coming-of-age story and I think I actually would have liked it better if it was just that and not also trying to be horror at the same time.

Also, this author really likes to kill animals in his stories and I’m not there for that at all, sorry. I won’t every tell anyone to steer clear of his books because I think he’s a great writer, but as I said – just not for me and I need to accept that and move on.

4. Pachinko – Min Jin Lee

Pachinko

OMG WHERE DO I BEGIN. This was a real fucking odyssey for me. I bought this book in winter of 2019, started reading it in spring of that year, got distracted, forgot to take it with me to read on the plane to Korea, came home and couldn’t find it for about 7 months and then found it randomly on Chooch’s desk, and then by then I had like 8892437982374 other books lined up to read. I kept trying to read a chapter here and there in between all of the library books that were ticking away like time bombs on my coffee table.

Finally in October I was like, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” and powered through it. THANK GOD I DID. This book is a beautiful, slow burn of a family drama spanning several generations, from the early 1900s to the 1980s, whether you’re interested in Korean/Japanese history or not. I will admit, the first quarter of the book is tough to get through; it was the driest part of the whole book for me, but I learned a lot of things that I didn’t already know about the strained relations between Korea and Japan (to put it into context, when we were in South Korea last summer, there were major protests happening that had something to do with trade relations with Japan).

It’s a real chunker of a book but I would consider this to be essential reading for anyone interested in historical fiction. I’ll be thinking about this family for years to come, I think.

5. Parachutes – Kelly Yang 

Parachutes

After reading Pachinko, I was looking for something lighter so I picked up Parachutes, which is named after the term used for children of wealthy Asian families who are sent to America, alone, to attend school. They live with host families (unless they’re SUPER FUCKING RICH and have empty family homes to live in alone, you know, as teenagers are wont to do) who receive money from whatever host program in exchange. Which is how Claire winds up living with Dani, a super-focused debate team star who is working her ass to get into Yale. Dani’s mom is a maid and agrees to host Claire because she desperately needs the money. Claire and Dani mostly avoid each other, but each of them are dealing with really traumatic and shitty things and don’t realize how much they need each other until the end.

To me, this wasn’t a typical YA book. It made me super emotional, especially Dani’s situation involving a predatory teacher. At the end of the book, the author wrote about her own experiences as a college student at Harvard Law School and how this book was based on that. I was fuming.

I gave this one 5 stars. I think this book could help, and likely has helped, a lot of young people feel seen.

6. Home Before Dark – Riley Sager 

Home Before Dark

Booktube freaking screams over Riley Sager and while the two books I have read of his have been enjoyable, I wouldn’t like, wait in line to meet him or anything, if you know what I mean. And it’s funny because his latest book, Home Before Dark, has gotten some mixed reviews, but this is the one that I really latched on to.

Is it original? No, not even slightly. Some may call it an homage, some may argue it’s pretty blatantly ripping off The Haunting of Hill House (the Netflix series, not the book) but I was really looking for a good haunted house book to read in October, and I’m sorry horror purists – this book was fucking fun.

It alternates between present day and chapters from the book that the main character’s dad wrote about the house they lived in for, like, a month when she was a young kid. (I can’t remember her name and don’t feel like looking it up although I guess in the time it took me to type this sentence, I could have.) Basically, the dad dies and leaves the house to her and she goes back for the first time in decades to fix it up to sell, and OMG shit starts happening! There were a lot of times when I was sure I knew what was going to happen, but I was wrong and that’s all I could ever ask for when it comes to a thriller.

If there’s one thing I could say about Riley Sager, it’s that his books definitely aren’t boring.

Also, I will associate this book with the day I went to the gum doctor for a deep cleaning, because that’s the day I read this and the whole time I was in the chair, I was like, “Would it be rude to put on the audio book for this right now?”

Final review: the perfect October book.

7. The Devil All the Time – Donald Ray Pollock 

The Devil All the Time

BITCH STOP. I LOVED THIS FUCKING BOOK SO MUCH, OMG. I had no idea really what it was about, just that there was a Netflix movie coming out based on it and people were freaking out and I wanted to watch it too but decided I should read the book first and Henry was also interested so I got the audiobook so that we could buddy read it together and it was an exceptional slice of literature pie

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Once I read the synopsis, I started to have doubts that this was the type of book I would like, but Pollock’s writing is…I mean, I can’t say anything else but MOTHERFUCKING CHEF’S KISS. There were moments where we were cracking the fuck up and not to sound like I’m tooting my own horn because trust me I am the biggest critic of my own writing, but there were moments that reminded me of some of the idiotic short stories I used to write, specifically the section of this book which takes place in a carny camp (woefully omitted from the movie, btw).

The characters felt so goddamn real to me, I laughed, I cried, I rooted for some, I wished death upon others. I cringed, I gagged. I ran the gamut of emotions, is what I’m saying. Henry and I exchanged many “OH SHIT!” looks throughout this journey.

I don’t even know how to summarize it, so click on the Goodreads link up there, but this really is, at the heart of it all, a family drama. With religious zealots and serial killers thrown in for good measure.

But oh my god, the writing. And this is why I will tell you now that while the movie is good, I don’t think I would have liked it if I hadn’t read the book first. So just read this damn book.

8. The Death of Vivek Oji – Akwaeke Emezi 

The Death of Vivek Oji

(My eyes started to sting with hot tears just from looking at this book cover again.)

I read Emezi’s “Freshwater” earlier this year and was blown away by their writing style. They don’t write books that are easy to read, but they’re worth the effort.

In this latest masterpiece, Emezi takes out our hearts and eats them, I fucking swear to god. It’s obviously about a person name Vivek, whose death sends their family spiraling and they eventually have to come to terms with the fact that they are mourning a son they didn’t even really know. We go back and forth between various narrators, and it culminates with the big reveal of how Vivek actually dies and HOLY FUCKING SHIT I was sobbing like a bitch with allergies trapped in a pollen storm.

The author is Nigerian and their books really have so much local flavor and atmosphere packed in those pages. To me, the best part about reading is when you accidentally learn about other cultures and heritages without having to be bored to tears in a dry, dusty classroom.

Even though the book starts off with Vivek’s death (or, the immediate aftermath, I should say), Emezi gives us just the right amount of peeks into Vivek’s past to really flesh out the character and make us care so deeply about them. I am in awe of Akwaeke Emezi and urge—nay, IMPLORE—you to read this book. If you pick up anything I have listed here, let it be this one.

