Oct 222020
 

My music tastes aren’t as seasonal as they once were (let’s be real: I’m Kpop nearly 24:7 these days); however: fall really tugs the nostalgia strings in my brain and I start craving certain bands/songs. Tonight, during my late shift I succumbed and put on some Balance & Composure. The way my body reacted was insane, like having a bucket of hot emotions poured on my head. Wooo boy the tears were sprung but it felt good.

Anyway, let’s relax a little, burn our tongues on some hot apple cider, sniff some pumpkin candles, etc. blah yadda. Here are some songs I like to achieve these vibes and maybe you will them too.

It has sadly been 4 years (right after the last election, to be exact, it was somber) since I’ve seen Balance and Composure and then they broke up soon after. Anyway, every time I saw them live it was BIG WARM FEELS man like an infinity scarf pulled over my face by a high school crush.

Love this band so much, but now I wish I was on my way to a haunted hayride while this is coming out of my car speakers. </3

(P.S. I was wrong! The last time I saw them was May 2017! You really care!)

Black Queen makes me want to walk around empty city streets in the middle of an October night with some hot goth I met on Darkchat and obviously this is 1999 because I am so totally devoted to Henry you guys come on this is not a Today Fantasy.

Exile is my favorite Gary Numan album ever and one time when I lived alone in the late 90s, I fell asleep with it on repeat and had some of the most wicked, vivid nightmares that I still think about to this day.

I was home alone the other night and played this in the kitchen with the lights out and yes, still has the same hair-raising effect on me and I fucking LOVE IT.

PVRIS is such a mood. As soon as a chill hits the air, I’m ready to crunch some crispy leaves in the cemetery with PVRIS as my soundtrack. The synth, the alt-goth aesthetic, the LYNN GUNN. Their old albums bring back memories of Ex-BFF so sometimes when I need to have that “swishing a cavity with bourbon” feeling in my heart, this is the fo-sho go-to.

I used to put this song on every mix CD I made back in the early 2000s and I just recently felt inspired to cue it up – yep, I’m ready to go on a lite night drive with foggy windows IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Chino Moreno and Mike Patton with some Goblin-esque elements simpering in the background, how can you go wrong?

(Speaking of Goblin, that will be my next kitchen LED light show tune, I think.)

***

OK, well now that tonight’s debate is over, I think I need to throw these jamz on a playlist and go take a bath in the dark. Happy fall y’all (wow, I really just said that out loud as I typed it, do I have to throw a wreath on my front door now?).

Oct 202020
 

Hola mi amigos, says the girl who had 3/4 of a year of Spanish in 12th grade.

It occurred to me recently that the 20th anniversary of meeting the Cure was on the horizon and I was like, “yay another reason to post the best picture ever taken of me!” and then of course the ACTUAL anniversary was yesterday and I forgot to post it so I dunno, pretend it’s still Monday. Also, apologies to anyone who already saw this on Instagram but 20 years is a big one and I wanted to commemorate that here too. (“It’s my blog, blah blah blah…”)

Most people in my life have heard this story so many times that it’s basically turned into my Big Kahuna moment but to summarize: in October 2000, I got on several planes and flew, alone, to Canberra, Australia to see The Cure perform the last leg of what Robert Smith swore was going to be their last tour ever. Now, I had never had the chance to see them before and they were (still are) my favorite band. They had recently toured the US but didn’t come to Pittsburgh and I had just started a new job, which meant I didn’t have vacation time yet. But when they announced the Australian tour several months later, my office mate, the one who was also in charge of payroll, was like, “You go to Australia and don’t worry about it – you’re getting a paycheck.” I mean, everyone at that job knew I was batshit for The Cure, so this kind of a big deal for them that I was doing this!

Super summary: I get to Canberra and start calling local radio stations, telling anyone who will listen that I’m some rando 21-year-old broad from America who is obsessed with The Cure, and oh won’t someone help me meet them? The alternative radio station played me on the radio – they thought it was really awesome that my love was that insane intense that I would fly thousands of miles on my own to see them. They wanted to give me a ticket to the show but I already had that, at least. They took down my number at the hotel just in case something changed. A day before the concert, they called me and asked if they could record the call. I was like, “Sure,” thinking they were just going to ask me what my favorite Cure album was again, stuff like that, filler for commercial breaks. But no, they wanted to tell me that they had someone on the line who wanted to talk to me…no, it wasn’t Robert Smith, but it almost as good: it was a local guy who had won a meet & greet that the station had held a week before, and when he heard me on the radio, he thought that I deserved to meet The Cure much more than he did, and wanted to transfer his pass onto me.

CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THERE ARE REALLY ANGELS ON EARTH?

So that’s how I found myself in the same room as Robert Smith, the man whose voice and words had buoyed me through countless bouts of depression and also soundtracked some of the happiest, manic moments of my life, too.

I actually have a video of this meeting but it needs converted from 8mm so check back another time, I guess.

MEANWHILE, and this is actually my favorite part that I think about A LOT, back in Pittsburgh: Henry was starting a new job at the same place I also worked. His initial impression of me when shown my empty desk was that I was some crazy girl who ran off to Australia to see some band.

Then I came back, we became work frenemies (lol—because that’s how I flirt) and then a year later we started dating. So not only is it the 20 year anniversary of meeting The Cure, but it’s the 20th anniversary of knowing Henry. And honestly, I haven’t changed one bit because I’m still obsessed with everything and NEEDING to travel for concerts (obviously not currently though, sigh), only now I’m dragging him along with me. You can’t say he wasn’t warned!

Literally no one thought we’d stay together this long, yet here we are.

Oh and The Cure IS STILL TOURING.I have seen them five more times since Canberra (zero times in Pittsburgh though!) and four of those times were with Henry. God bless him, he’s traveled to California (Coachella), Cleveland (Curiosa), Chicago (Riot Fest), and Columbia, Maryland to see them with me.

I made this for him several years ago and have definitely (bluffingly) thrown it in the garbage can during fights but he always takes it back out. I guess he’s a pretty good guy, but don’t tell him I said that.

(SIDE NOTE: I’m sitting here cracking up thinking about who I was as a person back then, like for instance how I called my job several times from my hotel room – COLLECT – so I could keep them updated on what was happening* and all the guys would pass the phone around in the breakroom saying, “it’s the girl! calling from Australia! the girl!” And if Henry was there when that was happening, was he thinking “who the fuck IS this girl!?”)

*(What? Social media didn’t exist yet!)

Oct 142020
 

Sometimes I like to use the calendar feature on my blog to see what I was doing around this time in the past and then I sigh and say, “Wow, remember I hung out with friends?” (But honestly, was it really a pandemic that changed that lol.)

Apparently, five years ago, I was using my annual pie party as an excuse to show off my beloved succulents, because that’s a thing that normal people do…Every single one of them are DEAD NOW. I especially mourn Jonny Maplebitch. :(

***

At some point on Saturday, in between gluing sequins on my Pie Party sign and shadow dancing around Baker Henry in the kitchen, I had the greatest idea of all time. I was upstairs when it came to me, and so I screamed for Henry to hurry his ass up to our room. He loves when I do that because sometimes it’s an actual emergency just often enough for him to fall for it every time.

“What?!” he asked, panting and mildly concerned.

“Greatest idea ever,” I began, and he immediately regretted falling victim to my wolf cries. “In addition to the pie party….SUCCULENT MEET N’ GREET.” I paused for a beat, smiling and waiting for him to crumble to the floor under the weight of my brilliance.

Instead, he just stood there, arms akimbo, that patronizing smirk plastered across his dumb bearded face.

Good thing I’ve never been one to look to my BEAU for validation. Speaking of BEAU, Bo Brady probably would have supported Hope in her decision to have a succulent meet n greet.

No, you’re right. That’s definitely false. Bo thought Hope was silly and frivolous. Oh, until she was about to marry LARRY WELCH, that is.

(OMG remember when Henry was my Bo Brady?)

Later that night, we were getting ready for bed and I was still yammering on about my succulent meet n’ greet. “This is just really exciting, I’m really excited about this, and I think it’s just full of excitement, so much excite,” the words spewing out in an auctioneer’s cadence. Henry must have been delirious from baking all day and night, because he just stared at me with an amused look on his face, and that is unlike him. The looks he gives me are typically basted with disgust, contempt, and frustration. Occasionally rage, but Henry is pretty laid back so one must really give him a series of forceful shoves for the anger to really shine through.

“They’ve never gone anywhere before!” I reminded Henry.

“Well, they’re plants, so….” he muttered.

Sunday morning, while Henry was filling the car with unnecessary, boring items like forks and plates, I was carefully considering which of my succulents to bring with us. I couldn’t bring some of my faves, like Bae and Panne and Suzy Banyon, because their pots are too fragile and breakable.

“I really want to bring Johnny Maplebitch with us, but I’m worried because there will be kids there…” I murmured mostly to myself, staring at that beautiful beast on my coffee table.

“Well, you could change his name for the day,” Chooch suggested. “Like, maybe….Johnny Mapledick?” he shrugged, completely serious about this.

“Yeah, good one, Chooch,” Henry sighed, stomping past us with more unessential pie party things, like pie.

I ended up bringing him in the end, because I don’t believe in succulent censorship.

I placed them all gently inside a carrying case while Henry was wasting time rounding up the beverage and making sure Chooch was dressed and not in danger. A little help would have been nice, but knowing Henry and his meathands, he probably would have just jammed my babes into the car all recklessly, like they’re not his real children.

Of course they’re not.

They’re the Devil’s.

I lined all of the picnic tables in the pavilion with craft paper and then had all of the succulents introduce themselves and say a little thing about pie. Because it was a pie party.

I TIE THINGS TOGETHER. It’s what I do.

IMG_9647

Chris and Monica asked me what vasterbotten pie is and I shrugged. “I’unno. I just googled ‘swedish pies’ and then didn’t get much farther than that.” So then Chris googled it and actually read about vasterbotten, and now we’re obsessed with vasterbotten pie because it’s basically just cooked Swedish cheese and I hope that Chris and Monica are currently reorganizing their wedding menu as I type this.

Henry always rolls his eyes when I bring up Phil Angie.

Leopold is the succulent I found in Savannah! I brought him so it was like having Octavia there in spirit. <3

And I had to bring Stefano so Monica could meet him in person, since she is the one who named him. (Also, two Days of Our Lives references in one blog post! And I haven’t even watched Days since 2005! <—sadly.)

Bambi had to give a shout-out to her favorite show, Twin Peaks. HOLLA.

I named this one after my favorite gymnastics coach of all time, BELA KAROLYI. He was happy to bring some Romanian flavor to the party. Isn’t he handsome?

 

Henry frowned at this one.

Some people seemed very eager to meet the succulents! Other people were like, “Why.” Henry was like, “This is why you don’t have friends.”

Anyway, if you couldn’t be there on Sunday, I hope you enjoyed this virtual meet and greet!

Oct 112020
 

In today’s edition of Completely Uninspired Pre-Election Depression Blog Posts, I give you pictures from a Halloween party I had when I was in 8th grade in 1992, because I recently found these pictures and figured that looking at these and marinading in the memories might be the closest I get to embracing the Halloween spirit this year, biggest le sigh of all le sighs. 

My mom was super into Halloween and she’d always be like WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A HALLOWEEN PARTY and I think it was mostly because she just wanted to decorate and ghost-host it rather than have her own Halloween party and have to deal with my dad’s friends.

#speculation

According to my photo album, this was in 1992 and it was my third Halloween party. Now, my memories have been pretty muddled lately what with every day being the same but if I were pressed to provide more information, I would feel compelled to say that this was also the same party where my dad led us on a haunted walk in the woods* and unbeknownst to everyone but me, my uncle Mark was dressed as Freddy Kreuger and hiding in a tree, and when he jumped out in front of us, Amy L. got so startled that she fell backward on her ass and everyone was like HAHAHA, reveling in the Halloweenity of it all, having a spooky ol’ good time, etc etc, but then AMY L went to school and tried to get people to be mad at me about it, because EIGHTH GRADE. 

