Tuna Tar-Tart

I suck at everything. Probably more than you do. I enjoy experimenting with cheese and playing with glue sticks. You might know me from that other joint, LiveJournal.

Jan 212021
 

* I was going to originally say “spots around my pad” but…yeah. Good thing I stopped myself in time. This could have been a very different blog post. Whew.

Anyway, we’re in the throes of Valentine factory work (mostly henry although I have been getting better at helping him with packaging) so my nights are like: read, exercise, get huffy as Henry slides shipping labels over to me.

Between that and all the happy crying fits I had yesterday during all the inauguration festivities (an emotional cleansing 4 years in the making) I have been spending entire chunks of time just staring into space and there are some very soothing areas around my house for which I am thankful!

Henry still has to finish hanging up these concert prints that were taken down while the wall was being painted, but I’m so much happier with this little landing already. We used to have a broken bookshelf here that held card-making supplies and it was so junky. Now that’s in the basement. Bye bitch.

Look at how smug Drew is! She’s like, “Look at my fancy litter box, friendos. Don’t you wish you could piss inside a fake plant too?” I mean, no, I really don’t but I just smile and nod.

I bought this Robert Smith garland last year on Etsy and then promptly lost it. But then I found it! Obviously! Oh my god, I have such wonderful words to share, don’t I? My mind-muscle isn’t petrifying AT ALL.

(Honestly though I think I need to start doing Sudoku again or something because I am losing more and more of my mind. I can barely even spell anymore! I used to be a spelling ace! Now I could probably barely beat your average MAGAt at Boggle. Between that and my back, I’d like to return my thirties* now, thanks. Chooch imitates me by saying, “Ugh, I’m Erin. I’m 41. Ow, my back.”)

*(I typed “thirsties” at first! TAKE THIS BLOG AWAY FROM ME!)

Isn’t it perfecto??

I love G-Dragon. Taemin is bae. But Robert will always be my One True King.

I LIKE HOW MY NEON SIGN REFLECTS IN THE KITCHEN WINDOW.

Also, that neon sign is the best thing I spent money on in 2020, I swear to god. Designing your own neon sign and having it made by a reputable neon company is a game changer! I get so happy every morning when I say (often 5x times before she finally stops offering me facts on neon betas), “Alexa, neon on” and then she flips on the neon sign and says, “Taemin is the best dancer” and I said, “Duh” and then before bed when I say, “Alexa, neon off” and mumble “you dumb bitch,” under my breath, she pretends like she didn’t hear that, turns off the light, and says, “G-Dragon is king” and I sigh, “He really is,” never mind I literally just said earlier in this post that Robert Smith is my true king.

You know what they say: Erin, Erin, quite contrar—–in?

Adding LEDs below the spice rack almost inspires me to cook.

ALMOST.

Valentine Frown Town lololol.

OK, exercise time, a/k/a OW MY BACK time. And then I guess Valentine assembly line time.

Jan 202021
 

Joe Biden Inauguration: Biden sworn-in as president; live updates

OK lookie here, I’m not so naïve that I believe everything is going to be rainbows and lollipops from here on out, but I’m also (somehow) not jaded enough to think that today doesn’t signify the beginning of a new, hopeful, INCLUSIVE chapter for America. I’m ready to move forward while NEVER FORGETTING the shit that happened over the last 4 years specifically and the people who let it happen. The Biden Administration has their work cut out for them, but so do the rest of us. Let’s do our part! KEEP FIGHTING RACISM!

Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice-President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband U.S. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

Congratulations President Biden and Vice President Harris! Looking forward to not having my pulse race every time I hear your voices!

Kamala Harris' inauguration outfit features black designers

I am literally too giddy to write anything more substantial. I have champagne left over from NYE – MIGHT ME POUR ME’SELF A SMALL GLASS?

P.S. Lady Gaga’s dress and performance, tho! So good!

Jan 182021
 

We usually have a small clock-radio playing lightly in our bedroom at all times, dialed in on some inoffensive station that plays more “classic” Top 40 with the occasional current hit sprinkled in for good measure. Basically, it’s dentist office tunes, where one minute you might be blessed with some deeply nostalgic Depeche Mode track, and then just as quickly annoyed by some Miley Cyrus shit-song. I just like not knowing what I’m going to walk into each time I enter throughout the day (and sometimes I can even hear what’s playing from downstairs, prompting me to scream over the TV “ooh it’s my jam!” to which Henry scowls, “How can you HEAR that?!”).

All of this is to say that I was awoken one morning last week by the opening acapella pining of Tonic’s “If You Could Only See” and with tears spurting out of my eyes, I was suddenly drop-kicked back to 1997, the autumn after senior year, sitting in a lobby of the McKeesport YWCA waiting to take my GED test because yes, I was a high school drop out. There was only a month or so left of senior year, I was in a shitty relationship with a psychopath, I had zero support or understanding from my family, I had been grieving my grandfather’s death for over a year with no reprieve, and my mental state was largely ignored. Back then, as a 17-year-old brat, I chocked my decision up to rebelling, trying to get a rise from parents who didn’t pay attention to me. It wasn’t drugs, I wasn’t a teen mom, I wasn’t failing (I was on the fucking honor roll lol) – I just made a stupid, knee-jerk, stubborn decision to not get out of bed anymore because being in those halls made me feel like I was going to scream.  I would realize later on that I had a sort of mental breakdown and my ability to make “normal people” decisions had taken a back seat. I was literally lost.

Choices were made, amigos and chingus.

Fast forward a few months: my friend Christy, who knew that I was better than that, urged me to get my GED so that I could at least get a job. I had nothing else to do – all of my friends had gone away to college and I was just toiling around with Psycho Mike, on the verge of making the leap from rich suburban girl to legit white trash. So, why not? Let’s GED this bitch up.

And that’s how I wound up in the McKeesport YWCA, striking up conversation with a super cute and hilarious guy whom I felt SO STRONGLY was The One but now I can’t even remember his name. Dante? Damien?  All I remember is that he was super into computers (“I like taking them apart and putting them back together,” he said and I thought this was dumbest yet most interesting thing ever, like OMG can I watch?) and planned on going to school for that, and he lived in the nearby town of Dravosburg.

The GED test was spread out over two evenings, and we both arrived too early on each evening, hanging out in the lobby and talking before the doors to the testing room opened up. On both nights, we were the first to finish (I might have giddily rushed through it so that I would have more time to talk to him) and I remember distinctly sitting in this alcove/balcony area during the breaks we were allotted each night, and he even chivalrously sat with me while I waited for my ride after the testing was over, talking like we had known each other forever. He gave me his number, and when Psycho Mike picked me up after the second night of the testing was over, Mike was of course enraged to find me talking to another guy. I remember stopping at Firehouse Videos that night on the way home m to rent Dario Argento movies, and then having a huge argument in the basement of my parent’s house. I didn’t even care because meeting the new guy was a sign: I had incentive to dump Psycho Mike. Because in my stupid high school drop-out brain, having a rebound guy was better incentive than, I dunno, protecting myself from further abuse?! Teenagers are so FUCKING DUMB.

But then I couldn’t find GED dude’s number! And I hadn’t given him mine! I even called my friend Justin who also lived in Dravsoburg and asked him if he knew him, told him the whole Shakespearean dilemma, and could he locate this guy? Could he give him my number? Dravosburg is small, right?!

Justin said he would see what he could do, which was nothing because at the end of the day, we may have been “friends” but we were also “exes” and he wasn’t on board with pimping me out I guess.

So I never talked to that guy again, but I thought about him occasionally for the next several years, particularly anytime I would hear that Tonic song, which was popular at that time and for whatever reason, I associated it with him.

