Jul 062016


Usually by the third day of a three day weekend, Henry, Chooch, and I are at each others throats. But I mean, that’s normal family talk, right? YOU LOVE ‘EM BUT YOU DON’T LIKE ‘EM.

Except that by some crazy act of god, we had an exceptionally peaceful day and actually, dare I say, ENJOYED each others company??

And this was all without the aid of roadside tent-purchased firecrackers!

How motherfucking un-American, I know.

We went to one of our favorite nature spots—Homewood Cemetery—and ran amok like morons (two of us, anyway), namedropped birds (one of us), and spent a good ten minutes enjoying the show a groundhog put on by peeking his adorable head out of a nearby hole (ALL OF US). So much nature and dead things!

Here are some photos.

Chooch serenaded his broken stick with a creepy rendition of Sarah McLachlan’s ASPCA-anthem “Angel.”

Surprisingly not pissing in the pond. “Looking for frogs” is their claim.

This shirt was one of my Gillcrest finds and I love it so much. Battle of the Network Stars ringer tee vibes all up on yo’ girl.

Reppin’ that Hotel Books sad boy scene. You know what they say about families that listen to emo together….

….they cry together?

He looks so put out as usual, but I’ll have you know Chooch and I entertained him right down to the individually-wrapped prunes on his cargo pockets. He only yelled at us and called us idiots about 29 times! A low number for one of our family outings.

Shit really got crunk (lol yeah I went back to 2003 and I’ll do it because I’m a blogging renegade) when Chooch found a rogue TENNIS BALL and we played CATCH in the CEMETERY and successfully intimidated some poor kid who was learning how to drive in mom’s SUV.

I think “playing catch” is something that people did before smartphones happened.

Our version of playing catch is more like imagining that Chooch is perched above a dunk tank. Henry apparently “hurt his arm” from whaling the ball so hard at HIS LAST BORN SON.

I hurt my arm too, but my hurt happened the day before when we were doing YARDWORK at my pappap’s house and I used….wait for it…

….hedgeclippers for the very first time and wound up with a callous and arthritis.

I did it for like 45 minutes!

Which, if you ask Henry, is more like 20 minutes in Erin Time.

Even my mom was kind of like, “I can’t watch this” and went in the house.

After the cemetery (and after I nearly peed my pants because LOL PLAYING CATCH), we went to Millie’s for an ice cream cone lunch because that’s how we chose to celebrate the day, OK? Also, no cookouts to go to. We’re loners, Dottie.

I had pistachio rose and yogurt date — what a divine combo. It felt like a real mythical pairing, you know? Like I should have been straddling a Sphinx.

Chooch got CHOCOLATE AND VANILLA. God, his palate is so fucking pedestrian. I’m so embarrassed. What a piss-poor job I’ve done at parenting. Here’s my basic kid, World. All your intricate and sophisticated flavor profiles make him puke in his mouth.

We have to seat him by the nearest napkin dispenser everywhere we go. (SPEAKING OF NAPKIN DISPENSERS!!!)

Later that night, our GROWN ASS CHILD went to Dormont Park with Dimajio and his older sister to watch the fireworks. I was equally “WOOOO FREEDOM!’ and “OMG DO YOU THINK HE’S OK WITHOUT US?!”

I didn’t grow up as a city kid–I was allllll suburbs and sheltered, baby.  So it’s pretty interesting watching Chooch living that city kid life.

Anyway. That was how we chose to celebrate our 7/4 and it was hilariously perfect. Look at that, I guess sometimes I like these assholes, too.

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Mar 052016

Everything about Sunday screamed, “IT’S SPRINGTIME, EVERYBODY! SPRING CAME EARLY! DUST OFF THOSE BOOTY SHORTS!” (Or maybe that was just Henry screaming that.) The sky looked like it was colored by the purest blue Crayola crayon and the sun was straight out of a cartoon. It was warm enough to open the sunroof on my car, even.

And now, at the time of this writing, it’s 30-something degrees out with a layer of snow on the ground. Weather is so weird.

Henry had shit to do around the house, and nothing assures that the shit will get done more than me leaving him alone. You know I really wanted him to work on the kitchen (we’re* just doing minor cosmetic shit to it, like painting) when I tell Chooch that yes, we will go geocaching.

*(Lol, “we’re.” All I’ve done so far is pick out the paint!)

Honestly, I can’t find enough hateful words to properly illustrate how much I hate geocaching. But my damn kid loves it, so I thought maybe it could be a nice Mommy-Son day.


Even when it’s at one of my favorite cemeteries?

Still nope.

I just hate it. The clues were for the birds. I slipped down a hill. I yelled a lot of things that probably left a lasting blemish on Chooch’s childhood.

After about 30 minutes of digging around the same tint area, I threw my arms up in the air and cried, “FUCK IT, I’M DONE.” And Chooch was like, “You have like no patience, OMG” and I said, “Let’s go for a walk around the cemetery” and he said, “Ow, but my legs are so tired. Walking is terrible” and I said, “Then we’ll get ice cream after” and he said “Fine.”

