Aug 152018
 

I was talking to Henry about this girl I used to play tennis with back in high school and how she went on to be the second runner-up on one season of Survivor, and this turned into us talking about our high school days because in case you didn’t know, Henry and I went to the same high school, only like FOURTEEN YEARS apart, lol.

So we got on the topic of which teacher was what coach and he mentioned Mr. Meehleib being the golf coach or something, and Meehleib is not a very common name so I screamed, “MR. MEEHLEIB?! DID HE ALSO TEACH  MATH?!” and Henry was like, “I don’t know, I guess. He had glasses and really—”

“—CURLY HAIR!” I yelled excitedly. So I guess Mr. Meeleib was a high school teacher back in Henry’s days, but when I knew him, he was my third grade math teacher and also the only male teacher at Gill Hall Elementary back then, aside from the principal and the gym teacher, dumbass Mr. Schantz who insisted on making us climb ropes and I was always one of the only kids who couldn’t do it, even before I got fat!

Another reason why Mr. Meehleib is significant to my life is because I got my first ever E in his class! (Do you remember when the grading scale used to actually go from A-E? No? WELL THEN MAYBE I’M JUST REALLY FUCKING OLD.) I don’t know what happened to me that year, because I was actually very smart leading up to this (tested for the gifted program and everything!) but then we reached the chapter in the math book on COUNTING CHANGE and my friends, I don’t know what it was about the way my brain is wired, but I just couldn’t do it. Mr. Meehleib even had a toy register and we had to line up and take turns pretending like we were cashiers and counting change, and every time it was my turn, I would be on the verge of tears because I just wasn’t getting it. I would freeze up and he would get pretty pissed at me, if I remember correctly, so then I REALLY couldn’t do it.

Mr. Meehleib, being the only male teacher, paddled Rick F. and Mike S. one time so I was like WILL I GET PADDLED FOR SHORTING HIM A NICKEL?!

(They got paddled because they were disruptive d-bags not because they couldn’t accommodate an imaginary customer trying to break a $5, BUT STILL.)

My friend Lauren struggled with it too and now  that I think about it, Lauren also couldn’t climb the ropes in gym so WAS LAUREN DRAGGING ME DOWN OR WAS I DRAGGING LAUREN DOWN?!

Anyway, welcome to my first big fat E! I will never forget it! I cried about it for days and no one in my family even cared because they were like, “It’s one E. You’ll bounce back” but all I could think about was how I clearly had NO FUTURE because how would I ever get a job in a grocery store?!

I was telling Henry all of this last night, like totally pouring my heart out, and I realized that shit, this must have been a BIG DEAL to me back then because I have been clearly been holding it in all these years so now I’m telling you too, Blog, in an effort to be more transparent about my secret dumbness.

“You know that story about the time my dad walked in on me in the garage teaching a Praying Mantis how to count change when I was in 4th grade?” I asked Henry.

“Um, no?!” he responded, as if I haven’t brought this up at least 3 dozen times during the course of our loving relationship.

“Well anyway, that’s why I was teaching the Praying Mantis how to count change, because I was practicing” and Henry was just like, “ohmygod.”

Wow, I feel so much better now. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, Blog!

FUN FACT: I only had one job where I needed to use a cash register and it was at Everything’s $1 at Century III Mall when I was in high school. On my first day, I went on my break and never came back. And no, it wasn’t because I couldn’t handle counting change, it was because I hate people.

Aug 072018
 

Hi, I’m back with the shocking conclusion of my previous post, Being Tourists In Pittsburgh. WOW, HOLD ON TIGHT. Just kidding, feel free to flail around.

After we left the Heinz History Center, we walked Jessi back to the hotel so she could get started with her pre-Rocky Horror performance process. We didn’t want to be the ones responsible for jinxing her by pulling her away from that, so released her to the Omni William Penn and then continued walking to Millie’s because Bill said he was down for ice cream but I think he knew he didn’t really have a choice because I was like, “Millie’s is the best; we’re going.”

Look, Pittsburgh has got a lot of great ice cream options but Millie’s is the one that always wins a spot on my itinerary when I have out-of-town guests visiting. (So like, twice so far, lol.) They just make really delicious, fresh ice cream and sorbet made with local ingredients and they’re always getting involved with the community—you know the types! Just all-around great people and Henry loves it because you can buy little packages of waffle cone pieces which I think is genius because what else are you going to do when you’re making homemade waffle cones and one breaks? YOU DON’T THROW THAT SHIT AWAY.

Also, they plug the butts of the waffle cones with a marshmallow so you don’t get melted ice cream tracks running down your shirt and arms like I generally do everywhere else we get ice cream cones.

The main reason I wanted to go to Millie’s (I mean, other than to treat my awesome friends to some great ice cream!) was because they updated their Instagram that morning with a new flavor: BLUEBERRY PANCAKES.

The description is what really sold me though: fresh blueberry compote, homemade syrup from some dude name Paul, and, this is what sealed the deal for me: real pancakes from Square Cafe in Regent Square. I love Square Cafe and I love pancakes so I wanted to eat this on that day, it was imperative.

It also did NOT DISAPPOINT.

They actually ladle the syrup right on top of the scoop!

Chooch got his standard scoop o’ chocolate, which inspired Bill to do the same. Peer pressure, Bill’s got it. I always mock Chooch for having such a basic palate but Millie’s chocolate actually is indescribably perfect.

I forget what Henry got. One of the sorbets, I think. Who cares.

We went back to the Omni after that and Bill was dumb and invited us into their room without even bothering to squirt us with holy water first to make sure we’re not vampires. Jessi was still getting ready (she was being the Criminologist for that night’s show so she had a lot of costuming to do!) so we decided that we were going to investigate this so-called fifth floor that most of the elevators skipped over. Bill said he noticed that there was one particular set of elevators that actually had a button for the fifth floor, so we sought out that one and then held our breath while it descended.

However, when the doors opened, we were immediately disappointed. I guess I was expecting something out of Nightmare on the 13th Floor*, hallway all blood-red with fancy tapestries and gaslight sconces, Victrola music humming from behind someone’s locked door.

*(HAVEN’T YOU EVER SEEN THAT MOVIE?! It was a 1990 made-for-TV movie that USA frequently played and it scared the shit out of me. Look that up.)

But no, we could tell right away that it was just a floor full of offices.

Such a let down.

Then we went to the room where the convention was happening because there was a raffle drawing about to take place and Bill and Jessi had some stake in it.

“They haven’t checked anyone’s badge the entire time we’ve been here, so I don’t think it’ll matter if you guys come with me,” Bill assured us, and Chooch and Henry were like, “That’s cool” and never thought about it again, while I was being my typical “DEER IN HEADLIGHTS-TOTALLY SUSPICIOUS-LOOK AT THE SPOTLIGHT ON ME-I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE” self.

Henry said that there were some girls asking me about my purse when we walked in but I completely ignored them because I couldn’t hear them over the metallic ringing in my ears BECAUSE OMG ARE WE GOING TO GET BUSTED.

I felt like everyone knew we weren’t actually convention-goers and I was doing everything in my power to burrow myself into Henry’s armpit. I have many layers and one of them is that I HATE STEALING and I felt, in a way, that we were being thieves by waltzing into this convention without purchasing a badge. Granted, we only sat there long enough to watch some broad named MONTANA clean up on all the winnings.

Bill was irate.

We hated Montana after that! Plus, she wasn’t even present to collect her bounty! They should have tossed aside her tickets and drawn again! Don’t get me started on Montana.

Afterward, we went back to Bill and Jessi’s room. Jessi was nearly finished getting into her role by then, but Henry had just enough time to fall asleep in an arm chair.

His favorite thing! Sleeping in other people’s hotel room!

Then we piled into our car and drove back to the Hollywood Theater which is literally about a 5 minute walk from my house. The Hollywood is famous for being in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s also where the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the shadowcast has played for like, decades. Tonight’s show was special because it was going to feature an all-star shadowcast from different cities. Jessi had submitted an audition tape a while back for this and was accepted so when Bill asked us if we wanted to come out and watch her, how the fuck could I turn that down?

Henry and I had a brief parental powwow about whether or not we should take Chooch with us to this but then I reasoned that I was his age when I first watched RHPS. BLOG READERS, WALK WITH ME:

It was Easter of 6th grade (whatever year that was) and my BFF Christy (see also: Crystal Lite and Crystal McGoo-Goo) was sleeping over which meant we were in the market for some horror movie rentals. My aunt Sharon took us to Blockbuster (miss you, baby) and recommended RHPS to us. I mean, if one were to judge a VHS by it’s box, it did look like it had horror movie potential.

However, after watching it that night, we were immediately disappointed. It had it’s grotesque moments but it wasn’t the eye-covering 70s slasher film we were in the mood for. We grumbled about it for a bit and then went to sleep.

When we woke up the next day, however, I looked at Christy and whispered, “Do you want to watch that again?” and she was like “YES” and then WE DID and by the end of the second-viewing, we knew the Time Warp front and back, left to right, and I was writing diary entries entitled WHERE HAS TIM CURRY BEEN ALL MY LIFE. We were shook and hooked, you guys.

There was this one time when my mom hid the video camera inside the fireplace and recorded us doing the Time Warp. I texted her last week and asked her if she remembered this and instead of saying, “No, you must have dreamt that” which is her typical response when she doesn’t want to fess up, she said, “Lol, yes. Hilarious.” I’m sure that’s still floating around somewhere, along with footage of me dancing to Queen’s Radio Gaga with rollers in my hair.

We were so obsessed that we used to sing parts of RHPS songs as roller coasters at Kennywood would be carrying us up the first hill.

“I bet she doesn’t remember that,” Henry scoffed, knowing that none of my friends ever remember the things from our childhood that seemed like BIG MOMENTS to me.

