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.

Apr 222020
 

In an effort to get out and beg the sunshine to help ward off depression, Henry and I have been really taking advantage of the beautiful cemeteries here in Pittsburgh, and it’s been kind of nice because we used to take walks in the boneyards a lot in the early years of our relationship so it’s kind of a throwback. And I really love cemeteries so much in the springtime – you get to enjoy all the pretty flowers and foliage without dealing with crowds that you’d find in the city parks or public gardens (or wherever we would normally go to look at nature, it’s been so long, I can’t remember), which is really relevant in the age of social distancing. However, we would typically be the only people there, and now we’re one of like…6 or 7, which is odd for these places (we go to the smaller ones) so now we just pretend like we’re dodging zombies. 

The cemetery we went to on Saturday was one that we used to visit a lot way back in the beginning of our relationship and I actually haven’t been here in a while because there were some times I’d roll up solo, get out of the car, and almost immediately get REALLY BAD VIBES. Like legit “Somebody’s Watching Me” skin-crawls. 

Therefore, I felt like it would be the perfect locale for Saturday’s stroll because Henry and I had started the audiobook for “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (I also read along on my Kindle, but you guys, if you’re going to read this, definitely get the audio too, you’ll know why when it happens) and this book is tense. I definitely recommend it. Henry and I sat on the back porch late Saturday evening and powered through the rest of it because we couldn’t wait until the next day. I kept saying, “One more chapter?” and then finally I was like, “Maybe I can just speed up the audio?” and we ended up finishing it right after midnight, on the back porch, with the kerosene heater on, and it was so cozy and scary! 

Chooch kept coming out to check on us and he was like, “IS HE SLEEPING OR CLOSING HIS EYES TO IMAGINE WHAT’S HAPPENING?” and just couldn’t accept the fact that his dad was listening to an audio book with me, haha. 

Henry, when I’m like, “let’s read a book!” And then after we finish it, he starts googling for info about the upcoming film adaptation, lol.

What a great day for a cemetery walk! The next day, we went to a different cemetery but instead of listening to a new audio book, I jawed Henry’s ears off with stories from my past, which he just loves, especially when they involve BOYS. 

I’m glad that the sun was out on both Saturday and Sunday. It’s hard enough staying home, but even worse when it’s gray and rainy. I feel like I’m on the ledge enough as it is, at least give us some sunlight for Christ’s sake. 

Mrs. Drew Beringer.

If we’re going to be stuck at home, at least we have a small sanctuary in the back of the house that’s pretty worthless during winter but now it’s SO INVITING. 

I don’t even know what else. The weekends are just extensions of the week at this point. We’re home. We leave only to take carefully plotted and strategic walks. Maybe Henry will put his mask on and go to the store for essentials. But mostly, we’re here, we’re doing nothing but something being extremely loud about it. We’re watching K-dramas (Itaewon Class and Welcome are my two current faves), eating things that Chooch bakes for us, I’m obsessing over my Libby shelves and examining the house for new projects for Henry (I want him to redo the entire kitchen in a cost-effective way because we don’t own this house but I really can’t stand the kitchen any longer and now that Chooch is all about baking, he’s echoing all of my FIX THE KITCHEN demands). 

What are you guys doing to pass the time? I feel like March was the longest month ever but somehow, against all odds, April is flying past. Maybe I’ve grown accustomed to this new lifestyle. 

LOL, nope. Never. 

Oh! Also, you know it’s dire straits when I succumb and play Heads Up with Chooch because I hate that game so much and every time he sees people playing it when we’re standing in line at amusement parks (OMG what is an amusement park), he’d be like, “PLEASE CAN WE PLAY” and I would always say no because I get too heated to play shit like that around so many strangers, but anyway, we’ve been playing in the evenings sometimes and it’s fine. Everything is fine. I’m fine. You’re fine. We’re ALL FUCKING FINE.

Apr 202020
 

Also known as: some pics.

We got the back porch spring-ready and it’s been such a nice change of scenery considering we’re stuck in the house. It’s so cozy out there and the kerosene heater has been keeping it nice and toasty during the chilly spring evenings.

I would say it’s my favorite place to read except that every time I go out there to read, either Chooch follows me and starts playing TicToc on his phone or Henry plops down and starts chewing or breathing or both.

So far, Chooch’s baking bonanza isn’t a phase. He’s been churning out delicious treats nearly every day and I feel blessed especially since he’s so conscientious about the nutritional value so that I won’t freak out about what I’m putting into my body. Look, I am a food-spaz with a super gnarly sweet tooth and especially now that we’re housebound, I have to be extra careful about what I’m eating. I love that Chooch considers this and looks for “healthy” versions of sweets, like that bangin’ apple cake up there that he made with applesauce and Stevia. It ws so good! 

He’s making his own birthday cake this weekend and said, “Sorry, I’m not making a healthy one” and that’s fine – it’s HIS birthday, after all! I guess my needs and I can take the backseat for once, sigh.

When I was rifling through my drawers looking for old Denny’s picture for my post last Friday, I found this picture of me from 1982, perched on the stereo cabinet in my grandma’s famed clown room and I was so happy because I was just talking about this photo recently – I want to get it blown up and framed to hang on my bedroom wall in between these two climbing clowns I have hanging on one of the walls and is that weird to have a giant photo of yourself hanging in your bedroom? Well, I don’t care because it fits the theme.

Man, I love clowns a lot. 

What a great picture of my Leno chin and Drew!

In other news, I cracked a year-old case the other day. OK, this might seem dumb to you but look: I got really excited last year because I was doing a Leslie Sansone walking workout and I noticed that this one broad looked A LOT like my favorite Jillian Michaels backup…exerciser? She’s in Body Revolution and HAS SO MUCH VIM AND VIGOR. LOVE HER. Her name is Mimi. I was so sure that they were the same person, but Chooch was like, “No they’re definitely not the same” and then I found out the Leslie Sansone one is named Kamilah so then I was like, “MAYBE THEY ARE SISTERS” and I started calling her “Kamilah, Mimi’s sister” and Chooch would get so angry about it and I even labeled the “from” on one of his Christmas gifts “Kamilah Mimi’s sister.”

ANYWAY.

