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.”

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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!

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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!

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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.

Feb 232017
 


If you’ve ever spent any decent amount of time with Henry and me, odds are you have seen him look like this, which I call the Please God, I’ve Cried ‘Uncle’ 87 Times, Take Me Away mode. 

This particular picture was taken in 2003 when Blake & Robbie (then pre-teens!) were in the car and we were screaming at people out the window until henry eventually rolled them up and locked them. :(

It hasn’t gotten any better, 14 years later. Now he’s got me and Chooch screaming like asshole lunatics. 

I love this picture. Anytime I make Henry look like this, where it appears his bandana’d spirit is trying to vacate his body, I consider that a huge success. 

Moments where he may find him in this meditative state:

  • When I decide I don’t like a certain vegetable anymore after he’s bought like, a bushel of it
  • Just now when he tried to take a blanket and I wrapped my legs around it because all I want to do is play games so he gave up and will sleep in the cold 
  • Watching me butter bread
  • During my intense apple phase
  • When Chooch loses another house key
  • When Chooch and I fight over control of Spotify in the car
  • When Chooch and I think we’re talking about people discreetly but….no. 
  • When Chooch and I tag along to the grocery store/Home Depot/the flea market/his work
  • The entire 8 years I obsessed over Jonny Craig
  • Anytime Christina comes back in the picture
  • Every concert ever
  • When Kara sends me some ludicrous auction full of old bumper cars
  • When Kara points out another clown picture I need for my collection and then it comes home with me
  • When Chooch won’t shut the door
Dec 302016
 

Picture it:

The year was 1999.

A hot July evening.

I was 19.

It had been about 6 months since I quit my job at stupid EchoStar, and my old co-worker Roniece wanted to catch up. The problem was that Roniece was over 21 and she didn’t want to go to Eat n Park for a motherfucking milkshake, you know? Her plan was to go to a strip club. Some male strip club in Braddock, one of the less savory neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.

This sounded like A Great Idea to me. I mean, this was back when I used to spray paint my feet gold, so most ideas sounded like great ideas to me.

My friend Keri wanted to join us, and now it was really starting to feel like a legit party. So on this hot summer evening in 1999, Keri and I drove to Roniece’s house in McKeesport, where Keri got stung by a bee and that’s how I found out that my friend of approx. 10 years was allergic to bees. Roniece’s grandma performed some old housewives’ miracle and Keri was healed, but that’s a story for another time because I only want to talk about myself right now.

THIS STORY IS ABOUT ME.

Before we left Roniece’s, she pulled out a fat blunt and this back when I was dumb and did stupid things like pop pills full of Ephedrine and starve myself for days because So Fat, Such Chunk. So Keri was all, “JUST SO NO” but I was all, “GIMME DAT” and thus started the night out on a high note.

OH….!

Now we were ready. Roniece wanted to go to a bar beforehand and I pulled my pockets inside out, like “Hello, no fake ID.” But Roniece just laughed and promised me that Keri and I wouldn’t get carded where she was taking us….

…which was the diviest bar that ever dove on some pot-hole ridden side street in Duquesne. We had to park in an alley, and go in through a suspiciously plain door on the side of a building that had no name, no windows.

“Just be cool. Don’t draw attention to us and ya’ll will be fine,” Roniece prepped our underage asses before entering The Bar.

Motown wafted out as soon as we pulled back the door; the bar inside was small and non-descript, not even the tiniest hint of saloon aesthetic. It was all over-flowing ashtrays and varying shades of brown. The patrons were older, urban, and all-around unenthused at the prospect of sharing their sacred space with a bunch of youngins. Keri and I got a few quick side-eyes as we sat down at the bar, but everyone quickly went back to staring into their beers while we giddily shared a pitcher of Long Island iced teas with Roniece.

Thank god I can’t remember how cool we must have thought we were, sitting at some sticky bar, drinking amateur cocktails in the company of legit sad sacks hiding from their wives.

I started digging around in my purse.

“What are you doing?” Keri asked suspiciously. Homegirl had been my friend since elementary school and was well-versed in my shady ways. My every movement was a cause for concern in her eyes.

