Sep 212017

Way back when I was live-blogging our boring-ass drive home from Chicago, I mentioned that we stopped at a religious-y place and that it would get its own blog post…and then of course it got put on the back-burner. But tonight I finally sorted through the pictures and I AM READY TO GET THIS CHURCHY BLOG POST PARTY STARTED, BOI.

Let’s start with a quick backstory: the first time Henry and I went to Chicago in 2014, I stumbled upon this place on Roadside America unofficially dubbed “Ultraviolet Apocalypse” in Munster, Indiana. I begged Henry to take me here on the way home, but then I saw that it’s only open on SUNDAYS. Ugh, leave it to a church to only be open on Sundays.

What it actually is: the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery founded by Polish friars who emigrated to the US in 1950. But the big ticket item is the man-made grotto on the grounds, which is three-stories tall and fashioned from 250 tons of sponge rock–I had to look this up because I actually thought it was made from geodes. From what I read online, parts of the grotto are illuminated by black light and the photos I saw looked like the holy version of black light posters sold at Spencer’s.

This place was MADE FOR ME. Religious AND tacky? Take me there.

I looked it up again during this last trip and noticed that it said you could call ahead to schedule a tour. So while we were in the Lincoln Park Zoo that Sunday, I made Henry call (begrudgingly so) and he confirmed that the broad in the office said that the grotto would be open, especially since Monday was a holiday (Labor Day).


I couldn’t wait to finish breakfast the next morning and set off to Munster, Indiana, which thankfully wasn’t very far out of the way. We rolled up into the mostly empty lot but I did notice the occasional parishioner moving to and fro.

I wanted to save the grotto for last, obv., so we casually strode around the grounds, looking at the Stations of the Cross like we were knew what we doing, and oohing and awing at the statues. I know the general consensus is that I must be a fucking asshole at places like this, but actually, I’m very respectful and truly enjoy being around these things, even though I don’t have a lick of faith left in my Hell-charred bones.

And surprisingly, Chooch is also very interested in these types of places too, and we get a lot of joy out of reading plaques and running our fingers across the cold marble faces of saints we’ve never heard of.

The grounds were so lovely, and it was still early enough in the morning that it felt like fall, so Chooch and I happily wore hoodies.

I love the woodwork of this shrine!


Except that those steps were so hard and cold, covered in puddles and razor-edged pine needles. I was in pain (which was the point, I guess, because Jesus died on the cross, etc.) and at one point took my hoodie off and tried to use it as knee pads but that proved futile and I only ended up sopping up the puddles with it.

Meanwhile, Chooch scrambled up to the top like he was being chased by Jason Voorhees and then gloated for the next hour because it took me an extra five minutes to pull my fat body up to the top.

But I did it.

For Christ.

Henry, on the other hand, was like, “Nope” and walked around tp the other side where reverence wasn’t required.

My fucked-up knees.

The steps Henry took didn’t go all the way to the top, so he asked us what was up there.

“Um, I don’t know. Jesus on the cross, I guess,” I mumbled, pulling pine needles out of my busted knees.

Beneath this was an underground level which featured Jesus’s tomb, but the door to it was locked. I was half-expecting that though from reading the tips on Roadside America. And it was time to check out the Grotto anyway, so I wasn’t crying too much about it.



Helpless, we walked back to the parking lot. “Maybe we should look for someone,” I said, and we walked over to the church, which had a few old people inside praying.

“That one guy looks like a priest or something but I AM NOT INTERRUPTING HIM WHILE HE’S PRAYING,” Henry rushed to finish before I could even ask. And the office had a “closed” sign on it.


So we hung around in our car like total fucking creeps for the next 30 minutes, deliberating. I didn’t want to leave, not after coming this close after three years of attempts. At some point, an older broad rolled up with a young kid, and we watched them waltz right on into the closed office! So then I got it in my head that she worked there and she became my new target.

So we went into the office too and it was completely dark. We noticed the lady and the boy went into the chapel, which was connected. They were just chilling on a pew and again, Henry was like, “I AM NOT INTERRUPTING PRAYING PEOPLE.”

Back to the car we went. We were just about to leave when another car pulled in and a lady in a pink shirt got out. She also had a small kid with her. The other lady came out of the chapel and was talking to her, so then we deduced that it was actually Pink Shirt who was in charge around there. She was pulling bins out of the back of her minivan, which made us feel like she worked there. Like maybe they were filled with Bible Study props or something.

It became clear that Henry wasn’t going to be proactive about this situation, so Chooch and I got out of the car and approached Pink Shirt.

“Let me guess, you’re here for the Polish school, too!” she asked happily. Immediately, something about her reminded me of Clea Duvall and I felt instantly at ease.

“No, the Grotto actually!” and I dove right into my sob story about how we came from Pittsburgh—-

“—Not just for this, I hope!” she interrupted with a laugh. “I mean, it’s great, but….”

I explained that we were coming home from Chicago, that I had been trying to see this place for years, and that someone in the office told us that it would be open that day but it wasn’t.

“Hmm, you’ll need to see Father [John*]. He’ll be able to help you,” she said.

*(I can’t remember his name, one of the perils in waiting a million weeks to blog about these things. #amateur)

I asked her what he looked like, and she laughed and said, “Polish!” but then she set down her huge plastic bin of Polish school supplies (maybe??) and brought Chooch and me into the office just as Father was emerging from the chapel. 

He was a robust older man in shorts and a tshirt and I 100% never would have thought he was the guy I was looking for. 

Pink Shirt explained to him our predicament and in a thick, beautiful Polish accent, he exclaimed, “Oh I don’t know who would have told you the grotto was open today!”

I shrugged and said, “My….husband spoke to a woman when he called the office yesterday.” Chooch shot me a sneer when I said ‘husband’ and later I explained that I didn’t to say BOYFRIEND. Husband sounded more legit since we were in a church, and not “Hi we are a couple of heathens and this here is our child born out of wedlock. Toss us them there keys to the grotto.”

“SO YOU LIED,” Chooch pointed out. 


Father was super harried. Turns out he was the only one there that day, which meant he was getting pulled in a million directions. “Oh boy, let me see,” he sighed, blowing frustrated air up into his face. “Give me five minutes. Uh, go look at the church or something,” and he spun around to see about getting the key. 

I LOVED THIS MAN. I loved his earthy accent, I loved his utter refusal to hide the fact that he was seriously annoyed by me and my ill-timed request, I loved that even though he was busy he was willing to pause his actual church work to help some dumb broad from Pittsburgh see a roadside attraction.

Long story still long, Father John found a dude to open the grotto for us! Which was fortuitous to the handful of people who had arrived in the interim and now got to reap the rewards of my relentless puppy dog-eying the Polish father. (He was a friar maybe? I’m not sure.)

No pictures, no words, can do this place justice. Walking into the grotto, I expected to be disappointed. Ok, not disappointed….but maybe the sense that this wasn’t worth the trouble. 

Nope. Did not feel this way at all. It was an operatic “ahhhhhhhhhhh!” moment and I immediately began to touch EVERYTHING (later Chooch would point out a sign that said “do not touch the walls.” Oops. 

This grandfather/grandson power duo happened to be there as the doors were unlocked, so Chooch and I went in with them and let the little boy be our tour guide. He kept yelling, “GUYS, COME ON!” and his grandfather would just chuckle and say, “Let them go at their own pace.” But we humored the kid and let him tug us through all three levels of the beautiful grotto. 

Yessssssssss.  I need my basement to look like this. 

There were various pieces of quartz and crystal* encrusted in some spots of the walls, which was why I originally thought the walls were made from split open geodes. 

* (?? I’m not up on my geology—I did so terribly in my geology class at Pitt because it was during the last trimester of my pregnancy and I didn’t fit in the desk because it had an attached chair so a janitor had to find me another desk and I was having hot flashes constantly so that’s what I think of when I see things like this) 

Henry wasn’t with us, and it turns out he was stopped by another guy from the church who didn’t speak English, and that guy went into the closed gift shop and brought out a guide for Henry to borrow. So Henry got to walk through on his own with a book of info. Like he even cared!

