Dec 252019
 

Yoooo, we really phoned it in with this but let me tell you, it’s a miracle this dumb photo even happened—it was so frustrating.

There was a better one of Henry, but Drew’s head was turned and Penelope was blurry, so sorry Hank. You should try smiling more (wow, you dudes actually say that shit to us girls for real and don’t feel like an asshole about it?!).

Anyway, I hope anyone who is reading this is having a nice, comfortable day and it hopefully surrounding themselves with loving people. I’m here with the cats (fine and also Henry and Chooch) so what more do I need? (I mean, I can think of a lot more but I’m trying to BE HUMBLE.)

Dec 242019
 

I agreed to host a small holiday get together at my house this year, per Wendy’s orders, haha. I kept saying I didn’t want to do anything this year but she gently prodded until I cried uncle. I kept the guest list small (Wendy’s family, Janna, my friend Margie from work, and Jiyong) and that really helped a lot because I felt less pressure. I still have a bit of PTSD from the last full-blown Xmas party I had in 2016 where every person who said they were going to come, actually did and then somehow everyone seemed to arrive at the same time and my house was packed which is not ideal if you’ve ever been to my house because it’s small AF (it’s a duplex).

But….true to Erin form, I started to get really into planning for this dumb thing. It started after I invited Jiyong because she said it was going to be her first American Christmas party, and I wanted it to be a good experience for her, and not just like, “Here’s a pop and a bowl of chips, babe.”

(Really though – when have any of my parties been that cheap?!)

Anyway, I was perusing YouTube for some Christmas party food ideas when I accidentally stumbled upon the HOT CHOCOLATE BAR scene. Look, I know this isn’t a new concept, but I’m not a lifestyle blogger or Mormon housewife so this has fallen just short of my radar until several weeks ago when some fairly tolerable Canadian DIY YouTuber slipped it into her XMAS PARTY DIY video.

I latched on to this idea HARD. Typically at my parties, I make a punch or a sangria, oftentimes both. It’s kind of my thing—Henry does the cleaning, the shopping, the cooking and I do the decorating and the punch. Literally the most important things. But then I usually end up throwing out the leftover punch the next day and that sucks because I always use quality ingredients! So this seemed like it would be a nice, cheap change of pace.

So I started watching hot chocolate bar DIYs on YouTube and it’s like a whole fucking cult, you guys. These broads are legit insane, covering cans of whipped cream with wrapping paper, buying cute Christmas canisters at HOBBY LOBBY (the grossest) only to hot glue it with twine and BUFFALO PLAID RIBBON. And then they print out labels like people are too stupid to know what white chocolate chips are!?

Chooch and I became obsessed with watching these but I think I already “talked” about that on here.  The worst part about it is that these bitches put in so much effort on having a “theme” to their stupid set-up, BUT THEN MOST OF THEM JUST USED SWISS MISS K-CUPS FOR THE ACTUAL HOT CHOCOLATE PART?!

Bitch plz, why you gonna go so many extra miles repurposing a wooden sled sign to say “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (big vomit) and then offer your guests some .50 cent hot chocolate?

So for me, I went light on the “theme” and heavy on the hot cocoa quality because IT’S A HOT CHOCOLATE BAR, PEOPLE. I bought a bunch of Christmas mugs at the dollar store and the thrift store, and then Christmas’d-up my Taemin coffee cup for myself.

I had some candy options, like candy cane Kisses, hot chocolate Kisses, white chocolate chips, and peppermint candies. None of which required me to print out labels purchased from these dumb bitches’ Etsy shops and then cut out with a special scrapbooking paper punch.

Most importantly, I had options in case anyone wanted to take their mug o’ choco up a notch. I made Janna put all the options in hers and she was like, “Oh wow. Mm. Interesting.”

Chooch made fun of me because he thought I purposely went out and bought that “Let It Snow” bowl but I snapped, “It came with a set that someone gave me at work, Chooch!” Jesus, step off, hater.

Oh yeah, and two sizes of marshmallows and those Piroutte stick things, which Chooch’s friend Hoajie was excited about because it worked as a straw.

But the real star of the show, the hot chocolate, was made from scratch in a crockpot by Henry and it was, I feel confident saying this, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. It was so rich that really adding anything to it was gilding the lily (did I ever tell you that I learned that phrase from an episode of the home renovation show “While You Were Out” back when I was 23? I think of Teresa Strasser saying it EVERY  TIME I TYPE THAT OUT) but it was still incredibly fun plopping in scoops of white chocolate chips and marshmallows! I added some kind of caramel booze to my mug and the end result was LES MAGNIFIQUE, TRULY.

I found out at work on Monday that Margie has never put marshmallows in hot chocolate before (?!?!?) but she saw people doing it that night SO SHE DID IT TOO.

“OMG it was so good! They get all melty and squishy!” she enthused and I was about to ask her if she lives in a bomb shelter but then Wendy came over and interrupted.

I made such a big deal about this damn thing and Jiyong was like, “OK I will get some!” after I asked her for the third time (I was really trying to tone it down since it was her first time at my house, with my friends, and I tend to get really high strung at my house parties).

Blake came over when he came home from work that night and I practically slammed the last remaining Christmas mug in his hands and shouted, “HAVE SOME HOT CHOCOLATE FROM THE HOT CHOCOLATE BAR!” I mean, you don’t ever have to tell Blake twice. He was like, “Ooh! Hot chocolate! OK!” and then made his an adult version.

It was also great because Wendy and Shawn brought their four-year-old daughter, so I think this (in addition to the presents I gave her lol) really helped ease the pain of enduring a roomful of grownups who are constantly asking you questions about your life and how you feel.

In conclusion (sorry, I’m always watching Chooch write his dumb papers for school), I would say that the hot chocolate bar was a big success, anything leftover was non-perishable, and it was fun enough that I would definitely consider adding this to the rotation. There are so many different things you could do as far as mix-ins go, recipes to use, theming I guess even though that’s a bit too Pioneer Woman for me. I’m more of a mix-and-match bitch, to be honest.

****

Much later that night, after everyone left, Janna was still here so I was like, “JANNA YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS ONE DUMB LADY’S HOT CHOCOLATE BAR VIDEO” but then Chooch was also there trying to talk to her about the Holocaust, so to get her attention back to me, I started screaming, “JANNA LOOK THIS ASSHOLE IS USING A WINE GLASS TO TURN A CANISTER INTO A PEDASTAL BUT FIRST SHE’S GOING TO MAKE IT INTO A SNOWGLOBE WTF WHY” while Chooch was like, “JANNA BLAH BLAH BLAH HISTORY STUFF HITLER OH SHIT” and Janna honestly looked like she was in some type of ring of Hell which had been uninhabited for trillions of years until now.

Dec 172019
 

It’s my favorite time at the office you guys! The time when work SORT OF slows down a little (j/k this never happens anymore), co-workers ply us with cookies and nut rolls, Sue brings out all the Christmas wreaths and army of tinsel trees, and my little team has their annual Christmas lunch!

Every year, I try to make our boss Amber a…cute (?) card from all of us. I let Cheryl deal with collecting money for the gift card and got to work on this year’s masterpiece.

I think it might be my best work yet. When I handed it to Glenn to sign this morning, he barely even glanced at it, signed his name, and handed it back. He is truly dead inside when it comes to anything I do. IT’S ALMOST NOT FUN TO TERRORIZE HIM ANYMORE. I THINK THIS WAS HIS PLAN.

Fuck.

Whatever. Amber loved it and I think she is smug because she is always the only one in the office to get an Erin R Kelly original greeting card. I mean, it’s kind of my thing.

I also got her a candle from all of us. Not just any candle.

Related image

Courtesy of alwaysfits.com.

We have weekly meetings and I’m such a huge baby about them. I don’t know why—I guess because I feel like a trapped animal. I actually like everyone in my group so it’s nothing to do with them. So maybe I should have just given myself the candle…

After I presented Amber with her card and candle, she said, “Thanks, Erin!…..and everyone else.” When I walked past Glenn and Todd, I bragged that she only thanked everyone else as an afterthought, and Todd said, “See, I heard her thank ‘Todd’ and no one else.” Whatever! He wasn’t even going to come in today for our lunch because he was working late shift from home BUT I BULLIED HIM INTO COMING INTO THE OFFICE AND HE DID IT. I have a certain kind of pull around that office, you guys.

We had lunch today at City Works. Lauren and Cheryl were unable to make it, and two of other team members are based out of Chicago, so we missed them! BUT we got to bring Joy and Margie with us and that was a fine trade-off!

You guys, I got this cauliflower steak and I was so excited about it! Being a vegetarian, I have to plan ahead whenever I’m invited to any sort of work lunch, because it’s usually slim pickins for us meatfree lifetstyle people. When I saw that they had this in addition to the menu-standard veggie burger, I was stoked. (Although their veggie burger was actually an Impossible Burger and that was tempting!)

It was so nice to have an option aside from a veggie burger and salad! This bitchin’ slab of cauliflower was perfectly seared (that’s a thing right) and topped with some kind of greens, like arugula maybe. There was nice red sauce thing that was kind of like tomato sauce I guess, and also there were some slivers of almonds tucked away.

I WAS SO HAPPY! I was so fixated on cleaning my plate that I barely listened to the grown-ups talking about student loan solutions.

Then I made the waiter take a picture of us and he was like, “Can you plz hold the phone* until I clear out the dirty dishes so that you can actually have a nice picture?” and I was like, “WOW. SMART. Yes, let’s wait for that.”

*(Literally–I kept trying to hand him my phone and he was like chill girl you’ll get your damn picture after I do my job.)

(He was a good waiter.)

Before we left, Amber mentioned something about Santa and Joy was like, “Haha, OK” and we were like, “NO, WE ARE GOING TO GET OUR PICTURE TAKEN WITH SANTA AFTER THIS” and she was like, “Have fun with that” and I said, “JOY, YOU HAVE TO DO IT TOO” and I gave her my patented pout and she was like, “Oh for God’s sake how can I say no to that.” I KNOW RIGHT?!

But seriously, everyone thinks they’re getting a free lunch until they realize that the price they’re paying is succumbing to my whims.

This year, there was no line! Santa made a big deal of asking everyone their names, which they calmly answered in an adult manner. When he got to me, he said, “And that means you must be….” and I screamed, “I’M ERIN!” with my hands clasped and everyone groaned.

They took two photos and I’m posting both here because of Todd haha. Also, in the second one, they had Amber stand on a stool and afterward Santa said, “And that was the year you asked to be a foot taller!” and we were like, “OH SANTA YOU…SLEIGH!”

Ugh, I love that these people indulge me! And I love making these dumb office memories. We all spend so much time together, we might as well make it fun every now and then!

P.S. Margie totally wears that hand brace thing for attention.

Dec 082019
 

We finally had some time to trim our sexy Christmas tree, aka Trudy the Dish, last night! I think this is her fifth Christmas with us, blessed be!

