Jan 102023
 

When I was digging through photo boxes in search of good shots of my Pappap’s house to use for my Christmas present project, I found these that I must have taken in the 90s on one of my last trips to Europe with Sharon.

I’m mildly amazed at the amateur photojournalistic quality of them (minus that broad’s hand cameo in the left-hand corner, lol). Most of my old vacation pictures are such trash, especially the earlier trips when I was 9-11 and taking pictures of castles from a bus window. I can’t believe my grandparents actually paid to get that shit developed (and got doubles?!). These must be from Italy, but I can’t remember from where or when.

LOOK AT THAT BROAD!!! I need to frame this. It’s too good to not be in a frame. That lady must have been such an icon.

There was this one night in particular where I can remember having a huge fight with Sharon and screaming, “I’M GOING OUT WITH SOME OF THE PEOPLE FROM THE GROUP AND YOU CAN JUST STAY HERE IN THE ROOM AND ROT!” because she was such a stick in the mud when it came to socializing with other people on the tour with us, but I think that was a night from the last trip she and I took together (the ONE WITH STEFAN LOL) and I’m also pretty sure we were in Lucerne when I went off with some of the other people and I felt like an actual grown-up. (I think I was probably 17.)

Sometimes it’s surreal to me when I come across these old pictures or have a quick flashback of some vignette from a foreign city. It was so long ago but also feels like no time has passed. I’m eternally grateful that I was given these opportunities to explore such beautiful, historical places as a kid, but I would definitely prefer to experience it again now as an adult, with Henry and Chooch. Sharon was…oof.

(Oh, I’m sure there will still be fighting, though lol.)

Jan 042023
 

NO ONE ASKED, but I’m doing it anyway because my life is dreary and rollercoasterless right now.

You guys, riding roller coasters has been like, therapy-adjacent for me over the last several years.  It is maybe the most dorkiest thing I have going on and I truthfully do not give a single shit because falling down the rabbit hole of coaster manufacturers and CoasterTube has been SO MUCH FUN and truly elevated the experience of riding roller coasters in general. Like, before my first ride on T-Express at Everland in 2018, I was a casual coaster rider at best. I was definitely more into dark and flat rides.

I can’t believe that prior to 2018, I had no idea what Rocky Mountain Construction was. OR EVEN B&M. I don’t even think I knew who manufactured Steel Phantom/Phantom’s Revenge, let alone knowing that there were TWO manufacturers!

And just like Kpop, this is something that we all enjoy as a family (well….Chooch is not so into Kpop anymore but still likes Korea in general).

2022 was full of so many coasters, and new-to-us parks, too! Henry and I even went to parks just the two of us numerous times too, like on a date kind of! (Kennywood 3x, Cedar Point, Waldameer.)

Before I get into the coasters, here’s a list of all the parks we went to in 2022:

  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  • Seaworld Orlando
  • Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
  • Busch Gardens Tampa
  • Fun Spot Orlando
  • Fun Spot Kissimmee
  • Carowinds
  • Kennywood (at least 7x I feel like?)
  • Cedar Point (3x)
  • Six Flags New England
  • Waldameer
  • Michigan’s Adventure
  • Sylvan Beach
  • Morey’s Piers
  • Six Flags Great Adventure
  • Hershey
  • Mt. Olympus
  • Six Flags Great America
  • Dollywood

I *think* that’s all of them!

And now for my Top Coaster Experiences of the year! I’m considering the whole entire experience, not just “wow this is the greatest coaster ever” because if we’re being honest, Steel Vengeance is probably still my #1 coaster but EVERY EXPERIENCE TRYING TO RIDE THE FUCKER HAS BEEN MISERABLE. First of all, it’s located in one of the busiest parks in the country so the wait time is always absurd. Second, it’s a maintenance nightmare. Almost EVERY SINGLE TIME WE HAVE BEEN IN LINE FOR THIS, IT HAS BROKEN DOWN.

So no, Steel Vengeance will not be on this list. And it really breaks my heart!!

In no particular order, other than maybe the order in which they were ridden, here is my list with POVs!!

  1. Pantheon – Busch Gardens Williamsburg: I literally tried to tell this story to anyone who would listen when we came back from the trip. My mom totally cut me off when I tried talking about it the night we had cake for Chooch’s birthday because I guess she thinks this shit is so boring, lol. BUT NOT YOU, BLOG. Anyway, Pantheon had only been open for about a month when we rode it and you might think, “You ran all the way to this ride, almost passed out, only to be told it was down for testing and then proceeded to wait for 2 hours in line waiting for it to open, how was this a good experience?” IT.JUST.WAS. It made that first ride (first train of the day, front row!) so much more meaningful and memorable. We became pals with the ride ops, shared knowing laughs with the other people in line with us, collected inside jokes like Pokemon. It was such a highlight of our spring break trip and the coaster itself is PHENOMENAL. There is nothing else like it.

2. MAKO – Sea World OrlandoYou guys is this my favorite hyper? I DON’T KNOW, MAYBE?!!? Hilariously, we thought this was Chooch’s 150th or 200th (I forget) coaster but of course his spreadsheet was wrong and it ended up being some kid coaster, lol. Anyway, this is making the list because toward the end of the night, the ride attendants let us stay on for like 3x in a row (and we probably could have cycled this even longer but dumb Henry was waiting for us off-ride because it was time to leave ugh).

3. VELOCICOASTER – UNIVERSAL: Yeah, this is a top 5 / top 3 coaster for me, fam. It is pretty much flawless. The queue was LIKE A WELL-OILED MACHINE, it kept people moving through so smoothly. The locker system? Mwah. The theming? Perfection. THE RIDE ITSELF? MIND-BLOWING. This was one of the coasters I was legit worried about when planning this trip because I thought for sure the lines would be out of control, but the longest we waited for this was probably 45 minutes. We rode it MULTIPLE times, front row, back row, in the morning, afternoon, night. Every single ride was ridiculous. Speechless. Believe the hype.

