Aug 182015
 

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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!

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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“Ow, my head.”

“Ow, my back.”

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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.

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

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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:

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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.

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“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.”

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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
 

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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.

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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.”

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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?

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

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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.

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Wishing he was six feet under.

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“OMG A CEMETERY. I’VE NEVER SEEN A CEMETERY BEFORE.”

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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March 28th, 2004

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

“Stop it!”

“Shhh!”

“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.)

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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.

DON’T LIE!

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

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

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

Hopefully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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This gate literally only keeps out truck-sized people.

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Henry REALLY didn’t want to do this.

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

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

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

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CHOOCH’S INITIALS!!

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

“I already did,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++++++++++++++++++

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
 

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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.

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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.

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Not-Snow Boots!

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FUCKING SUNSHINE, WHAT’S THAT?!

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

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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!?!

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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.”

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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.)

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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.

****

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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.

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<3

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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.

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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.

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

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*****

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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Jul 052013
 

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One long lady.

Hey! You! Tired of reading this yet? Don’t worry, I’m tired of writing it! But I’m almost done. Probably just two more posts to go. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER!

We departed New Hampshire on the mornning of June 24th, making our way back into Massachusetts way behind schedule, but Professional Driver Henry reminded me that if we had left the hotel as early as I wanted, we’d have been stuck in the rush hour commute to Boston. I was not happy about this wrench in my plans.

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We arrived in Salem sometime after 11:00 I think and immediately stopped at the Witch Museum. I felt that it was really imperative for Chooch to suffer through the hour-long presentation with other strangers, most of which happened to be French tourists and required translator headphones. The woman I was sitting next to was using a pair and I would occasionally hear parts of it when the French narrator would raise his voice to put emphasis on all of the ACTION that was unraveling.

Henry and I spent an entire day in Salem back in 2002 and being there this time around made me realize that my memory either sucks or I purposely blacked a lot out because Henry and I used to fight so much back then. Because I didn’t remember SHIT about anything we saw in Salem. Henry kept saying, “Yeah, don’t you remember…” and my response every time was, “Nope.”

I did, however, remember the glowing red circle in the middle of the museum floor, commemorating all of the names of the victims during the Salem witch trials, because I had a really terrible coughing fit while everyone was gathered around, trying to learn about some witch shit. At least they changed it so now everyone gets to sit down. I mean, if I’m paying to get into this so-called museum, the least you could do is give my fat ass a bench.

<Insert lesson witches here.>

Ironically, the second half of the tour was led by some old broad who was having a coughing fit. There was also a crying baby. And rude French women. And here I was worried about Chooch acting inappropriately.

Afterward, Henry had to go feed the meter and instructed us to walk to the visitor’s center on our own. We made it about five feet before coming to an alley, at which point I clotheslined Chooch and said, “WAIT. Let’s hide from daddy.”

So we stood just inside the mouth of the alley, giggling like evil assholes, doing pee jigs, waiting for Henry to round the corner so we could jump out and make an even bigger spectacle. (There were already old people across the street watching us nervously.)

“It’s taking him so long!” Chooch sighed.

“Yeah, I don’t remember the car being that far away,” I agreed, starting to get agitated.

“I’ll go check it out,” Chooch declared seriously, like the appointed superhero for Fathers We Want To Scare But Are Missing. Meanwhile, I dialed Henry’s number.

“Where are you?!” I screamed when Henry casually answered, not at all sounding like a parent who just left his peeps alone in a strange city in 100 degree heat.

“Just walking down the sidewalk, behind some people acting like assholes.” And I turned to find him walking toward us from the direction we were supposed to have walked before getting sidetracked by something more devious. So then I had to go and retrieve Chooch, who was still trying to contort his body around the corner of the building like a human periscope. I hate when Henry thwarts us.

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He pretty much didn’t walk with us for the rest of the day.

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Stopped at some café and got an iced maple latte fuck yes!  And Chooch got a strawberry smoothie because that’s his “thing,” apparently. Who cares what Henry got. Something boring.

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Stopped at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery to ogle some of horror movie favorites, and then hit up the cemetery, natch.

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I mean, it would be weird if we went on vacation and didn’t visit a cemetery, right?

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Chooch was mad because there were approximately 87 different haunted attractions that he wanted to check out, but we didn’t have time. Kept trying to tell him that we’ll probably be going back in October, but he was beginning to reach the Dickhead Precipice.

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Someone littered their empty coffee cup in the cemetery and I was so pissed off about it. You don’t leave your trash in a cemetery, especially not one so old and historical! So I quietly gulped and picked it up and then proceeded to be stuck carrying it for an entire 4 blocks before finally coming across a garbage can, I was so fucking pissed off.