But then I texted her and this happened, so fuck off Henry:

So, all of this is to say that I was pretty excited to be experiencing this all over again but with Chooch this time.

We arrived at the Hollywood before tickets went on sale, since we were basically the Criminologist’s entourage so Chooch, Bill and I sat on a couch in the lobby, where Chooch got his first taste at RHPS as all of the Columbias and Franks sauntered around before him.

He just kept shaking his head.

“You have no idea what you’re in for!” I laughed.

Pre-show selfie! I was so stoked for her, but also experienced sympathy butterflies.

Here’s a picture from the basement bathroom of the Hollywood which I have actually never been in, after literal decades of seeing movies there. I think it’s probably haunted. Anyway, I took this picture because my popcorn purse was getting mad love from all the RHPS convention attendees that day which made me glad that I splurged on this at Everland in Korea. I didn’t want the popcorn (although it ended up being delicious and banana-flavored, because Korea) but when I saw people walking around with it that day in the park I had mad visions of using it as a purse. I mean, it’s pretty clunky and only fits like, lipgloss and some change, maybe a tampon (I’ll have to try) but this bag is everything.

After sitting around for nearly an hour waiting to buy tickets (they weren’t being sold through the theater), Bill finally had enough and said, “THAT’S IT, WE’RE JUST GOING IN.” ANyone with a badge had free admission, so Jessi gave me hers since she was performing, but I still felt like, again, A FUCKING THIEF.

Bill reasoned that he and Jessi had given the convention people enough of their money and us not buying $15 tickets wasn’t going to hurt them, but I still felt so guilty and paranoid walking to the seats that Jessi saved for us. IN THE SECOND ROW. WE WERE PRACTICALLY SITTING DUCKS FOR THE CONVENTION PEOPLE TO SPOT. Chooch was oblivious and just sat there eating popcorn, checking out all the fishnets and corsets, but I was gnawing my fingers to the bone over this.

“WHAT IF THEY WALK AROUND AND ASK FOR OUR TICKETS?!” I hissed to Henry.

“Would you calm down?! They’re not going to do that.”

They didn’t do that.

It was fine.

We assimilated and no one gave us a second glance.

Bill bought Chooch and me prop bags, not considering the repercussions this would have on Henry, who ended up soaking wet and covered in covered by the end of the night. Also, as soon as Chooch was explained the concept of the prop bags, his attention was piqued and he was in it to win it.

Before the show started, they played the audition tapes of all the out-of-town shadowcast participants and we screamed our faces off when Jessi’s was on the screen.

Anyway, the show was fantastic and Jessi killed her part! Second to that, I had so much fun seeing this movie again through Chooch’s eyes. In the beginning, when all the RHPS virgins had to go up to the front and fake orgasms, Chooch was like SRSLY MOM WTF and Henry was just like FROWN FROWN FROWN GOOD JOB BRINGING OUR PRE-TEEN HERE, but then Chooch was so into the audience participation elements that he forgot he was witnessing age-inappropriate shenanigans with his parents and snapped his rubber glove with wanton abandon.

What a fucking awesome night with Bill and Jessi. I mean, all of our hangouts are totally memorable and hilarious, but this night is definitely up at the top. And I can’t think of anyone better to expose Chooch to RHPS than the people who played Cards Against Humanity with him when he was like 8 (and he won). And Henry only slept through some parts of the show, not all!

We went to Tom’s Diner afterward and Chooch had so many questions. So. Many. Questions.

He is in SO DEEP now that by the next morning, he had YouTubed all of the song-scenes, learned a bunch of call-backs, and is ready to go to Michigan to watch Jessi perform there with her cast.

I laughed a little bit to myself at work the other night because my boss was talking to me about Chooch and how many cool experiences he’s had in his short life because of Henry and me. “You guys are great parents! Taking him to all kinds of places that most kids his age don’t get to go!” and in my head, I was like, “Yes, like Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He is certainly well-versed in a myriad of pop culture categories!

***

A few days ago, he came home from the library and said that he was singing “Sweet Transvestite” and Liam and Markie were like, “What is a transvestite” so he explained it to them, and that’s my son, broadening horizons and opening minds.

***

P.S. Bill & Jessi ended up meeting Montana the next day and he said she was actually very nice so we felt for motherfucking her and all her raffle wins. OR DID WE.

Jul 292018
 

I keep putting off recapping Warped Tour for a couple reasons: it was the last one ever and I needed to let the feels marinate for a bit before spooning it into the thought pot, I’m really blog-ambivalent these days, but mostly because there just isn’t really that much to say this time.

This sounds like we had a horrible time and I can assure you it wasn’t that. In fact, aside from early morning sniping, it was actually the first Warped Tour since Chooch started going with us that we got through the whole entire day without even the TINIEST quarrel. Give us a fucking ribbon at the Family Behavioral Fair, motherfuckers.

It just very much felt like we were going through the motions. For instance, the gate we normally enter through didn’t appear to be open this year so we had to get in a much-longer line for the main gate and I didn’t even feel the tiniest bit anxious about this because it didn’t matter to me when we got in. WHY, YOU ASK? GOOD QUESTION. Because there wasn’t one single band in the lineup that I was super-stoked to see.

!!!!

Granted I know that I have been out of the loop for a year or two but even the old bands on the list were like Zzzzzzzz for me.

SO WHY DID YOU BUY A TICKET, DUMMYTURKEY?! Great question! Because I still love the atmosphere and the vibes and I wanted to see it through to the end. GOD DONT YOU READ MY BLOG I ALREADY WROTE ABOUT THAT.

One thing I want to want to mention before I move on to other things is that for as huge of a festival that Warped Tour is, we have never really had a bad “waiting in line” experience. The credit probably goes to the venue, but they do such a stand-up job getting everyone inside the gates at a speedy, safe pace. (KCON/PRUDENTIAL CENTER SHOULD STUDY THIS PROCESS!)

The whole time we were in line though, I kept checking the Warped Tour socials for the “magic word” to get the first 200 people free shit at the Vans tent but I never saw one! So that was kind of a let-down. I had notifications turned on for the Warped Tour app and never received a single alert all day long which was strange…this was one of the reasons why it just didn’t feel right this year.

Chooch got to play games so he was happy. That was all he was looking forward to since the lineup was so “meh” this year.

This was us sitting in the pavilion (all these girls at Warped Tour with their perfectly matte faces while I’m over here looking like I could moisten a whole loaf of week-old bread with my face), waiting 35 minutes for the Maine to come on which never happened because I didn’t make the connection that for the first time ever, there was only one stage under the pavilion?! Usually, it’s the Journeys Left Foot and Journeys Right Foot, but this time they were separated so only one of the “foots” was under the pavilion and guess what guys it wasn’t the one that the Maine was playing on so my tradition of going to Warped Tour every year and never seeing the Maine continued. It’s good to end things with a perfect streak sometimes, you know?

Also, there was a fifteen minute delay on every stage but I thought it was only on three of the stages because I didn’t read the inflatable schedule correctly and basically, if I had any vested interest in seeing any particular band, I would have probably been met with disappointment.

It was just weird how this day started off with CHANGES and that just led to a strong feeling of disorientation for the rest of the day.

If you know what I mean.

Do you know what I mean?

I’m the type of person who totally loses her mind when there is even a tiny sprinkle of aberration in a schedule.

But can I just say again how weird it was to not be literally sprinting from stage to stage in an effort to see all of my scene-faves? A Warped Tour without Emarosa is bad enough but there really wasn’t any post-hardcore for my soul that day.

We did accidentally see a hardcore band called Sharptooth though and I was immediately sucked in because the screamer was a girl and she was fierce as fuck. After the first song, she plowed right into a fiery speech about #MeToo and the crowd was backing her so hard with energetic cheers, and all I could think was, “Can we claw-drop all of the Ronnie Radkes on this tour into the front row and make them listen to this hard truth?” What irony, you know? This band promoting safe spaces, speaking out against domestic/sex abuse, rape, the mental illness stigma, while so many shitty bands full of shitty motherfucking abusers were running rampant on in the same venue because Kevin Lyman doesn’t want to lose money by banning their asses from Warped Tour. This strong, outspoken female could have eaten Jonny Craig alive and made Ronnie Radke shit his pants.

CAN YOU SEE WHY THIS WAS HARD FOR ME!? On one had, Warped Tour is supposed to be this safe haven for all walks of life, socially conscious with tons of really great (and I mean super fantastic) organizations there every summer spreading awareness for depression, suicide, LGBTQ, breast cancer. They have food drives at every city and a tent where you can get swabbed to be a bone marrow donor. (I almost wrote donater.)

But then it’s also a huge parking lot full of band dude debauchery, statutory transgressions and other things that go in on those tour buses that I don’t want to even think about because ew.

On that note though, I noticed a HUGE influx of families in attendance. This was usually not the case, so maybe it was all those grown-up punks wanting to revisit the scene for Warped’s swan song, but goddamn there were A LOT of children there. The first year we brought Chooch, it was 2013 and he was quite literally one of maybe three under-15 kids there, to the point where he was getting a lot of attention and double-takes (and a lot of free swag!). I remember getting a lot of shit from people who thought it was a bad idea for us to take him at that age (he was 7) but you have to consider the fact that Henry and I were already extremely experienced at this and Chooch was literally raised on this kind of music. I mean, he tell you the names of the singers of probably 15 bands that were there that year.

So this was another thing that made our last Warped Tour feel….sterile? Is that the word I want? Yes. Let’s go with sterile.

Also, Chooch is barely even a kid anymore! It’s weird that he won’t ever get to experience Warped Tour with his friends. We used to joke that once he was in high school and his friends finally started getting into this stuff, he would have already been to like 10 Warped Tours! But now I guess we’ll have to see what kind of thing makes a move on Warped’s demographic.

LOL, Henry put so much effort into his Warped Tour outfit.