I should be a playwright.

One of my biggest downfalls is that I don’t spend enough time with Chooch, just the two of us. It’s mostly because I like that when Henry is with us, I won’t have to worry about anything. Or, you know, parent. So I’m trying to change that. I mean, we’ve been fine at the hockey games and we’ve managed to survive two concerts together without Henry’s supervision, so what’s a little Sunday stroll, right?

Except that I wasn’t paying attention when we left the cemetery and I ended up missing a turn or something and I knew where I was, but couldn’t think fast enough about how to get back on track. My mind always works against  me when it comes to directions. I have been to Homewood Cemetery a million zillion  times and even know at least 4 different ways to get there, but something broke down in my head when we left last Sunday, probably because Chooch was talking. Anyway, we ended up near Oh Yeah!, so it felt like kismet. We were originally just going to get ice cream in Brookline, but now a wrong turn put us right in the vicinity of one of our favorite ice cream places!

I was so fucking proud of myself!

Look what I did!!

Except it’s not there anymore. There Facebook page is rife with drama. There was some kind of scandal? I don’t know. But that place never served me a bad cone, and I had some pretty weird add-in combinations there.

So then we were lost again and I kept trying to make a left turn against traffic and that was stressing me out, while Chooch was looking up other ice cream places on Yelp and I snapped, “WE’LL JUST EAT ICE CREAM AT HOME BECAUSE FUCK THIS SHIT!” And he was all, in his best grown-up voice, “Would you just calm the hell down?” And I was like, “Son, that’s good advice. I will try to calm down.” And so he directed me to the Scoops that it’s in Bloomfield, the sister shop to the one down the street from us where we were originally going to go, and I was miraculously able to get a parking spot on the street and everything seemed to be going my way, until we got inside the super tiny shop and there was a group of 5 assholes standing there, taking up valuable real estate while eating their ice cream, and they stared at us while we looked at our choices. Meanwhile, some old broad in front of us ordered a large freeze, and did you know those things take like 10 MINUTES TO MAKE?! So we just stood there, while these assholes licked their cones and bore holes into us with their judgmental eyes, the old lady waited for her freeze, and a group of 4 young hooligans came in and tried to cut in front of us.

It was a really stressful experience. I  think Chooch felt pressured too, because when it was his turn to order, he couldn’t blurt it out fast enough. I paid for our cones and whisked Chooch out of the shop, where we ate our ice cream under the peace and wide-open space of the great outdoors. I couldn’t believe those assholes were standing in there like that. They weren’t waiting for anyone! They were just quietly eating their ice cream and stealing precious oxygen from the rest of us who hadn’t ordered yet. Way too many people for that tiny shop.



I can’t believe I wasted so much time writing about this. I guess I was more mad than I thought, since it’s 6 days later and I’m actually rage-biting my lower lip right now.

I think I might need to take up kick-boxing again.

Chooch was adamant on having “Let’s Go Pens” sprinkles on his Moosetracks.

I yelled, “NO ICE CREAM IN MY CAR” so we casually strolled around Bloomfield until our cones were sufficiently masticated. We walked past many of the tree beds that my Law Firm crew helped mulch last year and I was sad, yet not surprised, to see that our hard work had since unraveled, and all the spots were covered with weeds and cigarette butts once again.

Aside from the geocaching, the getting lost, and the idiots breathing my air inside of Scoops, I had a nice afternoon with Chooch. He must have had a nice time too, because a little while after we came home, I found him in his room folding his clothes! NO ONE TOLD HIM TO DO THAT! In fact, no one has ever taught him to do that, either. He said he learned by watching the employees at Target and Kohls. Maybe I should try that since my version of “folding clothes” is “rolling them up and punching them into the drawer.”

And this is the end of my Sunday afternoon recap. Look for the stage version coming soon to a Walmart loading dock near you.

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Dec 282015


Mouth lined with crumbs? Check.

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Later that night, my dad asked if Chooch’s neck tattoo was real. Yes, I had a guy I met in prison come over and do it at the house, dad.


Chooch is down to one good pair of jeans because he trashes them so quickly. This is not that pair.

That pair was home in a laundry basket, caked with mud.

Yes, we fought about this on Christmas. You know how tightly-wound I get when it comes to my dumb pictures!


We had a fight about his hair, too.


We all felt this way.


Throwback to 2011.

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Practicing his freestyle.

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Who knows how many more years Chooch is going to exasperatedly give me. Gotta milk the “Because I’m your mom and it’s all I want for Xmas!” canned response as much as I can

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Dec 262015

It occurred to me yesterday as we were in the middle of eating that this was the 10th Cemetery Xmas Picnic for us! It started in 2005, when I was pregnant with Chooch and my family was being a bag of dicks and not speaking to me. Henry and I had nowhere else to go for Xmas so I yelled LET’S JUST EAT WITH DEAD PEOPLE THEN since no one living gave a shit about us.