4. Iron Gwazi – Busch Gardens Tampa: Our spring break trip was really so fucking hype, I still think about it all of the time, especially this RMC MASTERPIECE. Ask me on a certain day and I might just say that this is my favorite coaster, not Steel Vengeance. (Actually, it’s neither of them because something changed for me this year and we will get to that shortly!) This coaster blew my mind. I can’t even explain it but I want to make a pilgrimage to Idaho and kneel at the feet of everyone inside the RMC headquarters. Honestly. It’s crazy because this POV looks like it runs so slow but in actuality it feels like this thing is trying to fucking kill you. Like, it has no right to do the shit it does.

5. Great White – Morey’s Piers: You guys. Riding an iconic wooden coaster that literally goes out over the beach in Wildwood, while Morey’s Piers is closed to the general public, and the only light is courtesy of the fucking moon? Uh, yes this is going to make it in my Top Whatever List of 2022. SUCH A VIBE.

6. El Toro – Six Flags Great Adventure:  Our luck with El Toro has been awful but three times was definitely the charm last August when we went to Great Adventure and FINALLY got to ride this. NUMEROUS TIMES. Honestly? This coaster was not even running to its potential* but it was STILL a crazy-good experience. Painful? OH FUCK YEAH. I had a wicked bruise on my elbow for days after. But true coaster psychopaths ride this bitch. The ride ops are fucking nuts. The station is CHAOS. Every fucking moment I spent on this thing was an experience. I will never ever ever forget the madness of musical seats, fighting to get a spot on the last train of the night. It was us and our people. Every single motherfucker in that station that night was CRAZY. I felt crazy, too! I had so much adrenaline from these cycling night rides that it was hard for me to even go to sleep that night. What an experience.

*(it actually got shut down ONE WEEK LATER after a bunch of riders got injured when it hit a POTHOLE in the track, way to care for your rides and patrons, Six Flags. I hope that Six Flags does the right thing and fixes this baby so that it can reopen and provide SAFE RIDES like Intamin intended. Also, I should note that this is basically the sister coaster to T-Express in Korea, the coaster that turned me into an enthusiast!!)

OK and now for my KING, my BAE, my OPPA. I truly believe this is my forever #1, especially after this season.

PHANTOM’S REVENGE. HOMEPARK PRIDE. I have raved about this steel god enough times on here that you have to know by now. I want out of town friends to visit me so that I can take them here and make them ride this because it is SHEER JOY and there is no other coaster like this in the world. It makes nearly every enthusiast’s Top 20/Top 50 list and it makes me so proud.

It just never gets old. The track is now purple, but here is an older POV. It doesn’t do this thing an ounce of justice.

Well, that’s all for today! Please, if you feel like it, tell me what your favorite coasters are! What’s your home park? Favorite park? Best coaster memory? I love reading these things!

 

Jan 022023
 

The Blogging Manual tells me that this is the time to reflect on the past year and do recaps out of pure narcissistic indulgence. I’m off work today and it’s dreary outside, so why not?! We’ll talk about my favorite road trips in this one, and perhaps later I’ll come back and tell you about my favorite coaster experiences?!

2022 was pretty decent. Covid has definitely made me appreciate every little thing, and that mentality really boosted my feelings toward the trips we took last year, even the ones that maybe someone would look at and deem as “so mid” because it wasn’t a tropical locale or Europe, but an amusement park in the upper mitt of Michigan or some strange small town in Indiana.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite trips from 2022, in no particular order except that the Spring Break Trip is totally uncontested as #1:

  • The Spring Break Roller Coaster Trip: For a trip that ended up being a last minute Plan B to the Plan A itinerary that would have had us going through Texas and Missouri, this ended up being the week that I relied on in my memories to get me through shitty days. It was jam-packed with some of the most fun days I have ever had as an adult, and we even mostly got along famously as a family, which is unheard of when you put the three Oh Honestlys in a car together for any length of time. This had us going through Virginia, where we spent a day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and then the bulk of the trip had us in Florida for Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Sea World Orlando, Fun Spot Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Fun Spot Kissimmee. We spent a day in St. Augustine before continuing on home, making a pit stop at Carowinds in North Carolina, and then Kennywood for opening weekend the day we got home. It was action-packed, exhilarating, and supremely fun. I loved that trip so much!!!

  • Michigan for Bill & Jessi Time!: With vaccinations and boosters making things sort of more safe (???), I was desperate to see some of my friends, especially the ones who live outside of Pittsburgh. Bill and Jessi are those friends who you can pick right back up with after years of not seeing them and it’s like no time has passed at all. It was SO GOOD to see them after all these years (I think 2018 was the last time??) and were so appreciative that they made time for us. I especially loved exploring Ypsilanti with them! I’m hoping that we can host them again here in Pittsburgh soon. I have wanted to take them to the Bayernhof for years now because I think they would appreciate the kitschy vibes and feel like we would have a hilarious time there! Or the Mattress Factory?!?! They have been here to visit us so many times but it’s usually for Chooch’s birthday parties so we never really get to show them around that much.

  • New Hampshire for Alyson & Ryan Shenanigans!: I hadn’t seen Alyson IRL since 2014 and after years of writing “Hopefully next year we’ll get to hang out again!” in all of my Xmas cards, I knew it was time to finally get serious about it. Perspective is wild, man. I don’t want to waste any more time not seeing my friends!! I was so glad that Alyson and her husband Ryan were game for a hangout. One of the weekends that were free for them happened to be my birthday weekend! Chooch was in Mexico at the time and I knew that staying here for my birthday would be utterly depressing. Dude, not only was it amazing to see Alyson again  (I freaking cried!), but meeting Ryan was wonderful! What a chill, kind man! We had the best conversations, delicious food (they made me soondubu jjigae for my birthday dinner!!!), leisurely nature walks, hilarious diner hangouts…it was amazing. I think this feeling was what that dumb Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul book means?!

