Sep 252017
 

Parts of being home with Henry were nice. (If you ask him, it was all nice because he got to mostly relax and not have to wake up at like 3am to go to work or see his mistress, whatever it is he does during the witching hours.

(Also can we talk about how dumb of a word staycation is? More dumb or less dumb than “glamping,” though? TOUGH QUESTIONS FOR A MONDAY NIGHT.)

So here are some pictures of food we ate and things of that nature, because we were kind of being tourists in our own town I guess? 네?

On our first day off, we walked to Beechview and had lunch at Taal, a new-ish Indian restaurant which I hope succeeds because the owner was so freaking nice. They had mixed reviews on the Devil’s Website (aka Yelp) and I’m no Indian cuisine expert but I’ve had it enough times and from enough different places to say with confidence that this place was comparable to most other places so STFU Yelp Elitists. Jesus Christ.

Anyway, we had a lovely lunch but it always feels weird at a restaurant without Chooch, who was in school, I guess because we were able to talk without him butting in to say he already knows everything we might even dream of talking about because he is such a fucking genius. Ugh.

Also if Chooch had been with us, we more than likely wouldn’t have been eating Indian food because that kid’s palate is so ginger, it can pretty much only handle buttered noodles and grilled cheese.

Friday morning, Henry and I went to Black Forge for coffee (for me) and iced tea (for him).

Their punch card tho.

We were talking to the barista about how the owners were currently in Riot Fest and I told him that we were supposed to be there too but decided not to go this year. I thought I would feel a twinge of sadness, maybe a quick pang of regret….but nothing! Hopefully next year’s lineup will excite me but for this year, I was more than happy to trade Riot Fest for a kpop concert.

Anyway, Black Forge is a metal-themed coffee shop and so much less pretentious than many other cafes. I think Henry was nervous about going there because he always feels like a sore thumb at coffee places to begin with because he hates coffee but he was like, “OK THIS PLACE IS FINE.”

I loved the guy who was working there that day. Usually small talk makes me clench up but he was really cool and I liked talking to him, bye Henry. I’m with this guy, now.

We also shared a Mexican chocolate donut thing which was really great but way too heavy and rich for me. I never would have been able to eat one on my own. I’m not a big donut person, but when I do eat a donut, I prefer it to be super light and either sugar, glazed, or some kind of mild fruit (preferably lemon). I’m picky.

Chooch had a half-day on Friday so we went to Lili Cafe for lunch, and if you’re sensitive to places that are super too-cool-for-school, either avoid this place entirely or go on a weekday I guess because it wasn’t crowded that Friday afternoon and I only half-wished I hadn’t showered that day so that I’d fit in better.

But the girl working that day was really nice and chill and the kimchi rice bowl was all I wanted so I was pretty blind to the bike messenger aesthetic of everyone in there but us. Oh well. That’s what you get when you want a decent vegan/vegetarian lunch, you guys.

On Saturday, my mom picked up Chooch and took him on a mountain adventure which basically means they got lost in the Laurel Highlands for four hours looking for Ohio Pyle, but they at least played mini-golf and visited the haunted Quaker Church. While this was happening, Henry and I went to East End Brewery because the Blue Sparrow truck was there and I wanted the vegan bahn mi. It was OK.

This pumpkin beer was the opposite of OK though. It was hideous. (Please keep in mind that I only barely like beer.) It felt like it was kicking me in the mouth and it stung. I hated it and Henry was pissed because THERE I GO WASTING MONEY AGAIN. He’s such a dad.

The worst part about our lunch that day was that I hated all of the other people there who were your basic day-drunk yuppies. I was pretty hateful that day.

On Sunday, I did a quick photoshoot with my pal Regina! She’s about to start a blog and needed some pictures of her around town. Here are a few:

And then Monday was me whining a lot and being exhausted because I walked and exercised too much and managed to get dehydrated and I was just a big miserable baby and SO BORED. I got a terrible pumpkin latte in the afternoon and then we watched a “just OK” horror movie (Final Girl, not to be confused with Final Girls that came out the same year and was better).

Oh shit the one good thing about Monday was that the new BTS album was released and it’s pretty dope. OK I’m lying, it’s pretty much my favorite thing right now. Needless to say, we listened to it A LOT on Monday.

And Tuesday.

And….you know. So on and so forth.

I was kind of ready to go back to work. Sorry Henry. Be more entertaining next time.

Jun 102017
 

I started off the day learning the hard way that you musn’t spray canola oil on a hot pan. If I hadn’t already lost most of my eyebrows during the Great Overplucking of the 90s, today would have been their funeral fo sho. 

I was running around screaming about the injustice of it all, like who is supposed to know that would happen?? when Henry calmly said, “Well, everyone. It says it on the directions.”

“The PAN has directions?!” I cried. 

“No! The can of cooking spray!”

“Srsly? Why does a can of cooking spray need directions? Like, who would read that?” I said indignantly. 

“People like YOU are the reason those directions are there,” Henry sighed. 

(I know you guys: how does Henry “tolerate” me? He must be a “Saint.” “Job is going to shake his hand when he gets to Heaven.” Because our relationship is something he “tolerates” or “puts up with.”)

Honestly though, that flame went up SO HIGH. This is what happens when Henry takes too long waking up and I take breakfast matters into my own hands. :/

It’s all his fault. Just like it was his fault for failing to buy me a bag of coffee for work, creating a MAJOR CRISIS last Friday which culminated in Catherine and I colluding in a dangerous k-cup robbery from Lori’s office which I tried to reason was ok because one time she told me I was welcome to the candy she keeps in the one drawer and her k-cups were one drawer beneath that one, so…And then Catherine was so fraught with guilt that she left a dollar on Lori’s desk. The much anticipated conclusion to this is that Lori returned to work on Wednesday amd Catherine FLEW into her office before Lori even set her purse down, blurting out her confession and waiting to receive penance. There was a tense moment when we weren’t sure if Lori was going to throw a stapler and yelled, “Cash me ousside!” but turns out she had used up all her fucks on games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup finals and had little left in the tank to use on a stolen k-cup. She even gave Catherine her dollar back (had I known, I would have stolen that too!) Then when Todd got to work later that day, he said, “Oh yeah, I’m telling Lori you stole from her” and I was like OMG SHE ALREADY KNOWS! EVERYONE KNOWS! I’M A DIRTY THIEF!

I mean…

Ahem. 

SUBJECT CHANGE. 

Here are some pictures from this day, Saturday, June 10, 2017. 

We moved Chooch’s keyboard out of his bedroom and onto the backporch. Well, let me rephrase that: Henry and I kept saying that’s what we were going to but Chooch is the one who finally did it on his own accord because he was tired of waiting for his parents to finish watching Running Man and take care of him. 

Last night, I walked past him and saw that he had found the music for BigBang’s “Haru Haru” and decided to try and learn it! The coolest part is that he realized one of the notes was off and FIXED IT. He’s really good at playing by ear, which is something he definitely didn’t get from either one of us. 

He played it for Henry and made him guess what it was. Henry knew it was Bigbang right away but not what song because Henry never knows song names except for Ted Nugent ones. 

Early afternoon, we went to Kohl’s so I could buy new jeans and for the first time in years I didn’t have an emotional breakdown in the fitting room, 고맙습니다, Korea!!!!

Anyway, the whole point of mentioning Kohl’s is that there were these two middle-aged women loudly airing their dirty laundry RIGHT NEXT TO THE LAUREN CONRAD SECTION so I had to stand practically butted up against them, enduring their not-even-interesting drama. They were there every time I came back around and at one point I said loudly to Henry that they should take their lame bitch fest out to the parking lot instead of polluting our ears with it, because that’s how I handle conflict with strangers: passive aggressively, with loud immaturity. 

It was honestly the only time I was mad all day though so that’s pretty huge. I’m usually mad MANY times. 


I imprinted on this red leaf banana thing at some nursery we went to today. 

“Who imprints on a banana leaf plant?!” Henry cried. 

Um, me — I literally just said that?!

Henry wouldn’t buy it because it was $80 and that’s like a lot for a plant I guess? I literally do not know the value of a dollar. 


Chooch chose a plant for himself and mused, “I’ll name him A-ha, because I want to take him on.” OK, 80s kid?


Pet cemetery visit:( Chooch and I got really emotional and Henry didn’t know what to do so he just walked away because he doesn’t love animals. 


Obligatory ice cream from Yough Twist down the street from the pet cem. “Ugh I forgot this place has the inferior sprinkles!” I cried with my head back, dramatic damsel I am. 

“What’s wrong with them?” Henry and Chooch asked in tandem. 

“Well in addition to not being properly rainbow, they have a chalky taste,” I snapped because duh, just look at them. 

Beneath the inadequate sprinkled shell sat a perfect black raspberry & vanilla twist though, so once I hate-ate the sprinkles, I was good to go. 

Henry and Chooch also had ice cream, blah blah blah. 

Drew is like, “No really, you can trust me. I’m just gonna sit on them and help them grow.” 🙄


But seriously, these little propagations are coming along swimmingly in spite of PENELOPE digging them up once a week. 


Henry made me a snack plate with pineapple, kimchi, and pickled daikon – it was so refreshing. So refreshing that I went back for more pineapple which I then left out on the kitchen counter.  

“You left the pineapple out,” Henry said when he was visiting the kitchen later on. He sighed and put it away. 

Which is the exact outcome I expected, so why bother putting it away myself?

*******

In other news, G-Dragon’s new music is the most wonderful thing I’ve heard in so long and it made it to #1 on iTunes in 39 countries including the US which is crazy to me because most Americans I know are incredibly narrow-minded & ignorant when it comes to anything that’s not in English. Omg so weird and inferior. 

I still can’t believe I’m going to see him next month! I was thinking about it on the trolley yesterday, trying to imagine how I will react when I first see him, and I started to cry openly in front of people which sadly isn’t the first time that’s happened on the trolley. Dat bi-polar life, y’all.

******

It’s 8’oclock now and Chooch has stains all over my treasured Howard Jones shirt. Should I cry, laugh, or burn down the kitchen for real this time? I JUST DONT KNOW. GOODBYE. 

Jun 072017
 

I can’t believe how good this oatmeal tastes,” I said enthusiastically yesterday at work. 

“Ooh, what did you put in it?” Lauren asked. 