I can’t believe my childhood dreams have come true and kept on staying that way! You have no idea how happy this dumb Xmas tree makes me.

And Janna too, which is why she hasn’t missed The Trimming of Trudy yet!

Henry’s only job is to strip Trudy of her clothes (her everyday outfit is a sweater from the 80s that also doubles as a display for my enamel pin collection–Trudy has a lot of purpose in this house, probably more than even I have, if we’re being candid here) and then the super easy task of cocooning her in Xmas lights which I never fail to cry is NEVER ENOUGH by the time he’s done and then he responds by storming out of the room in a huff and then Janna chides me with an, “Ooooooooh.”

Henry provided the snacks because decorating a mannequin for Christmas takes a lot out of a person.

I went a different route this year by eschewing the boxy Christmas sweater we usually stuff onto Trudy’s torso, because it really hides her svelte figure. I had a vision of her swirled and striped in extra garland for 2019, so that’s what we did, and you guys….I love it. This is the look (never “lewk,” I hate that dumb word) that Trudy was poured and molded for at the mannequin factory.

Trudy, you are fucking WELCOME.

At one point, I looked at Janna and said, “Oh my god…..she’s Trudy….GARLAND.”

And then Janna was like, “Ha-ha” but I was laughing myself straight to the nearest improv club and then made Janna high-five me, and Chooch was just like, “I don’t understand why that’s funny. I googled Trudy Garland and nothing is happening.”

So then we had to explain about Judy Garland and a few more turns were made and that is how we ended up watching parts of The Wizard of the Oz synched with Dark Side of the Moon on Chooch’s phone.

But you know, once in the 90s was enough

I bought Trudy a new hat at Target. It lights up!

Poor Henry thought his decorating duties were over but then I was like, “HENRY THE ELF, HANG THE LIGHTS ON THE CURE WALL” so he spent a good hour fucking around with boxes of brand new lights that turned out to be lemons and look out Target, because Henry is going to ASK FOR HIS MONEY BACK.

I drank some wine and I don’t drink much anymore so I was a REAL HOOT, YOU COULD SAY.

This is what everything looked like to me last night. Also, I let Henry get some sitting in because now he’s back to hanging more lights today and also I sprung on him the idea of painting our front door because it’s white and plain, and I think he’s starting to look forward to the day when he gets to move into an old folks home and have shit done for HIMSELF for once, haha. And probably no one will come to him for help making gigantic art pieces of the Seoul subway map that lights up with corresponding colored LED lights.

Yeah, it’s on his current To Do list, haha.

Drew’s like why can’t we have a regular tree so I can climb inside it like normal asshole cats.

It’s hard decorating for a holiday when your house is always exploding with color and lights, but we do what we can.

Chooch made Janna play some cat collecting game, which should be a real life game for them.

Janna was mad at first because Chooch wasn’t reading the directions in his own voice which was cracking me up because, wine, but Janna was like COME ON CHOOCH, GIVE ME THE DIRECTIONS and then I posted this video on social media and it got Kara all riled up because she is the QUEEN OF NOT FUCKING AROUND WITH GAME DIRECTIONS! If you want your game nights to run like a well-oiled machine, you gotta invite Kara. She’ll get the shit done and cut loose any dead weight.

And there was always dead weight at my game nights of yesteryear, believe me.

We kept Janna here until like 1:30am, making her watch videos of Korea and trying to convince her that joining us on our next trip there (hopefully 2021!!!) could be the best decision she ever makes. I think she’s sold! I love Korea SO MUCH and I can’t think of anything greater than sharing the experience with a friend!

That door is getting fucking painted. Henry said “it certainly won’t be today” but it’s going to be this week, I promise you that.

Nov 012019
 

Per tradition, I used my floating holiday for Halloween (I always request it off at the beginning of the year, as though I’m actually racing anyone for that day) and I was prepared to just stew in my general creepiness, watch some horror flicks, maybe design some new cards. But then all kinds of annoying things happened right away, setting the tone, and then my day just stayed shitty and annoying to the point where I declared in front of witnesses (actual people, and not just the cats for once) that I was done celebrating Halloween. Let’s recap in bullets because I’m still too annoyed to even bother paragraphing.

  • For the first time EVER, I didn’t have any last-minute costumer alterations to perform on Chooch, which was a miracle. He created his costume all on his own, with a tiny bit of help from Henry (only when it came to measurements).  But then that night I was laying in bed and in true Erin fashion, I had a last minute idea that would add a bit of SNAZZ AND PIZZAZZ to the costume. “Don’t we have a spare doorknob somewhere?” I asked a slumbering Henry. “I know I’ve seen a spare doorknob…” and then I found it because our house might be a dumpster of chaos, but there’s a system to the madness. “Before you go to work, can you attach this doorknob to the left side of his costume?” and Henry mumbled and snorted, so I was like, “Cool, goodnight.” And he actually heard my commands because the next morning, we found the costume with the doorknob added to it, but IT WAS ON  THE RIGHT SIDE NOT THE LEFT and have you not learned a thing about me? I am a Halloween pageant mom. This sent me OVER THE EDGE to the point where I considered complementing Chooch’s costume by going as Jack Nicholson’s character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest. THIS WILL MAKE SENSE LATER. Anyway I blew up Henry’s phone with texts calling him a moron and worthless and Chooch was like, “This is fine though, no one will notice” and then he left for school before I had a chance to burn down the house with my psychic rage.
  • Then, at 8am I called my dentist’s office to see if I could swing by and grab the copy of the Xray that my old dentist was supposed to send to them BUT OH GUESS WHAT THEY DIDN’T HAVE IT. They were like, “Hmm it doesn’t seem like they sent it, can you call them and double check?” and like, NO but I guess I WILL because I HAVE TO. I called the old dentist and got their answering machine, so I waited an hour and called again and still got the answering machine so I assumed that they were closed and left them a borderline irate message about how it’s been two weeks and my new dentist doesn’t have the records they were supposed to send and I NEED IT FOR AN UPCOMING APPOINTMENT ON MONDAY GRRRR. Anyway, they called later that day while I was exercising and I don’t stop exercising for phone calls, sorry. So their rude ass receptionist left a smarmy message saying that they emailed the xray to my new dentist on OCT 15 and that I would have to call and check with them again so I called the new dentist and the receptionist even checked her spam folder but it wasn’t there! She was so nice and apologetic and I was like “Look, it’s not your fault those other people are making this is chore” so she verified their email address and told me to tell them to email it again which meant I had to have another shitty conversation with Lady Snark and she was like, “HOLD ON” and literally put me on hold before I had a chance to give her the email  address and when she came back, she said, “YES WE SENT THESE ON OCTOBER 15 TO THAT SAME ADDRESS BUT I GUESS I WILL DO IT AGAIN” and my god, I hate that place so much. By this time it was 4pm and I just didn’t care anymore. I had no ounce of fucks left in me to call my new dentist back to see if they got it. I just couldn’t. (UPDATE: Old dentist called me AT WORK this morning and said that when they resent the xray it was bounced back to them and it’s the correct email address so maybe they’re just idiots who are trying to send a too-big file!?!?!? Of course, the new dentist is closed today.)
  • The mail came. I was excited because a pin order I placed over the weekend was delivered! I bought a Regan/Exorcist pin and these cool Redrum shoelace charms which took me forever to put on my shoes and then I realized that I HAD ORDERED THE BLACK NICKEL VERSION AND THEY SENT ME THE NICKEL NICKEL VERSION!!!!!

  • Also in the mail was a 15-page court document because my grandma’s estate is being sued and of course my name, along with my brothers’ name, are all over that shit, so I had heart palpitations and the Pukes after that.
  • Then, Janna texted me and said she was in the area and wanted to stop by and get the cookie dough etc that she purchased from Chooch’s dumb school fundraiser. Henry asked Haley if she would keep it in her freezer because we didn’t have room in ours, so Chooch went over to get it. When he came back, he said, “Oh and heads up, Blake didn’t know this was Janna’s and ate a piece of the cheesecake but don’t worry because he put some cookies in there to make up for it” and this would have been another Seinfeld-esque episode in our lives where, hahahaha, something dumb happened to Janna, EXCEPT THAT THE CHEESECAKE WAS FOR JANNA’S FRIEND SO I FUCKING LOST MY SHIT because how goddamn embarrassing! JANNA’S NAME WAS WRITTEN ON ALL OF THE BOXES SO I AM LOST AS TO WHY BLAKE THOUGHT IT WAS OK TO HELP HIMSELF. Then Janna arrived in the middle of WWIII, just dropped right on into our Den of Domestic Hostility from a helicopter rope, right as I was declaring that I was DONE CELEBRATING HALLOWEEN.

Honestly! The last several Halloweens have been so dumb! I QUIT! I stan Arbor Day now!

The one constant positive of the day is that the Halloween franchise was playing on TV all day throughout all of my stressful dentist phone tags, bad mail, and verbal evisceration of Blake. I did also make some new cards for non compos, so it wasn’t a total wasted day.

****

Meanwhile, the weather was shitty and rainy all day, which was apropos since Chooch was once again going to be swathed in cardboard, but I tried not to fixate on that too much. I was just really happy that at least I didn’t have to do any last minute bullshit with his costume. I just threw some gray eyeshadow on his face to give him the appearance of facial hair, armed him with an emergency poncho, and then let him go off with his pals.

Apparently, one of their teachers told them they’re too old to trick-or-treat and that made me mad. I feel like if a school-aged (including high school) kid wants to put on a costume and have some fun that doesn’t involve drugs and vandalism, then I will gladly give them candy if they come to my house. MAYBE EVEN TWO PIECES. Kids don’t get to be kids for as long as we did, so let them have this night for god’s sake.

Chooch has a really strong grasp on “crazed.”

Honestly, this was the only great thing of the whole day, seeing Chooch bask in the fact that he made his own costume. And you guys, the rain held off!

But back at the Murder House, I had decided that I was still in too bad of a mood to deal with kids, even though I did run to CVS earlier to buy my midnight hour collection of picked over candy. We live on a main drag in our neighborhood so even in good weather, we only get about 20 kids. It’s depressing, really.

So I employed Trudy’s help in passing out candy:

Anyway, I called it – 4 trick-or-treaters. And they were all one family, so literally just the one opportunity for Trudy to shine. And she succeeded in making the little girl in the group cry. I was hiding behind the door, because that was the whole point – slowly open the door from the inside and let them take their own candy from Trudy’s basket. So I had to fling the door all the way open and yell, “WAS IT TOO SCARY?! I’M SO SORRY!” while Henry was in the background mouthing off his catchphrase: “Good one, Erin.”

The parents swore that it was OK and the dad was fucking loving it. He actually was telling me ways to make it even scarier. “You should put a hand in the basket so it grabs people” and then he was trying to see everything else in my house (I mean, to his credit, there is a lot to take in) but I was like, “OK bye now.”