  • The Slickly-Planned Excuse to Meet Two Members of Chooch’s Mexico Squad: I originally had several other ideas for Labor Day Weekend, but then while Chooch was in Mexico, he became part of a “squad,” and some of those kids live near Chicago. Also near Chicago is a Six Flags that we had never been to, and also kind of near there is Wisconsin Dells, the place I have wanted to go to ever since Henry and I drove through it on our way home from a music festival in 2004ish and had a huge-ass fight because we were broke AF back then and he said “NO WE CANNOT STOP HERE, WE ARE DRIVING STRAIGHT HOME!” and then I made him pull over so I could sit in the back because I didn’t want to be near him anymore. Sounds so unlike me, I know. I was v. immature back then.

  • Six Flags New England for Memorial Day!: Another new-to-us park! We hadn’t been to Massachusetts since….2013? I  think? Granted, we didn’t do much of anything there aside from the park, but we did some time in parts of Connecticut, and I got to hand-free a chipmunk in the Black Squirrel Park!! We had a lot of fun at Six Flags though and it was just nice being in a different area for once.

  • WILDWOOD!!!!: This weekend was pretty insane. We went specifically for the Morey’s Piers Coastin’ By the Ocean coaster enthusiast event and it was SO MUCH FUN. But we also hit up Six Flags Great Adventure and Hershey Park on the way home. I won’t say it was the perfect weekend because I felt 100% sleep-deprived and had a ton of moody moments at Morey’s, and Hershey was soooo mid as usual, but there were still more bright spots at Wildwood to counteract the mood swings, and Great Adventure ended up being FUCKING AMAZING after we had two so-so visits in the past.

There were so many other little weekend trips that happened and they were all wonderful! We went to Cedar Point twice, the aforementioned Indiana Beach, Newark twice which is not that great BUT we went for Stray Kids and NCT127 concerts so that made it 100% worthwhile, and Dollywood! I have to give Henry credit (grudgingly, of course) because these trips are not the least bit leisurely. There is so much driving involved and to be honest, I do not help with that very much lol. And then once we get to the destination, it’s non-stop running around theme parks, making strategic plans to beat crowds, getting totally busted on wooded coasters. It is A LOT and I am truly so lucky that Henry is ok with this kind of chaotic lifestyle. I mean, I don’t want to BRAG, but I think I kind of have a fun family. :)

I also want to include the aforementioned “Chooch’s Mexico Trip” here even though I wasn’t there because it was so cool living vicariously through him, waiting for CIEE Instagram and email updates, trying to piece things together by visiting (NOT STALKING LOL) the friends he made on Instagram. I’m just sincerely relieved and grateful that Henry and I were able to make this happen for him, although Chooch did most of it on his own by getting an academic scholarship. Plus, he got a transferrable college credit out of it, and an A in the Spanish course he was taking while there, so I whole-heartedly feel that it was worth it even though I was scared to death of sending him to another country alone, as a 16-year-old, during a pandemic. I think this is something that he will keep close to his heart for the rest of his life, even though if I say this to him right now, he’ll probably vomit and ask me why I’m suddenly saying “sincere mom things.”

I don’t think I ever recapped his last week there because by the  time CIEE sent the email update with pictures, he was already home and showing me the “real” pictures and regaling us with stories about the Girls Gone Wild-type shit that was going down behind the scenes. One of the girls got kicked out and lost her college credit because she was sneaking out to go to clubs and then skipping class, lol.

Chooch already had a hearty lust for travel but this definitely solidified that in him. He is obsessed with geography, and has memorized every country on the map along with their flags, just for funsies. I hope he studies abroad in college, too!

****

Hopefully, 2023 will be full of more trips, big and small! I always hesitate to put things out there because of my ever-present fear of JINXING myself (looking at you, Euro Coaster Trip 2020 that was corona-canceled, lol), but we do have a big trip planned for next August with Coaster Crew. They’re doing a 9-day Nordic trip full of amusement parks in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. We have already been paying into that so hopefully it happens!  I take nothing for granted anymore, though.

If you read this whole dumb thing, thank you for being a real one and I hope your 2023 is full of all the best things! If anything, this post got me to crack down on my category / blog post organization so I think everything is now properly filed away for easier access?! Blogging is tough.

Dec 022022
 

The first time we went to Tennessee was back in 2011, with our good friends Bill and Jessi, who invited us to tag along on their vacation and subsequently causing us to fall in love with the area! The three of us woke up early one morning in an attempt to do some mountain shit. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I think the sole reason was because my beloved Roadside America app had suggested a place called Clingman’s Dome and it sounded super spacey and weird, so I wanted to do it. I mean, it was only an overlook thing that required a mild hike to reach, but it was still something to do.

I just had no idea that Chooch was going to have such an adverse reaction to this area! He was throwing such a huge fit (“My legs hurt!” “I’m tired!” “CARRY ME, WAH!”) that we were sincerely afraid he was going to alert any neighboring bears to our presence (though I imagine they’d probably have fled the opposite direction, take me with you, bears).

I was cruising through my old Flickr album for the 2011 trip last week, to stoke the nostalgia for our upcoming return, and when I saw the below picture, I thought, “Golly, gosh darn, wouldn’t it be a real barrel of laughs to recreate this shot with Chooch who is now 16 and taller than both of us?”

I posted it on Instagram as sort of an interest check but also to put it out there so that Chooch and Henry would have less room to decline my latest demand. I love doing that to them. “BUT I ALREADY TOLD THE INTERNET!”

We went to breakfast first on Monday with the intention of then driving straight up into the Smokies. EXCEPT GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS. The fucking ONLY ROAD that takes you into the mountains was CLOSED. I went into a tailspin over this. Henry immediately pulled into the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center while I basically cried and Chooch sardonically murmured, “Aw, that’s too bad. I was really looking forward to having  my picture taken. Shucks.” Henry was checking the GPS for alternatives but there was NOTHING. The GPS map even showed that the road was blocked off! The day before, there were high winds in the area so Henry guessed that probably a lot of branches and debris were covering the road and needed to be swept off.