“Nothing,” I shrugged. “I just followed the directions on the box for the first time.”

****

OK, let’s back up.

Typically I eat cream of wheat or oatmeal everyday for lunch at work because it’s instant gratification and I can barely handle much else, other than slopping some fruit salad (pre-made by Henry) into a tupperware thing and praying that it doesn’t leak in my bag on the way to work.

If I’m feeling particularly whimsical, I will add some sprinkles to it. If Gayle has honey at work, I might add that too. Usually I have a bruised banana that will find its way into the hot slop, too.

I always tell Henry when it’s time to buy me more instant cereal for work, but sometimes — this is going to be hard to fathom for some so make sure you swallow first if you’re eating or drinking — I will go to CVS during my lunch break and buy it myself.

I KNOW.

ME!

I CAN DO THAT!

Recently, something crazy was going on with me and I tagged along with Henry to the boring grocery store (as opposed to the magical Asian markets, which I happily visit every weekend). I knew that I needed to restock on my work lunch stash, so I bought kids oatmeal (complete with dinosaur eggs, thank you) and some healthy oatmeal thing that had flax seed and whatever in it.

Turns out, that healthy oatmeal is a kind that I’ve bought before and I HATE IT! It turns out so watery, basically just warm cloudy water with grain things floating in it. Disgusting! Two days in a row I suffered through this sad-sack lunch, complaining about it at length to Glenn who had the Don’t Care glaze over his eyes, until something occurred to me yesterday.

“Maybe I should try to make it the way the box says to make it,” I said mostly to myself, reading the directions at my desk.

“Well, how have you been making it?” Glenn asked hesitantly, probably wishing he could recall his question.

NO TAKE-BACKS.

“Well, I dump it into my mug and then fill it up with the hot water from the spout on the coffee maker,” I said. “But then it just stays watery! Nothing happens!”

“Oh my god,” Glenn mumbled, and I couldn’t tell if that meant he was shocked my method didn’t work, or if he had just looked at a really great picture of G-Dragon.

So in the kitchen, I followed directions. I dumped the oatmeal into my cup. I filled the now-empty paper oatmeal pouch up to the line with water (not from the hot water thingie though – I’m not that dumb, you guys! Plus there is a warning sticker on it). Then I poured it over top the oatmeal and baked it in the microwave for two minutes.

And it exploded like a fucking 5th grader’s volcano science project. I had to take the glass thingie out of the microwave and clean it, ugh! Aaron walked by when this was happening and I sheepishly said, “I made a mess…”

“Is that your banana tea?” he asked, because one time he saw me cutting up a banana in the kitchen (with a plastic knife, don’t worry) and putting it in my coffee cup and then for the next year, he secretly thought I was literally adding bananas to my tea and expressed his concern (and disgust, probably) to Jeannie, who later told me about it and we had a great laugh.

Ugh, yes it’s my banana tea.

After I cleaned up the mess (burning my hand in the process), I took the remnants back to my desk and was amazed at how wonderful it tasted!

Glenn said I should have taken it out of the microwave every 30 seconds to stir it.

“Well, how would I know to do that if it doesn’t say on the box?” I cried, and he went back to trolling comment sections on fake news sites.

Later, I struggled to get the burnt oatmeal off my Goonies mug and considered just throwing it out and getting a new one, but then Gayle was like, “Just soak it….?” and hello, I know about that dish-washing secret, but the oatmeal was caked to the OUTSIDE of the cup too. I ended up just scrubbing it really hard and now my wrist hurts and I need to blame someone for this but I haven’t decided who yet. Probably Henry for not training me to be a grown-up, which by the way, he threatened to do over the weekend “in case something happens.” Something happens? Like he grows a pair and leaves?! Monica said she always just assumed Chooch and I would just move into Chez Chronica if that happens, kind of like she and Chris are our godparents.

I still should just get a new mug though. A G-Dragon one!

****

Today, I remembered Glenn’s sage cooking advice and stalked the microwave, stopping it every thirty seconds and giving the oatmeal a good stir.

With 45 seconds to go, I had a bad feeling. I could sense something wasn’t right, so I stopped it before the timer got to 30 and IT HAD OVERFLOWN AGAIN!!!!

Another day of cleaning the microwave! UGH. Where is Barb when I need her?!

Still though, it’s amazing how wonderful food tastes when you follow directions.

“Did the instructions give you options based on the microwave wattage?” Henry asked me on the way home from work, as we sat in traffic for an hour and he tried to resign from being my chauffeur.

“Huh?” I asked, scrolling through my Spotify kpop playlist.

“Never mind,” Henry sighed.  But then he had the audacity to ask me if I was trying to microwave the oatmeal IN THE POUCH, like I’m so dumb that I didn’t know to dump everything into a cup or bowl first, I AM SO INSULTED.

“It was so weird, it looked like it expanded somehow!” I gushed, as though I was telling the Story of Oatmeal for the very first time, to a bunch of pioneer people sitting on logs around a cauldron.

“That’s because it literally did expand. It absorbed the water, you idiot,” Henry sighed.

WOW. No need for name-calling!

“Anyway, who knew oatmeal needed to be baked. I guess I’m a baker now.”

“You’re not a baker. You cooked it in a microwave.

I’m going to try and bake other things in the microwave this weekend. Baked beans, probably.

Apr 272017
 

Last week, I was doing my routine lunch break roaming. I generally don’t have a destination in mind, I just kind of roll with it, and if something eventful happens—cool. If not, at least I racked up some steps, amirite? Well, two days in a row I had an eventful walk. Here, let me tell you all about it. Stay for a spell, WON’T YOU.

1. The Lady In the Road

On Thursday, my free-form pavement pounding found me crossing the Rachel Carson bridge. I only know that’s the bridge I was on because there are pennants hanging all over it that say RACHEL CARSON with some broad’s face on it.

A thing to note about me is that I am VERY SCARED of bridges, but I try to cross one on foot every now and again as a psychological exercise. On windy days, I am fraught with fear. FRAUGHT. And one time I was certain the man in front of me had a bomb and I started to have blurred vision.

I made it off the bridge though in case you were wondering.

OK, back to the Rachel Carson bridge. I was on it. Everything was going as fine as it could be for someone with a crippling fear of hovering atop a disgusting river. I was almost to the end of the bridge when the man who was walking a few yards ahead of me took off into a sprint. I shrugged it off as a sudden burst of energy, but then panicked because what if he knew that the bridge was about to buckle!?

Turns out, he was running to assist a woman who was sprawled out in the middle of the road just a bit away from the end of the bridge. Several other people were gathered around, cars were pulled over, a bus too.

There was a white towel laying near her head.

I knew almost immediately that something was wrong.

In case you couldn’t figure that out.

The Alcoa building was right next to the intersection where this scene was playing out, and several people had congregated on the sidewalk. I walked up to an older woman and asked, “Was she hit by a car?” But her response to me was a screeching, “OH MY LAWD THAT WAS TURRIBLE! THAT WAS TURRIBLE! OH, I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED!” and then she balled up her hands, stamped her feet, and screamed, “OOOH LAWD!” and walked away from me, tears spurting from her eyes.

I clearly wasn’t getting the 411 from her, and I deduced that whatever had happened, it took place mere seconds before I came across the bridge. So by this point, numerous people were on the phone with 911, and little ol’ Erin hanging around ,with an iced lavender latte in one clammy paw, was not going to help the situation in any sense whatsoever. I lowered my head a bit and slowly walked away, and then once I got to the next block, I started crying. That poor lady! I don’t know her, or what she was doing, where she was going, but I knew that I just wanted her to be OK.

And I barely care about people, so that says a lot. I must have been struck by the gods of humanity at a weak moment, I don’t know.

By the time I made it to the next block, I could hear sirens in the distance, and my legs turned to noodles. So then I dove into an endless abyss of hypotheticals and what-ifs.

I texted my friend Debbie who works in the building right next to the accident scene and she replied to me later on to tell me that it ended up being a woman who works in her building, and that luckily she was OK – just sore and bruised.

Such a relief!

Caring is a weird feeling.

2. Bring Some Home For Daddy

I occasionally see this super disheveled yet exuberant man ambling about the ‘Burgh aimlessly, I guess the same way I do except I don’t yell uplifting platitudes at strangers or sing to myself.

Yet, anyway.

I walked past him one day about a month ago while he was looking into a store window and he was momentarily sidetracked from whatever mental mathematics he was chugging through with the aid of his fingers and an imaginary abacus.

“Oh, you have a nice day, pretty lady! Yeah, you have a nice day, now!” he sputtered jovially, and I thanked him because I’ll take compliments from anyone, NO DISCRIMINATION HERE, but I did pick up my pace a bit because…yikes.

It occurred to me that he looked really familiar, like maybe I had seen him the last time I was in the psych ward, but then I realized he looked like one of the baggers at Kuhn’s, and that is a huge feat for me to remember someone who works at Kuhn’s considering I’ve only gone there maybe 10 times in the last 16 years.

Hello, Henry-oppa does all the domestic bitch work.

I described him to Henry who admitted that he did sound familiar based on my impeccable profiling skills. But this wasn’t good enough and I set off on a mission to take his picture.

Fast forward to last Friday. A beautiful spring day, lots of activity downtown. Glenn mentioned that there was a stand in Market Square giving away tomato plants or something and I wanted one, so I stopped there first and found the stand. I just stood there for a few seconds and no one gave me anything, so I got mad and moved on to another booth where I got to try a sample of some kind of honey water. It was OK.

None of this has anything to do with the point of this story, but I felt the need to include it.

I did a huge loop around the Point and circled back onto Liberty Avenue, which is where a lot of hot messes can be found.

Just as I was approaching Planned Parenthood, I saw him. He was rummaging into a basket of chalk to help one of the protesters desecrate the sidewalk with her cheap message. I thought to myself, “Wow, a two-for-one special!” as I readied my phone.

Just as I took the picture, the man turned and looked straight at me. I mean, see for yourself:

I froze, wondering if he was going to be angry. Instead, he moved toward me quickly and put his fist up, so I was like, “Oh ok. I’ll play” and humored him with a fist bump. This was already breaking my NO HUMAN CONTACT rule, but whatever. I was in a good mood (no thanks to those motherfuckers in Market Square, denying me a tomato thing).

And then…

Oh god…

I barely have it in me to say…

The horrors….