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“Don’t you have enough pictures of your kid in a cemetery?” asked everyone who has ever read this blog, even once.

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Town Hall, I guess.

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Seriously, look at how far ahead of us Henry stays! God, I’m offended.

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I deemed it imperative to find the post office before we left so I could finally get stamps for my postcards since the Fireside Inn LIED about having stamps! (Actually, they did, but they were supposedly “locked in the manager’s office” and he wasn’t in yet. I guess they have a stamp theft problem in Nashua.) Not surprisingly, Salem’s post office was all big and grand. Exactly how all post offices should be, and not tiny cement shoeboxes full of defeat and deadened eyes like the one in my dumb town. While Henry stood in line for stamps, Chooch and I took that as our cue to clamor up the marble stairs and check out the creepy upstairs, which was basically just a hallway lined with therapist offices and art studios. And a locked bathroom door, which sucked because I was really afraid Chooch wasn’t going to make it.

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And then we reached the point of the day known in some regions as “Erin and Chooch are Hungry and Now Everyone Must Suffer.” Henry frantically tried to find somewhere suitable for us to eat. Just kidding. Henry is never frantic. Always calm and monotone. Except for that time a camel began devouring my hand. For some reason, Henry responded to that in a frantic manner. Maybe because he cares?? No. Probably because he didn’t want his hand jobs to suffer.

Anyway, we ended up a pub called the Witch’s Brew. Of course it was called the Witch’s Brew.

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I don’t think our waitress liked us. Either that or she actually was really struggling to understand our WEIRD PENNSYLVANIAN dialect. Each one of us had to repeat ourselves to her twice and, after a simple surveillance of her interacting with other tables, I don’t think she had a hearing problem.

Chooch especially was getting pissed off at her not understanding him. Poor kid was just trying to order chocolate milk and she reacted like he asked to suck it from her teat.

“What??” she asked him in a voice that Alyson would have had a field day with.

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I feel the same way, Chooch.

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And then Henry confiscated our knives!!

Three hours later than I had planned, we were finally on our way to Boston to spend the day with our friends Matt and Kristen (after Henry literally drive in circles around Salem for a good 30 minutes before getting stuck in some random mid-day traffic). It was about an hour’s drive, and I used it wisely — by convincing Chooch that Matt is a witch.

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Jul 012013
 

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I’m going to veer off schedule here for a  minute and share the pictures from our tour of the Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, MA. After an entertaining breakfast at AlMac’s Diner where I had Portuguese bolo and will consequently never be satisfied with a regular old English Muffin ever again, we stopped here on our last full day of vacation. Chooch was pretty fucking stoked to say the least. The kid has grown up in a house where serial killer greeting cards are made, what do you expect?

Henry and I stayed over night here back in 2002, but it was worth the return trip for us, too. Mostly to experience it all over again with Chooch, who knows the legendary story and has watched countless YouTube videos about the house. However, when we walked into the gift shop to pay for a tour, the tour guide behind the register looked a little skeptical at these two assholes toting a 7-year-old child to a murder house.

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But then Chooch sprawled out on the couch in the waiting area, mimicking the crime scene photo of dead Andrew Borden, and the tour guide widenened her eyes a bit. “Do you wanna help me out when we get in the house?” At first she suggested that he play the role of Abby Borden, but Chooch quickly said, “No. I want to be the dead dad.”

“How old is he?” one of the three old people in our group asked. I could tell that they too were leery of taking an hour long tour with some brat, but I’d like to think they were pleasantly surprised by the tour’s end.

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I mean, come on guys. You know I’m the first person to call my kid out for being a dick. But he was actually super well-behaved and genuinely enrapt in touring the house. I was so proud of my gruesome little brat!

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Floral patterns suit him.

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The house has changed owners since we were last there. To be honest, I don’t rememeber much of the original tour we got in 2002, other than being a served a plate of cheese and Oreos to snack on while watching some made-for-TV movie about Lizzie Borden, so a lot of what I saw on this day was basically brand new to me. I also feel that the guide we had this time was more knowledgeable.

(Side Note: The guide we had in 2002 was also the summer caretaker and ended up being the only other person sleeping in the house with us that night. He was pretty creepy, but affable at the same time. I posted a picture of him on my blog a few years ago and someone commented, informing me that he had perished in a house fire. So sad! I mentioned this to our tour guide last week—I shamefully can’t remember her name but she was really wonderful—and she said that when the new owners bought the Borden house, they had a really hard time getting him to leave.)