I DIDN’T CARE! I JUST WANTED THE STUPID ROAD TO BE OPEN!

“Go inside the info building and ask them when it will open!” I wailed.

“They’re not going to know,” Henry mumbled, looking for something shiny to distract me.

THAT IS LITERALLY THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF AN INFORMATION CENTER, TO HAVE PEOPLE INSIDE THAT ARE PROVIDING INFORMATION!

I was just about to lose my mind when I glanced at the GPS map and noticed that the “ROAD CLOSED” thingie was no longer showing up on the map, so I whipped around to look out the rear window at the actual road and sure enough, the barricades had been removed!

I was screaming! Henry and Chooch were sighing!

The drive to Clingman’s Dome took about 30 minutes or so but it was so nice because hardly anyone was on the road. I think only about 3 cars had made it in front of us when the road opened so it was as nature intended.

What a huge difference from Saturday, that’s for sure. I believe only 2 cars were already in the parking lot of Clingman’s Dome trail as opposed to the 50+ plus the line of traffic going down the mountain that we ran into on Saturday. Has an empty parking lot ever been so beautiful.

Unforch, another big difference was that the weather on Saturday was BEAUTIFUL, sunny and totally hoodie weather. But on this day, it was drizzling/snow-misting, windy AF, and around 30 degrees (but felt like 20 degrees).  Chooch of course was only wearing a hoodie over his t-shirt, AND SHORTS, and Henry and I just had on light jackets. This was 100% hat and gloves conditions, people.

But I wasn’t leaving without the damn picture, so we set off onto the trail at the same as an Indian family. We had only been walking for about 3-5 minutes when we all collectively realized that, “HOLY SHIT, THIS IS THE SPOT.” I mean, it was pretty much exactly the same, even the log was still there. And then I started cracking up because you’d have thought we’d had been legit hiking the side of a rugged mountain for hours the way Chooch was reacting in 2011. But nope – just three minutes!

I pulled out the camera to take the shot, BUT HENRY BROUGHT THE WRONG LENS. So, this time it was me throwing a tantrum and Henry angrily stormed off to retrieve the correct lens. Meanwhile, three of the older members of the Indian family had cried UNCLE and were making their way back. One of them stopped and kindly asked if we needed help and I said, “Oh, no thank you. We’re just waiting for—-” and I blanked, not knowing how to refer to Henry!? “—our friend.”

He nodded and kept walking, but honestly, I’m sure Chooch and I looked like suspish hooligans, loitering on the side of the trail like we had just found a geocache of drugs and gold bars and Elvis’s molar.

Henry came back, jammed the lens into my person, furiously shrugged off his jacket, lifted Chooch up over his shoulder, and hoarsely hissed, “TAKE THE FUCKING PICTURE.”

I mean, it does look like the same spot, right?? I was actually shook that we found it.

 

Look at Henry so far ahead of us, lol. He was DONEZO after this. It’s been 5 days and he’s still bitching about his back pain. Oops. But, at least we made the memory!? RIGHT HENRY?

Oh shit, the hilarity of the comparison of these two pictures carried me through most of the drive home. I just kept going back and looking at it and cracking the hell up. I want to say that I can’t believe they went through with this, but c’mon.

I knew that they would.

You knew that they would.

They knew that they would.

Nov 242022
 

Pardon moi if I have already mentioned this, but last winter, the new jackass priest at the church across the street put up a sign prohibiting people from parking in the church lot overnight. This presented an issue because that’s where a bunch of us on this block parked because our street is notorious for hit-and-runs. I mean, if you’ve even casually read this blog or followed me on Instagram over the years, you have probably known about at least one incident. In fact, Henry was even interviewed about this on the local news!

As you can see in the picture below, there are two driveways for four duplexes to share. House #3 has two residents and SIX cars. SIX!!! Two of them are FREE CANDY vans that don’t run and are just rusting in the back, a minivan that used to be permanently parked in the church lot was moved behind House #1, one was being stored in the garage of House #2 while the house was vacant, and then two of them are actually used daily.

The people who live in House #7 are just as bad. One of their cars is literally a Yellow Cab minivan. They also had a bunch of cars that were broken down and being “stored” in the lot across the street, in addition to someone’s extremely noisy work van (we’ll get to this in a second), so it’s actually no wonder the priest flipped his shit.

OK, now please familiarize yourself with the cast of characters as detailed below:

  1. Multi-unit house not affiliated with our set of duplexes (they have a different landlord). Residents include Chooch’s friend Marky who lives there with his grandparents, some older lone guy who recently broke his knee and fell in front of our house at 1am after getting out of the hospital and Chooch, unbeknownst to us, went out to assist him; a…strange older couple who we never have had any interaction with but Hot Naybor Chris refers to them as Johnny Cash and Buttcrack (her ass crack really does make an absurd amount of appearances). For the sake of brevity, we will henceforth refer to them as JC & BC.
  2. There used to be a couple from Kentucky who lived here and the cops were there so much, they should have been helping with rent. Tons of domestic issues. They were smoking with Marky’s mom and stepdad one night and caught their couch on fire. The husband reminded me of Johnny Craig. Anyway, they’re gone and now Rob* is moving in.
  3.  HNC and his wife who hates the squirrels and is the Pioneer parking dictator.
  4. The coolest people on the street!
  5. Henry’s older son Blake and his fam.
  6. Two older brothers. One is George and I don’t know the other guy’s name. They are nice enough but they did have an Oz sign in their yard for this last election, so. I think the daughter of one of them lives there too? She owns a boutique on the Boulevard and seems cool. They also have a cool dog named Zeus. Overall, no issues with these people but we also keep our distance all the same.
  7. Chooch’s nemesis Larry and his wife. She seems sane. I think she is also somehow related to one of the brothers next door to them? Daughter, maybe? I also think that their young adult son and/or daughter has been living there too?
  8. IDK, seem normal, no interaction
  9. IDK, seem normal, no interaction but it’s worth mentioning that this is the unit where my favorite ex-neighbor ROBIN used to live.
  10. Jackie’s house, has been there since before I moved in back in 1999. Not a rental unit. At this point, me, Jackie, and two other non-rental houses on the other side of her are the OGs of the block.
  11. The yellow lines that HNC’s wife had painted on the curb because she can’t pull out of the driveway if people park too close. If you park over the yellow lines, she will call the police on you. She did that to one of my old neighbors, but that was probably also because she was black. Sigh.