Nov 142020
 

 I always think a lot about my journey through vegetarianism when holiday season is upon us. I guess a lot of it is because I was always the “burden” at family dinners so I gotta admit, I’m not really all that sad about keeping the holidays to just us three this year. Anyway, this is also the time when I get asked the most why I don’t eat meat (I mean, back when I actually interacted with people) so I felt like it would be a good time to resurrect this old piece I wrote six years ago for a Pittsburgh blogger writing event thingie.

So yeah…

Dont Ask Me About Tofu

When people ask me about why I became a vegetarian, I’m sure they’re braced for some PETA-scripted canned response about choosing not to eat anything with a face, or some granola manifesto about health benefits. But my vegetarianism story was born from sheer stubbornness.

My mom wasn’t a bad cook, but I hated her pork chops. Naturally, this was the meal she seemed to make the most when I was growing up. They were just so dry and worthless, and always laying on my plate in some hideous, mocking, splayed-out fashion; all the apple sauce in the world couldn’t make them go down any easier.

Finally, at age 16, I snapped. Maybe a regular kid would have faked a pork chop allergy, but I chose a different route to get out of choking down those hunks of dry rot: I just wasn’t going to eat meat at all. Ever. Not even Slim Jims or bacon bits.

My parents saw this as a huge joke, something new to heckle me about, to place bets upon. “Oh look, Erin wants attention from us again!” They were used to this behavior from me. Once, I vowed to eat nothing but Welch’s grape popsicles because I was trying to get a hospital admittance to avoid going on vacation with my Aunt Sharon (who is crazier than me). But I stopped after a few days because no one was paying attention, and I ran out of Welch’s grape popsicles.

My vegetarianism was basically just another Welch’s Grape Popsicle episode as far as my parents were concerned, and they egged me on in all of the worst possible ways. They gave me three days tops before I succumbed to meatloaf. (My mom really did make a fantastic meatloaf. So moist. So meaty. So topped with Ketchup.)

This is why, 18 years later, when people ask me how I became a vegetarian, my answer is a simple “I hated my mom’s pork chops.”

***

In 1996, getting into a vegetarian lifestyle was pretty rough. I lived in Pittsburgh, not Los Angeles. Denny’s didn’t have Gardenburgers on their menus yet, Giant Eagle’s frozen food aisle wasn’t exactly a Garden of Eden, and my mom refused to make separate dinners for me. So while my family gnawed on BBQ ribs in front of me, I would eat cheese sandwiches and cereal and act like it was a meal fit for Valhalla, because: STUBBORN. At school, I would pair a peanut butter cookie with a carton of iced tea and call that lunch. I was terrible at this, but determined.

Finally, I started buying Vegetarian Times magazine from the bookstore and kind of started learning about what it was I was doing exactly. I began collecting recipes but my mom was like, “Tofu? What the hell is that? Fuck you.” So one weekend when my family was out of town, I hosted my own vegetarian dinner for some friends, which was no small feat because there was no Internet, no Whole Foods that I had ever heard of way over here in my South Hills suburban wonderland. I had to use the YELLOW PAGES to find some weird health food store in Mt. Lebanon that sold kelp and tempeh and a package of tofu that I would wind up having a staring contest with later because what the hell do you do with tofu? I had to beg my friend Lisa to begrudgingly drive me out there so I could buy ingredients for a dinner that no one but me was going to enjoy. Because “Sea”sar salad doesn’t sound appetizing to meat-eaters, I guess.
That was my first and last attempt at “cooking,” by the way. Sorry to all of the boyfriends who came later, expecting a home cooked meal. Not on my watch.

***

As a kid constantly struggling with thunder thighs, weight loss was a perk I thought would go hand-in-hand cutting meat out of my life. Newsflash: replacing chicken and beef with cheese in 87 different forms is not conducive to losing weight. When I’d go out with friends in high school, I’d eat the shit out of grilled cheeses, dressing-drenched Caesar salads capped with veritable parmesan hats, fettuccine Alfredo, just give me all of the cheese. My friends and I would always go to this diner called Home Cookin’ and I went through a good long phase where all I would order was cole slaw and pie. One of the waitresses laughed as she scribbled down my order late one night and asked, “You pregnant?”

“No, I’m a vegetarian,” I replied somberly.

Once I moved out at 18, it got even worse. I had friends over constantly, so we would order out all of the time. Cheese pizza, cheese sticks, cheese-covered eggplant parmesan hoagies, cheese hoagies with extra cheese to replace the meat. It’s a wonder I didn’t spend most of my 20s in a state of perma-constipation.

The only vegetables I ever ate were breaded, fried and delivered to my house by a bored teenager driving an Omni. Not to mention all of the alcohol that was consumed. I was far from that “anemic vegetarian” that my grandma worried I was going to turn into.

But at least being a vegetarian would render fast food impossible, right? Four words: Taco Bell’s 7-layer burritos.

One time, a security guard at one of my jobs said he was surprised I was a vegetarian.

“Why?” I asked, wondering if my natural stench was eau de osso bucco and I just didn’t know it.

“You know,” he said, cutting an hour glass shape into the air with his hands.

Suffice it to say, I had gained some weight those first few years.

***

An important thing to know about me is that I am helpless; basically just a flailing flesh-sack in a scary meat-filled world.

When I started dating my current boyfriend Henry in 2001, he was horrified when he opened my refrigerator and found it full of alcohol, condiments and film. (Because photography was more important than nutrition.)

“Why don’t you have any food?” he asked incredulously.

So I showed him the box of rice and cans of Spaghetti O’s on the shelf, the only things that I could purchase from the gas station down the street that I actually could kind of cook OK on those off-nights when I wasn’t being fed by chain restaurants.

“How are you getting your protein?” he asked, and I swear this isn’t going in the sleazy direction you might have in mind.

I had no answer for him. I barely knew the food pyramid, and he was asking me about protein?

After that conversation, Henry started cooking real meals for me, dishes loaded with vegetables, chick peas and tofu, because he was man enough to not give a shit about cooking with tofu, and I slowly started learning things I had never known, like what a “root vegetable” was.

Henry was appalled that I was a vegetarian who didn’t eat vegetables. Or fruit, for that matter. He made me things like mock mashed potatoes (I never knew I liked cauliflower!) and rice-and-fake-meat stuffed peppers, taught me that I really liked melons, and even added COOKBOOKS to my library of horror novels and Alternative Press issues.