(See also: Amy L was the Ultimate Purveyor of Teen Drama and if social media had been around back then, she would have cyber-bullied half of us to psychological breakdowns or worse.)

*(My childhood home is surrounded on three sides by  many acres of forest, something that TRUMP might consider a FOREST NATION, and for a long ass while we contemplated having a legit haunted trail open to the public but then, you know, insurance etc etc)

I don’t know what I’m doing in this picture, but I remember my mom being so disappointed when I was like, “I don’t really care, this one I guess” when it came to choosing a costume, because she always liked to make my costumes, and it was so annoying because I never got to be what I wanted to be and even still, I grew up to be the same exact type of mom, forcing my own GENIUS costume ideas over the head of my own kid. 

(Trick or treating likely isn’t going to happen this year but I am still arguing with him over what he should be.)

The girl in the back with the curly hair was REALLY into The Beatles and had a Christmas caroling party one year at her house. It was super wholesome. She’s one of the only people in these pictures that I never found on Facebook back when I used it so I have no idea if she is still a nice person or a MAGA dumbo.

Also, I was mad at Christy for literally just wearing that hat and saying she was Private Detective, so I guess I already had a little bit of Halloween Pageant Mom already brewing inside me. I remember being all, “YOU COULD HAVE TRIED HARDER, CHRISTY” because she was ult BFF back then so I felt supremely comfortable yelling at her about trivial things, whereas I was just acquaintances with some of the people who just rolled up in sweatshirts and orange socks so I didn’t shame them or anything.)

AHHHH PERM AND BRACES, MY BEST LEWK.

I don’t think this was the same party where I made everyone watch Paper House. That may have been the year before. 

My mom had her friend Karen be a fortune teller. I’m sure we all thought it was dumb at the time but now I’m like AW THAT WAS REALLY NICE OF KAREN TO DO THAT. Before the pandemic, I thought it would have been fun to let Chooch have a Halloween party this year since he started a new school, but obviously that can’t happen now and it sucks because he already has a Friend Group (I knew he’d make friends easier since everything is online right now!) so now I can’t force JANNA to dress up as a fortune teller, oh well, maybe next year. 

Oct 022020
 

OK look, to be fair, I haven’t decorated at work for the last two years (or three?!!?) so I can’t really be too much of a bitch-baby about this. YOU NEVER KNOW: This could have been my big comeback year! But you know, it’s hard to decorate a desk that you haven’t occupied since March. I felt really sad and nostalgic about that today so I took a stroll down memory lane and I honestly can’t believe it’s been EIGHT YEARS since the October that birthed the Glenn Defacement Project.

Hold my hand (VIRTUALLY!!) and walk with me down blog boulevard to October 2012, won’t you? Also, sorry for the shitty photo – I was clearly obsessed with Hipstamatic in 2012. *cringe*

20121009-192955.jpg

Finally, we got the approval to decorate for Halloween again this year! I’ve known since last October what I was going to do this year. Last year’s was so graphic and murder-y, so I decided to go a different route: clowns. It seems like most of the department are coulrophobic! And it just so happens I have a few clowns in my collection.

20121009-193009.jpg

Henry and I had a huge fight about the fabric. I’m sorry but fabric stores are gross! I didn’t want to be there at all, and I threw a massive fit about how ridiculous it was that I couldn’t find striped fabric.

“You only looked in one rack!” Henry cried, whic prompted me to scathe, “Oh, don’t you talk to me that way!” and storm out of the store. Sunday was a fabulous day!

(Obviously, I sent him back out for the fabric.)

(The randomly jutting clown shoe scares Brad.)

20121009-184416.jpg

So, one of the first components I began working on last week was defacing pictures of Glenn.

Watching me turn Glenn into a Juggalo, Lee asked, “What started your beef with Glenn, anyway?”

This gave me pause. You know, I can’t be certain exactly what happened, but I know that he sassed me one time. And for that, he will forever be my joke-pony.

Anyway, the seedling of my idea was to get a bunch of those prize machine capsules and fill it with candy and a picture of Glenn (collect them all!).

20121009-184427.jpg

20121009-184436.jpg

Crooked Cop Glenn!

20121009-184443.jpg

Stripper Glenn!

20121009-184501.jpg

I also made a bunch of department-centric fortunes. My favorite is: Never underestimate the power of a Barb Riley Nastygram.

So I did all of these things, ordered those plastic vending capsules in bulk, and then thought to myself, “WTF am I putting these in?” Certainly not just a random bowl. So I made a beachball-sized paper mache clown head (with Henry’s help—I’m not allowed to use the hand mixer). It took all weekend and was one of the most frustrating projects of my life (hi, I hate crafts, remember?), but I am so in love with him now! My babe!

20121009-184536.jpg

It’s surprising to me how many people either hesitated or flat out refused to put their hand in his mouth, like I am so untrustworthy! Barb is so thrilled she gets to stare at the back of his bald head all day.

And what goes along with carnivals and circuses? Side show freaks! [Message from Erin 2020: There is only ONE PERSON out of all of these circus freaks that still works at the Law Firm *sad face*]

20121009-184515.jpg

Carey as the Tattooed Lady! A Fiji Mermaid!

20121009-184613.jpg

Midget pacifier-sucking Brad! Bloody circus peanuts!

20121009-184555.jpg

Ringmaster A-ron!

20121009-184831.jpg

Chris and Lee, Ultimate Law Firm Bromance! (Lee is so angry and traumatized about this.)

20121009-184545.jpg

Moustache and beard lollipops!

20121009-184625.jpg

Fiji Mermaid up close!

20121009-184633.jpg

Barb the Contortionist!

20121009-184646.jpg

20121009-184801.jpg

Random babies in a bottle!

20121009-184822.jpg

So, this is why I haven’t been writing much on here lately: I’ve got a one-track mind!

Mostly, it’s been received very positively. I mean, it’s fun! It’s interactive! It’s mean-spirited toward Glenn (who secretly loves it)! Even some people who don’t usually talk to me have stopped to appreciate it. I just hope that the few anti-fun people here don’t get upset and complain. But if last year’s Murder Desk was allowed to carry on throughout the entire month, I don’t see why this one can’t, too.

I heard through the grapevine that Glenn liked last year’s Murder Desk better than this year’s Carnival Desk because he got to be the killer. (I’m going to pretend that he wasn’t being sarcastic.)

So I decided to incorporate his murderous streak into this year’s theme, too.

20121012-141718.jpg

I’ve been calling this Candy’s Corner.

20121012-141728.jpg

Remains of Candy mingle amongst circus peanuts.

20121012-141740.jpg

I figured I could use Glenn to tie in Candy’s Corner with all the department sideshow freaks, so I made a newspaper article. (The picture of Candy is random — I didn’t want anyone here to be all, “OMG WHY DO I HAVE TO BE THE VICTIM!?”)

(But really, aren’t we all?)

20121012-142027.jpg

The “unknown metal object” will be officially revealed next week when I have Candy’s stomach contents on my desk.

I tried to throw in a few shout-outs here and there, like Barb’s newfound predilection for tacking on “holla!” to the end of random proclamations and Amber1’s publicly shared affection for her wiener dog.

And Brad’s midget-ness.

20121012-142036.jpg

Another new addition: creepy old jack in the box!

20121012-142108.jpg

20121012-142124.jpg

Candy’s wig and bow.

20121012-144120.jpg

Sean and Glenn checking out the latest Glenns on the wall. The real Glenn got Little Orphan Glenn in today’s clown head digging. George got Jesus Glenn, and to quote Lee: “George gets ALL of the good Glenns!”

Here’s a sampling of Glenns:

20121026-194447.jpg

 Glenn Close Glenn (Henry didn’t get this one!), Chef BoyarG, Luau Glenn, Glenn in the Hat, Miami Vice Glenn, Glenn Danzig Glenn.

20121026-194454.jpg

 Elton John Glenn, Glenn of the Corn, Darth Glenn, Gary Bettman Glenn (NHL Commisioner, FYI), Jigsaw Glenn, Pulp Fiction Overdose Glenn.

20121026-194501.jpg

 Devo Glenn, Einstein Glenn, Sea Monkey Glenn, Batman Glenn, Bill Cosby Glenn (with Puddin’ Pop and Jello!) [HELLO FROM 2020 ERIN: was Cosby a known-rapist yet when I made this!?!? Yikes.], Captain Ahab Glenn.

20121026-194510.jpg

 Damsel in Distress Glenn!

20121026-194522.jpg

 ALL OF THE GLENNS!

20121026-194541.jpg

Also new for this week was Candy the Clown’s stomach contents, which was a big fail. I had Henry make a big batch of slime, and then I added paper clips. Because that is what Glenn the Clown made Candy choke on, you see. Paper clips. Someday I will explain the paper clip obsession.

20121026-194550.jpg

I can’t imagine why no one wanted to plunge their phalanges into that.

Sep 242020
 

Dear Diary,

Remember when we used to go on road trips and stop at cool places but now we can’t because god only knows how much Covid is swirling around these tourist traps? We’re actually taking a modified road trip this weekend to get Korean liquor in Maryland and it pains me to know that we will be passing cool things (probably) but won’t be able to stop. Unless it’s like some sparsely populated nature thing. 

But definitely nothing quirky like the SHOE HOUSE we toured five years ago. Here, please read about it. I beg you.

***

A few years ago, we were going to Lancaster, PA for a Pierce the Veil show and I thought it would be incredibly fun to stop at this storied house that’s shaped like a shoe in Hallam — a true road tripper’s wet dream. I had seen it on some local roadside attractions show and started obsessing. Like I do. Since it was off-season, I emailed them two months in advance to see if we could stop by for a tour. The reply I got was curt and also kind of rude. I don’t remember what they said exactly, other than it made me rage vocally at my desk. I mean, don’t live in a shoe  if you don’t want people to email you about it!!

Fast forward to several weeks ago. My anger had subsided a bit over the years and I decided to look the house up again since we were going to be in the area in a few weeks. The website announced that not only was this still peak season, but the house had new owners! I asked Henry if we could stop for a tour on our way home from Philly this past weekend, and he said yes, which leads me  to believe that he is either cheating on me or dying.

I excitedly told Glenn  that not only did I get my way about going to Philly, but Henry was also taking me to the shoe house!

“He really needs to stop rewarding behavior,” Glenn sighed. He was really happy when Henry initially said no to Philly because I came back from my break crying. But you know, THINGS CHANGE. It’s harder for Henry to say no to me in person, anyway.

The Haines Shoe House is really close to Rt. 30, so Henry couldn’t bitch about it being out of the way, like he did about every single place we stopped at on the way home from vacation last month. The man who built it in the 40s put it close to the highway so it cold be seen because it was essentially advertising his shoe company.

The tour is $5 a person, what a steal.

“Nope, I’m good,” Henry said as he handed me $10. Chooch wasn’t too excited about this either, but I was like, “DO NOT MAKE ME TAKE THIS TOUR ALONE, PLEASE, I BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD.” And he was like, “Yeah, a world full of stupid novelty houses to tour.” He and Henry just don’t get excited about these things.

After I paid the lady in the gift shop, she asked Chooch for his hand so she could stamp it. I stuck mine out too and she said, “Oh, no. We just do this for the kids.” She laughed a little and then realized my hand was still there. “But I mean, that’s fine, if you want a stamp too.”

“I mean, she basically is a kid, so…” Chooch said with a roll of his mean eyes. Shut up, Chooch.

She stamped my hand but didn’t even bother to re-ink the stamp first so it looks STUPID.

It’s supposed to be a shoe! You can’t even tell! Chooch’s was so much nicer than mine.

So then our tour guide came in and retrieved us. Immediately, she made a passive aggressive comment about not sitting on the furniture, because of course as soon as we entered the house, Chooch’s ass helped itself to an armchair cushion. But you guys, his leggggs. They were so tireddddd. He was so exhausteddddd. His life is so roughhhhh.