*OK, we’ll start this with a backstory about ROB. When I moved here in 1999, Rob and Jackie were married and had a son named Brandon. I think Brandon was somewhere between 10-12 and he was a little punk, if we’re being honest. I was 20 when I moved here and Brandon and some other neighbor kids glommed on to me IMMEDIATELY. I kind of became the resident babysitter, except that I wasn’t getting paid. But it wasn’t all that bad. I always had friends here with me and we would play with the kids in the yard. Brandon could be a super dick though and to this day, I am still convinced that he broke into my house through my basement in 2001 and stole an entire CD rack from my house. Even when I confronted Jackie about it, she didn’t deny it on his behalf, just said that if he did it, she unfortunately had not seen any of the CDs in her house. I was actually JUST thinking about this other day too when the whole Hoobstank topic came up because the night I was robbed, I was at the Dave Navarro show at Metropol and Hoobastank opened for him. I was with my friend Wonka and as we were leaving, the singer of Hoobastank (they were not well-known at all yet, no radio “hits”) was handing out samplers. Never one to pass up a CD sampler, I of course took one and I went to walk away, the singer called out, “Wait! Don’t you want me to sign it?” So that is why I have a signed Hoobastank CD in my collection, OK? God.

Then Dave Navarro said hello to me and let me take his picture as he was getting into his car and I floated home on Cloud Nine….only to see that the glass of my basement window had been broken.

Meanwhile, Brandon’s dad was the Street Drunk. Everyone knew Rob. He’d get hammered and like, stand in the middle of the road naked. There was this one story I had heard about how he was getting on a plane shortly after 9/11 and started screaming about terrorists and had to be dragged off the plane.

Rob and Jackie live far enough down the street that I haven’t had much interaction with them over the years, but Jackie has always been very kind to me and we still say hello to each other in passing. I have to laugh though because there used to be a kid that lived next to her who Chooch and Marky used to play with and for some reason they would always go in Jackie’s backyard and then she would yell at them. Chooch haaaates her to this day and calls her The Witch but if you ask me, this was just karma for all the times her dumb kid would darken my doorstep.

I guess it was about a year ago, I kept noticing that Rob was in and out of Larry’s house (House #7). I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but it somehow came up in conversation when Henry was talking to HNC one day that Jackie had kicked Rob out and gotten a restraining order against him SO HE MOVED IN WITH LARRY. Oh, I bet Jackie fucking loved that, still having to see his ass every day.

So then the NEW PARKING DECREE was issued and Rob, no longer having a driveway, had to start squeezing his noisy-ass work van onto the  street. Now, this is city parking and no one can “claim” that a particular space is theirs, as much as they want to. Most people just bitch about it quietly but NOT HNC’S WIFE. All it took was Rob parking his van ONE TIME in front of HER HOUSE for her to straight-up threaten him with a baseball bat. I’m not joking – it was a whole fucking confrontation and I have it on video. This was in April.

Things got pretty quiet on the parking front for a while. In fact, I eventually realized one day over the summer that I hadn’t seen Rob’s van in a while so I figured he must have moved, but then I quickly moved on because I didn’t actually care that much.

Two weeks ago, Henry and I were getting in the car to leave and HNC was fiddling around with one of his broken rapist vans. I asked him how he was doing and he groaned, “Oh just lovely. I’m getting a new neighbor. DEAD ROB.”

“Dead Rob?” I asked, not following.

“Yeah, you know, Rob from down there? He died then came back?* Anyway, his mom up to died and he sold her house and now he’s moving in next door to me.”

*(UM NO I DIDN’T KNOW THIS??? I GUESS THAT’S WHY HE DISAPPEARED FOR A WHILE? WAS HE IN REHAB OR SOMETHING?)

“I haven’t told Ruth yet,” Chris went on. “She’s not going to be happy.”

Then I immediately remembered their April altercation and had to chew on the inside of my cheek to keep from squealing. I managed to wait until Henry and I  pulled out of the driveway before LEGIT CACKLING over this. If you don’t know, HNC’s wife is like Pioneer Enemy #1. There is not a person on this street who has not suffered her wrath. I try very hard to tread lightly even though I want to confront her so bad every time she calls the squirrels bastards.

So HNC had to remove his spare car from the empty house’s garage since IT AIN’T EMPTY ANYMORE, FRIEND, and now street parking got a bit trickier because Rob has two cars that he needs to park on the street since HNC takes up the entire bottom of the driveway (we’re so privileged and grateful that he cleared enough space for us to park our two cars, thanks so much for providing us with space that we’re already entitled to according to our lease, but mmmm).

If you please go back up and refer to my handy illustration, you will see that there is a WHITE CAR parked in front of HNC’s house, owned by Johnny Cash and Buttcrack. Now, legend has it that HNC asked them nicely to kindly start parking their car farther up the street, more toward their own house, so that HNC can park the car that he actually does drive in front of his own house. Allegedly, they said they would and I guess they did so one or two times, but then reverted back to parking in front of HNC’s house. HNC says it’s because they like the convenience of this spot in that it enables them to more easily make a U-turn when leaving? This is such a wild rationale to me. I mean, that reason just seems dumb.

