Jul 032020
 

We’re on the cusp of a new weekend, but here is some shit about last weekend, because we’re really on the ball around here.

Chooch has been reading Odd One Out by Nic Stone, and one of the characters apparently makes crossword puzzles, so this inspired him to pull out one of his crossword puzzle books last Friday night which got a big groan out of me because “I’m going to do this crossword puzzle” is Chooch-speak for “Help me do 95% of this crossword puzzle.” He is RULL smart when it comes to math, but shit son, we failed you in the common sense department. Big time.

Crossword Puzzle-solving Chooch is easily in my Top 5 least favorite / most frustrating versions of Chooch. Look, even the cat is trying to get away!

Chooch: What’s a word for bagel dealer?

Me: Deli.

Chooch: Mmm, no I don’t think so.

*five minutes later*

Chooch: So apparently it’s “dele.”

Nope.

On Saturday, Henry and I went to this one nursery place in Allison Park or somewhere near that which is an area we don’t frequent very often so it’s always like being there for the first time and nothing looks familiar. Anyway, Henry stopped at Sheetz first to get gas and coffee. I waited in the car because I still think it’s dumb for us both to go in stores if I already know what I want and he can just be the sacrificial Covid-lamb.

Whenever he gets back to the car, he always gives me the “No Mask” report. This time, he saw a bitch without a mask just in time to let the door shut on her and he was so smug about it, and usually I would make fun of him but this time I was like, “YOU ARE A REAL FUCKING HERO” and there was not even a smidge of sarcasm in my delivery, you guys, I fucking meant it. Never before has Henry been so attractive to me than when he’s actively shaming the anti-maskers. Sic ’em, Henry!

We take mask-wearing very seriously in our house.

That afternoon, I had an alarm set because this indie designer I follow on Instagram was going live with some new items and I knew as soon as I saw this one that I had to have it because it has such Gillcrest Vibes.

Her tops are made-to-order from vintage tea towels and other vintage fabric and this one had my name written all over it. Of course, there is typically only one available in each design but I was able to snag it in time!

Oh yeah, I forgot about the nursery part of the morning. We went there and bought flowers. We were the only customers so I didn’t feel scared. Then we came home and put the new plants in the flamingo planters I bought when I was originally searching for a flamingo chair for the porch, lol. I get sidetracked super easily.

See that metal cat back there? Many many many moons ago, pre-Henryship, I went to the Three Rivers Arts Festival with my pal Lisa; that was our tradition every June, starting back when we were in high school, because it made us suburbanites feel cool to take the T into town. And then it got even more convenient once I moved to my current house after high school, because I’m within walking distance of a trolley stop so my friends could just park here and we’d walk on over, as opposed to when we would have to drive to South Hills Village mall, which is the last stop (or first, depending on how you look at it I guess!) on the line, because we could park in the lot there.

(Wow, that was a lot of boring words. I’m only operating on half of a brain today because I did a 50 minute kickbox workout first thing this morning and I’m toast.)

Back to the cat.

One year, it must have been about 20 minutes I guess, OMG, I saw this one vendor selling these awesome metal sculptures. Of course when I saw the cat, I had to have it. If I had to guess, I would say I still had an American Express that my mom paid for, which is probably how I was able to buy this as an unemployed 20-year-old, lol.

And then the fun part was having to lug it all the way back to the trolley stop, receive angry glares from all the people on the T who had to squeeze past it, carry it back to my house, and then spend the next 20 years tripping over it, nicking my hip into it, and snagging my clothes on it. NO MATTER WHERE IT WAS PLACED IN THE HOUSE.

Henry has wanted to get rid of it for years, I’m sure of it, but he is too nice to say anything especially since I’m super sensitive and sentimental of the things that have been in my life longer than he has—I always place possessions above him. I’m such a sweet girlfriend!

But yeah, now this guy has a safe and cute place all to himself and I think I have even noticed some passers-by giving him a smile. (Not my least favorite mom from when Chooch went to the shitty Catholic school across the street though; I happened to see her from my window as she walked by last weekend and did a double-take at my yard with this AGHAST look on her mom-face, like she cannot fathom the fact that someone like me, a vulgar HEATHEN, could actually have a cute front yard. God, I hate that lady.)

Then there was this fat squirrel over in HNC’s yard and we lured it over to us and for a moment, I actually thought it was going to charge at us, but then I went in the house and came back with a small apple for it. I lobbed it gently to him and he chased it, put it in his mouth and scampered off with it, like he was a dog with a tennis ball. He took it to the backyard, sat on HNC’s picnic, and feasted! It was fucking amazing, and I don’t care how lame this sounds, it was the clear highlight of my weekend.

We weren’t able to get a picture in time because we didn’t want to disturb him, but Henry took a picture of the abandoned apple, lol.

Meanwhile, Henry ordered a giant bubble thing so that he can look cool in front of his grandkids but then Haley was like, “They’re getting ready for bed, they can’t come out” so Henry played with it by himself, hahahaha.

Then Chooch came out so Henry looked less creepy. People were actually stopping to watch though and I was like, “This isn’t that exciting, guys” but considering the usual excitement on our street involves police and paramedics, I guess this is OK.

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Henry got a toy.

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I mean, this went on for like an hour.

Then Tourette’s walked by!

On Sunday, more bubble action happened, this time with the small children. And Haley introduced her cat Ham to Drew and Penelope! Cousins! It went surprisingly well. Drew hissed once, but no one went into attack mode.

Overall, it was another very nice weekend. I’m still pretty cabin-fevered but at the same time, we have been making the best of it by getting things done around the house that have desperately needed our attention. I mean, our yard, for instance, has been an absolute shit-stain since the second year I lived here when I got new neighbors who decided to tear up a large part of the yard and dump rocks down and then proceeded to not maintain it and it just eventually became a breeding ground for weeds. But not having concerts, amusement parks, and trips to take has really helped us saved money to make it look like an actual family lives here and not, like, drug people.

And this weekend will be spent completely tearing up the kitchen, which Henry started doing yesterday and I am super anxious and uncomfortable about it because in order to make one room look nice, three rooms are now in complete shambles, but hopefully not for long. Just, you know, don’t come knocking on my door anytime soon, lol.

Jun 302020
 

I know quarantine is starting to lighten up in some places and some of you may be cautiously tiptoeing back out into the wild, but I’m here to share some more YouTube fitness channels that have been giving me life during these dark months just in case you’re like me and staying the fuck at home.

This edition is specifically Black YouTube fitness content creators, which is not going to be difficult for me to curate considering there are quite a few that I rely on to get my heart rate up on the daily!

  1. KUKUWA!!

Sometime back in April, I had this urge to search “African dance fitness” because I was looking for something to add to the Kpop cardio rotation. I am INSANELY picky when it comes to dance fitness. I will turn my nose up at most Zumba-like channels, and honestly I dislike most dance cardio channels in general. I think it’s the music choice, mostly. The first channel I found was Kukuwa, and they have been spoiling their subscribers with weekly live 15-minute quickie workouts during quarantine, and they ARE SO MUCH FUN.

Kukuwa is in her 60s and some of the moves she does are full-on back-breakers, and I am like, “Lady, I cannot bend over that far, goddamn.” I love these gals, and Kukuwa’s daughter Cass even has a special 45 minute birthday jam workout which features the traditional African music that you will quickly come to love during these routines, but then she mixes in RUMPSHAKER. God yes. I love this channel. I’m going to buy one of their shirts!

Kukuwa’s gonna have you moving you boomsey in no time, guys. Trust.

(I really like doing these first thing in the morning because I don’t have to put shoes on!)

2. Fit Body By Ashley 

I love Ashley! Whether you’re looking for some authentic Jamaican vibes or a 90s throwback routine, Ashley’s there for you! You’ll just feel like you’re back in high school, trying to nail Patra’s patented Butterfly moves while watching her videos on BET in the privacy of your bedroom, and not doing actual cardio. The expressions she makes will make you want to get off the couch and dance like no one’s watching, right along with her (to be fair though, I make sure Chooch is outside or like, playing Minecraft so that he won’t make fun of me or feel disturbed at the sight of his mom doing the .

This one is EVERYTHING:

This is the one I just did earlier this evening and it was SO FUCKING FUN and I sweat my ugly face off, it was great:

3. Afrifitness

I love Rachael so much! Her voice is so soothing to me, and her workouts are just the right intensity for when I’m looking for something quick to do either my during my work break or while waiting for Chef Henry to make me dinner. And they’re easy to follow so you don’t need to be like a skilled dancer or anything. I recommend this one for days when you might have less energy or brain power and just want a simple circuit-like low-impact cardio workout to combat all the desk-sitting!