After being mesmerized by the grotto, we walked back over to the holy steps to see if the tomb was opened now too and it was! 

It was bigger than I imagined, with several alcoves, one of which had the next ultraviolet spot of the whole joint:

It was breathtaking, honestly. Even Henry said he was glad we stopped and things worked out, because it was worth seeing. It made my heart feel so big and swollen for a little bit (probably until around noon when I started to get hungry).

If you ever in the Chicago area, I highly recommend taking the detour to Munster, Indiana. Just make sure if it’s not a Sunday, you’re prepared to hunt down some Polish Fathers for assistance. 

Sep 192017

For those not in the kpop loop, Taeyang is one of the members of Bigbang, inarguably one of the biggest kpop groups of all time (this is pure numerical fact, you guys). And like a lot of kpop idols, Taeyang occasionally strays from his group and does the solo thing. With an impending military enlistment in his very near future and Bigbang currently on a hiatus, Taeyang churned out a beautiful solo album called White Night late August and set off on his first ever solo tour of North America.

G-Dragon is my ultimate bias but I do love Taeyang a lot as well. If I had to compare him to an American artist, I’d have to go with Ne-Yo — he’s got the smooth R&B sensibilities — mixed with the sick dancing of Chris Brown. I might actually enjoy Taeyang’s dancing even more than his vocals, and watching live Bigbang performances imakes it hard to ignore how joyful he looks.

The Chicago date for the White Night Tour was conveniently set for Labor Day weekend, almost like Taeyang was handing me an invitation in one perfectly white-gloved hand. Henry of course was like FML because I had recently decided that I didn’t want to go to Riot Fest this year because the line-up wasn’t tickling me, so he basically got rid of one Chicago road trip and then almost immediately replaced it with another. And full disclosure, one basic (i.e. no soundcheck, send-off, etc) ticket was pretty close to the same amount as my three-day Riot Fest pass. Totally fucking worth it. (Thankfully, I was able to sell my Riot Fest pass though!)

Henry and Chooch came to Chicago with me but since we don’t own our house and couldn’t take out a second mortgage, three Taeyang tickets were slightly out of reach, so I went to the show alone. They were total baes though and at least rode the L with me to the Aragon Ballroom so I wouldn’t have a panic attack. Hey, isn’t it enough that I at least go to concerts alone?

Since I was just a basic old P2 ticket holder, I didn’t bother getting there super early since I knew I was already going to be at least two sections away from the stage, so instead I rolled up right when doors opened at 6. I don’t know what I expected, that I could just waltz right into the venue straight from the L station? Because nope. So many nopes. A Wacky Worm full of nopes. There was a huge line that wrapped around the theater and into the empty lot alongside of it. These were all P2 people. I couldn’t believe it.

There were two long lines parallel with the building, and then numerous smaller lines facing the theater, which you can kind of see in that picture up there. A security guard put me at the end of the last line, and then a girl eventually made her way down my line, checking our tickets and wristbanding us.

Taeyang White Night, P2 baby!

Two guys capped off the end of my line, and I listened with slight amusement as they people-watched and checked out the girls in line. Within the first fifteen minutes, though, they noticed me in spite of my natural invisibility, and the one with curly hair asked, “Excuse me, are you here by yourself?”

Forty alarms went off in my head, but this was a Taeyang show—-what was the worst that could happen?

After I admitted that I was, he said, “OK, well, you’re now a part of our conversation” and just like that, I became concert line pals with John and Paco. Paco was also attending the show alone, having driven there from St. Louis, but John was waiting out the line-standing with him out of solidarity. THAT IS A GOOD FRIEND, unlike Henry and Chooch who watched from a distance as I got in line and then mouthed “KBYE” as they ran back to the L.

Paco kept making up The Weeknd-esque songs about standing in line, and I couldn’t stop laughing. This was so much better than standing alone!


“Haha, this was when I was trying to get a picture of the Aragon marquee and Paco threw his hand in front of my phone,” I giddily told Henry later, whose response was, “You’re so dumb.”

After about an hour of people-watching, the line started to move and we eventually got to move over to the line that got to enter the venue next. The staff had this line-formation down to a science, and it moved flawlessly. Props to those people for keeping shit organized and efficient unlike those LiveNation motherfuckers in Toronto. I’m not sure if these people were Aragon staff, KPOP ME staff, or what, but they are fucking good at their job and I wanted to tell them that when I saw them after the show, but I was caught up in a current of happy Taeyang fans high on Hanguel.

I lost Paco inside the doors when girls had to get in different lines for the dreaded pat down / bag check, so that was Sad Times. However, this just meant that I got to get lost in my own little world during the show, which is the best thing about going to shows alone, in my opinion. I don’t have to be Erin for a few hours and it’s a goddamn relief.

You know how it is.

I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry to get to the stage area, because the lobby of the Aragon was stunning and I would have liked to take more pictures. At the end of the hallway, there were steps that went up and then split to the left and to the right, which then spilled out into the ballroom. It was so big! It had a vintage carnival feel to it, and the ceiling was painted like a galaxy.

Image result for aragon ballroom

This is 100% NOT MY PICTURE. I can’t find anyone to credit though, but I wanted to post it here to show how fantastic this venue is. I hope I can make it back there for more shows!

The way the venue was set up, the platinum VIPs were in the very first sliver of the floor, the behind that barricade were the P1 richies, and then behind the next and final barricade were us poor P2 peasants. However, by some stroke of fate, I was able to get second row behind the P2 barricade, off to the right (off to the right is my bread n’ butter concert spot, you guys; it’s the sweet spot for me). As it was with the G-Dragon show, the concert attendees were primarily Asian, and now that I have two kpop concerts under my belt, I feel that I can honestly say that these crowds were so much better than the crowds at most other concerts I go to. No pushing or shoving, just kindness all around.

I took this picture just to give Henry some perspective on where I was in the crowd.

Literally, I loved everyone around me! Especially the adorable girl to my left who took a phonecall before the show started and said something about being there alone, super shy and awkward, but then when the lights went down she was ALL LUNGS, my friends. That girl never stopped screaming and shouting the lyrics through the whole night and it was inspirational. I screamed right along with her because MOTHERFUCKING YOUNG BAE!!!!

Taeyang came out to the “White Night” intro and the frantic screaming around me nearly knocked me off balance. It was legit hysteria in the Aragon. I mean, have you seen Taeyang? He’s the total package. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

I lost track of the set list and couldn’t find one specifically from the Chicago show, but it seemed like it was pretty much the same for all US concerts, so here’s the one from San Jose:

  1. “White Night”
  2. “Ringa Linga”
  3. “Body”
  4. “Super Star”
  5. “Wake Me Up”
  6. “Only Look at Me”
  7. “Wedding Dress”
  8. “Amazin'”
  9. “1AM”
  10. “Naked”
  11. “So Good”
  12. “I Need A Girl”
  13. “Empty Road”
  14. “Ride”
  15. “Tonight”
  16. “Love You to Death”
  17. “Last Dance”
  18. “Darling”
  1. “Break Down”
  2. “Good Boy”
  3. “Stay With Me”
  4. “Bang Bang Bang”
  5. “Fantastic Baby”
  6. “Eyes, Nose, Lips”

He fell toward the end of “Ringa Linga” but bounced back right away because he’s a true entertainer. If that had been me, I would have lost my shit, tried to fire someone, and then stormed off stage.

Basically the same thing I do to Henry on a daily basis but instead of storming off a stage, I’m storming up the steps and slamming my bedroom door.


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"Wake Me Up"

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^^My favorite song from White Night <3.