By this time, a lot of the chain restaurants in Pittsburgh started offering veggie burgers on their menus, but Henry took me to a lot of ethnic restaurants, where vegetable-laden dishes and meat-substitutions were prevalent; it was starting to feel like maybe I stood a chance at survival. I still didn’t understand tofu, but I sure liked to eat it. I was starting to see vegetarianism as something more than a bet with my parents. It had become a lifestyle, and I began to realize that somewhere along the way, I stopped missing meat. Now I was eating things that I never knew existed, like seitan and tempeh, and I loved it.

I guess my point here is, if you want to be a vegetarian but lack a lot of basic life skills such as “how to grocery shop”, “how to read a recipe” and “how to operate kitchen machinery”, get yourself a good girlfriend/boyfriend/butler. It could open up a whole new world that normal, self-sufficient people already know about.

I can only imagine how high my cholesterol was before Henry the Nutrionist came in and pumped me full of vegetables. (Not a sex analogy, unless you want it to be.)

***

A few months after I swore off meat, I was in the attic smoking pot out of a crushed can of Cherikee Red with my friend Melissa. Nothing to see here. The rest of my family had gone out without me as usual, and my mom had left out a pan of the Hamburger Helper she made all the “normals” for dinner that night.

Teenager + pot = me lying in a pan of Hamburger Helper like some pathetic human-Garfield.

I cried in my bed that night like I had just had shameful hobo sex, my flesh smelling like it had been rubbed down with raw meat.

Up until pretty much right now, Melissa was the only one who knew meat had touched my PETA-anointed tongue but she vowed to keep quiet. I felt terrible about it, like I was such a fraud. But slip-ups happen and I suspect it’s more normal than the staunchest vegetarians will admit, like it’s some dirty, bloody cow carcass of a secret. I still wonder if there’s some sort of code I should be following. Should self-flagellation happen the next time I accidentally eat chicken disguised as a biscuit at a Chinese buffet? What is my penance? Sneaking meat is the dark underbelly of vegetarianism, like nuns fapping to pictures of Justin Bieber. No one talks about it. But sometimes, meat happens, folks.

In 2006, I would occasionally eat fish while I was pregnant, but I was trying to grow a healthy baby then so it made me feel like I wasn’t really cheating. (Don’t worry, Henry and my doctor knew what kinds of fish were OK for preggos to eat; I wasn’t sitting around eating bonbons and mercury sandwiches.) I vowed to stop after the baby was born, and I was doing so well until a few months later on vacation and some “friends” tempted me with sushi. You guys. It was so amazing!

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone!” one of them said when I started crying at the table about feeling guilty. But that girl was such a snake, she probably went home and made a filtered LiveJournal post about it. (We are no longer friends, FYI.)

That was pretty much the gateway food for me. I resisted the urge for quite some time, but then I gave up and openly became a fish-eater and stopped calling myself a vegetarian because I ain’t no fraud.

Sushi, you guys. It is so good.

As of last week, I am back to eating “nothing that has a face.” I couldn’t take the guilt anymore, and the constant reminder that my mom would think she had won the war if she ever found out I was casually chewing sashimi like bubble gum. However, if you ask my son, he will tell you that Mommy eats meat when no one is home. Which could be true if I knew how to cook that shit. But I don’t. So, nice try, son.

***

I was a vegetarian for three years before someone asked me, “So are you ovo-lacto?”

“Ok,” I answered. Because I didn’t know there were different kinds of vegetarians! My three years of barely-passing Latin classes in high school at least helped me figure out that it meant I was a vegetarian who also ate dairy.

I was a vegetarian for six years before I found out that I wasn’t supposed to be eating food made from gelatin because it contains animal by-products. Two vegetarians actually had a shouting match about this at one of my game nights and I quietly shirked away because I didn’t want to get involved.

I was a vegetarian for ten years before I was finally able to accept that “vegetarianism” is not synonymous with “skinny.” We can still eat cake and cookies. And potato chips. And milk shakes . And Kit-Kats.

I’ve been a vegetarian for eighteen years and I still don’t know what to do with tofu. It just sits there in the package, looking all slimy and wet. And the “firm” and “extra firm” versions are just as jiggly, so whaddup, tofu? Explain yourself.

My friend Amber recently told me she wanted to add tofu to her diet and started asking me questions about it. Questions make me nervous because my response is usually “I don’t know.” Or just a shrug if I’m feeling like three words are just too much to muster. I’m conversationally ambivalent.

I had to text Henry and ask him what kind of tofu Amber should buy, because while I’ve come a long way in that I can now name more vegetables than peas and carrots, don’t ask me about tofu.

***

I worked in a butcher shop for 4 years. What kind of a vegetarian even looks at a butcher shop for a minute, let alone works inside one for 4 years?! Luckily, my office was upstairs from where all the disgusting shit was happening, but sometimes my boss thought it would be hilarious to send me downstairs to get the meat cutters’ lunch orders. I’d have to wear a USDA-approved hardhat, even.

Four years working in a butcher shop actually made it A LOT easier for me to stay true to my meatless lifestyle.

But then the Great American Bacon Explosion happened. Bacon sundaes. Bacon milkshakes. Maple bacon donuts. Maple bacon cupcakes. Chocolate-covered bacon. Candied bacon. Bacon-flavored condoms. Bacon breath mints. Bacon wigs. Bacon 4 President. Kitchen utensils to aid with the fashioning of bacon bowls to be filled with more bacon. I had no idea I even missed bacon that much until I was being tempted with bacon-wrapped apples in every garden. When I was a carnivore, bacon was just bacon. I mean, it was great, I loved it; but when did it become OMG BACON?

My tattoo guy is vegan. The last time I was at the shop, his consultation appointment brought him donuts, one of which was maple bacon. He quickly offered it to one of the other guys there. “Seriously, I might eat that if no one takes it. I think about bacon like, all of the time.”

“Me too!” I cried. And then I felt less alone in this small, meat-free community.

If I ever fall off the wagon for good, it will be because of bacon. Goddamn you, bacon.

***

***

There’s a stereotype for my kind: that obnoxious preachy person who sits across from you at dinner and judges you for ordering a steak. I was never that person. I don’t give a shit what you eat as long as you’re not dripping its blood on my plate. However, one time in 2003, I opened the refrigerator to see half of a Cryovac’d cow taking up an entire shelf. That might have been one of the most brutal fights Henry and I have ever had. He never brought shit like that into my house again.