Also, last week she had a video titled “Goodbye YouTube” or something and I fucking FLIPPED OUT but then watched it and she admits it was click-bait to get people to watch it because she’s donating the money that video earns from views to the Cece Yara Foundation, which helps create safe lives for at-risk Nigerian children. <3

4. Keaira LaShae!!

I’ve been subscribed to Keaira’s channel for several years now after seeing her on PopSugar and BeFit and then finding her channel from there. Her personality is SO BRIGHT! I can’t do half of the things she does in her workouts because I have literally no rhythm, but I try to twerk along as best as I can. Lately, she’s been doing YouTube live workouts and the best is WHEN HER HUSBAND JOINS IN. Even Henry likes those ones, lol. Her husband gets so distracted watching her and it cracks us up. I mean, you can’t blame him!

5. MrHelioFaria

This guy has a ton of cardio dance videos ranging from Soca to Samba, and they’re pretty accessible even for all the double-left-footed bitches out there like me. I also like that he changes location a lot throughout the videos so it keeps it fresh! The music helps me to pretend like I’m on vacation and not isolated in my crappy house. Sigh.

Do you think you’ll try any of these? Ya gotta let me know if you do! I love sharing my “home gym” favorites and I hope some of them end up being your new favorite cardio go-to! Subscribe and give them some love!

Jun 292020
 

Hello. I’m off today. Here are some updates.

8:00am Breakfast & Book:

Not pictured: me vacuuming up the dirt from the succulent Penelope knocked over while chasing her tail on a windowsill.

9:00am: Exercise Around the World Time!

Kukuwa African Dance Fitness!

Leila Isaac Bellydance Abs!

Give Me Five Thailand Kpop Dance Fitness!

10:00am: Porch Hangs with Wet Hair Kid

“I’m taking pictures of everything I do on my day off.”

“Wow. That’s so cool,” Chooch said dryly.

Then he ditched me for Blake so it became Solo Porch Hangs until the sun started burning my arm so then it became Couch Hangs as I read more of my book.

11:30am: Morning Snack

Half pink grapefruit, longan, dates.

Not pictured: me scouring Chooch’s garbage dump bedroom in search for his swim trunks so he can go swimming over Haley’s dad’s house; also I finished my book.

Also not pictured: Me walking into Drew’s trajectory as she attempted to leap from the stool to the coffee table, resulting in her giving my right calf a nice deep scratch, and then having to clean up a container of cat treats which she knocked off the dining room table. This is a great day off work so far!!

Furry terror.

12:00pm: CATCHING UP ON NEW KPOP VIDEOS, STARTING A NEW BOOK, & SURPRISE VISIT FROM HENRY

https://youtu.be/Is7glC9Jp7Q

Henry sits amidst the cat playground.

Not pictured: Henry is also unable to locate Chooch’s swim trunks.

1:00 POST-SECOND-WORKOUT LUNCH TIME

I was bored and did a kickbox abs workout on Popsugar and now I’m eating a salad which henry had to help me with before leaving to go back to work. I’m relaxing and starting “Patsy,” because I just realized it’s due to be returned in 2 days—ugh library deadlines! Keeping me under pressure!! I love to be stressed.

3:30ish: CHAI LATTE WALK

After spending most of the 2:00 hour researching side dishes around the world for our unAmerican 4th of July celebration (I mean, it’s only gonna be the three of us), I wanted a chai latte and made the mistake of walking to Muddy Cup, where the new-to-me young girl working was not wearing a mask, so that’s cool, and also I forgot that Muddy Cup uses that shitty liquid chai premix that Starbucks uses so it was not great.

You can tell by how light the color is!! Gross.

Oh well, at least I got in some steps. I guess now I will read some more.

4:30ish: IKEA TEXTS

Henry is at IKEA getting shit for the kitchen and I’m outside texting him more things to get while watching this lady spending the last 10 minutes examining my neighbor’s refuse:

She has gone through every drawer three times like she’s looking for a hidden cameo or treasure map.

Oh shit! I just realized what she’s doing. She’s removing all the handles/knobs. Fuck. I wish I had thought to do that.

5:00pm: STILL ON THE PORCH, I AM BORED

But I’m wearing my favorite Cure shirt :)

6:00PM: WAITING BY THE WINDOW

Chooch still hasn’t returned from swimming (in soccer shorts because his swim trunks have mysteriously disappeared without a trace; look for the upcoming made-for-Lifetime movie, is Lifetime even still a TV channel?) and Henry is still “at IKEA” allegedly never mind he just called me and he’s almost home thank god because Drew and I are attention STARVED.

(Penelope has been crashed out in Chooch’s room all day and could give a shit about what the rest of us are doing, so.)

Update! Henry is home with the IKEA stuff and when he was unloading everything into the house, TOURETTES came ambling last and spent a long time looking at this garbage:

Then! He had a conversation with HNC!!

He used to live in the house next to HNC and they are still friendly, I guess. I think I heard HNC call him Dave, who would have thought he has an actual name??!!

6:30PM: IS WHEN WE HAVE DINNER

Henry uses frozen cauliflower as the base for my smoothie bowls and it’s a freaking game changer.

7:00PM: WAITING FOR CHOOCH LIKE…

OMG HE’S HOME:

Also, I know this is shocking but it’s time for more exercise! But more specifically, ITS JILLIAN TIME!

(I’m an exercise addict; there were some I didn’t even account for on here today lol ugh my life is so rich.)

8:00PM: IT’S WIND DOWN TIME

Ok, I’m going to spend the rest of the night watching Booktube and eating fruit, and also getting on Henry’s nerves with my unAmerican 4th of July non-celebration.

Here he is on Amazon looking for a knopfli sieve in preparation for the weekend lol.

(Apparently he just needs a ricer which is funny because someone recently asked me at work if henry used one and I was like THE FUCK IF I KNOW, SON. Guess I have my answer now.)

Jun 132020
 

While I’m busy being angry at America and the world and taking it out on Henry via housework and projects, here are some pictures of Drew because wouldn’t it be nice to be a cat if only for a day?

I mean, the cats have so many toys, our house looks like we must surely have a toddler. My other cats (RIP) rarely played with toys and preferred twist ties and other assorted wrappers, though Marcy did enjoy cat tunnels. Don’t get me wrong, Drew and Penelope will adopt a rogue twist tie or rubber band and give it all their devotion for days upon days until it’s lost or, god forbid, thrown away. But they fucking love their toy mice and stuff too, which Marcy, Speck, Don, and Willie couldn’t be bothered with.

I found this totally cute pizza bed at Meowingtons.com for the cats. So far, they mostly only give a shit about the plush anchovies and have already dragged one to some hidden locale in the house, never to be seen again since the very first day we got it. Every night, Drew absconds with the remaining two and proceeds to run around crying with one dangling from her maw. It’s so strange.

I woke up the other morning with one outside our bedroom door, and the other was on the couch with Chooch, who had fallen asleep there the night before.

Little gifts…or threats. Who can be sure.

Penelope, meanwhile, is currently obsessed with this ratty lime green pompom that I *think* might have come in a pack of cat toys, but could also be something left over from a craft project, etc. You never know, but like Drew and the anchovies, Penelope will run around WAILING with this damn thing stuffed in her mouth.

We have evidence that she actually slept in the bed one (1) time, though, as recorded by Chooch who woke up at 4am last week and caught her in the act.

Chooch used one of his Amazon giftcards to buy this milk carton scratch pad which is supposed to be for BOTH CATS, but Drew is ultra territorial and anytime Penelope tries to pose as a missing kid, Drew flexes on her until she comes back out.

Sigh. Cat sisters.

Anyway, playing with the cats has been one of the few bright spots lately.

Side note: I started googling Laddie from Lost Boys after thinking about missing kids on milk cartons and randomly found someone’s vlog on YouTube where they visited some of the Lost Boys filming locations and that seems like a really fun post-pandemic pilgrimage, doesn’t it, Henry? DOESN’T IT? Lol, he can’t hear me over the buzz of the saw he’s currently operating outside as he works on yet another motherfucking project I’ve added to his list.

Jun 092020
 

A few weeks ago, I suggested (and not aggressively so) that we get bushes for the front of the house to cover the dumb ugly gas meter, and as Henry was agreeing, I continued, “and then we can sculpt them into Wonderland-ish delights” and that was met with a deep frown.

And then, without me having to say it every single day after that, HE DID IT ALL OF HIS OWN VOLITION! Literally came home from Lowe’s on Saturday morning (his birthday, even!) and went to town (er, yard).

Honestly, I think that being mostly homebound has really helped inspire him to tackle projects here at home, since we’re not out and about or traveling to amusement parks and kpop concerts. And then sometimes Henry just really gets super motivated out of the blue.

This was the first time Drew has ever shown any interest in the outside world!