I did end up, obviously, dumping Psycho Mike but it wouldn’t be until another 6 months or so. And what would have happened if I hadn’t lost that guy’s number? How would that have changed the trajectory of my life? Would I have still met Henry? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

Hilariously (but not), several years later, now with Henry as my boyfriend, I had decided to go to college. In order to enroll at Pitt, I needed my high school transcript which made me so fucking nervous because I had never seen them and wasn’t really looking forward to taking that awkward and painful stroll down memory lane. I had to pick up the transcripts in person and I can remember bursting into tears in the parking lot afterward – I had actually graduated high school. After all of that, all of the passive-aggressive shaming my dad put me through, the childish bullying I endured any time I ran into enemies from high school*, the hassle of going to McKeesport and taking the GED exam, I had been a high school graduate that whole time. I remember back then, a friend telling me that there was a seat saved for me at commencements but I didn’t believe it then. I guess it was true.

*[Notably, the time I was at Denny’s with my friend Brian and that broad Cinn I mentioned recently, and two dumb bitches I hated more than anyone (I didn’t know about Trump yet) stood next to my booth in order and plunked quarters into the Claw Machine. “I’m really good at this,” Mindy said theatrically and extra-loud, as though her cunt friend Christine wasn’t standing RIGHT NEXT TO HER. “I went to college.” At this, they both collapsed into red neck chortles. OH BURN. So you went to college to learn a skill that requires you spend $1.00 on a 5 cent plushie? COOL!]

Anyway, both of those bitches are miserable and basic.

I was a mess in 1997: I was suicidal, directionless, hopeless, I saw no future for myself. So I chose some controversial paths, but those paths miraculously spilled me out into a pretty good spot in life. I made my own awesome family, I have a handful of loyal and amazing friends, and I have a decent job which maybe I’m not passionate about but that decent job affords me to focus my free time on things I AM passionate about. I dunno, I think I’ve done ok for myself in spite of some abysmal choices.

If I could only see all of that back in 1997.

LOL, see also: deep thoughts inspired by an ok song.

Jan 172021
 

Henry changed the lightbulb in our bedroom church lamp and it’s a real mood changer. I might have to fall asleep to the Black Bible tonight to really get the full effect, though.

That’s really all I came here to say. It’s been a very sleepy, boring Sunday. I had an orange & honey latte from Reginald’s, read a lot, rage-watched some news (the latest footage of those derelict Jim-bobs storming the Capitol should be made into a STAY IN SCHOOL, KIDS psa, seriously, so embarrassing), argued with Chooch, and went for a walk. Now I’m about to help Henry make some Valentines. (Maybe–he doesn’t always “need” my help, so he says.)

I hope everyone is having a nice Sunday. (Or whatever day it is when you read this.)

Jan 162021
 

Because there is nothing else to do but read books and daydream about the past, I was recently thinking about how we used to actually go and do really fun shit (for me) and then I would interview Henry about it later for my blog and he would rarely give any more than 2 word answers so I would have to use CREATIVE LICENSE and make up my own answers for him, and wow, those days were fun. Maybe I will try to think of a reason to interview him here soon (a conversation on Covid? DIY discourse) but until then, please enjoy the time we went to Warped Tour in 2016 and I tried desperately to get opinions out of him. (WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE HENRY INTERVIEWS? You can read them all here!)

*****

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Much wow, this was Henry’s 8th Warped Tour (I think? I don’t feel like counting, but it’s less than my official tally that’s for sure because I’m more legit than he is). What this means is that he is basically a seasoned, grizzled pro at this point. Let’s ask him some questions about his long-term relationship with Warped Tour and if he plans on siring any illegitimate children out of wedlock with them, too. JUST LIKE HE DID WITH ME.

Do you plan on siring any illegitimate children out of wedlock with Warped Tour?

Say that again!? [WRITER REPEATS QUESTION.] I don’t know. Is that even possible?

There were several times when I went off on my own during the day. What did you and Chooch do that I missed?

We just walked around and got some Twix [they had a booth there] and Chooch spent some time in the water tent. We saw a little bit of Cold Rain but then he saw some vendor and then we ventured off. I don’t know, we just walked around and then he kept wanting a bucket hat. [There were some merch booths selling them because nothing screams POP PUNK like a bucket hat?]

Out of all the Warped Tours you’ve attended throughout the years, give us your top 3 worst moments.

Great, now I have to think. [He is seriously thinking about this too OMG. No wait, he’s watching something about the Kennedy assassination. No, he’s thinking again!]

#3. I don’t know what year it was, but having to listen to Katy Perry sing.

#2. Whatever year it was when it was 1000 degrees there and it was miserable. [I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that every year?? But this one year it was actually so bad that someone died, I think, maybe.]

#1. Breakdown 2016. [You guys I think he’s referring to the 87 times I wanted to leave last week because I’m emotionally cracked.]

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If you had a booth at Warped Tour, what would you be selling?

Individually-wrapped prunes. [LOL JUST KIDDING THAT WAS ME, THE WRITER, ANSWERING FOR HIM.]

Huh. What would I sell….[Literally, he has no imagination.] I don’t know. Let me think about that one.

[TWENTY MINUTES LATER] Your art, and meat products, because there’s way too much vegetarian shit there.

[Um, if he’s referring to the ONE tent that Peta2 has there, then yeah: SO MUCH.]

Kevin Lyman, the founder of Warped Tour, asks you personally for a list of bands to forever blacklist. I guess he feels an affinity to you because you’re both middle-aged with probably have the same amount of callouses. Anyway, what bands are on your list? GO HOGWILD, BOO.

Slaves

[Wow, this just in: Henry doesn’t care when disgusting, misogynistic bands like FALLING IN REVERSE and ATTILA play at Warped Tour, that’s why they didn’t make his list. Oh OK, privileged white male! Way to use your god-given Caucasian penis for good.]

It’s the morning after Warped Tour, i.e. DEAR DIARY TIME! What do you write on the back of the Faygo Red Pop label* about this year’s experience at Warped Tour?

I can’t have secrets and then tell you! [I won’t stop looking at him until he answers.]

When you look at me like that and start typing, it scares me. I don’t like your line of questioning. Too much thinking involved. Why can’t it just be yes or no answers. [Ew he just told me he doesn’t like my attitude?!]

*[That’s what I imagine Henry’s diary to be: a clump of Faygo bottle labels crumbled into a ball and punched under the mattress.]

OK fine, pretend like it’s a postcard that you’re sending Chris & Monica from the great bustling parking lot that is Warped Tour:

Is this a new question? Why would I write Chris and Monica a postcard?

[I’ll start it for you: DEAR CHRIS AND MONICA]

[I just asked Chooch the same question since Henry’s brain is creaking and smoking as he tries to think. Chooch would just write: ‘Sup.]

Dear Chris & Monica,

Having a great time, as always. [I think he’s sarcasming.]

Brought my A&D ointment which I have been applying liberally right around the TENDER AREAS inside my thighs. I wanted to wear booty shorts today but I had to wear regular-lengthed basic white man shorts on account of all the CHAFING. Thought we were going to leave early because Erin was being a psycho but then somehow we ended up staying later than ever before, wtf guys. I got to eat an ice pop and it reminded me of the days when I was a paperboy except that it cost approximately $8 more. Um, I bought my work-husband the Masked Intruder CD not because I’m thoughtful or anything but because he is my dom.

[OK fine, I might have taken some liberties after the “having a great time” line because I was tired of him sitting here saying, “Um…..uh…..”]

You seem less irritated about having to chaperone Chooch and me than you have in earlier years. Can you confirm this is because you’re sufficiently dead inside, or do you secretly LIKE WARPED TOUR now?

I think it’s a little bit of both. I like some of it and I’m pretty much dead inside because of you and Chooch.

But you hated Bled Fest – why?

I didn’t hate Bled Fest I just didn’t like it. I never said I hated Bled Fest! It was just too hot—and it wasn’t my type of music!

[Let me translate this for you, because I’m well-versed in reading between Henry’s blue-collared lines: Not enough booty shorts.]

 

Talk about how you’re able to sleep every year through super loud, heavy bands (the lucky bands this year were Secrets and Waterparks):

I don’t know it’s just something I can do.