So that’s what we did. 

I specifically remember buying Moonpies at CoGos on the way. Really fucking festive. 

And even when we do have a place to go on Xmas, we always hit up the good old cem first. It’s definitely been met with a lot of weird reactions over the years, but it’s our norm, you know? I mean, we’re just eating sandwiches and potato salad, not roasting babies over open graves and drinking goats blood. 

Just so you know. 

We keep it clean. 

 This year, we were able to sit for more than 5 minutes without the threat of hemorrhoids or frost bite!  Except it started to drizzle a little bit. 
It’s funny how traditions start. I wonder if Chooch will continue it when he has his own family…

 Sorry, Chooch’s Future Wife. 

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Aug 182015


A bunch of years ago, like 26 or 7, I met Octavia through Etsy. Specifically, it was my fauxtography Etsy shop, Appledale. No one ever paid attention to that shop of mine, full of lomography before iPhone apps made that shit cool (and so much easier and cheaper to achieve that vintage effect, bastards), accompanied by my signature idiotic short stories.

But Octavia noticed. And she sent me the greatest convo ever; a meaningful, deep virtual handshake from one person happy to meet another person of like-mind. I will never forget how excited I was to read it! We started writing back and forth; I was enchanted by her own art and deranged imagination. She is incredibly talented.

Thank god for the Internet! I feel like if the Internet didn’t exist, then Octavia and I probably would have met through the world of pen-palling. Somehow, someway, we’d have found a way to meet!

This meet-up has been in the pipes since we bought the Williamsburg vacation package thing at the 2013 Big Butler Fair. Because clearly, Williamsburg, VA and Savannah, GA are so close to each other! The first half our trip was fun, but this was the part that I was really looking forward to, so when I woke up the morning of my birthday, I was S-T-O-K-E-D!

We had plans to meet Octavia at the Bonaventure Cemetery at 11:00am that morning. I was so nervous on the way there! I love meeting people but I am beyond awkward about it and sometimes that awkwardness never goes away because that’s just who I am, you know? Be nice.

Luckily, Octavia was chill as FUCK, sang-froid in a green dress. She claims she is awkward too but I definitely didn’t sense that, thank god, because then I would have just fed off it and it would have unraveled into some socially depraved banquet of stutters, ticks, and twitches. Instead, I felt at ease. I mean, once we got the obligatory “now is where we hug as normal people do” act out of the way.

I didn’t take any pictures of Octavia at first because I was scared to, but those will come later!



There is one super huge difference between Octavia and me: she actually knows shit about where she lives. Out-of-towners visit me in Pittsburgh and ask me simple Yinzer 101 questions like, “What river is that?” or “How are the Steelers doing this year?” and I have to politely decline answering.

That’s accomplished by either shrugging, grunting “I dunno”, or a combination of the two. But Octavia taught us shit about the war and the Masons and Johnny Mercer, and then a ton of stuff about NATURE because she went to college for botany so immediately Henry’s ears perked. You know how he gets nature boners. Especially when she turned her nose up at the moss issue. HENRY HATES MOSS. Now he had someone to hate moss with him!


While we strolled around the cemetery grounds, we talked about Jonny Craig (I mean, duh; I’m sure Octavia couldn’t wait to have THAT conversation in person) and the nightmarish insects that live in Georgia, holy shit. We saw salamander things and skinks:


The skinks really freaked me out but Chooch was trying to figure out how to turn his t-shirt into a skink carrier. Then we walked under a tree with berries on it and I cried, “WHAT ARE THESE, OCTAVIA!?” while trying to get Henry to eat one. Now I can’t remember what she said they were. But I think the final verdict was that they were not poisonous. Don’t worry, she didn’t let me eat any of the mushrooms I saw, either.


I also learned that you can eat that ballsack thing in the middle of the palm thingie! “Like, right now!?” I asked.

“Well, I mean, you have to cook it first, probably,” Octavia patiently explained before I had the chance to whip a fork out of my bra and dig in. God, Octavia was determined to prevent the cemetery from becoming my test kitchen.

At some point during our aimless journey across Bonaventure, a butterfly popped out of a bush and Chooch groaned. I relished the chance to rat out Chooch’s wussy phobia and blurted out, “Chooch is afraid of butterflies!”

“Do you know what the German word is for butterflies?” Octavia asked Chooch. “Schmetterling!”she yelled like a witch in an uncensored fairy tale.

“SAY IT AGAIN!” I begged, and she did. It was glorious! I couldn’t wait to go back to school work and talk about my educational vacation!


There was some douchey guy there leading a walking tour and they were everywhere we wanted to be. Octavia hated him too for the same unsubstantiated reasons as me (he just looked like an asshole and I hated his blond swoop-y hair and monochromatic clothes) and that was when I knew for sure that was the real deal.