When Marcy was alive, she used to LOVE going outside in the warmer months. She’d just roll around on the sidewalk, eat some grass, and then chill out watching people walk by. When Henry’s mom used to babysit Chooch in the summer, she and Marcy were porch-sitting BFFs. Ugh, I miss Marcy.

I’m not sure if Drew will ever reach that comfort level because she’s so skittish, but it was super cute watching her stand in the doorway and look all around.

AND THEN PENELOPE WAS LIKE, “ME TOO!”

Meanwhile, Chooch did the bare minimum as far as the actual act of planting goes, while I stood around and shouted directions in between writing social justice slogans on the sidewalk and reading a book.

One day last week, I answered the door to get a package and the delivery guy was like, “It’s not very often I see Korean written on sidewalks in Pittsburgh!” and I was like, “OMG I’M OBSESSED WITH KOREA! I’ve been there twice and would move there if I could,” and he said he was jealous, and that it seems like such an awesome place, and LOOK AT ME TALKING TO STRANGERS!

Then he left and I was like, “Shit, I should have asked him if he likes BIGBANG.” I mean, it’s not everyday someone walks on my sidewalk and actually knows that what they’re looking at is Korean! That was an exciting moment for me because I have clearly been starved for human contact. Who knew.

We usually would have a screen door there but then it broke two years ago and dumb Henry still hasn’t replaced it because I think he secretly wants to keep our shanty looking as shantyful as possible.

 

 

I have no idea what any of these flowers are but they’re pretty.

“We” still have to make a little retaining fence thingy for the yard out of pieces of wood, but of course I have to paint them all sorts of colors first because everything in my life needs to look like a rainbow hemorrhaged on it.

Anyway, this is just one of many household projects “we” would like to tackle this summer. And he has time since my Seoul subway picture is on hold while he’s waiting for some plastic thing to be delivered, ugh. I hate waiting for things to get done!

May 312020
 

Happy Sunday. Here is a collection of things Chooch made last week which is exactly what the name of this blog post alludes.

1. kimchi bokkeumbap

Henry bought Chooch another one of those vegetarian meal kit things and this one included ingredients of “kimchi fried rice” but anyone who knows anything about Korean food knows that this is actually “bokkeumbap” and it’s something that is included at the end of meals in certain restaurants in Korea, where the server will come over and dump all the extra rice and kimchi into a pan at your table and stir that shit up right in front of you. Honestly—restaurants in Korea are next level.

Chooch was mad though because this one came with mushrooms that he had to scrape the “gills” and he hates mushrooms to begin with so it’s always a great sign when you can hear the chef in the kitchen gagging and dry-heaving. Mmmm!!

He picked all the mushrooms out of his own serving lol.

2. Fancy Moroccan Carrot Thing

Another one of the recipes that came in the meal kit was this WONDERFUL carrot thing. I love non-orange carrots so this was very appealing to me. Chooch felt like he cooked the rice too long but it had that wildly desirable crunch-layer to it so I gave it two thumbs up. I love crunchy/mildly-burnt rice! It’s the best part of bibimbap too!

Anyway, Chooch is much better at plating than Henry. It’s awesome to have two people cooking for me now haha.

3. Edible Drew Portrait

Chooch’s final assignment for his gifted art class was to make a mosaic or collage using shit around the house. I thought it would have been a good opportunity to do a portrait of his loving mother using (costume) jewels and flowers, but he ignored me and opted instead on his favorite cat Drew as the subject matter, and used dry goods from the kitchen. 

I mean, it’s technically edible but there is A LOT OF PEPPER, garlic powder, salt and onion powder mixed with cocoa and sprinkles, so…

Anyway, this isn’t actually due until next Friday so I was super impressed that he knocked it out in one sitting, an entire week in advance. Thank god. 

He took a picture so he could turn it in, and then promptly threw it away, lol. 

4. Cats uncomfortable

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this picture of him making our poor cat Penelope uncomfortable.

Welp, that’s all for today. Happy Sunday (did I already say that?). Go hug a tree and be nice to each other. 

May 262020
 

Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve had worse Memorial Days (like the notorious one in 2005 when my ex-bff came to visit and I locked myself in my room and she and Henry literally took off my bedroom door because they thought I was trying to OD on meds?! I WASN’T, for the record).

I mean, it would have been nice to be able to wild out in an Ozark watering hole (KIDDING, EW, NOT EVEN WHEN THERE IS NO COVID) but it turns out that we were still able to have a fine day without traveling.

I guess.

And I know that I complain about and ridicule that dumb local parade that slithers past my house every Memorial Day, but it was actually kind of sad that it was canceled this year. I guess theoretically the parade could have still happened, but who can trust hundreds of Yinzers to stand six feet apart from each other on the sidewalks?

Henry and I went to Jefferson Memorial for a walk earlier in the day and it was so freaking hot that we were both huffing and puffing on every hill and then there was this huge blast which made me scream WAS THAT A GUNSHOT as two more blasts fired out.

Henry paused, head tilted, SERVICE manual activated. “Yes. Seven guns. Three shots. Equals 21.” Then he noticed that I had contorted into a floating question mark next to him so he clarified, “it’s a military thing.”

OH OK.

When I told Chooch about this later, he died a little.

Apparently, there was a whole memorial thingie-thang happening in this cemetery, so that was great. I don’t think any of those super old farts were even wearing masks, so that was even greater. We made sure to take a different path because yeah, no thanks.

(Henry did have a little bit of a SERVICE boner though, I think he would really like for you to know that.)

Meanwhile, the book we chose was something that I thought was going to be fluffy YA but hoooooooo-boy, nope nope nope. I mean, yes, it was YA, but it was pretty heavy. Asian Readathon has been going SO WELL that I already can’t wait to do it again next year even though I basically followed none of the prompts and played by my own rules, which was essentially HOW MANY BOOKS BY ASIAN AUTHORS CAN I READ IN ONE MONTH, IT’S A RACE!

Back to Memorial Day. I was chatting on Kakao with my pal Kyoung who lives in South Korea and he was like “oh, what is Memorial Day, my Erin”* and I had to google it because I couldn’t remember, lol, please revoke my America card, I don’t want it anymore. This resulted in me asking Henry what the difference is between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day and he started to answer me but then I didn’t care so I started playing the audiobook.

*(He calls me his Erin and I think that’s so adorable, I bet Henry does too—wait, I’ll ask him. BRB. OK, I’m back. He was doing the dishes and muttered, “Whatever.”)

Anyway, I decided that since we couldn’t really do anything fun on Memorial Day (and who am I kidding, it’s not like we typically get invited to any cookouts, pandemic or no pandemic, lol #friendlessinPittsburgh), then I wanted Henry to make some of my favorite cookout foods from when I was growing up, those Kelly Family Summer staples (which, if you know my family, sounds like some dysfunctional game of abuse that we maybe might have played, involved chasing each other with staplers while foaming at the mouth).

So, I’m not sure if this is something that was INVENTED in Pittsburgh, but I do know that it’s been a hometown favorite since I can remember, and that is the princess of all picnics, the Strawberry Pretzel Salad. My mom made it for every single cookout when I was growing up, and I always just thought it was one of those things that everyone made for cookouts, but apparently people not from Pittsburgh are like, “????” so if you’re reading this and you’re not from Pittsburgh, please let me know if you have ever heard of this. I mean, there’s a Betty Crocker recipe for it for god’s sake! And when Henry asked me to text my mom for her recipe, she was like, “I’m not home. Just go on Pinterest.”

WOW OK.

Anyway, Henry did an OK job.

But while we were chowing, he admitted that he HAD NEVER HEARD OF THIS UNTIL WE STARTED DATING AND HE WENT TO HIS FIRST EVER COOKOUT AT MY MOM’S HOUSE AND I AM SO FUCKING SHOOK, I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE BEEN FAKE-MARRIED FOR 18 (19?) YEARS AND I AM JUST LEARNING THIS. My friend Sandy said she feels sorry for childhood Henry. I agree. What a sad childhood.

He also made ambrosia, which was definitely not like my mom’s (she said she’ll look for her traditional recipe and give it to him for his birthday, lol) and Watergate salad, which actually isn’t something that we would generally have at any of my family gatherings, but I do like it in other non-Kelly Family Cookout contexts and haven’t had it in a very long time, so why not make the picnic side salads a full trifecta, you know what I’m saying?

Henry picked a good Watergate salad recipe because that shit was ON POINT. (I told him I never wanted to look at his ambrosia again, though). The Watergate salad also made me miss Eat n Park a little bit, which is actually open for take out during social distancing, but what I specifically miss is their salad bar even though EW I don’t really want to think about salad bars at a time like this, but they almost always have pistachio fluff in their “pudding/jello” section, and on very rare, special occasions, they up the ante and make it a full-blown Watergate.