[WOW GET THIS MAN ON AMERICA’S GOT TALENT.]

If Warped Tour was around when you were a teenager, what bands would you have liked to see in the line-up that was probably printed in the PITTSBURGH PRESS along with the date that the tickets went on sale so you would know when to go to KAUFMANN’S at CENTURY III MALL to buy them. I’ll just go ahead and start you off with Ted Nugent:

  1. TED NUGENT
  2. Iron Maiden
  3. Judas Priest
  4. Probably ZZ Top
  5. CCR
  6. The Guess Who

[Wow.]

[ED.NOTE: Don’t post pictures of illustrated weeners on Facebook because you will be reported for it and it will be removed, even if it looks like a Simpsons’ weener.]

Speaking of weeners, last year, that ginger-fuckerbitch Jonny Craig got kicked off Warped Tour for flapping his weener at his merch girl. Would you rather have Jonny Craig’s weener flapped in your face at such a close proximity that it gets tangled up in your beard, or would you rather get caught flapping your own weener at Jeffree Star and have him paint it with his lipgloss line? You can be honest, I won’t tell anyone:

Really? You’re not going to tell anyone? Pfft. [He just mumbled “Boy, you’re having fun with this.”] Probably the latter because I don’t like Jonny Craig.

2016 highlight:

Bradley [from Emarosa] hugging Chooch [during their set. Don’t worry Henry, I’m here to beef up your answers].

ON THE REAL HENRY, like how giddy do you get when Bradley talks to us?

How WHAT? Giddy? I don’t. I don’t need to get giddy; I have you two that get giddy and quiet.

[Oh OH, Bradley is totally his #mce (Barb, that means Man Crush Everyday).]

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In closing, what advice would you give another dad who is going to Warped Tour with his kids for the very first time? And don’t say “Drop them off”:

Well that was going to be my answer, drop them off. Since I can’t say that….um….bring lots of cash for merch and food. I don’t know what else….but I’m sure you do.

[Yeah, I do: FORGET ABOUT HAVING ANY AUTHORITY, OPINIONS, OR FEELINGS THAT DAY BECAUSE IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S ABOUT YOUR KIDS, SO STEP OFF, DAD.]

 

Jan 152021
 

Gonna be real honest here (I dunno why I always preface shit with that, as though I’m typically FAKE NEWS’ing my way through these updates), this is most TGIF’ish I’ve felt in a long while. Here are five things plus some photos that have nothing to do with anything.

  • Henrys Voice Crush

I guess helping me make those book cover cookies really inspired Henry to work on his literacy, because he DOWNLOADED THE LIBBY APP and has been listening to audiobooks while he carts pallets of Faygo around the warehouse all the livelong day. He’s already listened to Beartown (!!!) and then decided he liked the narrator’s voice so he searched Libby for more books narrated by her, and then ended up getting one of my other Top 13 Books of 2020 – Nothing To See Here. Apparently she also narrated whatever that prequel to Practical Magic is that just came out, so HE LISTENED TO THAT NEXT and why is this so hilarious to me??? After he finished it, he said, “It was good. I guess I will listen to Practical Magic now.” When I started squealing with giddiness, he got all bent out of shape and asked, “WHAT? I’ve seen the movie…”

I wonder if he saw it ON A DATE.

Anyway, Chooch is trying to be emancipated now that he’s lost BOTH parents into the literary world.

  • The Call

Speaking of movies, if you want to watch a good horror movie and don’t mind subtitles, the Korean film “The Call” is on Netflix and it is SUPERB. Henry and I finally watched it last weekend and I was legitimately scared, which rarely happens anymore with me and horror. Also, the main girl, Park Shin-Hye, is from one of my FAVORITE MOST-BESTEST K-DRAMAs, The Heirs.

  • Good Veg Foods I’ve Recently Devoured

Last week, Zenith has seitan tacos on their menu and I’m not one of those Taco Tinas by any means but I was suddenly really in the mood for a damn taco. It was delicious, as usual, because Zenith. Side note: When I was younger, I NEVER EVER EVER opted for soft tacos. It was hard shells all the way. In fact, for a long time I didn’t even realize soft tacos were a thing! Now that I’m An Old, soft tacos are my friends because biting into hard shells makes me nervous. Also, those ones are messier and I’ve acquired a major food mess phobia somewhere along the way.

And then for dinner tonight, Henry got me takeout from Apteka. Please say hello to my BBQ Yuba sandwich, which is now in my stomach. (Pineapple + morita adobo, seared yuba, smoked garlic slaw, pickle. Not a burger but on a sesame seed bun.)

It was good but the adobo took a bit to get used to and then after I figured out what was going on, I pretty much swallowed the whole thing in two bites. (To be fair, I split it with Henry, because he got a vegan steak hoagie from Spak’s which is down the street from Apteka, and I wanted in on that action too. It’s fun when Henry opts for vegetarian stuff too so that we can share – I THINK THAT IS WHAT LOVE IS ALL ABOUT but I’m not the best at that because I’m so selfish.)

Chooch and I have restarted Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution and tonight we have to start level 3 so I’ll probably puke all this food up at some people, you’re welcome for visuals of me vomiting on my mat while sweat drips off my face and commingles with the puke puddle.

  • MY FAVORITE PLATE

Since you can kind of see it in the FOOD PICTURES, I decided to talk about MY FAVORITE PLATE which I have had since middle school (early 90s, OK? I  told you, I’m An Old) but haven’t seen in years and then I recently found it in the basement when I was looking for something else, and this was an astonishing find (LOL like it was a ruby heirloom or something) because I honestly can’t remember this plate ever coming with me after I moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18?! But I apparently had it this whole time!?

Anyway, this plate is special (so special that I forgot about it for 20+ years, but OK, cook on, Erin) because I got it when I was in Italy with my aunt Sharon and grandparents. There is this highway rest stop / cafeteria chain called Autogrill and our tour group would stop there occasionally when we were on the bus, en route to the next destination. It was always a big deal for my aunt because if you got the Autogrill special, it was served on a collectors plate. She ended up with quite a few of them over the years (I don’t remember seeing any of them when we cleaned out my grandparents house – DID SHE SELL THEM ON EBAY?!). I only opted to do this once or twice, because the “Special” was always something that sounded gross to a kid. My palate just wanted a basic grilled cheese, but if we’re being honest (OMG there I go again) the only thing I had my fat kid eyes set on was the dessert buffet, mmkay.

Do not ask me what sort of lunch I had to swallow in order to earn this prized plate (probably liver and onions) but I did it and I have recently started giving this plate the appreciation it deserves. I use it EVERY DAY and Henry and Chooch know that it’s off limits to whatever dumb foods they might consider slopping onto it. (Chooch’s food would be OK but god only knows with Henry – he might actually reintroduce it to liver and onions.)

  • A Random Piece of Chooch Info

On one of our walks recently, he said that he hopes to have a son and daughter one day and he will name them both Chris. Not Christopher or Christina, but they’ll each just be “Chris.” So…look forward to that?

Well, on  that note, I’ll sign off with a creepy picture of my bedroom that I took accidentally the other night when I was getting ready for bed.

Jan 142021
 

GOT7 members to leave label JYP Entertainment: reports | ABS-CBN News

It was announced recently that GOT7 has parted ways with their OG label, JYP. It looks like they’re signing one by one to new labels, I read that Mark is coming back to LA to try his luck at a solo career here in racist America, and Jin-Young might be focusing solely on acting….while I will continue to support each member in their new, individual endeavors, it is going to take me a long time to mourn GOT7 as a whole! Each member posted the above picture on their individual IG accounts with #GOT7FOREVER and you better believe it was a “no mascara” day for me after that.

They were one of the first groups I grew to love through kpop cardio. They were/are Chooch’s bias group. They are CRITICALLY UNDERRATED. Please, I beg you, forget about BTS for one goddamn second (they are not the best there is!!) and give GOT7 some love. Their dancing is FIERY and their looks have always been stunning. Visuals always killing it. Vocals? Better than “your faves,” fight me.