He pulled me in, so fucking fast, into a suffocating bear hug.

It was like that Tango move. You know the one. Where the dude just yanks the broad into him.

THAT HAPPENED TO ME ON THE SIDE OF LIBERTY AVENUE.

IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

I froze. Completely shut down. Went limp.

Obviously he smelled pretty bad, and he was so sweaty, oh my god, the dampness of his untucked shirt….

The dampness.

So much moisture on that shirt.

TOUCHING ME.

I began to hear the sounds of wavering sheet metal in my ears, which usually means I’m about to pass out, die, or be lifted up into space by a beam of light.

Did you know that I hate hugs? I don’t even like hugging my friends. In high school, Lisa used to chase me around and threaten me with hugs all the time. I have a picture somewhere depicting one such occasion but alas, I am not in a position to search for said picture at this precise moment in time.

But anyway – back to the wet embrace. I was still all up in those stinky pits, pinned against his soggy shirt, feeling his hot breath against the side of my head as he gushed in the voice of 1940s radio personality, “Aren’t you just a pretty little lady, bring some home for daddy.”

BRING SOME HOME FOR DADDY.

That gave me the strength to wrench myself out of his vice-like hold and take off down the sidewalk, past all these people staring at me like I was the crazy one for going around hugging vagabonds, and I was acutely aware of him crossing the street while singing some song about FEELING JOLLY.

Oh my fucking god, why.

Why me.

Why why why.

On my race back to work, I started thinking of all the ways this situation could have gone awry. He could have turned hostile and stabbed me or worse – he could have stolen my G-Dragon pin!

I got back to work and my hands were shaking like milk (shout out to you if you know it). My first mistake was telling Glenn what happened. He thought this was the greatest story ever told. He loved it. Every last second of it. Meanwhile, I still hadn’t regained the color to my face and was still stumbling around with the pallor of a girl who just had her soul hugged out of her.

“That guy’s going to be have good dreams tonight,” Glenn chuckled and I felt sick all over again.

My second mistake was not immediately going home and taking a shower. Instead, I spent the rest of my workday, sitting inside the sweater that had just been molested by the sweat-stippled chest wig of a sidewalk stranger.

My third mistake was also my first mistake which was TELLING GLENN, who derived great joy in asking, “Did you tell them about your new friend?” every time someone came over to my desk. The really unfortunate part was that one of those people was Wendy and if there is anyone who loves basking in a swimming pool of Erin-related schadenfreude, it’s freaking WENDY.

“Oh my god, I would have pissed myself if I had been there!” she wheezed, and then I reached into my drawer to get out more of my international candy and Glenn happily said, “Bring some home for daddy!”

****

When I showed Henry the picture of my hugger, he said, “It looks like it could the brother of the bagger from Kuhn’s, but it’s not the same guy. Good job, Erin.”

All that I endured to get that fucking picture, and it wasn’t even the same guy.

Fuck everyone.

(Except for that lady who got hit by the car.)

Apr 162017
 

IMG_0590

Blake was over last night and I did that thing I do where I wait until the last minute and then blurt out, “CAN YOUDO ME A FAVOR HERE PUT THIS ON” and then before Blake knew it, he was reprising his leporine* role.

*(That was today’s Dictionary.com word of the day, have some smarts.)
IMG_0592

IMG_0589

Reflection.

My original plan backfired, because Henry failed to perfectly execute my vision so I threw a fit and pouted for twenty  minutes (I’m getting better), so I guess I’ll save that for that next year.

Anyway, enjoy whatever it is you do on Easter, and if you’re like us and do nothing, then bask in the glory that is no religious obligation! Stupid Henry, I mean, the real Easter bunny didn’t come back to our house so there were NO BASKETS for chooch and me and Henry, I mean, the Easter Bunny, said it’s because we’re spoiled brats and don’t deserve anything and now we know how he feels because we never get him anything for holidays?!

Henry, and I mean, the Easter Bunny, strikes back. What the fuck. 

(NOT EVEN ANY JELLYBEANS?!)

Dec 092016
 

First thing Monday morning, I was delivered a real coal-raking when Lauren (of all people!) told me, “You know Erin, it’s not always all about you.” Granted, she said it in good fun, but it was still the best thing Glenn would hear all week. Ugh.

Later that day, I was on my lunch break, talking to Henry. I was whining because Chooch had a birthday party to attend later that week, at 5pm!! Who has parties on weeknights at 5pm!?!? And why did it concern me, you might be wondering? Oh, because it meant that since Henry was going to be dealing with that, he wouldn’t be able to pick me up from work, so I would have to TAKE THE TROLLEY, UGH. And when Henry said, “It’s not always about you, Erin” I had brief déjà vu and then said, “Weird. That’s the second time today that’s been said to me!” Henry asked, “Who said it first—Glenn?” YEAH YOU WOULD THINK.

Wednesday was the day I had to take the trolley home, which wouldn’t have been that bad except that I remembered I don’t have a house key, and here’s why: Chooch lost his house key so I let him borrow mine, and then he lost MINE, so Henry had to get him another one made, but never got one made for me!? So Henry was like, “When I go home to get Chooch, I’ll leave his key under the seat of his bike” and I was like, “Chooch has a bike?” SIKE NO—I know he has a dumb bike.

So I got home and of course it was dark out because WINTER SUCKS, so I had to turn on the flashlight on my phone while hunkering down along the side of the house, digging under a bike seat for a fucking key, and it HURT!! Henry had it jammed so far up there that my hand was getting all scraped! Finally, I got the key out but then I couldn’t get it to unlock the door because here’s another thing: my key was the master key. It slid in smooth like butter, like a well-lubed weener, every time. And way back when I had a key made for Henry back when we were “dating,” the dude at Daniel’s Hardware didn’t cut the key very well, so Henry’s been using a janky key for like, 16 years. So then when Chooch lost his key, and then my key, Henry had to get him a new key made using HIS JANKY key, so now both house keys are FUCKED. And now you know the history of my house keys.

Needless to say, I could not for the life of me get this fucking key to unlock my door. I tried all the tricks, such as leaning into the door while turning the key, and….OK, so I tried a trick. After 15 seconds, I gave up and called Henry. Try to picture me shaking with unbridled anger and also HYPOTHERMIA because it was cold out there, with rage beginning to present itself in the form of foam in the corners of my mouth.

Henry answers from the luxury of Dave & Busters, and I hiss, “I can’t get the fucking key to work.”

And here is where Henry says a string of patronizing things like “Are you turning it the right direction?” and “Is it plugged in?” and “Did you turn it off and on again?” Or whatever. I low-key cried into the phone, “You’re a motherfucker and I can’t believe you did this to me GO FUCK YOURSELF.” And then I quickly looked around to make sure no one heard because I am my grandmother’s granddaughter.

While struggling with the key, I looked over and noticed that the mysterious neighbors now have a lamp downstairs, so that’s a new development. Thanks, landlord. It sounded really quiet over there and I imagined that they were spying on me from their bedroom window like I do to them. HOW RICH. Now I’m the trashy neighbor trying to kick her door down while threatening to slit her boyfriend’s throat with a frying pan.

(Shout out to my new DGD friends!)

Henry had the audacity to call me back after I hung up him. I feel like hanging up on someone is a pretty clear cut way to tell them that you no longer wish to expel breath on them but I guess Henry’s too dumb to get it.

We would yell words over top of each other for 10 seconds before I would have to hang up on him again on account of the rage noodles boiling in my blood.

ALSO! Idiot Chooch has some metal Batman keychain and it was cutting into hand every time I tried to force the key to turn! Since when does Chooch give a fuck about Batman?! Oh my god, my hand hurt so bad! It was so red! I was too afraid to look long enough to see if it was bleeding too but it felt like it was. I kept dropping the key on the ground because I was shaking with so much rage, and every single motherfucker who walked past my house looked over at me because I LOOKED LIKE I WAS TRYING TO BREAK IN. So then I would have to stop, casually lean against the porch column, and whistle.

I really didn’t want to have an encounter with Boots or Phyllis while this was happening, so I felt even more stressed out, like I was racing against something….time or whatever. Like the Mormon missionaries were swishing their wool skirted way to my house and I had to get inside, draw the blinds and hunker down on the floor until they left their bible literature and moved on. LIKE THE PIZZA GUY WAS COMING. (Do you even KNOW me? I scream and run up the steps every single time we have pizza delivered. I was scarred by Freddy of Freddy’s Pizza back in the day. He got too friendly with me and my friends and then started to COME IN MY HOUSE?! I mean, the pizza was great, but nope, go away.)

It was clear that I needed help before I did something stupid, like throw a brick through my window/hit myself in the head with a brick/chuck a brick at the next car that drove by. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A BRICK IN MY POSSESSION COULD MEAN.

WHERE WAS I EVEN GETTING A BRICK!?

Hot Naybor Chris’s light was off, and I certainly wasn’t asking mysterious neighbors, and Marky’s mom would want to hang out and talk and I don’t make a habit of talking to neighbors. But then I noticed that Chooch’s nemesis Larry was unloading groceries from the weird-ass Yellow Cab van that he drives. Oh man, I really didn’t want to have to talk to him. But I couldn’t get in my house! And my rising agitation was threating to destroy any hopeful entry into my dumb house. And I had to pee! SO BADLY. Why didn’t I pee before I left work!?

So I did it. I swallowed my pride. I took a deep breath of compromised Brookline air. I started my slow march to Larry’s house, motherfucking Henry in my head the whole way. Larry had just gone back inside his house, but as I slowly climbed the steps to his door, he had turned to come back out. The sight of me startled him, so right away our interaction was fueled on suspicion and alarm.

I tried to be super friendly, like, “HI I’M ERIN FROM THAT HOUSE THERE” like he doesn’t know I’m the mom of Notorious Chooch. I dangled the key up high and said, “This is really embarrassing, haha, but I can’t get my key to open my door.” Insert self-deprecating shrug and cute sitcom laugh. “So, can you help me?”

He was still looking at me with that super-serious, concerned face, like he couldn’t tell if it was a trap. And I’m like, “Do I look like a burglar? Come the fuck on, man, help me.”

So then he made a “come on” motion with his hand and I followed him back to my house, where I stood on my porch with him for what seemed like a full half hour, enough time to reflect on the idiocy that clouds my life.