And then Henry and I sat in the dark, with horror movie scores blasting from a Bluetooth speaker, for two hours. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting. BUT NO ONE ELSE CAME. I kept peeking through the curtains, pacing up and down the sidewalk, flicking the porch light off and on to draw attention, but our block was mostly deserted all night. A few kids appeared here and there, but they would only go as far as the halfway house up the street, then turn around and go back.

Does my house have a reputation?! REALLY, KIDS WILL GO TO THE HALFWAY HOUSE BUT NOT 3021?!

Two older-teenaged girls, not in costume, walked by at one point and I tried to get Henry to call them over.

“Yeah, a 55-year-old man, yelling ‘Come here!’ to underaged girls. That’s a good way to get the cops here,” Henry said around a frown.

“Well…maybe the cops want candy,” I started to suggest, but then I quickly laughed that idea off because HAHAHAHA I HATE COPS AND WOULD NEVER GIVE THEM CANDY.

By the end of the night, I had finally calmed down a bit. I did some relaxing pilates and then watched The Blackcoat’s Daughter which was a bad idea to watch right before bed, but…Halloween.

*******

Earlier today, on the phone with Henry: “We should let Chooch have a Halloween party next year,” I suggested.

“I thought you weren’t celebrating Halloween anymore?” Henry said snidely. Ugh, I hate when he actually listens to me.

Sep 052019
 

After a sweaty day dripping perspiration around the streets of Insadong, we came back, freshened up, did a wardrobe change, and then set off for Digital Media City where we (just Chooch and me, Henry is lame) would be attending a live taping of a Kpop show! First, we had to have our traditional crack-up in the elevator though – we always played the “get on the elevator and leave Henry” game so that he would have to wait for another elevator and be all grumbly by the time he joined us outside.

It never got old!

(Well, it may have for Henry.)

Waiting outside for Henry — I hate when Chooch makes this face!!

Digital Media City is only one stop away from where we were staying in Hongdae, but we still left around 3:45 to ensure that we arrived at the SBS Prism building by 4:30, which was the designated check-in time.

A few months ago, we watched a video about this area of Seoul, and it’s literally built on top of a gigantic garbage dump that had, at one point, grown so large that it was 34x the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, the fuck….In 1996, Seoul launched stabilization projects to fix this and prevent further environmental contamination, and now this area is home to many broadcasting headquarters, housing, and beautiful parks!

The Prism building had a bunch of people waiting outside, but it was all of the locals who line up in hopes of getting to attend the shows.

So, each network has their own weekly Kpop shows, where the artists who are currently promoting new songs come out, perform their comeback or debut song, and then usually at the end, there is a voting system (they go by digital streams, album sales, online popularity voting…I’m 100% sure it’s rigged, but it’s still fun right?!), a winner is announced, no one is surprised, confetti pops off, the trophy is passed around by the winning group members and all of the other artists on stage bow respectfully to each other. Then the winning group does an impromptu, informal performance of their winning song which usually involves them fucking around with each other, doing weird dances, interacting with the crowd—it’s just fun to watch!

Every show will let in a certain number of fans, but most of them are first come, first serve, so people will literally start lining up at like 2am. I would have loved to attend Inkigayo because in my opinion, that’s the best one, but I’m on vacation, man. I’m not spending my limited free time in Korea sitting on the ground with a bunch of kids. No offense, kids or Korean ground!

Some shows have a lottery system, but you have to register on their website which is all in Korean and a lot of times you have to have a Korean phone number too, and again — it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get in!

So when I saw that there is a special ticket just for foreigners to attend SBS MTV’s The Show, I was like, “Paid. Done.” This was literally right after we booked our flight in March! It was the very first thing we had our itinerary, lol.

It cost about $150 for the two of us, and I noticed that the prices went up as the date got closer, so I would encourage anyone who is interested in this to book it early! There are limited seats and the shows do sell out, so don’t wait until it’s only a week or two out, because you want to have a better idea of the artists that will be there that night!

For us, there weren’t any groups that we’re major stans of (except Pentagon), but the experience itself was still gold! Here was the lineup that was released earlier that morning:

Fun fact: I won a hi-touch for KNK at the first KCON I went to and I realize while typing this that it might as well be an trig equation for most of you reading this so I’ll break it down in non Kpop-speak: In 2017, I went to a Kpop festival in Newark and won a opportunity for what is called a “hi-touch” which basically means a Kpop group stands behind a table on a stage and fans are herded past in a single-file line and you get to quickly high five / hand touch each member. I know, right? You can read about my experience here!

It was starting to drizzle so we went inside the building. I was so nervous and I have NO IDEA why! Our spot inside the studio was secure, but my stomach was doing The Flops. Check out the older gentleman behind Chooch – he was totally there alone, and I thought it was awesome because kpop isn’t just for young girls and desperate old broads like me. There was even this totally metal dad there with his teenage daughter, and I mean METAL. He looked like someone in one of the Swedish metal bands my friend Alyson likes, though I think he may he may have been German?

I’m telling you, when you’re in Korea, whether you’re a Kpop junkie or not, I really feel like this is part of the experience.

At 4:30, four different tourism company representatives stood up with signs, and everyone had to line up behind the one they purchased their tickets from. Of course, the lady from Trazy, where we got ours, was barely holding up her sign so it cause confusion because what else is new?!

But it ended up being fine, because everyone received a number after checking in with her so we were able to go back and sit down until it was time to line up again.

Basically, it was a lot of waiting and standing in (dis)orderly lines.

We kind of befriended the young girl in front of us because she was just as nervous and confused as us. At one point, Chooch announced that it smelled like a shoe store in there, and she started giggling. “That’s so random!” she laughed.

Then she started talking to the girl next to her (again, the line was NOT straight), and that’s how I found out that she is only 16, from Spain, lives in Equador, but is currently studying in Korea, and the girl next to her is 23, from Australia and a student at one of the universities in Seoul.

It truly was a vast collection of foreigners up in there and it made me happy to see that we were all coming together for one shared love. While we were standing there, several of the groups walked by upstairs and everyone screamed. I had no idea who were clamoring over because I have the eyes of a 80-year-old who spends most of her life in a cave, but it was sure exciting!

I found out later that it was Limitless and CIX!

Finally, we were taken outside the lobby and into a side door, up several staircases, and down a hallway that just screamed, “YOU ARE BACKSTAGE.”

Oh yeah, Henry left after we taken into the studio. He had big plans to go to a grocery store but instead he just went back to the room because he’s a lamer.

Anyway, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures or video once the actual recording started, so I took this picture before it started, when it was still “legal,” and then I put my phone in my purse for the rest of the evening so I wouldn’t give the security any reason to believe I was being That American and have me ejected.

Seriously — I got kicked out of a Chinese restaurant once years and years ago because I was falsely accused of eating crab legs off the buffet without paying and I was like, “OK bitch, I’m a vegetarian?” but that didn’t matter and me and the dumb broad I was with were actually escorted out and it was so humiliating. And ever since,  I take great strides to make sure that I don’t get kicked out places.

#NeverForget #CharacterBuilding

In that picture above, you can see the small rectangular holding cell — that’s where the people who were picked from the crowd get to stand. Us foreigners got really nice, comfy stadium seating in the back, and the view was actually perfect.

Hang-y light things!

The show started promptly at 6pm and it was nuts to watch all the cameras swiveling and the different fan site representatives sitting a few rows in front of us, editing photos in Photoshop seconds after the pictures were taken. This shit is serious business.

The hosts of The Show are Yeeunfrom CLC and Jeno from NCT Dream, which I forgot about originally and when I saw all the girls with their NCT lightsticks, I was briefly hopeful that NCT Dream was going to be there since they currently were having a comeback.

Image result for yeeun and jeno the show 2019

They were standing SO CLOSE to our side of the seating too! Whenever they were MCing, they were facing us with their backs to the stage and it was fucking exciting, even though we had no idea what they were saying because in case you weren’t sure, subtitles don’t appear in real life.

Each artist performed one song, and they moved it along with razor-sharp precision. It was perfect for someone like Chooch who enjoys things like this….to a point. He does lose interest quickly, but this was fast-moving and fun and there was NO downtime, so he didn’t even have a chance to drift off.

We both really loved all of the performers, but my favorites were Dongkiz, VAV, CIX, Saturday, and Pentagon. However, since VAV, CIX and Pentagon were the three top groups that were competing for the trophy at the end, their performances were actually pre-recorded, so we only got to see about 1 minute of a live performance and then they would stop dancing, wave to the crowd and walk off the stage. KPOP SHOW SECRETS REVEALED! I knew that bigger groups, like BIGBANG and EXO for instance, typically pre-record their performances and I always wondered how that worked since they are always there at the end.

I don’t know. It’s still confusing to me.

Like, some of the groups performed two songs, but we only saw one because the second one was recorded earlier.

Here are the videos of my favorites from the night:

CIX: They were the winners of the night! They are a brand new group that recently debuted over the summer, featuring members of the defunct Wanna One (RIP) and some YG trainees. I think they’re going to go far! This song was stuck in my head for the rest of the time we were in Korea, and the dance IS SO GOOD.

Pentagon: I’m still bitter that E’Dawn isn’t with them anymore, but they never fail to make me smile. I was so happy to see them perform again after seeing them at KCON in 2018! If you don’t think this song is fun, then GTFO.

(J/K, you can stay the fuck here, I’m trying to be more inclusive LOLOL.)

Saturday: THIS SONG REMINDS ME OF THE STUFF THAT GOT ME INTO KPOP! The adorable, quirky, sugary girl group bops. The whole time I watched their performance, all I could think was, “This is peak Korea for me. It can’t get any more heavenly than this.”

(But then a few days later, it did.)

Dongkiz: I have never heard of these guys before this night and they’re not even really a rookie group anymore, but this performance won me over. They are so joyful! And the Ghostbusters sample! And the actual ghost mascot! And their cute dance moves! Chooch and I fell hard for them.

OK, honestly I could sit here all night posting videos and then it would eventually just be every single stage because they were all so entertaining! There wasn’t one group that made me go, “Eh, they’re not for me.” I enjoyed them all!

It was over around 7:30 and as we stood outside in the courtyard of the Prism building, texting Henry, two girls ran past us in a Big Hurry.

“Something’s going on!” Chooch yelled, peeling out of the lot in his Mystery Van.

We ran (crowd mentality) in the same direction, around to the other side of the building, and that’s where we saw some fansite paparazzi standing on actual ladders, taking pictures with their gigantic $878947293874 lens of the idols being interviewed inside the lobby.

I texted Henry and told him what was happening, and he eventually meandered over to us, because he had already returned to the Prism building – he must have missed us!

It was a good thing that we followed those girls, because even though we had to wait and be patient for about 45 minutes, some of the idols actually exited the building  right by where we were standing! (The path from the doors to the road were roped off and security was there, so we couldn’t stampede them, even though I’m sure if certain other groups were there that night, a dinky rope wasn’t going to stop anyone.)