What I like about Taeyang is that it’s so obvious just by watching a few interviews or variety shows that he’s a nice guy. A genuinely nice guy. There is a reality show about the making of BIGBANG from 2005 (I think?), where YG Entertainment was auditioning boys to be in the band. Taeyang and G-Dragon were pretty much guaranteed to make it because they had been YG trainees for like, ever, and BIGBANG was essentially being built around them. Anyway, the one thing about Taeyang that has always stuck out to me is that whenever G-Dragon would get really tough on the other guys (because he’s such a perfectionist and came off as super bossy in that series), he would sometimes make them cry, and then it would be Taeyang who would come over to comfort them after GD had left the room.

I don’t think his caring nature is an act. He just comes across as very down to earth and I really wish I could have attended the send-off after the show because he apparently has been taking time to greet and talk to every single fan there, I can’t even believe it, how is he so wonderful!?

Henry was like "Did Taeyang sing Good Boy?" and my response was to make him watch this video 87 times.

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If only G-Dragon had surprise-sauntered on stage for this though.

At one point, Taeyang sat down behind a piano. I started to clench, because I was pretty sure I knew what was coming, and it was freaking “Last Dance.” This is the ONLY BIGBANG song that I skip over when it comes on, beautiful as it is, because it makes me so sad and I honestly can’t handle it. However, there was no “skip” button at this show so I had to stand there and endure it, but luckily everyone else was crying too.

🔫🔫🔫 I sold my Riot Fest ticket so I could see Taeyang instead and I would 100% do it again every time.

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OMG OK so I know it’s not the same with the rest of BIGBANG there, but when Taeyang busted out “Bang Bang Bang” and “Fantastic Baby” during the encore, I thought we were all going to collectively begin squirting blood out of our mouths on account of the major throat-shredding this inspired! There is a really good chance I will never get to see BIGBANG live, so to be able to see Taeyang sing his parts and do the choreo that I have memorized from the millions of MV views, it was just so incredible and I WAS SO FUCKING PUMPED!!!!

I really thought the roof was going to crashing down around us, everyone was just going fucking nuts. How can anyone be immune to that?! I thought I was going to blow out blood vessels in my head!

The whole night had a very distinct, surreal veil draped over it. I was there, in the same room as Taeyang, an idol from across the world that I have watched in so many videos, wishing for the chance to be in the audience of one of this shows.  It was hard to believe that in the span of a little more than a month, I got to see two members of BIGBANG on their solo tours. To say I felt blessed is a huge understatement. I felt incredibly grateful, so much that it’s hard to even express without getting all cheesy and borderline Jesusy. Life is still so very far from perfect (sooooooo very), but this whole scene has really changed my attitude in some ways (not all, though — sorry Henry) and definitely added a ton of fun to my days. And it has taken me to Newark, Toronto, and Chicago just this summer alone! It has been so worth it and beyond memorable.

I will never forget this night.

Sep 182017

I’m glad this dropped on my last day of staycation so that I can watch it all day long, sorry Henry. 

Speaking of DNA, that lovely son of mine had an All About Me project due today so of course we (WE!!!) were working on it at 10:30 last night. Surprisingly, we are not now known as the Brookline Axe Murder House, but tensions were definitely running high. 

The boiling point was when Chooch started writing the word for “R” and left off the h in Rhymical. I told him he was spelling it wrong and YOU CANT TELL HIM ANYTHING BC HE KNOWS EVERYTHING (see also: his word for “E”) so he shouted, “The website I got it from had it spelled this way!” And I was like “What website was it, the Trump-approved Betsy DeVos Dictionary?!” Luckily he was able to squeeze that “h” in there. 

We couldn’t find any good “y” words (he wouldn’t use “yucky” even though its accurate) so I was like “My great-grandma was from Yugoslavia so just use that” and I know his teacher is going to be all YUGOSLAVIA ISNT A COUNTRY ANYMORE so we had to have a quick geography briefing in case she tries to call him out on that, he’ll be prepared. Bring it!!

There are other things about this poster board that make my OCD twerk, such as the placement of the photos which no one consulted me on, but whatever. Not my project. (THE FUN FUR BORDER WAS TOTES MY IDEA THO YR WELCOME 6TH GRADE CLASSROOM THAT WILL BE COUGHING UP FUR CHUNKS FOR THE NEXT SEMESTER.)

(Speaking of fun fur, when henry was diligently hot-gluing strips of it around the borders and motherfucking it up and down, he paused and asked, “Where did this come from, anyway?!” He must have blocked out the fun fur blazer DIY out of his mind I guess.)

Sep 162017


Chooch volunteered to do a photoshoot the other day because he wanted me to buy him Roblox money, whatever that means. So we went to an alley in Brookline because the weeds and garbage are on point back there.

Kpop vs Everybody, you guys. It sure feels like that sometimes! Although, Chris came over last night and completely let herself be immersed in our crazy culture takeover. Henry even made us japchae, and we watched Running Man and Bigbang videos and THEN WE DID SOME KPOPX.

It was such a fun night. Especially when Chooch and I took her on a Friday night walking tour through Brookline to get ice cream and she got to hear a bunch of people screaming because BROOKLINE.

I mentioned this once before, but this garage door is at the back of Las Palmas, a Mexican grocery store here in Brookline. About a year ago, some racist pricks (Trump supporters, for sure) spraypainted Mexican slurs on it but sucks to be them because this beautiful mural was Brookline’s response to THAT noise. Don’t fuck with our peeps.

(I have a major crush on one of the guys who runs the famous taco cart out front of the store. He has an eyebrow ring and he very sweetly says hello to me when I walk by which is often I’m a psycho walker, but if Henry is with me, THERE IS ONLY SILENCE. Henry ruins all of my crushes.)

Chooch got his hair cut a few weeks ago and it was TOO SHORT. But it’s growing, slowly but surely, and Chooch is starting to look like his old self again.

Still, some of these pictures make me do a double-take because he looks too old and I hate it.

Because he was getting paid in fake Internet money, Chooch was fucking FULL of poses on this day, man. He’d be talking all casually and then see me raise the camera and get all Blue Steel on me.    

This picture was on SCHOOL GROUNDS. I was like “Do you think we’ll get in trouble?” and Chooch pointed at a sign that said something about how absolutely NO USE of the school grounds was tolerated without permission from the superintendent or something. “I mean….” Chooch shrugged.

And that was that. 45 minutes of picture-posing and NO FIGHTING. It’s because Henry wasn’t with us.


Sep 162017

OK man, I’m really trying to blow through these Chicago posts because I want to write about the Taeyang concert, but my penchant for chronology won’t let me skip ahead. So let’s whiz through the second half of our Sunday in Chicago, because really it can be summarized by: lots of walking, more Chooch injuries, me pouting at lunch which was really projecting because I had pre-show nerves big time. It’s hard enough going to shows by myself in my own city, let alone some giant metropolis like Chicago. My nerves were shook, yo.

After Navy Pier, we decided to check out Lincoln Park (I type “Linkin” every single time, ugh) because of the free zoo. I have some mixed feelings about zoos, which is pretty obvious, but Henry and Chooch like them and anything that was going to eat up a few hours without also eating up our bank account was pretty desirable.

Henry thought he knew for sure how to get there via bus, but he done fucked up twice and we wound up standing in front of some church somewhere, waiting for a Lyft. (Chooch and I went into the church to snoop around because something was going on, no not mass, thanks for suggesting the obvious though, but then we were afraid of getting usurped by the holy spirit so we split.)

Eventually, we made it, and the road into the park where the Lyft dude dropped us off was blocked off to traffic. Henry decided he wanted to cross over, so we followed him and somehow it ended up looking like we were just casually strolling in the middle of the road instead of crossing because Henry kept changing his mind and Chooch and I (aka the Lemmings) kept blindly following him, so some lady cop YELLED AT US not to walk in the street even though it was closed to traffic, and if there is one thing I hate, it’s being YELLED AT by AUTHORITY FIGURES, so I was straight RUFFLED at this point and snottily yelled, “THANKS FOR GETTING US YELLED AT, ASSHOLE” and the cop was all, ‘I just don’t want y’all to get hit,” and I was like, “HUH, THE ROAD IS CLOSED THOUGH?!” and then SUDDENLY this beautiful car came zooming past us, followed closely by a car with like a hundred cameras hanging off it.