I tried to lighten the mood by making jokes, and all of them bombed. Like, “My 10-year-old can open the door, but I can’t, LOL.” And he was just like *no response*. Brookliners are a tough crowd, yo.

But I would just like the record to state that Larry even had a trying time with that defective key. Which made me happy because at least I’m not a moron, but it also meant I had to stand there awkwardly with him in a bubble of rape alert, arms crossed tightly over my boobs. TRUST NO ONE.

After about 5 minutes (OK probably 3), Larry finally got the key to cooperate and my front door popped open. I could see the twinkling lights of Trudy’s arm and all of Henry’s shit strewn about the dining room table and what appeared to be a package containing a vinyl laying on the chair, and I was like THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME! THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME! And then, “Oh yeah, thank you Larry” as I shouldered past him to get inside. I gave him a few seconds of an audience while he explained to me the trick of opening the door and how I was probably turning the key the wrong direction because I Am A Gurl.

So after being all, “Oh OK. Gurl thanks Man,” I shut and double-locked the door, ripped open the vinyl package (it was the 10 year anniversary pressing of Alexisonfire’s “Crisis”!), remembered I had to pee so I peed, and then sat down to watch The Crown.

Ten minutes later, my phone rang, It was Henry.

“DID YOU GET IN THE HOUSE?!!?” he asked hysterically.

Apparently, he wasn’t getting my texts and proceeded to call Hot Naybor Chris to see if he could help, and when he didn’t answer, Henry was actually going to make Chooch leave the party early so they could come home and rescue me, lol.

God guys, calm down. I wasn’t dying.

(Henry for no reason just now told me he’s mad at me and I’m like I don’t care, I’m writing about my hero Larry.)

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*OK cool is what I say when Henry doesn’t respond to me in .00000000008 seconds.

Never forget that time last summer when Chooch spied on Larry from the window:

Chooch recorded his nemesis Larry ranting about not being appreciated. He learns so much from me!

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

Hey Larry – I appreciate you. I mean, now I do, anyway. Until you do something to piss me off, which will probably be soon.

Now Chooch REALLY hates Larry.

Jul 302016
 

I notoriously get depressed and despondent on my birthday. I was doing OK for a while there by planning road trips/events around the day to help keep me distracted and surrounded by new scenery, but I didn’t do that this year since we already took an early vacation and, as Henry reminds me constantly, we are not made of money. So then I was going to have a birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant Zenith and I went through the whole Facebook event rigamarole but wound up canceling due to the current state of my family and also because I panicked that my meat-eating friends would hate it there. 

I figured I would just wing it, except that from the moment I woke up on July 30, I felt hopeless and confused and at one point Henry had to wrestle a hammer out of my hands so that’s how you know it was my birthday. Once he got me calmed down though, we decided to go to Zenith anyway, for lunch, just me, Henry, and Chooch. No fanfare. We were originally going to try a different place but I just can’t with most vegan/vegetarian restaurants, you know? They can be so pretentious and even though I’ve been a vegetarian since 1996, I still feel like an outsider. Like my hair is too clean and I don’t have enough hemp on my person. However, I have never felt that way at Zenith so even though it felt weird going to the place where my birthday dinner was canceled, I just wanted to be comfortable. Low stress, casual, and I wouldn’t have to plaster a fake smile on my face. 

But I ended up smiling a ton anyway because Elaine waited on us and I just goddamn adore that woman and her amazing, quirky, vegetarian paradise of an establishment. She even gave Chooch a sample of the red-cooked black beans before he committed to the Peking-style tacos. 

Which he “kind of liked” but decided to stick with the safe bet of pasta primavera instead. 


…and proceeded to complain about every vegetable on the plate. He slurped the fuck out of his celery soup though, thank god! 

The other guy who works there, I have never asked his name because I’m socially incompetent, noticed that Picky Palate wasn’t eating  his pasta so he asked Chooch if he wanted something else, and me and Henry both shouted “No!” because his other option was BBQ seitan which is what Henry and I were completely smashing (SO FUCKING GOOD) but we knew it would be too spicy for him because he’s lame. 

Then the guy came back again and said to Chooch, “Hey, I just got some fresh cherries. You want some?” And Chooch, in all of his overwhelming politeness, shrugged and said, “Ok I guess sure?” UGH THE RUDENESS. 

He’s making Sour Face but he devoured every last cherry. I love that everyone caters to that jerk. It’s MY birthday, HELLO!

Elaine came over with her phone to show a picture her daughter sent her of the Japanese equivalent of the DMV and it was all bright and shiny with a play area full of toys.  Unreal. Get me to Japan. 

And then Chooch started raving about how much he liked the hummus and we said we were surprised because he generally doesn’t like anything that’s not cereal or cheese, and Elaine said that she actually hates hummus too and didn’t like it at all until she started making her own! I think she and Chooch would have sat together at lunch of they were classmates because she also isn’t a fan of the red-cooked black beans. (It’s on the menu though because everyone else there likes it and has been a big hit with the customers and I can verify that it was DELIGHTFUL based on the sample she gave Chooch.) She gave us a full container of hummus to take home and I was like HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! 

That place never fails to make me feel like I could be a functioning part of society because small talk is so goddamn organic there. I’m not even sure if Elaine recognizes me as a long-time patron but that doesn’t stop her from treating me like one. 

I don’t regret canceling my birthday dinner though because believe me, I’m not good company these days.  Trust. 

Then we went to Dave’s and the Attic to peruse the records. Henry found an early birthday gift for Wendy’s baby, Summer:

Gotta teach the young to live the music their parents hate! 

(I also hate Meghan Trainor so it was pretty torturous for me to even look at her face while taking this picture.)

Um…then we drove far away to some ice cream place Gayle recommended called Forbush’s (not 4 Bushes like I originally kept googling, THANKS GAYLE).


They do something special there with their ice cream that I can’t remember now, but it’s BITCHIN. Somewhere in between soft serve and hard ice cream, and so stupidly creamy I could have died. I got vanilla cherry because I haven’t had that flavor since I was a kid and since this past year has basically been about inadvertently revisiting my youth, I figured BETTER GO ALL IN. 

Chooch standing in a puddle of his tears. Eating ice cream is depressing! All he wanted to do was go home and SLEEP, ughhhh! 

I wanted to take a picture of him against a wall but he was being a bitch about it.  

“Its my birthday!” I cried. 

“And did I take pictures of you on my birthday? No, I did not,” Chooch calmly stated and Henry lost it. 

“Touché Amore!” Henry said, trying to be clever because that’s the band we were listening to in the car. Wow, great job knowing how to use that in conversation, Henry. 

The drive home was rife with mom-son bickering and SWEET, TASTY 80s girl pop pleasures, like PRETTY POISON and SHANNON. Which transpired into me falling down a rabbit hole that ripped off some pieces of my heart, but that will be a story for another time, because Sharon. Sigh. 

Chooch ditched us to go to some carnival with his friend so Henry and I watched old Emarosa interviews and then I played the birthday card to get him to finally hang up some of Chooch’s school pictures that have been sitting in a corner. 


AND WHILE THAT WAS HAPPENING Artifex Pereo announced that they’re playing a home town show Labor Day weekend, and it’s an album release party, and I’m like begging Henry to take me because they’re not coming to my shitty city on their tour even though they told Henry at Bled Fest that they were?! And at first he was all combative but now he’s thinking about it. I need an Artifex Pereo do-over. 

THEN THE WORST THING HAPPENED: I found out that there is a festival happening this weekend in New Jersey called SADFEST. I can’t believe I had no idea this was happening the weekend of my birthday. I could have been a #sadgirl with all the other #sadkids and had glorious group cries. There is no better day to center something called SADFEST around than this bitch’s birthday. July 30th is basically the soggy hobo boot of all the calendar days. 


I would have been the perfect attendee. WOE IS ME. 

Ciao for now. :(

P.S. I yelled at Chooch for not getting me a present and he said, in this shit-eating tone, “I gave you love.”

UGH SCREW YOU. 

Jul 202016
 

After another night of shitty news, I decided that the only way to end things on a good note would be to go and deep throat an ice cream cone.

We ended up stopping at Sugar & Spice since it was on our way home and our first choice was too crowded. (I WAS NOT IN THE MOOD TO STAND IN LINE WITH PEASANTS.)

Look, listen, do whatever it is you do to pay attention: I have no beef with this establishment. I definitely wouldn’t put it in my top local faves list but it’s not like, disgusting there or anything.  However, on this night, some RUDE FUCKING BROAD was at the window and, after already being annoyed with the people in front of us (the one girl had on camp sweatpants with flip flops and it just rubbed me the wrong way), she set me off before I even opened my mouth to order.

I’m sorry, but you have over 30 flavors of soft serve which I could not peruse until I got up to the window, so don’t fucking rush me  I hate being rushed. Go wipe down a counter or something and I’ll call you back when I’m ready, maybe?!

She was scowling and I didn’t want to stand there any longer than I had to so I blurted out “Cinnamon” but immediately had remorse and then Broad asked in a rude tone what kind of cone and I started to say sugar because I always confuse the cone-types and she cut me off to spit, “WE CANT PUT IT IN A SUGAR CONE. THE SOFTSERVE IS TOO HEAVY” and I totally looked like some sort of soft serve n00b to the guy who was still standing there waiting for his milkshake.

But the way she cut me off, I can’t even. My tolerance was already down real low, like the lowest rung of limbo, and this bitch and her highfalutin’ soft serve superiority was about to knock the pole right onto the rink IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN and I hope you do because my rollerskating analogies are a little bit rusty.

You guys, I then had the AUDACITY to ask her for sprinkles.  Whaaaaat was I thinking! I’m an alien sent to earth for my first ice cream cone and I fucking blew it, apologies to the Mother Ship.

“YOU CANT PUT SPRINKLES ON THIS, ITS TOO SOFT.” Wow, really, you have to straight scold me about this? You’re the one dishing out limp soft serve, you dumb ice cream cooze.

I literally snatched the cone from her hands and, as she was muttering in her bitch-voice about “putting the sprinkles on the side” I cut her off and in a PURPOSELY FAKE UPBEAT VOICE THAT WASNT TOO SOFT TO SPRINKLE WITH SARCASM, I sniped, “OK GREAT NO THANKS BYE” and stomped off through the parking lot while making loud, passive aggressive declarations to my 10-year-old son and the man who was waiting for his milkshake that I would NEVER come back to this place again.