Here are some of my favorites:

SarahKpop made one of my favorite kpop dance workouts to this song, which was how I first heard it!

When this song came out, it was seared into my brain for a full year.

THE COLORS, VOCALS, MOVES. ALL THOSE BOOKS?!!? (OK here come the tears lol.)

This makes me want to punch things!

I love their cute aegyo side,  too! Also, this song has such a sweet message.

This is one of my ALL TIME faves.

We (a/k/a me, myself, I) made the last minute decision in June 2019 to buy tickets to their Toronto show and I am so fucking relieved and grateful of that decision as it would end up being the one and only time Chooch and I got to see them perform live. 

The first time we were in Seoul, we even staked out JYP in hopes of catching a glimpse of them, like true Kpop sasaengs!

Walking Figure Eights in Gangnam: 3/28/18

Anyway, here also is what is supposedly their last performance as GOT7, from the Golden Disc Awards earlier this week; the second song they perform is my current favorite, which I posted about a few weeks ago:

I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is probably the best thing for them. They weren’t treated well by JYP and now they’re finally free of their contractual chains to pursue other avenues to happiness.

OK I have to go now that I have thoroughly depressed myself. If you watched any of these and liked one or whatever, let me know since I am sad and need friendly banter. LE SIGH!!!!!!!!!

 

Jan 122021
 

The latest episode of Handmade By Henry saw him working diligently with fun fur because in my mind’s eye, I could not picture my Monster Squad poster framed any other way!

And by the way, The Monster Squad was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. My friend Amy L., whose grandparents lived on my street, used to come over my house after school so that we could watch the shitty copy that my mom recorded for me on a blank VHS, probably from HBO, because we both had the hots for Rudy. I STILL HAVE THIS TAPE! It has Monster Squad scribbled on it in CRAYON on a ripped piece of MASKING TAPE. The very beginning of the movie was cut off by those goddamn black and white squiggly lines that were ubiquitous with VHS, and it wasn’t until years and years later as an adult that I finally got to see the movie in full, after I bought the DVD, lol.

Pin on Growing Up 80's & 90's

Phat Kids vs Classic Monsters | The Disbelief Suspenders Club

Yeah boi…

One of the movie theaters in Pittsburgh played this several years ago and I took Chooch. (Oh my Lord, that was seven years ago according to the date on that blog post!) Anyway, it was one of the best moments as a mom, to get to share this fucking amazing flick with my 7-year-old super impressionable kid.

Another fun fact about me and this movie: there’s a super beloved scene where one of the kids says, “whoa…wolfman’s got nards” and  that was actually a quote on my checks back when people used checks to pay for shit. When I started dating, he was like, “….really?” I had checks for another account to and those ones said “gave all the vampires back to god” which was a line from a Cold song, lol. I really liked having personalized checks OK?!?!

Honestly if you’ve never seen this movie, please do yourself a solid and rectify that immediately!

OMG I FORGOT MY BROTHER RYAN AND I EVEN NAMED OUR PET RABBIT “RUDY” AFTER ONE OF THE CHARACTERS, THIS MOVIE HAS REALLY  IMPACTED MY LIFE MORE THAN I THOUGHT LOL.

I also got this bitchin’ Pee Wee’s Big Adventure art piece from Billy Lilly on Instagram (his art is so pop-tastic and fun!). My kitchen was legit begging for this! This movie is also a huge part of my life and is one of the few movies that I quote from probably on a weekly basis if we’re being real with each other here (are we? I AM ALWAYS BEING REAL WITH YOU!).

In fact, I was training a new person at work last week and all I really knew about her was that she enjoys going to rodeos and I was trying to make small talk so I said, “The closest I’ve ever been to a rodeo is Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, haha” BUT SHE HAD NEVER SEEN IT SO THERE WAS JUST AN AWKWARD SILENCE.

I’m not really sorry for my gratuitous kitchen PDA because if you guys knew how shitty it used to be and how much I hated it, you would be in there doing precious floor-angels on that arcade rug, too. You really would.

That big empty area above the spice rack will one day be the spot of the pinball back glass. Henry finally ordered lights for it! But now we’re in the throes of Valentine season and drowning in orders from our card shops, so I guess all projects are on hold. :(

Out of everything, I think the neon sign is still my favorite. The kitchen would go down about 87 notches without it!

I actually make myself food now because I don’t hate being in there! I mean, the food I’m making isn’t anything beyond scrambled Egg Beaters and perhaps a can of soup or a microwaved sweet potato for dinner, but Henry is like WOW LOOK AT YOU GROWING UP!

I love that I can see Pee Wee from my desk while I’m working!

I’ll end this with a picture of this little sweetie, Penelope <3

(Impeachment tomorrow?)

Jan 112021
 

Miss Margie just seems like she was (is!) so fucking cool. Also, I want to know why she was mad at that broad, and if she followed through with sending back all her stuff COD.

(COD!!)

Anyway, I have mentioned Nelson Sullivan on here before but he was the OG vlogger, filming the daily lives and exploits of his friends (mostly artists – like Warhol and Keith Haring!!, drag queens – RUPAUL!, and club kids – James St. James and Michael Alig!). He died in 1989 and his videos were recently acquired by some art gallery in NYC and they uploaded a large portion to YouTube. I fell down the rabbit hole over the summer and became obsessed – I know, this is soooo off brand, right? – and even included a framed photo of him and my favorite “costar” of his videos, esteemed Village Voice critic Michael Musto.

I used to videotape my friends and family relentlessly in the 90s and watching Nelson Sullivan’s videos makes me miss those days, and also how people were just naturally more social then too. My friends and I would go out and talk to ANYONE, we gave zero shits. We made friends at Denny’s and gas stations and movie theaters and at red lights and and and. Social media and cell phones have ruined everything. Did you know that I was super against cell phones?! I really was. My mom bought me some basic Nokia one in 2001 and I only had it for a few months before it broke, but it drove me nuts because it rang CONSTANTLY and I hated that I was suddenly always available to people. It took another five years for me to cave and buy a new one, and that’s only because I was about to have a baby and figured that having a cell phone would be the responsible thing to do.

And now Covid has taken whatever social instinct I had on reserve and drained it. OMG will I ever be able to have small talk with strangers ever again!? Maybe there’s a Skillshare course I can take…online…to relearn how to talk to people…offline.

Where was I?! Oh. Nelson Sullivan. Then I developed a really sick fascination with club kid Michael Alig. I knew the whole Party Monster story – kind of – and when it eventually occurred to me that the Michael Alig from Nelson’s videos was THE MICHAEL ALIG who murdered a club kid / drug dealer in the mid-90s and chopped up his body and dumped it in the Hudson, I was SHOOK. I guess because I had been watching these “intimate” videos of friends hanging out and what not, you start to think “hey I know that guy” and then when you realize that one of them is going to murder someone 10 years later IT IS WEIRDLY JARRING.

I never had any invention or desire to watch Party Monster when it came out but here I was all these years later making Henry watch it with me.

Anyway, shortly after Xmas 2020, Henry was like “btw that Michael Alig guy died” and of course he was annoyed that not only did that headline come up in whatever feed of his, but that he recognized the name thanks to my brainwashing.

Then I texted Janna because I dragged her down into this weird club kid abyss with me and she said that she too had seen that headline and meant to text me.

Michael Alig appearing on Geraldo, 1990

It’s kind of weird how the dots of life connect because I remember being a teenager, maybe in middle school, and watching the Geraldo (I think?? I guess I should go back and revise that to VAGUELY remember!) episode in the early 90s with the NYC club kids and not even knowing that Michael Alig was there and then not even realizing I had seen him once on TV whenever Party Monster came out (actually I’m not even quite sure that I knew it was based on real life events now that my brain-muscle is starting to warm up). And then even MORE years later, I’m watching literal home videos from the 80s where he makes cameos.

And now he’s dead.