We learned some boring ass facts about Mahlon Haines and his shoe company. He was really into pimping out his company and even ran for Congress at one point just so he could essentially advertise his company with promotional compact mirrors. I didn’t know what else to say, every time the guide stopped talking and looked at me expectantly, so I just kept saying, “Wow, he was like, really smart.”

Chooch just looked really bored and annoyed the whole time, but I swear to god it was really cool to walk around and see that even the windowsills were curved. The guide kept encouraging me to take photos, and I’m so used to being told to not take photos so that I have to take clandestine spy-cam shots the whole time that I actually felt too nervous to take more photos than I did.

In the early days of the shoe house, Mahlon held contests for newlyweds to honeymoon in the shoe. In the honeymoon suite, there’s a laminated letter of marital advice he typed up for his guests. “YEAH, TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT!” the guide said when she saw me awkwardly taking out my phone. I felt so on the spot through the whole tour!

He really thought highly of himself.

My favorite thing about the house’s interior was the eccentric color scheme. The upstairs bedroom was mint and lavender, for fuck’s sake. I commented on this and the tour guide said that the new owners are actually in the process of repainting all of the walls neutral colors. “They’re trying to get the house back to the way it originally was, since the people who owned this for the last 15 years had it painted this way,” the guide continued, practically turning her nose up at the glorious hues. Apparently, they’re using old black and white photos as their reference. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. You own a house shaped like a shoe! Why try to downplay that with a neutral interior of beige and egg white? Go big or go home!

In the maid’s quarters, the guide said, “I bet you’ve never seen one of those before!” pointing at an old sweeper leaning against the wall.

“It’s a vacuum. Mu grandma has one of those in her house,” Chooch said, spitting chunks of ennui onto the floor for the invisible maid to sweep up. He was just not impressed by a single thing in this giant shoe, byt at least he was being quiet about it.


And then the guide instructed us to sit at the kitchen  table so she could take our picture, because that is apparently what all of the other tourists like to do. I got really nervous and stressed out because I hate having my photo taken and what if one of my furry-lovers sexted me while she was holding my phone!?

(Just kidding. I don’t have any furry-lovers. Yet. #Anthrocon2016)

But would you look at my happy face!? And Chooch’s pained expression.

Our guide said something about the arch at the top of the steps, so I took that as my cue to take a picture of it.

The tour was over after a soft 10 minutes. We found Henry in the parking lot, leaning against the car, and looking at boring Henry-things on his phone. Probably pallet DIYs and computer part auctions.  I made him go back into the gift shop with me because I didn’t have my wallet and I wanted a post card and a magnet to add to my growing tourist trap desk-shrine at work.

It’s actually pretty nightmarish, now that I really look at it. I found out later that Henry had checked in to the Haine’s Shoe House on Facebook, like he was actually so stoked to be there. He didn’t even go inside of it! What a shoe house poser fan.

There’s even a shoe-shaped doghouse in the yard. And Chooch wants everyone to know that he was “as calm as [he] was at the stroller place.” I asked him if he learned anything at the shoe house and he said no.

After we left, Henry kept asking me questions about the Haines shoe company and my response to every question was a solid, “I don’t know.” So, I guess I didn’t learn much either. Except that I need to do a better job advertising all of my crappy wares. Maybe Henry could build me a Jeffrey Dahmer-shaped house?

***

Today after work, I asked Chooch if he told any of his friends about the shoe house.

“Nah,” he shrugged. “I told them we went to Panera, though.”

OK, but Panera is not SHAPED LIKE A SHOE.

Sep 052020
 

Hi. Just sitting here on a Saturday night while Henry is washing walls that need to be painted, and Chooch is watching Malcolm in the Middle, and I’m wondering where we would be right now on this long weekend if not for this piece of shit pandemic. And what do I do to really pour salt in the wound? I read old vacation posts on my blog! (Sometimes I go super analog and read my old teenage travel journals!)

Anyway, here is a fun one from when we accidentally stumbled upon Seoul Fashion Week, which is A HUGE DEAL. It was probably one of Henry’s least favorite experiences in Korea.

So yeah, enjoy reading words that I wrote two years ago! I’m going to go back to HGTV amateur hour.

***

For my quick Saturday update, I just want to talk about Seoul Fashion Week! I thought that it ended on Friday, but when we walked over to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, it was still happening! I mean, you have to be invited to the actual shows, of course, but there was so much to take in outside so much to Henry’s chagrin, we decided to hang around for a bit.

Everyone was taking pictures of EVERYONE so Chooch and I didn’t feel shy at all about whipping out our phones and cameras. There was this one girl escorting around a guy wearing something made out of magazines and plastic I think, so when I took his picture, she smiled and took pictures of us too but I’m convinced that she was actually photographing Henry because SUCH TREND SO STYLE.

“Sir, what are you wearing?”

“A Faygo snapback and Everfresh Juice brand windbreaker, natch.”

I’m telling you, when Middle Aged American Warehouse Manager style starts trending Fall 2018, you heard it here first.

Korean street fashion, though. At first I was like, “Wow, it’s cool that these models just hang out and let randos photograph them” but then I quickly realized that these are just super fashion-obsessed people who turn up to show off their personal style by lining up against a wall and baiting people to take their picture. I figured this out when the couple in the above photo noticed my camera and immediately stopped smiling and posed. It was incredible and I want everyone to react this way when they see me creeping with my camera.

Seoul is spoiling me!

Can this be Chooch’s future wife though, please.

I would totally wear that girl’s jacket and spent a good hour obsessing over it. I think it was pleather with some type of Big Bird fabric at the bottom and it brought back memories of senior year when I used to wear furry cropped sweaters and had a yellow one that everyone called my Big Bird sweater. I miss those sweaters and I miss Contempo!

I would wear this jacket too. I love outerwear.

Here’s Henry showing the kids how to really wear dad jeans.

My favorite part was before all the crowd photographing action, when we walked past a roped off area and a crowd of girls with their cameras pointed and ready. I wanted to know who they were waiting for, so we sat on a wall and observed. Eventually, a small fleet of super official looking SUVs rolled up, so Chooch and I walked over to the crowd to get a better look. Several fancy people got out of the first several cars and people started snapping pictures. I figured they were celebrities but Chooch and I were on a side where we could only see their backs.

But then some guy got out of a car on our side so we were able to see him very well. I still couldn’t recognize him though but when he walked around the car, the crowd on the other side started screaming hysterically. I found out later it was Jeong Sewoon, a singer/songwriter who was on the second season of Produce 101. He’s super cute!

The guys who got the biggest reaction were cool-looking even from the back but I have no idea who they were and still haven’t figured it out. I thought maybe it was several guys from Vixx but I don’t think they’re in Korea right now?

I found out later that Seulgi from Red Velvet and Key from SHINee were also there and I’m sad we didn’t see them! I would have died.

Meanwhile, we’ve been here for like 24 hours and Chooch is suddenly obsessed with designer sunglasses and shoes, and also “11 for 10,000 won” street socks (he stops at every vendor selling them) so I think he already has the right idea re: street fashion. Maybe someday he’ll borrow a pair of Henry’s jeans and be a part of Seoul Fashion Week himself.

ETA: Two week’s later and I’m watching vlogs on YouTube to try and figure out who was in my video and I think possibly some of the guys from either Pentagon or Astro?* I’m in the background of one of the vlogs I was watching and I’m stupidly excited about it lol.

ETA, Part 2: Two years later, and I can confirm that it was Astro, lol.

Aug 192020
 

I was texting with my pal Laura about how bored and sad we are in our covid bubbles, and it made me start thinking of all the fun we had when she was still living in Pittsburgh. Yes, she’s one of the many who escaped! Good for her! This place is….just ok.

Waaaaay back in 2011, I had this brilliant idea that we should go to two amusement parks in one day. Granted, the parks I had in mind are super piddly and can barely even be considered full-fledged amusement parks, but it still seemed like a super fun to say CIAO FOR NOW to summer of 2011.

I remember having a huge row with Henry over this (lol, not really: it was basically like this: he said no, I screamed, he said fine) because we had just come back from a week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and this was back when I was still working part time and money was tight yo, and not as in “cool” but as in “barely there.”

But in the end, I won and Janna and Laura came along for the ride. It ended up being a really fucking fun day even though the parks are lame (I typed lamesauce and then yelled, “EW WHO AM I” and deleted).

Anyway, please enjoy these old photos of Chooch sans-front teeth while I go back to painting 740187408734087315 tigers on my front door. #CovidArtProject

****

First Stop: DelGrosso’s

All you really need to know about DelGrosso’s is that I got really fucking sick. I had just rode back-to-back spinny rides with Chooch, Laura and Janna (one of which was the Tilt-a-Whirl, and Chooch and I kept laughing because Janna rode alone; I am raising my child right, in case you haven’t noticed) before agreeing immediately to ride this thing called the Casino with Chooch.

Laura and Janna opted out.

First, Chooch and I had to stand next to an unoccupied seat, waiting for the girl running the ride to help us unlatch it while everyone who was already situated stared at us like they couldn’t believe it was our first time at an amusement park. The girl kept getting distracted, or she was just pointedly ignoring us, who knows; but I should have taken it as a sign and walked away.

Instead, we stood there like idiots until the door was unlatched for us (there were like, three whole steps to unlock it; no way would I have ever cracked that code) and then within one and half revolutions, I felt my equilibrium throat-fucking me.

Really, it wasn’t so bad: just some slight undulating motions as the roulette wheel spun us around, but then, joy of joys, it went BACKWARDS.

And that is where my first trimester of pregnancy came back to haunt me. I instinctively reached into my pocket for a peppermint disc, but I didn’t have any on account that I am not actually pregnant anymore.

Oh, look at Little Miss Thrill Ride Queen, nearly barfing all over the occupants of the Casino.

One more revolution, and it would have been that puking scene in Problem Child all up in DelGrosso’s.

After the ride ended and we waited to be released from our maximum security cell, Chooch skipped off into the horizon while I staggered slowly after him, finally nailing the zombie gait that I so pathetically pantomimed during my zombie self-defense class last spring.

Without a word to Janna, Laura and Henry, I slowly took a supine position on a bench.

“Maybe the train will be a nice break for you,” Laura suggested, so we all got in line for the most lamest amusement park train ride of all time. We didn’t make it on right away and had to stay in line for one more go-around. I considered sliding down the wall into a heap of sweat, stomach acid and minced stomach lining instead of standing with everyone else.

I was that nauseated that even standing was giving me the spins.

However, I was not too nauseated to laugh evilly when an older woman got out of her seat before the train started to take a picture of her family, only to lose her balance and fall back into the seat, sprawling across her embarrassed husband’s lap and absolutely cracking the fuck out of her shin.

It was a pure delight to witness. I guess it wasn’t all that exciting though because Laura and Janna admitted afterward that they must have missed it. It gave me tears, that’s how much I enjoyed myself.

The train ride did not help my churning stomach. I clutched the front of the seat with whitened knuckles, wishing the sunshine would un-blanch my complexion instead of coaxing the bile up my throat.

Afterward, I waved the white flag and collapsed on a bench. I urged Henry to take Chooch to kiddieland and encouraged Janna and Laura to ride the Crazy Mouse again without me.

“Don’t worry about me,” I moaned in the stoic tone of a fallen soldier. “I’ll be fine.” And then I wept behind the privacy of my sunglasses.

Everyone rejoined me after about 15 minutes and I decided that I needed to try and eat, so we all trooped back over to the food area, where Chooch and I sat alone on a bench, me with my head between my knees.

“Let’s go on the Wacky Worm again,” Chooch cheered.

I started to say, but then on second thought, I said, “Yeah, OK. Let’s do it.” And damn if that fucking ride didn’t make me feel better.

“Where were you?” Henry said when we found him holding a plate of pizza.