PUT THE SPRINKLES ON THE SIDE. Oh for fuck’s sake. If I want to make a mess with my ice cream cone that I’m paying for, that’s 100% within my right as an American! IF I WANT SPRINKLES, DUMP THAT SHIT ON MY ICE CREAM AND TELL ME TO HAVE A NICE NIGHT AND I WILL SAY THANKS, YOU DO THE SAME

THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD HAVE PLAYED OUT. I have read from this script plenty of times

Henry tried to play devils advocate which is basically the only character he knows how to play because he’s so one-dimensional and I interrupted his empty words to shriek, “I’VE HAD THIS SAME SOFT SERVE AT OTHER PLACES AND GOT SPRINKLES ON IT!” And it is definitely the same soft serve because all those places use the same OMG 30+ FLAVORS sign and it’s the same machine!! Sugar & Spice isn’t unique! This isn’t their own creation! They use the same mix that every other place uses and I know this because I eat a lot of fucking ice cream.

I know my fucking soft serve.

Henry was stuck there at the window because he still had to pay, but I had already marched off to the car. I considered viciously pitching my cone in the garbage can on the way there but let’s be real: I’m too much of a tightwad to waste money like that so I leaned against the car and angrily lapped at my stupid too-melty-for-sprinkles ice cream while shuddering with rage.

What a dumb, surly bitch. I continued to spout off vague threats as we drove past her on our way out, like how I wanted to chuck my cone against her stupid window. “I don’t think she can hear you,” Henry mumbled.

“Oh I’m going to leave a really nasty review,” I growled against a background of mirthless laughter, cutting down my melty ice cream cone with my razor-edged tongue. And as soon as I opened the Yelp app to destroy this establishment with my hateful prose (“Not only do your employees have no chill, but either does your ice cream!”), the first thing I saw was a review from my MORTAL YELP ENEMY.

A FUCKING 5-STAR REVIEW.

So of course I had to clear my throat and read it out loud to Henry in my best Robin Leach voice.

“A den of sug’ry iniquity hidden in a seemingly innocuous suburb and building” — get the fuck over yourself.

ALSO HE WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO REVIEW THIS PLACE.

One time he sent me a message and was like “you should add some pictures of yourself to your profile” and I was like “That sentence was too simple. Needs 87 more adjectives.” I hate him so much. (Projecting? Or naw?)

I should probably just go to bed.

Mar 152016
 

 Alternately titled: Another Dumb Idea!
Last week when I was meandering about town during my lunch break, I kept pausing to either tweet or text Henry about all the perils in my path. You know, like Planned Parenthood protestors, city school kids, an errant paper bag skipping across the pavement. (I COULD TRIP!)

And it made me think about how much more fun it would be to SEND A POSTCARD instead of these electronic means of communication. Like my lunch break is a vacation and oh motherfucker, do I wish you were here. 

Perks: 

-snail mail is never a bad thing and gives the mailman something to read other than Pennysavers and campaign mailings. 

-I love handwriting things and it will give me something other than my name to scribble over and over again at my desk. And let’s be real, I don’t have the time/attention span to write full blown letters. 

-I’ll have something to give Last Mail!

-WHAT A PERSONAL WAY TO STAY IN TOUCH!

If I have your address, don’t be surprised if you get some weird sketch of the Stalker of the Day (I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE SOMEBODY’S WATCHING MEEEE) or a poem about the trash in the river. 

And if I don’t have your address and you want to get a random post card, email me! Butgavincantdance@gmail.com

I’ll probably also send them to random addresses as well because that’s not creepy it’s sweet. 

I’d like to send one a day and I’ll start as soon as Henrh buys me stamps, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. #HenryProblems

And if you wanna send one back from your own lunch break, PLEASE DO! Postcard frenzy!!

Feb 052016
 

You already know that I’m a horrible mom. I mean, psychologically horrible. I can’t help it! I live and breathe to punk people and no one is easier and more fulfilling to punk than my own kid. And believe me, he gives it back to me! It’s like our thing. We love to fuck with each other.

Off and on over the years, I’ve made loose comments about the man who lives in the attic. The steps to the attic can only be accessed from Chooch’s room, so it’s my way of nudging him down Night Terrors Alley. He’s always just like, “YEAH OK MOMMY” and then we all laugh and go about our day. But lately, it’s been heating up. My response to almost everything has been “manintheattic” and Henry gives me a disappointed look. Like when Chooch had a fever last week and woke up in the middle of night and dressed himself. He was horrified when he woke up because he never goes to bed with a shirt on.

“And now I have on TWO t-shirts?!” he cried, like call up Scully and Mulder, quick.

“Manintheattic,” I half-coughed. “Sometimes he dresses you during the night. You’re like his living baby doll.”

“YEAH RIGHT!” Chooch scoffed, but I could see that there was a tiny glimmer of doubt in his eyes.

The next night, as we all in our respective bedrooms for the night, Chooch made a fake phone number using one of those free text apps and started prank-calling me. I stupidly fell for it too, and I got so nervous when I saw a call coming in from someone with our area code BECAUSE WHO COULD IT BE, WHAT DID I DO NOW!? Then I realized it was the idiot in the next room over. So I made one too and said, “Be quiet down there, I’m trying to sleep.” And then “Good night.”

“You’re a dick,” Henry mumbled into his pillow when I giddily showed him my work.

The other day at work, I decided to create an Instagram account for The Man In the Attic.

Because these are things normal moms do.

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Step 1: Find a good snap of Gary Busey’s mug to use as my user pic.

Step 2: Follow Chooch.

Step 3: Comment on Chooch’s most recent video of the kittens.

“You need to put them in the basement while you’re at school. They’re very disruptive during the day.”

Step 4: Post pictures.

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I was crying at my desk over this while several of my co-workers clucked their tongues and made various remarks about Chooch’s future therapy bill.

“He does it to me, too!” I yelled in defense.

Glenn just shook his head at me and Todd struggled to wrap his head around how anyone thought it would be a good idea to have a child with me.

“My mom used to do this shit to me all the time when I was kid,” I explained during one of our daily “Dissecting Erin’s Childhood” conversations at work.

“Oh,” Todd said, attempting to understand how this was normal.

“I don’t talk  to her anymore, though,” I added as an after thought, and then we all started to laugh, because: family.

“I’m going to pay someone to hide in the attic one night,” I said, and everyone groaned.

***

After work, Henry dropped Chooch off downtown because he and I were going to the Pens game. First, we went to get dinner. Over pizza, Chooch learned of the Man In the Attic’s Instagram account.

At first he was like, “Wait. What. How.” But then his brain kicked on and he said, “Yeah OK, I know this is you.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Let me see that. Oh my god, this is so creepy!” I exclaimed, scrolling through Instagram on Chooch’s phone.

“Whatever, I know it’s you.”

I kept denying it over and over, and then we went to the game, where me made jokes about how Henry was home alone with the Man In the Attic. I thought everything was good. He knew I made the Instagram account and was able to find some humor in it, life goes on, Pens win, etc etc.

But later that night, after we came home from the game and Henry retired to bed after a long night of staying home doing nothing while Chooch and I screamed our faces off at Consol, Chooch brought up the Instagram account.

“Honestly, this is you, right?”

I couldn’t believe this was coming up again because I was certain he knew it was me. I mean, Chooch is a pretty bright kid!

But the sinister side of me saw this as an opportunity to continue the fun, so I denied it. Over and over and over.

“Chooch, like I have time to do shit like that at work, really!” I said with faux-annoyance.

(LOL, this was the biggest lie I’ve ever told.)

Suddenly, we had a replay of the Doll Episode. He was pissed, and he was also tired: A deadly combination.

He got so angry because I wouldn’t admit to it, that he started sobbing. Like, hands covering his face, body-convulsing sobs.

Since he’s my son, I initially couldn’t tell if he was faking it or not.

Turns out, nope. Thems some real optic-wets right there.

So of course I dropped the gag and hugged him, swearing it was me and apologizing profusely, but he shrugged away from me and shut himself in the kitchen.

When he came out, he spat, “DELETE IT. DELETE THE ACCOUNT.”

I promised I would, and then he retreated up the steps to his bedroom, sniffling and wiping tears with the back of his hand.

I felt like a complete asshole.

“Good for you!” Henry spat with disappointment when I went up to bed later and filled him in. “I’m glad we spent all that money on his new bed, because you’re the one who’s going to be sleeping in it!”

***

The next morning, Chooch was still bitter, but by the time I came home from a day of being scolded for being a terrible mom by my co-workers, Chooch had cooled down. I honestly think that the biggest issue here is that he hates it when I prank him better than he pranks me. But I’m happy to report that Chooch has now accept The Man In the Attic as a part of this household and has even added my newly-created phone number to his contacts as Manin Theattic. One day, we will laugh heartily about this over Christmas picnic in the cemetery with his children. I just can’t help it—I was born with a very dominant Prankster gene. (Or as some might argue—a Bully gene.)

The funniest part about all of this is that I’m the one who’s actually terrified of the attic.

Jan 212016
 

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

I was joking the other day at work about how trouble follows me everywhere I go in that department, and why when I am clearly such a sweet, innocent, demure human being!? And it got me thinking about other jobs I had, where I was a holy terror on purpose and gave no fucks about it, because what was the worst that was going to happen? I was going to quit after three days and my mom would still pay my rent.

Rinse and repeat.

But if I had to pick a place that got the best version of Asshole Erin, it was definitely Echostar.

PICTURE IT: The year was 1998. I had recently lost the only steady job I ever had, as a telemarketer for Olan Mills Portrait Studio—which, coincidentally, is how I met the guy who got me to take the only bus ride of my life, which I mentioned last week. Joey was one of my cold calls (as opposed to those on the coveted and golden PAST CUSTOMER LIST) and after letting me pant my way through the whole portrait package spiel, he laughed and said, “Well, that sounds really great, except I don’t need it because I’m a photographer.” Turns out, he was in Pittsburgh going to the Art Institute for photography, and we REALLY HIT IT OFF over the phone. Like, instant connection. This is how people used to hook up back in the day! Over the phone, on sales calls. Anyway, my supervisor was starting to catch wind that I was no longer trying to make a sale, or at least, not the kind of sale I was being paid to make, so I quickly gave him my number and then we proceeded to stay up all night on the phone when I got home that evening and before I knew it, we were making wedding plans, moving to Montana, and buying a sheepdog. I mean, until I actually met him and then it was “……” But I still got on a bus with him and went to his place on the Southside, because I’m fucking smart.