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The house was replicated as best as possible, considering they only had black and white photos to go on.

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In the dining room, we learned that this is where Abby Borden’s autopsy was done. The guide had pictures of their mutilated bodies and said to me, “It’s up to you if you want your son to see these.”

I asked Chooch if he wanted to see, and he shrugged and said, “Yeah, sure.”

I found out later that I probably should have asked him if he knew what “autopsy” meant first.

While the guide was demonstrating ironing handkerchiefs (one of Lizzie’s alleged alibis), Chooch was chomping at the bit to go into the next room because he recognized the couch immediately. You’d have thought he waited all his life for this one short moment of impersonating some dead dude with a crushed skull and dangling eyeball.

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Chooch’s Shining Moment.

The old people on the tour with us laughed uncomfortably during his performance.

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We were all clustered in the foyer listening about Andrew Borden’s final moments on Earth; I was standing at the foot of the steps — the top of which was where Abby Borden’s dead body was first spotted prostrate on the other side of the bed in the guest room–with my back to the front door when the mailman began shoving circulars and bills through the mailslot. The new gray hairs I must have amassed in that moment has got to be a staggering number.

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Chooch volunteered me to play the butchered Abby Borden, which required me to sprawl ass-up on the floor while Chooch giggled devilishly. Thank god there are no pictures. My ass is much wider than the last time I was photographed in this pose.

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This lady knows her shit! We definitely got our money’s worth.

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Borden spirits all up in Henry’s shit!

J/K. I was just really bored in the car. Best use of a bokeh app!

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In the corner of the guest room, the actual dress Elizabeth Montgomery wore in the final scene of the Lizzie Borden movie in the 80s is on display. When the guide mentioned Elizabeth’s name, Chooch put his hand up to his mouth and whispered, “Witch!” to me, giving me this faux-serious look. At first I couldn’t figure out why he said that, but then I remembered that the day before, we took him to the Salem Witch Museum and there was a wall of photos of famous witches throughout history, and of course “Bewitched” was one of them. The guide we had that day pointed out each picture and gave a brief explanation, and I guess that little jerk was actually paying attention (because I know I barely was).  Yay for money not wasted for once!

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Actual books that belonged to Lizzie. Check out “With Edged Tools.” LOL right!?

Chooch was really into all the vintage cat figures he spotted throughout the house, and also the creepy trunk of toys that the owner keeps in one of the attic bedroom that is supposedly haunted by random children. Chooch said that’s the room he wants to sleep in when we go back and I was like, “That’s cool, bro. But have fun staying up there by yourself.”

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Haunted or not, there is something to be said about standing in a house where one of the most sensationalized double-murders in this country’s history were carried out.  I was definitely on edge the entire time while Henry just looked bored (or probably confused because the only way he understands anything is if the cast of Criminal Minds is acting it out on TV for him). Chooch would get fidgety here and there, but thankfully he didn’t do anything overtly dickish to draw attention to himself. For the most part, he honestly seemed like he was interested in what the tour guide was saying, officially making “7” my favorite Chooch age thus far.

When I went back to the gift shop afterward to buy souvenirs, the guide admitted to me that she was a little worried when she saw us walk in with Chooch, and how pleasantly surprised she was at how he conducted himself. I’m so glad she told me that, because as a parent, I’m sure there are times when I think my kid is acting normal but everyone else is thinking, “TAKE THAT BASTARD BACK TO THE ZOO, MY GOD!” My fear is that we’re going to take him somewhere like this and he’s going to break something or cause a general scene by throwing a tantrum out of boredom.

I remember the time when I was a kid, just a little bit older than him, on vacation with my grandparents in Europe. I think we had stopped in Assisi, Italy and, right befor walking into a shop filled to the brim with breakables, my grandma gripped me by the upper arm and hissed, “DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!”

Aaaaand guess who knocked over an entire display of glass figurines with her purse? GOOD OLD GRANDMA JEAN.

Meanwhile, as the guide was praising my kid’s good behavior, Chooch was in the process of pissing on his shorts in the customer rest room. So, you win some, you lose some.

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Can’t leave Fall River without paying our respects at the cemetery!

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Stoked for Lizzie!

I really was pleased with how we were able to sneak in educational bullshit on our vacation without it feeling like 5 days of war memorials and dry history lectures. I can’t wait for Chooch to go back to second grade and tell everyone about the shit he did, haha.

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May 282013
 

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I pretty much eat fruit, Special K cereal and diet potato chips all week, so Saturdays are much-needed Weight Watchers splurge days. I try to make sure I still stuff in some activity in between carb-heavy Pamela’s breakfasts with Jeannie and afternoon ice cream cones. So I dragged Henry and Chooch out to walk infinite miles in the cemetery. Otherwise, I think my body would go into shock.