Anyway, I think about this video a lot too, when Michael Alig had a giant party at McDonalds – you have no idea how much these videos make my heart ache for the 80s. I think I would have been REALLY COOL IF I WAS OLDER IN THE 80s and not in elementary school!!! Like I could see picture myself hanging out with Miss Margie and Michael Musto and Nelson and…well, probably not Michael Alig…I really feel like I was born too late…but then with Kpop I feel like I was born too early…UGH I CAN’T WIN.

When Covid is over, I’m having a giant party. Probably not at a McDonalds though. Taco Bell, maybe. Also I need to get all of my old videos transferred to the computer so I can make Chooch watch them and see how totally annoying obnoxious cool his mom used to be.

Anyway, this isn’t what I intended to write about today but you can’t always reason with obsession and fixation. Also, that was two videos and if I were a real blogger, I’d edit the title of this blog but I’m not so I won’t.

Jan 092021
 

Between coronavirus and this latest uprising of Jim-Bobs, I have been calming myself by looking at pictures of happier times. I know it was only a year and a half ago that we went to Tokyo DisneySea, but it might has well have been another lifetime ago.

We could all use some photos of one of the happiest places on earth, so I’m re-sharing them here. I fucking miss theme parks, you guys. But, perspective, etc.
*************

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

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

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

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

I’m insane and my issues are plentiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Venice Vibes, Very.

Basically just an excuse to sit down.

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

Did I mention we were also in Japan?

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

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

And the gift shop was inside a whale!

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

Pompously phallic.

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

Halfway to heatstroke.

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

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

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

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

Henry, reapplying sunscreen.

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

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

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

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

Obsessed with this tree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

Jan 082021
 

You know, because I’m such an influencer (*eyeroll*).

CLOTHES

I saw this precious blouse in an Instagram ad and you know how fly-by-night those companies can be! But I did some research and the fact that the clothing was moderately pricey combined with finding the personal IG accounts of the artist & designer who collaborated with the company made me feel a lot more confident that I wouldn’t get scammed or receive something that looked like it was made in some middle school Home Ec class.

The clothing company is called Unlogical Poem and it appears to be based in Japan, but the distribution center is in China. So it did take about 3 weeks for my order to arrive, but they were very transparent about that from the get-go.

I love it! I will warn that everything there is free-size so I was nervous that it wouldn’t fit. Sometimes the arms will be very short, but this one fits nicely and I can tell that it’s made quality material! I love it so much and maybe one day I will have somewhere to wear it to?

TV SHOWS

I recently finished watching some pretty good shows that I will now list here for your consideration:

  • Home for Christmas: Um hello why did I not know about this show?? There are two seasons on Netflix and they were a breeze to binge. It’s set in Norway (I think?) so it was fun to hear which English words are the same over there, like “fuck boy” lololol. Didn’t think I would like this because I don’t typically get into Christmas-y shows but this was sooooo funny and also endearing and whoever that main chick is, I love her deeply.

Home for Christmas (TV series) - Wikipedia

  • The Mess You Leave Behind: this is Spanish and based on a book which is always in Spanish in the opening credits so I don’t know what it’s called, I know it’s shocking that my one whole year of Spanish in 12th grade hasn’t been more effective. This was is way more of a thriller/mystery/drama about a teacher who moves to a new town in Spain and  takes over a class left behind by a teacher who committed suicide….BUT DID SHE. I thought it was really great. Also the word for “ok” in Spanish sounds like the word for “quickly” in Korean. That was my takeaway.

Netflix: The Dark Thriller You Should Watch - The News Fetcher

I also watched Bridgerton but…did I like it? I’m not sure?? It was mostly softcore porn, to be honest. To the point where I had my finger on the remote ready to exit out of Netflix in case Chooch came into the room, and meanwhile Henry was in the dining room making greeting cards and nearly breaking his neck trying to see what I was watching on the TV, lol.

MUSAKKKKKKK

My current favorite song is Twice’s Cry For Me. The choreo gives me chills. I love mature Twice!

SOCIAL MEDIA 

I mean, it should have happened a long time ago but Trump being banned from like every social media platform has me FUCKING GID-DAY up in this clown town known as my house. FINAL-FUCKING-LY. Now can Apple and Google pull Parler, please? DO THE RIGHT THING.

FURRY COMFORT AIDS

If you don’t have pets, how have you been getting through this week/last 4 years? I depend on my cats way too much, I think. The squirrels too. It’s so pathetic that when my work friend Margie called me yesterday, she said, “Sorry, I’m probably interrupting squirrel time” and I was like, “OK I actually WAS at the window but it was only to put out more peanuts, OK MARGIE.”

Here are some pictures of my baes from this week:

Clown Lap Cat Nap – my future band name. DO NOT STEAL IT.

OK, I’m starting to feel panicky and I’m on the verge of tears again because, America. So time to bury myself in a book. Have a fine weekend.

Jan 072021
 

My mom texted me last week, asking me to send her a picture of my wheelchair.

“Which one?” I asked, and I swear I wasn’t even being an asshole.

“You have more than one??” she replied like she hasn’t been to my house before!

I thought that perhaps recounting how I acquired each one would be a nice stroll down memory lane and also because I don’t have anything better to talk about and need a distraction from Trump’s dangerous bullshit.

MY FIRST WHEELCHAIR was procured way back in 2012.  I was at Zenith (these types of stories always start with that) when the broad I was with pointed it out. It was dangling from the ceiling and I knew I had to have it – and it was only $40!!! I called Henry STRAIGHTaway and he was like, “Wha—why?” I mean, why not?? I had to haggle with him for a bit but finally he was like FINE (honestly the only reason I even called him was because I knew it wouldn’t fit in the car and I needed him to arrange some type of pick-up, lol.

I really love this one a lot. I mean, you know what they say: you always love your first vintage wheelchair the most.

MY SECOND WHEELCHAIR was gifted to me like, a week later by my friend Wendy who randomly found one at some house recycle place thing and was like DO YOU WANT THIS and then I got spoiled, like “wow am I going to get wheelchairs all the time now?!”

I like this one a lot because it’s easily transported for photoshoot purposes!

MY THIRD WHEELCHAIR was acquired at a local antique shop in 2016 because it was my birthday and I wanted a present goddammit. This was also the same day / place I got my Mouse Attack sign!

I love this wheelchair a lot (I mean, I obv. love all of them) but it’s the one I baby the most because the seat is like super fragile-looking lattice. So I usually discourage people from sitting in it, though I have made exceptions for like, holiday portraits or whatever.

MY FOURTH WHEELCHAIR was a Christmas gift by our very own HENRY J., you guys!

He apparently had gone and inspected numerous w-chairs that he found via Craigslist, etc. But this one was the best, and without even seeing the others, I have to agree! It has a very medieval feel about it but I know it is not nearly that old. It’s a real bad boy, the daddy of the pack.

I love these so much, and the semi-haunted vibe they give to my house. I hope that it doesn’t come off as me mocking disabled people because I’m not like “woo hoo paralysis is cool” I fucking swear to god. I just love these old pieces of history and imagining the people they served.

THANK YOU for letting me talk about my wheelbabies and distracting me from the news.

Jan 052021
 

Henry and I started having these dumb cemetery picnics back in 2005, during the Christmas when I was pregnant and my family abandoned me, lol. This sounds like an episode of Teen Mom but I promise you I was 25. Anyway, it was kind of cute and I was happy that we were doing our thing on the holiday instead of relying on other people to invite us over and feed us like we’re a joint charity case, so it became something that we kept doing even when things were better and drama-free – we’d always carve out some time in the afternoon for a quick sandwich at the cem before heading over to my grandma’s house or whatever. And the last several years, we found out that this one amazing bakery called Pink Box is open on Christmas Day so we started going to a different cemetery that’s down the street from Pink Box and I gotta tell you, it’s a really delicious tradition to have!