He was so funny on the way there that morning. Traffic was super backed up as we got closer to the exit for Key Bank Pavilion (will always be StarLake to me) and he was like, “Oh hell no” so he morphed into Professional Driver Henry and cut in front of every car sitting in mile-long Warped Tour traffic, drove over DO NOT CROSS lines, and slid right into a small opening in the front of the line and then said “I literally do not give a fuck.” He just wanted this day to be over, guys. It was actually super impressive.

Full disclosure, I had never heard of the band Lighterburns before but when I saw this sign, I screamed, “YES, I DO AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT” and promptly whipped out my credit card and by that I mean I had to chase after Henry who was pretending not to hear me and then shake him down for money because like why would I bring my own stuff lol.

Yeah, you do.

Anyway, after that I felt I would be remiss to not check out their set so I went back to the small stage that the lesser-known bands are relegated to, and I really liked them! I wish they had been able to accumulate a bigger crowd, but Warped Tour is a crapshoot like that sometimes. Anyway, here is one of their videos, go support them because they’re fighting the good fight.

Hahahahahahaha, probably my favorite picture from that day!

Chooch is too cool for the big slip-n-slide now I guess, even though he practically got pruned skin from the amount of time he spent in it at his first Warped Tour!

Seasoned veteran at age 12.

Since there were no must-see bands for me, I was able to meander about leisurely and just soak up the vibes, which actually was the best way for me to have closure. It was nice to just listen to all the screaming, get in some prime people-watching, and check out all the merch, like Choonimals! We of course bought their special edition Warped Tour design and said a sad goodbye to Chad, who takes Choonimals on the road with Warped Tour every year.

“This sucks, I feel like this part of the Warped Tour tradition for us, buying a Choonimals shirt,” I said to Chad and he admitted that he has no idea what he’s going to do with his summers now, but assured us that Warped Tour would still be around in some capacity. It sounds like it just not going to be a cross-country tour anymore, but that they will still have events. Maybe something like a west coast and east coast festival? I probably wouldn’t road trip for it, because I can’t imagine any bands in the scene right now inspiring me to travel, so this probably was my last Warped Tour.

Chad gave us all high-fives and thanked us for supporting the brand all these years. I’m not going to lie, I AM TEARING UP RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE THIS. Go check out Choonimals, their shirts are top-notch and the designs are just really great. I guess I’ll be buying all my future Choonimals online from now on, sigh.

Truth is always making people stop and play their dumb games which is right up Chooch’s alley. He always gets free shit from them every year and this time he played some stupid ninja game and chose yellow sunglasses as his prize because they reminded him of the $230 pair of Gentle Monsters that we wouldn’t buy him in Korea, lol, keep dreaming, kid.

Gonna miss sitting on this hill. Gonna miss these tents. Gonna miss the sunburn and the how amazing it feels to take a shower after enduring the heat all day. Apparently, it was so hot that day that the local EMS was calling it a “mass casualty incident” and it was all over the news. I had no idea about any of this, but it explains why three different people at work the next day were like, “I was so worried about you, there was a mass casualty incident!” and I was like, “Wow, how weird that all of these people are using the same word for it.

Then I found out that the singer of Waterparks, Awsten Knight, saw the news crew and ran over to give a statement, but he said he was Kyle Fletchers from December’s Tragedy and this is so fucking hilarious to me to think of people watching this and wondering if their kids like that band. Henry thought it was stupid but NO HENRY, YOU ARE STUPID.

Warped Tour apparently made him a new tour badge after that, hahaha. Oh, Awsten. We fucking missed Waterparks because of how the schedule was jacked all day and they were honestly one of only 4 bands I had any desire to see that day.

We stuck around long enough to 3Oh!3’s first three songs, because it felt symbolic since they were at the first Warped Tour that Henry and I attended together in 2008 (10 years ago! in case you can’t do math). They were largely unknown at the time and I remember thinking at first, “These guys are stupid” but half a song in, I was trying to get them to play at my imaginary prom. I remember exactly what stage they played on that year too, it was one of the ones under the pavilion, where the smaller bands performed back then. Katy Perry performed on that stage that year too and they both exploded into the mainstream right after that. It was nuts.

So even though we were all super fucking hot, tired, and hungry, we stuck around long enough to see some of their songs (“Oh, I know who they are now!” Chooch cried almost immediately after he kept insisting that he didn’t) and then we all decided to throw in the towel by 7pm. I mean, I certainly didn’t want to stick around for shitty Falling In Reverse and I gave no shits about any other band playing after that anyway.

I thought I would be OK, but I still found myself stalling, knowing that once we exited those gates, that was it. The Book of Warped Tour was closed. I know it probably sounds like we had a not-great time, but the fact is that it was just right. I didn’t have high expectations going in so I wasn’t let down. I knew the line-up and wasn’t shocked that there wasn’t anyone I was dying to see. I bought all the merch I needed. None of us fought. Chooch spun wheels and won things, Henry fell asleep.

Nap time. #kingofsleepingatWarpedToursince2008

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

It was enough for me. And it made me appreciate my new lifestyle even more, because I just connect with the Warped Tour stuff anymore and that’s OK. Maybe if they would have recreated the 2008 lineup, or the 2012 one, I would have been more stoked. There was a post-hardcore void, and it’s obvious that the kids are moving away from that genre, so it was another reason for me to make peace with the end of an era.

But I will tell you one thing, later that night, I lost all control of myself and started sobbing into Henry’s chest because it finally hit me. I know that this wasn’t something I did in my childhood, but it still had that feeling to it! Like it was some weird delayed coming-of-age moment for me, lol, I don’t know. Warped Tour was a big part of my life for many years and I will cherish those memories forever. But now I can fully embrace this new season of life I’m getting into, without having one foot stubbornly stuck in the old one.

Warped Tour, you will forever have a place in my heart. <3

Jul 152018
 

Dear e-diary,

Remember how I wanted to walk to the new-ish paleteria in Beechview on Friday to get some refreshing paletas, but then I ended up puking all day instead? Well, you’ll be happy to know that my own person doctor, Henry, diagnosed me with a 24-hour stomach bug and I felt A-OK when I woke up on Saturday! Which meant a Mexican popsicle celebration, naturally.

Here is a short review.

It was something like 90 degrees on Saturday and humid as the air between Trump’s ears, but I insisted that Henry and Chooch walk, not drive, to Alquisiras, where we would then be rewarded with an array of delightful Mexican flavors in frozen form. Chooch brought his scooter and I hate that thing so much but whatever.

It’s only about a 20 minute walk to Beechview, but if you take the longer way it’s all level. Henry argued with me about this and I was like, “Look motherfucker, if you want to be walking up steep ass motherfucking Pittsburgh hills*, be my guest, but I’ll take the nice leisurely route and get there 5 minutes after you.” He can’t bear to be without me, and Chooch was like OH, I’M NOT LUGGING THIS SCOOTER UP A HILL, so it was MY WAY OR NO WAY.

*(Hey, San Fran, I’ll see you out there with your steep-ass fucking streets but Pittsburgh has the country’s** steepest street of all time, so stop hogging our limelight.)

**(Some people claim it’s the steepest in the world, but I think I read there is street in New Zealand that actually holds that record.)

There were so many paletas to choose from and it was a legit struggle. I kept going back and forth between walnut, chili mango, and red currant, but I eventually asked Walnut to mouth-prom because I love nuts, man. It was SO GOOD too but now I’ll just have to go back and try all the other flavors and I can’t really be mad about that.

Chooch got strawberries and cream and was clearly so ready for this picture.

Henry was like, “I’ll just stick with ice cream because I’m square.” He chose pistachio (always a good choice) but then whined later that he wished he had gotten a paleta instead so I guess we have to bring him back with us next weekend, ugh.

Prince of posing in front of murals.

Other things happened on Saturday too, but the one thing that stands out the most is that Henry proved that HE DOESN’T REALLY KNOW ME AT ALL. We were getting ready for bed that night, totally exhausted from a really good Kpop Kardio hour and lots of subtitle-reading (we started watching Roommate because a new episode of Are You Human Too hadn’t yet been released and we needed our Seo Kang Joon fix and by “we” and “our” you know I mean “Henry” and “his.”). We had the a/c on in our room but it was still kind of muggy in there and I was complaining about how I was too hot.

“Well, you’re under the covers. Take the covers off,” he suggested like I hadn’t already considered this!?

“Yeah, I can do that a little bit but you know I how I have to have my feet covered at all times,” I said.

“……no?” Henry answered with hesitation in his voice.

“Yes you do!” I cried. “Like, everyone knows that about me.” And when Henry didn’t answer, probably because he was flipping through the Rolodex of Erin’s Issues in his head, I tried to help him by dropping clues. “You know, because I don’t want to get my feet lopped off…”

“WHAT?!” he yelled. “By who!?”

“The man with the sickle!” I yelled back, like how was this news to him?! I’m sure I even mentioned this on LiveJournal before and I KNOW I have discussed this with some of my work friends too.

“Oh my god,” Henry sighed. “I don’t even want to know.”

I was so offended that this wasn’t one of those super important facts that he seared into his brain, but I still gave him the run-down about how ever since I was in second grade and we moved into our new house on Gillcrest, I was always terrified to look out of my bedroom window at night because it faced the backyard which was surrounded by woods and our neighbors’ tennis court that was always illuminated just enough at night to make the shadows come to life in ones mind, and I would sneak peeks out the window and swear that someone would be out there, creeping around in the backyard, waiting for me to fall asleep with my feet outside of the blanket so he could lop them off with his sickle and run away with them in a sack slung over his shoulder.

“It’s the same reason why I would always stand at my door, run and leap into my bed at night, so I wouldn’t be standing close enough for the man under my bed to grab my ankles,” I told Henry.

I think he was sleeping by then though.

But yeah, nearly 39 years old and I will never succumb to the man with the sickle! YOU’LL NEVER GET MY FEET, MOTHERFUCKER. Take Henry’s.