“On the Wacky Worm!” I shouted happily.

“But you’re sick…” he started.

“NOT ANYMORE, MOTHERFUCKER!”

Laura and Henry both wore black shirts because they’re in a pigment race gang.

We rode the Wacky Worm one more time before we left, while Henry stood sullenly off to the side and stared with disapproval.

“So, what did you think of the Wacky Worm?” I interrogated Laura on the way back to the car.

“It’s a…ride,” she answered uncertainly.

I’ll say! THE BEST RIDE EVER!

NOW LET’S GO TO LAKEMONT OMG 

The thing about Lakemont is that as far as amusement parks go, it’s puny. Nothing about it is really “new,” except this time when we were there, we noticed that one of the rides had been removed so maybe next year there will be an upgrade in its place. And how shocking that would be. Especially if it was anything manufactured post-1980.

But for some reason, I love the hell out of this park! People-watching is prime, the rides they do have are an amalgamation of bizarre and retro, and best of all—it’s cheap. Extremely cheap. We always go on the same weekend in September when Lakemont hosts some sort of Altoona craft bazaar, because it’s only $5 that weekend and there is almost no lines to stand in at all.

NOT EVEN FOR THE WINE SLUSHIES.

One of the bigger draws at Lakemont is a small wooden coaster called Leap the Dips, which also happens to be the oldest running coaster in the WORLD.

THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD.

It costs an extra $2.50 to ride it. They didn’t charge extra the last time, but I guess this is their effort to do everything possible to maintain and preserve it for future use. The old man who sold us the tickets was hilarious and teased us mercilessly. He wouldn’t hand over the tickets until I was able to tell him how much it would cost for three. This of course caused sweat-on-the-brain but I was able to answer before Janna and that’s all that matters.

It’s so old that the young farm-handish employee had to actually run and push our car to give it momentum. But not before making fun of my iCarly messenger bag. (He accused it of being Hannah Montana and I felt the vinyl flap featuring Carly and Sam’s mug heat up as it rejected his insinuation. )

Janna and Laura quickly learned the meaning behind “Leap the Dips” as they were nearly catapulted out of their seats when we went over the first dip and our car became airborne.

It’s one fucking rough ride. Henry won’t ride it due to the fact that it agitates his hemorrhoids.

Proof. 

Lakemont’s Wacky Worm is definitely the Toboggan (I finally learned how to spell it! Gold stars all around!). This was Chooch’s first time riding it and he took to it immediately. We must have been ejected from that vertical tube 20 times that evening. Such a stupid yet fun ride.

If we’re being honest, it was the guys running the thing that kept me coming back for me. They were hilarious and cute and coveted  my iCarly messenger bag. The thing with the Toboggan is that there is a lot of sitting around in the cars, waiting for your turn to be carried up through the tube and then waiting for all of the other cars to come back before being unlatched and set free. But these two guys would walk back and forth, antagoning us, showing us stupid magic tricks and just being all-around completely entertaining.

It made me remember why I enjoy Lakemont so much — the kids working there actually give a shit about their jobs and have fun doing it! What a novel concept!

OK good, I did spell it right.

Isn’t it majestic?

Someone watches too much 16 & Pregnant. (EDIT FROM ERIN IN 2020: wow, I think I might have been a lot meaner in 2011 :/ )

Moments later, I almost lost an arm and leg when Chooch stamped down on the gas pedal before I was all the way inside the car. It was a pretty great scene for all the people standing in line.

This was the first time I was actually proud of my kid. Not for nearly spontaneously amputating me (though I would finally have weighed less!), but as far as riding things at amusement parks go. Of course I’m already proud of his sarcastic, biting words; knowledge of horror movies; and independence in the kitchen. He rode the shit out of everything he was tall enough to ride and I felt like we were really in sync with each other that day as we frolicked from ride to ride; even Henry rode his fair share AND EVEN SMILED AT TIMES.

Considering we had spent the morning screaming at each other over money, the day ended up being pretty spectacular and Henry even held my hand at one point (!!!) and said he was glad he came along after all. See that? My brilliant day trip ideas SAVE RELATIONSHIPS.

Can’t wait to do this again next September! WHO’S IN?

***

On the drive home, Janna admitted to not being able to see, provoking Laura and me to nervously suggest in tandem for her to pull the fuck over. Since I was now driving, I told Janna it was her turn to entertain us, and after whining for awhile about not having any stories, she launched into this shoddily-detailed narrative about going to a party when she lived in DC but then ended up getting a chili dog instead and then parking in a loading dock by her apartment and eating it in the car. I kept waiting for the climax, at the very least a car-jacking, but nothing ever happened other than her eating a chili dog while illegally parked.

Kids, don’t blow off parties for chili dogs or you too will grow up to not have any stories to tell.

[Read Henry’s harrowing account of the day here.]

Aug 112020
 

Oh boy are you guys in for a treat (you’re not). I’m combining two old blog posts featuring Henry having a grand time at two (2!!) county fairs sometime way in the past. As some of you might know, we no longer attend county fairs on account of ME NEARLY DYING AT ONE back in 2013 or some such year.

But I guess since COVID has us quasi-housebound, even a janky-ass county fair is making me feel all wistful and wanderlusty these days. Anyway, two things to note:

  1. In the first recap, I got in all kinds of trouble for referencing Henry’s ex and she even texted him while we were in Tennessee after I posted it and said that she was going to knock my teeth down my throat or something and Henry was like, “Erin…what did you do?” and I mean, c’mon – it wasn’t really that bad. I can’t remember if it was worse and he made me edit it though.
  2. That “new friend Seri” in the second recap turned out to be a Single White Female (or “Fingle” as I originally typed because my brain hates doing anything extra once I log off work for the day) except that she was married. But yeah, wow, she exited my life like a fucking tornado and then when I didn’t care, she sent her husband to my house to talk to me, lol. OK, cook on, psycho.

OK, so now you’re all caught up! Enjoy these wonderful Henrycentric posts because everyone knows Henry is the real star of the OHE show.

******

HENRY GOES TO THE FAIR: 2011

Henry claims to be “too busy”* to deal with my questions regarding his day at the fair, so I guess I’ll just share my pictures of him without his thoughts and dreams.

*(This might have something to do with the fact that we leave tomorrow morning for a week in Tennessee and I have done exactly fuck-all to help prepare for this.)

Remembering what it was like to have his ex-wife at his side.

Had Henry cooperated, one of my questions was going to be if he ever took his ex-wife to the fair on a date, but then I realized that was a dumb question, considering that’s probably where he met her: in the Grandstand during the tractor pull after accidentally knocking over her empty can of Schlitz-cum-spitoon and falling into her Loony Toon-tattooed saggy tits. (Henry was really into redneck things in the days pre-Erin. Thank god he met me and now knows the wonder of Warped Tour, Jonny Craig, television programming for tweens and Christmas picnics in the cemetery.)

Why so happy?

Then I was planning on asking him what had him smiling so much all day. Was it because we were hanging out with our news friends Laura and Mike and he doesn’t want them to see that he’s really nothing more than a gruff. blue-collared killjoy? But then I realized that the origin of his happiness was probably a toss-up between going a day without a jock itch flare-up and his ex-wife getting re-married.

Looking for a rabbit to boil in a pot on his ex-wife’s stove.

So, this picture was a happy accident. It looks like he’s trying to have a Hulk Hogan beard. Now I want to play around with options for Henry’s facial hair. Suggestions welcome. Maybe something ginger-hued a la JONNY CRAIG.

No, seriously—-who taught this man how to pose? Motherfucking Gumby?

Pedo Alert! Please put your non-descript shirted self back in your non-descript white van and vacate the premises.

Henry rode one ride all day! But it was just the Fun Slide. Our son was too embarrassed to stand in line with his own creep of a father, so he tried to encroach on the family behind him.

I wonder how bad this aggravated his hemorrhoids?

If I knew I would get an answer from him, I’d ask him if the Fun Slide lived up to its name, but judging by the way he was walking like he had just got done straddling a bull (or his ex-wife), I’d say it did.

And if I asked him what his favorite ride is, he’d just say “the ride home,” so why even bother.

He’s just lucky I’m at work and don’t have time to churn out a Goofus and Gallant.

 

THE MELON SHIRT: SUMMER 2012

When Henry came downstairs on the day of the Big Butler Fair, his torso was modeling a brand new nondescript t-shirt in a garish hue of jack-o-lantern.

“Nice orange shirt,” I exclaimed on a rocking bed of laughter and derision.

“It’s not orange,” Henry snapped. “It’s melon.”

As if that was supposed to make me stop laughing.

There are many facets of Henry’s life that I have my thighs squeezed around in a death grip, but his fashion sense is not one. I have made futile efforts in the past to get him to break free from generic, joyless threads mostly purchased from Wal-Mart but eventually I had to concede, wave the white flag, turn my attention to dressing my kid instead. Henry’s dresser full of boring, plain and Faygo-printed t-shirts is pretty much all he has left to his identity and manhood.

(It probably doesn’t help that I was trying to groom him into a singer from a post-hardcore band, swathed in Drop Dead Clothing sweaters and neck tattoos.)

My new friend Seri met us at the fairgrounds that afternoon with her husband Pete and their two sons, Aldy and Max. Apparently, Pete had originally attempted to wear his own nondescript orange shirt to the fair that day, but Seri made him change. So after the obligatory introductions were over, Pete and Henry had a special moment of “I can relate to you.” Henry’s first impression of Pete was probably a confusing cocktail of empathy and pity garnished with a burgeoning bromance twist.

Being plain.

However, when Pete was talking about his own orange shirt, Henry was quick to interject, “My shirt is melon, not orange.” My blue-collared boyfriend has turned into a color-snob hipster overnight. Next he’ll be insisting I call him my “cerulean-collared boyfriend.”

My brother Corey came out to the fair later that evening and when I texted him our whereabouts, I tacked on, “Just look for Henry’s orange t-shirt. It looks like he’s single-handedly promoting Halloween.”

And Snooki’s skin tone.

And Tang.

And the FLYERS.

No Orange Shirts Allowed on the Wacky Worm.

It was easy to spot Henry each time the rest of us lively non-old humans would go on rides; he would lumber around the fairgrounds, toting my iCarly messenger bag and wasting money on all the nearby games that he never wins and even if he did, no one would be impressed.

DON’T DRIP ICE CREAM ON THE ORANGE SHIRT OMG!

When I was on the ferris wheel with Seri, it was fun to seek him out in the crowds below, like Waldo on fire. But then I noticed that quite a few other men were also wearing bright orange shirts, though theirs were advertising plumbing companies, Harley Davidson, strip clubs and guns.

Seri mistakenly referred to The Shirt as “cantaloupe,” which made Henry snap for the 87th time that day, “MELON!”

I always thought cantaloupe was a melon, but I guess not when applied to the Color Wheel.

 

It’s surprising he would even let me this close to him after 9 hours of ridiculing his orange shirt.

Some day, I’m going to snatch all of his nondescript shirts (or “blank,” as Pete prefers to call them) and screenprint Jonny Craig’s face all over them.

Jul 272020
 

Hello. Earlier today I had a migraine (I think??) and then ended up puking up a smoothie bowl and sleeping from 7pm-9pm and I feel better so now I’m all HERE I AM! but everyone else in my house has moved on with their lives* and don’t care that I’m out & about so I’m entertaining myself by looking through old pictures which I brought downstairs over the weekend because remember when I said I thought it would be fun to include pictures of Henry and me from the 80s on the fridge? Don’t you listen to anything I say?

*(Actually, when I stumbled downstairs at 9pm Henry was near-catatonic on the couch while Chooch was fully immersed in minecraft & I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned for a split second that Chooch had actually poisoned us so that he could open up our house to his guild of Dischord misfits.)