Not the most attractive picture, but that’s what you get when it’s plated by Henry’s big bumbling blue-collar meat-fists. It’s important to note that this salad is probably the most “Yinzer” thing about me. Honestly. I fail pretty much every other Yinzer test out there.

So yeah, lots of sugar for dinner! But…also lots of fruit?

Later that night, Henry and I watched a Chinese adaption of this really great Japanese crime novel we “read” together over the weekend and Chooch was like, “I’M NOT WATCHING THIS” because he’s jealous that Henry and I have our weird/creepy audiobook couple’s club now. Haha.

May 192020
 

On Sunday, I decided to finally pay attention to the Hipstamatic notifications I get and decided to go on a photo walk around Brookline in order to collect stamps for my stupid Hipstamatic “passport” thingie because it was a nice day, I needed steps, there was nothing else to do. I dragged Chooch out of the house with me.

“What are you doing?” he asked me in that grating teenage tone that I FUCKING HATE SO MUCH, I am trying to just be happy that he still talks to me at least but MOTHER OF GOD he gets under my skin sometimes. After I explained my mission to him, he shrugged and said, “I guess I’ll do it too then” and downloaded Hipstamatic so then what I had intended to be a nice, leisurely walk turned into COMPETITION TIME.

The two of us just can’t do anything together without someone needing to win. It’s annoying, since I can’t lose. 

Anyway, here are some photos from around town. Yes, we wore masks. 

Someone’s yard. 

Another someone’s yard. 

Chooch’s name, memorialized in a dirty sidewalk. He’s still so smug about this. 

Someone was hit by a car here. For a long time, there was a (full) bottle of chocolate milk sitting there with all the stuffed animals. 

The windows of Jo’s Salon still has Easter stuff in it. It’s been closed since mid-March when everything went on lockdown, but I guess they still decorated for Easter. How nice of them. 

Chooch got this shot first and then accused me of trying to be like him after I took one too. UGH. 

Every time I walk past this diner, their handwritten signs make me die a little inside. I want to make better ones for them in the worst way. (I love making signs. When I worked at the shitty meat place for 4 years, making signs for the display cases was the only thing I truly enjoyed doing. I mean, it was hard to find enjoyable things amidst all of the sexual harassment, racism, misogyny, and psychological warfare that was served up there all day, just like this diner’s breakfast.)

…waiting for it.

I’m still not sure what this place is but it’s much better than that horrid BABE CAVE glamour shots place that used to be there. 

Ah, the good ol’ Boulevard. I’ll be happy when things go back to normal (if they do?) and we can walk to Scoops for ice cream, which I will never take for granted again, like how Blake and Haley invited us to go with them on this one nice day in early March, before everything shut down, and I said NO because I was trying to watch what I was eating that weekend and figured I could “just go another time.” 

LE SIGH. 

I dunno, it seemed cool at the time and Chooch took a picture of the house next to it which was nicer but god forbid I should copy him again. 

I still haven’t watched this show. Should I? Will it upset me? Because I can’t watch animal stuff. 

This part of the boulevard sucks because every other storefront is vacant. But there is some sandwich shop that is supposedly going to open at some point, I hope they still do. I always peek in the window when I walk by and it looks cute. I hope they have grilled cheese. 

REFLECTIONS. 

It’s the Brookline Monument “Cannon,” you guys. 

I always liked this church door. 

This is on the window of some newish “club”/Mexican restaurant that opened last year but I noticed that there isn’t a NO KNIVES sign which I guess is how a stabbing was able to happen there a few months ago. (I don’t think anyone died.)

I had to take a picture of this because it’s on the window of one of the trashiest bars in the area and I guess I just figured if any anti-maskers wanted someplace welcoming and mask-free to loaf, it would be here. But wow, I was wrong! 

(This is also the place were the infamous “photo incident” happened with Christina and me, which I still love to talk about except that everyone says, “Yeah, you told me that one before” so maybe I should tell Henry’s grandkids, or create a new imaginary friend.)

You can see my vintage Cure t-shirt in the reflection!

This place has been here forever, and probably those same bottles too. 

This is a block away from my house and the guy who lives here IS SO SWEET AND GRANDFATHERLY and has what I think is a Polish accent and one time he asked for Chooch’s and my opinion when he was installing spotlights outside of his house. I like it when people ask me for my expert advice. It makes me feel like…a real life person. 

And this concludes: Photo Walk with Erin and Chooch. God only knows what other treasures I’ll pull out of my sleeves for you this week. Wow. 

May 142020
 

In the spirit of vicarious traveling during this pandemic, I am here to retell the tale about the time I strong-armed Henry into making a detour on our southern road trip in 2015. Those were the days.

****

Last winter, after we decided where this summer’s vacation was going to take us—-and Henry started bleeding money from all blue-collared orifices—-I excitedly consulted Roadside America to find all the ways to drag our trek back to Pittsburgh into a poorly-written modern remake of Homer’s Odyssey, only with less blood weddings, spiritual growth, and Latin declensions.

One of the “attractions” I read about was this mysterious-sounding African village in Sheldon, SC called Kingdom of Oyotunji. I sent Henry the link and received no response. Shocker. During the beginning half of our trip, I kept bringing it up, and Henry just kept saying things like, “We’re not going that way” and “It recently burned to the ground” and “Katy Perry is performing there all week.”

But I would not be deterred.

It turns out, when we left Savannah that Friday in July, the village was on our exact route to Charlotte, NC. Henry either must have had his guard down or was just that fatigued from fielding my lofty requests all week, because he actually turned off the highway when we arrived at the Sheldon exit! I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

“Is this place is even open?” he sighed. “It better fucking be open.” But I could tell that what he really meant was, “I hope it’s not open because I don’t want to go but I am still going to be mad if it’s not open because either way this is a waste of time and I hate you.” Over the years, we have learned to communicate through a series of huffy sighs, glares, and fists slamming against steering wheels.

Actually, their website said that they were open until 7:00 (it wasn’t quite 6 yet so we had time in our favor, at least), but they recommend that you email them if you want to stop by for a tour. I mean, I did that, but we were already about 20 minutes away so we were going to stop by regardless. Also, it seemed weird to me that this mysterious US-seceded African village in the Gulleh Geeche South Carolina low-country (I got that from their website because I’m a journalist now) even has the Internet and didn’t require me to send notice via carrier pigeon.

Just kidding. I’m not that culturally ignorant. But on that note, the Oyotunji community is something that I definitely know nothing about and I was genuinely interested in learning about how they live. (And also genuinely interested in making Henry feel uncomfortable, because he HATES taking tours of places.)
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Chooch was sleeping when we made it to the entrance of the kingdom, which required us to turn off the highway and continue on down a dirt road buffeted by forest. The whole time, Henry was murmuring, “I hate you. I fucking hate you. Fuck my life” through gritted teeth, while I cracked up next to him so hard that I was wheezing.

“It’s not fucking funny!” he said. BUT IT IS, HERNY.

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At the end of the path, we could see the gate to the compound, and Henry started to rejoice because it was closed.

“Yeah but keep going, maybe there’s a doorbell,” I urged, because we had come so far!

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Most of my pictures are blurry and out of focus because I guess I was just that excited about being there.

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Henry kept trying to tell me in a dozen different ways that this joint was closed, but too bad I noticed the “Blow Your Horn” sign next to the gate before he had a chance to gouge my eyes out with his strong and masculine Service thumbs.

“Blow the horn,” I demanded.

“No, I’m not blowing the fucking horn,” Henry hissed in response.

But if you ask Henry to do something enough times while consistently raising your voice until it’s a crackling screech, he eventually gives up and does the thing! So he reluctantly pressed down on the car horn and then we waited.

“No one’s coming,” he sighed, ready to throw the car into drive.

“Just wait!” I begged, holding my gaze hard against the big red doors.

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After about 30 seconds of nail-biting suspense, a man dressed in a white robe stepped out from behind a fence along the left-hand perimeter of the property.

“Oh great, Erin. Just great,” Henry huffed, lowering the window so the man could talk to us.

“Are you guys looking to do the tour?” he asked after we exchanged proper Southern salutations. (You know. “Hello”s were said.) Leaning across Henry, I emphatically nodded my head. You bet your white-robed ass I want a tour. I want to know all about the Oyotunji tribe! I was just getting ready to barrel-roll myself out of the car when he went on to explain that unfortunately, they’ve been mourning the death of their leader, in Africa, for the last three days and had closed the community off to the public for that.

“We open back up tomorrow though, if you’ll be in the area?”

Henry nodded and said something along the lines of, “Yeah, we might be.”

“I was actually just on my way out to take a shower when I heard you beep,” the man said, explaining that he’s not usually the one who gives the tours.