“Ow, my head.”

“Ow, my back.”


We got to see Little Gracie! This is one of the most popular graves in the joint, and Octavia said that it used to be more easily accessible but there has always gotta be those assholes who like to be destructive. So now you can’t get beyond the gate for a closer experience. I was just happy that we got to see her at all, and I wished we had brought something to leave behind for her.


I suggested leaving Chooch, but Henry said no. :(


Being in Bonaventure was surreal. Cemeteries are one of the few places on this earth that I feel at home (and also Warped Tour, duh) and Bonaventure has always been one of the cemeteries of my dreams. Finally getting to see it, on my birthday no less, was amaze. And the best part was that instead of getting sucked into some touristy walking tour, or blindly stumbling around on our own until we started fighting within 20 minutes, we got to meander about at our leisure with Octavia. Which was great because it was like 299 degrees and walking any faster than I already was probably would have set me alight.

And you know what else? Henry checked in here on Facebook, which means he was excited in his own weird, silent way and wanted his “friends” to know that he was living it up in a famous cemetery in Savannah. Sure, he probably would have chosen a nap over this in a heartbeat, but I think he at least recognized that it’s not the worst thing he could have been doing that day.

Until I forced him to pose for this, that is:


I took this with my phone that day because I needed to be able to plaster it all over social media ASAP, because: HENRY ON THE GRAVE OF HIS ROLE MODEL, NUGENT, what a great birthday! Of course this inspired Chooch to tell Octavia the story of Henry at the Ted Nugent show, which I was actually trying to tell her at the same time, but Chooch always has to steal the show…AND MY FRIENDS! He kept hijacking the conversation by bringing it back to video games and I was getting so jealous.


“Are there crocodiles in there?!” I asked Octavia as we looked down over a small hill at the water below.

“No,” she assured me. And then she added, in the most non-patronizing tone possible,”and they’re alligators, anyway.” Something about her delivery made me crack up. The people I need most in my life are the ones who will gently correct me when I’m wrong and also make sure I don’t eat poisonous berries. Octavia exceeds expectations in both departments.

I just asked Chooch what his favorite part of Bonaventure was and he said when Octavia told us that sometimes there are dolphins in the water there. He hasn’t learned Henry’s favorite response yet, which is: “When we left.”


We waited until it was time to leave to look at the map, because that’s smart.

From here, we continued on to downtown Savannah so that we could eat food that was cooked in a kitchen and not picked up off a boneyard floor, and Chooch was thrilled that Octavia got to sit in the back with him SO HE COULD CHEW HER EAR OFF SOME MORE. Ugh. I’d steal his friends to show him how it feels, but…kids and I don’t get along.

I must have said, “UGH!” in response to Chooch’s charm at least 87 times that day. Ugh!

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Aug 062015


In addition to the Cheese Shop, my friend Jeannie also recommended that I visit Bruton Parish while in Williamsburg. Jeannie went to college in Williamsburg and she knows what is and isn’t relevant to my interests, which is why she didn’t send me to a golf course or butcher shop.

Bruton Parish was established in 1674. I know this not because I read a placard or went on an historical walking tour, but because I just now Googled “Bruton Parish” and skimmed the first three lines.


It’s basically against the law for me to be that close to a cemetery without stopping by. Actually, Jeannie’s official travel tip to me was to get sandwiches (with House Dressing!!) at the Cheese Shop and then take it to the cemetery to eat, but Henry was being an impatient douchebag, probably a lasting side effect from his Toby smoking habit. and made us eat at a table outside of the Cheese Shop.

“WHERE ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO EAT!?” he snarled, which might seem like it would be scary and threatening, but it just really annoys and pisses off me and Chooch. I hate when he uses That Tone on us!

“In the cemetery!” I cried, and then he went on to postulate that there was “probably nowhere to sit there.”


Gosh, Henry. What’s this here wooden butt-crate thing? Is this one of them there benches that I heard about? In a cemetery? TO SIT ON?! WHILE EATING A SANDWICH IF ONE SO DESIRED?


Way to ruin a perfectly good hypothetical picnic, Henry. Go choke on a Toby.


The fact that skulls were so prevalent on headstones back then fills me with joy.

The guts of the cemetery was cordoned off, so we were only able to admire the graves from afar. It was still worth it though. There was so much beauty there, even if the constant chute of sweat sluicing into my eyeballs made it sometimes difficult to see.

Seriously, we’ve been having such an unusually mild summer here in Pittsburgh, that we were left woefully unprepared for the blistering heat and sweltering humidity that left my face moist and oily like a glazed donut, like where’s that spare slice of bread when I need it to soak up my sebaceous facial splooges, like my cheeks are a fucking fount of extra virgin olive oil (that’s EVOO to you Food Network sluts) I’m a real goddang babe in the south, y’all.


Wishing he was six feet under.