I found a nice assortment of oldies but of course I was stoked every time I found one from Wildwood and then I would try to explain each photo in agonizing detail to Henry who was barely listening because he was nailing trim to the wall or whatever, like that’s more important. But then I realized, I can come here and do that thing that I do where I hear myself saying the words that I’m typing out loud, in my head, and I picture that I’m presiding over a table full of syncophants who are hanging off my every hyperbolic word, probably with better manicures than my own but they’ll pretend not to notice that I use drug store nail polish because they’re infatuated with my BRAIN not my APPEARANCE. Except that they covet my accessories. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s OK. I’ll tell you where I got my teeth cameo if you ask.

I chose this picture to talk about tonight because it warms my heart even though, yes, it features my brother Ryan WHO RUINED MY LIFE WHEN HE WAS BORN. I still to this day tell people that my favorite number is 4 because that’s the last good age I had before my Only Child Crown was wrenched from my blond dome. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Ryan! I mean, now.)

So this would have been the summer of 1985 because Ryan was born in May of that year and there he is looking like he still cannot support his own dumb head, what a loser. Anyway, this was taken at either the Olympic Motor Inn or the Waikiki, which were two of the motels we used to always stay at on our family trips to WILDWOOD, NJ, the best place ever (until I discovered that South Korea existed). I always loved the “motel” scene in Wildwood and would get so fucking excited every time we arrived and parked in the garage, because I couldn’t wait to get a Dole Fruit Bar from the vending machine outside of the swimming pool area and use the outdoor shower to get the sand off my feet before going back into the room.

Oh man, would you look at the wood paneling?! The best! That makes me think that this was probably the Olympic (which I think still exists but they took out “Motor Inn” from their name since now people associate motels with and quarter-fed vibrating bug-infested beds and sleazy affairs. But in Wildwood, it meant FAMILY VACATION TIME!) because we only ever stayed elsewhere twice: once at the Waikiki which as the name alludes was Hawaiian themed and I was so excited about because there was A ROOFTOP RESTAURANT and I thought I was fancy sitting up at breakfast drinking orange juice out of a glass with my hair all pulled back in a bun. And then the last time we ever went was in the early 90s after my other brother Corey was born and we stayed at this newly built resort where we had a whole-ass 2-family townhouse thing to ourselves, an immaculate pool, and a private beach: I HATED IT. It didn’t feel like Wildwood. This was also after I started to realize that I had become fat and ugly and had to be seen in a bathing suit and oh yeah I had braces too, and now there were two additional grandkids for my grandparents to pay more attention to and I basically just hated life anyway so it probably wouldn’t have mattered where the fuck we stayed, to be honest.

My grandparents always came with us, which made these trips even better, because my immediate, core family could never sustain a healthy. functioning vacation on their own (I still have nightmares about the terrible time we went to Niagara Falls and my mom decided she was going to leave my step-dad and I was like YES THIS IS THE BEST TRIP EVER but then she didn’t and I was like “Niagara Falls sucks.”

But you know, just like with my brother Ryan, all the love for my dad!

OK back to this picture. I loved that night gown – it had a panda on it, and I am 100% holding a plate of my mom’s specialty: buttered toast with sugar and cinnamon. Oh man, every time she made that for me, I was like, “MY MOM LOVES ME.” I’ve tried to make it several times as an adult but it’s just OK. It’s like how sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them for you, but that logic probably doesn’t apply if I’m the one making you the sandwich, just so you know.

It was weird looking at this picture, because I could instantly remember how that toast tasted (LIKE A MOTHER’S LOVE BEFORE SHE WENT ON TO HAVE TWO ADDITIONAL KIDS AND PAID LESS ATTENTION TO YOU AND ALWAYS TOOK YOUR STEP-DAD’S SIDE IN YOUR KNOCK-DOWN DRAG-OUT FIGHTS SO YOU TRIED TO JOIN A GIRL GANG AND THEN DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL…), how that orange blanket felt (kind of scratchy, tbh) and just generally how that room smelled (like Wildwood, duh). I also remember that Wildwood had Nickelodeon before our cable company in Pittsburgh offered it so it was a TREAT to go there every summer and watch THE MONKEES and YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON TELEVISION (Alastair 4ever).

I always talk about the Boardwalk whenever Wildwood comes up, but to be honest, the Olympic (and Waikiki that one year with the rooftop OJ!) was such a huge part of these vacations that just thinking about it makes me get super choked up and emotional. I want to go back there so badly but I know in my heart it won’t be the same and now Chooch is a teenager and he’s going to be like, “I’m here with my parents and everything sucks” and maybe I’ll just wait until he goes off to college and Henry and I can have an Old Person Beach Escape but then who will ride the rides with me on the boardwalk!? UGH.

And if I ever go back, it will be nice having the option to JUST SAY NO to Cape May, which my grandma always insisted on day-tripping to every summer during MY WILDWOOD TIME and I hated it so much, going to endless shop that all sold the same dumb beach art and jewelry while she filled my head with fat-shaming microaggressions and then one time I bought Mexican jumping beans and thought they were magic. There is a picture floating around somewhere of me looking like I’m contemplating feeding myself to seagulls while we were on a dolphin-watching boat tour, I look like I’m the epitome of pre-teen angst and am looking for ways to peel off my skin, step outside of myself, and swan-drive into the raging sea. So FUCK YOU CAPE MAY. (Although, according to Yelp, it looks like there are some cute vegan restaurants there now. NO! I WON’T BE SWAYED!)

WILDWOOD CREST NJ Olympic Motor Inn Ocean Ave | eBay

Jul 242020
 

Still over here pouting about all the amusement park action we’re missing out on although I guess you could say that this covid experience has been a real roller coaster ride. Here is a Flashback Friday to the time we went to Kennywood with our Castle Blood friendos. Adding this to the list of shit I will no longer take for granted!

***

It’s become a tradition for us to go to Kennywood on Father’s Day, rain or shine, but this year Henry was all, “We have too much going on this week, so no Kennywood.” I was about to pitch one of my signature wailing fits over this, but then I remembered that we’re going to an amusement park later in the week in Indiana so I silently resigned to the fact that there would be no June Kennywood outing this year.

Look at me, acting my age.

But then on Saturday, our friends the Handas asked if we were going, because THEY were going and also so was Ricky, better known as Gravely of Castle Blood fame.

“Chris just asked if we were going to Kennywood tomorrow,” I sighed dramatically. “Because they’ll be there.”

“IT’S ONE OR THE OTHER!” Henry reminded me in Dad Voice. “YOU WANT TO DO ALL OF THESE THINGS!” Then he went outside to check on that kid that we occasionally parent.

A few minutes later, he came back in and sighed. “Do you really want to go tomorrow?” he asked me in a peaceful tone.

“YES!” I squealed, when I realized that I was about to get my way again because I’m the best, bitches!

And that is how we ended up at Kennywood by noon on Sunday. Chris and Kari were 5 minutes late, god forbid, and Chooch was flailing around on a bench openly preaching about how bad he hates his life for having to wait an additional handful of minutes in front of Kennywood. His story could basically be the Diary of Anne Frank of his generation. But then he became distracted by the three people next to us who each brought their own can of Pringles, which Chooch felt was overkill.

“REALLY? THEY ALL HAVE TO HAVE THEIR OWN PRINGLES? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” And they were only three feet away from us, so that was lovely. Meanwhile, I was busy mocking all of the families that arrived in matching t-shirts but secretly I wished that I had made Team Douche Troop shirts for my group.

20140616-174944.jpg

Stupid Chooch and Katelyn beat us on the Racer (that’s the name of RACING ROLLER COASTERS for those of you who do not have the luxury of going to Kennywood and knowing these things) and kept bragging about it for like a full 3 minutes which was annoying in and of itself but even more annoying to me was their lack of dedication to the bragging, because if it had been me, I would have mentioned it for the rest of the day, in a variety of ways. Spelling it out in ketchup and cheese fries if I had to. BECAUSE THAT IS HOW TRUE WINNERS ACT.

20140616-174952.jpg

I have always been terrible at shooting galleries, but have really fond memories of my Pappap kicking ass at the one in Kennywood. Henry taught Chooch how to aim at the targets and I was like, “Henry, Henry, Henry, teach me, teach me, teach me” while tugging on his shirt but he conveniently acted like he didn’t hear me. OH OK FATHER OF THE YEAR. God, fuck you. I’ll get some nice even-older gentleman to show me the next time and then you’ll be sorry.

20140616-175002.jpg

YES YOU WILL BE SORRY.

Sadly, it seems that our Father’s Day luck has run out because the park was actually crowded. Henry and Chris kept arguing that it wasn’t that bad, but look: I have grown accustomed to sashaying my fat ass right onto any ride I please with nary a wait in line.

So when I saw that there was maybe a fifteen minute wait for the Log Jammer, I was like, “OH ARE YOU KIDDING? NO JUST NO.” So Chris took Chooch and Katelyn on it while I hung back with Henry, Kari and Ricky and whined about needing food and beverage and then Henry snapped some generic retort at me so then I got all pouty and Fuck You-y and Ricky just stood there taking it all in.

“Wow, you must have really great angry sex,” he said.

20140616-175031.jpg

God only knows what sorts of competitions Chooch and Katelyn engaged in on the Log Jammer. They get along surprisingly well for kids that age but there’s still that underlying “We are opposing genders and must meet the quota for pointless arguments” theme going on.

Like when we were eating lunch and they were competing over who knew more math and who had the healthier meal.

God, these kids are such hooligans.

20140616-175044.jpg

About that lunch. We ate at the cafeteria, but there was nothing there that I wanted so Henry hurried up and got me pizza from a different part of the park before I freaked out in front of his bros, OMG.

20140616-175139.jpg

 

We constantly had to wait for the grown-ups. Ugh. Grown-ups are slow. COME ON, GROWN-UPS. My favorite part of the day was later when we were heading for the Swing Shot and Chris told Katelyn to stop running.

“But Erin’s running!” she cried. Damn right Erin’s running. The faster I run, the fewer the bitches that get in line before me. Please, let me write an Amusement Park Handbook.

20140616-175131.jpg

 It was a full day of weird poses. pulling faces and line-standing contortions. I was just thankful that there were very minimal pleas to play games, which is my least favorite thing to do at amusement parks.

20140616-175147.jpg

EXCEPT WHEN THE PRIZES INCLUDE STUFFED UNICORNS ARE YOU KIDDING!?

20140616-223444.jpg

 Sadly, I didn’t win a unicorn. BECAUSE HENRY NEVER GAVE ME MONEY TO PLAY!

(Did I mention that I lost my wallet last week? Because I lost my wallet last week. I canceled my debit card but still haven’t gone  to the bank to ask for a new one because I clearly don’t have adult priorities.)

20140616-175157.jpg

All day long, Chooch was whining about wanting to ride Kennywood’s newest ride, the Black Widow, but no one would volunteer as Sucker Tribute because that ride just looks like a swinging heart attack. It’s actually similar to that German torture device I rode last year at Canobie Park with Alyson, but it goes much higher in the air.

“Ricky will ride it with you,” one of the grown-ups joked. I wasn’t paying attention who was saying what at the moment because I was too busy trying to calculate how many rides we still needed to ride versus how much time was remaining. I AM A TYPE A AMUSEMENT PARK GOER.

“What am I riding?” Ricky asked, blissfully oblivious.

“The Black Widow!” Chooch shouted triumphantly.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s just a Kiddieland ride,” I laughed.

But then Chooch told him what it was exactly and Ricky said, “Oh, it’s an actual ride. I thought you were talking about your mom.”

It took me awhile to process this, but then I laughed. GOOD ONE, RICKY.

20140616-175251.jpg

Thunderbolt idiots!

Chooch is finally tall enough to ride everything in the park! This was his first year riding the Thunderbolt now that he’s a magnificent 52 inches in height, holla atcha yardstick. When we were in line, he accidentally touched this white foamy stuff on a bush and I was like, “OMG YOU TOUCHED SPIT! THAT’S SO GROSS!” But then later when we were telling Henry, he was like, “That sounds like it was spider eggs to me” so I was like, “OMG HE TOUCHED SPIDER EGGS! THAT’S EVEN WORSE!” God, my kid is disgusting. I hope none of those eggs found their way into his ass. That’s all we need.