It took us forever but I think we eventually decided that this was Dongkiz?! I don’t know enough about them to know for sure! It could be 1Team too.

But here is a collection of videos that Chooch snagged because let me tell you, that boy got caught up in the excitement and was acting like he STANNED every single one of these idols!

View this post on Instagram

Kpop idol sightings outside of The Show on 7/30. It was so much fun!

A post shared by Erin (@ohhonestlyconcerts) on

The other group in the video is for sure VAV. And in the first Instagram video I posted earlier in this literal novella ends with CIX driving past and it is so cute (we actually figured out that they were leaving through a different door so we ran over to the other exit just in time to watch their car pulling away!).

You guys, this was exhilarating! I felt so legit! This was a bucket list item FOR SURE.

I wonder if Chooch will tell his kids about it someday…

…and I wonder how weird they will think it is…

Afterward, we went back to Hongdae. Chooch and Henry ate at Mom’s Touch but I was pouting because I wanted Isaac Toast but THEY WERE CLOSED. Like, since when does anything close at 9pm in Seoul.

Chooch was fucking exhausted, lol.

We watched some buskers on the way back to our room and then tortured Henry with Slaphappy Hour.

This was hands down the best birthday of my whole entire life—OK, tied with the one two years ago when I went to see G-Dragon in Toronto, was second row from the stage and got to be like FIVE FEET FROM HIM during his performance of “Untitled.” That too was a pretty fucking bar-raising birthday.

NOW WHAT WILL I DO FOR MY FIFTIETH?!

Sep 032019
 

Funny how turning 40 was no big deal when I was in my favorite place in the whole entire world! And actually, I turned 40 even earlier because of that! I think a few years ago, this birthday milestone may have hit me a lot harder, but in the wise words of Aaliyah (or whoever wrote her songs, hopefully not R Kelly but I’m too L-Z to look it up right now), “age ain’t nuthin’ but a number” y’all.

And on this wonderful July 30th (a Tuesday, in case I ever come back to this blog post in the future and want to know), I sprung out of bed and was SO GIDDY because it was finally the day Chooch and I would be attending the live recording of one of the weekly kpop music shows: SBS MTV The Show.

But…more on that another day!

Fun fact: Chooch had to check out every vending machine we came upon in the subway stations and he got really excited when he thought one of them had a Rubix Cube in it but then it ended up being condoms!? He of course didn’t tell me about this until later so I have no idea how he made that mistake.

First order of business was to have a leisurely stroll around the Cheongyecheon Stream and find something delicious for my birthday lunch (which is never hard to accomplish in Seoul, let me tell you).

I just really liked this colorful building, OK?

Before heading to the entrance of the stream, we continued another block or so to Gwanghwamun Square. Each time we’ve been in this area, there have been protests (peaceful ones) and today was no exception. The protesters are always elderly people, and on this day I believe they were protesting something involving the US and ROC military exercises. Apparently, protests and demonstrations in the plaza itself are illegal, so the protesters are often seen lining up across the street from it.

A statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin looms over the entrance of the square. He led Koreans to victory during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598) and is just one of many reminders of the hardships this small country has fought its way through.

In the distance, you can see the Blue House, where the President lives (follow the peak of the mountain and you’ll see the Blue House roof). In front of that, but obscured from view in this picture, is the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

At the beginning of the stream is the Cheonggye Plaza and you can’t miss it thanks to the icon spiral of the Spring Sculpture, which is a piece of art that:

“represents new life for the once decrepit stream area. The sculpture was created by Dutch artist Coosje Van Bruggen and Swedish artist Claes Oldenburg.

The colorful ribbons that stream down the side are inspired by the traditional dress of Korean women. The colors of blue and red represent the unity of opposites in nature and human spirit. The shape was inspired by a shell rising up like a pagoda.” – The Seoul Guide

It’s really a cool landmark! “Oh wow, it’s a shell,” Janna said when she was over here watching our endless slideshow but I promise it was more enthusiastic than you might be imagining!

How awesome would it be to work nearby and spend your lunch breaks in the summer with your feet in the stream or taking hour-long walks away from your desk in the spring? I’d be there every day. It’s over 5 miles long!

Henry’s favorite moments in Korea was when we were on opposite sides of water.

There is artwork all along the stream.

At night, there are beautiful lights illuminating the water, night markets, music performances…it’s, as Henry would say, really hopping.

I didn’t realize at first that this mural says Seoul!! Also, Chooch is 100% a natural when it comes to posing for pictures while my basic instinct is to pretend like I’m playing vertical Twister.

Don’t ask Henry to take your senior pictures.

If it hadn’t been 90 degrees that night with literal boughs of precipitation waiting to break above our heads, I would have dragged those two along for the full five mile length of the stream. But…because of the aforementioned weather elements, we decided to go back up to the street and find a place for lunch, since it was nearing noon and it’s always better to find a place to eat before you actually get hungry, that is the key to not killing your travel companions.

Henry realized we were pretty close to Insadong, so that is where we went!

Poop bread!

Sadly, the place were I got my artwork last year was no longer in Insadong. :( This little shopping center is super touristy (the whole area is, really) and you will likely see it recommended on any Seoul travel videos or lists you come across, but it really is pretty cool. The shops are cute, the alleys are chockful of traditional restaurants and tea houses, there is great street food (this is where you can find the famous dragon’s beard candy vendors), and all of the store names are in Hangul which adds to the authentic Korean feel. I recommend this area for souvenirs!

Since it was MY BIRTHDAY, we ate at a vegan restaurant tucked away in an alley. This isn’t some trendy hipster vegan joint, but a legit traditional Korean place where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor…

Henry was THRILLED.

“I’m not going to be able to get back up,” he groaned.

It was so humid that day that I had to pull my hair back and Chooch consistently looked like he was just dunked in a pool.

So I was fucking STOKED when I saw that mul nangmyeon was on the menu!!

This is a cold noodle dish which was extremely off-putting the first time I ever had it—I flat out HATED IT. But then I found myself craving it…and now I just love it so much. The broth is ice cold and for this vegan version, made from fruit. In the center, you get a freaking NEST of buckwheat noodles, and usually very thin slices of pears and radish top it off. Then, you add squirts of hot mustard and vinegar to the broth, stir it all up, and slurp it while the spiciness shoots up your nose.

I.LOVE.THIS.DISH.

Chooch had a vegan version of samgyeopsal and made a real huge mess and then found out the hard way that he doesn’t like perilla leaves, and Henry had some mushroom noodle thing, but I honestly wasn’t paying attention because I was working so hard on eating my noodles and have you seen me eat noodles? I am a monster. But, I was’t going to ask for scissors!!

I’m pretty sure the waitress hated us because Chooch and I kept cracking up and Henry was doing his dumb “I’m speaking to a Korean” accent every time he had to talk to her, and then there was a table of Indian people and Koreans behind us who were all conversing in English about their cultural differences and Henry was like, “I THINK THEY ARE HAVING A BUSINESS LUNCH” and we were like, “OK you’re cool, Henry” and then Chooch totally crashed into the back of one of them when he got up from the table and I pretty much ran out of there while Henry paid, BYEEEEE.

We went to Osulloc afterward, which is a really famous and popular tea company that started on Jeju Island. We bought some tea for Chooch’s piano teacher (WHO JUST TOLD US SHE IS MOVING TO HAWAII AND CHOOCH AND I ARE SO SAD) and Janna (whose tea was confiscated by TSA at JFK airport so drink up, bitches) and then Chooch and I both got matcha lattes because we’re the best.

Casual walk back to the subway…

…but not without stopping at least one convenience store, holla.

Gotta end this with another picture from our guest house. This view might not be anything special to you, but it is everything to me!

We rested for a bit and changed clothes in preparation for the BIG BIRTHDAY EVENT which is coming up later, maybe tomorrow, who knows I am drowning in blog posts!

Jul 102019
 

1992 in the house! (Or, in the pool.)

I was fortunate to have really great birthday parties during pretty my whole childhood, to the point where it became ingrained in me that birthdays were important, my birthday was important, and parties should be expected. Throughout the years, I have thrown birthday parties for a bunch of my friends because BIRTHDAYS ARE IMPORTANT! And obviously I have tried to give my kid memorable birthdays as well, whether it’s in the form of a party or a destination birthday (it will be hard to beat his Disney surprise!).

Because my birthday is in July, I almost always had pool parties at my Pappap’s house, only deviating from that two or three times when I opted to have my party at VIP in South Park because they had, wait for it, a pool and an outdoor skating rink. I requested T’Pau’s Heart & Soul as my birthday skate song every time.

And because I was a spoiled rich girl, there were also several occasions when I aged a year in Europe. (*blows on fingertips* lol) Henry LOVES when I bring up those birthdays. I had a very golden childhood, OK? I can’t help it!

But the best birthday memories were definitely the ones I had my Pappap’s house because he loved playing the role of Grillmaster and would brag to all of my friends about how great his grill-skills were. He was the best and while some girls would be embarrassed if their dad or whoever had the audacity to speak to their friends, I was always so proud because everyone loved my Pappap!

He died in the winter of 1996. My 16th birthday was that summer and while, if things had been different, I probably would have had the big blowout co-ed (omg lol) bash that we had been talking about, I fell into a depression and shoved away any attempt of acknowledging my birthday. Lisa tried to have a small dinner for me at Houlihan’s and I just couldn’t bring myself to it because it was my first birthday without my Pappap and I WANTED TO BE ALONE. #Chapter16ofErinsSobStory

I have a vague recollection of allowing Lisa and Christy to come over and eat birthday cake for my 17th birthday while standing in the kitchen and my brothers running around being jerks.

My 18th birthday was spent in Psycho Mike’s piece of shit 1980-something Omni with no A/C, driving around looking for places that was selling the new Bone Thugs-n-Harmony CD that came with the commemorative coin. We eventually found it but I’m pretty sure we also had a huge fight and I cried a lot, so happy 18th birthday to me.

(No, I don’t still have that coin.)

My royal 19th.

By the time I was about to turn 19, I was ready to give parties another go. I threw myself this ridiculous three-day long birthday party marathon, each night bringing different people to my townhouse in Payne Hill, and while it was incredibly fun in the moment, it culminated in a bipolar breakdown which saw me leaving my own party on the last night, in the wee hours of the morning, and driving with no direction while scream-crying to Foo Fighter’s Everlong.

So, that was that…

I spent my 21st birthday in the hospital because I was suicidal and some of my friends dragged me there kicking and screaming.

I spent my 30th birthday helping a friend move into a new apartment and need I remind you that my birthday is in July so yay heatstroke. I think Henry made me a grilled cheese for dinner that night. Happy 30th birthday to me.

And now my 40th birthday is coming up. Another milestone and I really didn’t want this to pass by with no celebration. However, I am tired of throwing myself parties and I’m not going to expect that any of my friends will do it–they’re busy and have their own shit to think about! And trust me, I’m lucky if I even get a fucking birthday CARD from Henry, hahahakillme. I know this is probably shocking, but I am a SUPER DRAMATIC LEO, especially when it comes to birthdays. I’m like, what did Prince say about his mother that one time – never satisfied.