It always bothered me though that I let people have their meat and eat it too, yet there were always those ones who just couldn’t wait to make fun of me for eating faux chicken nuggets and black bean burgers. Like the time my whole family erupted in exaggerated dry-heaves when Henry was nice enough to cook me a Tofurkey for Thanksgiving in 2004. I had to sit there while everyone pointed out how gross and disgusting I was, like I was hand-shoveling dog feces into my mouth. And then my mom would swear that she substituted cream of mushroom soup in her side dishes that called for cream of chicken, but then she would snicker, so God only knows what they were feeding me. I couldn’t eat anything my grandma made me because I was 95% convinced that she was pureeing beef into everything from soup to muffins so that I wouldn’t “catch anemia.”

Then there are the people who treat vegetarianism as a joke, refusing to order a plain pizza because they have zero respect for my dietary requirements. I got really good at picking pepperoni off pizza.

We can totally have a conversation without me thrusting a PETA petition at you (although I will sign the shit out of those at every single Warped Tour while Henry stands to the side, rolling his eyes up to the meat-filled heavens). I’m not going to tell you that you’re ruining your life by feasting on poor, defenseless animal flesh or hand you a pamphlet that illustrates what exactly is in that food court hot dog, because I don’t care what you do.

Moral: don’t judge me and my tofishy tacos and I won’t judge you and your KFC Double Down.

And don’t ask me about tofu.

Nov 132020
 

Hello, I have had this shell of a Friday Five on tap for like three weeks and then either quit caring on Friday or found something else to post or just blacked out entirely, but today we’re going to finally open the gates and release this hound from Friday Five hell.

This Friday Five might be bitchy, so I tucked away that adorbs photo of a popsicle-sucking GD up there to make the transition into KARENLAND a bit smoother.

DUMB ASS FUCKING BITCH IKEA

I fucking hate Ikea! Yes, a lot of our furniture is from Ikea and I don’t really have beef with that  but Ikea itself is such a fucking shitstorm and every time I have a complaint or need help, it feels like I’m screaming into the ocean. We have been updating Chooch’s room since August because half the shit he chose was out of stock and even though we have alerts set up to tell us when things are back in stock, they clearly don’t work because we have to find out ourselves by periodically checking online.

Today, I randomly cruised on over to their site and found that, lo and behold, the bed frame he wanted is finally in stock at the Pittsburgh store so I got out my Ikea card and was ready to purchase that bitch, but I kept getting an error message every time I entered my zip code LIKE I DO NOT KNOW MY ZIP CODE, HONEYGIRL I’VE LIVED IN BROOKLINE FOR 21 YEARS.

I tried multiple browsers, and eventually it “recognized” my piece of shit zip code but then only gave me the option to pick up the bed in Columbus, Ohio! I was like DID THIS BITCH BED SELL OUT WHILE I WAS IN ZIPCODE HELL??? so I backed out and went back to the listing and NO IT WAS STILL IN STOCK FOR PITTSBURGH.

So I tried it again and the fucking error message started back up and then I was like I AM GOING TO CALL THESE BITCHES but I was hold on forever, listening to come recorded bitch talk about how it’s easier to contact them through the website, WRONG. I know, because I FUCKING TRIED!!! Their FAQs are worthless, and the only way I could make any contact was by filling out A FEEDBACK FORM in which I typed four paragraphs regarding my anger, detailing my struggles and saying IT’S ALMOST LIKE YOU DON’T WANT MY MONEY. Then! I signed off by saying that I guess I am just not nimble enough to jump through their fiery Swedish hoops and the worst part is that I did all of this and Chooch doesn’t even care!!!!!!!

BITCH GO SLEEP IN A FUCKING CARDBOARD BOX UNDER A BRIDGE THEN.

Let’s pause and look at this delicious beet burger I had from Chick Habit a few weeks ago. It was divine.

HAPPY FUCKING PEPERO DAY TO EVERYONE (BUT IKEA)

November 11th was Pepero Day, which is one of the most adorable holidays recognized in South Korea (and they have quite a few!). So let me do my best white girl Koreansplainin’ here on this blog of despair.

Pepero is a cookie-stick treat similar to Pocky, but these are made by the Korean megalith Lotte. (Lotte also has a giant indoor/outdoor amusement park called Lotte World and of course we went there and it was fucking amazing but also fucking crowded, lol.) OK back to Pepero! So, legend has it that young girls used to think that eating Pepero would make them skinny, I guess since they’re skinny sticks, never mind that the calorie count listed clearly on the box says otherwise. But if eaten at 11:11, you apparently up your chances at getting even skinnier.

Thus, November 11th, or 11/11, was deemed Pepero Day, since the date looks like four sticks of Pepero, which is fucking adorable. It’s turned into something akin to Valentine’s Day in Korea, with people giving boxes of the sweet sticks to crushes, loved ones, friends, family, probably teachers they’re trying to suck up to, etc.

Anyway, Henry is off all week so I sent him to one of the Asian markets to grab some boxes for us and our neighbors (aka Blake & Co.) because what good is Pepero Day if you don’t share Pepero!? I shared some virtually with my work team and they were all supportive and into this idea of celebrating for no reason except for GLENN whose curmudgeonly response was, “Sounds like a super-spreader event.”

Shut up, Glenn.

Here’s a “Drew Helping Henry Make Serial Killer Cards” interlude.

EW ALSO before I move on to the next topic, I was in the kitchen waiting for my kettle water to boil when I thought to myself, with much ire, “Fuck Ikea, and fuck their stupid meatballs too that I can’t even eat!” and then at that exact moment I looked over at our Echo Show and right there on the screen was a blatant picture of a MEATBALL PIE. UGH!!!

xxx DORCHESTER AVE

Chooch and I went for a walk around the town on Tuesday when suddenly (or, if you want to use my favorite Korean word: KAPCHUGGI), some inbred hick children on a porch shouted, nay–hollered, “TRUMP 2020” at us. We paused briefly and looked over our shoulders to see what kind of redneck specimen we were dealing with, when they kept shouting garbled insults. The one thing I did hear was one of them calling me a FUCKING WHORE–completely unprovoked!!!!–at which point I had to brace myself because “REMINDER, MISS ERIN, 40-YEAR-OLDS MUST NOT ENGAGE WITH TEENAGERS” so instead I flipped them off.

“TELL IT TO MY FACE!” one of them fired back on the tail-end of a loogie and as I was about to turn around and do just that, Chooch tugged my arm and stage-whispered, “PLEASE LET’S JUST GO, KEEP WALKING OMG.”