20140616-175205.jpg

Chris and Ricky sat in front of us on the Thunderbolt and I was so excited to see Ricky’s white locks billowing in the wind. It was as majestic as…billowing white locks on the Thunderbolt.

20140616-175407.jpg

Then we went on Noah’s Ark, which used to be the best dark ride that ever dark rode, but has been super lame for me these last several years because they changed it so much and I hate change, but this time, Chooch and I got to lead the group and for some reason this was extremely hilarious to me and I got super hyper and kept screaming cries of faux fear and concern and then I had the bright idea to turn the flash on and start taking sneak attack photos of Henry and the rest of our group from behind corners, and  then Chooch and I would cry with laughter and run away real fast.

20140616-175216.jpg

Here is where I’m pausing to breathe.

This kept going on and on through the whole Ark until we got to the end and discovered that random people had managed to insert themselves in the middle of our group, so we were mostly just being assholes to strangers.

Otherwise known as: Any Other Day.

20140616-175225.jpg

This was Henry’s standard “You guys are fucking idiots” reaction. And then we all sat at a table while Henry told us stories about how he watched Actual Noah building the Actual Ark.

Because Henry is old.

Fun fact: Henry wore that same shirt to Kennywood last year, too.

20140616-175342.jpg

This is the first year that Chooch didn’t spend the entire time “wanting.”

“I want ice cream.”

“I want stuffed animals.”

“I want games.”

“I want the deed to Kennywood.”

Except, he did have a moment in line for Noah’s Ark where Henry was The Worst Dad He Ever Had because he wouldn’t buy Chooch lemonade at that exact moment.

20140616-175349.jpg

THANK GOD he got his fucking lemonade afterward though and calmed down enough to take the 57th selfie of the day with me. Right after this photo, I ran into one of my old high school friends, Heather the Ken! I hadn’t seen her since 1998, so it was pretty awesome/awkward. “You ain’t kidding,” Henry drawled when I later said that it was kind of awkward. I suck at seeing people I know, but it was still cool.

20140616-175425.jpg

Call it old age, but these last several years, I have felt SHEER TERROR every time I even just glance at the Phantom’s Revenge. And every year I make the conscious decision to not ride it. But then every year I somehow find myself in line, doing the pee jig. This year, it was just Henry, me, Chooch and Chris who rode it. Henry and I sat behind Chris and Chooch and I wasn’t aware that I was being loud enough for Chris to hear my panicked narration, but when we got off the ride, he said, “You are my new official soundtrack of the Phantom’s Revenge.”

It starts with the ascent up the inaugural hill, which is where I moan, “Oh, I forgot how much I hate this part…..oh god we’re going to die….WHY IS THIS TAKING SO LONG?!” and then after we reach that daunting daunting zenith, I am an emptying bag of battle cries. I also enjoy letting every one know each and every time I feel the slightest twinge of pain, like, “MY BACK JUST BROKE! I ALMOST LOST MY ARM!” And then I usually cap it off with a finale of Nancy Kerrigan-approved “WHYYYYYYYYYYYY”s.

And then the ride coasts back into the station and I’m all “Fuck yeah, Phantom!”

Afterward, the rest of my party turned into unfocused loiterers and I was getting so anxious! I even walked far away from where they were sitting at one point to see if they noticed that I was gone. I DON’T THINK THEY DID!!! I was in a BIG HURRY because I wanted to ride the Exterminator next and that’s basically the best ride in the whole park in case you don’t live here or just have bad taste in amusement park rides. I nearly pee my pants on it every year! (And sometimes you can scratch out the “nearly.” FULL DISCLOSURE UP IN HERE.)

While waiting for my group of Southern Meanderers, aka Careys, I stood and watched the Black Widow do its thing. When we were in line for Phantom’s Revenge, I caved and told Chooch I would ride it with him, but ONLY so that I would have leverage for the future because that’s my solid gold parenting style. Just watching it Jello-fied my legs, but a promise is a promise. However, I started imagining every last worst case scenario, so that really helped.

(NO IT DIDN’T HELP.)

Finally, everyone started walking toward the Exterminator and I was like, “YES YES YES!” and started to get in line, but then they all went and fussed with the lockers and in the meantime, approximately FIVE PEOPLE got in line in front of us.

THANKS A LOT, GROWN-UPS.

The line was kind of long and Henry kept trying to put me on blast by pointing out how whiny I was being when I really didn’t think I was being whiny just because I kept letting my body go limp against him and saying things like “WE HAVE BEEN STANDING IN LINE FOR-EVHAHAHAHA-ER.”

But whatever, the Exterminator is worth the wait. It’s basically like the Crazy Mouse but INSIDE A DARK BUILDING. It makes me choke on my own laughter every single time, like I have a disease.

20140616-175436.jpg

Chris got in a car with Chooch and Katelyn, leaving me, Henry, Kari and Ricky to squish ourselves into the next one. Except that the car we picked was “sensitive,” whatever that means, and the bored Kennywood worker made us get into the next available car all the way at the end of the line. This meant that Chooch, Katelyn and Chris had returned to the station before our ride even started, since there were four cars in front of us.

“They’re going to think we perished when they see that we’re not behind them anymore,” I laughed. And we found out afterward that they sent our car through empty since it was malfunctioning, so when the kids saw an empty car return to the station, they got scared. HAHAHA.

Anyway, I managed to not pee my pants this time but fuck, I laughed so hard that my face hurt (I know, I know, it’s killing you guys too). It’s such a satisfying ride!

20140616-175445.jpg

After that, I rode the Whip with Chooch and Katelyn, whose relief that we hadn’t actually perished on the Exterminator had worn off by then. It took us forever (read: 5 seconds) to get in line though because we couldn’t get around dumb Henry who was walking excruciatingly slow and totally Whip-blocking us. That motherfucker.

Every time our car would whip us around the bend, we would scream “WHIP SELFIE” because it’s imperative to be obnoxious at amusement parks. Also, because we had just taken a Whip selfie:

20140616-175454.jpg

The next day, I noticed that my Facebook friend Kelly had checked into Kennywood on Sunday as well, and I commented to tell her that I wish I had seen her. She said that she saw me speed-walking by when she was getting on the Whip, so it must have been right around this time. It made me laugh so hard to know that someone witnessed me being an impatient maniac.

Right after this, Chris, Chooch and I convinced Katelyn to ride the Swing Shot and she basically hates us forever now. As soon as the ride started, I remembered how horrible it is and screamed, “MY TEARS ARE REAL!” at one point, which I’m sure did wonders to ease Katelyn’s nerves. Henry, Kari and Ricky were watching from a table and said that looked like an actual cartoon during the whole ride.

I mean, she didn’t cry, but she certainly was NOT happy.

20140616-175501.jpg

Henry trying to escape.

20140616-175510.jpg

Then it was time for ice cream!! This is my favorite part of the day, food-wise. Most people will tell you that Potato Patch fries are the creme de la creme of Kennywood cuisine, and I won’t argue there because those are the most perfect french fries in the entire world. But I rarely hear anyone mentioning how delightful the Golden Nugget square cones are! You guys can get soft serve anywhere. Gimme my square-edged chocolate-dipped delight.

20140616-175518.jpg

20140616-175526.jpg

Cone-dipping consternation.

20140616-175534.jpg

20140616-175542.jpg

Sprinkle carpet.

20140616-175549.jpg

Henry and Chris were talking about how they used to think it was just a Klondike shoved into a cone until they saw the Golden Nugget workers actually cutting blocks of vanilla ice cream. It never occurred to me that it could have just been a Klondike, and Henry was like, “REALLY!? I THOUGHT IT WAS AN OBVIOUS ASSUMPTION SINCE KLONDIKE’S ARE FROM HERE!” in that belittling tone he loves to use on me, except I’m paraphrasing here because clearly “assumption” is too big of a word for him.

Fun Fact: Klondikes are apparently from Pittsburgh. I just learned this on Sunday because I’m seriously the worst Pittsburgher ever.

20140616-175555.jpg

This was right before the hardcore amusement park riders ditched us for Kiddieland. They were gone for an hour! (Don’t worry: Chris went with them.) The rest of us hung back and found ourselves in a discussion about Mr. Big, Extreme, and Meatloaf which met Henry’s criteria of “Anyone but Jonny Craig.”

20140616-175606.jpg

Ice Cream Brones.

20140616-175613.jpg

Look! It’s a Henry in its natural, agitated state.

20140616-175620.jpg

Gross, I know.

20140616-175635.jpg

Chooch is finally tall enough to ride the Sky Rocket, which is Kennywood’s newest coaster. It’s nothing too spectacular, but it does go upside down. Henry, Chris and I had to beg Chooch to go on it. It wasn’t the upside down-ness that had him scared, it was the first hill, an inversion, that was freaking him out. (And he didn’t even know that it was one of those launching coasters.) At one point, he sat down and put his face in his hands, but then he turned around and started to twerk. Hey, do what you gotta do, right? Twerk it out son.

There was a guy in line with us who had an apple tattoo and I wanted to sow him mine so we could be apple ink bros but Henry stopped that from happening.

Spoiler alert: Chooch made it through his first Skyrocket ride alive. His reaction was, “That was it?” I just kept screaming, “IT TICKLES!” the whole time and Chooch was like, “Please stop embarrassing us.”

20140616-175641.jpg

20140617-204523.jpg

I asked Chooch for a quote expressing how he felt about riding the Bayern Curve with Katelyn and he said: “I’m a cat.”

So anyway, this was a hilarious moment for the rest of us because the Bayern Curve is one of those rides that pushes the front rider into the back rider so Chooch was like FML through the whole ride. It was incredibly rewarding to watch, as a parent who is verbally abused by her son on the daily. (His sass is off the charts these days.)

WHAT’S UP NOW, MOUTH?
20140616-175647.jpg

20140616-175654.jpg

20140616-175700.jpg

20140616-175708.jpg

Remember when I said that Chooch mostly made it through the day without tantrum? Well, that’s because he was waiting for the VERY END, when the park was closing, to project his exhaustion and hunger on the fact that Henry wouldn’t buy him Dippin’ Dots because Henry is a terrible person who doesn’t feed his children. He was outright CRYING about this and it was so annoying and disgusting, so I guess 8 is not the magic age where kids stop acting like spoiled assholes in amusement parks.

We left the park and Henry fed him a burger and miraculously, Chooch was fine.

“Ugh, he’s so much like you,” Henry muttered.

20140616-175715.jpg

As always, it was wonderful spending a day with the Handa’s and Ricky being there was an added bonus even though he MADE FUN OF ME a lot and even when he was just saying regular things to me I think he was still making fun of me but sometimes I’m too dumb to realize.

I feel like I’m forgetting lots of things.

And now we get to do this all over again at a different park on Thursday, wooo!!!

P.S. We never made it on the Black Widow. Chooch and I were in line for approximately one minute before he said, “So….maybe I should just wait until I’m talk enough to ride ALL of the rides here*. And then I’ll ride the Black Widow.” Then he ducked under the railing and left me standing there alone.

*(There’s only one ride he can’t ride yet and it literally never running every time we’re there.)

SONOFABITCH. All that positive thinking I put myself through, for what.

Jul 232020
 

When we last left off, Henry was ready to demolish the entire kitchen to get the pantry to fit. I’m pleased to tell you that he was able to finagle it into that tight space without coming in on a wrecking ball, thank god. But now it’s way too close to the stove so he has to get some kind of metal sheet thing to put on the side of the pantry, apparently, else the kitchen goes up in flames.

Drew is so excited to have new things to explore, much to Henry’s chagrin, lol.

Her own shelf!

My rug came in the mail last week too so I put it down immediately but then Henry was like WE NEED TO GET SCOTCH GUARD and he ordered some but then still hasn’t sprayed the rug, so that’s cool.