So I decided last year that I was going to take matters in my own hands and that was when I declared that I would be spending my 40th birthday in Korea like I’m still that little spoiled brat who grew up in Jefferson Hills and not an only-just-barely-not-poor adult living in shitty Brookline.

I didn’t want to go into this with dread, like, “OMG I’m officially so old now” because 40 isn’t old, just like 30 wasn’t old. And now, after working hard to make this happen (thank you, tax refund, for all your help), I get to be in my favorite place, with my favorite people (Henry and Chooch, in case it wasn’t clear, lol), doing all kinds of fun things for like 12 days!

So far, the definitive set-in-stone required-a-reservation already-booked plans we have are:

  • attending a live recording of a Kpop countdown show on my actual birthday (SBS MTV’s The Show.)
  • visiting the DMZ/Joint Security Area
  • spending a night in the VIP room of G-Dragon’s Dolce Bita pension in Pocheon!

Other things we will be doing:

  • Lotte World amusement park!
  • A day trip to Jeonju, birthplace of bibimbap
  • Spending some time in Incheon, which is home to Korea’s largest Chinatown and a little boardwalk park called Wolmido (it has one of those crazy Disco Pang Pang rides)
  • Eating as much bingsu as possible
  • Getting giddy over the subway jingles

And so much more! I want to be more relaxed this time. Our first time there, I feel like all we did was run around like crazy people, trying to figure things out and see everything on my list, and of course we had fun, but wow – the stress levels were high on that one.

We’re staying in Hongdae this time, which is my absolute favorite neighborhood of Seoul. Buskers galore! It’s near Hongik University and there is a lot of youth and vibrancy in this area so hopefully some of it will get absorbed into my soon-to-be 40-year-old hag-skin, haha.

Yesterday in the work kitchen, Sandy asked me if we’re going to Korea every year now. Don’t I wish! This was an exception. We are not rich people!

So basically, my 40th birthday will only suck if I let it!

 

Jun 162019
 

The annual arts festival is going on currently in Pittsburgh, but the real art is at my house.

I decided on Friday that maybe it would be a good idea for us to make something for Henry for Father’s Day even though Valentines Day and Mother’s Day have both passed by without so much as the latest Taemin album gifted to me. But, you know, IM NOT PETTY so Henry will still get something born from our sweet side.

I worked late shift from home on Friday, so that was the perfect opportunity to churn out one of my signature backhanded, inside joke-laden gifts for Henry. This year’s theme was CIRCULARS because I’m always throwing them away before Henry has a chance to look at them because in my eyes, they’re junk mail. So then he starts stomping around in a fit when he’s about to leave for Kuhn’s and needs to know what’s on sale but if he’s already going there anyway who cares?!

Of course, that means I had to dig through the garbage for one to use for THE ART.

Gross.

I managed to churn out the actual picture in no time but then my project stalled when I realized we didn’t have any rogue picture frames for me to Mod Podge with the circulars so I called Henry at work and told him he had to stop somewhere and get me one and he was like “OK but why do you need it right now? I’ll be near a Pat Catan’s tomorrow—” and I was like, “BECAUSE I FUCKING NEED IT NOW, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHY” and apparently this is how he knew we were up to something, especially when he came home from work and Chooch and I ran separate directions with our projects under our shirts.

We’re good at secrets.

Anyway, here’s my finished masterpiece! I surrounded Henry’s mug with things I associate with him, such as Faygo (who doesn’t?!), Ted Nugent, benches at amusement parks, THE SERVICE, getting us lost for HOURS in Gangnam, and of course, the favorite: Chooch’s and my imagined relationship he has with a stripper at Blush named Cheetah Girl.

HENRY HATES THIS SO MUCH. Chooch and I will collapse into flesh-clumps on the floor, laughing and in tears over some dumb insinuation we made about him and “Cheetah Girl” (Chooch named her, btw). It all started because one time Henry was allegedly at the laundromat and Chooch was like, “What if he’s actually at Blush” and a years-long inside joke was born, one that Henry despises but brings the rest of us so much joy!

Friday afternoon, I had to force Chooch to come home from the Teen Center so he could draw a picture of Henry for his piece of artwork, and it actually went way more swimmingly that I imagined — usually any creative project makes us scream our faces off at each other, but this time, he slipped away into his bedroom and

IT IS SO GOOD. His image of Henry just kills me. Anyway, Henry always does this thing where we’re talking to him, about him, and he’ll go, “WHO?” and we’re like, “YOU, you dumb lump! We are literally talking to you about you!” OMG, you have to be there (Janna witnessed it last night!) but this is a Thing that he Does and it is so Frustrating.

LIKE, TRY FOLLOWING ALONG, MAYBE!?

Lol, 69. #MatureArt

Chooch thinks he’s such a bad artist and I want to flick his forehead every time he says that because his style reminds me a lot of the illustrations I see in places like the City Paper and other publications. He doesn’t give himself enough credit!

We couldn’t wait so we ended up giving Henry his presents last night after we came home from our Day Trip with Janna (we survived a day away without Henry!). He was a mixed bag of emotions. I could tell he liked them, but then to Chooch he asked, “What is that sticking out of my ear?” and Chooch went, “Oh yeah, a q-tip” and I almost peed my pants because that is SO ACCURATE. Even Henry was trying not to laugh at that one, but he did point out that he’s not “that hairy.” Wow, why to criticize your son’s art work, Jerk Dad.

Anyway, after “admiring” the pieces for another minute or so, he said, “You guys are assholes.”

YESSSSSSS.

We’re thinking about adding big, bulky chains to them so he can wear them around his neck like medallions.

Happy Father’s Day to the guy who doesn’t drink coffee, wear ties, or play golf so all those basic dad gift ideas don’t work for us.

May 302019
 

Alternately titled: When you love wooden coasters so much, you plan your holidays around them.

I wanted to do something fun during Memorial Day Weekend that wouldn’t require us to hemorrhage money or drive long distances, and I realized that it had been a hot minute since we last ventured out to Erie. There is a small, family amusement park there called Waldameer which isn’t THRILLING but it does have a couple dark rides and one wooden coaster in particular that I remembered to be relatively breathtaking.

Look, I have a sickness, OK? I just love have my body battered on wooden coasters and counting the bruises the next day.

The first thing we did after getting our ride-all-day wristbands was ditch Henry and run toward the Ravine Flyer except that we went the wrong way and wound up in Kiddie Land and then had to pretend like we meant to do that when Henry caught up with us and asked, “Where are you going?” when he knew damn well that we went the wrong way but had to be a fucking Poindexter about it.

Ugh! It doesn’t even matter if he’s behind the wheel of a stupid Faygo truck or on foot at an amusement park – he’s a fucking direction snob!

The park was nearly empty so I wasn’t too shocked to see that the Ravine Flyer was running ONE TRAIN OPS* and this wouldn’t have been too terrible considering we were practically walking right onto the platform, however, the dispatch was nearly as slow as Trump trying to sound out a four-syllable word.

*(There’s this one coaster channel on YouTube that I love and one of the guys, Logan, is always screaming ONE TRAIN OPS and that’s his Instagram name too so people are always tagging him when they’re at a park and experiencing one train ops, but my favorite was the time someone tagged him in a picture of a hotel breakfast buffet that had two waffle irons but one was broken and their hashtag obviously was #onewaffleops and why did this make me LITERALLY GUFFAW and elbow Henry?!)

At least they have great classic rock playing in the Ravine Flyer station….

…courtesy of these assholes, I guess. For a long time, Chooch thought the Ravine Flyer was actually called The Bob & Tom Show..??? So now I have to take his picture next to the sign every time we go to Waldameer.

So, my first ride on this thing after four years was definitely something to savor – I forget how exhilarating the first drop was and how much fun it is flying over the road.  It was worth the visit, but I have to be honest — we have ridden quite a few EXCELSIOR WOODIES since our last visit with the Ravine Flyer, and because of this, it was a little bit less write-home-worthy.

The first half is definitely the best, but the trim brakes definitely bring it down a few notches and there was some weird pacing in the secon half. Still, this coaster is pretty fucking fun!

What I love is that as you’re ascending that first hill, you get a stunning view of Lake Erie. It was very foggy and overcast on this day so we couldn’t see it the first several times we rode it, but by evening, there it was – a huge expanse of water making me dry heave. 

Henry is our Instagram Husband when we go to amusement parks and he is getting really good at standing in the perfect spot and patiently waiting for that one sweet shot. And if we’re unhappy with his attempt, we just get back on the ride and he has to keep trying until he gets it right (see: Whacky Shack).

I only had one bad experience at Waldameer on this day and it was when Chooch and I were about to get into line for another go when some young kid, like elementary-aged, leaned over a railing and spit onto the ground, missing me by a fraction of a centimeter. I’m not kidding, I was so close to getting marked by some Erie yokel and I was PISSED. I stopped dead in my tracks and screamed for Henry to come over, I don’t know why, not like he would ever in a million years even dream of defending my honor, and I hysterically explained to him what had happened. I was still waiting for the kid to exit the ride (you have to walk down a wooden walkway that turns a few times, and he was at a higher level when The Spitting occurred) so I could point him out to Henry and honestly I was considering confronting his dad, when some guy meandered over to us and said, “Are you talking about how that kid almost spit on you?” and then to Henry, he turned and said, “I saw it—it JUST MISSED hitting her” and I was like THANK YOU, DO YOU WANT TO BE MY NEW BABY DADDY because at least this stranger who had been casually sitting on a bench gave a shit about keeping my flesh free from boy-spit!

“IT’S NOT THAT I DON’T CARE, I DIDN’T SEE IT HAPPEN!” Henry cried in defense, but it was too late Damage was already done. Henry cared less about me getting spit on than a stranger did.

(That guy wasn’t too bad looking either, although he kind of gave off hunter vibes and ew no.)

“Is it that kid in the orange shorts?” Henry asked, suddenly trying to be super involved in my trials and tribs. I nodded and he said, “Yeah, I don’t think his dad is going to care” but I didn’t get a chance to see the dad.

The first time Henry took this picture, he only got half the sign in it and I started yelling, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! WHY WOULD YOU NOT THINK I WANTED THE WHOLE SIGN IN THE PICTURE WHEN I SAID TAKE OUR PICTURE STANDING BY THE SIGN????” and some guy was totally spectating Henry being emasculated, so that was cool.

My favorite seat on this was definitely the back, and my favorite ride on it was when IN THE AIR TONIGHT BY PHIL COLLINS started playing right as we were loading into the back seat. That song paired with the anticipation of getting on a roller coaster? Perfection.

We rode it over and over that day, even in the rain, to the point where it was actually giving me a headache. I lowkey panicked internally, wondering if my rollercoaster days are numbered, but then Chooch groaned, “Ugh, I’m starting to get a headache.”