“WHAT IS GOING ON?!” I asked the cop, and she acted like she wasn’t sure if she should tell me, but then she stuttered, “Cadillac commercial.”


That’s boring.

I was really mad about getting yelled at for like the next 45 minutes though and I kept replaying it over and over again in my thick head.

But enough about COPS. Lincoln Park was so wonderful, like being in the country while still having good cell service and not getting suspicious stares from the locals for being CITY FOLK.

The zoo was full-fledged, too, and I can’t believe it was free. I had plans to look up how that’s sustainable, but then I remembered that I am a half-assed blogger who only delivers partial facts so why start being accurate now.

Some girls asked me to take their picture in front of this statue and then when they saw me getting ready to take Chooch’s picture, the one was all, “Do you want me to  take a picture of you guys too?” and in my head I was like SO MANY NOs, A GIANT BUSHEL OF NOPES but she was so nice for offering so I relinquished my phone and posed stiffly next to Chooch.

It turned out OK and Henry was like, “Yeah, because a stranger took it and not me.” I HATE EVERY PICTURE HENRY HAS EVER TAKEN OF ME. It’s like he purposely aims for the worst angles and timing in case anyone on the Internet ever decides to woo me, Henry can be like BRO THIS IS WHAT SHE REALLY LOOKS LIKE OK.

Also, I’m excited that Chooch’s hair has grown out some since these pictures were taken. His latest cut was WAY TOO SHORT and did nothing to complement his cute BABY CHEEKS.

Then some old man sidled up next to us at the puma exhibit and schooled us on how the government wants us to believe that pumas are endangered but he’s from Florida and they’re more prevalent there than deer, and etc etc., please stop talking to us, human interaction is uncomfortable, stop looking at me, I feel ya, pumas.

I have no idea what that was all about or how much of it was even true, like maybe he’s a disgruntled former zoo employee trying to start rumors?

In any case, we only stayed at the zoo for about 90 minutes before it was time for an afternoon feeding. Henry thought he found a vegetarian place within walking distance, but we just kept walking and walking and walking and I was getting so irritated, partially from hunger but also a lot of it was pre-show nerves, so we ended up going to Del Seoul which wasn’t originally an option because Chooch hates everything with flavor, but we were like BOY YOU BEST DEAL WITH THIS SHIT and he ended up really liking his tofu taco, and I liked mine too but I only ordered one instead of two and then got unreasonably upset about this when really it was just PROJECTION because MAJOR INTERNAL STRESS was happening. This show was a big deal for me and I was so worried it was going to be awful since I was going alone.

I was also mad because Henry got kimchi fries but there was way too much pork belly crap to eat around and I was like, dying for kimchi because I eat it every day, yet when Henry was like, “Just go back up and order a side of kimchi” I acted like this was the most offensive and ludicrous suggestion ever and refused.

At least I can admit that I’m a fucking spoiled brat? Even if it takes two weeks. And I will never say it out loud to Henry’s face.

By this point, it was late afternoon and I needed to go back to the hotel to “rest” (LOL yeah right, this never happens) and change for the concert, so we got back on the L and made it back to our beloved Chinatown without issue. I liked the L! It wasn’t as cool as the subway in Toronto, but it got us where we needed to be fairly easily and we never had to use our car once the whole weekend.

We were going to stop at Ice Max in Chinatown for ice cream but the line was out the door. The rolled ice cream place across the street was even worse. So we stopped there on the way home from the Taeyang concert around 11pm that night.

[The Taeyang concert will be its own separate post, because there’s just so much to say and this post has gone on long enough.]

Pittsburgh just recently jumped on the rolled ice cream trend too but I’m glad that our first foray into this world was in Chinatown. It felt way more legit and authentic, and it was like a fucking party up in that bitch.

Even at 11pm on a Sunday, that place was packed, but since we had nowhere to be, the wait didn’t bother us at all. Besides, the energy and atmosphere of Ice Max was so entertaining! It was like leaving the concert and going to an after party. (OMG WHAT IF TAEYANG HAD ROLLED IN.)

If cereal is a flavor, I will choose it every time. Fruity Pebbles ice cream, topped with strawberries and more Fruity Pebbles, and fucking Pocky man.  I don’t even care what Henry and Chooch got.

What a way to end the night.

Sep 142017

When I woke up Saturday morning, Henry was GONE. “Oh great, probably out with a hooker or something,” I thought, but it turns out he was cleaning out my car! (Probably after the hooker stuff though.) I was so happy, and also a little paranoid because the night before that, I was sitting on a bench in South Park with Chris, drinking a PSL and bitching about how dirty Henry and Chooch have made my car.

The weekend started out great and stayed that way the whole time, praise god, praise the lord.

Saturday afternoon, I drove my freshly vacuumed car out to Wexford, where I met Gayle for a pierogie lunch at Forgotten Taste. I haven’t seen her since the end of July because she left the Law Firm, so it was nice to catch up! AND SHE HAD BELATED BIRTHDAY PRESENTS FOR ME! One of them was the Descendants of the Sun series on DVD and I legit squealed SONG JOONG-KI when I unwrapped it because I love him so much!

“I was watching BigBang videos one day on YouTube, so then later when I went to Amazon, Korean stuff came up as recommended for me, and this was the first thing I saw,” Gayle said, and explained that she bought it in hopes that it would help me with my Korean. It was so freaking thoughtful!

She also bought me a big, fluffy plaid blanket because I’m perpetually cold, and sure enough Chooch has claimed it as his own, ugh.

Then I came home to this!!!!!

Remember last year when all I wanted for my birthday was for my friends to draw me a picture of a clown? My friend Michelle painted this for me! She was so sorry that it took a year for her to make it but if you ask me, it was more than worth the wait. It’s perfect because I love Jack-in-the-Boxes too! This sexy beast is already hanging in my bedroom, right by the door so anyone walking by to use the bathroom will see it, which brings me such glee.

Thank you again, Michelle! I love clowns to much, and this one really speaks to my twisted carnival soul.

Drew’s Saturday afternoon nap spot was pretty dangerous. My fat ass came so close to crushing the life out of her.

Later that night, Janna came over and we moved the coffee table and couch out of the living room and had a KPOPX PARTY! Henry conveniently chose this time to take about 87 loads of laundry to the laundromat, but Chooch stayed behind and Kpopped with us. I had a YouTube playlist all ready to go, which I sent to Janna earlier in the week so she could familiarize herself with the routines. She said she watched them all and in her head thought they would be easy, but was surprised at how hard they actually were. I was proud of her (and Chooch) for sticking with me through the whole entire hour though! Kpop workouts are no joke.

Then Henry came home and served us this bitchin’ bevy of healthy snaxxxxx:


Janna ended up staying pretty late and I brainwashed her with Korean variety shows. By the end, she was asking all kinds of questions and I was so happy because HENRY ANSWERED SOME OF THEM. This might be the first time in 16 years that Henry and I have found a mutual interest. I laugh when my friends are like, “poor Henry” when I’m going on and on about kpop stuff, because he’s into it too! (OK, maybe not as much as I am, since he still doesn’t have a bias. I just asked him again, real time, and he smirked and said “No one” which I think means Rap Monster from BTS.)

The next day was SUNDAY and I know this because that is the day that generally comes after Saturday. We did the whole PARKER’S thing for breakfast (friendly reminder to eat at Parker’s if you’re in Pgh). Later, we took Chooch to his piano lesson and then went to Constellation Coffee where I had a so-so iced soy latte (the girl working there was very pleasant, but I felt EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE from the moment we walked in, like I was clearly not cool enough to be there), but then we walked down the street to Gluten Free Goat for some sugary shit. It was like a date, but not. Then I tricked Henry into posing in front of a mural by yelling HENRY! and then quickly snapping this picture when he turned back to look. It’s the only way nowadays, especially after I made him pose so much in Toronto.

After we picked up Chooch, we went to H&M and I bought a pair of overalls, which I have been pining for, so now I’m a third of a way to my old seventeen-year-old self. Now I just need a fuzzy cropped sweater and Pumas.