So HNC (or Ruth, I dunno – I wasn’t there) had to ask them again. Now, this is where things get curious to me because whatever happened next caused JC and BC to go over to HNC’s house on Monday afternoon. I was sitting at my desk working and Henry had just walked out the door to go to THE STORE when he called me and said, “JC and BC just walked up to Ruth’s house, get ready.” So of course I whirled around to look out the window. From my vantage, I couldn’t see JC because he must have been too close to Ruth’s front door, but I could see BC, who was standing on the sidewalk casually slurping on what appeared to be a milkshake.

Then I heard GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE! *SLAM* GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE! *ANOTHER SLAM* and then JC & BC retreated. Henry had just reached our car in the lot (we still park there during the day until the sign changes and says that we can’t) and said that he turned around in time to see JC lurching and slurring (Henry’s imitation of this was priceless, honestly) and Ruth slamming the door. “I guarantee she calls the cops,” Henry said when he called me again from the car.

Several minutes later, cop shows up. I was desperately trying to hear what was being said but there is never a reprieve from the traffic on this fucking street. But I could tell that Ruth was crying and she was obviously explaining the parking situation to the cop. Then the cop walked over to JC’s house. Henry was home at this point, and I said, “Fuck it, I’m going out there.” I mean, I wanted to know. And I didn’t want to rely on whatever secondhand nonsense HNC was going to give to Henry later.

Ruth was fucking shaking on her porch when I walked over. Rob, in the process of moving in, also came over to comfort her, which I thought was decent considering she had just threatened him with a baseball bat six months ago. But then as he walked away, she looked at me and said with total contempt in her tone, “And you know where HE came from” and pointed down the street toward Larry’s house. I’m actually surprised she didn’t spit at him as he was walking away. Good ol’ Ruth.

But then she went back to be being shook and told me the story:

She was in the kitchen baking a pumpkin pie (this was a key element to the story, apparently, because I have heard her tell the story so many times now and it always starts out this way) when she heard a light tapping. She assumed it was Rob hanging up pictures next door. Then suddenly, JC is storming into her house, lurching at her and slurring angrily (her imitation of this sounded just like Henry’s, like someone who had just woken up from oral surgery had immediately gone to a haunted house and was trying to scream with a mouthful of gauze and novacaine. She said that the only reason her door was even unlocked was because her daughter was on her way over. And I get it, a Monday afternoon, broad daylight, you don’t really think twice about unlocking your door in preparation for someone’s arrival. I can’t fault her for that.

But how fucking horrific, to be in your kitchen, listening to the radio and baking a pie, when some fucking drunk derelict comes bursting into your house?? And I am in no way condoning this, but it begs the question….what was the actual impetus of this? Like, what EXACTLY was said to them over this stupid parking situation that caused the guy to be that angry (he also seems a bit off too, to be frank) that he is going to walk right into your house when you don’t answer?!

There are missing pieces here. Or…maybe he’s just that fucking weird that this seemed OK to him??

Anyway, the cop came back over at this point, so I excused myself and went back into my house.

“WAS ROB HOLDING A SHOT GUN???” Henry asked me.

“No, it was like, a vaccuum cleaner from the 80s,” I clarified, and that became my favorite part of the whole debacle. I can’t explain it, but I get big Beetlejuice vibes from Rob and him loitering on his porch with a vaccuum nozzle while in the middle of a neighborhood dispute is exactly the image I want to use on the imaginary cover for the straight-to-video VHS tape of this volume of the Pioneer Tales.

After the cop left, I went back over to Ruth’s because I genuinely felt bad and wanted to give her my number in case anything like that happened again. She invited me in and went through the whole ordeal again in depth and man, the image I have in my head of this weirdo pushing his way into her house, ugh. Shudder City.

A short while later came another explosion of expletives outside. I looked out the window just in time to see Ruth’s daughter Ashley rushing through the yard, screaming, “IF YOU FUCK WITH MY MOM AGAIN, I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU” as her husband was trying to hold her back. Then about an hour later, ANOTHER screaming match happened. I tried to get this on video but of course, fucking traffic and also there is no good vantage point from the inside of my house to be able to capture what goes on over on that side of the yard. But this time it sounded like both Ashley and her husband and both JC and BC were screaming threats and insults at each. Ashley and her husband kept sneering at them for being alcoholics and saying things like, “I can smell the booze on your breath from over here!” and then the cops showed up again, this time because JC called them and said he was assaulted by Ashley’s husband which I’m pretty sure is not accurate, but ok.

Later that night, Henry and I were telling Chooch about everything he missed when he was at work. I was reminded of the time when I first moved in and there was a guy named Paul who lived in House #5. People were constantly mistaking my house for Paul’s, peering into my window and calling out, “PAUL!” and I’m like, “Nope, next house.” Paul was basically like an eternal frat boy and was probably definitely selling drugs too, because he was very popular and always had people coming in and out. I told Chooch about the time that I had just gotten into bed for the night and stupid Jeff, my then-boyfriend, hadn’t shut the front door all the way which I found out when we were laying in bed and heard the front door open.

Then, footsteps.

The fridge opening.

Beer bottles clanking as they’re being put into the fridge.

Then, footsteps on the stairs.

Jeff, manly as he was, was straight-up cowering behind me in bed.

“Paul?” a stranger’s voice called out from the midway point of the steps.

“No, wrong house,” I replied.

“Oh fuck, I’m so sorry!”

Footsteps more frantic now, fridge door opening, beer bottles being removed, front door closes.

“Oh my god!” Chooch said.

“Yeah, it was scary and weird,” I laughed. Because I wasn’t murdered that night, so I can laugh.

There was also this one time when I had several friends over and we were all sitting outside drinking some shitty Smirnoff Ice probably, when some people got out of a car and started walking down my sidewalk toward my porch. We were all sitting on the sidewalk and these randos just like, stepped over us and kept walking.

“Watch this,” I mouthed to my friends, and then counted down 3….2….

The randos walked right onto my porch and opened my front door.

“Wrong house!” I called over my shoulder. “Paul lives down there.”

Paul still lived there by the time Henry had moved in with me, so he is also aware of this legendary part of Pioneer’s past. We shared some more Paul stories with Chooch and then briefly wondered whatever happened to him.