Jul 112018
 

Even though my feelings toward the scene are less than favorable these days, the sadness of this being the last Warped Tour has finally started to set in and I started to cry about it last night, haha. Seriously, to just get through one day without being so stupidly sentimental!

It’s weird to think of a Warped-less summer when it’s been such a big part of my life for over 10 years. The first one I went to was in 2000 and it was pretty terrible, to be honest. It was in a much smaller venue and I only really cared about seeing AFI, and to be fair, it was actually legitimate punk bands that played back then.

And hilariously, I have never really been into punk.

Then I was supposed to meet Christina at the Columbus, OH date in 2005 but we had a fight or I was suicidal or just having a non-life-threatening mood swing, who knows – 2005 was a disastrous year for me. So I didn’t go and she took her sister instead, I think. The next year, I went with her to the one in her hometown of Cincinnati and it was OK. I was still blogging on LiveJournal back then but all I wrote about was how the engine blew in my fucking car on the way home, so that tells you a lot about how I feel about that particular Warped Tour, lol.

It wasn’t until the next year, 2008, when it started to really feel like Christmas in July for me. I think Christina was supposed to come here for that one but we had a fight or god only knows, so Henry ended up going with me at the last minute and you guys, we had SO MUCH FUN TOGETHER. OK, I’ll rephrase that: I HAD SO MUCH FUN WATCHING HENRY SCOWL AT SCENE KIDS. And ever since that day there was a decree that we would go to every Warped Tour together and you bet your pretty god-given ass that he tries to get out of it every year.

Especially since Chooch started going with us. Then it became, “Why do I still have to go to this? Why can’t I just you guys off at the kids drop-off zone? This is so dumb.” But it’s a FAMILY TRADITION, you guys. And next Monday will be the very last one.

Even though it’s changed so much over the years (hate me all you want, but I miss the neon years of 2007-2011, where the scene queens’ cat-eyes melted down their sweaty faces and their cotton candy hair sizzled and frizzled under the sun. I miss only being able to see one eye on every scene kid with side-swooped fringe bangs. But most of all, I miss the glory days of Pierce the Veil, Chiodos, Emarosa, and Armor for Sleep.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite Warped Tour photos here. I OWN THIS SPACE SO WHY NOT. I mean, I hope that’s OK! Let’s look at them together. We’ll start with 2008 because in my heart, that’s when the magic of Warped Tour truly started for me. *tear*

First let’s start with my collection of commemorative holographic tickets! Henry hates that I pay extra for this every year lol. I don’t have one for 2007 or 2008 which makes me feel like they probably hadn’t started doing that yet, and curiously 2013 doesn’t have one either. I thought maybe I lost it but then I obsessively googled (me, obsessively doing something on the Internet? lol) and I don’t think there was one that year.

And see that one round? FUNNY NOT FUNNG STORY I bought the special Xmas presale bundle for that year’s Warped. It came with socks (haha) and an ornament, which ended up being that round thing up there. The collectors ticket was supposed to be mailed later on, closer to summer. Except when my ticket came IT WAS A NORMAL ONE. I flipped out and started sending emails at which point I was told they had “run out” of the special tickets but anyone who didn’t get one could just bring that ornament (which actually was flat and the same thickness as the tickets are) to use as the “skip the line” but I was like THAT IS NOT WHY I PAY EXTRA FOR THESE TICKETS IT IS LITERALLY BECAUSE I LIKE HAVING THE TICKET so they were like “stop crying child and contact us after Warped Tour. We will see if we have any extras for you” and I was like “DONT THINK I WILL FORGET.”

I didn’t forget. I emailed as soon as Warped Tour was done and was like WHERE IS MY EXTRA TICKET and no one ever responded. WOW.

So of course every time I look at these tickets, that’s the first thing I think about and I feel SICK because I probably have OCD ok. Send one of the Pretty Little Liars to steal my medical records, why don’t you.

2008 Snaps, taken with my Blackberry Curve, I think lol:

My first time seeing Pierce the Veil <3

Blake came to Warped Tour with us that year and it was a bucketload of fun. I’m talking an entire gin-filled bathtub of fun.

2009 Pics:

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RIP Scene Queens. :(

2010 Pho-Toes:

I think was when I started bringing my DSLR but I was still posting super small pictures back then so what did it even matter, lol.

I have this picture of Vic Fuentes framed on my wall <3

PAHAHAHAHA Jonny Shitbag Craig.

2011 Picalicktures:

Henry’s brethren. I interviewed Henry about Warped Tour that year and you can read that here if you want, lol. 

Austin Carlile, formerly of Of Mice & Men. Their sets always gave me life.

2012 Photographs:

Lol.

This was the year Henry wrote his own Warped Tour blog post!

2013 Visual Relics:

The year Chooch started going with us!

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2014 Still Life:

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Chooch got sick on this day, unrelated to Warped Tour. He ended up having an ear infection (I think? I CAN’T KEEP TRACK OF ALL OF HIS AILMENTS) and about two hours in, the fever set in. He didn’t want to leave until he got to see his favorite band, The Summer Set, so we had to stay until around 5:00 or 6:00.

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They took copious breaks.

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Chooch with The Summer Set, delirious but smiling!

2015 Mementos:

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Hands Like Houses <3

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Chooch and Lynn Gunn from PVRIS! Chooch had recently fallen off his bike or something, again I DON’T KEEP AN ACCIDENT AND AILMENT LOG just haunted house journals and this piece of shit diary, and went to Warped Tour looking totally hardcore with his scraped chin.

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Wardrobe change.

One of my favorite Warped Tour moments of all time, I’ll never get over this.

2016 Images:

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Man, I’m going to miss that ol’ granddaddy Inflatable. It was tradition to run straight for it as soon as we made it through the gates, even though you could buy the schedule for like $1 or two. Henry always did that while I Gumped my way to the inflatable to scan it for all my favorite bands in a panic because so much heartbreak happened here! This is you would be faced with DECISIONS when there were inevitable overlaps with the bands you wanted to see. WHO WOULD GET SACRIFICED?!

Ugh, my stomach hurts just thinking about all the hard choices I had to make while standing in front of that damn thing.

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Chooch always does a wardrobe change at Warped Tour. God forbid we buy him a shirt there and he waits until the next day to wear it. Here he is with Bradley, who was once again responsible for making this the best day ever. 

2017 Frozen Visions:

Chooch is in love with Jule Vera.

Henry giving directions, his favorite pasttime!

One of Chooch’s teachers was so excited that he met Gwar. I can’t imagine any of the teachers at his old Catholic school being excited about that unless we met “excited” in the sense that they were excited to help him purge his sins.

***

I could go on and on but no one has time for that so I will end it here and try not to think too much about how this coming Monday will be my last chance to make Warped memories. I thought I was OK with this but MAYBE I’M NOT READY TO SAY GOODBYE!?

 

Jun 052018
 

I’m going to make this short and sweet because I have a headache and I think I was poisoned.

—-THE PHONE CALL—-

Henry received a phone call from a friend on Saturday and for some reason, Chooch and I found this to be HI-larious.

“For some reason,” lol.

Immediately, Chooch and I activated our PEST SWITCH and clung to Henry with our ears pressed against his phone. He kept shrugging us off and eventually was able to get up from the couch (hello it was his fault for starting a phone conversation in the same room as us to begin with) and slowly moved onto the back porch.

I say “slowly” because we were hanging off of him. Finally, he turned around and snapped at us, getting busted by his friend on the other end who thought Henry was yelling at him. The last thing we heard before the porch door slammed in our faces was, “No not you. I’m talking to these two nebby* kids.”

*(Nebby means nosy if you live in Pittsburgh. YAY FOR LEARNING.)

“I bet he’s talking to the manager of Blush,” Chooch said, because we love to speculate that Henry is a regular at this stripclub downtown.

Then I had the brilliant idea to go outside and try to hear the conversation from below the open porch windows, but our fucking mechanic neighbor was drilling in his garage and some broad in a house behind us was screaming at her dogs. RUDE.

We tried to go back inside and act like we were just hanging out in the kitchen near the porch door for no reason, what, I’m just over here super naturally sweeping the kitchen floor like I always do why is this strange, but Henry caught us and started flashing us “I WILL KILL YOU” and “YOU FUCKERS CAN STARVE TONIGHT” glares with his eyes and then flipped us off too, wow, such class.

Chooch puked from laughing so hard.

BUT THEN I HAD THE BEST IDEA EVER.

“Chooch, go ask Blake if we can come in and try to hear through his side of the porch!” I hoarsely whispered. I hung back inside our front door because Blake is kind of an adult now and I wasn’t sure if he would be like, “Grow up, guys” but then dumb Chooch kept tossing glances at me from Blake’s front porch while he was asking, and then Blake poked his head out and looked over and saw me half-hiding, so he was just like, “Oh for god’s sake, come on in.”

Eavesdropping from Blake’s side of the house! We couldn’t really hear anything but baritone muffles. :(

By this point, we had lost interest and then Henry was off the phone and we were like, “What, you were on the phone?”

I don’t know, but something about this gave me Sunday Lock Out Vibes and I couldn’t stop laughing about it when I tried to tell people at work on Monday and they were just like, “Why are you like this.”

—-THE WHITE PIZZA INQUIRY—-

On Sunday, the three of us went to Anthony’s Coal-Fire Pizza to surprise my dad with a birthday lunch. Since we arrived first, we were perusing the menu trying to find a happy-medium for a large pizza the three of us could share. AW, A FAMILY PIZZA.

“Do you like white pizza?” I asked Chooch, a gentle inquiry if you ask me, yet this innocent question made him unhinged, you guys. He just snapped the fuck out on me.