WHEW!

Although, he may be 13, but he sure does have a plethora of elder maladies.

We managed to get Henry to ride it one whole time because he didn’t get the ride-all-day wristband so he had to pay FOUR DOLLARS to ride it ONCE. Cheap ass bitch. I started bitching again about that kid who nearly spit on me and wished out loud that I could have said ratted on him to his dad, and just as our train was leaving the station, Henry pointed and said, “Lol, there he is right there!” and pointed at some burly doof waiting in line next to Public Spitter and he for sure looked like a man who was still hanging onto his high school football glory days and all the concussions that came with it.

Yeah, for once I’d have to agree with Henry — I don’t think confronting him would have gotten me anything other than a second chance of being hit with spit.

Anyway, riding the Ravine Flyer with Henry was fun because I got to scream in his ear the whole time, and actually, I screamed so much that my scream was actually taken away halfway through the ride—maybe by God? I’m not sure, but it was almost like someone ripped my voice right out of my mouth and I couldn’t muster a single screech after that.

I outdid my own goddamn self, I guess.

Be back soon with more Waldameer bullshit!

May 282019
 

(Otherwise known as #MDW, which I kept seeing all over twitter and had no idea what it meant until Sunday night when I really decided to use my full brain to figure it out.)

FRIDAY

Memorial Day Weekend was off & running here on Pioneer Ave. early on Friday evening. Our drunk neighbor Larry who has to blow into a breathalyzer to get his car (a repurposed Yellow Cab van that retained its primary yellow hue) to start was totally blitzed. Henry came running downstairs to gleefully report that Larry was drunk and yelling at traffic again. Yes, this is a thing that Larry does.

Chooch went outside to spectate, just as another man began to walk his bicycle past our house. Chooch popped his head inside the house to tell me that this was the man who promised Chooch a football several years ago THEN NEVER BROUGHT HIM ONE. Anyway, as Chooch was telling me this, there was a sudden commotion outside.

Larry started screaming at Bicycle Man not to ever stop by his house again, motherfucker, and Bicycle Man was like, “YOU DON’T WANNA FUCK WITH ME, MOTHERFUCKER” which seemed out of character for this man with the docile, avuncular face and demeanor. But, I guess Larry can bring out the beast in even the most domesticated man on a bicycle.

Larry just kept running his drunk mouth about this man coming to his house and then Chooch and I remembered that a while back, that man did in fact stop at Larry’s house because Larry had a broke go-cart in his yard that he was going to throw out, I guess. Bicycle Man inquired about this and Larry told him he could have it.

WELL NOW IT SEEMS THAT LARRY WAS RENEGING, LIKE, A YEAR LATER!

Did Larry not remember that he GAVE IT AWAY?! I guess Larry was probably drunk then too, just like the time he probably accidentally set his Pokemon cards on fire then accused Chooch of stealing them (this is how they came to be nemeses).

So these two were really going at it, verbally, but then Larry went in his house AND CAME OUT WITH A BASEBALL BAT! Thankfully, the Old Italian Brothers who live on the other side of Larry’s duplex had just come home from doing Italian things and they were like, “WHOA WHOA WHOA!” and one of them assumed the position of Larry-Blocker while the other one shooed the Bicycle Man up the street.

Meanwhile, Haley had come outside to see what the hell was going on.

“I just put my kids to bed and if they wake up, I’m going to be PISSED,” she said, ready to call the police.

Thank god the Italian Guys came home because I don’t think Henry would have been much help.

SATURDAY

Larry slung a giant flag out of his window, signaling to all of Brookline that he was ready to get this MDW started for realskies.

Henry and I went for a walk later that day and saw him stopping in a nearby bar for a six pack, but Saturday night was surprisingly quiet. His wife must have been home, I guess.

I spent most of my Saturday exercising and watching Korean dramas. I started “My First First Love” on Netflix even though I hate the way Netflix subtitles things because they use white font with nothing behind it so it’s hard to read! I also started watching “Angel’s Last Mission: Love” which has the girl I love from “Thirty But Seventeen” and also L from the Kpop group Infinite.

You know, in case you cared.

(You don’t. It’s OK. I talk about K-dramas with my Korean imaginary friend. Her name is Minji and she corrects me when I screw up my Korean words.)

SUNDAY

Chooch had piano lessons in the morning, and Henry and I went for a walk around Garfield to kill time — we would normally go to the Asian markets but since we were leaving straight from there to go to Erie for the day, we didn’t want to buy groceries. So we went for a walk in order for me to hunt for Help Wanted signs for my Job Spotter app (it’s been a year and I’m still using it!) and then we stopped at Artisan for coffee. It was the first time I’ve been there since I got my Bad Apple tattoo in…2014? Has it been that long? Maybe even 2013!?

I’ve never actually been to the cafe portion of Artisan before though and I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know, I guess I thought it was going to be one of those TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL types since it’s affiliated with a tattoo shop but the crowd was super mixed and the barista was the sweetest little thing! She kept smiling at us like we were celebrities and she was nervous around us or something, maybe Henry’s face-bush made her uncomfortable and smiling is her coping mechanism, I don’t know. But I do know that my soy latte tasted like it was hand-crafted with care and precision.

And that’s all that matters.

Then it started raining really hard and I was like, “I AM NOT WALKING BACK TO THE CAR IN THE RAIN, YOU CAN BRING THE CAR TO ME” and Henry was like, “Yes ma’am” while I stood in the stoop of a closed yoga studio, sipping my hot latte and then all of a sudden, this is really weird, I started to think about how much I appreciate that Henry is the type of person who will literally weather storms so that I don’t have to, and then I started to crack up because I was scaring myself for thinking such nice thoughts.

THEN WE WENT TO WALDAMEER. That will get its own post though. I have too many pictures.

MONDAY

That fucking parade. I can’t believe it still lures us out of the house every year. IT’S SO LAME!

The only good part is seeing all of the people in the parade who know Chooch and call him out, lol.

Dum-Dums must have been on sale at the local CVS because that’s pretty much what all the parade people were tossing at the kids.

After the parade, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that seemed to have been missing from the parade, but then it clicked – the local dance studio wasn’t in the parade this year! There were no clumsy girls in leotards to laugh at! UGH.

The Teen Center was in the parade and we were like WHY NOT YOU to Chooch but he just shrugged and said, “If I’m in the parade, I can’t get candy.”

Wow.

Later that afternoon, we went to Millie’s new soft serve joint in Bakery Square, called Summer of Softserve. Henry muttered the whole way there about how it was going to suck because unlike me, the girl who gives a million chances, Henry has been donezo with Millie’s after the first subpar scoop he was served.

Janna met us there and I felt kind of bad for making her go all that way for what was just basic softserve at best. Um, the ambiance was fun though and the girl at the register liked my (aforementioned) apple tattoo and was highly complimentary of Chooch’s wardrobe choice, so I gotta give them points for that.

The only “fun” choice outside of the basic vanilla and chocolate was the dairy-free blueberry. Everything in my gut was telling me to go for the classic twist, but my tongue was being ridden by the devil and out came, “I’ll have the dairy-free blueberry please.” It was a-ight, and actually it kind of grew on me pretty quickly (the texture was off-putting at first) but the real MVP was the sunflower seed streusel I chose as the topping.

That shit was the BOMB – even though most of it ended up on the ground.

I’ll probably go back at some point this summer, maybe just for a cup of that streusel, and probably definitely without Henry who spent literally the rest of the day complaining about how Millie’s basically killed his first born. I suggested that he just open his own softserve place and I think he’s seriously contemplating this.

“You need a gimmick though, something that will keep people coming in the winter,” I said, before shouting, “OOH, TTEOKBOKKI!” I mean, softserve and Korean street food – no hipster d-bag in Pittsburgh has done THAT yet.

And that concludes my MDW recap.

May 142019
 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re not exactly the traditional kind of family so I didn’t wake up to a food tray full of french toast and mimosas atop my chest or a bouquet of flowers, or…shit, Chooch didn’t even get me a card! But Henry got up early and CLEANED THE HOUSE (well, he straightened up) which was really all I ever want, so that put me in a good mood and I didn’t even care that Chooch didn’t write me a cheesy poem or that he immediately ran next door to Blake’s house.

I did, however, accuse him of not wishing me a happy mother’s day but Henry was like, “That was literally the first thing* he said when he came downstairs” but when he said it, he was hugging the cat so I thought he was saying it to her, for some reason?

*(Actually, the first thing he said was,”It’s Janna’s birthday today.”)

I almost didn’t even realize it was Mother’s Day this past weekend until a few days prior when Chooch told me that he was making me a coffee cup in his ceramics class at Gifted, but he was pissed off because they didn’t get to use the kiln in time or something, #excusesexcuses.

Originally, my brother Ryan and I were going to take our mom to lunch or dinner on Sunday, but she was feeling under the weather, so Henry, Chooch and I went with the Korean Food Backup Plan and I chose Green Pepper for the venue in which Chooch could shower me with gratitude and reverence.

I just really needed some bibimbap in my bibimbelly, and it was wondrous.

The TV in  the restaurant had a variety of Kpop videos, K-drama clips, and other Korean sundry playing which made the experience better, in spite of what some of the restaurant reviews said. (eg. “Food was great. The Korean music videos playing on the TV were a different story.” How about fuck off then?) Anyway, one of the videos that came on was “your Dog Loves You” and the whole video was just…well, dogs. Chooch got SUPER emotional and kept fanning his face and then eventually he gave up and let the tears flow. It was adorable but also a super great reminder on Mother’s Day that no matter how many times people shout “HE LOOKS JUST LIKE HENRY AND BLAKE OMG,” he is all me aside from his looks. So there.

OMG now I’m tearing up writing about Chooch tearing up.

Henry took this hideous picture with his terrible phone. But at least I’M WEARING MY G-DRAGON PIN!

After lunch, we walked down the street to Pink Box and gorged on Asian breadstuffs. I love Pink Box. As usual, Henry picked the best one (pineapple bread stuffed with red bean) so I kept stealing bites of his.

Sweet red bean is so underrated in America.

The rest of the day was spent lazing around because it was gloomy and rainy and every time I eat bibimbap, I’m in a food coma for most of the day. It was a good opportunity to watch a movie, which says a lot because I have to be IN THE MOOD to watch a movie. Literally, all the planets have to be aligned, my brain chemicals have to be perfectly balanced, the weather has to be a certain way — I’m really particular about watching movies. Wait, let me back up – ever since Chooch saw End Game with my mom a few weeks ago, he has been dying to talk about it freely around the house but neither Henry nor I have seen it. I’m one of those people who hate knowing spoilers even if it’s for something I have no desire to watch. I know nothing about Marvel; in fact, when Chooch told me that Batman dies at the end of End Game, I yelled at him for telling me. Yeah, I totally fell for that! Henry said that I could get away with just watching Infinity Wars or whatever it’s called before seeing End Game, but no–it’s all or nothing with me.