Later, I ate pancake & waffles Halo Top and I feel strongly that it was a good way to end the weekend. Wee woo!

Sep 132017

…when you’ve been blogging since 2001, coming up with titles eventually lands itself on the RAT’S ASS list.

I don’t know what that means, other than I’m all tapped out these days with stringing words together cleverly, like some fucking McSweeney’s Christmas tree garland.

Today’s Chicago weekend installment will mostly consist of photos of Navy Pier because, judging by my camera roll, I found that spot to be especially inspiring I guess.

As usual, I was the first one out of bed Sunday morning. I’m always rearin’ to go when we’re out of town, when Henry could happily lounge around the hotel room until noon. I guess he wants to get his money’s worth.

This view was super familiar by the time the weekend was over.

The plan for Saturday was to take the L downtown, have a cheap breakfast (LOLOLOL at cheap), and then head over to Navy Pier.

This little spot was so pretty and mysterious!

We decided to grab a donut a Do-Rite, because the Firecake donut from the night before had awoken some latent doughnut craving in me that has honestly never been active before. Very rarely do I ever seek out donuts, but that pistachio old-fashioned inspired me.

And of all the options at Do-Rite, I honed right in on their pistachio option, which was different than Firecakes. Theirs also had a meyer lemon glaze — two of my favorite flavors on one donut!

We also each got a breakfast sandwich, and I’m so happy we did because they were a million times better than I expected. I thought it was going to be some lazily slopped-together egg thing on a generic english muffin or something, but nope—they were served to us on warm, buttery brioche buns. Holy shit they were so good. Mine had avocado and some other shit on it, I can’t remember. I’m so glad that Chooch and I only ate half of our donuts, because these sandwiches needed to be devoured, entirely, at once.

Here’s my donut. I ate my sandwich too fast to get a picture.

These birds wanted us to feed them so bad but Henry was all DO NOT FEED THEM LOOK HOW FAT THEY ARE THAT ONE CAN BARELY FLY.

The highlight of breakfast, which we ate at a table outside of the shop, was when some blond bitch came over and squeezed herself into a table, slamming her chair into the back of some lady’s chair in the process. Said lady had been sitting peacefully at her table until this happened, and it made her snap out. She gathered up her belongings, turned to the chair-slammer and said, “YOU COULD HAVE SAID EXCUSE ME” and then stomped away. It was epic. So dramatic. The blond bitch never turned around, just acted like nothing happened and pretended she wasn’t some rude-ass bitch.


Coming up: so many pictures of whatever lake that is. You know, one of those great ones.

Henry said, “Pretend like you like each other” because we had been bickering so badly prior to this, you have no idea, except if you know us, yes you do have an idea. Probably several.

Pretending we like each other. “Oh, pu-hahahaha, such good times.” Chooch was mad because HE WANTED TO DO ALL OF THE THINGS and we kept saying no because I’m fucking sorry, but I didn’t go to Chicago to spend a beautiful day inside the Children’s Museum. I came to see fucking TAEYANG. GODDAMN PRINCE YOUNG-BAE. Everything else was secondary.

Furthermore, my kid never even wants to go to the Children’s Museum in our own damn city.

We did go on the ferris wheel thing though. Well, Chooch and I did. Henry is too much of a tight-wad*, so he stayed on terra firma.

*(Frugal or scared, you be the judge!)

We got to the Navy Pier right after it opened at 10 so we only stood in line for the wheel for about 5 minutes, if even that. It was a miracle.

We shared a car with a family of four and some rando guy who is probably some YouTuber based on his creepy camera but everyone was super chill and I was thankful for that because we were stuck in that thing for like 15 minutes and I had THE SWEATS big time because I forgot how much I hate these things.

The wheel went around for three whole revolutions and we didn’t fight during a single one! Henry has a theory that he’s the catalyst and I think that’s accurate.


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Henry texted and said that a G-Dragon song was playing on the swings and I was like, “LOL OK YEAH RIGHT SURE NICE TRY HANK” but he swore up and down that this was Truth. Conveniently, he couldn’t think of the name of the song, how it goes, or if it’s old or new.

I feel like Chooch and I hanged up on Henry at some point while toiling around on the pier and found some dumb reasons to be mad at him and to start so many fights. I wonder what we look like to passers-by.

While we were strolling about, I made some comment on how diverse and indie the music was that was playing over the loud speakers, for instance, The Decemberists was playing and I was briefly transported back to the early ’00s when I was a little music snob and loved all that pretentious Portland muzak. About one minute later, the song switched and I was all HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE because it was motherfucking “Coup d’etat” by G-DRAGON. Henry wasn’t lying to me!

Navy Pier is playing G-Dragon—Chicago rules.

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Henry said that this wasn’t even the song he heard earlier, so that’s at least two different G-Dragon songs that Navy Pier has on tap. Chicago, you are LEGIT.

From here, we decided to go to Lincoln Park. BUT THAT IS A POST FOR ANOTHER DAY.

Sep 122017

One trend on Instagram that kind of gets on my nerves is hashtags to commemorate vacations. Like #TheSmithsInSaskatoon or #RandomLifestyleBloggerInPalmSprings. I was thinking about what hashtag I would use if I was some Instagram try-hard and the only thing I could think of was #TheFuckSticksDoChicagoOnABlueCollarBudget

Seemed a bit long and clunky though.

It was somewhere in between lunch & dinner when we were toiling around Milennium Park. None of us were particularly starving yet but I made the executive decision that we should find somewhere to eat ASAP before any fuses got blown.

Some of us go from zero to KILLKILLKILL when it comes to feeding schedules. The ‘some of us’ that don’t have beards.

Henry determined that one of the famous (aren’t they all) deep dish joints was within walking distance so we set off into the unknowns of Chicago. Chooch and I were particularly fascinated/horrified every time we had to walk underneath a train thingie.

You know.

Those thingies.

Here in Pittsburgh, we have a fuck load of bridges. Honestly. If you take any tour here in the ‘Burgh, you will learn that Pittsburgh has the second most bridges of any city in the world but I can’t imagine this is true.

We do have a ton though, as well as tunnels, both of which I hate and have no choice but to travserse every single day in order to get to and from work.

That being said, I really enjoyed walking across this bridge in Chicago! And the river below didn’t make me clench as much as our gross rivers do.

I’m not sure what transpired internally from one side of the river to the next, but Chooch was a hornet after we crossed. So then I started to feed off that and shouted things like WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT YOU AT HOME WITH YOUR GRANDMOTHER THIS IS THE WORST TRIP I HATE EVERYTHING.

And then Henry accidentally hit him in the mouth (I swear—Chooch is supposed to be guest-blogging about this) when he was trying get something out of his pocket, and then Chooch started to cry out of shock and there were people walking toward us and all I could think was THIS IS 2017 NOW WE WILL HAVE OUR SON TAKEN AWAY AND WE’LL HAVE TO MOVE TO CHICAGO TO BE CLOSE TO THE ORPHANAGE.

But then everything was OK because we saw the restaurant up ahead—-and all of the hundreds of people waiting outside of it.

Even at 3pm there was a 90 minute wait. Nope.

So we found another “famous” deep dish place right up the street and the wait there was only 30 minutes but they sat us after about 5 – I think they were just trying to look cool, I dunno.

You guys, this place was so unmemorable to me that I had to Google “deep dish Chicago” and hope that the one we ate at looked familiar to me. Apparently, it was Gino’s.

Look, there was nothing bad about this place AT ALL. We had a great waitress who was very attentive (such as when Chooch banged his elbow off the table while ordering, she asked him if he was OK, which was more than Henry and I did because we didn’t even know anything happened), the beer selection was good (I think?), and the pizza was fine! But the thing is, we’re just not that wild about deep dish. Is that weird? I think it’s good, but I’m very picky with pizza and if we had deep dish in Pittsburgh I would probably skip it every time in favor of Giovanni’s and Fiori’s because I love that greasy thin crust/sweet sauce combo, yeah boi.