“Just looking for some change so I can request a song on the jukebox,” I answered happily, because Long Island iced teas.

Armed with quarters, I went over to the jukebox and assessed the situation. Clinked in a quarter, punched in the numbers, went back to the bar.

“What did you play,” Roniece asked, right as the SEXY SAX INTRO of “Careless Whisper” cut through the thick swirls of cigarette smoke and regret.

You know that scene in Adventures in Babysitting where the suburban kids infiltrate a blues club? And everyone immediately stops talking because disgusted glares work better in a quiet room? That’s what happened on this night, in this bar, in this dilapidated part of town.

Every last bloodshot eyeball was focused on me, the giddy white bitch who skipped-to-her-lou into their bar and polluted their nicotine-curtained air with George Michael’s oozing sex appeal.

Keri covered her face.

“What? It’s Careless Whisper,” I said.

“Yeah, I know what it is!” Keri snapped and went back to shielding her face from the scowls attacking us from every angle. 

Roniece threw her head back and let out a huge laugh. “Girl! I told you to be cool!”

And I’m like, “But this is fucking George Michael, man!” Literally I had no idea what I did wrong, because anytime I hear that song, it always felt so right.

SO VERY RIGHT.

We left after a second pitcher of Long Island iced tea, and before I had a chance to request any other tracks from the Carlton Banks Greatest Hits mixtape.

This next part has nothing to do with George Michael, but it does have to do with the moment I died.

We arrived at whatever that goddamn strip club was called in Braddock, but it wasn’t open yet. I remember standing inside the vestibule while Roniece spoke with someone inside, and suddenly I wasn’t feeling right. I stepped back outside to get some air, and the next thing I knew, I was going down, but Ke$ha wasn’t around yet to yell timber.

This next part happened while I was dead.

(Because I swear to you, I was dead. I had done DIED on that sidewalk outside of Sleazy Braddock Stripperie.)

It was Christmas and I was little again! My Pappap was there. We were on the big porch, which is where most of the Christmases were celebrated throughout my childhood. I remember being overcome by extreme happiness and warmth (and most importantly – toys). I was engulfed in one of my greatest childhood memories!

SO THIS WAS HEAVEN.

And then I heard my aunt Sharon calling my name.

Erin Erin Erin.

Over and over.

And then I saw A BRIGHT WHITE LIGHT.

It doesn’t get any more textbook than that.

I was dead.

But the sound of my aunt’s voice brought me back.

Granted, it was Keri and Roniece who were screaming my name into my face, and the bright white light was the streetlight above me. BUT STILL.

Friend has near-death experience on street in a dangerous part town: that’s a pretty big party foul. Keri grabbed my car keys and dropped Roniece off at home. Then we stopped at a gas station in McKeesport where she bought a loaf of bread through a bullet-proof window, the bread was to soak up the poison in my stomach. And then she took me home where three more of our friends came over and babysat me in shifts.

And this is one of the reasons why Keri’s mom absolutely hated me. I was “too much drama” apparently. Like, who? Me!? No, not me.

A few days later, Roniece called to check in on me, and she admitted that maybe, perhaps, possibly there was a slight chance that the blunt she gave me was laced. That in addition to my so chic eating disorder, diet pill addiction and Long Island iced tea dinner was probably enough to stop my fucking heart. But what do I know!? I turned into a walking billboard for Just Say No after that.

Every time we go to Kennywood, I love to point out the little turn-around on the side of a road in West Mifflin where Keri had to swerve the car so I could puke up all my regrets on the way home.

***

“And so that’s what I think of whenever I hear George Michael,” I said in conclusion to this very personal tale at work on the Tuesday after George Michael’s death.

“What, your poor judgment?” Glenn mumbled.

WHATEVER GLENN, I LOVE THIS STORY.

Dec 182016
 

Henry just now broke the news to me that Zsa Zsa Gabor has passed away. My obsession with her started in 5th grade. I wrote about it during one of the Blogathon things I participated in, so please excuse me as I repost that in her beautiful Hungarian honor.

RIP you mahhhvelous broad.

