Oct 252014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oct 242014
 

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

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Oct 232014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oct 212014
 

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

Ok, let's do this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’LL KEEP YOU POSTED.

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Oct 202014
 

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

DON’T LIE!

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

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

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

Hopefully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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This gate literally only keeps out truck-sized people.

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Henry REALLY didn’t want to do this.

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

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

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

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CHOOCH’S INITIALS!!

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

“I already did,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We came across the entrance to the cemetery

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

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

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


And the pièce de résistance:

Ha ha.

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

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Oct 192014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7:05pm: WE’RE AT CASTLE BLOOD, KBYE.

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Oct 182014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oct 172014
 

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

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

Which was empty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone turned and stared at us.

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

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

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

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

We got more handouts.

Then people got to ask questions.

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

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

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

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

OH. SKITS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

 

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Oct 162014
 

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

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

“OK,” he said,

“AMISH PEOPLE, GLENN!”

He just shrugged and went back to “work.”

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

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

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

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THIS PICTURE IS EVERYTHING!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE!

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

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OMG THIS ONE.
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Oct 152014
 

Thank god Henry had the foresight to actually research where we were going, because I sure as fuck didn’t. Once I bought the Riot Fest tickets, I was like, “YAY! WE’RE DONE! EVERYTHING IS PLANNED! WE’RE READY, LET’S GO!” Meanwhile, Henry was the one who was diligently looking at maps and finding hotels.

This is how he knew that there was no parking around Humboldt Park.

Still, nothing about this statement registered with me.

So Henry decided to re-word it in terms that I might understand: “We will probably have to take public transportation there from our hotel.”

RECORD SCRATCH.

Guys, I can barely take public transportation in my own city! I’m marginally OK with the trolley, but I have only taken the bus ONCE IN MY LIFE AND THAT WAS “FOR FUN” WHEN I WAS 18 AND IT WAS DECIDEDLY NOT FUN AND I HAD TO CALL MY MOM AT 2AM AND HAVE HER PICK ME UP ON THE SOUTHSIDE AFTER I DECIDED I DIDN’T LIKE THE GUY WHO I HAD LITERALLY JUST MET OVER THE PHONE WHEN I WAS A TELEMARKETER FOR OLAN MILLS AND I WENT TO HIS APARTMENT BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT I DID WHEN I WAS 18 AND 19 AND 20 AND….Well, and so on.

Thankfully, the gates didn’t open until 2pm on that first day of Riot Fest, so Henry decided to take a trial run to Humboldt Park in our car. Our shitty Econo Lodge was about about 10 miles away, but the road we needed to take was Sketchville. It was all abandoned shops, check cashing places and liquor stores. And the buses we passed did not look fun to be on at all. And they were very slow.

So Henry was like, “Fuck it, we’re just going to use Uber,” and promptly turned around and drove back to the hotel.

This too gave me pause.

“Oh great. This is going to be so uncomfortable! You know those drivers are going to want to engage in small talk and I DON’T DO SMALL TALK!” I cried.

“So, you’d rather take the bus?” Henry asked.

“What? NO!” I cried.

And that is how we ended up using Uber all weekend.

As we stood outside the Econo Lodge waiting for our first Uber ride, another hotel guest was just checking in. Because I’m good at stereotyping, I knew immediately by his clothes and facial hair that he was also in town for Riot Fest.

“Are you guys waiting for a shuttle or something?” he asked us on his second trip back from unloading his car. (I held the door open for him on his first trip in, because sometimes I’m a sweetheart.)

“Yeah, we’re waiting for Uber,” Henry quickly answered, eager to talk about all things transportation with a complete stranger.

“Are you here for Riot Fest, too?” he asked, and I blurted out an excited, “YES!!!”

We introduced ourselves and learned that his name is Mikey and he drove in from Iowa just for the first day of Riot Fest. “I’m here mostly to see Circa Survive,” he said. “They’re my favorite band.”

“THEY’RE IN MY TOP 5!!” I cried, and Henry was like “FML.” Then we learned that Mikey used to live in Pittsburgh!!! After a few minutes, we parted ways and Henry said, “See? You were doing fine having a conversation with a stranger.”