He then gave us a brief run-down of the community, told us how he’s originally from Florida but had shed his American citizenship 20+ years ago in favor of living a simple life in the woods of South Carolina. They’re a community of around 40 people, self-sustained, they home school their children, and basically live a life where no one has to give a shit about the things that Americans give a shit about that don’t even matter, like Donald Trump, the idiot Superbowl, and Miley Cyrus’s pasties.

I can only imagine how better behaved their kids are than Chooch.

This whole time, I was trying to maintain strong eye contact with him while chewing on the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing outright. Look, please understand that I don’t think anything about their community is funny, and I certainly don’t find humor in the fact that they were all in mourning, but it was the situation itself: the detour into the woods of Beaufort County, Henry’s reluctance, the Jonestown Massacre vibe of it all….it was all of these things, like sitting in church during the homily and feeling that itch to laugh out loud for no good reason, that had me writhing in giddy discomfort.

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Some other tourist-sucker pulled in behind us about 10 minutes into our on-the-fly history lesson from our new robed friend. He quickly wrapped it up and then excused himself to go talk to the other visitor.

“Are we really going to come back tomorrow?!” I screamed as we slowly drove back out to the highway.

“Wha—-? No!” he said, his big bushy brows all furrowed.

“But when that guy asked if we were going to be in the area—”

“Yeah well, I didn’t mean it.” And he used his End of Story tone, so I sulked for awhile.

Oyotunji, I’ll be back for you someday.

But then we pulled over at the Carolina Cider Company! We had been on a mission to procure boiled peanuts the whole time we were in the south and finally, it was our time. On our last day, no less.

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Chooch was still sleeping, how he managed to sleep through all of the Oyotunji excitement, I’ll never know. At first, Henry was like, “Just crack the window, he’ll be fine.” But then I was overcome with paranoia and something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on….the overwhelming need to PARENT, maybe? Nah. I think I have it confused with the desire to not have Child Protective Services called on my ass.

What would the Oyotunji do, I thought hard to myself.  Aside from probably not giving a shit about boiled peanuts, I mean.

I went out to the car to wake up Chooch and proceeded to set off the car alarm. The proprietor of the cider establishment and the only two patrons there at that time stopped what they were doing in order to gawk at me from the open doors of the store.

“What are you doing!?” Henry yelled, marching over with the car keys to stop the alarm. SO SORRY THAT I WAS TRYING TO SAVE MY KID FROM ASPHYXIATION.

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So then I was able to save Chooch and he groggily followed me into the store while I excitedly told him about what he had missed, but I don’t think he believed me.

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Henry bought us stuff and boiled peanuts are weird as fuck, yet I couldn’t stop eating them.

Eventually, we made it to a shady Red Roof Inn, I mean shadier than the typical Red Roof Inn, in Charlotte. We had to pass Carowinds on the way, with its coasters all sexy and lit up against the night sky. I begged Henry to take us there but he was like, “IT’S NEARLY 10’O CLOCK AT NIGHT!” God, he always has an excuse.

Luckily, the Red Roof was only shady on the outside (i.e. the parking lot and the entire right section of the motel where I’m pretty sure people were living and since it was a Friday night, shit was popping off) and the inside was clean and recently remodeled. I realized that HENRY hadn’t fed us dinner, so he went to a vending machine and came back with snacks and a Snickers. THANKS, PA.

We live large on vacation.

***

Anyway, aside from some additional pictures from our travel day back to Pittsburgh, that pretty  much wraps up our whirlwind Southern road trip, which took me an entire month to recap. But holy shit, we did so much! I love these trips so much, and I know that they don’t really seem like “vacations” because we’re so go-go-go, but I couldn’t imagine sitting in one place for 7 days and “relaxing.” I honestly don’t know how to relax. I look forward to these trips so much because we get to see cool things, meet really awesome people, and make some pretty hilarious memories.

We hadn’t even crossed the Pennsylvania state line yet and I was already asking Henry where we’re going to go next. He just glared at me.

May 132020
 

In the 80s and 90s, my grandma went through a heavy QVC-phase where she would buy all of the shit, willy-nilly. Thighmasters, fancy pots, blenders, watches. She bought a lot of this shit IN HER SLEEP, my Pappap was convinced. She would sleepwalk, click on the TV, and get triggered by the BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE manic cat-calls while everyone else was sleeping. And then the packages would start trickling in and she’d be all did I do that?

We found so many boxes of cookbooks and other infomercial castoffs in the garage when we were cleaning out my Pappap’s house a few years ago.

She also had a penchant for buying those creepy porcelain collector dolls that were always advertised on those cardstock inserts in the middle of TV Guide and what was that elder health ‘zine called? Prevention? They were supposedly bought with the intention of me “inheriting” they but I was 100% not interested in some fragile Little Bo Peep living in my bedroom, thanks grandma, please keep her at your house and I’ll visit her. Maybe.

One of the things bipolar people are known to partake in during manic episodes is reckless spending. Somehow, I have managed to fight that “symptom” of my “condition” all these years. I’ll say to Henry, “Hey, at least I haven’t bankrupted us, right?” as I’m sitting in the middle of broken glass and debris after my latest episode, and he’s just like, “YEAH, AT LEAST.” But APPARENTLY it’s a pandemic that will sucker punch my willpower and have me reaching me for my (virtual) wallet because I have suddenly started to buy all of the things I see on Instagram, whether it’s an ad specially targeted to lure in suckers like me, or it’s brands/companies that I already follow.

Instagram is my fucking QVC, you guys.

I’ve bought coffee samples, fancy nut butter samples, “healthy” veggie bar samples, cute shirts from indie designers with snacks and cartoon bananas for when I ever return to work (then they arrived and I noticed the bananas have boobs lol), Korean masks for pandemic safety, all of the enamel pins, cheap rings from China (because I clearly didn’t learn my lesson with the dragon coat), ETC ETC ETC.

Usually, I’m kind of a tight wad and I will stop myself at the last minute before completing a transaction, but here I am, bored AF with nothing else going on except for waiting for the mail every day. All bets are off during quarantine! Now in between reading books and exercising, I’m opening the front door every 20 minutes to see if any packages have been delivered, but it’s usually just stupid shit that Henry orders from Amazon.

Sigh.

To my credit though, I do send a lot of the ads to Henry first, and then he will say either, “do what you want” or “DO THE CATS REALLY NEED A $200 FOOD DISH,” plus he can smell a scam a mile away. Probably because he actually reads the reviews. I don’t have time for that!!

Anyway, here are some things I have bought over the last few weeks, thanks to Instagram.

Not only is Sugar Spell Scoops the BEST ice cream shop in Pittsburgh (and it’s vegan!), but they also have the BEST MERCH! How amazing is this shirt? Come as you are, or come wearing the coolest ice cream shop t-shirt ever created.

I got a new iPhone in March, so I had to get new phone cases. I love that milk tea one because if you press on it, the boba floats!

Chooch is just as bad as me and sends Henry and me ads he sees on Instagram for vegan goods, like these pork rinds WHICH ARE FUCKING DELICIOUS. I think they’re made by the same guy who created the Impossible Burger? Or maybe it’s the Beyond Burger? I can’t remember now. But whoever made these, you did a good job.

I’m also on a bunting/garland kick so if you ever see any cool ones that scream “OH HONESTLY ERIN” please let me know. I actually bought a Robert Smith-head one (from Etsy though not Instagram) so look forward to seeing photos of that sometime soon when I move my Robert Smith self portrait to its new spot in the house in order to make room for the Seoul subway wall-hanging which might be finished sometime in 2021. Also – neon. Looking for some good Korean neon signs. I wanted to have one custom-made but that set Henry off. I guess he really does have some type of set threshold when it comes to my interior design whims.

Sorry if this is incoherent but I’m somehow half asleep yet also wired on coffee, and I really have no idea what “normal” and “functioning” feel like anymore. Do I want to go to bed or run some laps? WHO CAN TELL.

 

May 112020
 

Here I am with an obligatory Mother’s Day recap. It was an OK day! Henry and Chooch got me a beautiful life-size cut-out of Taemin, which arrived several days earlier and you would think that would have been enough for me but I’m just never satisfied (WHEN DOVES CRY, ETC ETC) and I always get a little (lol) dramatic on this day, Valentine’s Day, and my birthday but that’s fine. I fled to the cemetery where I spent some quiet time in the sunshine and even read a book (“Braised Pork” by An Yu) while sitting on the wall of a mausoleum like a true goth from the 90s.

It’s a struggle.

While I was there, these doofs sent me this picture:

…and then I was like, “OK FINE I WON’T RUN AWAY TO KOREA…THIS TIME.” But I’m not lying, it was all I could think about while I walked aimless laps around good ol’ Uniondale Cemetery which never has any living people in it until there is a pandemic and now I’m never alone there anymore which is wildly annoying.