This year though it snowed really bad on Christmas Day and to be honest, I was content hanging at home where it was warm and cozy. We waited until the weekend and had our belated picnic on a much warmer day (I mean, it was like 30 degree probably so not “warm” but better than a snowstorm, I guess). This meant that in addition to Pink Box buns, we were also able to hit up the neighboring Allegro Hearth Bakery for some plant-based sandwiches to go with our desserts!

Kofta melt. It was sooooo good.

One of the many bad things about Covid is that there’s been such an uptick of people strolling through the cemeteries. We used to hardly ever run into other people there, especially in winter, but there were motherfuckers sled-riding there that day, for Christ’s sake. I was so indignant and enraged about this but I mean…we were there to eat sandwiches and buns so….I guess we’re just as motherfucker-y as the sledding motherfuckers.

I mean, if you think just because your kid is 14, you can stop screaming basic common sense things at him like DON’T STEP ON THE ICY POND, DIP SHIT, you would be sadly mistaken. We seriously screamed it 3x each until Henry was like, “Fuck him then.” Parenting! We’re great at it!

Then I took this dumb picture of us MOMENTS BEFORE CHOOCH CHUCKED AN ICE-ENCRUSTED AT MY FUCKING EYEBALL AND RUINED THE WHOLE FAMILY BONDING EFFORT. In his defense, he was trying to hit Henry (which would have been fine, lol) but he missed and woooo boy did that sucker sting. I think it hurt even worse because it caught me so off guard and maybe I had a lot of pent up stress and tears in me and it unleashed a wave of emotion and possibly bi-polar enhanced histrionics which, looking back on it now, even I can admit was over the top and uncalled for.

First I was really pissed and then I just started sobbing uncontrollably to the point where Henry was like “um, there there” and cautiously put his arm around me which Chooch was like “….” and the dead people were like “Oooh, action!”

“WHY DOES EVERYONE HATE ME SO MUCH?!” I screeched, scaring off any bird that hadn’t been chased away by the vocal power of my initial outburst.

I was stalking back to the car, sensing that Henry and Chooch were mouthing shit to each other behind my back LIKE THEY ALWAYS DO, when I suddenly felt inspired to hit the dumb kid so I turned around and slapped his arm but only ended up hurting my hand in  the process and then we both started laughing and I screamed I HATE YOU while still laughing but also crying too and I noticed that there were two people who had been walking behind us for this whole shit show AND I DID NOT EVEN CARE.

Anyway, I was fine but I made sure to complain about my eye hurting all day even though it really didn’t.

And that’s the story about how sometimes you don’t need extended family to create drama on a holiday when you’re perfectly capable of stoking those flames yourself. The end. I’ll take a bow now.

Jan 032021
 

[CONTEST IS OVER! ANSWERS ARE NOW LISTED!]

I guess because I love to abuse myself, I decided that in lieu of just typing out the titles of my favorite books that I read in 2020, I would decorate cookies in the “likeness” (used very loosely in this context) of their covers. Because you know me and kitchen stuff. We go hand in ha—no, that’s  not the right saying.

WE’RE LIKE OIL AND WATER.

Yes, that’s the one.

It seemed like a great idea until I remembered that I hate baking and suddenly found myself extremely exhausted just thinking about googling “Sugar cookie recipe” so Henry, who is only sometimes good at reading my mind and thankfully this was one of the few times, asked, “Oh for God’s sake, do you want me to make the cookies??”

Yes! Yes, I do!

So he baked the cookies and then I was like NOW WHAT so then he got all the icing ready for me too. But don’t worry, all of the actual decorating was done by me, no cheating. And I am CLEARLY not getting into the cookie icing biz any time ever! What a fucking pain in the ass! But after three separate icing sessions starting on Friday, I finished the last cookie today and am now ready for whatever because after three days of Chooch popping in to criticize and ridicule my progress, I’m pretty numb.

Because some of them (all of them?) are so bad, I thought it would be fun to just share them here at first with no corresponding book title to see who can get the most correct guesses. I’ll come back later in the week and update this with the answers! Maybe there will be a prize?! Like a surprise grab bag from me to you!? Full of Bit-o-Honeys and Whoopie cushions?!!?* oh em gee it’s like 2012 Blogging Erin is back.

*(It will be better than that, I promise.)

HINT: Not all of these books were published in 2020.

  1. I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Iain Reid

Pro Tip: The audiobook makes the ending EVEN BETTER and also, this is is way better than the Netflix adaptation which has mostly a completely different ending. Henry & I buddy-read/listened to this together, and some of it was in a cemetery which made it even more tense and atmospheric. This one got a lot of very mixed reviews and I know some people were like “I FIGURED IT OUT RIGHT AWAY” and like, OK, good for you. It’s still an excellent fucking book and it made me have legit chills and then when I finished it, I started furiously googling for explanations and reviews. Henry and I talked about it for quite some time after finishing it!

2. My Year of Meats – Ruth Ozeki

I think this is the oldest book on my list. It was published in the late 90s and I just randomly came across it, I think when I was compiling my TBR for Asian Readathon? As a vegetarian, this was definitely not something that sat well with me, since we’re literally following a woman on the production team of a reality show that details the meat industry and how important meat is for the American family. The whole purpose of the show is to get Japanese people on board with consuming more meat, as the meat industry is trying to break into Japan. Our main character starts to see the hidden horrors of slaughterhouses and the industry in general, such as inhumane treatment of livestock and the grotesque and harmful side effects of added hormones. Ugh, I just found it so engaging and compelling, and I LOVED the characters.

3. Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo

This book does so much. It was a solid five star for me, so fucking smartly written, you will fall in love with every character, gasp with excitement when you start to see various connections, and honestly if you don’t lose yourself in the lives of these characters, are you even reading it?

4. The Bass Rock – Evie Wyld

I cannot even describe how wonderful this book is and also, I just did a shoddy review of it last weekend and don’t feel like rehashing it again, lol. Just go read this book please. IT IS EXQUISITE.

5. Beartown – Fredrik Backman

Henry is currently listening to the audiobook and therefore felt that he deserved to eat this cookie, and he did so with a certain smugness that I did not appreciate. Anyway, I also recently wrote about this book too so I will just say that, even though the subject matter was difficult, heavy and maddening, it still felt like a comfort read to me because it’s set in a cozy small town where everyone knows each other and you just get that warm sense of familiarity while reading it, like you know all these people too, and maybe it’s just me but I really cared about a lot of them except for Kevin who can kindly go fuck himself.

6. We Ride Upon Sticks – Quan Barry

My #1 favorite of the year was We Ride Upon Sticks. It was just so witty, fast-paced, irreverent, quirky, flush with 80s references, and the writing was TOTALLY MY STYLE.

7. The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai

I was on some very strange 1980s AIDS kick for a while and this book ripped my heart out. I promise you that my face was swollen from all the crying I did but I read it at a time where I really needed that – you know how sometimes a good fucking cry can just feel so cleansing? That’s what this book did for me. I’m getting misty just thinking about how much Yale (the character, not the university!) means to me.

This is supposed to be a “lite” version of A Little Life, which I keep putting off reading because I’m afraid it will kill me.

8. In the Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado

This is the one non-fiction that made the cut and it is a gem, an actual slice of the author’s soul, bound and presented to the undeserving us. Please read this. It’s beautiful, scary, painful, funny, creative, surprising – I promise it’s unlike any memoir you’ve ever read and it still visits me in my dreams, months later.

9. Luster – Raven Leilani

I had no idea what I was even getting into when I picked this one up but how is this a debut novel?? Raven Leilani can WRITE, yo. You will laugh, feel uncomfortable, learn some shit, feel your hatred of men increase a bit, all the while rooting for the damn girl to get her shit together and succeed. Also, this made Obama’s top 20 list of the year and it is a certain brand of glee to imagine him reading it!

I do think  this is a terrible book cover though (I mean, yeah, my cookie version of it is shit, but the actual cover didn’t give me much to work with! The UK version is much better but isn’t that usually the case?).