“Um, yeah. Because he’s one of my people,” I scoffed. If I could talk to everyone about music, maybe they would see that I’m not actually some uninteresting, socially awkward idiot. Sigh.

Finally, after watching our Uber chauffeur Marilyn drive around aimlessly via the Uber app, she rolled up to the Econo Lodge and we began a really uncomfortable commute to Humboldt Park.

Marilyn

I knew as soon as we shut the doors that Marilyn was going to be a talker. She was middle-aged and nice enough, but I didn’t want to talk! I just wanted to sit quietly and breathe deeply. But after Marilyn asked us how we were doing while plying us with mints and bottled water, I made the mistake of reciprocating the inquiry.

“I’m fine,” she said, with moderate enthusiasm. But then, “No, not really. I just buried my husband last week.” I made contact with her eyes in the rear view mirror and saw that they had begun to well. FUCK.

Henry and I both bumbled over awkward, obligatory sympathies in tandem and I shot him an angry look. This is why I hate small talk!  Because of people trying to “connect” with each other. Ugh, just ugh forever. So then we drove a few blocks in strained silence, before I made some canned comment about the cold weather.

“Oh I know!” Marilyn cried. “Although, I’m kind of glad for the chance to turn off the AC. I had to crank it last week because it was so hot,” she added, and while she could have easily stopped there, she went on to add, “and I had so many people in my house on account of my husband dying.”

OMFG.

And then dumbass Henry started asking her questions about being an Uber driver and she started off really enthusiastic, stating that since she can make her own schedule, it gives her time to spend with her grandkids. Again, not knowing when to stop talking, she went on to say, “I used to work for GM for 22 years, but then they laid me off. So…I have to do something to pay the bills, you know?”

And then she went on to explain IN GREAT DETAIL the whole sordid tale.

By the time we arrived at Humboldt Park, I had a headache and felt absolutely exhausted. The whole process of “human connection” is so goddamn draining.

We used a Riot Fest coupon code to get a free ride, but Marilyn had conveniently cancelled our order by “accident” as soon as we got in the car, and Henry was so concerned that she wasn’t going to get paid that he gave her money before we got out of the car and I was like, SHE WAS SUCH A HUSTLER, HENRY! God, maybe if he spent  more time on the streets like I do, he would know this.

I will say that I liked that she offered us complimentary waters and peppermints. NICE TOUCH, MARILYN.

Quiet Foreign Guy

On the way home that night, we lucked out with a quiet Asian man who played the Mexican radio station for us and took us back to the hotel via the highway and not a road with 963984792847 stop lights. Thank you, Quiet Foreign Guy.

Patricia

“Oh, she’s going to be a talker,” Henry laughed, showing me Patricia’s user picture on the Uber app after our order was picked up by her the morning of the second day.

“Goddammit,” I mumbled, tired already.

Patricia turned out to be a talker, but at least there was moderate compatibility.

“I’m going to Humboldt Park, too!” she said enthusiastically, and I cried, “OMG REALLY? FOR RIOT FEST?!”

She said no and explained that she was planning on staying in that area because she knew a lot of people were going to be using Uber.

“Oh,” I said, trying to muffle my disappointment.

“I might be going tomorrow, though! If my friends give me their extra ticket.” And then she told us that she really want to have gone the night before to see Rise Against, so I was like, “OK, she’s alright.” Until she mentioned that Weezer was the main reason she wanted to go the next day.

Then she asked us lots of questions about Pittsburgh and told us things about Chicago that only Henry would care about (like, things about road work), but the one good thing about Patricia is that she turned off a different road as we got closer to Humboldt Park and while she explained that we were in the Hungarian/Polish section and made my stomach growl with her talk of all the restaurants we should try, Henry noted a RIOT FEST PARKING sign and saw that it essentially would cost us the same amount as one Uber trip and I praised the lord that Sunday would be free of Uber.

Anyhow, Patricia wasn’t too bad. I mean, I didn’t friend request her, but she was alright.