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Chooch rode his scooter the whole time, and I am totally That Mom who screams, “OH MY GOD, CHOOCH SLOW DOWN! OH HENRY STOP HIM! HE’S GOING TO GET HIT BY A CAR!”

“He could be in a skate park and you would still think a car is going to hop the fence and hit him,” Henry sighed.

I can’t help it. I get Jello-legs just thinking about it. I wish Henry never bought him this scooter!!

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Meanwhile, Henry got all butt-hurt when his desire to point out a chipmunk to us was received by giddy laughter and evil mocking. “OMG look Mommy! It’s a BIRD!” Chooch cried and we both doubled over in uncontrollable braying.

Henry stuffed his hands in his pockets and snapped, “I’M NOT SAYING ANYTHING ANYMORE. YOU TWO ASSHOLES CAN GO THRU LIFE KNOWING NOTHING.” Of course that made our giddiness straight jump the tracks and I can’t speak for Chooch, but the pee-drops were ready to fall.

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Every time we go to Homewood Cemetery, Henry cranks up his “You Two Are Going to Fall Into the Pond” parental spiel. I know that the reality of this happening is very strong, but it still makes me so angry. How often do we just suddenly tumble into bodies of water, Henry!?

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Chooch illustrates how someone might fall into a pond for real.

 

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I could look at frogs all the livelong fucking day. I LOVE FROGS. Unfortunately, this leaves the door open for Henry to recite some of the National Geographic factoids he has crammed in his annoying egg head. God, go find a Boy Scout troop to lead into the woods or something. Seriously!

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OH MY FUCKING GOD IT’S A GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING BIRD FLYING IN THE CEMETERY! And Henry was still being all butthurt over the chipmunk so he bit his tongue but you could tell he was ready to shit his pants, that’s how badly he wanted to point out what kind of bird it was.

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Oh shit, afterward, we went to get ice cream at Oh Yeah. I was all, “I’m going to get fig and pistachio because I am boring and that is all I ever get at Oh Yeah” but then I saw “lavender” on the add-on list and almost wrenched Henry’s dick off in my embellished excitement.

Thank god there were enough people ahead of me to give me ample time to coax my head into exploding because, Jesus Christ — WHAT WOULD GO BEST WITH LAVENDER?!

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Chooch was not nearly as excited about the lavender as I was.

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Who the fuck frowns in an ice cream shop??

Chooch wound up ordering chocolate ice cream with Kit Kats as his mix-in, while I wrung my hands in sweaty anticipation. Of course the guy who owns the place switched out with the other Professional Ice Cream Scooper just in time to heckle my flavor combo.

(I’m pretty sure he’s the owner and he is very intimidating in his cowboy hat and steely, flavor-judging eyes.)

“Oh, good choice!” he enthused, unknowingly giving me the green light to adopt the official I Just Impressed an Ice Cream Shop Owner!!! look of smugness for approximately the next 5 minutes. (OK, hour at least.)

Meanwhile, Chooch dropped his ice cream cone before I even got mine, so when it was Henry’s turn to order, he sighed gravely and re-ordered Chooch’s ice cream. (And I’d like to take this time to point out that Chooch apparently tried to eat his ice cream off the floor and Henry had to scold him. Well, dude — when his father eats FUNNEL CAKE OFF THE PAVEMENT, what do you expect?)

So, looks like really only 2 of us were YAY SO STOKED!! for ice cream after that.

(Don’t cry too much for Henry, he got to finish Chooch’s cone.)

 

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Fuck, that was a good ice cream cone.

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We finished off the day of poor food choices by going out for Chinese. (My dinner was mostly steamed vegetables and fish, and I only ate 1/4 of it anyway, so I didn’t feel too gluttonous.)

“I hope my fortune says ‘You will receive 7000 cats’,” Chooch sighed dreamily.

It didn’t, thank god.

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Apr 092013
 

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There were other things I wanted to do on Saturday, but then I woke up and it was so nice and pretty out that it was pretty clear to all three of us that we were going to prance around in the cemetery. So here, enjoy some photos and some light commentary.

I SAID ENJOY IT.

 

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Nice buttcrack.

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This is how much fun we have in cemeteries! Without desecrating graves or sacrificing babies, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?

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Roadkill.

God forbid, Chooch had to walk up a hill. He exaggeratedly collapsed at one point because his “spine hurt.”

From walking up a hill.

He’s 6.

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SPRINGTIME FINALLY.