10. The Devil All the Time – Donald Ray Pollock

Um, this book fucked me up. It’s gritty and violent but there are also some incredibly bizarre and hilarious vignettes in here too which made me think about those dumb short stories I used to write and I actually felt inspired to start writing again for like 5 seconds until I got distracted by a new Kpop video. Henry and I buddy-read this together because we wanted to watch the Netflix adaptation and I am so glad we read it first. The movie was good but, as it is in most cases, the book is superior.

11. Bunny – Mona Awad

I read this is in the beginning of 2020 and while I was reading it, I kept thinking, “YES! THIS IS WHAT I MISSED ABOUT READING!” – that feeling of “I don’t want to put this book down, OMG what is going to happen, that was a perfect description!” It was just FUN. WEIRD. BIZARRO. I want it to be a movie but also don’t want someone manhandling it and snuffing out the magic within these pages.

But I will say, it’s probably not for everyone. People seem to either love it or hate it.

12. The Ghost Notebooks – Ben Dolnick

Chooch cracks up every time he sees this and I want to smash it into his face, if I’m being Honest Mother up in here.

Anyway, I think that I actually gave this book a 4, but when I was scrolling through my Goodreads list to get my favorites, I saw this one and immediately knew I wanted to include it. It was just so good, and I can’t really explain why, but it sort of felt like I was sitting with the main character as he was telling me, personally, about the time he moved to some small town in New York with his wife to live in some old ass house-cum-museum for an obscure writer because she got a job as basically a docent I guess? Anyway, it’s a slow burn, very conversationally written, emotional, tense, funny at times.

It’s one I need to read again.

13. Nothing To See Here – Kevin Wilson

First of all, this author has the same name as this mysterious guy I met over the phone in high school so that’s something. But anyway,  this book was so wonderful! Perfectly flamboyant characters with just the right amount of magical realism sprinkled on top of an endearing plot? I was all in.

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Just leave your answers in a comment. I’m privatizing them for now so people can’t steal each others’ answers!

UPDATE: HERE ARE THE ANSWERS

Here are the cookies I was actually moderately proud of:

Chooch was like, “can we please start eating these cookies now” so I made him eat the one he hated the most.

Plus, my #1 book of the year, which was probably the easiest one to make!

If I wasn’t making cookies, my list would have been an even 20 and these are the ones that would have made the final cut:

  • Kim Jiyoung Born 1982 – Cho Nam-Joo
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Death of Vivek Oji – Akwaeke Emezi
  • Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
  • The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo
  • The Diviners – Libba Bray
  • Sadie – Courtney Summers (THE AUDIOBOOK THO OMG.)

Anyway – congratulations to Janna who correctly guessed 6, woo hoo!

Jan 022021
 

We made it to December!! I have to hurry up and get this recap done because I want to do a 2020 FAVORITES list and two of my favorites actually came from my December reads!! Gonna try to bust this out into one post!! Let’s go, Lucy!

  1. Watch Over Me – Nina LaCour

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Talk about starting the month off on a bad note. This book was pretty awful. Boring. Cold. Flat characters. The reviews I read were gushing over how no one writes sad girls like Nina LaCour, queen or emo and loneliness, etc etc. I got none of that. I got “try hard,” “disjointed,” “boring,” “what a gorgeous cover wasted on an empty book. I felt nothing and at times I even forgot what was happening. Hard pass.

2.  The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

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Fuck yes – I love me some good coming of age / coming out books, add in some drag and I am there for it, Mary. I feel the most emotions when reading about marginalized people finding comfort in their skin and a community where they can spread their wings and really fucking fly. This was an exceptional journey through Michael’s life, starting from his joy of Barbies as a child to flourishing in drag as a young adult. Also, it’s written in verse so if you like Elizabeth Acevedo, why haven’t you picked this one up yet?

I feel like this should be required reading in school. Honestly, if I were a teacher, I’d want my students to read books like this.

3. The Graveyard Apartment – Mariko Koike 

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Japanese horror movies are my favorites, so I figured I would enjoy this book. Typical with Japanese (and Korean) horror/thrillers, this one was slow and quiet. Basically, a young family moves to a new, luxury apartment complex across from a cemetery, but there are only a handful of other units occupied. It seems it’s because people just don’t want to live across from a cemetery, but then some spooky shit starts happening and our fam is eventually like “OK, UNCLE. WE’RE CALLING IT. UNCLE” and they decide it’s time to find new digs BUT WILL THE COMPLEX LET THEM LEAVE?!!?

There were some chilling moments but nothing that TRULY scared me. However, I really felt attached to the main family (the dog too!!) and rooted for them so hard to win at the end. And speaking of the end – I genuinely liked it but I wonder if that’s an unpopular opinion…

4. Real Life – Brandon Taylor

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I had high hopes for this book because it seemed like something I would like based on the fact that I’m obsessed with books in the vein of The Great Believers, but ultimately it was just kind of a drag. We follow the main character, a gay Black grad student, who has some pretty dysfunctional and toxic relationships with a group of friends, and I just didn’t care about him nor did I care about any of his friends, and he becomes involved with one of the guys in his group who is kind of like his frenemy? And also straight?

Was this just too academic for me? Should I ask Alexa?

5. We Ride Upon Sticks – Quan Barry

We Ride Upon Sticks

It’s been several weeks since I finished this and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Is Quan Barry my new favorite author? Am I considering getting a tattoo to celebrate (and consummate???) my love of the words on these pages? Will I ever get over these characters? Am I currently listening to She Bop on repeat?

YES YES NO YES.

I wasn’t expecting to find what is I THINK the best book I read in 2020 so late into the reading year, but holy-fucking-shit this blew me away. It was also 100% NOT what I was expecting. The synopsis, no matter how many different ways I try to frame it, always comes off sounding like some cheesy young adult romp through an I Love the 80s VH1 special but it’s so much deeper and complex than that. First of all, it’s not YA. Second of all, the pop culture references don’t feel cheap but instead act as a warm fucking hug, like Jane Fonda leg warmers for the soul.

We follow a high school girls’ field hockey team at a New England high school in the 80s. There is some connection to the Salem Witch Trials to the town of Danvers, and so we get some witchy/magical realism action which flows seamlessly through the story so that it’s not hokey at all and only makes us question, “Wait, is this real life?”

We follow, individually and as a whole, each player of the field hockey team, and each one of these kids has a story and identity. There is also some BRILLIANT personification (ex.: one of the girls has stereotypical Aqua Net 1980s bangs with a mind of its own, and also a name of its own: The Claw) and the dialogue is SO SMART that I actually started crying several times not because the story was sad (it’s FUCKING HILARIOUS) but because Quan Barry DID THAT. This is the kind of book that I read and think, “I am never writing again. There is no point. There is only Quan Barry.”

I do not know how else to get you to read this book. But if you’re looking for PURE FUN that somehow manages to weave in social and racial commentary without hurting the flow, you have got to give this a chance. I would love to see this as a TV miniseries, only if it stayed true to Barry’s vision.

6. The Queen’s Gambit – Walter Tevis 

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After bingeing the Netflix series in November, I really wanted to read the book because I’m always curious to see how true to the pages adaptations stay. And it was PRETTY SIMILAR. A few differences but nothing too glaring.

So, I know very little about chess and I really had no desire to watch the show until my favorite YouTube couple, Sarah and Kyuho, raved about it. I decided to give it a chance and found it super compelling! I think the fact that it was set in the 60s really kept me hooked too though because I LOVE shows that are set in the 60s/70s/80s. I liked the book just fine, but I don’t think this would have ever been something I would have picked up otherwise. And yes, there were pages upon pages detailing chess moves which was like “zzzzz.” But goddamn, Beth is such an interesting character and I loved reading about her intellectually emasculating dude after dude after dude.

7. One By One – Ruth Ware

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I’ve only read one other Ruth Ware book, but there seems to be a common opinion in the book community where her books are very hit or miss. Everyone seems to really love some of her books and absolutely hate others. Having really enjoyed the one book I read of hers earlier in the year, I was curious to see if this phenomenon would be true for me, too.