And then the next day, this happened?!

Highly doubt they were trying to reach THAT Paul, but still spooky!

I was telling some co-workers about this and how you know, once Paul moved away, random strangers stopped walking into my house and BOY, SO GLAD ABOUT THAT, DOT DOT DOT.

PART 2, TOMORROW.

Nov 232022
 

My brother Corey and I were traipsing down Memory Lane the other day when I referenced the time that my childhood best friend and I were “professional junior bridesmaids.” Corey was like, “Whoa whoa whoa, back up.  I don’t remember this??” To his credit, he was like 2 years old at the time and too concerned with drinking “strawbeddy” milk to notice his teenage sister walking down aisles in pink taffeta.

(Was it taffeta?)

(Do I even know what taffeta is?)

As I was filling in the missing pages of this chapter of the Kelly Family Story for him, it made me realize how actually fucking ridiculous this whole thing was. Let me tell you about it.

The year was 1992. My aunt Susie was planning a wedding with her fiance, Mark (he was fucking awesome, btw, and played in a cover band called Le Chic!). I don’t know whose idea it was, but I somehow got locked in as “junior bridesmaid.” And because my BFF Christy was basically an honorary family member to the point where my Pappap once offered to take her to Europe with us but her parents said no (I was sad!), she was also offered a supporting role in The Wedding.

If you’re reading this and you know me personally, you will remember that this was basically the impetus of what would become a lifelong fear of food / eating disorder / etc. for me because I was a preteen FATTY and my grandma made sure I was aware of it. God forbid I should ruin Susie’s wedding with my fat ass registering seismic activity as I Stay Puft’d my cankles down the aisle. So this was also the year that I became exercise-obsessed too. I was on Slim Fast (yep, at 11! Ask me about the lingering effects that had on my psyche) and working out with Denise Austin and Gilad every day. I remember feeling awesome at the last fitting when my dress had to be taken in, but also thinking that I was still fat.

Speaking of the FITTING, some memories I have of that:

  • being pissed because the adults got to drink champagne;
  • obviously hating Susie’s choice of dress for us (and let’s be honest, it was probably my grandma’s choice);
  • the saleswoman’s name being Rosemary but calling her Rosethorn behind her back because she kept sticking us with pins;
  • maniacally singing “Pop Pop Goes the Weasel” (some inexplicably popular pseudo-rap song that was v. popular in 1992?!) in the back of my grandma’s car after leaving the dumb bridal shop to the point where my grandma legit lost her shit and yelled at us. God first, I’m fat then I’m annoying on top of it all.

Fast forward to the wedding. I was 12 by then, I think?

Corey asked who even was in the wedding and all I could remember was Susie’s friend Lori was a Girl Scout (no, not like, in her youth – she was STILL a Girl Scout somehow? I can’t remember what the deal was but I know that Christy and I were majorly side-eyeing each other over this, back when we didn’t know that side-eyeing was a thing) and had once dated former Pgh Penguin Phil Borque but back when he was in the farm league. Interestingly, my mom was not in the wedding party (she probably opted out because anything that puts even a background spotlight on her is not my mom’s jam) and either was Sharon, the eldest sister, but this is not shocking because Susie and Sharon hated each other.

Luckily, I found these pictures. I have no idea who any of those dudes are or the first lady, but the blond is my cousin Zita: former lingerie model and former girlfriend of former Red Wings Chris Chelios. Lots of hockey…connections in this wedding party.

Susie and Mark have since divorced but Susie is still married to that hairstyle. (Not even knocking her – that coif works for her. I literally can’t imagine her with any other hairstyle. It’s her signature!)

But where this gets kind of weird is that my cousin Zita’s brother Chris (also my cousin, obvi, but also has the distinction AND HONOR of being my godfather) was also slated to get married that year, two months after Susie. So he’s at the wedding with his fiancée, you know, and someone on that side of the family thought it would be adorable if Christy and I donned the dresses again for a second strut down the aisle, this time at the wedding of Chris and Laurie.

I mean, I barely knew Chris, if we’re being honest. Super nice guy, but our families didn’t like, hang out. And Christy CERTAINLY didn’t know him! But yeah, OK. Sure. This is normal. We will be in your wedding too! Wearing the same dresses! Knowing NO ONE in the wedding party!

This wedding was actually kind of fun though. I have a strong memory of getting into the limo after the ceremony to go to the reception. The wedding was at some really nice church downtown, I think? I don’t know, but the reception was at the Embassy Suites near the airport, and I remember it being fancy AF. So, we’re in the limo, right? And all the adults are popping the champers and just, you know, popping off in general too. And this one groomsman, he was really starting to get loose in the limo and the lips, and he looked at me, gestured at me with his sloshing glass, and said, “Your aunt Susie is A BITCH!” Christy and I were like, “Ooooooooooh!!!!!” Anyway, he went on to tell us that he was IN LOVE with her in high school I guess, and she broke his heart or something, I don’t know, but Christy and I were sure to report back to Susie on this later.

The other thing I will never forget about this wedding was that the bride’s younger brother looked like a young Mario Lemieux (hockey again) and Christy and I were LUSTING.

At the reception, we mostly just ran around letting everyone wonder who the fuck we were, but at one point Zita snagged us. She was with her then-boyfriend, some much-older rich guy. She joked that we would also have to be in their wedding. “It’s going to be in Bermuda! We’ll fly you there!”

They never got married, and Christy and I never got another gig as the Pinkies. Probably for the best considering NEITHER COUPLE made it to their 10th anniversary.

Nov 172022
 

OMG when I unearthed this picture, I involuntarily lurched into full-body cackling. No, listen, Linda. Linda, listen. You have no idea the significance of this. June 1992, weekend road trip to Lake Chataugua for Liz’s birthday, accompanied by our other pal Kim; Liz’s parents and younger sister, Jane; and their golden retriever whose name I honestly cannot believe I momentarily forgot.