Shady Kid Who Probably Wasn’t an Uber Driver 

Saturday night, we were roaming around the outskirts of the park, trying to find our Uber driver. That’s the fucked up thing about Uber: they tell you the make of the car that’s coming to get you, but the driver doesn’t have any details other than a location. It’s a perfect recipe for missed connections. Every time we would get a driver through the app, they would cancel our order and it was so frustrating. I was so cold and my feet hurt so bad and Henry was being soooo annoying. Eventually, some car stopped in the middle of the road and rolled down the passenger-side window. He asked us where we were going and was like, “Cool, get in!”  Of course, Henry got in on the sidewalk side and made me go out into the road where I was almost sniped by a dozen speeding cars. Sure Henry, having half of body ripped off will definitely make me skinnier, but it ain’t gon’ look pretty. Asshole.

Shady Kid told us that he was actually looking for a different customer/passenger/order, and had been driving around the block for awhile, so he decided to just cancel them and service us instead. (Not the good kind of service, unfortunately.) So Henry was all, “OK great, should I just re-request a ride then?” Shady Kid quickly said, “No! Because you know, what are the odds that you’ll actually get me as your driver…” So this was the second ride that we took that Uber had no record of, which was fucking fantastic because we were supposed to use another coupon code for a free ride. So now, we were going to have to pay this guy directly because Henry is an idiot and needs to join a gang ASAP so he can learn about the real world and know when he’s getting screwed. (This is the same man who thinks that our landlord is a nice guy. He is not a nice guy. He’s basically a slum lord.)

Meanwhile, Shady Kid had the windows rolled down, Top 40 playing just slightly too loud, and was careening down the streets of whatever scary scary town that sprawled in shambles between Humboldt Park and our shitty hotel. I naively mistook this place for a boarded-up ghost town in daylight when clearly it was hotbed of after-hours activity. This town was poppin’ off with miscreants and unsavories. It was fantastic when Shady Kid decided that all of the cars in the city-recognized streets were going too slow and CREATED HIS OWN ROAD OUT OF THE PARKING LANE. I kept looking at Henry with saucer-eyes that screamed WE ARE GOING TO DIE BECAUSE OF YOU. But Henry just sat there, calmly scrolling through Pinterest on his phone.

Shady Kid almost went through a red light, and by doing so, he came close to taking out a horde of townies en route to the most jumpin’ liquor store I’ve ever seen, so every last occupant of the car got screamed at and threatened. THANK YOU, SHADY KID.

“Well, looks like we’re here,” he eventually said, and was going to dispose of us on some random street corner that was nowhere near our hotel. Then he acted put out when he realized our hotel was farther away than he originally thought. God, fuck you.

Surprisingly, we made it back unscathed and then Shady Kid conveniently didn’t have change, so stupid Henry, who was over it by this point and just wanted out of the car, overpaid him. If you ask me, we shouldn’t have paid him at all! I’m glad I got mud all over his car, that’s for sure.

I tweeted about the reckless driving when we were still in the car, because I was afraid we were going to die and I figured that was the most efficient way to leave the truth out there. The next day, UberPittsburgh replied to me and expressed their concern and wanted to know his name so that they could “take care of it.” I wish I had his name. The whole thing was shadier than the time a taxi driver propositioned me in Australia.

Uber really took us for a ride, that’s for sure.

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Oct 142014
 

Things are heating up over at my desk/funeral parlor this week! (OK. Not really. I still have to lure people over by convincing them that I have Really Great Prizes under my desk.) The first week+ was more of just an exhibit of funeral shit. I was just getting my feet wet. My co-worker Colleen one day was like, “I mean, is this it?” and then apologized when my face fell and said, “No, it’s just that we all expect more!” And I understood. I gotcha.

So I came up with a way to make it interactive. Because who doesn’t like getting free shit? Even if it’s just dumb shit like candy and Glenn activity books. Basically, gross Glenn is robbing graves again and hiding severed fingers around the department. There are clues on the back of department-specific prayer cards (RIP Natalie’s Pizza Rolls that were stolen from the freezer) and anyone who finds a finger and returns it to Erin’s Funeral Parlor gets the aforementioned prizes! OMG!