I was doing an older Jillian Michaels kickboxing workout on Friday, and Mimi is in this one. Normally I turn these off immediately after the cool down, but this time I let it go and happened to glance at the credits where they list the names of the backup people and there was no Mimi listed BUT THERE WAS A KAMILAH. THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON. KAMILAH IS MIMI’S REAL NAME AND SHE LOOKS KIND OF DIFFERENT IN THE LESLIE SANSONE VIDEOS BECAUSE THEY ARE MORE RECENT.

I WIN! CHOOCH LOSES!!

OMG it was such a weight lifted off my shoulders. 

jillianmichaelsworkoutjunkies

I just found her on YouTube! 

OK BYE!

Apr 172020
 

Look, I’m skipping my Friday Five: COVID Diaries edition for this week because it’s quite literally more of the same. I had the day off on Monday which consisted of, you know, more of not leaving the house, but less of work-stuff. So that was nice, not having to rot in front of the computer for 8 hours. 

But the rest of the week was: work, exercise, books, Kdramas. Chooch has been doing admin shit in Minecraft which really shows off his sociopathic side, that’s for sure. He built a house for someone, wow how nice, filled it with diamonds, WHAT A GENEROUS CHILD!, lured the guy in there, collapsed the roof on him, rude!, and SPAWNED A BUNCH OF WITCHES TO FILL THE HOUSE, what a psycho! He was laughing so hysterically that it was as contagious as the coronavirus. 

Aside from that, we haven’t Battle Royaled it out yet, though he did jokingly come at me with a knife today and I had to pull out that age-old parental line of THAT’S HOW ACCIDENTS HAPPEN!

One of the books I’m reading currently is Haruki Murakami’s “After Dark.” Several scenes take place in a Denny’s, of all places. I guess I’m just very emotionally fragile these days because I immediately felt a strong pull of nostalgia as I imagined these scenes playing out at a Denny’s in Japan. It’s probably been about 7 years since I’ve been to a Denny’s, for several reasons: 

  • since I started adjusting my diet in 2012, diner-like food makes me so SICK, that I have to eat it sparingly;
  • I refuse to pay what they charge for a fucking grilled cheese in this day and age!!

But hoooo boy, what I wouldn’t give to be able to leave my house and sit in a Denny’s at all hours of the night with some friends and a pack of cigarettes right now, am I right?

(OK, we can deep-six the cigarettes.)

I didn’t eat at Denny’s very often with my family (my pappap always preferred Italian restaurants, but when he felt like “slumming it,” we’d always go to Blue Flame, obviously). So it wasn’t until high school when I really became a Denny’s loiterer, probably when I became friends with Lisa. It was always the artsy/music scene types that hung out here (who knows where the “preps” and jocks hung out), and we’d just sit in a booth for hours on end, socializing, smoking, making new friends (I even went on a date with a guy I met at Denny’s, but that’s a story for another day), watching Lisa smash her molten lava cake into a soggy mess, acquiring a legitimate taste for coffee. 

Denny’s is where I started a fight with this guy James (who I later became friends with and his wife is the one who did my majestic Marcy tattoo!) because he was harrassing my friend Dan at school. (I literally pulled James out of his booth by his collar and made him go outside with me so I could yell at him – I had SOME decency to be a loud mouth in private, OK?). Denny’s is also where I wanted to go the first time, all those years ago, Henry said he wanted to take me out to dinner.

“Really? Denny’s?” he asked, surprised.

“I want a grilled cheese,” I shrugged.

I pulled out some old photo albums this morning thinking that I would look for two or three pictures I knew I had from various hangouts at Denny’s back then, but was surprised when I found around 12 almost immediately. I thought it would be fun to share them here because who doesn’t like sharing pictures of themselves with bad hair, fat faces, too-thin eyebrows, etc etc. 

I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS DAY (even if I wanted to – I have hours of it recorded on 8mm). This was the day of our friend Evan’s art show at Carnegie Mellon. We went to Denny’s first, of course, and our friend Justin and this guy Tony who was visiting from Virginia and whose mom was friends with Lisa’s mom and asked if we’d let him hang out with us and then he kissed me in my driveway hahaha) also were there, and Evan stole a door knob from a door in one of the CMU buildings and it looked like it was a super antique, and I think he gave it to me (do I still have it!!??) and then afterward we went to visit my friend Jeremiah in Hazelwood who tried to help me join a girl gang but I didn’t drive and didn’t know how to take a bus to get to the initiation. 

This was the best fucking day. 1996 could have been a perfect year if it wasn’t also the same year that my Pappap died. 

Justin!

Lisa and I were so well-known at Denny’s but no one, and I mean NO ONE loved us like our favorite waitress Marianne. She even kept my school picture in her keychain next to his actual kids’ pictures!! Sometimes I think about her and wonder if she’s doing well. She really cared about us. 

Meanwhile, there was this waiter, Gerard. He was like, Denny’s After Hours. Everyone who hung out there late at night knew him and the “Gerard Special,” which was a banana split made to resemble a weener and balls. When I was dating Psycho Mike in 1997 and he got kicked out of his house, Gerard let him crash at his apartment for a bit and Mike said it was one of the scariest times of his life which is really saying something because he once burnt down a house and spent time in a juvenile mental institution at least twice.

Don’t mind my Devilish expression, but Denny’s is also where my friend Brian fake-married me and my first love, Justin K., three years after we had broken up, lol.  I also have a picture of Justin fake-kissing me that I kept hanging on the fridge but then Henry would flip it over so the picture-side was hidden, and I eventually put it back in my photo album because it was starting to get ruined. 

Henry hates knowing that I had past lovers, lol. 

Also, this was the closest I ever came to actually getting married. 

LOL, I used to place personal ads all the time because I LOVED going on dates (this was also when I was dating Jeff, and he was not really on board with this). I would almost always take friends with me though. This particular time, I met a guy named DeeDee who was aghast that I didn’t like football. We went to play pool and then of course went to Denny’s. Lisa came with us and brought her friend Petra, who was an au pere for a family that Lisa used to babysit for. I think she was Slovakian? She was very sweet and I remember stopping by my parent’s house at the beginning of the night for some reason and talking to my dad in his garage. Petra gushed over his classic cars (he had two at the time, a 55-something and a 36-blah blah. My dad was like OBSESSED with her after that. It was hilarious. 

(Sadly, DeeDee and I didn’t really hit it off and never hung out again, but it was still a super fun night!)