But then I was talking to Carrie about this last week at work and she was like NO, YOU WILL LOVE IT, THOSE MOVIES ARE SO GOOD and just listening to her talking passionately about it made me get emotional (see above, re: Chooch and the dog video) and suddenly I felt ultra-inspired to watch it. I asked her where a good starting point would be and she suggested Iron Man, so we watched that Saturday night.

“Is she in all of them?” I asked Chooch.

“Pepper Pots? Yeah, she shows up in more of the movies,” Chooch said.

“But no, I mean, her specifically. Gwyneth Paltrow.”

Chooch had to look it up for me but he confirmed that yes, it’s Gwyneth Paltrow all the way through. GOOD BECAUSE I HATE RECASTS. I think that’s one of the reasons I gave up with super hero movies. To me, Batman is Michael Keaton, for example.

Anyway, I liked Iron Man! So then we watched the first Avengers movie on Sunday afternoon (with Drew, a/k/a Jinjoo, her new Korean name, who was exhausted, probably because I keep changing her name).

I had a lot of questions during Avengers and also a lot of anger (“YOU TOLD ME HE’S IN ALL OF THEM AND NOW HE’S DEAD?!!?”), but I liked it, so I asked my work friend/Marvel expert Nate to give me a list of all the movies I need to see in order, and he delivered! Chooch is so excited about this and I guess it’s nice to throw a bone to the kid who made me a mother in the first place, right? Even if it means sharing MY DAY with him? I mean, kid’s 13 so I better start savoring these last bits of attention he’s giving me. Ugh.

All in all, it was a good day even though no one bought me Taemin’s latest album (still waiting since February), the weather was less than desirable, and Game of Thrones was a shit show that left me feeling extremely disoriented and disappointed.

One final note: I’m really grateful that my mom and I are on good terms again, even if it was enduring the trauma of my aunt Sharon’s illness and the devastation surrounding my grandparents’ house that ultimately had to bring us together; you know what they say about “reasons” and “everything happening.” I was just texting with her yesterday about the time in 1999 when I used the corporate AmEx to “invest” in an “internet mall” after getting something sent in the mail about it and thinking, “wow, this is relevant to my interests of sitting around at home and getting rich quick doing nothing” and when my mom found out that I charged $3000 to her company card, I had  A LOT OF ‘SPLAININ’ TO DO. To be fair, the internet mall people told me that I would make that back plus some in no time so I figured that by the  time my mom got her statement, I’d be sitting on roughly $500,000 and could just chuck her some spare change to cover the bill, right? Except that American Express freaking called her when they saw what appeared to be a fraudulent charge and apparently, I was very “lucky” that there was a loophole since I used a corporate card to essentially invest in another company (or something? It was boring so I quit listening) so they were able to cancel the transaction, thus ruining my changes of becoming a self-made millionaire.

“That was around the same time I use that card to my buy myself that big purple hand chair from Archie McPhee,” I said, and my mom’s response was “Lolol” but probably she was seeing images of cold hard cash being flushed down the toilet.

Anyway, my point is that I’m grateful I was able to have that text-convo with her yesterday and it’s always great to remind her of the WONDERFUL DAUGHTER I’ve become (i.e. I don’t spend her money anymore, lol).

Apr 252019
 

I guess I should thank my kid for acting like a smart-ass teen simmering in a vat of sarcasm for the last 8 or so years, but it still is super startling to me that he is officially a teenager as of today.

For as much as we butt heads & word-snipe at each other, I’d like to think that we have a tight relationship and he hasn’t reached that point yet where he’s ashamed to be seen with me and Henry (I just verified this with him right now). It’s been a wild 13 years but wow, you guys, he’s really grown into such a cool homie.

He sent me this text ^^^ yesterday – like, how fucking sweet, amirite?! Granted the present was a load of banana bread that the Teen Center ringleader made, but still! He said he was originally going to give me the loaf that he had already taken a chunk out of, but then decided to give me the full loaf instead. WOW, SUCH GENEROSITY.

Everyone at work always wishes me a Happy C-Section Incision Anniversary on this day because it’s wildly known that I am super neurotic about my phantom incision pain. IT IS REAL AND I HAVE IT.

I was mad that he didn’t even have the decency to dry his dumb-ass 1970s John Ritter hair.

(As I type this, Chooch randomly has the 1980s Music Choice channel on TV and “Spring Love” by Stevie B is on but he keeps having the audacity to TALK OVER IT so I yelled, “I don’t care if it’s still your birthday, I’m trying to listen to this song so STFU!” and he murmured “Wow.”)

What else can I tell you about 13-year-old Chooch…he still loves dogs and asked every dog-walker we pass if he can pet their dog. He is desperate to get a job because he wants to build a gaming computer so he hoards every cent he gets. He loves the lottery (Henry played his birthdate for him and Chooch screamed I HAVE TO CHECK THE NUMBERS earlier tonight like a fucking 80-year-old). He still gets along better with adults. He calls everyone a dingo. He is super independent – during his spring break, he and his friend Haojie rode their bikes to one of the malls six miles away and let me tell you, I was a nervous wreck but at the same time I was like YOU DO YOU CHOOCH because I never would have thought about leaving my neighborhood when I was 13!

However, he’s also as dense as a loaf of fucking potato bread because when they decided to take the trolley home from the mall, he couldn’t find the trolley station and I was like it’s in the giant parking garage past Eat n Park, so he sent me a screenshot of a map of the area and asked me to DRAW IT?! Nate heard me bitching about this at work and came out of his office holding up the satellite view on his phone and said, “YOU MEAN THIS PARKING GARAGE, ERIN? THIS SIX-STORY PARKING GARAGE IN THE MALL PARKING LOT?” I mean, if he couldn’t see that, perhaps he shouldn’t be riding his bike miles away from home?

Anyway, they eventually found the fucking thing and I told him not once, not twice, not thrice, BUT FOUR TIMES to make sure they took the red line.

They took the blue line.

“Don’t worry,” he texted. “The driver told us what to do.”

They actually made it home, somehow.

Oh, another thing about him is that he is really charitable, like he’ll buy his friends drinks from CVS or give a homeless person a buck, but god forbid don’t ask him for one of his French fries. We had a HUGE fight over this last week which resulted in me shrieking about how I shared my body with FETUS-HIM for nine months and then spoonfed his pathetic baby-ass for however-the-fuck long but he won’t give me one fucking fry?!

He gave me two after that.

We walked to Scoops for some birthday ice cream after dinner, and I realized that this might have been the first year we didn’t get him a cake?! Is that weird? Do I get some sort of parental penalty for that oversight? Maybe I can buy him a Hostess cake from a gas station on the way to King’s Island on Saturday, or a cake pop from Starbucks? I don’t even think he cares. He got to have a sopapilla at his birthday dinner and I’m pretty sure he prefers that over cake.

I can’t wait to have patbingsu on my birthday….in Korea, hahahaha, whaddup, Chooch?!?

Anyway, here’s to thirteen happy years with my little BABY-WABY and also 13 years of having a battle-scarred, incision-twingey body thanks to my little BABY-WABY. I hope we’re always close and that when he’s an adult and I’m dead or whatever, he thinks back on his childhood fondly and tells his kids stories about how his mom was so fucking super cool and SACRIFICED HER ABILITY TO COMFORTABLY WEAR A CROP-TOP EVER AGAIN. I mean, I hope he tells them about how his parents took him everywhere and how their friends treated him like he was their friend too and how his mom was the cooler one but the dad was alright too.

(Ugh now Taylor Dayne’s “Love Will Lead You Back” is on this stupid music channel and I might be crying.)

Apr 232019
 

We’re not a religious family, not even the faux-religiosos who go to church just on holidays in order to look good or meet some kind of biblical quota, I have no idea what I’m talking about here. And Chooch is past the age where he requires an Easter basket, so even the materialistic part of the holiday is kind of just over for us.

(Actually, we got him an international snacks subscription box so someone else can prepare a monthly Easter basket for him, basically.)

However, as I mentioned before, I do really like the idea of Easter because how can you not associate it with spring and that heart fluttery-hope that comes on the heels of the end of another depressing winter?

So while we lack the bonnets and the Easter egg hunts (although Chooch did go next door to Blake and Haley’s and hid some plastic eggs while Calvin was sleeping — Chooch loves his little nephew so much and it’s pretty heart-warming, not gonna lie), I still always request that we do SOMETHING to celebrate. Usually it’s just dinner out at a Chinese restaurant, and then there was that one time we hosted a Pizza Party for Jesus Christ for some of our friends who didn’t have any family in the area. God, that was a good time.

Last year, we were in KOREA for Easter. *sobs*

For this year, I figured we’d just do the Chinese restaurant thing again but then one night, right when I was on the verge of slumber, I had the best idea: Henry could recreate the famous Inkigayo sandwiches that the kpop idols love to eat, but we’d call it the EASTERgayo sandwiches!

A brief background on the Inkigayo sandwiches: In South Korea, all of the main broadcasting stations have their own weekly music show, kind of like TRL was for MTV I guess, where all of the groups and artists perform their current hit song. One of those music shows is called Inkigayo (it means “popular”) and it’s become public knowledge that their cafeteria makes this sandwich that’s only available to staff and kpop idols, called the Inkigayo sandwich (natch). The idols supposedly go nuts for this layered handheld meal, but also there is legend that they use the sandwich as a vessel in which to secretly exchange numbers with each other, since dating is verboten for many of them (literally, some kpop groups have a no-dating clause in their contracts).

Of course, the legend focuses on G-Dragon, because he is a legend.

Goddamit I miss him.

I even made Inkigayo greeting cards for my Hello Hanguk shop! I called them InkiHELLOs, lololol I love myself.

Anyway! I thought it would be cute to make these sandwiches and have a picnic or something, but when I told Chooch the idea he was like WHY U SO CRINGE.

But Henry was like, “Whatever. Just send me the ingredients.”

Um..

I was just excited because I was able to read this without the translation. Me and my toddler-level Korean vocab!

There are all kinds of variations floating around out there, and now three convenience store chains in South Korea have started making their own and they’re all apparently completely different from each other. But the one above seems like it is the most true to the original? Hard to tell unless we ship Chooch off to JYP so he can start his idol training.

We decided to go with a nice, sturdy potato bread that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of the layers. And we even eschewed Hellman’s for the more Asian-centric Kewpie mayo (it’s Japanese, not Korean, but still felt more legit than using something American):

Image result for korean mayo

Plus, that mayo is a billion times better than our shit here at home.

Watching Henry slather on each layer, I had my reservations. I mean, we used up nearly an entire loaf of bread on this, so I hoped it wasn’t going to be all for naught.

Just in case, I threw some fruit in the basket and proposed that we swing by Pink Box for some baked goods and boba tea.

God, I love Pink Box. Asian breads are so underrated.

We found a picnic shelter in nearby Schenley Park but of course I had to take a lame picture first, not that anyone seemed in much of a hurry to dig in to some ‘gayos.