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Printer 39 had to have major surgery yesterday. :( It was real touch-and-go but he’s back and only jammed for me once today….although, I think I only printed to it once.

 

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I know. It’s kind of dumb. But I just like making people happy!

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Glenn actually laughed real laughter when he read about his latest dastardly deeds, and he has been excitedly telling people, “You have to get a prayer card to get a clue! Did you read the newspaper article? IT TIES EVERYTHING TOGETHER!”

OK, he only actually told one person this. But still! He seemed excited!

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One of the prizes is The Great Glenn Activity Book. I was sitting here at work last Thursday when it hit me: GLENN COLORING BOOK. But then I was like, “No we need activities, too!” And then Mean Amber (new nickname in the works) said that a Where’s Glenn would make her really happy. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE:

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“It’s nice to know that my favorite band is Village People,” Glenn mumbled last week when he found the extra crossword puzzle I accidentally left on the printer.

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The next phase was to bake funeral biscuits. Obviously here you will read between the lines and know that this means Henry baked the funeral biscuits. It was a Victorian tradition to give these gingersnap-esque cookies away at funerals. So basically what I’m saying here is that my Halloween theme is educational, OK?

They’re made with molasses and I’ve had to listen to Henry bitch for two days about how disgusting molasses is after he presumably chugged it straight from the bottle.

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(Yes, I used food coloring markers, thank you for your concern!)

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Some prizes!

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Henry and I watched reruns of Dexter while packaging the cookies last night. Each one is individually-wrapped in a paper pouch, sealed with wax and wrapped with a black ribbon. Funeral biscuits don’t just get plopped naked on a tray! Respect.

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My work-friends seemed pretty skeptical at first, but once they found out that Henry baked them, they were like, “Fine. We will eat one of your dumb cookies.” Everyone is still alive, you guys!

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Of course The Shiny One got a skull and then made me take a picture of her before she went around gloating to people. Sandy got a skull-less cookie and immediately blamed Henry.

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THAT WAX SEAL, THO.

Henry has been a pretty good sport about all of this. Even when we had to go out of our way on Sunday to get the dumb wax seal stamp. (My choices were a fleur de lis or wedding bells.) He’s been on the ball with the Great Glenn Activity Book one-man printing press.

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

 “How much time did you spend on all of this?” Jeannie asked me in her typical “you need help” tone.

“I mean…let’s just say I haven’t been cleaning or washing the dishes lately,” I answered. I always joke that I have too much time on my hands, but the reality is that I don’t have enough. Not nearly! And I get so caught up in ridiculous ideas and projects that other things suffer.

“She hasn’t fed her kid in a week,” Glenn joked when someone was commenting on all of the details I’ve put in around my desk.

He’s not entirely wrong…

 

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Oct 132014
 

A few months ago, my friend Kristy asked for two volunteers to be a part of her Zombiefest 2014 costume. I stepped forward (you know, as best as one can on Facebook) and offered my person to be costumed without even asking questions, that’s how much trust and faith I have in Kristy’s brilliant mind. She is hands down the most enthusiastic zombie-lover that I have ever met. She makes all others look like posers, you guys.

Turns out, her idea was the Golden Ghouls!  She had already claimed Dorothy, and her 5-year-old daughter Sarah was Sophia. I chose Rose, because she’s the one I could relate to most. This left Kristy’s friend Bethany as Blanche, and she pulled it off excellently!

Here is a quick recap and photo dump!

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This was me, pre-wigging.

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And I made this pin to help people decipher who I was supposed to be. It was especially helpful anytime I wandered off without the rest of the Ghouls.

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Kristy was hit on by this tiny zombie right away. We learned his name is Solomon and his…handler? showed us a picture of what he normally looks like and it was basically a photo of some Chippendale-esque man. What a transformation. (His middle name is Azrael, in case you were wondering.)

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Kristy ripped one of the shoulder pads out of Bethany’s “Blanche blazer,” leaving it to jut out subtly. It was such an awesome touch! Almost as awesome as the yard flamingo impaling Dorothy. I think that was my favorite part of the whole ensemble. OK, tied with Sarah’s impression of Sophia.