OK OK, so our Olan Mills telemarketing branch got shut down (thanks, Internet) and my mom was started to put pressure on me to find something else. There was another telemarketing job after that, where I sold a credit card terminal to a tattoo shop and then got a free (and shitty) tattoo out of it, because back then I had A Personality and it was impossible for me to not make friends over the phone. Now I won’t even ANSWER the phone. So by this point, I had myself pigeon-holed to the telemarketing industry. It was apparently the only skill I had attained somehow. That’s a little known fact about dropping out of high school: you’re spilled out into this holding cell while everyone else is running off to college like normal, functioning humans, and you’re given two options: drugs or telemarketing. I had a mild interest in drugs back then, but then my friend Brian got me a job at Olan Mills and totally ruined that plan.

After quitting the credit card terminal place, I applied at Echostar (Dish Network), which had just opened a huge call center in McKeesport and it was like A Really Big Deal for us people who weren’t qualified to do anything much greater than bag groceries. It was so new that the call center wasn’t even finished, so the training classes were being held in this really old joint called the Peoples Building, and it was such a shady area that we had to have security guards escort us from the building to the parking garage every night. (Evening classes, ya’ll.)

What I will always remember the most about this job is that I started on the Monday directly after returning from Philly, where I had attended the Dracula’s Ball with my friend Cinn. I almost didn’t show up for my first class at all because my eyebrow piercing had become so infected from all the glitter I was wearing that evening, plus the fact that the new hoop was shoved in forcefully by some guy who looked like the guy Happy Gilmore shot with a nail gun to the point where I PASSED OUT IN HIS SHOP and woke up on a couch with him standing above me, holding a paper towel saturated with my blood, saying, “Wow, look how much you bled!” So all of these factors led to an eventual infection which caused my eyelid to swell up and I had to walk into this class room with my hair covering one side of my face, looking like I was trying to hide a black eye. But then I was like “Fuck it” and just started flaunting it and that was how I made a bunch of friends in that class on my very first day, by being the youngest person in the class who had a gross piercing story to share as an introduction.

(I ended up going to the emergency room right after class that night, where a doctor had to cut the ring out of my face while a nurse watched on and said, “This is exactly why I told my daughter she’s never getting pierced.”)

At the start of this first class, our trainer Mike had us go around the room and say our name with a descriptive adjective that started with the same letter. I fucking love these things because I’m a nerd, so when it was my turn, I shot out of my seat and cried, “EFFERVESCENT ERIN!” Everyone in the class laughed at  my enthusiasm, and that was basically the start of Mike’s infinite disdain for me.

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There were lots of tests and POP QUIZZES.

The class was a month long. We had to learn all about the company, customer service, operating the company’s computer system, and all of the various cable packages they offered. It was kind of like telemarketing and support combined: we had to help customers with issues they might be experiencing with their service while trying to upsale them at the same time. I was kind of torn, because I used TCI for my digital cable and I was obsessed with it. (This was pre-Comcast.) I loved TCI so much that I turned down a pretty nice apartment when I found out that the cable used in that area was ADELPHIA.

P-U.

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I sincerely wish I had stayed in touch with these people. They were fucking nuts.

So my heart was never really in this job from the get-go. (I mean, how much of a heart could one really put into this sort of job, anyway?) Class quickly became less of learning and more of an opportunity to hide behind computer terminals while passing notes and giggling with my new friends, Bobbie (a girl), Roniece, and Letecia.

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These girls though. They were the only reason I kept coming back to that class, night after night. One time, I arrived in tears because my pet frog Hubert had died that day. They helped me eulogize him on our break, and it was the sweetest thing that I will never forget. THEY WERE MY RIDE OR DIES, obviously, except that no one said that in 1998.

We were totally the bad kids, and very quickly we became A Class Divided: there was us and a handful of the other younger people plus some of the soccer moms (surprisingly) and then there were the Others, made up of the older women and the people who were surprisingly actually there to learn. They would get so fucking irate every time Mike would have to stop class to chastise one of us. It got really bad too, and if us Bad Kids wound up in the same place as some of the Others during our dinner break, they would get so ruffled and tight-lipped, like we had just sleazily oozed over the threshold, flicking our switchblades open and closed, popping our gum, and making cunnilingus Vs with our fingers.

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It was like being in college after all! Lol, j/k.

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One of the girls in our group got bitched at by Mike because he found out that she was sneaking out onto the fire escape to smoke. So then he had to have the building manager come up and lock the door to the fire escape, which made us scream dramatically about, “BUT WHAT IF THERE IS A FIIIIIIIRRRREEEEE?!” while cracking up behind his back.

There is one moment that stands out the most for me though, and that was the day we were learning how to add notes to customers’ accounts. The company was smart enough to make sure we were on a training server, so all of the customers were Jane and John Does. Trainer Mike was having each one of us take turns going into the fake accounts and adding notes based on the scenarios he read to us, so after the note was “published,” it would show up on everyone’s computer. I quickly realized that if I skipped ahead, I could add fake notes and then everyone else would see them by the time we made it to that particular account.

I quickly alerted my homegirls about this and we all giddily forged ahead and began adding childish notes, the only one I for sure remember was “Our trainer sucks ass.” NOT SAYING THAT WAS MINE.

But it was mine.

Needless to say, when the rest of the class, and Mike, stumbled upon these, there was a major uproar. The people on our side laughed and appreciated the effort of our antics, while the nerdy ones were appalled at our juvenile behavior and began clucking and whatever else old bitches do when they’re mad at the Youth of Today.

Mike was furious. I mean, this was his breaking point. You could practically see his pupils turning into boiling point thermostats, the veins popping out of his forehead like someone REALLY WAIST DEEP in some late night viewing of The Erotic Network, the LARGE FONT letters queuing up in his brain before exploding out into a “I DON’T GET PAID ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH THIS MOTHERFUCKING BULLSHIT” rant.

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When Mike eventually regained his composure—kind of—he pounded his fist against his desk and demanded that whomever did this, speak up.

Of course none of us did. And he definitely could narrow down the suspect pool to three. But Bobbie, Roniece and I just hunkered down lower, our faces red from stifled laughter.

Then he started threatening us.

“If no one comes forward, then the whole class will suffer!” he roared, and this made the Other Half of the class pivot in their seats, thrusting their fingers at the three of us, screaming about life’s injustices and their inability to get a good Echostar education thanks to our disruptive behavior and basic tomfoolery. Still, we wouldn’t take the blame.

(This morning, I was actually telling Henry this story, and through tears of laughter I said, “Can you believe those bitches were so upset over that? What losers.”

“Yeah, imagine being concerned about your job,” Henry dryly replied.)

Mike then told us that the CEO of the company, Charlie Something-Or-Other, was coming to town to deal with this, that the fucking CEO OF THE COMPANY was flying in from COLORADO just to YELL AT OUR WHOLE CLASS.

Like, OK sure, Mike. We all knew he was coming in because the grand opening of the Pittsburgh location was that weekend. But still we were sure surprised the next night when fucking Charlie himself made a guest appearance in our dumb classroom, and proceeded to lecture us about respecting Mike, how he puts a great deal of effort into employing the BEST TRAINERS to provide the rest of us with the knowledge we need to succeed within the company. Mike stood to his right, hands clasped behind his back, looking smugger than a motherfucker grading Echostar tests.

It was fucking surreal. I loved/hated every moment of it. I think we were simultaneously proud that our actions warranted such a dramatic response, but also stunned that we didn’t get fired when we probably should have.

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Hilariously, that one lady back there in the pink turtleneck was the wife of some dude who worked at my family’s drywall company, so she would go home and tell him about all the shit-stirring I did, and he in turn would go to work and tell my mom. The phone calls I got from my mom was fantastic. “What are you doing over there?!” she would cry. “Please don’t embarrass me!” But that dude’s wife was actually cool as shit; she was on our side and thought the whole situation was hysterical. When the “Goody-Goodies” started to rally against us, she gave me a big pep talk outside on the sidewalk and told me that they were just angry old women who had no joy in their lives and to not let them get me down. I mean, these broads went full-throttle Mean Girls on us, which was stupid because we weren’t directing any of our antics against them. We were just a bunch of goofy idiots who were bored at studying the various remote controls that came with the satellite dishes. I was nineteen — of course I didn’t take this job seriously!

But you know, looking back on it — wow I was a fucking douche bag.

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This was my life for a whole month.

Somehow, we all managed to make it to the end of the month-long training course, but the real victory is that we all PASSED THE TEST. It was time for us to move to the newly-built call center and begin our live training, head-sets and all. But first, we decided amongst ourselves that we should celebrate during our last class.

Even Trainer Mike was on board with having a party, but he was definitely partying for much different reasons.

I volunteered to get a cake, which was no skin off my back because all I had to do was call Mommy and tell her to deal with it.

“What do you want it to say?” she asked.

“I don’t know….;this class sucks’,” I joked. Then we went on to talk about other things, probably me whining about all the things I wanted her to buy me.

The next day, and I remember this vividly because it was a bad day, I had to leave my apartment to go to the mall and pick up the cookie cake. But first, I realized that I forgot my car keys, and how I realized this was that I was unable to open my car door with the CORDLESS PHONE that I left the house with instead of my key chains. And then I couldn’t open the apartment door because my apartment key was on the keychain so I had to call my mom (on the cordless!) to come and open my door with the spare key she had. Even back then, I was a spaz about being late. I have ALWAYS been a spaz about being late.

(Hey 1998 Erin, never change.)

By the time I had my keychain, I was in pedal-to-the-metal mode and floored it to the mall, where I said, “Nah!” when the Original Cookie people asked if I wanted to see the cookie cake before they put it in the bag. Then, several feet away from the stupid Peoples Building, I merged into the right lane and didn’t see that there was a car in my blind spot so then I had to pull over and deal with THAT nonsense.

And so I was late. And in a really shitty mood. Which didn’t get much better when Bobbie lifted the lid of the cookie cake to reveal that it boasted a delicious declaration of This Class Sucks.

“Fucccccck,” I whispered. “I thought my mom knew I was joking!” And then I played back our conversation and realized I never told her what I actually wanted the stupid fucking cake to say.