Justin (not the one I fake-married, but the one mentioned earlier) sleeping in the best booth. We could do things like that at the Denny’s on Rt. 51. 

I think this was 1999, sometime in the fall. 

Janna looking bored AF (in her defense, it was likely 3AM). And we were almost always there with Jon and Justin because none of us were 21 yet and it was either sit at my apartment all night or sit at Denny’s, sometimes both. 

Dang, now I want a grilled cheese and coffee, really bad. (And kind of a cigarette too, ugh.)

Apr 152020
 

In tonight’s edition of “Things Around Erin’s Shanty,” I’m featuring the print of a painting I made for my brother Corey several years ago, to memorialize our legendary trip to Sugarcreek, Ohio. We went to Heini’s, a cheese place, and encountered several fascinating characters and peed our pants from laughing so much. 

One of those characters was the guy doling out samples of THE BEST BUTTER IN THE WORLD. Would you care to read about him and our magical visit to Heini’s? Sure you would. You’re self-isolating – you need shit to read!

Once the world reopens, I would like to go back to Sugarcreek. I need some butter.

*****

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I felt kind of bad that Corey and I opted to visit Heini’s Cheese Chalet over our dad’s suggestion of Walnut Creek Cheese. He’s a self-professed expert on Ohio Amish Country, so I don’t doubt that Walnut Creek Cheese is a wonderful establishment. However, when I did my own research last week and stumbled upon Heini’s Cheese Chalet, I was like, “Holy fuck, this is the one.” Because:

  • it’s a cheese CHALET
  • it’s called HEINI’S
  • it offers cheese factory tours!!

I texted Corey and he was like FUCK YES HEINI’S. I noted that some of the Yelp reviews mentioned it was imperative to get there before 11:30, because that’s when it gets really crowded. We made it to Millersburg around 10:45, after squealing and pointing at all of the Amish buggies we passed along the way because we are Those People Who Remind the Amish Why They Chose That Path. …because they don’t want to be American assholes like us. We pulled into the parking lot of Heini’s at the same time as a large tour bus, and I was like “WHAT IF THE CHEESE TOUR FILLS UP?!” so we ran toward the entrance at the same time as four older woman, who laughed at us because they too were trying to beat the bus. THEY EVEN HELD THE DOOR OPEN FOR US. Corey and I thanked them sweetly and then exchanged excited LOOK AT US, MAKING FRIENDS! looks. If those old ladies really knew! I went straight to the restroom, knowing that an empty bladder was imperative considering how quick I am to laugh to the point of pee-drops.

When I came out, I found Corey standing near an information kiosk with a comically-old man who said he was willing to give us a tour anytime we’d like. Which obviously was RIGHTNOW. This was around the time that I realized literally no one, not one single fanny-packed Midwesterner, was trying to get a spot on this critically-acclaimed tour. It was just me and Corey with some old guy in a Cosby sweater who was extremely stoked to tell us the story of how cheese is born. We got started at the beginning of a hallway, where we could peek through windows into a large factory-room with industrial-sized bins where milk apparently does things. There was no cheese being made at the time, so our guide kept expecting us to “imagine” the process, but you guys. I have to admit, it was pretty boring. Curds and whey and blah blah blah. Corey looked extremely bored. He spent most of the time looking away, and all I could think was, “Oh no. Corey’s not having fun! I built this cheese tour up too much!” But then I quickly realized that he was trying not to make eye contact with me because he knew, and I knew, that we would both start laughing. While fidgeting to get my phone to start recording, I tried to occasionally nod my head and say things like, “Wow” and “Whoa.” I mean, this guy was so into it, almost treating it like it was the greatest bedtime story ever told, and I waited for him to invite Corey and me to sit on his knees so he could be better inspired to tell us wayback stories about how he used to walk 40 miles in cardboard-soled shoes in the winter to fetch Heini cheese for his mother while Father was in town watching nudies at the theater.

Nudies.

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“And this is the man who invented yogurt cheese right here at Heini’s!” Father Cheese proudly exclaimed, and then stepped back to watch Corey and I gape at the portrait. I was surprised that the yogurt cheese man wasn’t a Heini! Man, he must be heralded by all those lactose intolerants.

We moved at a snail’s pace down that hallway, pausing to peer through new windows that offered the same views of large, steel vat-things, and I became acutely aware of the fact that the cheese shop had become twice as crowded since we started our tour. People were shoving cheese samples into their gluttonous maws mere feet from where we stood, listening to Father Cheese talk about the aging process for sharp varieties, like your CHEDDARS AND SUCH. I could feel the giddiness begin to churn deep inside my gut, just like all that HOT MILK THAT MAKES THE CHEESE. I just kept chewing on the inside of my cheek, digging my fingernails into my palms, and repeating “Don’t make eye contact with Corey” over and over. I was thinking that maybe I was going to make it through without making a complete asshole of myself! I found out later that Corey too was employing the physical pain infliction method of curbing the giggles, along with the classic “thinking about depressing things” tactic.

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“What kinds of things do you like in your cheese?” he interrupted his curd-y fact-sharing to ask us. Corey just stared back blankly, so I quickly blurted, “You know, I like FRUIT in my cheese.” WHICH IS A LIE! WHY DID I SAY THAT?! I mean, I’ve had cheese with dried cranberries in it that was pretty tasty, but fruity fromage is not something that I would consider a staple on my cheese board. I wanted to take it back and tell him that I meant dill or fennel, horseradish even! But he had already plunged head-first into a passage of fruit-infused cream cheese spreads. By this point, he had backed us into a dead end while explaining to us how the cheese got its shape or something, I can’t remember. Full disclosure, I retained absolutely nothing from this walk down Learning Lane except that the men working in the factory were wearing BEARD NETS.

While I was gawking at two of them pushing a cart of cheese up a ramp, Father Cheese made some comment about how heavy such large quantities of cheese is. “Look at them, pushing that booger up there,” he said adoringly, and in my head, I was like HAHAHAH HE SAID BOOGER, DON’T LAUGH DON’T LAUGH. But then bits of pieces of the last 15 minutes came flying back into my face: the fact that Father Cheese’s wife made him a breakfast shake out of WHEY that morning, the picture of the man who invited YOGURT CHEESE, the tour bus full of people HUNGRY FOR CHEESE, the bonnet-wearing cashiers who I’m not sure were actually Amish, Father Cheese’s sweater, us racing the passengers of the tour bus because we thought they were going to fill up the cheese tour…. THE IDEA OF PASTEURIZATION ALONE WAS INJECTING ME WITH GIGGLES, RIGHT IN THE FACE! LIKE THE GIDDIEST ROUND OF BOTOX OF ALL TIME.