We ordered vegan foodstuffs from Mandy’s Pizza later that day and we all ate in blissful harmony. You can’t even tell it’s vegan!

Then I learned about the existence of Alison Roman thanks to Twitter and I wish I could go back to the days when I didn’t know who she is because, yuck.

Sorry, I just can’t get enough of this pretty boy. However, he’s scared us multiple times since joining our household. I keep catching him in my periphery while I’m working and he gives me a little start every time!

Chooch drew this on the back of the card he made me, lol. But now I’m sad because I promise you, if things had played out differently, my ass would have for sure have been stuffed into multiple rollercoaster seats over the weekend.

I mean, at the very least, we probably would have walked to Scoops for an ice cream cone.

Maybe someday.

In other mom news, MY mom dyed her hair pastel blue which is pretty bad-ass.

OK, back to watching videos of some guy walking through various Seoul subway stations. I have very specific YouTube-viewing habits.

May 052020
 

I had a mental health day scheduled for today. The place where I work encourages that we use our PTO during these homogeneous, blended-together-into-a-flavorless-smoothie days and I’m normally of the mindset that I won’t take a day off unless I have something to do, but look Linda, give me a day where I don’t have to sit at my home computer and join group calls and I will gladly take it.

Henry came home early because of house bullshit, and then we took an hour drive out to this old-ass cemetery I used to really like called Livermore, because I figured we’d be pretty safe from other humans out that way. Anytime we have ever gone there, it’s been, well, DEAD OH HO HO HO HO. Plus, there’s a nice walking trail nearby that takes you over the spot where some town was purposely flooded and now it’s called Devil’s Seat, I don’t know, I’ve only ever quickly glazed over the facts but the whole area is supposed to be haunted and I fucking swear to god that the first time Henry and I went pre-Chooch’s Earthly Arrival, something grabbed my pant leg.

JUST SAYIN’.

Anyway, enjoy some pictures. It was a dreary day (I think it’s been that way every time we’ve come here) and we almost turned around and came home halfway there because I was being bitchy and whiny. A regular day.

YEP IT’S STILL CREEPY THERE.

Choochy Loggins.

This is just how he looks at me now. 14 is so great. 13 was too.

Right before I took this, I walked over and pretty sure Henry was trying to count the rings on the tree which is such a Henry thing to do.

Some kind of gross tombstone funk. Henry probably knows what it is but I purposely didn’t ask him because he’s so annoying when he knows answers.

My mom joked, “school field trip lol?” But yeah, actually let’s go with that! There’s like history here, plus Professor Henry pointing out wildlife. I think this counts. Maybe I’ll have Chooch research the town flooding and blog about it separately.

Coincidentally, I was checking my blog stats on the way there (I like to see what’s being viewed so I know if I’m being stalked by past friends searching their name on my blog, or if Jonny Craig is in the news again because the views on my JC-centric posts will skyrocket in that case, lol) and I saw that one of my old Livermore Cemetery posts was just viewed today! WHAT DOES IT MEAN.

Chooch chucked a pine cone at me really hard and it hit the back of my thigh and I started screaming and then Henry yelled at Chooch HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I WIN.

It didn’t even hurt that bad.

America: IT IS WEIRD WHEN ASIANS WEAR MASKS.

Also America: GUYS CHECK OUT MY ETSY FOR HARRY POTTER PANDEMIC MASKS!!!!

Fuck America.

This tombstone looks like the tooth (OMG RIGHT WHEN I TYPED ‘TOOTH’ THE BOOKTUBER ON A VIDEO I HAVE ON IN THE BACKGROUND SAID ‘TOOTH’ WHAT DOES IT MEAN) of a baby giant.

We did not keep out.

LOL.

A bunch of trees were cut down from the perimeter so it doesn’t have as much of a secluded feel anymore. Which is too bad.

Ah, springtime in the haunted boneyard.

All in all, it was a fine day. Chooch found a geocache but couldn’t open it and then apparently we “left him” so he threw it back on the ground and ran and it wasn’t because he was “scared” or anything. It *almost* felt like the Old Days because we were in the car for more than an hour like we were actually going somewhere. Which is what you used to do.

Go somewhere.

*cries*

May 042020
 

 

For this week’s thrilling installment of THINGS AROUND THE HOUSE, let us ooh and ahh at this tin collectible beverage mug that I insisted Janna buy for me at the Fayette County Fair in….2013? I’ll tell you in a minute when I do an archive deep-dive in order to copy&paste that old blog post here because if there is one thing QUARANTINE has taught me, it’s to recycle/reuse/regurge those old-ass blog posts because hello lazy me. 

Anyway, I wanted to share this here today because all these years later, I still smile when I see it! I never did it use it to chug additional servings of root beer from the comfort of my own home, but I have since repurposed it into a planter. JANNA I BET YOU DIDN’T THINK I WOULD KEEP THIS – actually, you’ve known me too long and my pack-rat sentimentalism is no mystery to you.

Because county fairs are possibly another thing that’ll be missing this summer, here is that the blog post that includes not only delirious fun on rickety death trap rides, but also the origin story for THE CHUCK WAGON SODA VESSEL. 

(And I was off by two years. This happened in 2011!)

******

Spending a birthday at the county fair seems like a great idea on paper: gut-churning rides, complimentary (if not downright sleazy) carnies, fried desserts (calorie counts are nil on birthdays, everyone knows that), the cacophony of laughing children and tractor pulls (forgetting for a moment that I hate children and anything with even the slightest redneck-tilt).

Yes, a perfect day!

But then you add in Henry, whose face threatens to crack a million different ways if even the slightest hint of a smile creeps upon his lips; Blake, who is apparently an 80-year-old retiree in an 18-year-old’s body, adverse to sunlight and complaining of back pain and lethargy all day; Chooch, who is a little motherfucking birthday killer-in-training who makes the day all about HIM HIM HIM; and Janna, who won’t ride anything aside from a carousel and a 20-second-long Haunted Mansion ride that Henry’s SAT score out-scares.

Not to mention the fact that these assholes weren’t constantly fawning over me and winning me plush Family Guy characters. IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY, NEED I REMIND YOU.

Blake and his new friends, planning their upcoming move to Florida.

Awkward Standing.

At first glance, I was like, “Aw shit, this fair might be pretty good.” I mean, it was run by Powers Great American Midway, after all, and I am obsessed with them. However, it was only about half the size of the Big Butler Fair, and I’ll tell you: That fair can spoil a bitch. Power’s light blue unit brought along some choice rides. (Is it sad that I know which “unit” PGAM deployed to the Fayette County fairgrounds? Maybe I look at their website too much.) And I saw lots of familiar carny faces, one of which was Kirk’s! I didn’t talk to him, though. What’s the point when my lame non-carny boyfriend was glued to my side all day?

But the layout of the fair sucked. And it was super muddy and smelled like sewage, but that was probably because Henry kept standing so close to me. Still: 100% better than the shitty Washington County Fair. (I go to county fairs a lot. It’s kind of become A Thing.)

You know you go to a lot of fairs when you start to recognize carnies, is all I’m sayin’.

Blake: Jeepers, it’s so hot! I think I’m dying! And I left my cane at the home and missed my 3:00pm dinner! I wonder if Dad has any individually-wrapped prunes in his pocket before I pass out.

Thank God Lisa and her husband Matt met us out there a few hours after we arrived. They joined us in standing around awkwardly, which is something that people need to master before even attempting to hang out with me. (I suggest going to a crowded store and standing right in front of a doorway or at the top of an escalator for practice. Do not move when you find that you are blocking foot traffic, and ignore the scowls you inspire. Only then can we hang out.)  Lisa was in a really good mood and I like to think it’s because she knows how delicate of a situation my birthday is, like the entire premise of Speed, with less bus more birthday cake, but actually Lisa is always pretty chill and somehow wasn’t completely put off by the foul moods of my companions who need to be reminded that SOME PEOPLE AREN’T LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET TO GO TO THE FAIR.

Fuck!

Within minutes, Chooch claimed Matt and I’m sure everyone at the fair assumed they were father and son after that. I’m sorry, Matt. But Henry and I were relieved to be off the hook for awhile.

***

A week before the fair, I was on the phone with Lisa.

“I hope the fair is a good one,” she said thoughtfully.

“Um, Lisa? Of course it will be. It’s run by Powers Great American Midways,” I informed her haughtily.

“I don’t know what that means.”

THAT’S BECAUSE SOMEONE DOESN’T READ MY BLOG.