I liked that nearly every surface of the place was covered in customer graffiti. It made it feel wonderfully late-80s and that appealed to me. To be honest, I was still kind of annoyed even after we were seated, but then Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen” came on and all was right in my world again. And then Henry made it wrong when he said he was looking at my painting of Billy Ocean the other night when he was sitting at the computer and couldn’t for the life of him remember who it was supposed to be BECAUSE I’M A SHITTY ARTIST, SAY IT HENRY. SAY THE FUCKING WORDS.

We were originally sitting at a table but then a booth opened up right after we ordered so Henry asked if we could move and the waitress was like IDGAF and then lovingly called Chooch “Bub” or something—she only liked communicating with him and just gave Henry and me the dregs of her personality allotment. Which was fine! I WASN’T IN THE MOOD FOR SMALL TALK ANYWAY.

Seriously though, she was a good waitress.

I did like this pizza. The crust had a sweetness to it that reminded me of something from my childhood. One piece was enough for me though, jesus christ! That pizza sits like a brick in your stomach.

Mostly, we only ordered a small because we wanted to get ice cream or something afterward, because that’s what we do, OK? Some people go to a new city to see war memorials or art, we go for the ice cream. But then I realized that Firecakes was super close to where we just ate, and even though I’m not a big donut fanatic, I thought that maybe Chicago donuts could change my mind.

Yep, they did. 

We had a lot of Chicago calories to walk off, so we roamed around.  Chooch counted all the dogs he saw, imprinted on a bunch of geese, and fell down several steps at Trump Tower (more reason to hope that guest post comes to fruition). But the important thing to note is that since we were properly fed and sugared, we all got along wonderfully for the rest of the evening!

We went back to Millennium Park, pretended to be interested in the jazz festival for a few minutes only because Chooch had to use the bathroom, and then accidentally walked to Buckingham Fountain.

They were standing sort of like this on accident but then I made them do it more pronounced and then Chooch started crying because Henry stepped on his foot.

After this, we walked to get coffee at Goddess and the Baker (which I wrote about in the Firecakes link up above, because god forbid I should ever keep everything together in one nice, organized blog post), and almost immediately after that, the skies opened up and huge, fat rain drops fell out of nowhere. There wasn’t any rain in the forecast, so we  were like, “Is this a Chicago thing, or…?” Instead of taking the L back to Chinatown and having to walk another 4 blocks back to the hotel in the rain, we took a Lyft. Chooch was so excited about this. I don’t know why he gets so excited about Lyfts and Ubers. Our driver was an older man who took a phone call from his friend Joe. They talked about taking the helicopter out the next morning and if someone was still in Mexico, I don’t know the details because I stopped paying attention when my mom texted me about a TOP doll she found on eBay and asked me if I wanted it and I was like, “Please if it’s BIGBANG or just kpop-related in general, do not ask. Just buy.”

Our driver’s phone kept going off during the whole ride back  though, and it was that signature T-Mobile chime, so I kept thinking it was TJ from the MTV, texting us with the next challenge. (REAL WORLD/ROAD RULES CHALLENGE JOKE, YOU GUYS.)

Anyway, that concludes day 1 in Chicago. We walked 35,000 steps, not as much as Toronto, but enough to make Chooch complain. Get on our level, chump.

Sep 112017

Hi Guys! Chooch here and I am going to be telling all about my Injuries all over Chicago!

So this one is very much important and I am flipping off Trump Tower because long story short I fell down the steps on the back and twisted my ankle, but not that bad.  :P Trump should leave America alone and worry about making his steps great again.

Next, this pho was taken directly after I had been slammed in the trolley door. So we were getting off at this stop and all of a sudden Daddy stops and I am tapped in between the doors and I can’t go anywhere. Then all of a sudden, the doors closed and I was stuck for a split second. But thankfully daddy started moving and I got out!

Another injury happened when we were walking to some pizza place and daddy stuck his hand down my pants “Accidently” and so I did it to him, and he put his elbow back to push me away but he ended up hitting me right in the mouth. So it looked like daddy abused me.


The last injuries that happened both in the span in 30 seconds, was at Rite-Aid and I got medicine because I was sick. But I also went into the bathroom because I had to, and I hit my elbow off the door, and I was like “Ow!” and then when I went into the stall I slammed my finger in the door on accident and it hurt for like 10 minutes.

So there you guys go, those are the 4… Oh hey! I missed one!

So the pizza place we were headed to, when I got hit in the mouth (See Sentence 3), we ended up not going to because it was crowded and I was kind of crying soooooo we didn’t go there, we went to another pizza place really close by. And I stopped crying so it was fine until we got a table and we were ordering and I banged my elbow of the edge of the table, I was fine but it stung for a second.

So there you go, that was the 5 injuries I had in Chicago, I hope you enjoyed! Make sure you SMASH that like button, and also Subscribe to Ohhonestlyerin and leave a comment telling what you liked and what you maybe thought was dumb that I added! PEACE!


Sep 112017

Here is one of those stories that starts out with, “Henry was so mad!” when I’m telling someone in real life, and then it takes 30 minutes to get to the part that made Henry mad.

So a few months ago, maybe the end of May, beginning of June, I was walking down Brookline Boulevard when I noticed that the old BBQ joint had newspaper taped to the windows, with coffee cups and burgers hand-drawn all over. There were also random “P”s drawn on it, and a word bubble that said, “Coming soon.”

I was mildly excited, but really how often do I patronize any Brookline establishments? I figured it was going to be another meat place, because that’s all that seems to ever go into that one spot. BBQ meat. Southern soul meat. Meat meat. Whatever the latest meat trend is.

But then one day as I walking by, I was looking at those “P”s and I thought to myself, “THOSE Ps LOOK FAMILIAR.” It eventually occurred to me that it looked similar to the font used by this sandwich shop in Dormont that Chooch and I like.

“CHOOCH, I THINK PARKER’S IS OPENING A LOCATION ON BROOKLINE BLVD,” I screamed to him as I flung open the front door, all out of breath from my courageous journey home to desperately deliver to him this wild speculation.

Chooch was excited, because we love Parker’s! But we still weren’t sure this was a thing that was happening. I kept stalking them on social media until finally, weeks and weeks after my first Velma-in-an-orange-turtleneck hunch, there was an official announcement on their Facebook page that they were moving to a larger location in Brookline. I love being right! Save me a seat in the Mystery van, yo.

This commenced a summer-long waiting game. The “coming soon” was never replaced with a date, but eventually, two peep holes were made in the newspaper on the windows, into which Chooch and I peered around cupped hands, like two little orphans hungrily ogling a porridge shop.

“You guys are pathetic,” Henry sighed, not giving in to any peeping desires.

“We love Parker’s!” Chooch yelled.

“You wouldn’t understand!” I spat. “You’ve never been there!”

“Well, you two have only been there like three times and act like you’re regulars there,” Henry tried to reason but I saw right this and determined that HE’S JUST JEALOUS. HATERS GON’ HATE. SHAKE IT OFF.


“Twice, actually,” I said, and Henry just threw his arms up to the Heavens and walked away in defeat.

I don’t really know why Chooch and I had only gone to Parker’s twice though, because we really enjoyed our experience there: the sandwiches (with pop culture-friendly names, like the Regina George, Shooter McGavin, Piano Necktie…), the ambiance (group convos galore!), and most importantly: the proprietor, Parker himself. Every time (ALL TWO TIMES) Chooch and I were there, he looped us into the counter conversation and made us feel like we were a part of something.

Being included in the reindeer games is basically all I want out of life, so this made Parker’s extremely appealing to me.

And yet, we only went twice. I think it was mostly because we usually eat out for dinner, and Parker’s is one of those joints that closes early, like at 3pm. And on weekends, if we’re going out for lunch, we’re already out and about in some other area, not in our neighborhood.

Excuses, excuses.