“SERIOUSLY?! NO! NO, I DO NOT LIKE WHITE PIZZA! OH MY GOD, HOW MANY TIMES ARE YOU GOING TO ASK ME THAT?!” he screeched, and I was honestly stunned for a second, but don’t worry, Bitch Mommy came sprinting out on the heels of my initial stunned reaction.

So then the two of us were full-fledged quarreling in the middle of a restaurant and Henry was mouthing pleas at us. I DON’T READ LIPS, BITCH. Somehow though, the subject changed to Henry’s alleged conversation with the manager of Blush the previous day so then we remembered that we were wasting our energy fighting each other when we should have been using it to make fun of Henry. I think Henry was just happy that we weren’t starting kinetic ire-fires anymore because he actually told us that he was kicked out of a strip club in Florida too, not just Texas!

“That one wasn’t my fault though. It was the guys I was with,” he said, while ALMOST-KIND-OF SMILING.

WHOA.

Then my dad and Ryan arrived and luckily Chooch was able to restrain his shitty preteen attitude and we had a very lovely birthday lunch with my dad who I don’t see often enough and that’s totally my fault. Meanwhile, the waitress who brought over our pizza exclaimed out of nowhere how adorable Chooch is (??) and he sat there with this smug “I know” look on his face and Henry was like, “He’s only cute when he’s quiet” and THAT IS THE TRUTH. Then our waiter was all, “WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING?” because Chooch had his DS with him after a year of not caring about it (kids, amirite) and then they bonded over Pokemon and all I could think was, “BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?! I’M HERE TOO!”

But I got to tell my dad and Ryan about our trip to Korea so that made up for it not getting any attention from the waitstaff.

Anyway the whole point of this is that I was obsessing over the whole white pizza fiasco thing because if there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I will latch on to the dumbest thing you tell me, whether it’s something you hate (don’t tell me you hate clowns, let’s put it that way) or some embarrassing moment you had that I witnessed — I will hold these things close to my chest and you’ll never know when I’ll throw it back in your face in the form of a greeting card or a homemade t-shirt.

Or a painting, like this one that I made for Barb which features her least favorite actor, Bill Paxton.

Naturally, I started trolling Chooch as soon as we got home. The first thing I did was run into his room and leave him a white pizza message on his whiteboard. (And please, don’t call CPS on me for the other message. I don’t even own a belt.)

And then it happened, my giddy obsession grew strong enough to push me out of painting retirement long enough to make him this wooden plaque, which he is less than pleased about but I think he secretly is craving white pizza now.

I think his next birthday cake should be a white pizza.

Anyway, I haven’t felt this inspired since HAM SANDWICH AF, when I made a commemorative painting:

OK, now I have to go lay down. I’ve had a headache all day and then it turns out Henry does too and we’ve since determined that it’s possibly from when I sprayed Chooch’s white pizza plaque with varnish in a non-ventilated area. It was nice knowing you, Internet friends.

Apr 272018
 

Isn’t it crazy when you can not see someone for years and years yet somehow fall right back into a comfortable groove when you do? That’s how it is with my friend Alisha, who I saw for the first time last summer since 2010, and again last Friday when she was in town visiting from Arkansas.

I was so glad that she carved out some time for me on this latest visit, especially when I texted her a picture of a Julian Baker concert flyer and her immediate response was, “YES LET’S GO TO THAT” and within minutes she bought tickets. I forgot what it felt like to have a friend who wants to go to shows!

But first, food. Alisha picked me up from work and we skipped all the frou-frou salutations and went right into our routine of her being annoyed and exasperated and me being totally giddy – ugh, I missed our dysfunctionally perfect yin and yang!

Alisha’s British-voiced GPS led us to Apteka, an Eastern Europe-Yinzer-Vegan joint across from the Allegheny Cemetery that my friend Sarah recommended to me over a year ago and I never made it there because kimchi or GTFO. However, Alisha is vegan so I thought this would be a grand time to check it out and I was happy that it wasn’t crowded yet and the staff wasn’t off-putting as they sometimes can be in a niche vegan eatery, leaving me feeling not inked-up enough and half-assed in my veg-ways. (Which brings us back to kimchi, which I know is made with anchovy paste but I still eat it because I never signed a contract, OK? Korea has changed me!)

Apteka is cafe-style which is kind of annoying when you walk into a place for the first time and they’re like BAM HERE IS THE MENU STAND HERE AT THE COUNTER AND I WILL STARE AT YOU WHILE YOU TRY TO FIGURE OUT OUR WEIRDO MENU GOOD LUCK WITH THE POLISH.

Alisha had a million questions and the Apteka girl very patiently answered her. She asked what the waitress recommended and she blew through the menu so fast I felt like I just been lead through a polka.

Alisha ordered the thing I was going to get so then I had to stand there and stammer, and of course I was unable to pronounce anything on the menu (is it nuts that I was trying to imagine what it would look like in Hangeul to help me sound it out?!) so I just pointed and said, “Lima bean.”

Because the thing I got had a lima bean purée and it was shockingly not phrased more dumb or pretentious than that because you know how nauseating menu descriptions can be in these types of places.  Let me see if I can find a menu…

Kluski Slaskie

baby lima bean + winter bitter leaves + potato dumplings + fried buckwheat + marjoram (GF)

I didn’t even notice that my meal had marjoram on it and I guess it doesn’t matter because I didn’t even notice it while I was eating it to even wonder what even is it. That was a weird sentence.

(GUYS, I LOOKED IT UP. IT’S MINT.)

Alisha also ordered a pot of some kind of tea for us to share. It tasted like ground. Maybe it would have been better with sugar but do vegans eat sugar? I didn’t see any.

Alisha also ordered the Kanapki which was three pieces of small toast, each with a different spread on it. One was for sure carrot and that was the only one I liked.

Guys, that’s my plate at the bottom there and it was so fucking good – those potato dumpling dickheads were so fucking divine and I wanted so much more, and the fried buckwheat was WHAT THE HELL WHY HASN’T HENRY BEEN CRACKLIN’ BUCKWHEAT FOR ME ALL THIS TIME levels of tasty. And that lima bean puree? I didn’t have time to grab my bathing suit before diving into that bitchin’ legume lagoon.

That’s Alisha’s crap at the top.

Somehow, my dinner was considered a “large plate” and hers was “small” and cheaper yet seemed so much bigger and she was still working on it a good twenty minutes after I had licked the last lima smear from my plate.

To cap off our meal, I ordered dessert for us to split, and again, I could have eaten 5 plates of these.

My Apteka verdict is that the food was bomb and inventive, and even had a level of comfort to it that vegan joints sometimes lack. But, for the price I paid and the amount of food I ate, I was a little unsatisfied. I was ready for second dinner less than an hour later. Even still, I’ll probably go back again because I liked the atmosphere, the staff was great, and I want to try the other things on the menu — I’ll just be prepared to eat my arm later on.

Afterward, we went to the Carnegie Library lecture hall to see one of my favorite female vocalists, Julien Baker. Ugh, I have been dying to see her live for years now but something always comes up when she’s here. I thought I was going to end up going to see her alone because I don’t know anyone else who likes her and Henry was a hard nope, but it ended up coinciding perfectly with Alisha’s visit. She was my concert buddy when she lived in Pittsburgh back in the day and I was so excited to have another good music night with her!

Alisha was all frenzied because she wasn’t sure if we were allowed to park in the lot she chose, and then she was mad because we walked some totally long-ass way to get to the lecture hall when we could have taken a much shorter route, but I was selfishly happy about this because I needed the steps since it was week one of the Law Firm Walking Challenge (OH, I HAVE AN UPDATE ABOUT THIS TOO, CHECK BACK LATER) and I was kicking myself for planning an evening of DINNER and a SEATED CONCERT. Alisha was miserable because she had a bad cold and here I was, walking her around Oakland on a super chilly April night.

When we arrived, she was immediately annoyed because the young girls checking tickets at the door were all googly-eyed over my knack for accessorizing and then we stood in the bathroom waiting for the two occupied stalls to open up and then the bathroom door slowly started to open on its own and we were like WTF SCOOBY, GHOSTS!? but here it turned out Alisha had leaned on the handicap door opening button.

And then a few minutes later, we realized that only one of the stalls had been occupied that whole time, so that was cool.

“I should have known it was going to be a night full of stupid things,” Alisha sighed, insinuating that my presence draws this stuff out!?

Whatever!

Anyway, we found some good seats nice and close (BUT NOT TOO CLOSE) in the first row off the floor. Alisha was whining about why it hadn’t started yet and I was like, “Because it’s only 7. We have another hour.”

LOL Alisha thought it started at 7 that whole time and was so angry that now we had to sit in this growing-more-stifling-by-the-minute room. She amused herself by spying on a man who apparently looked at me twice after I said “bless you” to Alisha so she was convinced he was obsessed with me but clearly I think she was obsessed with him! He kept pretending like he was waiting for someone but then no one ever came…

Then people attempted to speak to Alisha and I thought she was going to will herself to incinerate into a pile of Arkansas ash.

“Why does this always happen? I was doing so good all these years and then I’m with you for like a minute…”

“And the awkward social situations come back?” I laughed, and she emphatically agreed.

It really was an interesting mesh of people there that night though. Lots of punk rock college lesbians, little girls, and old guys.

And us.

Tancred was the opener and I really don’t have much to say about them because I have tried so hard over the years to like them, especially when I got more into that Bledfest-type of scene, but I just can’t. The singer is fine but her voice doesn’t evoke a single emotion from me and the lyrics are kind of middle school diary.

But Julien though….

She performed mostly alone until closer to the end of her set, when her friend came out to accompany her on violin. I didn’t take any video and this picture is actually Alisha’s, because I kind of felt paralyzed with regurgitating grief and realized at one point that I was barely breathing.

Julien has this poignant and measured way of singing the most delicate, whispered notes and then, before you have time to prepare yourself, she is lurching her head back and full-blown power-vocals are roaring out of her small frame and sucking up all the oxygen in the room. She will leave you fucking breathless.