***

Lisa and Matt agreed to ride the Orbiter with me immediately after they arrived. I was SO EXCITED. Finally! I get to ride something moderately extreme! But then we got in line and I saw it said “No single riders” and those asshole words are ALWAYS BEING SNEERED AT ME at fairs because I am perpetually single in this world of grinding traps of pleasure (amusement rides, not vagina dentata).  I looked at Janna who had accompanied us to the line and she said no before I even asked her. Way to tag along on something you’re not a part of, then Janna! So I had to run over to Henry and Blake, who had combined to form a Dildo-ic Duo while Chooch rode some stupid train operated by Kirk.

I hadn’t even approached them yet and I was already absolutely wailing about how Janna ruined my life and wouldn’t ride with me and Blake, while I was still approaching them mid-run, said no. Henry, however, said: “Fine.”

“What?” I asked in surprise.

“I said fine,” he sighed.

I guess he was trying to make up for the fact that he failed epically in the birthday present department once again. (Seriously, he got me a shirt that I already have, which proves that he doesn’t look at me. Ever.) This was the SECOND ride he rode on! (We rode on the Swings when we first got there. They made him sick.)

Oh, I was so happy! And the best part was that it took so long for the ride to get loaded to capacity, that Henry and I had plenty of time to talk about Jonny Craig!

Henry bitched about the Oribiter for the rest of his time at the fair. “I have cold sweats,” he kept complaining, though I’m not sure to whom because last time I checked, his mommy didn’t come with us and she’s the only person who gives a shit about him. He didn’t ride anything else after that, though I kept trying to con him into being my partner on the Skydiver, since it’s less commitment that being my partner for life. He kept saying, “We’ll see,” which everyone knows means NO.

After Chooch and Matt, Lisa, Janna and I had our turn at sliding down the Fun Slide, which I hadn’t done since I was a kid and good goddamn is that scary. Ascending the steps alone made me clutch my heart. I felt like there was going to be a religious cult waiting at the top to push me back down the steps into God’s eternal arms. It was like walking into the hospital on D-Day and wanting to run back out the doors but having 3 nurses pull you back in because “that baby’s gotta come out one way or another, sweetheart!” Longest climb of my life.

“I’m scared,” I told the Mexican carny who smiled, probably assuming I said, “Let’s go fuck behind that lemon cart you pushed across the border.” What? The Pennsylvania border, you guys.

Lisa thought it was the funnest thing at the fair, Janna had no comment, and I was just glad I didn’t slide through piss, shit, vomit, a chewed-up wad of Skoal or semen. And by “it,” I mean the Fun Slide, not Mexican carny sex. I know you were probably confused.

Things took a turn for the worse when I decided I was ready to eat something and made everyone halt and bow to my whims. I ended up getting a small bowl of haluski, which seemed like an OK choice as far as keeping my stomach lining primed and at the ready for vigorous riding.  (And yes, finally I’m talking about sex!)  Besides, it was either that or throw away 16 years of vegetarianism for some unidentifiable meat on a stick. There was some lame square dance bullshit happening inside the 4H building, so we all sat around and pretended to care about that while I ate. (Lisa really did care, though. She likes the simpler things in life.) This was about the time Chooch turned into the biggest prick of all the fair, and Blake did nothing but antagonize him which only increased Chooch’s crowd-drawing by 500%.

I attempted to not look like I belonged to the two of them by focusing my attention on the asshole inside the 4H building who was singing the most ridiculous square dance songs for these idiotic plaid-tastic children to clomp around to. I almost wished he had CDs for sale so I could buy one and break it in front of his face. God, get fucked with your pathetic farm melodies, douchebag square dance warbler.

In the middle of the Chooch & Blake: American Assholes show, there was an older lady sitting nearby (the blond Peg Bundy in the background of the above picture) who said about Chooch, “Boy he sure is cute” but what she meant to say was, “Damn, child. Your mama needs to put you in a cage because you are acting like one hell of a mother fucker.” And then to me, she said, “We just ate some fried Oreos for dessert. Boy they sure were good!” and what she meant by that was, “Bitch, why don’t you go to the other side of the fairgrounds, far away from me, and choke your bastard child on some fried Oreos, because he is being one hell of a mother fucker.”

Chooch flipped over a chair in response while I pretended that Janna was his mom.

The square dance brigade had some young child canvassing the area with literature. He approached me with his stack of white and green papers and said, “Would you like one, they’re free?”

“I want a green one,” I said with just the right drop of bitchy entitlement. He looked slightly stunned, like no one had ever bothered to make a color request before. While he shuffled through the stack in search of a green one, I said smugly, “It’s my birthday.”

Lisa and Janna were watching this pan out. Lisa looked mildly amused and Janna looked like she was bracing herself for the ‘splaining she was going to have to do to the kid’s mom by the time I was done antagonizing him. This is just how I talk to children: in a very demeaning, ironic way. They seem to like it.

Meanwhile, the guy who was inside singing the square dance “songs” promised “this next one” would “speed up.”

“You should join our square dance group!” He sounded nervous, slightly intimidated by me. Just how I like boys to be.

“I’ll think about it,” I said, as I folded up the paper. (The age limit is 20, by the way. THAT KID RULES FOR THINKING I’M NOT OLDER THAN 20.)

“This next one” still hadn’t “sped up.”

“Dylan!” a lady called from inside the 4H house. “Come dance to this last song!” Sure, maybe there was some plaid lass inside who missed being partnered-up with Dylan, but I have suspicions that this lady just didn’t want him near me anymore.

“Yeah!” I yelled in my best “I’m riding the Wacky Worm, motherfuckers!” impression and when he looked at me all startled-like, I gave him a thumbs-up and said, “Do it! Wooo!

Lisa hadn’t heard the lady call for him in the first place, and admitted later that she thought I was just spontaneously excited, though she was confused why I was telling some young boy to “do it.”

Then I called Dylan my “new son” and Chooch got all upset. I win at parenting.

I have no recollection of Henry being anywhere near us that whole time.

Oh apparently he was off supporting his cocaine habit.

I told Dylan I was going to watch him, but that was actually the time we rose up as a group and went to the petting zoo. Fucking with children is the one true talent your God gave me.

Here is all I remember about the petting zoo: I relayed my birthday woes to a camel and then Chooch fell in a pig sty and Henry had to take him and Blake home.

Coincidentally, my night really picked up after that! Janna bought me root beer in a tin mug from an old broad who tried too hard to sway our decisions and Lisa and I rode the Gravitron with the cast of Jersey Shore. It was fabulous!

Lisa encourages me to take pictures of every little thing she does. She’s like Chooch, but grown.

The only downside to the Fair: After Hours (read: After the Douches Left) was that neither Lisa nor Matt would ride the Zipper with me. I was only able to ride it once, earlier in the day before Blake’s desire to drink a glass of Metamucil and take a nap got the best of him. We talked a little bit about music while trapped inside the Zipper’s jaws, but I could tell he wasn’t having too much fun.

Everyone is growing up but me.

Janna, Lisa and I rode this moderate thrill ride called the Tornado, which is pretty tame but Janna was still clutching her rosary and trying not to re-eat her haluski while Lisa manually spun our car around on top of giving Janna dating advice. My favorite part was when the ride ended and Lisa’s safety bar didn’t release. She pulled it toward her, hoping it would spring back, but it only made it tighter. I fetched the carny and then ran away to stand outside of the ride’s gate by Matt, who had been relegated to little more than a Purse Tree at that point.

The carny gave Lisa a hard time for awhile before manually releasing the bar for her. As she and Janna approached Matt and me, Lisa yelled, “And I love how Erin just ran away!”

Behind her, looking a gorgeous shade of gangrene from her jaunt on the Tornado, Janna irritably mumbled, “Yeah. She does that.” Possibly Janna’s way of suggesting that Lisa spends more time with me.

Janna bought* me a birthday ice cream cone from a girl who had been punched in the eye. Lisa opted for more scatastically phallic fare. Then we said goodbye to the fair and immediately upon leaving the parking lot, Janna’s GPS lured us out onto un-lit backwoods lanes and I’m not going to lie: It was scarier than riding the Zipper in a lightning storm with the cage unlatched. This was after Janna got raped by a bug.

(* This mostly happened because when Henry left the fair, so did my money.)

Happy fucking birthday to me, to me, to me.

 

May 032020
 

Now that Chooch’s online schooling is in full effect, things have gotten more interesting during STAYATHOME, especially when we both have to be on calls at the same time. For instance, two weeks ago when I was trying to do a WebEx with a coworker in Chicago just as Chooch had to join a call with his Gifted Center sculpting class.

“I dunno, I guess he has to make something out of things found around the house,” I explained to Vicki as Chooch scoffed in irritation at me and took his call onto the back porch.

Somehow, this turned into a partner-project, because Chooch is just as helpless as me but when we join forces, we can sort of get things done, leaving about 75% of the rest “for Dad.” I remembered that I had a container of craft bullshit under my bed which also happens to contain a bunch of serial killer cut-outs from when I used to handmake my serial killer cards back in the day. So out of everything in that container, Chooch came down with a picture of Ted Bundy’s head and a piece of white foam paper.