I think this was after I told him we were going to come back here later that night for the ghost tour that I keep mentioning but haven’t had a chance to write about, and by now it probably seems like it’s going to be the greatest story ever told (on this blog) because I keep foreshadowing. Goddamn are you going to be sorely disappointed.

P.S. We hated basically everyone in town that day because HELLO LEARN HOW TO NOT TAKE UP THE ENTIRE GIRTH OF A SIDEWALK. And don’t try to tell me you’re just really engrossed in the sights and sounds of Williamsburg. Because no, you’re just an asshole.

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May 242015

Chooch and I were on our own last Saturday morning. Henry had Judy Obligations, so we took MY* car to the cemetery so Chooch could ride his bike and I could fake-jog**.

*(Don’t worry; I’ll eventually tire of this.)

**(I can run for 2 miles and then I automatically stop without even trying to see if I have anything left in me, because running is boring to me.)

Right away, I was annoyed. There was another car there, parked near where I always park (I’m the ONLY person at this particular cemetery 99% of the time because it’s not as “cool” as some of the other ones in Pittsburgh, I guess. But I’ve been a regular here for 15 years and even though I sometimes go to the more popular ones, Uniondale will always have my heart. <3 So when I saw this car, my immediate reaction was GFTO! But then I saw they were Elders, so it was very possible that they were actually there visiting a grave; I gave them a pass.

Then we thought a ghost was there because we saw what we thought was an apparition, but it turned out it was just the landscaper kicking up dirt. After we parked, the first order of business was getting the bike out of the trunk. I kept pressing the trunk button on my key fob and nothing was happening. I got back in the car and started searching for a trunk release button in there, but all I saw was the hood release and other things that I didn’t want to touch.

Basically, I spent 30 seconds on this Rubik’s Cruze before using my Phone a Henry option.

He was at the doctors with his mom and I could tell he was trying to act like he wasn’t annoyed that I was yelling at him on the other end, because I go from, “Huh…I can’t get the trunk open” to “I’M GOING TO COME TO WHERE YOU ARE AND WASH THIS CAR WITH YOUR ARTERIAL SPRAY IF YOU DON’T FUCKING HELP ME GET THIS TRUNK OPEN NOW MOTHERFUCKER.” Meanwhile, Chooch was just standing there calmly, saying things like, “We can do this, Mommy. We can figure this out.” When all Henry was saying, “There’s a button on the key fob. Then I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know why. Push the button. Are you pushing the button? It works on my* key fob.”

*(Yeah, he thinks he’s so great because he got his own set of keys for MY car.)

I hung up on him of course and decided to instead Google, “How do I open the trunk on a 2014 Chevy Cruze?” because the manual SAID NOTHING. Yes, I looked in the manual! GOD. And while this was going on, I happened to turn around just in time to see some young hipster couple strolling around with armfuls of vegetation that they were casually pulling off trees, presumably to garnish their artisanal cocktails later that afternoon. UGH THIS MADE ME EVEN MORE MAD GET OUT OF MY CEMETERY NO WAIT HELP ME OPEN MY TRUNK FIRST.

While I was trying to read all of these idiotic posts on some forum, Chooch said, “Found it” and just like that, the trunk popped open. I guess there’s a release on the outside of the car, but it only works if the car is already locked. (I checked, so don’t even think about breaking into my trunk!) Turns out I need to take my dumb key fob back to the dealership and have it reset, and what I mean by that is that I’m swapping mine out with Henry’s and then he can deal with it.


And we had no accidents or other mishaps that resulted in blood loss! These are my favorite kinds of Henry-less outings.

I am so thankful no one was around to record Chooch & me struggling to put his bike back in the trunk (or as I call it: “The Nail Biting Conclusion To Figuring Out How To Open the Trunk”). We are barely-functioning cripples without Henry. Chooch was like, “We got this, don’t give up!” and, after having a minor rage blackout which left me with visions of pulling a tombstone out of the ground and bashing myself in the head with it, I was like, “Well, I guess this is your bike’s new home, Chooch. Say good bye to it. Or….we can all just stay here forever. BECAUSE WHY BOTHER.” I was just about to curl up into the Fetal Position of Defeat when Chooch moved the handle bars a certain way and we were able to shove that two-wheeled bitch into the trunk like we were regular wiseguys and the bike was a fucking snitch.

Chooch is a HERO!

I think it got my heart rate up more than the run. I HATE FIGURING THINGS OUT.

A few days later, Chooch and I were on our own AGAIN, this time it was just a simple walk down the street to CVS where I needed to get nail polish remover and I could hear Henry calling out the front door, “JUST nail polish remover!” and then I proceeded to spend $20 because it’s CVS. Anyway, Chooch’s favorite thing to do at CVS is read every single greeting card they have (he has always been super into greeting cards, so any future broad that dates him is going to get a card for every occasion). The card aisle is near the magazines, so as we were walking down it, he stopped and screamed, “JEFFREY DAHMER!” and then ripped this murder publication off the rack and started naming all of the criminals he recognized on the cover, which was most, so I felt simultaneously proud and worried.