And then I accidentally made eye contact with Corey right as Father Cheese was ticking off the BIG CITIES where one could find Heini’s cheese (Pittsburgh is one!). Corey made some kind of painful squeak from trying to contain the giggles, and that was all it took. Flood gates opened. We laughed so hard that it actually, physically hurt and even though I had purposely peed before the tour started, I felt a drop threaten to fall. It was hilarious and horrifying all at once because I have never actually been busted laughing in someone’s face like that before. I mean, at the Bayernhof, there were people (and music boxes) to hide behind. But here, it was just the three of us, and I was backed into a corner. Literally. This used to happen to me a lot when I was a kid. In church. Sitting on a pew among hundreds of silent parishioners, and there I go. Snorting and wheezing and my whole body shaking because YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO LAUGH IN CHURCH WHILE THE PRIEST IS TALKING ABOUT A MAN WHO WAS CRUCIFIED.

But it was never this bad. Father Cheese stopped talking and slowly looked from Corey to me. He was confused, yet trying to keep a smile on his face. He knew that nothing he was saying was funny, but Corey and I were fucking scream-laughing at this point. I was slightly squatting to stop myself from peeing and Corey’s face was bright red from the exertion of hilarity. You need to know about Corey and me that we are basically human hyenas. We will laugh at nothing and everything and then proceed to feed off of each other’s hyper-inappropriateness and it’s just a hot, douchey mess.

So, that’s all it took: one quick contact with the eyeballs and there went our sanity, slipping off our faces like rotted banana peels. I thought about how disappointed our dad would have been right then, at his kids making a mockery of Amish Country; and how disappointed Henry would have been, at the mother of his child setting more examples of assholery. And how disappointed Father Cheese certainly was, at these two spoiled brats who were laughing all over his very livelihood. We might as well have been squirting Easy Cheese into mouths right in front of him, that’s how badly our laughter was desecrating the entire Amish cheese process, right down to the Amish milk shooting out from Amish teats. What probably only lasted for 30 seconds felt like watching a wheel of cheddar being aged. It was so uncomfortable, awkward, mortifying, embarrassing—-but SO FUCKING FUNNY.

Poor Father Cheese though, he was so confused. Finally, I was able to psychically bitch slap myself hard enough to stop laughing long enough to explain that we had been in the car all day and were extremely slap happy. Father Cheese smiled and placed a hand on my arm. “I understand. Why don’t we just end it here,” he said in grandfatherly tones lightly seasoned with exhaustion and a desire to suckle butterscotch; he handed me a sheet of paper with additional information, including great advice such as: Do not put cheese in your car trunk [on hot summer days]. This would be the hottest place. Corey and I had to walk back down the hall with him after that and it was excruciating. We purposely fell behind and then pretended to be SUPER INTERESTED in a bulletin board full of children’s cheese drawings until we were certain that Father Cheese was far enough away for us to safely proceed. This was the first time in my life that I ever had to flat out confront my immature and out-of-place bray and it was A REAL EYE OPENER. Not enough to suddenly put us in check though. We were practically hiccuping at this point from all of the fermented laughter. I texted Henry:

Me: Well, I peed my pants from laughing so hard at our first stop. Henry: I’m glad it’s just the two of you. Me, Oh, you would be so pissed!

Henry: I’m sure of that.

And then we proceeded to get in a line that would eventually herd us like cattle past veritable troughs of cheese samples. 

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Somehow, Corey and I were able to stifle our giggles long enough to devour Heini cheese samples. I was delighted to see that nearly every type of cheese had a tupperware container in front of it, loaded with tiny tastes in cube-form. Corey and I grabbed toothpicks and got to samplin’. The store was very crowded, and nearly every person in line was also buying stuff, so the line moved pretty slow. To the man behind me, this was unacceptable and rather than wait 20 seconds until I moved forward, he stretched his body across me so that he could blindly spear spear. I gave him a good once-over with my judging eyes and he did not appear to be OMG STARVING. I guess he was just in a hurry. Buddy, I don’t think they were going to run out of cheese.

Corey and I were intrigued by the weird cheese flavors in the aisle next to us, flavors such as rainbow sherbet, which looked beautiful but I thought for sure would not taste as such. Then that entire aisle turned out to be fudge, so I guess Heini’s isn’t really that progressive after all. I didn’t try any fudge samples because I knew it would culminate into my shaking entire containers of the minuscule slivers into my mouth because I can’t do stuff like that in moderation. One sample would quickly turn into an easy 5 new pounds on the scale Monday morning. Sigh. Corey tried some and said it was amazing. Of course it was! It was Heini’s brand. At one point, I looked around and felt sad at the urgency these people were popping sample after sample past their cheese-lusting lips. Sad and sick. Welcome to America! In fact, after crawling past the cream cheese spreads (the fruity ones were great, thanks for the heads up Father Cheese!) and beef sticks, Corey and I decided that we really didn’t care to stand in line and eat anymore, especially since we were going to be headed to lunch afterward. So we took our wares to the nearest register.

Corey bought some Amish noodles for our dad, and I showed tons of restraint by only snagging two types of cheese: horseradish and Vidalia onion. I really, really love cheese, but I’m also super cheap and don’t enjoy spending money on food. I also grabbed a jar of gooseberry jam, though. Because I could always go for a good gooseberry.

We ALMOST left right after this. The joint was a madhouse of directionless tourists and I can’t stand crowded stores. But I needed a souvenir! There were other areas of the chalet, like a candy room, a cafe, and also a room in the back that was full of Americana home decor, cat calendars and souvenirs…but also samples of butter. AND NOT JUST ANY BUTTER. Father Cheese had mentioned this butter during our excruciating cheese tour, and told us at least twice that we were lucky to have come to Heini’s that day, because the butter was ON SALE. I remember thinking that I didn’t care. In fact, I had forgotten all about this highly-touted Heini butter, until we walked into the back room where a man in a blue shirt stood behind a counter and cried out, “THIS IS…THE BEST BUTTER IN THE WORLD. YOU WILL NOT FIND A BETTER BUTTER!” while methodically slathering Wheat Thins with smooth, yellow globs.