“Do you know them!?” I cried, and he said, “No, and I don’t want to!” So we continued on our walk but I had the rage-shakes at this point and to  make matters worse, we were in a part of Brookline where we never walk and it brought us out near the laundromat where we hid from Henry that one time, and the walk back from this area is not easy. The original plan was that we were just going to walk a certain distance and then turn around but now we couldn’t do that since Chooch didn’t want his mom to end up in the slammer for bullying kids. (Apparently one of them was about 8, he said, lol. I didn’t get a good look at any of them on account of the MURDER CURTAINS lowering across my face, and also I have bad eyesight.)

So we ducked into the nearby Dollar General and called Henry to come pick us up. Henry was….not very excited to be dragged into this, especially when I gave him explicit directions back to the Hick House so that I could harass them but they were no longer on the porch. Chooch snagged the house address though and we came home and signed them up for all kinds of spam mail and I am also going to type up a NICE LETTER to send to their parents so that they know they’re shitbag children are harassing people but who am I kidding, their mama was probably slinking around on the other side of the door, slurring, “YINZ GET ‘EM BOYS. FUCKIN’ LIBRULLS.”

(It wasn’t like we were parading around their street in a bedazzled Biden/Harris robe! We could have been Trump supporters for all they knew! God, I wish MAGA would stick their collective dicks in a light socket.)

Henry kind of got into it later thought and went as far as to look up the owner of the house – they’re apparently renting it from some broad.

I HAD A REVIEW

Today was my annual performance review and the comments I got from Boss Amber were honestly the best ones yet I think and I MIGHT HAVE teared up while reading it. I mean, it’s always a good sign when it starts out with “Erin is a rare gem in the department.” In last year’s review, I was the “department unicorn.” WHAT SHOUD I STRIVE FOR NEXT???

It’s hard to believe we haven’t worked from the office since March. I miss everyone so much. Yeah, we talk on the phone and Jabber or whatever, but it’s not the same. And sometimes I feel like I’m just over here talking into a void and wondering if anyone would even notice if I, say, went missing because my passive aggressive handling of the Dorchester Avenue situation became less passive and more aggressive and Porch Kids’ Papa snatched me from my yard and now I’m bound and gagged with a surplus of GRAB ‘EM BY THE PUSSY bumper stickers and locked in some local Brookline basement VOTER FRAUD WAR ROOM, right next to the commode and an empty case of IRON CITY BEER.

IT’S CHH CHH CHH HAA HAA HAA DAY

Or, Friday the 13th for those of you who don’t live your life in onomatopoeia. Sugar Spell Scoops has a special flavor for today so of course we had to snatch up a pint!

We are hashtag so blessed to have such a…killer vegan ice cream joint in Pittsburgh. I’m serious – I mean, I love ice cream but I can’t remember ever getting this hyped over a local scoop shop releasing new flavors, honestly. I can’t wait for covid to hit the road so I can drag my friends there for some social scoops instead of hoarding pints here at home.

(We also got Peanut Butter Cinnamon Fluffernutter and Pumpkin Pecan Fudge in this round of pint preorders and I’m PRETTY PLEASED with this selection.)

***

Well, guys, I think that’s about all I got for this here Friday Five but if I think of anything else pressing, I’ll schedule a press conference at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping and….fill you in.

Nov 112020
 

Long time readers (lol) might remember when we got some cheap-ass coffee table years ago from the thrift store and refurbed it into a Mod Podge-sponsored photo album. Well…it didn’t hold up very well. All it took was one spilt water bottle to make the underneath stuff expand and bloat and then even after that a bunch of the photos didn’t age well (see also: I included photos of people who ended up being assholes and we no longer speak) so I mostly just kept the table covered.

I think it was last May or June when we decided to finally redo it and got as far as stripping off the old pictures and repainting it, but then Kitchen Redesign 2020 took precedence and the table just sat here with a piece of wood-stuff on top of it for, well, months and months.

Long story short, Henry mismeasured and then ordered the wrong amount of pictures and I was ready to take an axe to it and just buy some generic geometric thing from Target or whateverthefuck, but Henry was like NO, I WILL PREVAIL and then finally took speed or something and got the thing done last weekend.

Here’s what it looked like the first time around:

While all of those photos told a story and 90% made me smile on the daily, there were some that….didn’t age well. Because they featured people who turned out to be…assholes. You know how it is.

So this time around, I decided that I wanted to use photos that would ONLY trigger HAPPINESS. Obviously, those are pictures of my favorite people in my favorite country.

I am a super sentimental person and have always been a hoarder of photos. For god’s sake, pretty much the only things I took from my grandparents’ house was photo albums! I’m always looking for new ways to display photos because sadly I’m running out of walls. (See next photo, lol.)

Pardon the mess in the background, but everything around here is still very much “in progress.” Lol.

I chose this color scheme because it’s similar to the colors used on the palaces in South Korea, and I used photos from both trips and it was so hard to choose!

But the TV in the background, tho!!!!!!

Also, anything you see scattered around the floor is 99.9% of the time a cat toy.

Henry still has to fill the holes in the trim (HE USED A NAIL GUN AND ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT WAS HAPPY GILMORE’S CONSTRUCTION JOB BOSS) but I love how this version of the table turned out. And I can’t wait until we can have people over again so I can make them sit here while I point out and explain EVERYSINGLEPHOTO on this table, like some bizarre Pinterest-age version of a1960s vacation slideshow. Oh, brace yo’selves, future visitors.

I look at these pictures and feel like everything is going to be ok. You know that episode of The Walking Dead were Carol is like, “Just look at the flowers, Lizzy”? If you’re planning on killing me, just tell me to look at the table. Let these pictures be my flowers.

Maybe someday I will just project all of my photos onto the side of the house. The neighbors would love that.

Penelope thinks it’s just OK.

OK, I’m signing off now. Lemme know if you have any cool ideas for future photo display projects. I want to do something with amusement park photos next!

Nov 102020
 

It was the epitome of “Indian summer” here in Pittsburgh over the weekend, so I tried to spend as much time as possible outside because pretty soon, every blog post is going to start with my signature whines and cries of OMG I HATE WINTER EVERYTHING IS GROSS AND COLD. Gotta soak up the sun while it’s still radiating warmth, you know?

I haven’t gone to the cemetery by myself in a hot ass minute so while Henry was doing chores at home, I headed off to my favorite boneyard, Uniondale, armed with an audio book (“Night Swim”) and head mercifully empty of negative thoughts and impending doom and gloom for once (this probably won’t last long but I was still basking in election afterglow).