“I’m going to make a white VW with Ted Bundy inside,” Chooch said with a shrug. And then added, “I know that’s the exact car he drove because I watched that Ted Bundy movie.”

And he watched that movie because way back in Week One of Isolation, when I still had energy and motivation and tried to make a school schedule for him, one of MOMMY’S ASSIGNMENTS was to watch a documentary. “Can’t I just watch this Zac Efron Ted Bundy movie? That’s kind of like a documentary” and I gave in pretty easily because I had my own shit to do. BUT SEE?! It ended up having value! My teaching skills are on point, you guys.

He grabbed the box that my vintage lightswitch plate was shipped in, thinking he could use that as a shadowbox-type thing. I found a pair of never-used chopsticks from Noodles & Co (we have an entire drawer full of good chopsticks that we use!), so I flung those at him and shrugged. You never know!

I was sitting at the desk, working, during all of this when I noticed a toy T-Rex that I had spray-painted gold years ago when I was making dinosaur ring-holders (I go through phases) was standing in front of me so I tossed that at him and said, “Here, you can use this too.”

Then he found out that the project was actually a mobile, so the chopsticks were perfect after all! And he decided for a third item to make a model of the coronavirus out of clay and thus, the Dangerous Things mobile was born.

Of course, he left everything in an unfinished heap on the table for a week until late Thursday night when he pulled Henry out of bed because he needed help attaching the mobile to the top of the box, lol. Henry was so happy to help, as always!

Everything was all well and good after that. He snapped a picture and posted it to the classroom message board or whatever it is that they’re using, thinking that would be the end of it.

But then the next day, he had another group call, which turned into a VIDEO CALL so that everyone could share and explain their projects. We both started panicking because he didn’t really put much effort into this and now he was going to have to be like “say hello to Ted Bundy” and I don’t know this teacher and sometimes I really don’t think like a real mother when I’m like, “YES THESE ARE GREAT IDEAS THAT ARE NOT CONTROVERSIAL OR PROBLEMATIC AT THE VERY LEAST FOR 13-YEAR-OLDS, DO IT! HERE’S A SEVERED FINGER THAT YOU CAN ADD TOO!”

I sat there, trying to work, while listening to this call happening behind me, and this one totally suck-up kid was like HERE IS THIS DELIGHTFUL MOBILE THAT I MADE FOR MY MOTHER FOR MOTHER’S DAY of stfu are you kidding me, that’s an instant A. Art teachers lap that shit-milk up!

Chooch and I exchanged horrified looks.

“I can’t show this” he said at the same time I said, “You can’t show that.”

But then some other kid went after that and her’s was just like, a string of crumbled crepe paper so I said, “OK look – yours is better than that one so I guess just go ahead and show it” and he was like, “Christ.” But he did it and I had to get up and walk away at one point because I couldn’t stop laughing.

I had stopped recording right as she said, “Well Riley, I’ve gotta say, this is really unique and creative, the most unique one yet” which, I have to say, as his mom, it felt like she was saying that to me and I did the Champion Fist Shake over both shoulders right there at my makeshift work desk.

Oh man, that was a great moment which made up for all the trash moments during the earlier parts of the week.

I wish his old art teacher at his regular school could see it. She was such a bitch to him.

Later that day, the teacher sent everyone their project evaluations and instead of being pleased that he earned a 25/25, all he could fixate on was that said that she loved “Jeffrey Dahmer in his car” and Chooch flipped out and was like OK BUT IT WAS TED BUNDY.

Apr 302020
 

I’m a damn mess. Here’s a splooge of bullets because I really just need to hear my fingers typing. I just need that. Let me have that.

  • In one of the recent books I read, I learned about a Ghanaian food called fufu, became immediately fixated on it, and now Henry has watched numerous YouTube videos about cooking it and said he’s going to try and do that this weekend, so that
  • Co-workers sounding all upbeat on our weekly check-ins on Tuesday is something I just can’t keep up with. I can’t fake that anymore. Every time I open my mouth, I use up more energy blocking the four horsemen from stamping out to a Wumpscut-produced funeral dirge, holding a ragged banner declaring WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. I even requested off next Tuesday so I can avoid another weekly check-in. This is nothing against my coworkers AT ALL. I just need a fucking break.
    • Chooch and I had our first real fight since quarantine started because we were doing a Kukuwa cardio dance workout together (begrudgingly on his part; it was “gym class” for that day) and he made some snide comment about how I was doing it wrong and this was after the previously mentioned weekly check-in call and let me tell you, my temper was pulled taut like a rubber band and I fucking snapped, considered running away (TO WHERE – NOTHING IS OPEN), contemplated quitting my job, sent Henry a slew of suicidal texts, contemplated texting a friend but remembered how hard it is to ask for help and everyone else is going through it anyway so why bother them; so instead I watched a booktube video about Asian author recommendations*** and cried, Chooch apologized and let me slap his arm, then Henry came in the door right after that and I said “let me punch your arm” and then I was ok(ish).
    • We are all really going through it, aren’t we? And it’s so weird when you sit down and really try to put your depression / impatience / dread / etc into baskets….”Stuck in the house” just seems like a really silly excuse. But you know it goes deeper than that. Humans are fragile. Some of us have cracked our shells during this.
  • *** Speaking of Asian book recommendations, tomorrow (May 1) is the start of Asian Read-a-thon which I am so excited about and have spent the last week building up a hearty virtual TBR (to be read) shelf. I’m going to post separately about that tomorrow, but rest assured, Henry and Chooch are already SO OVER IT.

  • Two weeks ago, I hit the point in quarantine where my lightswitch plates started to bother me. Especially the one that’s in the background of the video calls I have to make every week. So I went on eBay in search of clown ones and the options are actually a’plenty, but then this super adorable/creepy cuckoo clock-esque one caught my eye, and well, THE REST IS HISTORY as they say. Or, you know, I clicked that “Buy Now” button in case you didn’t understand what I meant. When it arrived last week, I used a butterknife to swap it out with my old one and then I posted a picture on Instagram which got way more attention than most anything else I post, so I see your niche interests, Instagram feed. But yeah, this made me feel nice, like there was one thing I could control in this house while everything else is peeling and falling, lol.
  • We got Chooch a three-day Hello Fresh box for his birthday and the shit he made was MAGNIFICENT (I feel like I used to use that word constantly as a kid and now I’m just like ‘awesome’ and ‘cool’ so thanks, Retro Erin). Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of third meal (some strange flatbread that I don’t think he cared for either because we all kind of ate it quietly and never spoke of it again) but there was a divine chickpea-ish taco thing and then green bean tempura or something that I wouldn’t mind eating for the rest of the my life, on alternating days. PICTURES BELOW:

  • I bought myself some charms and pins from Idol Collective because that’s how I have been coping with life, by TREATING MY BITCH SELF. They arrived on Chooch’s birthday and he was so pissed because he thought it was a birthday present for him and I was like, “Nah boy, this is a gift for my C-section incision scar, no piss off.” I love Idol Collective because not only does she make my favorite kpop pins, but she also has some gnarly horror designs too and that is like the perfect cross-section of interests for someone like me. Anyway, in addition to this glorious Digging Up the Marrow pin, I bought her Hereditary and Midsommar charms because that girl knows good horror. I hadn’t seen Hereditary in a while, so I conned Henry into watching it with me on Sunday and he was really scared even though it was daylight when we watched it. Also, I don’t think he understood it. (God, I LOVE THAT MOVIE SO MUCH.)
    • Speaking of Hereditary, I saw that Toni Collette is allegedly going to be in the adaption of “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” which I recently read and I LOVE THAT FOR HER. Toni Collette is so awesome magnificent.

  • In other weekend news, our lilac bush has bloomed and will proceed to delight us for about two weeks before going back to resemblig a large, hearty weed-bush that grows back and doubly-unruly no matter how much Henry tries to trim it.

  • Henry has been making some progress on my Seoul subway picture and I’m really hoping it’ll be done this month, god please let it happen. I am so ready for new wall stuff.

  • Peenlop was really interested in whatever poetic opinion Kayla from Booksandlala on YouTube was waxing. (She’s my second favorite Booktuber, in case you were wondering and I’m pretty positive that you weren’t but for the sake of this blog post, pretend with me.)
  • My neighborhood has been so quiet. I’m not sure why I thought that a stay-at-home order would rile shit up around here, but people really do seem to be staying inside and not, you know, drunkenly shambling around but I guess the state stores being shuttered could have a lot to do with that. So yeah, I’m really missing my local windowsill entertainment. Oh well.

Well, I can’t stretch this out any longer than this. I’m sad, bored, empty, opposite of magnificent.