So, there’s this thing about me that you should know, and it’s that, as much as I love words, the lyrics of songs usually come secondary for me. It’s the music itself that heals me first and foremost, it’s what gets my heart started, the tears flowing. And then it’s the tone of the voice singing against that music. I have to laugh a little bit because when I was super into the post-hardcore and screamo scene, people would ask me how could I tell what they were saying? And I would say, “I can’t, and it doesn’t matter, because it’s still touching me.” And now, I get the same question because 99.9% of what I listen to is in Korean. And again, it’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter to me what they’re saying, because the music, and the sound of their voices singing in that perfect language, fills my heart with joy that I haven’t felt in such a long time.

But yet, Julien is the rare exception for me. Because I AM listening to her words. And they are slicing through my wrists like a rusty razor. To write the songs she writes…and to sing them with such brittle sincerity and honesty…you have to have a lot of pain in your life. I can’t imagine standing there on a stage in front of so many adoring fans, stripping down to your bare, aching soul, letting us all watch you relive whatever you were going through when these songs came to fruition. She gave us a gift that night, and I will forever cherish it!

This is one of my favorite songs. Careful, she might break your heart.

And then we thought we were going to have to live in the parking lot because one of the parking ticket machines wasn’t working right and traffic was all backed up and we blamed Henry for not driving us.

“You never asked?” he replied to my text. WELL, HE SHOULD HAVE JUST KNOWN TO DO IT!

And don’t you worry – I came home at 11pm and still managed to eke out 20,000 steps.

Mar 142018
 

When of the reviews I got in my non compos cards shop was that they loved my cards a lot but wish there was more variety/types of cards. I get it, and I got you. I have several future plans in my head (especially for more Valentines, which are my favorites to make) but to start, I’m focusing on notecard sets. I’ve already posted the serial killer set (I’m working on set #2!), and a BTS set (next up is a Kpop assortment!), and last weekend I finished this divine Golden Girls set!

It features 8 cards, 2 for each G-Girl, featuring trademark sayings or funny one-liners from the series.

I wanted the backgrounds to be as Miami as possible, and I think these give off a good Golden Girls’ lanai vibe. Yay or nay?

That Sophia one up there says “May you put your dentures in upside down & chew your head off” and I can’t wait for the day I can say that to Henry!

I’d use glittery cardstock for all of our cards but Henry is like, “Not on my watch.”

 

These are great all-occasion cards! Perfect for when you want to tell your sister that she’s being a slut puppy or when you want to cheer up a co-worker through interoffice mail.

This one is my favorite.

Also the background reminds me of my grandparents’ bedroom. Hey speaking of my grandparents! Here’s a picture I found from probably 1987. I can look at this picture and tell you that for sure it was either a Friday or Saturday night because my sleepover routine was to take a shower, put on probably one of my aunt’s old classy beer t-shirts, then my aunt Sharon would wrap my hair in a towel and my grandma would scratch my back while we watched either Hunter if it was Friday or Golden Girls & Empty Nest if it was Saturday.

(Was MacGyver on Saturdays, too?)

Shit, I would give anything to go back to 1987 and sleep over my grandparents’ house one more time.

But yeah, all of this is just to say that like so many of you out there, I freaking cherish the Golden Girls. Making these cards was pretty therapeutic!

PERHAPS WRITING IN THEM WILL BE THERAPEUTIC FOR YOU! Here’s the link to buy a set!

Mar 062018
 

Whenever I wanna feel like 1996 Erin, sitting on my purple bedspread in my purple-carpeted room with my purple-foiled wallpaper and light sculptures, applying my too-dark lipstick while barely being able to see past my too-long bangs, checkin’ my pager that I had for no other reason than I was a rich suburban kid, I put on some Dean because something about his music and his voice particularly takes me all the way the fuck back to those days when I was 16 and nothing else mattered but listening to WAMO and writing in my journal and I didn’t have bills or real life drama other than the niggling fear that I might have worn the same Karl Kani hoodie twice that month OH LAWD NO.

All of this is to say I’m stressed the fuck out but I’ve been falling asleep to a Dean/K-Grooves playlist lately and it’s got me waking up feeling alright. Deep breaths, everyone. Exhale. Eat a fucking candy bar. Treat yourself. We got this.

Jan 192018
 

Perhaps you remember me whining last spring about how my good friend Lisa was moving to Idaho. Well, she moved to Idaho. And I have been missing her so much ever since! Even when she lived in Pittsburgh, she was really the only friend I talked to on the phone (LITERALLY TALKED TO ON THE TELEPHONE who even uses phones for talking anymore?!) so you would think that we would still talk fairly often even now that she’s gone and ditched the ‘Burgh, but those pesky time zones, man. Those pesky motherfucking time zones.

Ugh.

Luckily, she hasn’t completely forgotten me because I made the short list of people she wanted to see when she was back for a visit last week! She asked me about a month in advance if I was free on MLK day for dinner and I was like look if I wasn’t free, I’d make myself free! I mean, unless my prior plans were with G-Dragon. Then sorry, Lisa. We’ve seen enough of each other since high school, I’m sure we could skip this one time.

But sadly, I did not have prior plans with any beautiful Korean, so Lisa got lucky!

We met during a snow storm at Needle+Pin, which I had been wanting to try since it opened last year and Lisa was enthusiastically on board. It worked out for both of us because, since it’s Indian-English fusion, there are several vegetarian options, and it’s also one of only three gin bars in Pittsburgh and coincidentally Lisa has recently become a gin drinker.

Right off the bat, we had excellent rapport with not only the waitress, but the bartender as well, who came to our table to answer Lisa’s 1548452 questions about gin, while I was super low-maintenance and ordered the Blackberry Bramble simply because it sounded delicious and despite the fact that I’ve mostly avoided gin ever since my ex-boyfriend psycho Mike grabbed a bottle of it from my grandparents’ basement bar and got shit-faced on a hill in South Park in high school.

I just vomit-burped at the memory.

Anyway, the bartender–a sweet, young boy–praised my choice and I was so smug about that. Lisa had two different lemon-y gin drinks and was “meh” about both of them while openly coveting mine. It was so fucking good, you guys. And the best part was that the single, large ice cube slowly melted and mixed with the leftover blueberry syrup stuff at the bottom of my glass, so it was like the gin-gift that just kept gin-giving.

The ambiance and decor was just my style.

After the drink-ordering, we stressed over the food. The waitress broke my heart because they didn’t have the vegan bangers & mash that night, but the Tikka Masala I ordered was freaking delightful.

Lisa had ordering remorse again and it was just like old times.

And then I went back to 2008 and took this picture with my red Blackberry Curve. Here’s Lisa trying to steal some of my paneer.

Gin phone booth!

Lisa told me that on the plane to Pittsburgh, she was randomly sitting next to a man who started talking to her about he CS Lewis book she was reading and eventually she learned that he’s my second cousin Mike! His mom was my Pappap’s sister, and I haven’t seen him probably since I was 10 so I have very vague memories of him and that side of the family, however, Lisa said that the way he talked about my Pappap to her was exactly how I talk about him and I started crying right there over my Blackberry Bramble. Time has healed a lot but shit, I still cry about my Pappap A LOT.

A LOT, A LOT.

Overall, it was an emotional dinner. Ugh, it was so good to see her again and catch up!

MOVING OVER BY THE ELEPHANT FOR PICTURES WAS MY IDEA, OK!?

Lisa made me pose for this one and I hated every second of it. Payback for all the years of shoving my camcorder in her face I guess!

Before we left, we stopped at the bar and chatted some more with the bartender, who gave us straws and let us sample some gins. I think it’s safe to say that I will probably not be venturing out from the mixed gin drinks, but it was still fun to try and listen to him and Lisa nerd out about gin baths or whatever.

And then, just like that, the night was over, and I had to say goodbye to her all over again. Hopefully the next time I see her will be in Idaho. She was showing me pictures of where she and her family moved and it is definitely NOT Potatoville everywhere in Idaho, apparently!

Jan 072018
 

Remember the other day when I posted a sob story? I know, all my stories are of the sob genre, but specifically the post about how fucking cold it’s been here in Pittsburgh. Well, Saturday was still fucking cold.

I started the day with several walking workouts on YouTube since it’s just been too much to walk around the neighborhood in this weather (my Mexican taco cart boyfriend has probably forgotten me by now, ugh). And then I watched Goblin – it has taken me nearly a year to get through this drama because IT IS SO FUCKING SAD. It makes me ugly-cry so hard, it’s repulsive. Even more than This Is Us. But it is so, so, so good.

Henry rules.

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And then Henry made me this bubbling ramyun for lunch because HAVE I MENTIONED IT’S GODDAMN COLD OUT? Every year I swear that I won’t be that person who complains about the weather or points out the obvious but man, I will just never be OK with winter. Sorry all you winter stans.

After lunch, Henry had to go to the eye doctor and originally I was just going to stay home. But then I remembered that the eye place is very close to Century III Mall, and since Chooch and I haven’t been able to get in our nightly walks, I thought it would be fun to pose as elderly mall walkers. Because, if you’re from this area you already know — there ain’t much else to do at the near-defunct Century III Mall.

Henry dropped us off and I was shocked to see that since I was last there (less than a year ago), nearly every store had closed. I’m not being hyperbolic here, either. We walked through almost an entire wing before we finally came across something that was open — freaking Things Remembered, ugh that store is so lame.

One of my friends posted a few months ago that Italian Village Pizza, the last remaining joint in the food court, had closed. Chooch and I walked over to that side of the mall and it was actually really cold, obvious that it wasn’t even being heated anymore. And my favorite wing of the mall is now entirely off-limits: the steps and escalators are all blocked off.