And it’s not like the old Parker’s was so out of the way. It was actually probably the same distance away from our house as the new one is. Brace yourselves for my super high-quality map that I drew today at my desk specifically to illustrate to…someone, I hope…exactly where my house is in relation to each location:

The first time Chooch and I went to Parker’s was Black Friday, 2014, and then a year later with Janna.

Two whole times. But you’d think we ate there so much, they named a grilled cheese after us. Or at the very least that Parker kept my senior picture in his wallet like my favorite waitress from Denny’s did when I was in high school. Oh, Maryann.

I was off two Fridays ago, because that’s the day we left for Chicago (much later in the day than planned, though). I went for a walk that morning and saw some people going into Parker’s! I rubbernecked on my way past and sure enough, the lights were on and there people at some of the tables! Some broad from the deli next door was outside smoking a cigarette.

“Looks like they’re finally open!” she said in the expected husky bray of a Pittsburgh smoker. “I been waiting all summer for this!”

“Did you ever eat there when it was in Dormont?” I asked.

“No, I never even heard of it before!” she coughed.

“It’s so good!” I said, calling on my old telemarketer’s enthusiasm (I was a fucking excelsior telemarketer back in the day). “And the guy who owns it is so nice!”

The broad said she was even more excited to check it out now, and I waited until she was out of earshot to call Henry and giddily tell him this transgression.


Sadly, we were gone that whole weekend, and since they close at 3 every day, we didn’t get a chance to check out the new digs until this past weekend. I was SO EXCITED to wake up Sunday morning and walk there.

“Wow, you and Chooch must be so happy to visit your old stomping grounds,” Henry said, tufts of sarcasm unfurling from his flaring nostrils.

I mean, yeah. Yeah, we were.

We were practically skipping, locked arms, with a rainbow underfoot.

We walked in around 9am and I was totally floored by the design of the space. It is DOPE. Exactly the type of place that Brookline needs! I was still in the middle of looking all around and silently saying, “WOOOOOOOOOW” when the man himself, Luke Parker, came out from behind the counter and said to Chooch and me, “Where the hell have you guys been?!”

LOL HENRY WAS SO MAD! All that build-up, acting like we were regulars, and the owner actually remembered us! Henry was like, “HOW. HOW HOW HOW.” Oh my friends, it was so satisfying! He even came over and talked to us (i.e. just me and Chooch) about the trials and tribs of moving to this new spot, adding to the menu, needing to hire more people — it sounds like the first week was a success and they haven’t even had their official grand opening yet, as far as I could tell. I’m so glad for the whole Parker clan!

“You two must have really made an impression,” Henry mumbled.

Somehow, the breakfast sandwich I ordered tasted even better than I remembered: egg whites, avocado, sprouts, tomato and mayo on a whole wheat bagel. Plus a cup of delicious Zeke’s coffee, which I spilled over myself because I didn’t have the lid on right and Henry was all, “Haha, serves you right.” I’d last through approximately one coffee order if I ever got a job as a barista.

I’m excited to frequent this place more often, especially now that it’s in an area where I do most of my walking. Even if I’m just popping in for a cup of coffee. I want this place to succeed so badly. I’m going to bring all my friends here. Who wants to go?

I’d tell you that if you ever stop there for a pop culture sandwich, to tell ’em that Erin & Chooch sent ya, but we’re not on a name-knowing basis there yet.


I’m not giving up on my grilled cheese namesake dream. My goals are askew.

Sep 102017

Chooch let me do the stupid wavy eyebrow challenge thing in him because we’re bored and Henry isn’t paying attention to us. But then I had to let him do it on me too & it was horrifying, having his grubby hand so close to my eyes with a pencil. 

Henry didn’t even notice at first. He was too busy looking at computer auctions or mold rants on Reddit, or whatever it is he does on his phone. 

Now I feel like we should do this at work tomorrow in our weekly meeting, kind of like TRUST FALLS. 

Sep 102017

On Saturday, we had donuts and coffee at some point while in Chicago. I’m not a big donut connoisseur by any stretch, but that might be because Pittsburgh doesn’t really have much to offer in that vein. (Although I still haven’t tried Duck Donuts and that place seems appealing to me.)

(And please don’t say BUT PEACE, LOVE, LITTLE DONUTS because I fucking refuse to support an establishment owned by a homophobic bigot piece of shit. It saddens me how many pieces have seemed to either overlook that or have forgotten. But I never forget!)

I wanted to try Firecakes though because they’re reknown for their donut ice cream sandwiches. Unforch, we stopped here right after eating pizza and I did not have it in me to find room in my stomach next to all that cheese. Ugh. I always have big plans of visiting a city and eating all their trendy food and then end up only eating two meals. 

(Honestly, aside from breakfast in Indiana that morning, the late lunch pizza was only sit-down meal for the day in Chicago.)

If there is anything pistachio on the menu, I will snatch that shit up without a secondary glance. This Sicilian pistachio old-fashioned was a DELIGHT. My donut preference is light and non-messy. Nothing filled. I hate filled donuts! And I’m not big into chocolate-y ones either. I like ones that get most of the flavor from the actual donut dough, and that’s how this one was. Not too sweet, with a gentle, light-handed pistachio nuance. #doucheyYelpreview

I didn’t want to share, but I did because I wanted to try Henry’s which was good but messy and filled. :( It was butterscotch praising, which I almost ordered but now I’m glad I didn’t because that pistachio was everything I wanted in that moment. 

(I just stared dreaming at the photo of it for a couple seconds into the Inappropriate Zone.)

Chooch got a red velvet but I didn’t try his because, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, I think I’m over red velvet. We had a long, good run together though! 

Later that evening, we hit up Goddess and the Baker because it was the only non-Starbucks cafe open at that hour within walking distance. Henry hated  it immediately because he hates coffee and everything about that scene. Chooch was down though because he’s a hot chocolate aficionado. 

I got a pourover and later had major order-remorse when I noticed the specialty drink menu — so many interesting flavored lattes that appealed to me! I’m really into honey, floral, and maple—not all in one latte, but you know…if I wander into a coffee joint that has those options beyond your standard pumpkin spice and caramel, I will happily overlook the pretentious third wave coffee klatch I’m inevitably walking in on. 

(Speaking of, there is a place here in Bloomfield that has an impressive list of housemade floral syrups and maybe I’ll stop there today—YOU DONT KNOW MY SCHEDULE!)

That pourover was delicious though. However, while I was waiting for it, some suspicious guy walked in, came right up to me because why wouldn’t he, and said something like, “Excuse me, miss” and then a bunch of words in a tone entirely too low for me or most normal-eared humans to possibly hear. I panicked because he had a very questionable aura to him so I blurted, “I DONT HAVE ANYTHING IM SORRY” because I assumed that he was asking for money or my pledge to Christ. 

There was a moment of uncertainty where I was braced for a knife in the gut, but then he nodded and walked slowly back out onto the street. 

I kee expecting this sign to say “eat now caffeinate later” and that would just be so fucking wrong. 

Overall, I would go back to both of these places in Chicago (they each have multiple locations, too) and probably would try to save room for a donut ice cream sandwich next time because I have The Regrets. 

Thank you. This has been a coffee and donut intermission. 

Sep 092017

Technically, this was my fourth time in Chicago, but I have never actually gotten to see anything or explore because we are always there for Riot Fest, and that’s a three day music festival which doesn’t really allow for tourism time. I’ve never even had a chance to see the Bean in person!

So I was really happy when Henry agreed to leave a day earlier for the Taeyang concert so that we would have a full day on Saturday to actually walk around downtown Chicago like fuckin’ tourists, man.

First, we explored the Bahá’í Temple, and then we checked into our hotel, the Chicago Loop Hotel, which was…downtown but not downtown? I don’t know. I don’t feel like looking at a map right. I can tell you that it was about a 10 minute ride on the L to get to the main attractions in downtown Chicago, though.