Corey and I exchanged wide-eyed looks of hyperbolic wonderment and marched over for a sample, fully prepared to refute this man’s lofty claim. But goddamn if that wasn’t the best butter in the world. I mean, maybe I’m just really sheltered when it comes to the best butters, but this seriously was the BEST BUTTER that ever touched my tongue.

“And today, you can buy not one but THREE for $5!” the butter-slinger announced. I had a vision of myself splayed out on a hammock somewhere in Georgia, maybe, spreading perfect smears of the best butter in the world on hot biscuits and quite honestly not giving a FUCK about anything else, because why would I? The best butter in the world was melting in my mouth. I made a beeline for the cooler behind him, where I snatched up three tubs of the perfectly-churned bread lotion before the tour bus people caught on and another grotesque lined formed. I won’t be beat by the fanny-pack set. Across from the Best Butter-slinger was a small section of postcards, mugs, magnets and t-shirts for those sentimental types (me me me) so I grabbed a magnet for my collection at work. (I like to show my new magnets to Glenn right before I stick them on my closet-thing; he will say things like “wow” or “cool” without so much as a glance.) There was also a pile of red Heini shirts. A bright wheel of cheese was displayed prominently on the back, right above the informative phrase: WHERE THE CHEESE IS MADE.

Corey said, “Should we?” and I said, “Oh my god, definitely!” He had to go out to the car to get more cash, which left me alone, unsupervised and undistracted for way too many minutes with the Butter Monologue. It was like falling inside an infomercial at 3am: monotonous, cheesy (oh hahahaha), outrageously boastful…the only thing missing from his hyper sales pitch was a BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! I guess probably because there wasn’t more. The best butter in the world was enough on its own. Do you think Butter-slinger wakes up at 6am every morning without the aid of an alarm, bounds out of bed and brushes his teeth with a squirt of that slick pasteurized cream while reciting facts to the mirror, such as BUTTER IS GOOD FOR YOUR LIVER, before rubbing the best butter all over his nude body while making orgasm-faces before going to his woodshed and slaughtering the Amish hostages he has chained up and frying up their flesh in the best butter? Does he bring his own to-go tubs of Heini’s best butter to restaurants with him so he doesn’t have to use disgusting, white trash Land o’Lakes? (The horror.) I wonder if he’s married. If so, did they have a butter sculpture at their wedding reception? TELL ME YOU’RE NOT WONDERING ABOUT THIS NOW. I sat on a bench with an old lady who totally busted me filming Instavids of the butter show, so I got up and moved to a different area, where people were too busy looking at racks of wind chimes and other such Amish novelties to notice me being weird.

The line had grown a bit by the time Corey came back to buy his shirt, so we had to endure an additional fifteen minutes of butter superlatives barraging our ear drums. Corey made eye contact with the cashier while he was purchasing his t-shirt and he said she gave him this “I know, right?” look. Once Corey paid for his shirt, we fled the butter room before we wound up having another fit. As we made it closer to the main area of Heini’s, we realized that Father Cheese’s voice was emanating from the ceiling, like God himself, and then we saw him with a HEADSET ON! And not only that, but somehow Best Butter had made it to the front of the store without us knowing and was HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH FATHER CHEESE! WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE! OUR TWO FAVORITE HEINIS!!

We had originally wanted to say goodbye to Father Cheese, mostly so that we could show him that we bought things, maybe that would convince him that his cheese tour wasn’t all for naught, that Corey and I aren’t so bad after all and at least Heini’s made a few dimes off us. But there was an actual wall of people blocking us from his information table and I was starting to sweat at the idea of trying to Moses my way through. As if that wasn’t a great note on which to end our visit, we noticed that some broad was arguing with Father Cheese.

The joint had become so packed with tourists hungry for cheddar that Father Cheese was trying to direct foot traffic. It appeared that he mistakenly told the poufy-haired broad to get into the wrong line, and she was FUCKING PISSED. Corey and I stood there in horror. How could anyone yell at Father Cheese?! He’s so old and frail and has TWO hearing aids! I wanted to march over and save him, but then a ginger-man standing nearby began speaking to me, because apparently this is what people do in Ohio Amish Country: cultivate small talk. “This is ridiculous!” he spat through a set of interestingly-directioned teeth. “I been standing here watching people cut in line this whole time! My wife has been standing in line forever trying to pay and I seen THREE WOMEN—I’ll just leave it that, three WOMEN, I won’t say anything else about them—walk past all those people and cut right in front of my wife!”

OMG OK “I’m Not Racist, But…” Guy.

It was incredibly awkward and he just kept ranting about how out of control the place was. We stood in mutual silence for a few seconds, taking in the rowdy cheese epicure-wannabes, 80% of whom I guarantee have a fridgeful of Velveeta and individually-wrapped Kraft slices, anxious to taste the next sample and buy all of the cheese before it had a chance to age anymore. Finally, I shrugged and said, “I mean…it’s just cheese” while slowly backing out of the door.

IMG_8413-2  

As soon as we got outside, we absolutely lost our minds all over again. IT’S JUST CHEESE.

Apr 132020
 

Easter is my second favorite holiday (second only to HALLOWEEN, of course) so I was determined to still make it a memorable one even though we’re stuck at home. Now, we’re not religious people, so not being able to go to church wasn’t an issue, and we never celebrate Easter with extended family, so the inability to have a big family dinner wasn’t making us shed any tears either. 

For this particular Easter, we had planned to be at Efteling Park in the Netherlands, so any back-up plan I came up with was going to pale in comparison. Yet somehow, it ended up being one of the nicest Easters ever!

Chooch kept saying that he didn’t want anything, didn’t care if he didn’t get a basket, but all he REALLY WANTED was for us to hide eggs for him. I really think he’s going to grow up plagued by the Peter Pan syndrome that he undoubtedly inherited from me. I kept saying, “NO WE ARE NOT DOING THAT YOU ARE TOO OLD, GROW UP. THE EASTER BUNNY ISN’T REAL” and I guess he really believed that we weren’t doing anything because he originally woke up at 8:30 and then said, “I’m going back to bed, wake me up at 9:30 I guess.” I was so mad because I woke up early and raced against the clock to hide the fucking eggs for that little bitch-kid. 