“Oh, and Ted Bundy. Obviously,” he was saying just as some old woman nervously walked past us.

He might be fairly desensitized to this shit since he’s grown up picnic’ing in cemeteries, watching horror movies, and listening to his parents talk about the latest serial killer greeting card they made, but it’s counterbalanced with such an extreme love for animals and one sane parent (and Minecraft?) that I don’t think I need to worry.

However, if it goes the other way, at least he’s experienced with trunks.

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Mar 102015

Sunday was a delightfully mild March day and I refused to spend it indoors. Henry got all huffy-puffy at first, like he always does when I decree that it’s the perfect day for a family cemetery outing. Chooch was annoyed about it at first too and even said he hates cemeteries—WTF. Serious tears welled up in my eyes because how could my own son say such a blasphemous thing to me?! I was just about to throw a fit about it, when I decided to compromise by switching cemeteries to the one by the craft store so that Chooch could get more Perler beads. (His obsession with perler bead creations has been going strong since December. It’s such a curious hobby for my trucker-mouthed spawn, but…at least he’s found something that keeps him off the streets? Who knew he had the patience for it. He’s been begging me to start an Etsy shop for him so that he can sell this shit for $50 a piece. Oh OK, son.)

Not considering that 45 degree sunlight + snow = wet ground, I wore TOMS and regretted it as soon as I stepped out of the car and into rushing rivulets of melt. This was right after I mocked Chooch for wearing boots, by the way.

I haven’t abused my Hipstamatic privileges in a while. I know you missed it.

Don’t worry, Henry and I mumbled some things about not stepping out onto the frozen pond.


It’s so easy to slip into hibernation mode during winter, and even though all three of us are usually home together on weekends, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re spending actual TIME together. Chooch is usually watching stupid YouTube videos, I’m painting, Henry is being a domesticated bitch….you know how it is. So I thought it would be nice to go for a walk where we wouldn’t be distracted by technology. EXCEPT FOR MY PHONE, TAKING ALL OF THEIR PICTURES.

Henry and Chooch have some sort of unspoken snowball rivalry transpiring. As soon as we step out of the front door, it’s Game On. Typically, they leave me alone because they know that I’m a delicate flower and cry easily. (Seriously, snowballs hurt my feelings.) And these two go hard with their snowball pitching. Even just walking from our house to our car across the street on Saturday, they engaged in this outrageous battle that had passers-by stopping to watch (and laugh when Henry pelted Chooch super hard in the side of the face). It’s like child abuse disguised as WHAT GUYS WE’RE JUST PLAYING. I imagine it must relieve a lot of pent up anger for Henry, considering that the first thing Chooch says to him when he sees him everyday is “DADDY WILL YOU IRON MY PERLER BEAD CREATION?!” Every goddamn day with the ironing requests, oh my god. Perler beads are so fucking annoying.

They even had an impromptu battle outside of the Boulevard Restaurant after dinner on Saturday:

So basically, our entire walk was a snowball battlefield, and I nearly peed my pants 87 times. I know it’s corny coming from me, but I have the most fun with these two idiots and I am forever appreciative that we all like each other enough to want to spend time together. I think about my own parents a lot, and how it was pretty rare for all of us to do things together — it was either my mom and us kids going shopping together, or my dad taking my brothers out. And if we were all together, there was usually some tension, someone was mad at someone, someone didn’t want to be there. Who knows.

I’m sure we looked like idiots to the few cars that drove past us in the cemetery, and that just made it even more fun.

It’s got to feel so cathartic for Henry to bombard our ever-blabbering, smart-mouthed kid in the face with icy orbs of retribution.  Seriously. I love Chooch so much, but sometimes I sit here at work and I can still his voice in my head, asking really annoying things, like, “Feed me.” Ugh.

I wonder if I have the same effect on Henry…

Chooch’s crowning achievement was when he pelted a snowball at Henry, which ricocheted off his neck and smacked me in the face just as I was turning around to say something.

Finally, Henry was like I’LL SHOW YOU and dumped Chooch headfirst into a snowbank and I almost peed my pants because it was so funny and then Chooch really DID pee his pants because it was so funny, which caused Henry to go off on a tangent about how it concerns him that our first instinct when something is funny is to pee our pants. Sorry, I guess our bladders are just ultra-sensitive to mirth, Henry, something you know nothing about.

I think Chooch has a bright future as a dunk tank clown.

Plus, we also went roller skating! So, this weekend was pretty fucking grand. I mean, if you’re the type of person to say things like “grand.”

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Mar 052015

For Throwback Thursday, I was revisiting old LiveJournal stories when I came across this one from 2004 that sincerely illustrates my relationship with Henry. We are exactly the same! I don’t know if I should be happy that, after 14 years, he still pays enough attention to what I’m doing to feel the need to scold me; or embarrassed that I honestly haven’t matured one tiny smidge. 