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Since Betty White is still alive, I happily got to go as a non-zombied Rose. (I’m really weird about having fake blood, etc on my face!) If this jinxes the universe and something happens to Betty, BLAME KRISTY!

One guy came up to me and asked, “Dolly Parton?”

“No, Betty White,” I explained, pointing to my pin. And he still asked to have his picture taken with me. Every part of me wanted to say no, because you know how I hate having my picture taken. \But he seemed like a nice guy, so I indulged him. Henry took the picture for him and then smirked at me for days afterward.

I was just happy that I somehow fit into a petite-sized dress. How the hell…? (Something creepy happened when I found it at Goodwill.)

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Cheesecake Defense.

There was one guy who knew who I was, even when I was split up from my lanai-lounging ladies. He was behind one of the vendor booths and, as I was browsing the selection of skull rings, he said, “You arent’ from St. Olaf, by chance?” I was like YES OMG THANK YOU. And then I came back and bought two rings and a pendant because their stuff was wonderful. Go look!

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Originally, I thought this would be a good opportunity for Chooch to finally wear that dreaded post-apocalyptic Claw Machine costume that the rain thwarted last Halloween, but then Henry pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to fit it in the car. So it was a game time decision to just stuff his head into a clown wig. Thank god our house is basically just one big prop closet.

We’ve been to some other zombie events but this was our first time attending Zombie Fest. It was the downtown convention center this year and I guess this was also the first time that they charged admission to get in. Judging by their event page on Facebook, the majority of the hardcore zombies were NOT happy about this, the location, or really anything. I didn’t really have any violent opinions either way. Sure, it was kind of boring, but I do get bored easily, so one should not gauge the liveliness of Zombie Fest by my boredom compass. I guess it was expensive? I wasn’t paying attention. All I know is that I got a great deal on a bunch of adolescent jewelry.

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Henry went as himself/Faygo expert. Big surprise.

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I kept imagining that Duff Goldman was underneath that Ronald McDonald suit.

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Ran into Patty and Tim!

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These two were my favorites! I love gnomes gso gmuch.

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Chooch, after he sweated off most of his makeup by playing soccer with a blow-up brain.

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Wiggin’ out over water.

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Side of brains, aka tasteless mac n cheese.

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I loved these guys! Colonel Eagleburger’s Something Something Band? I can’t remember. Bu they made me feel super festive. Weird Paul was there too, but he played before we got there. I saw him sitting at his merch table and wanted to ask him if he remembered when he brought pretzels and Uncle Wiggly to one of my game nights. 

Alas, that required energy I did not have.

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At least that OTHER GUY was stoked to have his picture taken with me. Christ.

All in all, it was a pretty fun time! Thank you, Kristy!

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Oct 122014
 

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Hey fellow viewers today i’m going to  tell you about The Zombie Fest 2014. First,We had to take forever because daddy couldn’t find a parking spot dumb him lol. So yeah that’s really bad.

Next, We found a parking spot YAY!So we got in and talked to Kristy and her 5yr old Daughter Sarah. We had to wait forever for Kristy’s Friend Bethany. I was a Zombie Clown Mommy was Rose from The Golden Girls, Kristy was Dorthy from The Golden Girls, Bethany was Blanche from The Golden Girls, Sarah was Sophia from The Golden Girls.

Last,  Bethany finally got here and we went into the convention and when we were walking in i saw Foxxy from 5 Nights At Freddy’s a horror game its very scary. I told mommy i wanted to say ” I like your 5 Nights At Freddy’s Foxxy Costume but I was Scared of him. So we got in there were Rita stands, Games, other stands like Zombears, necklaces, Um that’s really it for that. Kristy bought or won an inflatable brain and me and Sarah and Bethany played soccer with it I won obviously. So then Mr.Claus and Mrs.Claus, 6 elves, and 3 daughters were giving out presents a lot of people were taking pictures with them. One of the elves wanted to take a picture with me so bad. So i guess I had to. All in all, Now you know all about The Zombie Fest 2014 Convention in Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania USA.

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Here’s a funny video of me pretending to be a zombie when i was 4 years old. I hope you enjoy it!!! I’m acting like a drunk stripper LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

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