When he finally woke up and went into the bathroom, he was met with Doll and an egg, so he knew that it was going to be an alright day, lol.

(He is REALLY BAD at finding eggs though. Or else I’m really good at hiding them. But one was literally inside a book, so it was like wide open.)

We got him a basket too because come on, what kind of shitty parents do you take us for? IT’S EASTER FOR GOD’S SAKE. He didn’t know that he was getting one so it just sat in its hiding spot all morning until I finally couldn’t take it any longer and exclaimed, “OH WOW, WHAT IS THAT.” 

I LOVED getting an Easter basket. I still like white chocolate to this day because it reminds of me the white chocolate lambs and bunnies with the blue or pink candy eyes that my mom would always tuck in there among the jelly beans (which I didn’t like) and the Sarris chocolate eggs, and OF COURSE THE TOYS, HELLO. For most of the Easters during the elementary school years, I got a new My Little Pony. I LOVED My Little Ponies (the new ones are dumb) so I always looked forward to seeing which one I was going to get. 

Knowing me and my warped memory, this probably only happened on one Easter, lol.

I also associate Easter with springtime and baseball (loved baseball as a kid, neutral about it as an adult) and wearing pretty dresses to church and having a casual Easter dinner at my Pappap’s house. 

I try to make sure that we’re always doing something for Easter, whether it’s traveling for a concert (we saw Emarosa in Lancaster, PA one year on Easter and it was a really nice weekend), being in KOREA, inviting friends over for a Pizza Party for Jesus Christ, or just having a family dinner at a Chinese restaurant. This year, I wanted to have the Inkigayo sandwiches again like we did last year, because I think this could be a new tradition for us. 

And you know how I love a fucking tradition.

Chooch the Baker wanted to make a carrot cake for Easter, so that turned into a Battle Royale between him and Henry in the kitchen while I sat out here and read a book and watched YouTube videos about reading books and finding books to request on Libby and exercising. 

I mean, his cake decorating needs practice, but the cake itself was A REAL GODDAMN DELIGHT. And he cut back the confectioners sugar big time in the frosting and it was such a good call, because it was perfect. I don’t like super sweet frosting, especially cream cheese frosting, so Chooch got a big thumbs up from me on this one.

Henry probably would have ruined it.

The weather was  nice on Sunday so we were able to comfortably eat on the back porch and it was a Big Time Spring Mood. I could not have been happier!

Inkigayo sandwiches and kimbap, a Korean Easter picnic! Henry forgot to buy banana uyoo so it wasn’t perfect but I’ll let it slide this time, I guess. 

We’re all big fans of the famous Inkigayo sandwiches here in the Oh Honestly household. I highly recommend them! The convenience stores in South Korea all sell variations of these sandwiches and I happily devoured them when we were there. One of them had a limited edition blueberry edition! IT WAS THE BEST ONE!

We were probably making fun of Henry’s mouth-sounds here.

I’ve rambled about this sandwich on here before but a quick summary: There is a weekly music show in Korea called Inkigayo and legend has it that the cafeteria in their studio makes these tri-layered sandwiches and the kpop idols go nuts over them. Of course, regular civilians cannot go to this cafeteria to get an authentic one, but there are numerous variations of the recipe online. 

Yes, that’s strawberry jam in the middle, surrounded by an egg & potato salad (there’s also crab in this layer but Henry omits it for us vegetarians) and a cabbage salad that includes corn and apple. It sounds hideous, but it is SO STUPIDLY DELICIOUS. And filling. I split mine with Henry, and Chooch saved his second half for today’s lunch.

Drank my coffee from my Lotte World mug to keep it extra Korean. 

(I know it’s obvious, but my heart breaks more and more each day I’m not in Korea. Sorry if I’m annoying, but this is who I am.)

The Inkigayo (or EASTERgayo, as I lovingly call it on Easter) is a two-handed affair.

You guys. Chooch’s carrot cake. Fuck yes. The best thing to come out of this quarantine (for my family, anyway) is Chooch’s blossoming interest in Kitchen Times. 

Easter, After Hours.

Really, I think this will go down as one of the best Easters. It was so casual, laid back, lots of laughing (on my part), lots of Kitchen Feuding (on Henry and Chooch’s parts, also the catalyst for my “lots of laughing”), and it made me appreciate even more that although these are scary and strange times, at least I’m going through them with Chooch and Henry and we’re still, somehow, having fun. <3

Apr 112020
 

Nine years from now, someone asks, “Erin Rachelle Kelly, what did you do on April 4th, 2020?” and I think to myself, “Oh, that was during Pandemic Times, when every day melted into itself like the dude at the end of the Roger Rabbit” but lo! I have a DIGITAL DIARY that I can reference, yes, do you remember those? I think they were called “blogs” where people tap-tapped their thoughts on a keyboard under the illusion that anyone actually read it, or even cared?

I don’t know, I think that even when we’re not living our lives to their fullest capacity during lockdown, it’s still a weird memory to have in and of itself, so I will keep recapping this lame-o life and one day, when I’m like, “All I did was go to Target, how boring” I’ll look back on the weekends when I would have actually performed a lopsided cartwheel through the doors of Target because I CAN’T GO TO TARGET AND AM I REALLY THAT ADDICTED TO BUYING THINGS I DON’T NEED THAT I AM SITTING ON MY COUCH ON A SATURDAY WHINING ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO GO TO TARGET BECAUSE IT’S NOT AN ESSENTIAL THING I NEED TO BE RISKING MY HEALTH AND THE HEALTH OF OTHERS OVER RIGHT NOW?!

That being said, here are some things that happened last weekend because I didn’t just rot in bed all of the days, after all.

The weather was very beautiful on both days last weekend, but even just going out for a walk can be tough. Henry and I went to one of the cemeteries in the Northside and had the whole boneyard to ourselves until toward the end, but you know, cemeteries are good places to social distance with ease, so we never ended up passing the three other people who arrived toward the end. (One of them had two huge dogs and I was sad that Pandemic Times prevents dog-petting. Now I know how Chooch feels.)