I was really enjoying my quiet time when some utility-esque truck rolled up and two guys got out. One of them was wearing Henry clothes (ugly pants with ugly shirt) so I could tell he was some sort of maintenance worker man….I mean, the walkie talkie in his pocket was also telling. We exchanged pleasantries the first time we passed each other but then when he walked past me on another part of the trail, I kept my eyes on the ground because one hello is enough, you know? We’re established now. Let’s not get carried away.

I’m obsessed with chonky tree trunks.

In my perfect world, spring would start at the beginning of February and go until the beginning of June. Summer would be June to the end of August. Autumn (and I mean true autumn/sweater weather, every day between 50-60 degrees and leaves staying yellow and red through the whole season) would be September until mid-December. Winter/Shitty Days would be mid-December through January. That way all those OMG SNOW YAY weirdos can have their moment, too, I guess. But in my world, winter HAS NO GRAY SKIES. Every single winter day has got to have blue skies and sun.

And all amusement parks stay open with all rides running because the temperature will never dip low enough to render coasters inoperable.

After cruising around the cemetery for a bit, it became clear that the worker guys were not leaving anytime soon (I think they were just doing a sweep of the grounds?) so I cut across the street and walked around the other part of the cemetery. Uniondale is divided into three sections by streets so it seems like there are three separate cemeteries in that area but they’re all the same. I definitely prefer the one I started out at because it’s more secluded and less likely to have other people there. Not on this day though!

But then in this part of the cem, a tree cutting service was loafin’ all up on one of the paths!!

I mean, doesn’t this just look like the perfect November day? Except that it was like 70 degrees!

I didn’t encounter anyone in this cemetery (not sure where those pesky tree cutters were), but once I went back to the other section, I ran into that walkie talkie again and he STRUCK UP A CONVERSATION WITH ME so I had to hold up a finger while I paused my damn audiobook and I’m all for exchanging pleasantries, but we had already done that! Anyway, he started interrogating me on my walking habits.

“You walk a lot?” he asked, and I said yes and then he said, “About how much?” and I’m like, “I mean….every day?”

Like, did he want actual stats? Should I add him on FitBit?

“‘Cause I seen you walking here, and then I seen you walking all the way over there on the other side, too!” he said, pointing over at the cemetery on the other side of the street.

I mean, I get around, I guess. Oh, those trusty feet o’ mine.

“You come here every Sunday or something?” he pressed and now I was getting concerned even though it’s always been my dream to get picked up in a cemetery, you know, but the “you come here often?” line? Really?

I mumbled something about coming here every now and then, and then awkwardly veered onto another path so I wouldn’t have to keep walking with him.

Luckily, there was a couple chilling nearby in the grass with their dog, so I wasn’t like, fearing for my life or anything.

LIKE I WAS THIS ONE TIME!!

Then I came home.

Later in the afternoon, I threw a fit because it was still so beautiful out and I wanted to have family fun time and also get ice cream to celebrate, you know, election outcomes. We went to Bill’s in Elizabeth and they REALLY SKIMPED ON THE CRUNCHIES.

Chooch had to walk away once Henry reached the cone part of the ice cream experience. Chooch REALLY HATES mouth sounds.

Then we went to a playground in Cedar Creek park!

It took us a billion tries to get this picture! It was like a really sad tuba consolation since we haven’t been able to add to our collection of traditional family carousel selfies this year.

I couldn’t stop laughing because Henry & Chooch accidentally matched, lol.

Then we got stuck behind a pickup truck with a Trump flag billowing it like a visual fart, and we were making really exaggerated barfing noises but then I was like, “wait…did that flag say Trump 2024??” Like, they already knew that the big orange crybaby was going to lose and had a 2024 flag on standby?

Anyway, we had a lot of fun walking on the trail, and Henry was especially excited when he heard A REMOTE CONTROL TOY JET that someone was flying in the distance. Chooch and I were like, “That’s not that great.”

On the way back to the car, we saw a bald eagle! Chooch was like, “This feels symbolic…”

Nov 092020
 

We got a new president AND Taemin in a cropped sweater in the same week, I am feeling so well-fed and blessed.

I actually almost (ALMOST) forgot this was dropping today because I have been so consumed and obsessed with election stuff and trolling Trump’s voter fraud hotline and laughing at Four Seasons Total Landscaping memes but then I woke up early to go to my gum doctor follow-up appointment and screamed OH SHIT, NEW TAEMIN!! So I had glorious music to listen to on the way there and back, thank you Taemin.

Then I came home and made Henry (he’s off all week!) watch the MV and then he said, “I want to hear the song with Wendy (from Red Velvet)” and I dunno why this was so hilarious to me but it was so I laughed because everything is funny when you just had a weight lifted from your heart that had been consistently compounding for four years.

Have a wonderful Monday, friendos!

(How can I upgrade my current Taemin cutout to one of him in that white cropped sweater holy shit.)

Nov 072020
 

Got this image from Twitter, credit unknown!

I didn’t realize how much stress and anxiety I had been carrying until this moment, when so much of it came melting off me like Tammy Faye Baker’s makeup during a good spiritual cry.

This country is so broken and it’s going to need a lot more than this to fix it, but hey – at least we know which of our neighbors and relatives are racists now, if we hadn’t already. I cut a friend out of my life this year because of their flagrant disdain toward the BLM movement so in a way, thanks for enabling people to show their true colors, Trump.

I’m looking forward to not having to spend holidays with my Trumper family members this year, that’s for sure. Also looking forward to having a president I can respect again, and not being embarrassed to be an American. Let’s show the world that we can be a team player again!

Nov 052020
 

Need a musical distraction from this anxiety-inducing vote-counting spectator sport?

Because the new CL single is everything.

I love it when a Queen comes back.

OK, carry on. Let’s hope that the orange toddler-tyrant will soon be officially named the loser that we always knew he was.

Nov 052020
 

I’m not gonna front: when quarantine first happened, I was like,  “You know what? I’m OK with this.” Because honestly, I don’t really hang out with friends all that often anyway and sometimes I just plain don’t like obligations, you know? Like sometimes, if I had plans and then the other person bailed last minute, I would sometimes get that OH THANK GOD weight lifted from my chest. I don’t know, I have two personalities: one’s an extrovert and the other hates people, and they are always at war.

But you know what I miss? House parties. OK, that sounds much cooler than I intended, but I mean literally just little get-togethers at my house and not just because that means Henry will clean REAL GOOD beforehand and we have lots of snacks, but because it’s always cozy having a houseful of my favorites.