I know I’m a super sentimental person, but I was shocked at how much this hurt. There was a pet store down there that my friend Rachael worked at and I would visit her there in high school. And then off to the right down there was Champ’s, where I would buy all of my Champion and Starter hoodies and coats (I was a yo-girl and dressed almost exclusively in JNCO & Karl Kani jeans and college sports sweatshirts, lol — I really liked Michigan for some reason?!). When I was in 9th grade, I befriended the cutest salesguy in that joint — Will. Ugh, he was so dreamy, and like probably in college. I remember my friends Jameelah & Erika also really liked him and would get so mad because he paid the most attention to me, and after I started dating my “first love” Justin, Will would always tell me that he wasn’t good enough for me. We used to talk on the phone sometimes too (my mom WAS NOT A FAN OF THIS) but I realized later that he probably just liked me as a little sister and truly did look out for me, which was pretty awesome now that I’m old enough to see it for what it was.

I tried to regale Chooch with some of my memories, like how the dark, cobblestoned portion of the bottom floor had a shop called the Pittsburgh Store and it’s where I would get all of my stickers. “I collected stickers and had like 87 sticker books,” I told Chooch.

“Of course you did,” he sighed.

And how there was a Dairy Queen back there too, where Keri and I would always stop for refreshments on one of our ritual Friday night mall lurks. (I would always get the tropical flavored one.) And how one time we were accused of shoplifting at the Claire’s in the now-closed wing of the mall, and of course we proved that we didn’t do it but I couldn’t get the bitch manager to apologize so Keri’s mom called the mall and flipped her shit on them.

There was actually only one time in my whole life that I shoplifted, and it was when I was like 4 or 5 years ago. My mom and I were in some kitchen store on the second floor of that mall and I walked out with two magnets made out of peanut shells, and then felt so terrible when I realized what I did that I cried all night and never did that again.

But honestly, I practically lived at that mall from 7th to 10th grade. In 8th grade, I’d get dropped off every Friday night with the hopes of seeing SCOTT DAMBAUGH, who I was desperately crushing on. Even Henry knows the Dambaugh lore.

To be honest, that mall started going downhill back in the 90s when it was first sold and renovated. It was “modernized,” which basically just means they took out all of the cool parts, like the stage area that was outside of Kaufmann’s (Richard Simmons performed there once!). And the smaller third floor area was pretty much just left to die, and that has always pained me because that’s where my favorite music shop was (Waves — I bought what feels like a million dollars-worth of cassingles from that place), where my friend Liz and I “accidentally” lost the French foreign exchange student who was staying with my family during the summer of ’92, and where the best arcade was (the mall had two back then). It was also where one of my first memories originates, it’s super unclear, but I remember my Pappap and me walking around the mall a lot when I was really young, like pre-school age. And there was a…OK bear with me because I just tried to tell Henry this story and he looked at me with question marks undulating around his furry brows. How to even start this. There was a department store on that side of the mall – I thought it was Gimbles but Henry was all THAT WAS ON THE SIDE WHERE THE MEXICAN RESTAURANT IS NOW. Maybe it was Hornes then? It doesn’t matter. All that matters was that on the wall outside of it, next to the entrance, there were buttons. I never knew what they were for, but it was like a ritual for me to push them every time. And the one was brown so I would pretend that every time I pushed it, coffee was being made.

I started to remember this when I was an older kid, and when I brought it up to my Pappap he was like, “Bitch you cray” and when I started hanging out at the mall later in life with friends, I actively tried to find those buttons and no one ever knew what the hell I was talking about.

Also, the third floor used to have this super cute It’a A Small World-esque Christmas display AND NO ONE REMEMBERS THAT EITHER. Please, dear god, if you’re from Pittsburgh and have any clue what I’m going on about, PLEASE COMMENT AND VALIDATE ME.

Oh man, I just now had a recollection of buying Billy Ocean’s greatest hits for myself at Waves, and as the cashier rang me up, I turned to my friend Christy and shouted, “SUSIE IS REALLY GOING TO LIKE THIS CD” because I didn’t want the guy to know it was for me, and it’s hilarious to me that I even once cared about what someone would think about my musical persuasions!

Or going to National Record Mart when I was in third grade because I wanted to buy the T’Pau record but all I knew was that I liked the song “Heart & Soul.” When the clerk asked me who the artist was, all I could say was, “I don’t know. She looks like Tracey Ullman.” OMG AND GOING TO KAUFMANN’S TO BUY CONCERT TICKETS!

UGH AND POGS!!!!!!

Other memories I have of the mall are, pre-vegetarianism, skulking around Hickory Farms for the free kielbasi samples; eating at Alby’s Big Boy as a kid and falling into the dark hole of penpalling thanks to the penpal section of the kids menu (I WAS EVEN FEATURED ONCE!!!!!); getting all of my film developed, with doubles!, at Ritz Camera; meeting some of the Penguins at an event there after they won their first Stanley Cup (Phil Bourque and Peter Taglianetti were definitely two of them, but I’d have to find my old pictures to remember who else was there); playing the Simpsons arcade game with my brother Ryan; GETTING THE WORST HAIR CUT OF MY LIFE AT SOME SALON THAT’S NOT THERE ANYMORE THANKS MOM; Taco Tina’s.

I’ve still been going to that mall a handful of times a year, because it still has Hot Topic and Journeys. But now Journeys is gone too! I hope that my Dance Gavin Dance friend Sam got to relocate to a different Journeys. :(

On this particular afternoon, it was pretty much just me, Chooch, some elderly people, and a kid pretending to be a zombie. Chooch wanted new shoes and that was a struggle considering 90% of the stores are closed and JC Penney is the only department store left. But we eventually found a cool pair of red ADIDAS at Champs (in a new location). And they were majorly on sale too because the mall was sold to UPMC and all the remaining stores are just waiting for their leases to run out, I guess. I mean, even Spencer’s is gone. Does a mall even exist without a Spencer’s?

Free carousel ride ftw!

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Inexplicably, what the mall DOES have is a beautiful double-decker carousel that’s managed to last for several years now. Chooch and I naturally wanted to ride it but my credit card wasn’t swiping properly so the ride operator graciously let us ride for free!

“ARE WE GOING UPSTAIRS?!” I cried, and of course Chooch answered yes so we clobbered up the steps and picked our animals.

The ride operator waved to us every time we rotated past her, and I waved back the first few times but then just pretended like I didn’t notice after that because it was getting to be too much.

After this, we went to Penney’s, because we still hadn’t reached 10,000 steps (we got Chooch a Fitbit for Christmas and he and I are “healthy” competitors). I was about to try on some slutty jeans when Henry texted and said, “Don’t buy anything.”

Um, OK, control freak.

“Especially not stupid, overpriced red shoes.”

I showed Chooch and we both looked at each other like, “WHAT HOW WHY.” I figured he probably got a text notification that I purchased something from Champs because ever since we had our account hacked several years ago, Henry gets notified for every last purchase just in case.

“Or merry-go-round rides.”

OK, for sure I figured he probably just saw our picture on Instagram, but I wasn’t sure how he knew that we bought red shoes. Then he asked where we were and after I said “Penneys” he appeared behind us LIKE A FUCKING CREEPER. Turns out, he had been in the mall for a minute because he had to go to the Verizon store, and on his way there, he walked past us just as we were getting on the carousel. He even mimicked me saying, “ARE WE GOING UPSTAIRS?!” Lol! I was like, “OMG were you so proud to know us?!” and he said no, that he hung his head in shame and hurried past us before we saw him.

WOW, RUDE.

Henry said the first thing he noticed was that Chooch was wearing brand new bright red shoes hahaha.

So that took up pretty much the whole afternoon.

I spent some time in the evening making some new Kpop cards, and then later we had family KpopX night! THIS IS MY FAVORITE NIGHT! HENRY DOESN’T EVEN TRY!

We finished the night by watching an old Running Man episode featuring IU, so I had my tea in an IU cup. It was a good day. I mean, it was cold as fuck. But it was good.

Nov 062017
 

No spoilers here I promise but we finished Stranger Things last week and I am 100% on the Steve Harrington bandwagon, NO FUCKS GIVEN.

Steve, I’m sorry I wanted you to die so badly in the first season.

The biggest reason that I like him so much is that, now that he’s had a chance to grow as a character in this new season and redeem himself (although let’s never forget about how he slandered Nancy!!!), he reminds me a lot of my favorite character from one of the BEST 80’s MOVIES OF ALL TIME, The Monster Squad. If you’ve seen it, you already know that I’m talking about RUDY.

  1. Too cool-high schooler chillin’ with monster-fighting middle school dorks? Check.
  2. Bitchin’ hair? Check.
  3. Total dick most of the time? Check.
  4. Memorable one-liners? Check.

I’m kind of surprised that Stranger Things in general, especially season 2, hasn’t drawn more Monster Squad comparisons.

When I was in high school, my brother Ryan and I named our pet rabbit after Rudy. Clearly I need to get another rabbit and name him Steve Harrington.

NO: STEVE HAREINGTON, OMGOMG.

Jun 092017
 

Well, it finally happened. Lisa made good on her threat to leave me and took her whole family to Idaho on Wednesday.

FOREVER.

UGH!!

She had a going away thing on Saturday at Rock Bottom. The whole time I was like DONT CRY. DONT YOU DARE CRY, ERIN. But then she hugged me as Henry and I were on our way out and my eyes started sweating, probably an allergic reaction to the strange beer concoction I let the bartender sell me, and not at all because EVERYONE LEAAAAAAVEEEESSSSS MEEEEEE.

I think the last thing I said to her was “I hate you.”

</3

So I decided that instead of dwelling on the Great Betrayal, I would make this a happy hop down memory lane, or whatever.

Lisa and I have technically known each other since 6th grade (199-You shut your damn mouth) but only had one middle school interaction (during the 8th grade Halloween dance when she threatened to kick my ass after I had a fight with my ex-bff who she also happened to be friends with) before becoming legit besties in high school.