YEP. This book was so bad. Boring. Predictable. Characters that felt like they were fleshed out by a middle schooler writing a “thriller” in her notebook during study hall which may or may not be something I’m familiar with. Waaaaay too much talk about the stocks of this dumb company that most of the characters work for. A truly lackluster climax. I literally couldn’t believe the same broad who wrote The Turn of the Key wrote this pile of drivel.

Skip this and go read an Agatha Christie novel instead.

8. With the Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High

Isn’t this cover beautiful?!!? I had a long time to admire it because I snagged this book from a local Little Free Library over the summer and then proceeded to drown in library books and was in a perpetually race against due dates so this lovely lady kept getting bumped back. But I finally had time in December to tackle it and it was wonderful, as are all of Acevedo’s books. Elizabeth writes characters who are so real, brimming with family values while also craving the independence and freedom to be their own person and follow their dreams, and you will CHEER THESE GIRLS ON.

In this one, Emoni is a teen mom who dreams of being a chef, but she’s trying to juggle the very real priorities that come with being a mom while also working a part time job in order to help her abuela with living expenses, and the stress is palpable.

I always get the audio books for Acevedo’s books because she narrates them herself and it’s just a real treat. I can’t wait for her next book!

9. The Bass Rock – Evie Wyld

The Bass Rock

I was kind of intimidated by this book, not gon’ lie. There are several British Booktubers that I love and have gotten some great recs from their videos but their book tastes can be admittedly way too…intelllectual? Advanced? Literary? for my pea brain to handle. But they raved about this book all year long and I finally took the plunge.

It was not what I expected! Admittedly, it was a bit difficult to get into at first because there are three different timelines but eventually it clicked in my college drop-out head. We follow three women: Viv, in present day, who is tasked with taking inventory of her step-grandmother’s empty house; Ruth, back in post-WW2 times, who has just remarried and has moved into a large possibly haunted (dot dot dot) house by the sea; and Sarah, who has been accused of being a witch and is running from townspeople in the 1700s.

Violence against women is the heavy theme of this book, but there are still some light moments and humor which really made this story shine. I don’t want to say too much more about it because I walked into this only knowing that it was a gothic novel with some witchiness and ghosts and I think I expected it to be super dry for some reason. I love being wrong in these types of cases! I tried to explain the plot to Henry and he was just like, “ew feminism, boys are best” j/k he didn’t say that but he also had the “Don’t care” glaze over his face so now someone (maybe YOU??) has to read this so we can talk about it and by talk I mean possibly have a comment exchange that goes like “that book was amazing” and “IKR?!?!?!”

This is why I don’t do book groups.

I will probably think about Viv and Ruth forever.

10. Don’t Look For Me – Wendy Walker

Don't Look for Me

This is a thriller. I have lukewarm feelings. Didn’t care much about anyone, all the men were sleazy, WTF was going on with the husband and was it ever explained or did I miss it, there is a small child that I absolutely hated and I don’t even feel bad about it. I’d recommend passing on this one, but it served as an OK filler while I looked for something better.

11. The Hollow Places – T. Kingfisher

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WHOA another book that was not at all what I was expecting based on the cover! If you’re looking for true horror, probably skip this one because it’s actually more funny than scary. I heard someone say that the two main characters reminded them of Lorelai Gilmore and Michel and I would agree WHOLE-HEARTEDLY on the Lorelai front but if we’re going full Gilmore Girls comparisons with this, I would say that her sidekick reminded me WAY MORE of Kurt.

Basically, we follow a recently-divorced woman who moves back to her small hometown and moves into her uncle’s roadside attraction-esque museum in exchange for helping him inventory all of his wares. (Think: fiji mermaids, etc.) One day, she discovers a large-ish hole in one of the walls, presumably damaged by a tourist, and she enlists the barista at the downstairs coffee house to help her patch the hole. During this process, they discover that the hole actually leads to basically another dimension, and this part sort of reminded me of The House of Leaves, and I will admit that this part of the book started to lose me a little because it was just a bit sci-fi for me – I hate other dimensions/worlds/portals type of plots because my brain just don’t work that way.

But then as the book progresses, never losing the quirky and quick-witted banter, we come back to the museum and shit gets a bit Wonderfalls-y – do you guys remember that show?! IT WAS SO GOOD AND OF COURSE CANCELED AFTER LIKE ONE SEASON.

I would love to read more books with these characters, as long as it didn’t involve the exploration of parallel universes, lol.

12. Watching You – Lisa Jewell

Watching You

I typically enjoy Lisa Jewell thrillers but this one didn’t do it for me. Basically, we follow a bunch of shitty neighbors spying on each other and one of them is some 50-ish year old male teacher who didn’t seem all that heart-throbby based on the description but somehow young girls obsess over him and I just didn’t get it at all.

Super far-fetched and just didn’t really work for me.

14. Long Bright River – Liz Moore

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Exceptional!! Major trigger warning for drug addition. We follow a cop, Micky, who is searching for her estranged, addict sister while a string of murders are hitting her childhood neighborhood in Philly. We get glimpses into the past too to help us understand how Micky and her sister ended up on different paths and it’s actually heart-breaking to see how close they were, to being nothing to each other because of drugs. Present-day Micky is doing all she can to juggle her job as a cop with being a single mom to a young boy, and when she goes rogue to find her sister, major feathers are ruffled on the police force. Fucking popo.

This isn’t just a thriller or mystery though – this is a literary masterpiece that explores how drug abuse tears families apart. Liz Moore’s writing is really unique, the way she writes dialogue really appealed to me, but above all that, if Obama tells you this was one of his favorite books of 2020, you fucking listen to him and open the damn book.

15. Grown – Tiffany D. Jackson

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Be prepared to be ANGRY while reading this. Tiffany D. Jackson is the queen of writing about those hard topics and this one will make you see red. The author claims that this is not low-key about R.Kelly but the similarities are there: a successful Black singer (in his late 20s) takes a young girl under his wing, promising her a music career, and the grooming starts IMMEDIATELY. There’s abuse, rape, gas-lighting, kidnapping – you name it, it happens in this book and it’s sickening because you know this shit is real, this shit happens to girls every day. The most heartbreaking part for me though was how hard her father fought to get her back. (I’m getting choked up as I think about this!!)

The worst part #2 for me was that I could easily picture myself, at 16, falling prey to this same type of shit. If some singer I loved started texting me, are you kidding?? I’d be all over that without even thinking that it was wrong. These men have SO MUCH POWER because they KNOW that young girls aren’t going to think twice, that these girls THINK that they’re grown enough to consent to this thinly-veiled abuse, and I am actually so thankful, as I write this, that I don’t have a daughter but it just means that I have to put in the work as a parent to ensure that my SON doesn’t become a MAN who thinks this shit is OK. Especially when we see it time and time again on TV shows. Teachers and students, mostly. (It happens in the pilot episode of Dawson’s Creek, for god’s sake!) And yeah, we mostly see it happening between men and girls, but it does go both ways! I remember watching Pretty Little Liars with Henry and he was enraged time and time again by this.

“Grown” is an extreme case of this but we know that it happens, nevertheless. Tiffany D. Jackson is an amazing writer.

16. Alice – Christina Henry 

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1)

A very (very!!) dark retelling of Alice in Wonderland. That’s really all you need to know. We have a world of murder, violence, and sex with some VERY DIFFERENT portrayals of familiar characters. For instance, the Walrus rapes his victims while eating them.

Definitely not a book to read your kids at night, but DEFINITELY a book for YOU to read if you love the Wonderland world and are looking for a much darker take on it.

I thought it was excellent and also a very quick read. Also, can we talk about that cover?!

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So that’s it! All of the books I read in December! I ended the year having read a total of 204 books and while I’m always up for a challenge and that was a cool milestone, I am very content to going back to casually reading with no goal in mind!