****

When I Played Zsa Zsa Gabor

July 31, 2010

“You probably don’t know who Zsa Zsa Gabor is, do you?” Barb asked me the other day, having just read of Zsa Zsa’s bone-breakage upon falling out of bed.

“Oh, DO I!” I exclaimed, swiveling around in my chair.

In fifth grade, we had to get into interview/interviewee groups. I have no idea what we were studying that made this a necessary assignment, but I was in a group with my friend Spring and some asshole bitch whose name isn’t even worth mentioning (the same one who years later went on to befriend Henry’s ex-wife!).

Everyone else in the class chose normal people to role-play with, like one girl was Debbie Gibson and the interviewer asked her questions about her new perfume, Electric Youth. Someone was a skateboarder. Another boy was a weatherman. Normal fifth grade character studies!

Me? I was Zsa Zsa Gabor. My Aunt Sharon swore it would be a hit. “Either her, or you could be Imelda Marcos!” I had no idea who either of them were, but Sharon found me a shoulder-padded sequined blouse and a blond wig, so it was decided that I would be Zsa Zsa. Spring was the interviewer, and The Bitch was the cop who received Zsa Zsa’s backhand. That was the big thing in celebrity news at that time.

The Bitch was perfect for the role as the cop, because she was portly and looked like Chief Wiggums from The Simpsons.

I didn’t know much about Zsa Zsa. Sharon told me to just keep splaying out my hand and saying “Dahhhhling” over and over.

It was a train wreck. No one in the class understood who we were supposed to be, except for Mrs. Madden who was behind the camcorder failing at stifling her laughs.

Somewhere, I have a copy of this disaster on VHS. Maybe one day if I find it, I’ll find a way to put it online so everyone can laugh at my visible discomfort of playing the role of some old Hungarian stranger that no under the age of 40 knew back then, and then dance around in a ring of schadenfreude.

“You’re a very interesting young lady,” Barb said after I told her this story. Interesting is not the word Henry and Alisha would use.

Dec 122016
 

A lot of the stuff in my house looks like junk. Like the random rock on my mantel, or the 16-year-old orange Starburst in my freezer (it’s survived two fridge upgrades!), the $2 Last Supper portrait in my bathroom, or the tiny stuffed hippo on top of my bedroom dresser. There’s my Christmas tree topper that I cut from a flimsy baking tin that everyone always tells me I should throw away, and the tiny bottle of teeth in my curio.

But there’s a story behind everything. And that’s why I keep things that Henry would prefer I threw out, put back outside, burned, or buried.

There’s one random thing that looks almost too normal and basic to be in here, a bluebird tea light that guides the way to the bathroom when I have parties. The kind of object that no one would be able to imagine me walking into a store and purchasing with my own cash money. When I was putting a candle in it on Saturday, I started to laugh to myself because it’s a tangible souvenir from the time I was invited to a Mormon women’s dinner at their church in Greentree, back when I was taking a creative non-fiction writing class at Pitt and had to choose a stranger to interview for an assignment.

I picked the Mormon missionary who had swung by my house once on a solicitation basis, in her long, stiff wool skirt.

This one dumb ceramic bird is a symbol of extreme emotional discomfort, pushing myself out of my comfort zone* in order to write something completely different for me, back when I used to actually care about my writing and didn’t just blog from the WordPress app on my phone, crossing my fingers that the typos would be minimal, but also not giving enough shits to go back and proofread. My Pitt writing professors would be so fucking proud to see me now. #washedup

*(Back then, anything that involved me leaving the house was me “pushing myself out of my comfort zone.”)

Every once in a while, I catch of glimpse of this damn bird, and I feel really proud that I opened myself up to that strange experience, that instead of hiding from someone going door-to-door in a Jesus skirt, I sought her out and tried to understand why she does missionary work, and my reward for that was this blue bird…and an A on my paper. Duh. It also makes me think of how much has changed since then, when I was going to college to become someone that everyone said I should be, not who I wanted to be.

One stupid little candle holder, but so much sentimental value! DEEP THOUGHTS FOR A MONDAY.