The only difference is now that we have a kid, he’s doing twice the scolding. 

Anyway, while I go back to complaining to Henry about my latest workout injuries, please enjoy Our Day at the Homewood Cemetery. 


March 28th, 2004

Today at the cemetery, Henry utilized each and every phrase in his repertoire of scolding verbiage.

“Stop it!”


“Put that down!”

“You’re a fucking weirdo.”

“People go to jail for that!”

“Leave the cat alone.”

“Get down from there!”

And let’s not forget the obligatory “Grow up.” I need a new walking partner. Any takers? 

We were in one of the mausoleums and there was this one hallway that was completely dark. I was terror-stricken and started running. That constituted a “settle down” from Papa H. We couldn’t get out the one door to leave and naturally, since I’m prone to panicking, I completely forgot that there was another exit. My heart was beating so fast, and Henry started making references to “Phantasm.” (Although he originally kept saying “Hellraiser” until I corrected him. Because I’m the best.) Anyhow, we made it out safely and I informed Henry that I had chills. He was all, “That’s because it was cold in there.” He’s such a parade shitter.

The cat that I saw, though, I think was a ghost. I chased it all over the place, in spite of Henry’s warnings of rabies. 

There was a guy and girl that were cleaning off this one section of graves, and I was trying to contain my laughter, which resulted in my snorting. Henry hissed, “Some people come here for a reason, you know.” He’s such a hater.

The best is the look that he gets on his face when I randomly let loose an ear piercing shriek. Tormenting him is the best part of our relationship.

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Dec 282014

Our Christmas tradition, ever since I was pregnant with Chooch, has been to have a picnic lunch in the cemetery. It started in 2005 when I was on the outs with my family (when am I not) and refused to sit around doing nothing on Christmas, crying into my hands like my mom probably hoped. I suggested that we go eat with the dead people at the cemetery, which is one of my favorite places in the world. I expected Henry to say no, but I was pregnant and he has no balls, so we packed a picnic lunch and by that I mean we swung by a CoGo’s on the way to the cemetery and bought disgusting pre-made egg salad sandwiches, plastic bottles of eggnog, and Moonpies. See? We’ve always been classy.

Then Chooch was born and it became a tradition to pack a small lunch and take some christmas portraits of Chooch before visiting whatever family hasn’t written us off that year.

Some years, the weather is decent enough that we can actually sit down for a little bit, but usually we’re speed-eating because it’s so damn cold. It was like, 60 degrees on Christmas Eve, but the temperature dropped by Christmas. Henry made Funfetti grilled cheese (Funfetti batter mixed with ricotta–might sound gross to less adventurous grilled cheese fans, but it was goddamn delicious), which we ate so quickly it was like we were trying to eliminate evidence of a drug crime.

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At the last minute, we decided to buy Chooch a camcorder so that he can finally reach for the YouTube stars. I’m lucky I was able to get any shots of him without it fully obstructing his face.

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Forcing him to pose for cemetery Christmas pictures is the most stressful part of the day, and always full of fights and hateful glares, with me crying, “THIS IS LITERALLY THE ONLY PART OF THE DAY THAT’S FOR ME AND YOU’RE RUINING IT!!!!!” but it’s worth it in the end. IMG_8711 - CopyIMG_8704

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Nov 152014

…Or “Chorey” as Henry accidentally portmanteau’d  them earlier.

Today after Chooch’s piano lesson (and a trip to Etna for the best pierogies I’ve had in some time), I met Corey at Jefferson Memorial to help him out with some updated headshots for his real estate business cards. Henry had to go craft shopping with the old ladies at the nearby Pat Catan’s, so he dropped Chooch and me off which turned out to be kind of frustrating because Chooch was straight sugar-rushin’. I thought he had burned through some of his hyperactivity at his piano lesson, where his teacher Cheryl admitted that he’s  actually well-behaved when Henry takes him and agreed that he feeds off my mere presence. She suggested that I sit in a different chair where he couldn’t see me!

Anyway, I’m getting too wordy as usual. I apologize. This post is meant to be just pictures that I want to share, because it’s been awhile since I got some good ones of Chooch and his Uncle Corey. (For someone who claims that they hate having their picture taken, Chooch sure is a fucking master photo-bomber.)




Random flowers on a fresh grave.

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It was really cold out there in the cemetery, but totally worth it!

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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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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



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.




This gate literally only keeps out truck-sized people.



Henry REALLY didn’t want to do this.



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



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.

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.




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.)

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.
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.


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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Feb 242014


After what seems like months of ice, snow and doom, we had a beautiful springlike Saturday here in Pittsburgh. Most of the snow had melted and the sky was this crazy color that I think I heard people calling “blue”? So, of course we spent he afternoon in the cemetery. And it felt incredible to have the sun hit my face and not the usual 80 pounds of knitted winter protection that’s been wrapped around it lately.