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I might turn this into a pendant!

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Surprisingly, I’m pretty sure this was the first time Chooch has been to this cemetery, even though it’s only separated by a street from the other two we visit. I don’t even really go to this one when I’m alone very often, to be honest, because it fucking scares the shit out of me sometimes. Once, I was even stalked by some asshole in a car in this cemetery.

This maintenance building is one of the reasons. It’s creepy when no one is there, and it’s just as creepy when the maintenance are there.

“I always feel like Leatherface is going to come barrelling out of one of those doors,” I confided in Chooch, who decided he was going to be a hard ass and plant himself down on the retaining wall in front of the building, trying to draw out Leatherface like his own weird version of Bloody Mary, I guess.

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“That’s fine,” I called over my shoulder as Henry and I continued to walk. “Have fun with Leatherface!”

He kept sitting there, because he’s stubborn (sooooo unlike me), while Henry and I came to a fork in the road. We took the right, because that would eventually lead us back to the car. We were still well within Chooch’s line of vision for him to see that we turned off the path.

Along the backside of the maintenance building was a dumpster. Because I’m a motherfucker, my mind always goes straight to “LET’S HIDE AND SCARE THE PISS OUT OF [enter victim of the day]!” So I tugged Henry and pulled him behind the dumpster with me.

“You’re such an asshole,” he mumbled, but I could tell by the twitch of his moustache that he was relishing this just as much as me. BECAUSE WE ARE AWESOME PARENTS.

A few seconds later, I could hear the patter of Chooch’s feet and detected the slightest sliver of blond over top of the dumpster’s edge. I had to slap my hand over my mouth like a giggle-dam.

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He got a few yards (quarts? pounds?) into the road when he paused and began furtively turning his head left and right. You could actually watch the panic as it slowly slid down his face and pinpoint the exact moment when he realized he was fucked.

Then he spun around and saw us, all hunched over with our shoulders shaking in silent laughter.

[This is the part of the story where we will pretend my child didn’t obliterate us with obscenities and threats.]

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We both got punched a few times, but I guess we kind of deserved it.

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Hey, at least he had Fox & Bunny with him.

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Speaking of Bunny, he got his own seat later that night when we went out for dinner at Tillie’s, where I had an unfortunate stand-off with three old ladies in the rest room. THEY WOULD NOT GET OUT OF MY WAY. I hit one of them with the stall door and she was all aghast, but maybe GO BACK TO YOUR TABLE AND TALK TO EACH OTHER THERE and you won’t get hit with bathroom doors, JESUS.

Totally almost ruined my dinner, which made me feel like a knife fight was underway in my stomach because I’m not used to eating rich foods anymore, but it was so worth it. All these years, I’ve only been ordering gnocchi at Tillie’s, but something made me order grilled salmon from the specials menu, and HOLY SHIT was the best/worst idea ever. It came with a risotti cake.

Chooch was being a compete jerk at dinner and suddenly formed a newfound aversion to the scent of spaghetti.

“Ugh how much spaghetti can there BE?” Chooch bitched. I put that on Facebook and he lost a bunch of fans because Tillie’s is one of those long-standing family-run Italian institutions that everyone but Chooch loves. It’s kind of like me, living in Pittsburgh and hating the Steelers. (Which I do, aggressively.)

I felt like I must have gained 5 pounds just from Saturday night alone, but somehow I made it through the weekend with my weight loss unscathed.

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Henry gave Chooch some of his calamari and then we waited an hour to tell him what it was. He wasn’t very pleased with us at all.

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Ugh, his pouty face is officially better than mine.

After dinner, we watched the original Evil Dead. He has been hounding me to take him to see the remake (“If you take me to see it, then I don’t want to be your son anymore!” he threatened, which sounded more like A PROMISE, if you ask me) and I’m just not sure I want to be That Mom who takes her six-year-old to what is being helmed as the scariest horror movie of the year. I mean, at least wait for the DVD, Chooch!

Anyway, the original one is so campy, that it didn’t make him flinch one bit. And when Cheryl turns into a flesh-eating demon, Chooch scoffed, “Cheryl? More like SCAREL.” Usually I’m like “STFU!!” when I’m trying to watch something and someone is talking, but his commentary was on point that night. He kept referring to all of the demon deaths as “birthday kills” because all the shit and pus squirting out of the bodies reminded him of pinatas. I mean, way to make it sound festive and fun, right?

Hiding from Chooch in the cemetery, making him think we left him there; bribing him to eat a piece of calamari and then waiting an hour to tell him what he ate; finishing off his impressionable mind with a gory horror movie —- overall, a great day to be parents.

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