So I was like, “I wonder when the last game night was….” and shoot you guys, it was nearly FIVE YEARS AGO. Blake and Haley didn’t even have children yet! Chooch still had pink in his hair! OBAMA WAS STILL OUR PRESIDENT AND THE 4-YEAR NIGHTMARE HADN’T STARTED YET!

(Also, now that I’m strolling down Game Night memory lane, it’s no wonder Chooch has always gotten along better with adults than kids his own age: he grew up playing age-inappropriate games with all of my friends!)

Anyway, here’s the last game night that ever was. Maybe I will have another as soon as we’re able to go into people’s houses again (I mean, I know some people don’t give a shit and are having gatherings galore, but just to be clear: we’re still social distancing and not attending parties.)

OK, back to obsessively watching election coverage.

****

Rise & Shine! It’s Game Night!

January 2016

Party People

  • Kara
  • Corey
  • Chris and Monica
  • Blake and Haley
  • Aaron and Erica (I think — drinking does not allow me to remember names)
  • JANNA – WHO WAS THE LAST ONE TO ARRIVE

In my quest to be more social, and to satiate Chooch’s constant desire to play games, I planned a small game night for January 23rd. The theme was BREAKFAST FOODS, because God forbid I should just have a regular game night and let my friends bring a simple bag of Fritos. I had big hopes and aspirations for this game night: a waffle bar! some type of OJ punch! egg things!

But this before I knew we were getting a kitten(s).

So instead of an elaborate spread fit for the gods of the A.M., Henry half-assedly churned out ONE VARIATION of waffle (PLAIN) and made some crappy chili chicken dip to meet the “savory” quota, leaving me to my own devices to come up with other dips.

I went with the exotic Nutella; the opulent purple Funfetti frosting straight from a can; and a maple fluff worthy to coat the gullet of the worlds most renowned gourmands.

A/K/A maple syrup mixed with Marshmallow Fluff.

Thank god for my back-up plan: CAP’N CRUNCH PARTY MIX. And no I didn’t use a recipe! Instead, I concocted it in my head, at work, and bounced ideas off of Glenn.

“What else should I put in my Cap’n Crunch party mix?” I asked him.

“What all have you got so far?”

“….Cap’n Crunch.”

“……”

A day later, I shouted, “PEANUTS! Peanuts would go good in a Capn Crunch party mix, right?”

“Sure,” Glenn mumbled.

In the end, I went with honey roasted peanuts, pretzels, and then I attempted to drizzle white chocolate over it but newsflash: I don’t know how to drizzle white chocolate, so it wound up hardening very quickly and then I decided to just go with white chocolate clumps.

“I like how some of the pretzels have white chocolate on them,” Chris said in a very complimentary manner which I greatly appreciated.

“Thanks! I did that myself. They’re HAND-CRAFTED.” I literally was so angry at the white chocolate that I started smashing mounds of it against the pretzels as a form of torture. I showed you, white chocolate.

Then I dumped a bunch of sprinkles on it. Then I made Henry go and buy me chocolate chips, and hooray, that shit was happy to be drizzled.

It worked. This shit was teeth-rottening divine.

Keeping with my staunch theme of breakfast foods only, Kara brought delicious chocolate-filled croissants and mini muffins; Chronica brought monkey bread which we were all eagerly awaiting since they texted me a picture of it and my phone promptly got passed around; and JANNA WHO WAS LATE brought a French toast casserole. She was late because the casserole was still in the oven when game night was scheduled to start and I was like, “WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO PUT IT IN THE OVEN THEN JANNA.”

Whatever, it was really good even though she was an hour late.

And when Blake arrived with his posse, he was carrying a bottle in a bag and I thought to myself, “Oh my god, Blake is like an actual adult now! He brought something to game night!”

YEAH, A BOTTLE OF MAD DOG FOR HIMSELF!

We played Taboo first, because I forgot until the last minute that our Catchphrase broke a long time ago and we never replaced it, because why would we ever think to replace my FAVORITE GAME NIGHT game. Taboo is basically almost the same game but it just doesn’t feel right in my hands.

Game Night: Round One was kind of utter pandemonium because Janna spiked her casserole with Robitussin and some of us couldn’t seem to grasp the “every other person is on your team” concept and Chooch threw a fit at one point and there were close to four separate conversations going on while the person holding Taboo was shouting out clues and then Corey kept hitting the wrong button and Kara looked like she was about to lose her fucking mind.

However, there was a highlight! And that was when it was Henry’s turn and all he said was, “Erin has one…”

My mind reeled. I have many things! What was a thing that I have?! A complex? An estranged mother?

Meanwhile, Monica was already calmly suggesting, “A blog.”

First guess. And she was right!

This was right before Kara ripped off her face to reveal the Directionator. LISTEN TO HER READ THE DIRECTIONS AND FOLLOW ALONG, PEOPLE. Together, we can all get through it.

This is the first time I didn’t take a picture of my dumb beverage buffet. I made a punch that was supposed to be a screwdriver but it wasn’t (the recipes on Smirnoff’s website are lamer than your average lifestyle blogger) so I changed the name to Good Morning Punch. It was OK. Nothing fancy like you’d typically expect at my ragers.

Corey and I made Janna tell her harrowing tale of Robitussin codependency, like this was a surprise intervention. No one laughed nearly as hard as Corey and I did, if at all.

The last game we played was Likewise, and I was on a team with Erica (really hope that’s her name). She chose wisely because we dominated. If her name really is Erica though, I sincerely regretted naming ourselves the A+ Team when E2 was the clear choice. We did butt heads a quick second though when the prompt was “something unusual at the beach” and I wrote down “Igloo” because hello, that’s unusual. We had a slight argument about it but I got way and no one ended up getting any points for that round anyway, soooooo.

The last question was beautiful singer or something and I was trying to send ESP waves to Henry and Corey so that they would write down Robert Smith but they kept smirking at me confusedly, so we ended up going with the obvious choice of Justin Bieber, matched two other teams, and FUCKING WON.

BECAUSE THAT’S ALL I DO IS WIN.

And we all lost at Cards Against Humanity to a nine-year-old*, and then Chris taught Chooch how to crochet while Monica tried to get us to guess “Janna fondling breasts coated with Robitussin” during some late night charades.

*(To be fair, Monica tied with him.)

img_1327

The end.