The hotel was way nicer than I expected though, after three straight years of staying in the grodiest “hotel” for Riot Fest, so shady that it had a different name all three times. It was definitely one of the nicer rooms Frugal Father has put us up in, and Chooch and I were both impressed. I do this thing where I’m like, “I don’t care if we have to stay in a freaking hostel, I just need to get to [x city] for [x concert]!” but really I’m like, “Please god at least let it be three stars.”

We chilled in the room long enough for me to have a wardrobe change and just chill out for 30 minutes or so. Chooch turned on the TV just in time for me to cry my fucking face off at the tail end of “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Chooch asked me what the movie was even about and as soon as I tried to give him a synopsis, my throat got all closed up and I started sobbing.

It’s just emotion that’s taken me over
Tied up in sorrow, lost in my soul

Sorry. Bee Gees breakdown.

And guess what we had to walk through to get to the L station?!

Fucking Chinatown, man! What luck!

Ah, the wonderful smells and sights of Chinatown! One of the ice cream places on my list was actually in Chinatown, and I had just spotted it across the street when suddenly Chooch started screaming, “MOMMY! KPOP!” and I was like….

“WHAT OMG LET’S GO!!” and Henry was all, “….um, that looks closed. Come on, keep walkin—-” but I was already jay-walking across the street and wrenching the door open.


It did kind of look closed though. And not just “closed for the day” but “closed for life.” Why were the windows so dark, like a sex shop!?

This place wasn’t as friendly as the store we visited in Toronto, but it was still like walking into a life-sized diorama of my heart. Glorious kpop was floating out of the store’s speakers while a TV mounted to the wall played the accompanying MVs. Teenaged fangirls were running amok, scooping up every item that featured their biases: pillows, socks, piggybanks. I found a Running Man pillow that I really wanted but it was $25 and kind of small, so I decided that Henry will just have to get a sewing machine and make his own k-pillows.

Ugh, I hate how expensive kpop merch is! We did stop back the next day though and I bought a BIGBANG coffee cup. Chooch got some dumb cat change purse, which was entirely unrelated to kpop but OK.

There have already been threats to hold my new coffee cup hostage.

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A few blocks later, we arrived at the Cermak/Chinatown L station. I got all clenched up and nervous because public transportation is so confusing to me. Luckily, Henry can read a map with colored lines on it and use common sense to figure out which line to get on and where to get off, while Chooch and I just stood there and stared at people like Amish kids out on Rumspringa.

After Henry purchased our tickets, Chooch and I made asses of ourselves trying to get through the gate thing and one of the CTA workers had to come over and help. Chicago is hard!

The ride into town was relatively painless though. It wasn’t too crowded for a Saturday afternoon and no one was particularly shifty.

Then when we got off the L, Chooch fell when he was trying to race Henry up the station steps. This would be the first of many Chicago injuries for your boy Chooch.

Anyway, we made it downtown and emerged from the underground which Chooch got all giggly about because THIS IS WHAT A REAL CITY FEELS LIKE SON. None of that quaint Pittsburgh shit. I can basically walk the perimeter of downtown Pittsburgh on my lunch break, and nothing makes it feel more small than coming back to it after a weekend in a city like Chicago or Toronto. Sigh. I still love you, Pittsburgh. The Tiny Tim of US cities.

What happened next was that we walked to Millenium Park to see the Bean…

…but first we stopped to admire these kooky water fountains first which I actually loved way more than the Bean…

So creepy and beautiful all at once. 

There was a jazz festival happening in the park so that added to the crowd. Typically I balk at large crowds of humans but the people there weren’t being pushy and it didn’t make me feel like I was suffocating, so we forged on, closer to the Bean. 

This was when we started experience inter-familiar breakdown though, mostly between me and Chooch, because he wasn’t cooperating with me and he was making the act of snapping a family Bean reflection selfie excruciatingly frustrating, and then accused of us trying to LOSE HIM at one point so I threw a tantrum and yelled about just going back to the hotel and that everyone could kindly fuck off into the sun. 

But then I thrusted my phone into Henry’s chest and told him to deal with it, so he took a picture of the three of us like it was the simplest act in the world, and then we agreed that it was time for Chooch and me to feed our demons before they caused our heads to rotate…

Sep 072017

That Hunts, though. 

After checking out of our last minute hotel, we stopped to have breakfast at Savory Family Restaurant before leaving Sturgis, Indiana. Chooch and I had massive egg&cheese croissants which neither of us could finish And yes, I chose to eat at this place just because it was called Savory. I love that word.

In the parking lot afterward, there was that brief moment of uncertainty if Henry was going to unlock the doors for us.

One of these days…

The only thing I remember about our Saturday morning drive was that I had a major hypochondriac breakdown and started screaming about how it feels like my whole body is full of cancer and then Henry was all, “THEN GO TO A FUCKING DOCTOR!” and I was all, “NO I WILL NOT!”

And so on and so forth.

This is what it’s like dating a girl who grew up with the Merck Manual on her bedside table.

Um, anyway. The whole reason we were en route to Chicago was so I could see Taeyang perform at the Aragon Theater, but since that wasn’t until Sunday night, we had the whole day Saturday to do as we pleased with no time restraints! Of course my logical decision was to drive past Chicago and visit the Bahá’í House of Worship because you know how much this atheist dick loves religious exploration.

I had only recently heard of this place: it’s one of only eight temples in the world dedicated to the Bahá’í faith, and allegedly the oldest one at that. From what I can tell, it’s a place to worship, open to all religions. Just some totally beautiful temple in Illinois, you guys. I immediately wanted to check it out because I am obsessed with looking at religious stuff—that’s when I turn into the ultimate tourist. It was always my favorite part of the European tours my family went on when I was a kid, too. (I wept in Assisi. I also had a really bad ear ache, but still. I straight-sobbed in front of a fucking monk.)

When I suggested this to Chooch, he was like, “That sounds dumb,” but then I showed him a picture and he was like, “YES, SIGN ME UP.” So Henry was officially out-numbered. But he didn’t put up much of a fight, maybe because he thought it could be a peaceful place to take a nap.

It took quite some time to get to Wilmette, thanks to the traffic outside of Chicago, but when we turned a corner and saw the temple looming ahead, we all agreed it was worth it already.

Unlike the Palace of Gold, there were a good bit of people there, people of all races and ages. I was worried for a second that perhaps Chooch was going to act a fool, but it was like the holy Bahá’í ghosts took over his body and he became restrained, filtered, and even a tad bit reverent.

I mean, how can you visit a place like this and not have your breath taken away, even just from an architectural aspect? Ugh, it was a sight to behold. I have absolutely nothing disparaging or shitty to say about anything or anyone we saw while there. So just enjoy these pictures of this magical spot in Wilmette, Illinois, because it was really something, you guys. God, is this what it feels like to be religious?!

The surrounding gardens made me feel like Alice in Wonderland. It was manicured to perfection.

There was no photography allowed inside the temple, so I made sure to turn my phone and shove it into my purse immediately because I am so afraid of getting yelled at by anyone in even the slightest authoritative role. And there were definitely temple people skulking around with their hands clasped behind their backs, ready to narc on someone for Snapchatting the temple’s guts or taking a church pew selfie. Chooch and I sat together in and gave ourselves neck-kinks from all the staring we did at the ceiling. Henry chose a seat at a safe distance away from us, probably because he didn’t want to be associated with us if one of us were to, say, spontaneously exorcise.

The grounds really inspired Chooch to get photographical, soccer mom-style with his tablet. He was pissed at one point because I supposedly “copied” one of his pictures.

LOL I totally did too.

Fucking Henry photobombed nearly every single one of the pictures, I hate him.

We out here, bitches.

These boats were right across the street from the temple. The whole area was so fucking quaint!

Back on the grounds, we checked out the information center, which had all kinds of…information. Also, a book store which I had hoped I could buy a magnet or a temple-shaped bottle opener, I don’t know.

“It’s probably just books,” Henry said, always the souvenir deterrent.

“No, I bet they at least have postcards and collectors spoons, BRB,” I said, barging into the bookstore.

It was just books. :(

And then we set off for Chicago (again) so we could check into our hotel. TO BE CONTINUED, OMG.