I was nearly about to cry because everything kept happening! But then I was like, “Fuck it, I’m probably going to quit this job anyway, so who cares.” And it turns out, Mike definitely didn’t care! He came over, swiped off the “cl” with one swift motion of his finger, and then started cracking up.

I guess we kind of made up that day, over pizza and unfortunate cake sentiments. But honestly, I think he was just really fucking giddy about never having to deal with us hooligans again.

I mean, look at how innocent I was! This was also when I was going through a heavy goth phase, in that I spent most of my free time in a goth chatroom, listened to goth music, and had goth Internet friends. I never went full-fledged goth, but LOOK AT HOW PALE I WAS. So I would go to my training class every night and teach all of my new, normal friends things about Dracula’s Ball, Sisters of Mercy, and Darkchat. Their response was always, “Giiiiiiirl.….” paired with the raised eyebrow of skepticism.

I did end up quitting right after we “graduated.” It just wasn’t for me. I saw Bobbie once afterward, when we met at Nigro’s, a lounge down the street from Echostar. And the next summer, I hung out with Roniece and it will forever be known as The Night I Died On The Street In Front of a Strip Club In Braddock; but earlier that evening, Roniece’s grandma saved my friend Keri from possibly dying from a bee sting, so the day was clearly full of second chances. I kept in touch with Leticia the longest out of all of them, and dragged her to the Denis Theater twice to see “white people movies” which she bitched about on the way there and then gushed over the way home. (“Shakespeare In Love” and “American Beauty” lol.) I even visited her a few years later when she had a baby. But eventually, I lost touch with her too. I wish I could remember their last names so I could Facebook-stalk them.

Anyway, the moral to this story is that I am not even close to being a troublemaker at my current job, even though Todd thinks I’m a “bully.” So there.

(I think I actually am kind of a bully though.)

Jan 172016
 

Chooch and I went geocaching last weekend and we are now, together, co-blogging about it. I’m not writing this with my hyperbolic plume either. This experience was particularly blood-boiling, and I have an extremely low boiling point to begin with.

Short-fused. 

Tightly-wound.

Hot-headed.

I’m all of these things. 

Hey its yo boy Chooch, I’m gonna tell you a little things about Geocaching. K, First things first, I learned about Geocaching in school in a book. Geocaching is basically a High-Tech Treasure Hunt Game where you get the app or go on a computer and look for a Gray, Blue, Orange, Light Green, or Dark Green dot and you click on it. It will tell you what the coords are and you just go look for it.

Erin here: I thought he learned about it from YouTube, so I am currently pleasantly surprised.

So I thought there wasn’t much to do, I thought me and mommy could go Geocaching. Daddy didn’t think it would go well, but I did. He said we would kill each other cause’ we’re so competitive. So we went on a Saturday and went to South Park. Because usually there is a lot of Geocaches in the park. As soon as we got there mommy flipped out. Two minutes in she just wanted to go home. I was in the wrong area the whole time.

Erin here: Geocaching with Chooch is terrible because he thinks he knows but HE DOES NOT KNOW. He took us to some area that had an older man like, DIGGING something or someone in the woods and we had to walk near him. That was incredibly unpleasant. Chooch was putzing around with the app and I kept screaming, “AREN’T THERE COORDINATES?! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHERE TO LOOK?!?!” and we were literally just standing there, walking in tiny circles, staring at the ground and toeing rocks. Chooch isn’t wrong — two minutes in, I completely flipped my lid and screamed (and I mean BELLOWED), “This is fucking ridiculous! I am going THE FUCK HOME!” Volaries of birds burst out of a nearby tree. The man with the shovel was like “…the fuck is that lady’s problem?” and according to Chooch, everybody hated me when this happened.

“Everybody.”

We were in the fucking park in January! There were not many people around!

Except for a biker who said hello to me RIGHT AFTER MY OUTBURST and because I’m a fucking psychopath, I switched on Sweet Erin and jovially bid him a fine afternoon in the fakest fucking baby voice I could muster.

OH, SUCH DEMURE.

Back to Unicorn Chooch: After looking for like… 7 mins or so I was just looking through rocks, and I saw some weird looking rock. I felt the bottom and it was flat. I turned it over and it was a sliding rock cache. I found the cache. We put some inappropriate mommy cards* in there. I mean like the cards she makes. I was so happy. But… I forgot to bring a pen to sign it. So I made mummy go check the car for a pen. No luck.

Me again: When I went to the car, some dumb elderly couple cheerfully said hello to me, as they were getting their idiot bikes out of their minivan. I said, “HI-YEEEEE!” in return and they kind of stepped back a little because I guess I sounded like I was being an asshole. BECAUSE I WAS.

*And he’s talking about my Totally Awesome Blog Cards, thanks!

I just put a card in and went on the app and said I found it. I wrote “Took forever I thought me and my mom would kill each other! My god”

So then mommy wanted to go home but I told her there’s one 0.3 miles away. We walked down a muddy trail next to a golf course. There was a tree tipped over so it was like a tunnel. I wasn’t going off trail I was totes on trail. We got to some torn down outhouse because I thought it was right there but nope. Farther down by a log. I was getting stabbed in the leg by tons of thorns almost dying. Then I tried to climb over a log but fell. I could’ve died. Mummy couldn’t see because she was in some crack. Lol sounds weird.

Me, with anguish: Hello, it was a GORGE and I was trapped in it, OK?

Erin’s turn: Chooch had us going totally off-trail and it was getting late in the afternoon. I felt like I was on some Blair Witch expedition and bitch, I wasn’t dying for no fucking Tupperware container in the woods. And then we get to these decrepit outhouse ruins and I thought for sure we were going to perish. I kept having future visions of tumbling into that hole and getting dragged down into Hell. Because that would be my luck.

So Henry and I used to occasionally go letterboxing back in the day, which was like the pioneer version of geocaching in that it didn’t give you GPS coordinates and you had to rely on good old-fashioned directions to find your booty. Like, turn right by the crushed Michelobe Lite can. The problem with this though is that most of the time, that fucking beer can wasn’t there anymore, you know? However, with this particular cache we were looking for, it said that it was near “an old source of water.” For some reason, Chooch felt that this meant “look for an ancient outhouse and try not to get murdered.”

Spoiler alert: it was not anywhere near the outhouse. Chooch fucking left me there and started scaling some mountain to get back to the trail that we had long-since abandoned and here’s something to add to the Erin Fact Book: I tend to get crippled with fear anytime I’m faced with walking down a steep hill. So it took a good five minutes of me standing millions of yards away from Chooch, screaming, “I CAN’T DO IT! I’M SCARED! WHY ARE YOU LEAVING ME!?” before I finally ran at full speed down the hill and then let momentum carry me up the other side of the “crack” as Chooch effectively called it.

I was rewarded by finding the stupid cache literally as soon as I joined Chooch on the other side. I stubbornly spat, “The clue said that it’s by an old source of water and I don’t see AN OLD SOURCE OF WATER” and then a split second later, I said, “Oh, right there” and pointed to a rusty water pump a few feet away.

And let me tell you, all of my homicidal rage completely evaporated and I was suddenly a completely different broad, jumping up and down and screaming, “Yay geocaching!”

So Chooch, back from playing GTA-V: We opened up the cache and put a card in. I took tw bouncy balls and a picture of a cat. I replaced it with the card.

We saw there was a bridge on the way back to the car we completely missed. I walked up really easily but on the way back down mommy cried for help and I was so disappointed in her. I thought she could do it until I told just to jump and she whined even more. Eventually like 24hours later she jumped.

Erin, Terrified of Heights: I WAS HIGH UP THERE, OK!? And I didn’t jump down. I cautiously and slowly scooted down. Anyway, it’s amazing how much my attitude changed after winning at geocaching. I practically skipped the whole way back to the car with a crown of blue birds swirling around my dome. Also, I was completely shocked at how calm and patient Chooch was during our trying times. He never gave up! So there’s one quality he didn’t get from me: the endurance of a champion quitter.

Bootiful horse ass! So cute with the tail and riders! I was like neigh and they were like moo! Then I just started singing The Killers.

That was a fun day maybe we can do it again!

Me: Probably not. Except for right now, since this was how I got Chooch to write on here. Fuck.

Jan 142016
 

Michele ruined my life today. She emailed several of us at work an article about how the TROLLEY IS SHUTTING DOWN FOR 6 MTHS.

SIX MOTHERFUCKING MONTHS. 

THAT IS A LOT OF MONTHS. 

In case you didn’t already know, here are some important facts:

  • The trolley is how I get to work basically every single day now that Henry’s job sucks and he hasn’t been able to drive me.
  • It’s way more stressful now that I don’t work late shift every day and have to deal with the morning rush hour crowds. 
  • It took me like 3 years to come to terms with commuting to work.
  • I have major anxiety when my routine is changed. 
  • Horrible things happen to me a lot just on my walk to the trolley alone, such as ISSUES WITH CROSSING THE STREET and strangers wanting to talk, and then my day is ruined. You can ask Henry because sometimes he’s on the phone with me and witnesses the horrors! (Don’t let him tell you I embellish.) Sometimes I get splashed with water! One time I fell into a hole!
  • I’m a little bit neurotic. 

My first reaction was, “I have to quit my job.”

But then Todd verbalized some nonsense about TAKING THE BUS.

I whipped around in my chair and co-opted Henry’s method of laughing without mirth. 

“Todd,” I said firmly once I stopped stuttering from all The Shock of the news. “I can NOT take a bus.” And then I had to tell him the now-legendary* tale of when I was 18 and met some boy at the mall (actually we met over the phone when I was a telemarketer for Olan Mills, lol) who then invited me back to his apartment on the Southside but we had to take the bus, he said, and I was all agreeable with adventure in my eyes.

Until it was 3am and I didn’t know how to get home so my mom had to come and pick me up. 

*(Not legendary.)

I never took a bus again. I don’t understand the numbers and the letters and the routes. With the trolley, I have two choices: red or blue. And it’s a straight shot to where I need to go. No transfers or any such nonsense. 

My only other brush with the bus was when I was a sophomore in high school and decided I wanted to join a gang, because that’s what all rich white girls do to act out: engage in back alley knife fights and terrorize the neighborhood shop owners. (But probably mostly just serve as a penis coozy for the “real” gang members.)