Nov 042020
 

Hello. Checking in. How are you? Numb? Optimistic? Drunk? Like maybe you’re finally waking up from a four year nightmare? Chooch and I have been so on edge (Henry is ambivalent as always). Like, all day I kept calling Henry and screaming things like DO YOU THINK BIDEN COULD REALLY TAKE MICHIGAN AND WISCONSIN and he’d just be like *noncommittal grunt*. I wanted to reach through the phone and shake him! Like, YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE, DUDE! PLEASE CARE ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY, YOU MILQUETOAST FAKE PATRIOT!

But Chooch has been my little election buddy. He kept running downstairs in between his classes, yelling things like, “IF BIDEN CAN WIN *INSERT STATE*, HE’LL WIN 11 POINTS!” Because when you look at it like it’s a video game with a score, what teenager WOULDN’T be interested? Also, Chooch fucking hates Trump’s guts, so he’s pretty invested in this. I didn’t care about politics at all when I was his age, but also, we didn’t have a president as fucked up as the one we have now (but hopefully not for much longer).

Anyway, now it’s much later at night and I’m a lot calmer. How are you? You good? Hanging in there? Need some cat pictures? I gotchu.

Our cats fucking love these stupid holiday cat scratchers that Target is always schilling to us crazy cat families. We never put away the one that we got them last Christmas, so Chooch connected them and now they have a Christmas villa.

They were upset at first because they REALLY like the Halloween hotel one that we bought them earlier this fall, but then we showed them that it was just moved to Chooch’s bedroom so now they’re happy again.

(They REALLY love these things!)

Penelope has resting bitch face. She’s actually the sweetest cat ever.

I mean, no really.

Henry still hasn’t finished the coffee table. Don’t even get me started. But he’s off all next week and I have a TO DO list all scribbled out for him. He doesn’t accrue any PTO at Erin Appledale Inc.

Well, I’m off to, I dunno, do late night Pilates or something before camping out on the couch all night again, with CNN on in the background, waking me up every hour in a fucking panic. I mean, that’s not what I did last night or anything.

Nov 032020
 

I woke up this morning and like probably most Americans, vomited over the side of my bed into my Victorian chamber pot. Presidential elections should not incite these kinds of full-body emotional meltdowns.

After eating breakfast which I couldn’t even taste because even my palate is numb I guess, I started watching The Unicorn on Netflix because I needed a mediocre American family sitcom with short episodes to keep me from my thoughts. It was ok! I will probably continue watching season 1 and then wind up getting attached only for it to get canceled.

Now it’s 10am. I spent the first hour of my work day not being able to log on and waiting for the help desk to, you know, help. That really added a few BPMs to my Election Day heart rate.

But I would like to take a moment here to show you the gallery wall in my “office area/dining room” which henry helped me achieve. It took a lot longer than you’d think but it was worth it to have happy images in front of me all day!

The desktop background of the computer is also a picture from Seoul so it blends right in, see also: what is obsession?

Probably 75% of the frames were purchased at various Goodwills and thrift shops for this very purpose but it also resulted in Henry crying out, “WHAT THE FUCK SIZE EVEN IS THIS? THEY DON’T MAKE PHOTOS THIS SIZE!!” more than once and then we learned that something happened to Henry’s brain somewhere along the way and he can no longer “do measuring” so every time we had photos printed, there would be like 3 that suddenly didn’t fit into any of the frames, so that was the catalyst to several spats, lol, noooo not Henry and me, we NEVER argue.

Way before we started to redo the dining room, I had the idea to do a gallery wall with frames that matched our dining room table chairs, and then that turned into, “but we should also paint that wall” which turned into, “Well just one painted wall is dumb guess we should do the whole room” which turned into, “Wait, put stripes on this part of the wall” which turned into, “let’s just make the room completely unrecognizable because, corona.” All in all, it’s comforting to me and makes working from home less sucky!

I saw these little clipboard frames at Michaels and felt they would be perfect to fill up the smaller gaps while displaying travel ephemera like ticket stubs and metro cards. I was way too excited about this and Henry was like *ambivalent nod of semi-approval-ish*.

Boarding pass from Incheon to Tokyo and bus ticket to Ildong from when we went to stay at G-Dragon’s pension!

Instant coffee from our hotel in Busan!

I’m obsessed with the one of the palace guards.

Now it’s 10:30 which also turns out is PUZZLE TIME and the cats are HERE FOR IT.

We all need distracted. Currently looking for Obama coffee mugs.

I started a HELP ME UGHHHHH email chain with several work friends and now we’re talking about stress-eating Mad Mex and that sounds like a great idea except that on Election Night 2016, we went to a nearby Mexican restaurant and I will never forget how sick I felt with  both a plate of enchiladas and a giant TV screen displaying polling results in front of me. We know the outcome of THAT election, so now I’m afraid that getting Mexican food again will jinx it, ughhhhh what to do.

11:30. Do I have the attention span to start an audiobook to help me get through the work day? I’m not sure. Everything fucking sucks. My brain is full of thought marbles.

It’s 1:17. I just ate a bagel and a sad Boca burger for lunch. It was unfulfilling. Everything is sad today.

3:33 now and I’m just numb-ish. Chooch and I went for a walk during my lunch break. I returned two books that I DNF’d (TWO DNFs!! Who even am I?!) and then we did our usual stroll about Brookline, critiquing people’s landscaping. I have two hours left of work, which has been OK and since several people are off today, I’m providing backup for some things that I haven’t done in a while so it’s kind of giving me a fresh outlook, in a way, and also sort of keeping me distracted but now Henry is home and he hasn’t voted yet and I am practically about to shove him in a wheelbarrow and push him across the street to our polling place.

OK he just left to do his civil duty! Godspeed American Hank.

4:40: My friend Nate and I are chatting about thirst traps so this feels more like a normal Tuesday now.

Sort of.

Guys, did I tell you that YG Entertainment officially confirmed that THE KING, THE LEGEND, KWON JIYONG-SSI, G-DRAGON, GD, is finally working on a comeback?? That’s the pillow that I’m screaming into today.

Speaking of G-Dragon, this older Mino song came on our Spotify playlist over the weekend and it made me miss Taeyang and BIGBANG in general so much that it felt like I had the air knocked out of me.

6:30: I sat down to watch more episodes of The Unicorn and now that Henry’s home, he usurped my personal space and started laughing too hard and saying things like WHO IS THAT GUY and WHAT SHOW IS THIS and like, go watch one of your dumb cop shows and back off my wholesome sitcom about a widower with super annoying friends, for gods sake.

Look, I can’t do this. My body is straight up sizzling. I think I’m going to get drunk and set things on fire. Hopefully we come out the other side of this with the outcome we want and this country needs.

Oh my god, BARF VOMIT GAG.