Earlier that day, I had gotten the audiobook of Crazy Rich Asians, and Henry agreed to listen to it with me, so that was our cemetery-soundtrack. I was really feeling it. This is a good book to read along with the audiobook because it’s so helpful to hear correct pronunciations of Asian words and the narrator was also really good at various accents. It also helped to pretend that we were in Singapore and not dry-rotting away in boring-ass Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For dinner, Chooch made these delicious vegetarian bean burritos with some kind of creamy chipotle sauce inside and I don’t even know what else, but now I’m drooling at the memory (and the picture). I love Chef Chooch!

That night, I made them watch Jojo Rabbit. I had already seen it at the theater with Janna (OMG remember movie theaters?? I only go maybe once a year but now I will never take even those for granted. I am going to see a movie once we’re allowed to do things again. But not at a big theater. I only like small, independent ones because I’m a snob.) I thought I would be OK since I had already seen it, but nope. I still cried like a bitch.

(Not as much as Chooch cried two weeks ago when he watched My Girl for the first time, though HAHAHAHA. I mean, I tried to warn him, and he didn’t listen, so then I sent him a bunch of bee memes afterward.)

On Sunday, Henry and I went to Jefferson Memorial, the cemetery where my family lives. I think this cemetery is sooooo underrated as far as Pittsburgh cems go because it’s the kind that eschews headstones for plaques that are flush with the ground, giving the place more of a park-like feel. But there are some really great statues and monuments riddled throughout, and some really glorious pond-spots. You have to go there if you’re in Pittsburgh. It’s also where I learned how to drive!

(Lisa, teaching me to drive in 1996: “Put your right foot on the gas pedal.”

Me: What if I’m left-footed?

Lisa: Then you’re an idiot.)

We listened to more of Crazy Rich Asians while Henry kept edging me off the path and then I started yelling at him about how out of sync we are as a couple and is it him that’s getting under my skin or this fucking pandemic, or is HENRY THE PANDEMIC.

We should be in the Netherlands as I type this, but seeing pretty spring flowers in the cemetery here in Pennsylvania was, well, probably the best consolation I’m going to get right now! I’m surprisingly not as upset about this as I thought I would be, and I think it’s because the whole world is in this boat together and that makes me feel less alone, though still extremely anxious that this is out of my control. I don’t know if you know this about me but I’m kind of a control freak. Pity the fools who have to work on group projects with me.

There were some people out in the cemetery, but not very many. It almost felt like we were back in Normal Days.

This section has reminded me of some far-away Asian land! It’s also the section of the cemetery where one of my favorite Easter photoshoots went down:

Easter Bunny Strikes Back

That night at Cucino d’Chooch, we had chana masala! He is really getting into kitchen-y things during all of this housebound-ness, so at least something positive is coming from it.

We were just notified the other day that school is officially closed for the remainder of the year, so they’ll be going fully online. I’m glad that he has found a good hobby/interest to break up his days now that he’ll be chained to the laptop all day while I’m chained to the computer all day. Oh shit, the Pioneer Ave. Office is really going to need an HR Department here soon. And a guidance counselor.

MMMMM CHANA-CLOSEUP.

In other weekend news, Slut Life got a Mustang convertible on Saturday and Chooch and I spied on him fiddling with the knobs and buttons while parked in the driveway. We were very upset this but then HNC informed us that it was apparently a rental (???) while his regular basic car was getting fix (he wrecked it on one of his many obsessive trips in and out of the garage, lol.

But in MORE Slut Life news, we noticed that he and HNC’s wife seemed to have been having A CIVIL CHAT in their respective yards on Sunday. HNC informed us again that HE APOLOGIZED PROFUSELY to her and that his grandmother had something to do with it (wtf did she scold him for his actions or something lol). So I guess now the feud has fizzled out (for now) but HNC still doesn’t seem sold on him. HOWEVER, I have noticed that ever since that day, he has been turning his radio down or off before pulling in and out of the driveway and he’s also not kicking up asphalt anymore either, so that’s something.

Guys, it’s really boring here. :( Hope you’re finding fun ways to entertain yourself wherever you are! My friend Jessy suggested doing a virtual game night soon so hopefully that happens because I need to see a face that doesn’t belong to a resident of this household, thanks.

Apr 102020
 

*(People with calendars, I guess.) Anyway, here’s another work week, pandemic-style. Keeping track of our mundane lockdown life is at least giving me something to do, I guess. 

Monday:

I literally can’t think of a single highlight. Work was normal. The weather was nice so Chooch and I went for a quick walk during my break and saw Wesley’s mom ugh. We talked from afar and she gushed about how wonderful Chooch is and I guess that’s how Glenn feels whenever people at work gush about how wonderful I am.

Our neighbors had friends over that night because evidently you can only contract COVID from strangers not friends.

Ugh that generation. Whatever comes after Millennials. I can never remember. 

And our neighbors on the other side have had every single family member and their respective units in and out too like a fucking Grand Central Coronastation.

I think people misunderstand the concept of social distancing, but OK.

TUESDAY:

Some ragtag family oozed past our house and the Kindergarten-aged daughter must have fallen or something because she was crying and her fat dad in the neon yellow construction company t-shirt barked, “YOU’RE FINE” and she was like, “Noooo I need a Band-aid” and he was like, “WHERE THE HELL DO YOU THINK I’M GOING TO GET A BAND-AID RIGHT NOW?! JUST WAIT UNTIL WE GET HOME!!!” and if I had had a fishing rod, I would have flung a Jojo Siwa Band-Aid to them from my window, in compliance with social distancing, but I do not have a fishing rod, or a robot that I could have sent out on my behalf, Band-aid presented all….robotically from a tray.

Figures, the one time I have an urge to be nice to a child…

Thanks, COVID-19, for keeping me true to myself.

By the time Henry came home from work, I had so much stored-up energy, that I took to sprinting from one side of the house to the other, which eventually made Chooch snap because he was “on a call” with his friend Markie which only entails them bickering over Minecraft and Markie saying, “That’s what she said” as a response to everything, only making sense .01% of the time. Finally, Chooch got up and came at me so I grabbed a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps and then he in turn snatched one of those long stove lighter things in retaliation and lots of tribal screaming ensued, all the while Henry kept calm and cooked on in the kitchen.