I mean, I suppose I could.

I’m excited because we’re getting closer to the time when I can finally start adding my magical flourishes! I have been carefully curating an 80s themed art collection for the room, which is great because I’m running out of space on the walls in every other room in the house. #junkhouse

And my fabric arrived over the weekend! I’m excited for Henry to take off his contractor helmet and put on his pin cushion headband to make curtains out of this beauty!

Meanwhile, I busied myself by adding Memphis design details to light switch plates.

Over the weekend, Henry FINALLY STARTED TO  TACKLE THE FOURTH WALL! I never knew that the window could be so clean! He even took down the screen and cleaned it!!

One of the things I wanted to include, decor-wise, was framed postcards from 80s-era Wildwood, NJ. My family vacationed here every summer from the time I was a baby* until I was 11. I’m not sure why we stopped going, although I like to blame the birth of my brother, Corey, lololol. I get that warm coating of nostalgia in my gut anytime I think of this place and when I started scrolling through the options on eBay, hoooooboy, mama got blasted to the past.

*(I asked my mom about this the other day and she said that when she was a kid, they went there every summer with my great-grandma, and I honestly never knew this and why have I not seen any pictures of these trips!? Unless they perished in the house fire that happened when my mom was a teenager….God, there are so many things I don’t have the answers to and I wish I had asked my grandparents to tell me more shit when they both still alive. I’m a failure.)

I mean….duh.

I knew I wanted stripes on this part of the wall but I didn’t feel like painting them so I found this glittery black tape on Amazon and told Henry to have fun.

Henry was going to throw this cart/shelf thingie away but I was like WAIT!! There is nothing spraypaint can’t improve, I fucking swear. So this ugly cart is now sparkly silver and ready to hold all of my coffee stuff. Tom Selleck needs to be hung up, but he’s going to live right above the cart. I love him and I’m so glad that he’s one of the things we salvaged from my grandparents’ house

I have a plain, basic coffee canister from Target, but I bought an Alf figurine from eBay to use as the topper so I will include that in my next update post! (God forbid I should use a plain coffee canister.)

This design is programmed into my muscle memory for life now, I think.

I loathe to post this, but this is what the sink sitch currently looks like. The cabinets are still not stripped and that whole bottom part needs to be cleaned and repainted. The drawers need to be painted too. I looked up Corey Haim and Corey Feldman cabinet pulls but SHOCKINGLY they do not exist (see also: non-existence of Phil Collins cookie jar) so now we have to make our own, I guess. I’m sorry, but I’m not going through all this effort into cultivating an 80s haven and then using regular cabinet pulls?!

The one thing we CAN’T make ourselves is the neon sign. We shopped around from some prices and I think we found a good place but we keep dragging our feet. I don’t want to commit to anything until the design we came up with and the proof they send us is 100% perfect because custom-made neon ain’t cheap, would have guessed.

(Actually, who would ever think that neon signs are CHEAP?)

I’m considering this my birthday present to myself since I can’t do anything else for my birthday this year, lol ugh.

Vintage Halloween masks! The one on the far right is pre-80s, I think, but I didn’t want him to be left out.

She takes over EVERYTHING.

My current project is finishing the design on this door (Henry has to take it back off the frame because I need to assume my official artist posture which is HUNCHED OVER a/k/a Chiropractor’s Dream Patient. Once the door is down and the trim is put back, I think the room will finally start to come together! TOO BAD I HAVE NO PATIENCE.

Last but not least for this update, I suggested that Henry and I find a picture of ourselves from the 80s to also include in the room (maybe just in a magnetic fridge frame?) and he proudly presented this gem last night:

Oh, you guys. This is fucking perfect. Plus, it was when he was IN THE SERVICE!! I hate how nice his legs are! They still look like that, too.

“I can’t remember if that was my dorm room or the one next door. Nope. That’s mine because there’s my Atari 7200.” This was when he was living in Indiana!!!

Well, tune in next week to see if any progress is made, I guess.

Jul 212020
 

The other day, Chooch made me go through my phone to look for old pictures of the cats so he could do throwbacks on their Instagram accounts (this is what pandemic life is like on Pioneer, yo) and in the process of doing so, I came across videos from when Chooch and I went to Carly Rae Jepsen at Mr. Small’s in 2016. I got RULL caught up in all of that emotion and felt inspired to share a clip of CRJ performing her mega-hit “Call Me Maybe.” One of my friends commented and told me I should listen to this show called The Session On Air, where the host breaks down “Call Me Maybe” and at first I was like, “Is she setting me up for a temper tantrum?” because people love to rag on me for liking not just this song, but Carly Rae Jepsen in general. Then I went and watched The Session video on YouTube and it was AMAZING. The host, Christian James Hand, takes songs and breaks them down, layer by layer, piece by piece, so the casually music lover can really understand just how much magic goes into one track. So he starts off by telling the other people on the show that he has these amazing speakers that cost like $5000 and the song that he always uses to show his friends how awesome the speakers are is “Call Me Maybe,” and then goes on to say he thinks it’s one of the greatest pop songs ever written, to the shock and disbelief of the others on the show.

But listening to him gush and fanboy over every nuance, every blip, every layer of this song brought actual tears to my eyes and then I was openly crying while telling Henry how amazing her concert was and IDGAF who thinks she’s a “one hit wonder” (um, she’s really not) or a manufactured piece of bubblegum pop, because I know in my heart how pure and talented she is, and to hear this man sit there and say the things that I feel in my gut, it was VALIDATION.

Also though, I learned that Dave Ogilvie of Skinny Puppy fame mixed “Call Me Maybe” and my mind was BLOWN. I had no idea! This makes me love it even more because I went through a heavy industrial phase in my late teens and loved Shinny Puppy! Anyway, all of this culminated into me thinking back fondly to the summer of 2012 when Chooch and I were OBSESSED with this song and had a dance party because Henry found someone’s phone and the alarm kept going off and….well, here—JUST READ IT FOR YOURSELVES!

ROSS’S BLACKBERRY

August 2012

20120806-130718.jpg

Chooch came barreling into the house yesterday, having just come home from the grocery store with Henry.

“MOMMY! DADDY FOUND SOMEONE’S PHONE ON THE ROAD AND HE GOT OUT OF THE VAN TO GET IT!” Chooch blurted out in one quick breath.

“Jesus Christ,” Henry muttered, coming in the door after him. “Why do you have to announce every single thing I do?” I think Henry expected me to be all apathetic about this turn of events, just like he was, but instead I got all excited and screamed, “OMG let me see it!”

“It’s just a Blackberry!” Henry barked, shouldering past me as I tried to snatch it from him. “God!”

The owner’s contact info was on the home screen, so Henry said he was just going to email him (his name is ROSS) and let him know he has it.

“OK, but let me think about this first. We should make it into some kind of fucked up, psychological mind game,” I murmured, mind reeling. “Kind of like ‘Saw’…” But before I could tell Henry to demand that Ross send us one of his teeth (or at least a nude), Henry had already sent him a Normal Person email reassuring him that his precious phone was not in danger. Goddammit! There were so many different ways this could have gone.

The rest of the evening was interspersed with me asking, “Did he reply to your email yet? How about how? Now? Or now? Here, let me email him—”

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like fate. I looked up the Blackberry owner on Facebook and went into full-blown Cinderella Story mode. I became convinced that Henry was meant to find this phone so I CAN FINALLY HAVE A HUSBAND YOU GUYS OMG. And then I saw that Ross went to school for mechanical engineering so surely that must mean he has a better job than Henry. However, the only activity he had listed on Facebook was fishing, and his profile picture was him holding a gigantic fish, which is really gross to me, and I couldn’t really see his face because of the giant fish carcass, but that’s OK because it made it easier for me to imagine he looks like Ryan Lochte.

And then I woke from a dream about Ross’s phone at 7:20am to Ross’s alarm going off, which means he must work normal hours unlike Henry whose alarm goes off at MIDNIGHT. I began fantasizing about having a normal relationship with a man who keeps normal hours, waking up together every morning in the same bed….

God, I hope he doesn’t snore.

But then I couldn’t get the alarm to stop, and it proceeded to go off every five minutes for the rest of the day, which will probably be the impetus to our first fight.

“Just take the battery out,” Henry said wearily after I called him for the 87th time in a row. (Hello, if he would just ANSWER the first time, I wouldn’t have to keep calling.) But I didn’t feel comfortable taking the battery out of some other person’s phone. Besides, then I wouldn’t be able to monitor his incoming calls.

I mean…what?

At 11:00, my sanity had splintered. Could not take the sound of that alarm anymore. So I came up with the best solution ever: A “Call Me Maybe” dance party! I put it on loud and on repeat, and Chooch and I totally wilded out. That song is like fucking sunshine for the ears, OK?

I should note that by “dancing,” I mean that I jumped around for 90 minutes, speed-bagging the air like one of those big inflatable balloon monsters outside of car lots, while Chooch repeatedly punched me, vigorously and with closed fists. I guess he learned that by watching me “dance” with Henry.

20120806-130730.jpg

CHAIR DANCING TO “CALL ME, MAYBE”!

Even with Carly Rae Jepsen singing at her loudest, I could still hear the fucking phone alarm, so I ran upstairs and smothered it beneath Henry’s pillow. I could still hear it, but at least it was muffled, and at that point, it didn’t sound worse than any of the other sounds in my head, so who am I to complain, really.

20120806-130754.jpg

“Look Mommy! I’m Ju-On dancing!” he cried, squirming beneath the chair like his favorite Japanese horror villain. OK. Whatever.

Weirdo.

20120806-130806.jpg

UNICORN MASK DANCE PARTY! SAME SONG, DIFFERENT HEAD!

And then Henry came home and pooped on all of the fun. Turning down the volume to the best song of all time, he informed that he was meeting Ross (who lives right down the street, how convenient for my future booty calls!) at 6pm; Ross said if he can’t make it, he’ll just send his girlfriend.

Just like that, my dreams were dashed. Now I’m really regretting not taking all of those pictures of myself with his phone like I had considered. God, I’m so stupid.

As soon as we got in the car (read: The Juice Van; our car is still not fixed), “Call Me Maybe” came on the radio. Chooch and I cheered in tandem as I turned up the volume and began dramatically lip synching.

20120806-130815.jpg

The “I’m Trying So Hard to Frown But It’s Hard To When I Secretly Love This Song, Goddamn You, Carly Rae Jepsen” faux-frown.

“Try to get a picture of Ross!” I called out over my shoulder when Henry dropped me off at work. I know he totally won’t, but I’m still in the best mood ever today.

***A FEW HOURS LATER***

20120806-191559.jpg

Oh, Ross. If you only knew.

****
EDIT! Just learned that Henry didn’t get Ross’s “I’ll be wearing a blue polo” email until after the fact, so he proceeded to approach every man in the CVS parking lot, asking, “Are you waiting for a phone?” like it was code for “Are you selling blow jobs?” Meanwhile, Chooch was laughing at Henry’s awkwardness and then when they finally found Ross, Chooch was sure to tell him how annoying his phone was.

God, I wish I had been there. I like blue polos.

****

Back to present day 2020. Another thing I always think about when I hear this song is the Summer Olympics from 2012 because the US Swim Team made a lip-synching video to this song and if you know me, you know that I get emotionally attached to the Summer Olympics and OMG don’t even talk to me about how doubly depressed I am that COVID ruined the 2020 games.

This song is already so iconic and it hits me in the same way that classic songs like “In the Air Tonight” do, where if they come on the radio right when you pull into the place you’re going to, you do NOT turn your car off until the very last note of that song plays. “Call Me Maybe” is one of the songs and always will be!

Jul 172020
 

During these trying times, I’ve been biting my tongue every time I start to cry or whine about how I want to go here or there or ANYWHERE, because I would rather stay home and keep OTHER people healthy rather than risk going to, I dunno, Kennywood just because they’re open and the desire to ride a rollercoaster is making me weak and then suddenly I’m That Person who now has covid even though she did wore a mask and did everything right except for THAT ONE TIME. Because that would be my luck. 