She’s also the only person who has been able to break through my anti-hug barrier, as seen in the picture above. It took a lot of violence to get to where we are now, hugging freely and without force.

I just had a random memory of the time I had a Pampered Chef party (HENRY MADE ME DO IT) and when the Pampered Chef lady asked everyone how they knew me, Lisa said we met when we were working the same corner.  I think she and I were the only people who laughed at that.

Anyway, the above picture is from the first night in my first apartment in 1998 when we were all 18-year-old babies! AKA THE GOOD OL’ TIMES.

Lisa and I have a very strange love for the classic rock band .38 Special. Don’t ask. (No seriously, please ask me so that I can direct you to this wonderful essay of Lisa and my strange love for the classic rock band .38 Special!)

The above photo is from the one time we went to see them in 1997 at the Rostraver Ice Garden. I look like I have no hair, but I had recently undergone a very terrible hair shearing at the hands of some Borics follicle assassin. (I had a stylist at a real salon, but Lisa and I were at Borics with her friend Kim who was just getting a trim so wasn’t worried of the outcome, and I was strong-armed into getting my hair cut too but BORICS CAN’T DO LAYERS, YALL. So I wore a silk scarf* around my head for the first two weeks and then spent an additional month pulling what remained of my hair back in a crappy ponytail.)

*(Not to be confused with the time I got braces in fifth grade and wrapped a silk scarf around my face like the Invisible Man for a whole week.


Back then, Lisa was my ultimate haunted house partner. Sometimes we would hit up 3 different ones in a night! This is us at Castle Blood, and note that my hair still had not grown back.

We hung out at Denny’s so much that our favorite waitress Maryanne carried our senior pictures in her wallet. She was the best. (The Denny’s in the valley was always preferred over the one on the hill.) Anyway, this was taken the night of Evan’s art show at CMU, which was one of the best nights I had that year, but don’t let Lisa’s bored face tell you otherwise.

I think this was from 1996. The same year our crew tricked Lisa into going to see ICP and she slipped on the Faygo-coated steps of Club Laga. OH MEM’RIES!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lisa moved to Colorado for a while after undergrad, but we always hung out when she was home for a visit. Here we are one summer in 2007 when I still had most of my pregnancy weight a full year later, go me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lisa with a teething, slobbery Chooch.

And then I was tired of looking through old photos because I have no attention span and nostalgia makes me sad AF.

Anyway, all sadness and self-pity aside, I’m excited for Lisa and her family and hope that their new adventure is everything they want it to be, even though it means that Pittsburgh loses. WOE IS ME!

****

Full disclosure: I didn’t know where Idaho was until Thursday night. I was texting with Lisa and asked her how far they made it so far on the drive to their new home. She said Minnesota and I thought, “Wtf—why did they drive past Idaho?”

So I felt inspired to look at a map, a good old-fashioned (Google) map. WOW, I had no idea Idaho was all the way over there! I thought it was in the middle.

Well, at least now Henry has a reason to take me on that cross-country roadtrip I’ve been dying to do thanks to my handy Roadside America app!

Mar 202017
 

When I had some old friends over last week, we were talking about my penchant for picking up hitchhikers—it was honestly like a sport for me. I would go out for drives specifically to look for them, like some bizarre reverse serial killer, like a fisheman who throws the fish back into the sea. 

I even have pictures of some of them because I ALWAYS had my 35mm camera with me back then. 

But one of the other things I used to do with 

  • wanton abandon, 
  • complete disregard for my safety, 
  • literally no forethought, 

was invite perfect strangers off the street and into my house every time I was having a party. 

I mean, this all ended after I started dating Henry (although I still got a few blind dates in there before he made me stop), but I had a really great run. I even briefly dated one of my street invitees!

But specifically, Sarah and I were talking about the time I had a party in 2000 because The Cure was nominated for a Grammy. (I like having parties, ok?)

Of course I had my trusty Canon and took a bunch of pictures of my friends who were tired of having their pictures taken. 

I found the roll of undeveloped film a few years later, after misplacing it, and when I had it developed, I discovered amongst the shots of friends at my Cure celebration party, a picture of a guy I didn’t recognize. 

I figured he must have been a friend of a friend, but when I showed the picture to my brother Corey, who was there that night, he said, “No! That’s that guy you called in from the street!”

And he went on to say that I flung myself out of the front door like I was known to do when I spotted someone passing by my web, I MEAN, HOUSE. I allegedly called this bro up to my front door and asked him if he wanted to come inside and celebrate the Cure’s Grammy nomination, and he said he was going to the gas station to buy cigarettes, but he would come back. 

So the story goes. 

And everyone was all, “LOL yeah, he’s not coming back, Erin. You fucking freak.”

BUT THEN HE CAME BACK. 

AND I HAVE A PIC SO IT HAPPENED. 

I honestly barely remember this and I remember almost everything so I must have had a lot to drink that night. But Sarah said she remembers this and she was there that night, so. 

I wonder if that guy remembers that night, if he ever tells people about the weird girl who practically chased him down the street until he promised to come to her party. I wonder if he even likes The Cure??

This concludes my story. 

(And no, The Cure did not win a Grammy. ㅠㅠ)

Mar 022017
 

Today for Throwback Thursday, I’m going to tell you the story of the picture of my imaginary cousin that has been on my desk at work for like, 5 years. Occasionally, someone stops and asks me who it is, so I guess here is a key to unlock a piece of my work desk of oddities. ENJOY YOURSELF.

****

It was kismet that we ended up having to go out to Tarentum, PA that Saturday.

“This place looks familiar. Have I been here before?” I innocently asked Henry.

When he said yes, it was all angry-sounding. I thought it was just because he was annoyed to be driving us out there, but then I later realized that it was a town where some dude who tried to steal me from Henry lived. No wonder Henry was so put-out.

After spending some time in Blackburn’s Pharmacy taking pictures of the cabinet full of old fashioned apothecary relics and getting asked constantly if we wanted to tour the showroom full of toilet seat raisers and walkers, we found Henry and Chooch emerging from some mysterious, dusty store with no name.

“What’s in there?” I asked.

“Stuff you’ll hate,” Henry murmured, tugging at his blue-collar while struggling to think of a word to play on Words With Friends.

Wanting to be my own judge, I shouldered past him and entered this horrible variety store that stank of hoarder’s perspiration, moldy newspapers and a flea market in a thunderstorm on a humid July morning.

“Told you,” Henry sighed behind me.  But Chooch and Andrea had already been engulfed by the store’s innards, so I inhaled deeply (and immediately regretted it) and followed them into the bowels of the store, snagging myself on the old, rusty store shelves and praying that I didn’t wind up with tetanus. (I never realized that “anus” is in “tetanus.” I will now be thinking of that all day. And possibly drawing pictures.)

And then Andrea found a table of horribly tacky shoes in nauseating shades of orange and yellow, manufactured specifically for women to wear when visiting their men in the Joliet slammer.

I thought for sure Andrea would gravitate toward these jaundiced disco stripper boots, but she surprised me by snatching up a pair of Pee Wee shoes for nurses.

“You’re not really buying those, are you?” I asked, full of disapproval.

“Um, yeah!” she said. “They’re only $10!”

I don’t know, you guys; I feel like she got ripped off. They’re so stupid! Still, I was so worried she was going to forget to take them back to California with her. One less dumb pair of shoes in Pennsylvania!

I’m sad I didn’t see anyone wearing this when I was in Tennessee. I had “Baby, Baby” stuck in my head for at least an hour after touching this.

Chooch and Andrea went off on their own and god only knows where Henry was — looking through bins of 1968 cookbooks and garden tools, probably — and that’s when it happened. I was walking down a cluttered aisle, half expecting that junk lady-troll from Labyrinth to come popping out with a handful of marbles and empty Spam tins for sale, when an image struck me in my periphery.

“Oh how cute,” I thought to myself. “A picture frame company that’s actually using intentionally funny stock photos!” I snatched one out of the cardboard box they were stashed in all haphazardly, and that’s when I realized that it was not actually a man dressed as a young girl on the day of her dance recital, but actually a young girl dressed as herself on the day of her dance recital.

Almost immediately, I found myself futilely fending off pee drops. I ran around the store, kicking up 85 year old dust and the stench of mothballs in my wake, until I found Chooch and Andrea.

“LOOK AT THIS,” I panted. “I’m getting it.”

And because they’re assholes like me, they both immediately laughed and gave my sweet find a giant thumbs up.

I ran back to look at the price and was shocked to find that it was only $1 (ONE DOLLAR).

For this gem? A buck? What a steal!

I ran past the giant collection of machetes and found Henry near the register, ready to buy a bottle of Mountain Dew.

“Here, you need to buy this, too,” I said all breathlessly, thrusting the boxed frame into Henry’s belly.

He looked at it and smirked. “You’re not serious,” he said in his Father Tone.

Of course he wouldn’t think it was funny. He doesn’t “get” things like this.

It was only supposed to be $1, remember, but the cashier charged him $2. He got all crotchety about this but I hissed, “Pay the broad, it’s worth it!”

***

I couldn’t wait to display it with pride on my desk that Monday, right in front of my kid’s picture and beautifully flanking my fangirl photo of Jonny Craig. I laughed every time someone would tentatively ask, “So…who’s that in the picture?” clearly wondering what side of my family bears Hispanic Amy Winehouse doppelgangers.

Most of my co-workers jumped on my wagon and a mutual appreciation for the awkward dancer was born. Of course there were a few people who said, “I don’t get it…” They can just go sit on a curb somewhere with Henry, drinking Mountain Dew and being boring and humorless.

Every time I feel sad or stressed at work, I look over my shoulder and laugh all over again. I’m so glad Andrea was here to experience this wonder with me. Andrea and her stupid shoes.