The church across the street had a super loud drive-in broadcast that night, the word of the Lord blasting out from loud speakers, permeating through the ether and straight into my house which I thought was kind of rude, but also fitting to the theme of the night because earlier I had found some new African gospel workout called Afro-Praise that included PRAISE PULSES, Zulu dancing, and some lady unable to get up off the floor at the end.

I live for these kinds of workouts. 

Wound down with a matcha latte made from matcha powder I bought at Osulloc in Seoul, one of the Osulloc items that TSA did not steal from my luggage in New York.

Assholes.

Oh, we are certainly enjoying these fun days together, lol.

Wednesday

1:00am Storm!! I actually thought it was a tornado and got very scared. 

I did this African dance cardio workout and I think I’m obsessed with that…genre? of aerobics now. Kpop cardio will forever be my favorite though, and my boy Give Me Five Thailand has continued to upload new routine from his house during the stay at home order. I love him!

At some point during the day, Chooch disappeared. It turned out he was in his room, actually reading!! I was so happy about this…until I found out that he was reading a Shane Dawson’s MEMOIRS. He’s banned from our house, but apparently I bought him this damn book several years ago, so I GUESS I ONLY HAVE MYSELF TO BLAME.

“You bought me PewDiePie’s book, too,” Chooch said in this shitty “Who’s the asshole now?” tone.

A conversation:

‪Me: I wish I was skinny so I didn’t have to carve out time to exercise and I could just sit here all day and read instead. ‬

‪CHOOCH:‬ THATS why you want to be skinny? Ok. Wow.

(I know, how archaic of me. Omg I want to be skinny. Wah wah wah. But honestly, I should have said “I wish exercise wasn’t necessary…” TOO LATE ERIN. TOO LATE TO BACKTRACK. YOU SAID IT. NOW WE ALL KNOW U HAVE BARBIE DOLL BODY IDEOLOGIES.)

We walked to Dunkin’ Donuts – they are open for pick-up only so Henry orders from the app and then runs in to retrieve our drinks. It’s like, a tiny treat we give ourselves to give life the appearance of being normal for several minutes. On the way there, we were talking about how it’s weird when people don’t have any pets, and Chooch accused Henry of not having any childhood pets, to which Henry defiantly spat that he had dogs and cats growing up and now he has, shoots us a disgusted look over his shoulder, “animals.”

WOW. 

I might have nearly peed my pants right there on the sidewalk. I’m an emotional time bomb. 

THURSDAY

Oh look, another day. Our face masks arrived from Korea. Sorry, I didn’t feel like jumping on the bandanna bandwagon when I can order masks from Korea and get them in like 4 days, free shipping. God, I love you Korea.

Speaking of Korean face masks, Chooch treated himself to a spa night:

I finished “Gingerbread,” a book that I had been struggling to read for a week and I went from hating it to loving it, I think?! I can’t be sure, but I watched an interview with the author, Helen Oyeyemi, and I for sure love her, at least.

FRIDAY

The Easter decorations I ordered from Oriental Trading arrived. Easter is my second favorite holiday for some reason (actually I know why but maybe we can wait until Easter to talk about that ok cool) and I am determined to make this one as “normal” as possible even though we’re essentially confined to the house. So we’ll see how that goes.

Other than that, the highlights of today were:

  • My favorite booktuber Kat uploaded her March book review video;
  • Gina B uploaded a new 20 minute walking workout

Wow. My days are so full!

Ah, perspective. Perspective.

My workweek is officially over, dinner has been eaten, and now I’m making Henry watch these fucking vanilla Christian YouTube videos about “fun family Easter games.” It’s, a thing. This one broad keeps interrupting herself to coo at her baby and then she knocked over her camera with her head so that was more entertaining than any of the games she’s talking about.

Now we’re watching this really annoying family with 87 subscribers hide Easter eggs from each other and it’s so cringey. This is totally our new version of making fun of birthday party videos.

Goodbye.

Apr 072020
 

Hello! April is well underway and I still have some books left to read from my library raid last month, and several lined up on Libby and Overdrive, but I thought it would be nice to get some recommendations from my Internet pals. I primarily like horror, contemporary, thrillers, and apparently magical realism I guess. I’m also not above cracking open a juicy YA book every now and then, too.

On my TBR “shelf” currently:

  • Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
  • Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
  • Eliza and Her Monsters – Francesca Zappia
  • A Girl Made of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake
  • Pachinko – Lee Min Jin (I actually started reading this last year, lost it, then recently found it but now I have all these other books to read sorry Pachinko!)
  • Final Girls – Riley Sager
  • 13 Ways or Looking at Fat Girl – Mona Awad

Currently reading:

  • Gingerbread – Helen Oyeyemi (almost DNFd numerous times)
  • If We Were Villains – M.L. Rio

I changed my 2020 reading challenge from 30 books to 75 because it’s pretty clear that I’m going to have all of the time to do nothing but read and exercise for the next (x) months so BRING IT. (I’m already 63% to my goal lol.)

Anyway – please give me some suggestions! Hopefully I can get ’em through Libby while my beloved library is closed. Watching people talk about books on YouTube and adding books to my “want to read” shelf in Goodreads is one of the few things I have going on in my life these days and it’s holding my sanity together with a very flimsy binder clip so help me please thanks.

Apr 062020
 

Hi hello welcome to my dive bar corner of the Internet. I’m currently reading a book about Lizzie Borden so I thought what better time to take a post a picture of a souvenir wine glass I bought way back in 2003 when Big Shot Henry booked us a room at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast for my birthday, back when we was still doing romantic gestures hahaha ugh.

And to make this a real two-fer, let’s also spin this into a Virtual COVID-travel post by revisiting the second time we visited the Borden house, this time with a 7-year-old Chooch because you know, educational, etc. I started doing another Jillian Michaels series which is helping to combat my depression, but my muscles and mind are fatigued AF so I still have no energy for this blogging thing. :/

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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. 20130629-181651.jpg

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 widened 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. 20130629-181700.jpg

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.) 20130629-181718.jpg

The house was replicated as best as possible, considering they only had black and white photos to go on. 20130629-181824.jpg

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 mail slot. 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. 20130629-181816.jpg

This lady knows her shit! We definitely got our money’s worth. 20130629-181805.jpg

Borden spirits all up in Henry’s shit! J/K. I was just really bored in the car. Best use of a bokeh app! 20130629-181839.jpg

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! 20130629-182030.jpg

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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.