But man I gotta tell you, right now I’d be happy to even go to Conneaut, and if you know anything about parks, you know that this one is pathetic. I still managed to have a lot of fun there last June with Chooch and Janna, rain storm and all!

Let’s revisit that day, because it’s the end of another very long week and my back still hurts and I’m pretty bitter and depressed about staying home but I’m doing it anyway because I want this fucking nightmare to be over already. PLEASE WEAR YOUR MASKS AND STAY THE FUCK HOME. You know, like how all the other countries did it. 

Fun fact: this was also the day that started the CAROUSEL SELFIE tradition!

CONNEAUT: A BLOG POST FROM JUNE 2019, WHEN WE COULD STILL LEAVE THE HOUSE AND DO SHIT.

Janna follows some frozen custard place on Facebook and mentioned that she had wanted to stop by and get some but that perhaps driving 90 minutes to Conneaut Lake was a bit much just for ice cream but I was like BITCH PLZ, BEST REMEMBER WHO U BE TALKIN’ 2 so after I took off my queen bee rapper chains, I quickly convinced her that this was the best idea she’s had probably ever and that I would be happy to accompany her.

In my head, I had it billed as some big deal GIRLS DAY OUT and wonder who would be Romy and who would be Michelle, and I was so giddy about this all last week! When Saturday rolled around, aka THE BIG DAY (god, my life is so rich), Chooch was moping around. “Where did you say you and Janna were going again?” he asked, and then sadly murmured, “…oh” when I told him.

Later that morning, when I was upstairs drying my hair, MOM GUILT crept in. “Do you want to go with us” I texted him. A moment later, he bounded up the steps, dove onto my bed, and screamed, “Yes!”

Janna was like “Sigh.”

No, j/k, we’re all BFFs here.

The plan was to swing by Conneaut Lake Park for an hour or two as well even though it’s sad and decrepit…but, it’s there and it’s $10 for a ride-all-day, lol. They have a really old wooden coaster and a pretty rundown but fun dark ride, too. Janna surprisingly was on board with this even though rain was in the forecast all day…

…and it started literally the moment we turned off the highway on the Conneaut exit.

I blamed Janna because it took her so long to come and pick us up!!

We were going to alter plans by going to a cafe first so Janna pulled over in some spookily small town so we could troll Yelp but since we weren’t in some metropolitan area, the options were very slim. I got frustrated and eventually just decided for the whole car that we would continue on to the park even in the rain.

In the few minutes it took to get there (Janna had to turn around a few times), the rain had ceased! It was still a dreary day though, and kind of chilly too so I was glad I wore a jacket. Janna parked basically in a field and we immediately found ourselves surrounded by LAKE FREAKS. Just like, you know, townies trying to enjoy a rainy day at the broke down amusement park, same as us BIG CITY CREEPS.

STICK IT TO THE DEVIL.

We rode the Devil’s Den right away, as soon as we got our wristbands. (Janna reluctantly bought one too once she realized that otherwise, she would have to buy $5 worth of tickets just for one ride–maybe Henry could have found her a coupon during one of his Bored Housewife Coupon Hunts.)

The ride operator has to actually push the cars into the entrance and around a corner until the car catches the chain on the small lift hill. Basically, Henry might be able to build something like this, is all I’m saying.

I thought it would be funny for Janna to go first for some reason and then the next day, I started cracking up because what if we had sent Janna in alone and SHE GOT MURDERED. I tried to tell Henry this but it came out as a indiscernible bray courtesy of my giddiness.

Janna was playing some podcast about the Susan Powell case during the whole ride there and back so I guess I just had murder on the mind.

I don’t know why I’m laughing like a maniac here because the ride isn’t really all that great but it has been long enough since my last jaunt through the Den that I forgot enough of it to make actually scream. But yeah it’s most just a bunch of darkness and Kmart decorations from the 1970s.

When we rode it the second time, we were all supposed to ride separately so that we could each take a picture of each other but then Janna wasn’t privy to that plan I guess because after Chooch departed alone in his pretzel car, Janna got in the same car as me! So then there was no one to take my picture!

I mean, the obvious solution to this would have been to get back in the non-existent line and ride again, but we were over Devil’s Den by then.

One of the things I was most looking forward to was riding the Witch’s Stew again, I guess just because it looks cool?! I mean, the ride itself isn’t that great and it’s actually in pretty bad shape. There were cobwebs in the car Chooch and I chose and when the operator slammed the door shut behind us, a swarm of tiny gnats awoke and fluttered out from god knows where, you guys, it was creepy and I was afraid of inhaling them.

Anyway, the ride takes forever to start because the cars can only be loaded one at a time due to the fact that there’s not an platform that people can walk up to access the cars that are on the incline. So jacked.

Janna stood by the fence and diligently took photos of us like she was our mom. It was adorable. WE ARE ADORABLE.

lol jk we’re annoying.

Yeah boi finally time to ride the Blue Streak! It wasn’t running when we first arrived because it had been raining. I was really stoked about this one and let me tell you something: absence make the body forget pain because in my mind, all I remembered was, “Yeah, I think this one is pretty rough if I remember correctly, but it’s not like, the worst.”

Oh no. It’s actually the worst. I mean, it starts off great! You go straight into a tunnel that seemingly goes on for miles and Chooch was screaming, “I love this already!” and we were pretending to pull Janna’s hair, Janna who stupidly sat in front of us, Janna who had no idea this ride was going to be the difference between a relaxing Sunday at home and a painful Sunday getting fitted for a neck brace in the ER.

As soon as we began the ascent up the first hill, I started to have flashes of recognition and suddenly wondered if this would be the worst idea we made that day. The ride is in BAD SHAPE. I mean, the track going up the hill wasn’t even straight! It was all warped and the wood looks like a termite commune. And then as soon as we hit the bottom of that first hill, the discs in my back cracked like knuckles on a cold day and Chooch started howling in pain and Janna passed out and then slid out of the car and her limp body somersaulted into the woods of Conneaut where the townies came and made pinwheels out of her vertebrae and then stole her ride-all-day wristband for their five-year-old who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

DAMN JANNA, YOU AND THOSE PODCASTS.

Chooch’s review was, “I feel like an old man. I never want to ride that again.”

The best part honestly was the two weirdos running the ride. They had more personality than all the fishermen on the lake COMBINED.

We had to recuperate on the carousel after that.

Carousel crew. I love this picture so much! I need to get a frame for it and keep on my desk at work to remind me OF THE GOOD TIMES. This is also such a great depiction of the relationship the three of us have – it’s not like “me and Janna and my kid” but it’s like we’re all the same age and just hanging out for the day. Chooch has always been one of the grown-ups! Or maybe it’s just that I have always been one of the kids…maybe Janna feels like she’s our babysitter?!?

For years, I wouldn’t ride carousels because I have a fear of heights, even low heights, and I would GET STUCK on the horses because I’d be too scared to try and get off when the ride ended. Many embarrassing episodes resulted from that. I actually almost fell off the one I rode a few weeks ago at Waldameer.

You guys. This ferris wheel is NEW FOR 2019! I’ve seen nicer ones at church carnivals, but Conneaut’s trying, I guess. I mean, this place is on the brink of shuttering it’s proverbial windows every season so this is a good sign!

We walked over to the lake for a brief look-see and Chooch immediately tripped and nearly took a nose-dive into the wet sand that might as well just be mud.

Hotel Conneaut is haunted!

We saw a wedding party getting their pictures taken in the “midway” of the park which is cool if they were going for a post-apocalyptic carnie style.

These were supposed to be pictures of us “relaxing” but we just look like Janna roofied us.

Chooch took this picture as an example of the shitty framing Henry does when we ask him to photograph us and I love how it turned out because I was literally in the middle of bitching about Henry so I imagine this is how my face must look the majority of my days.

Meanwhile, we were in front of the hotel and Janna said, “Wow, I guess this is where those people got married. That’s weird.”

This infuriated me.

“Why is that weird?! People get married here all the time!” I exclaimed. “Did you think they got married in the amusement park?!”

“No, but I mean, this is just a weird place. Like, why here?”

“BECAUSE IT’S A BEAUTIFUL HOTEL?!” I screamed, and then I realized what Janna was talking about was the chairs set up in THE CAR PORT in front of the hotel. Like, they literally got married in a glorified driveway and so then I was all touché, Janna.

And then it started raining again, pretty hard too, so we left and went to get Janna’s beloved frozen custard. Chooch and I were actually getting pretty hungry at this point (Henry wasn’t home to make us lunch before we left) so it’s a good thing we left when we did because our OTHER FACES were going to show very soon.

Conneaut needs another coaster, like a Wild Mouse or something, and maybe a log flume. Then it would be more worth the whole whopping $10.

Jul 152020
 

This whole kitchen re-do had me thinking about how my design tastes have seriously not evolved or matured – AT ALL. My mom is the one who created this monster – even though our house when I was growing up was very modern and muted, except for the living room and dining room which was a tasteful (for the 80s and 90s!) floral.

When we built my childhood home (lol, like my family was actually out there with hammers and saws), my original bedroom was SUPER LAURA ASHLEY. Lilac carpet and pale floral wallpaper. I mean, it was fine for a girl in elementary school.

But sometime in 8th or 9th grade, my mom was like, “Look, this room is too young. Let’s change it.” So we did the whole thing. Darker purple carpet, this super retro purple & silver foil wallpaper, original furniture completely made over with purple and yellow spraypaint. Christmas lights, neon lights, a totally groovy beaded curtain – my room did a complete 180 from little girl’s room to a bitchin’ teenage sanctuary. At one point, there was serious discussion of finishing the third floor attic and creating a slide/firemen’s pole from the attic into my old bedroom, which was going to be repurposed into a giant walk-in closet.

My dad quickly shut that down though.

:(

Hilariously though, after all of the changes my mom green-lit for my bedroom (that furniture she pained was that good wood, too), she flipped her shit when I used her ceramic paints on my windowsill?! OK then.

I moved into my first apartment when I was 18 and it was essentially a neon clubhouse for my friends. I was always having parties and get-togethers, so people who didn’t know me that well assumed that my ceiling Slinkies were party decor. Nope! All day, everyday decor, thanks!

I really miss that wavy water sculpture – my aunt Sharon got it for me but I don’t know where. Every couple of years, I do a half-assed Google sleuth to see if I can find something similar. And that Nickelodeon phone was LIFE! I loved it so much but it annoyed the friends who spent the most time at my place. One of the ring-tones sounded like a dying car horn from the 1930s.

I miss that phone every day!

Speaking of phones, I called Henry on one last week and in lieu of any standard salutation, I went right into, “Henry, I had an idea” which resulted in him audibly clenching on the other end. “What if we got an old wall phone from the 80s, hung it on the kitchen wall, and then you can do magic to it so that when the receiver is lifted, 80s music starts playing from a hidden speaker.”

You guys, he hasn’t given me a definite no yet!

There was a long stretch of time, in my current residence, where everything was just…blank and blah. Looking back on those times now, it was clear to me that I was in a deep but functioning depression. But once I started painting the walls and actually decorating the way that I used to, things started to look up. I started feeling more like myself. And now that this kitchen project is in flight, I am really feeling a burst of endorphins (I mean, also a lot of stress and anxiety, don’t get me wrong, but at least those are situational and not me sinking into another bi-polar spiral!). I don’t care about “flow” or “feng shui” – I just want to be surrounded by color and lights, I LOVE LIGHTS. In fact, we are currently shopping around to have a custom neon sign made, which has been a life goal of mine forever (I low-ball my goals in order to not go through life disappointed, lol).

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to tell you that I am currently adding “rainbow Slinkies” to my cart so that I can recreate that sick 1998 apartment aesthetic. I might even listen to some Korn and Candlebox while I hang them up.