Chooch’s first bite produced some not-great reactions…

…but then by the second bite, his face transformed into this mischievous smirk and I could tell he didn’t want to admit it, but after he finished chewing, he said, “OK, holy shit. That’s actually REALLY GOOD.”

This morning he said he wished he had one to take to school today for lunch. Even with all that bread, it’s still probably a healthier option than anything in that gross cafeteria!

His official review was, “Great sandwich, cringey name.”

I can’t explain it, and it looks like crazy talk on paper, but it was one DAMN FINE sandwich. We all scarfed ours without ever putting them down on the plate. I mean, how we didn’t have at least one choking victim is beyond me.

(I even brought out the nice tea sandwich plates that I got for 99 cents at Goodwill, lol.)

Henry went light on the mayo and I think that was the trick:

  • the cabbage salad was so crisp and bright, and the apple really added a nice touch (HE ALMOST FORGOT THE ADDITION OF THE APPLE, IT’S A GOOD THING I WALKED INTO THE KITCHEN THAT MORNING TO SUPERVISE/MICROMANAGE).
  • the egg & potato combo was moist (not sorry) without being wet and drippy. Henry left the crab meat out of Chooch’s and my sandwiches, but he added it to his and said it was fine. I liked that the potatoes made it chewier.

I know that you’re wondering about the strawberry jam and I actually wish there was MORE. It really added the perfect, final touch! It was a light, sweet bridge between two picnic-y salads and it didn’t aggravate my gag reflex as expected!

It makes sense to me  though, as someone who welcomes the addition of jam on her grilled cheeses. I’m fine with any flavor on a standard grilled cheese, one with cheddar or some American slices, but my all-time favorite grilled cheese is dill Havarti on pumpernickel with FIG JAM.

Oh sweetly-spanked Mussolini, I would drop my tears onto one of those right now if I could.

(Sometimes Henry will make that one for me with raspberry preserves in lieu of fig jam and it is a comparable substitution.)

Look, I get the appeal of places like Melt but sometimes I just want a simple-sized grilled cheese (i.e. something I don’t have to eat with a fork) with super classy ingredients, OK?

My mouth is crying.

We were going to do an Easter photoshoot so the bunny ears came along but who even cares anymore. We were punch-drunk off our EASTERgayo sandwiches by this point.

After our lunch, we promised that kid that he could look for geocaches but instead of just staying in Schenley, we left and went to neighboring Frick Park, where Chooch took us down a fucking deer trail into peoples’ backyards and we were like, “YOU’RE GOING TO GET THE COPS CALLED ON US, DUMBASS” and have I mentioned lately how much I hate geocaching?

He only ended up finding two because he sucks at directions and my shoes got ruined because I thought we were going to woods that had cement paths and Henry was like, “THAT’S CALLED A SIDEWALK” but whatever. I was woefully unprepared and I hate walking in mud. Like, a lot.

Some rando fairy town in the woods. This made me laugh because earlier that morning, I accidentally stumbled across this holistic girl’s YouTube channel and before I knew was happening, I had watched six videos, added a bunch of reiki mushroom powders to Henry’s Amazon cart, and a had an intense craving for a kombucha float (made with like, vanilla oat milk ice cream, probably). Henry was like, “This bitch be annoying” but I liked her simply because her voice was soothing and she sounded like she lived inside a mushroom in a forest full of fairies. So when we found this dumbass display in Frick Park, I started cracking up because she probably has a similar set up next to her squirrel wigwam.

Meanwhile, Chooch was looking up geocaches in Seoul. “Look how many are in Hongdae!” he cried, and I was like, why? Are you pre-planning all the ways you’re going to ruin my birthday trip?

HE PRACTICALLY RUINED EASTER WITH HIS GEOCACHING SHENANIGANS.

Hoooooo lawd, I hate rooting around nature for Tupperware.

Anyway! That was our Easter. Only one tiny complaint was that it was cloudy and on the chilly side, but at least we didn’t fight at all! It was an Easter miracle.

(Those EASTERgayos, tho…)

Apr 212019
 

A Chooch For Every Year: 2006-2019

My LITTLE BABY (lol) is going to be THIRTEEN on Thursday, and even though we’re going to be celebrating his big day of birth at King’s Island next weekend, I still wanted to do something small & casual so that our close friends and family could be there too. He’s teetering on that crazy-emotional Not a Kid Anymore But What Am I precipice where he irrationally thinks that we don’t care about him so…fun times!

I thought a small surprise dinner the weekend before his birthday would be perfect, and I made real life invitations to send out too because, you know, how do you invite people to a party when you’re not on Facebook anymore?

And even such a small event still gave me pee-jigs and puke-feels all day leading up to the surprise.

Chooch has been craving Mexican food like a pregnant lady binge-watching telenovelas (he actually is binge’ing* Jane the Virgin and yes I know they’re not Mexican but it’s kind of funny because it basically is a telenovela and in fact, he’s sitting next to me as I type this, trying to give me recaps of the last episode he watched and I truly, sincerely don’t care), so it seemed obvious that we should make Old Mexico the location of the festivities.

*(That word is so weird—like, how do you even spell it. It doesn’t look right no matter which way I’ve seen it and I wish it wasn’t a thing.)

And then the night before, Chooch told us he was going on a hike the next day with the Teen Center and I panicked because WE HAD TO BE AT THE RESTAURANT BY 4:15 AND HAD ACTUAL RESERVATIONS AND THIS LITTLE SHIT WAS GOING TO RUIN HIS OWN PARTY! It ended up being fine, and they got back way earlier than expected, plus he was with his friend Liam so I suggested that he ask Liam to come to dinner (he knew we were going to dinner, but not that a bunch of guests were going to be waiting for him) and Henry was like “GREAT, ERIN” because Henry hates socializing with Chooch’s friends but I like Liam! He was allowed to go so that was cool.

Anyway, everyone managed to get there on time (except for Wendy but I knew ahead of time that she would be late so I wasn’t mad!) and he was so shocked! I was also shocked that everyone who RSVPd really came! MY MOM AND DAD WERE BOTH THERE YOU GUYS. This has never happened. I almost cried, and my dad paid for my mom!! (They divorced like 20 years ago or something but have grown amicable over the years so it wasn’t really that huge of a deal, but now Chooch is like, “MAYBE THEY’LL BE LIKE XIOMARA AND ROGELIO!!” which is a stupid Jane the Virgin reference, so if Chooch tries to do some Grandparent Trap action, that’s not my fault!!)

Tommy and Jessy brought this big birthday balloon with them which was a GOOD CALL because I brought nothing. No party artifacts. No birthday ephemera. No Eyes Wide Shut masks.

After we got to the table, I asked Chooch if he was surprised and he said, “I mean, the hostess asked us if we were with the table of 15, so…”

FUCK.

I think he was still surprised though. In my head, he was surprised.

This was his first time seeing Tommy after THE PRANK. Tommy signed the card “and Charlie” which was the name he was using to prank Chooch with last week, haha.

Wendy made me take this picture of her and then I threatened to put it on our department’s wiki page and she was like, “Oh god, please don’t” and then I told my parents, “This is my friend Wendy, we work together and she’s like my boss, I guess.”

I was so happy that my parents and brother Ryan were there! My other brother had to work, and another person who had to work WAS BLAKE. He tried so hard to get someone to switch with him but it was a no-go and he was pretty bummed out, but Haley, Calvin and Lily were there to represent the Robbins side of the family!

I was so happy that everyone seemed to mesh well with each other, because you never know with dinners like this – they could be awkward!

Also, Henry never looks at us the way he looks at Calvin!?

e

I think it helped that half of us were drinking margaritas. Patty asked me to go check the parking lot toward the end of the dinner to see if her ride was there, and I have to admit that I have no recollection of how I got from the dinner table to the front door of the restaurant, so…

Also, I rarely drink anymore so it really doesn’t take much.

Liam got fish which was an interesting choice I thought for a kid at a Mexican restaurant. I got the vegetable plate with rice and I thought I would be food-shamed over it because again, who goes to a Mexican restaurant for undressed vegetables but I knew that anything else would make me sick for the rest of the night, so I went for it. When it was served to me though, everyone was like, “Whoa, that smells so good! What did you get?” and it was literally just Mexican rice and a boatload of fajita-esque vegetables and it was SO GOOD. I scarfed down that whole plate, felt fulfilled, and didn’t want to puke later that night!

Thank you, Old Mexico!

OMG Wendy talking to my dad, lololol.

Patty and Jessy just met that night but hit it off!

This might be favorite picture of the night: Chooch and his soon-to-be sister-in-law Haley, and believe me, they are definitely sibling-ish!

Chooch and his pal, Patty! She volunteers at the nursing home she used to be a resident at, and she said some of the residents remembered Chooch from when we would visit and he would play piano for them, so they asked her to relay their birthday wishes for him and I thought that was so sweet. Look, I’m really grateful that Patty was able to leave there and go back to her own house, but I do miss when we used to visit her there. Some of those people were major characters!

Chooch with Jessy and Tommy! Tom is his frenemy for real, but they’re like family to us even though we don’t see them often anymore. I was so freaking happy that they could make it, because they live pretty far away.

Wendy and Summer with my family!

Chooch and Janna—man, she has been there from the beginning and is basically family to him. I actually confirmed the date of his dinner with her first before I even made invitations because it was imperative that she be there, duh.

Poor Liam had no fucking idea what he signed up for. He thought he was just tagging along to a quiet family dinner with his friend, lol.

And then Chooch ordered a sopapilla, not knowing that it was going to turn into A THING because he didn’t grow up with the horror of being birthday-shamed by the staff at ChiChi’s like the rest of us did. (RIP, ChiChi’s, and also the people who died because of your poisoned green onions.)

(OMG that fucking corn sidedish they had. WHY, CHICHI’S, WHYYYYYY???? COME BAAAAAACK!!)

One of the waiters gave Chooch a handful of whipped cream to the face and I died. If anyone deserves whipped cream to the face, it’s certainly my kid.

This happened after Jessy commented that Chooch looked the same as he did when he was younger except without the constant ring of ice cream and dirt around his lips and he was like HOLD MY LEMONADE.

This kid will forever make a mess at dinner,

What a great turnout! I think he really felt loved and at the end of the day, this was all I wanted from that dinner.

On the way home, I told him that Chronica couldn’t make it because Chris was flying home from Calgary that day and her flight was delayed. (She ended up not getting home until after 10PM, sadly.)

“Chris and her stupid countries!” Chooch cried.

And when I told him that Kara had tickets to the Beer Barge, he scoffed, “Really? Kara chose BEER over ME?”

Anyway, I’m glad that we pulled this off without any drama and minimal stress so that now I can selfishly focus on King’s Island which you have to know is really more for me than anyone else, lol. LOOK, HE WOULDN’T HAVE A BIRTHDAY IF NOT FOR ME, SO.