I took a ton of pictures in the cemetery that day, because: SUN. Considering the next day was back to being devoid of color, it was nice to go back through my phone and cry smile at the memories.



Not-Snow Boots!








“I’m going to stick this pinecone in daddy’s buttcrack.” Seriously, why does Henry even let any of us walk behind him?


There wasn’t much snow left on the ground, but never fear—Chooch found enough of it to terrorize us with.

“Don’t worry,” Killjoy Henry responded sarcastically to our constant gushings of how nice it was that day. “It’s supposed to snow tomorrow.”

“I know, and that’s sad,” Chooch sighed. “That’s just sad.”


Spent the rest of the weekend painting, re-watching “Twin Peaks” and crying over Team USA hockey. It didn’t snow on Sunday like Weatherman Hank predicted, but it was still dreary and 50 Shades of Pittsburgh Gray, which is pretty much just as shitty. How was your weekend!?!


Henry, walking alone after Chooch and I got distracted by a mausoleum with a busted-out window.

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Dec 302013

Alternately titled: Where We Torture Our Kid Under the Guide of “Art.”


I’ll tell ya, we’re met with more and more resistance every year when it comes to picture-taking. I got all exasperated, which is my usual go-to response to adversity, followed quickly by the ever-popular solution of “I QUIT.” But then right as I was about to pack it up, Chooch started to use an old guard rail as a balance beam, so Henry fulfilled his quota of “one bright idea every five years” by tricking Chooch into having his photo taken while “doing things.”

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Then we dared him to run as fast as he could to another spot and then suggested he sit down amidst the leaves after he hurt his ankle.


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Henry encouraged him to hurdle over headstones, which of course resulted in Chooch eventually catching his foot on one and falling, leaving him with a handsome bruise on his leg. BLAME HENRY.

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Then we paid him all the money in our pockets* to take his coat off for approximately 3 minutes so we could get some shots of his sweater, since that day’s outfit was a happy accident. (All three of us blindly picked out one component of the outfit, and somehow it worked.)

*(This amounted to $7. I actually had $4 in my pocket only because it was change from when we went to see Gremlins last week. I usually never have cash. Seriously, don’t ever bother mugging us.)


He looks thrilled, right?

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Nov 042013

I must have got all of my anger out on Halloween because Sunday was really peaceful (well, until Chooch and I totally shit the bed with giddiness Sunday night, which is always Extreme Fun for the first hour but always ends in tears because we’re bi-polar motherfuckers the Mania Coaster has to come down at some point; perhaps this could be a Henry Guest Post?). We went to the mall and I bought the newest Dance Gavin Dance CD at Hot Topic. I pre-ordered the limited edition 6 vinyl box set which Henry was really irritated about but I’m sorry, music is something I don’t consider a splurge—it’s a fucking necessity. Anyway, this isn’t due to ship until December, and I wanted to have the CD too so STFU Henry. Go listen to Ted Nugent in the warehouse at work.



That afternoon, I went to my favorite cemetery for a jog (I don’t do “running”) and listened to the new Dance Gavin Dance. The cemetery is my favorite place to listen to music because I can be 100% invested in it—Chooch isn’t interrupting me, work isn’t interrupting me, road rage isn’t interrupting me. There might be a zombie here and there, but otherwise, it feels like I own that fucking cemetery and I love it.




I was 26 or 27 when I started listening to Dance Gavin Dance. They have gone through probably as many lineup changes as I have gone through best friends. But no matter how much they change (Jonny Craig got the boot again and now Tilian Pearson is the singer), and how much I change, there is something about their sound that weaves its way into my brain and massages my snapping synapses while blanketing my heart. It’s kind of the perfect music for a loner like me. And I love taking them with me to the cemetery.


Not to get all existential and sentimental, but I have literally grown into an adult in a place reserved for death. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent in cemeteries in general, but also this one in particular: laughing, crying, pregnant, alone, with friends, with Henry, with Chooch. I’ve puked in this cemetery, had Christmas picnics here, contemplated suicide, considered leaving Henry…(YES, HENRY, IT’S TRUE! But don’t worry, that was a long time ago.) There’s just something about this place that makes me feel everything on another level. The end result is always peace. I ALWAYS leave in peace.


(Unless Henry and Chooch are with me and we were trying to do a photo shoot. Then it might not be so peaceful…)



I was playing this song this morning while Chooch was upstairs getting dressed for school. “Is that The Robot With Human Hair Part 4?” he called down the steps. “I LOVE that song!” See?! I think it takes a certain kind of fucked up brain to appreciate Dance Gavin Dance. Chooch, you’ve got it, buddy. I’m sorry.

So, I’m not going to do that November Thankful thingie that everyone else is doing, but if someone asked me yesterday what I was thankful for, aside from the obvious, I would have said “Cemeteries and Dance Gavin Dance.” Hope your Sunday was peaceful, too!

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