I had a friend named Jeremiah who lived in The City and he said he could get me into a gang, but I would have to TAKE A BUS from my comfortable suburban sprawl because none of my friends were interested in driving me to the hood to get gang-initiated. 

“And that’s how I almost joined a gang,” I somberly wrapped up my deeply personal story. 

“Wow,” Todd said with faux-amazement. “Your life could have been so different.”

“I know right?! I’d probably have a face tattoo by now, at least,” I mused, picturing all the battle scars etched into my body like a gritty street war constellation. 

“Just make a bus friend,” Todd offered as a flimsy solution. 

Todd, I don’t MAKE FRIENDS. I break them. (….?)

I’m glad that I have two months to fucking LOSE MY MIND over this before it actually happens. I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m still leaning heavily toward quitting my job. 

Jan 132016
 

It’s Wednesday. There was a 2-hour delay because I guess it’s very cold out or something. (Yesterday was very cold too but when I checked the weather before leaving the house, 20 degrees somehow seemed like it would be “warm” so I wore a lightweight jacket and no gloves. I’m killing this adult game.)

I spent all morning designing new Valentines for non compos with intermittent KpopX mental health breaks. It is literally the only thing keeping me stable, thank you KpopX. My current favorite song/routine is 2Eye’s “Pippi” and did you know that if my birth dad hadn’t died and my mom hadn’t remarried, my last name would be Pippi? Seriously, shoot me. I would have said yes to one of those other pre-Henry dudes who actually asked me to marry them. (What were they thinking?)

Here is Chooch’s expression from when I made him watch the Pippi video this morning:

I’d like to add that a few minutes later, I was upstairs putting MY FACE ON, when I heard him in the living room absentmindedly humming 2eye’s masterpiece. Yeah, that’s what’s up.

I made Henry watch an acoustic rendition of “PIPPI” last night and his expression was pretty similar, except his eyes were more glazed.

(Don’t worry, everything else I listen to is depressing as fuck so I’m no less emo.)

***

Last week, Glenn happily sent me an article about “South Korea resuming propaganda broadcasts hated by North” because it mentions Kpop, but not only that, it gives a shout-out to one of my favorite KpopX routine songs!!

kpop

So, between KpopX and making new Valentine cards, I’m keeping busy. Gayle tried to force me to borrow a book from her and I was like, “NICE TRY GAYLE BUT I AM IN NO PLACE TO READ A BOOK RIGHT NOW.”

Also, I feel like I’m getting sick. I AM SLOWLY BREAKING, HELP. EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE. #SOS #911 #187

 

 

Dec 242015
 

At the last minute Monday morning, I bought a ticket to see Polyphia that night at the Smiling Moose. I saw them last year when they opened for Dance Gavin Dance and my heart immediately opened for them. I was never a big fan of prog, but I guess people change. People usually tell me I’m way off base when I make musical comparisons, but maybe my mind is just DIFFERENT ok? So if you asked me, I would tell you that Polyphia reminds me of the grandchildren of Chuck Mangione and Eric Johnson. Do with that what you will.

I’m still picky with this genre though. For instance, we saw Chon—another instrumental band in the same vein and they are actually taking Polyphia on tour with them next year—and while they were audibly pleasant, I was kind of bored.

Polyphia, however, did not bore me when I saw them last year.

Henry likes neither Chon not Polyphia, so this was another solo show for your girl ERK.

When I got to the Smiling Moose after work that night, there were strange vibes from the get-go. I wasn’t drinking that night because I really don’t want to rely on alcohol to help me get past my social anxiety, so that made it even worse because instead of killing time at the bar, I went right on upstairs where Save Us From the Archon were setting up and several small clusters of people were hanging out. Everyone always stops and stares at the girl who walks in alone.

Every time.

And it will never stop being incredibly uncomfortable for me. But…it’s either deal with it or miss a lot of great bands.

It got easier once more people arrived. Like this super tall guy who definitely commanded everyone’s attention so that I could go back to being a wallflower.

I thought he was going to stand in front of me the whole time, but was pleasantly surprised that he had enough concert couth to reposition himself in this one wall pocket near the side of the stage. Hats off to you, guy.

Once SUFTA started playing, my nerves were effectively shushed. This was my third time seeing them, and since they’re a local band, they typically inspire a lot of enthusiasm from the audience. I was really into it until halfway through when these two motherfuckers arrived and stood right in front of me. Look, I get it — these things are bound to happen, but they stood so close in front of me that my breath was making the fuzz sway on the back on the one guy’s peacoat.

And there were plenty of other open areas they could have stood.

AND THEN THEY TALKED THROUGH THE WHOLE THING.

They moved all the way up to the front after SUFTA. They were apparently friends with them and probably thought they were so badass coming to a show straight from their accounting jobs. Fuck those guys.

Whatever, SUFTA was insane as always and made my brain move around like a Rubik’s cube so I can’t be too mad.

In between sets, more people showed up and the front of the stage began to get more crowded. I watched as two docile, unassuming types took stage and got behind their respective drums and guitar.

“Hi guys,” said the guitarist in a fumbly kind of tone. “Our singer couldn’t make it tonight so um, we’re just going to an instrumental set for you.”

To myself, I’m thinking that this makes sense, given SUFTA and Polyphia are both instrumental. So the two guys start playing and it’s admittedly pretty heavy. I mean, my face wasn’t being melted off, but it was definitely more metal than the other bands.

Things were progressing nicely, people were moving around a bit, and then the breakdowns started.

This “oh shit” feeling come over me as the air in the room became pregnant with palpable doom. Amid the rustling in the crowd, I watched as a guy at the front of the stage turned around and charged right at me. “Fuck,” I sighed, bracing myself. But right before impact, he switched directions as though ricocheting off something invisible, and slammed into some guy who was big enough to absorb it without breaking a bone. And thus, the hardcore dancing started.

Moshing doesn’t bother me, but hardcore dancing is fucking obnoxious and dangerous. The Smiling Moose is extremely small, capacity is maybe 150? I’m no capacity expert, so that’s probably way off, but it is approximately the size of my downstairs. The room is as wide as the stage, which isn’t very wide at all. I always stand in the same spot at these shows — right near the front and against a wall. There was a line of us against this wall with no body-buffer on the other side of us. It was the wall, us, and then a bit of an empty space which is where all of the violent dance-spasms were performed.

This is all to say that I had nowhere to go and no one to shield me from the flailing limbs and flying fists.

“I DON’T WANT TO DIE LIKE THIS!” I cried to myself, determined not to let them smell my fear. For the most part, these bros were doing an OK job of not body-slamming me, but there were quite a few sweaty backs I had to forcefully push back into the crowd, a couple of which knocked me off balance but  my friend Wall caught me every time. The kid behind me, bless his heart, protectively placed his hands on my arm a few time, like that was going to do anything to help. I probably would have been better off if Chooch had been behind me!

This went on in spurts. I watched as one of them grabbed the small, young guy in front of me and tossed him onto the floor and that poor guy had a very strong “ANTI-BRUTALITY” aura about him so I felt pretty bad for him. No actual fights broke out at least, even though there were some tense moments when I wasn’t sure. But it would always end with jovial back-slaps and smiles and I just don’t get it, guys.

To each their own, but trying to not break a bone is not my idea of enjoying myself at a show.

For the last song, they called up “Dave” who was going to “help out” on vocals for the set-closer. Dave hadn’t even grabbed the mic yet and I was already gulping. If I had done my due diligence, I would have known that this was a local hardcore metal band called Delusions of Grandeur and I would have known to get in the back, maybe even all the way back to the bathroom, in a stall, crouched down with my head covered.

As soon as Dave emitted his first caterwaul, the meatheads got all riled up again and my “protector” declared that he was about to go fullblown windmill on this one.

And so he did.

And I had nowhere to go.

So I stood my ground, dodging fists and shoving bodies off of me, and then I got punched pretty hard in the arm and thought, “DO NOT CRY! DO NOT CRY! DON’T YOU DARE CRY!” So then I turned my fear into anger and stood my ground, prepared to throw down (I HAVE A TEMPER AND HIDDEN MUSCLES, OK?) while thinking, “I AM TOO OLD FOR THIS!” just as some bald-headed aging hardcore kid came rushing toward the stage from the back and added his own brand of nosebleed-waiting-to-happen dance moved. And this guy was easily Henry’s age.

But I did it! I endured their set without getting slaughtered and no one pulled my hair, which probably actually would have made me cry.

I hate having my hair pulled.

Just don’t touch my hair ever.

I briefly exchanged words with the drummer afterward as he was trying to push all of their gear into one of the wall pockets and I just couldn’t get over how this fucking nerdy little guy was in a band that incited such terror and aggression.

And then, for whatever reason, Polyphia ended up playing next, swapping spots with the fourth band in the line up and I had no problem with this, because my night was essentially done after being pummeled by flying flesh bags.

But Polyphia’s set was peaceful, beautiful, and worth the danger. I was glad that I fought to keep my spot because they are majestic to watch.

This guy especially:

I can’t remember the last time I saw such a perfect human being in person, but his face literally took my breath my away and I AM NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL. He was like some kind of angel and I had to keep rolling my tongue back into my mouth.

Peril aside, I left there loving Polyphia even more. There set was really short, adding to the weird vibes theme of the night. Everything about this night was off! But there was peace for Polyphia’s set and my adrenaline had finally reached A Normal Day levels by the time I left The Smiling Moose. And by “left,” I mean “pushed people out of my way, tried not to fall down the steps, and then burst through the door to reach that place where I was no longer surrounded by assholes.”

“There goes one of my assailants,” I texted Henry while waiting on a side street for him to pick me up. When I got in the car, smudged mascara and hair askew, Henry and Chooch just rolled their eyes at me. I felt like a new person.

A person who had just been picked up FROM PRISON.

***

The next day, I was telling my work friends about the night’s events which had turned into “I had to push some people off me and I got punched” to “I ALMOST DIED YOU GUYS!” Then we all watched this video together and Amber2 delightfully read out loud a sampling of the lyrics.

“Maybe it’s time for you to hang it up,” Glenn mumbled.

“YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH!” I cried.

At first, I was like, “I like heavy shit but this just isn’t for me.” But the more I watch this video, the more I actually like it. Just next time, I’ll stand far away. Or outside. Someone can Periscope that shit for me.