But before I tell you, can we first appreciate my denim shirt from Merry-Go-Round (probably, I’m assuming – that was my favorite place to shop in 1992 and also where I would later discover Cross Colors and Karl Kani and undergo a full-fledged lifestyle change which is something that probably doesn’t sound like me AT ALL), my TWA travel bag from a previous trip to Europe with my grandparents (UGH I WISH I STILL HAD THIS) with my vacation journal tucked like precious cargo in the front pocket, MY BANGS AND STUPID BUMP-THING THAT I ALWAYS DID (also, this was my SECOND PERM as if getting ONE PERM wasn’t enough for an entire lifetime and beyond), and in my hands is my Walkman which has one of two cassingles in it: “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, or “Damn…” by Sophie B. Hawkins. When I say those are the only two songs I listened to over and over that weekend, I am being sincere and without an ounce of hyperbole, not even a spittle of exaggeration. (OK, I also listened to the “Damn…” b-side A LOT too.

OK OK OK, so this picture cracked me up so hard because this was the day that my all-time favorite non-word was accidentally created.

Basically, Jane meant to say “probably,” but then she said “smrobably” instead. That’s it – that is the whole fucking story. Something that took exactly one second to enfold has made this much of a lasting impression on me that I THINK ABOUT IT SO OFTEN and even sometimes say it without even thinking! If I recall, Jane got pissed at some point because we wouldn’t stop saying “smrobably” and then she and Liz got in a fight about it and also this was the weekend that I learned what “unilateral” meant, through the context of Liz’s mom yelling at her for making unilateral decisions.

And then there was the whole PANOVISION debacle that is also something that I think of A LOT. Basically, it rained the whole time we were at Lake Chataugua so we decided to go to the movies at some point. I can’t remember what else was playing but it must have been really dumb stuff for us to unanimously agree to see Far and Away (or maybe it was just Liz who chose it and this was the impetus to the infamous unilateral decision dressing-down??), the very forgettable Cruise/Kidman movie. Kim was like going off the rails, gushing about how this was going to be so exciting because it was filmed in PANOVISION, so then Liz and I were like stoked too and the whole time we were watching it, I kept waiting for something to happen? Like, something pano-y? BUT IT JUST LOOKED LIKE A REGULAR MOVIE!?!? Ever since then, I notice the stupid “Panovision” logo at the end of like, EVERY MOVIE IN EXISTENCE, and it reanimates my annoyance all over again.

I texted this Lake Chataugua picture IMMEDIATELY to Henry with the caption “smrobably” and he was like, “???” WHY, AFTER 21 YEARS, CAN HE STILL NOT ACCEPT THAT THIS IS BASICALLY A CORNERSTONE OF MY LINGUISITIC HISTORY, A STAPLE IN MY VOCAB. (I think he’d like to put a staple in my tongue sometimes when I get on these smrobably kicks.)

OMG SHOULD I GET A SMROBABLY TATTOO. SMROBABLY.

(Wait, did we spell it “smrobably” or “smrobly”???)

Nov 112022
 

I took a casual dive in the photo vault again the other night and this time landed in the Wildwood stash! Always stoked to share pictures from the best time of my life, sigh.

My grandma looks like she actually loves me here! Probably because it was before I got fat, ugly, permed and braces.

(You think I’m kidding – lol.)

Dude. I have the most vivid memories of this boardwalk ball pit. I looked at this picture last night and literally felt like I was in the balls again. IN THE BALLS.

Being the most cute. Can you tell that Gizmo is in my lap!? Super quick back story: My aunt Sharon (mom’s oldest sister) never came to Wildwood with us. It was always just my immediate fam (ugh when RYAN was born and started tagging along) and my grandparents. But on the morning we were leaving for this particular summer’s trip to Wildwood, she presented me with a white box that had holes poked in it the top. She told me not to open it until we got there, and I was DYING, YO. Every time we hit a bump, whatever was inside would squeak and I was so certain it was alive.

This was the year that Gremlins had come out and Sharon had taken me to the theater to see it. I was 4 and it was SCARY to me so we had to leave once the gremlin action started. But then I was like, “Never mind I want to go back” so she took me back to see it again and this time I made it through the whole thing and never walked out on another movie again until Dolores Claiborne in the 90s. (I was with my then-friend Keri and we were like, “Why isn’t this movie ending? How long is this movie?”)

I had Gremlins on the brain for a GOOD while that year and was 100% positive that Sharon had found me a motherfucking mogwai. I mean, it had to be that, right?

Well, technically it was, but man was I disappointed when we got to Wildwood and I ripped the lid off the box only to discover that it was not actually a living, breathing mogwai but a stuffed Gizmo that squeaked when shaken.

I clearly loved it though, considering he’s in like every picture of me on the piers, lol.

My mom looks very excited to be co-holding Gizmo.

LOL this would have been my dad’s first time at Wildwood with us. ALSO OMG BED BUGS! I have no recollection of ever playing that but certainly remember that it existed.

Happier times, haha.

This picture must have been the next year’s visit because that baby is RYAN UGH (j/k I like hm now) but I’m including it here because of my dad’s interesting early 80s attire. I can promise you that if we were able to pan out right now, you’d see that his shorts were essentially hot pants. And he probably had socks up to his knees.

Well, happy Friday! I’m about to go and erase this past week from my brain – it was long and annoying.

Nov 032022
 

Today is my Pappap’s birthday. He passed away in 1996 and while I miss the HELL out of him every single day, I did eventually reach a point where I was able to stop crying about it at a pin drop and actually enjoy the memories I have.

I acquired a shit ton of photos from whenever we were cleaning out my grandparents house in 2016. I still haven’t hone through everything but I like to rummage through the boxes every now and then. I decided to do that tonight to get some photos of him to post on here and I ended up pulling out a stack from one of our vacations in 1990. I was so wrecked-looking for a long time as a kid and these pictures of me are awfully cringey but it’s time for me to stop caring about that because – well, who cares!

I’m glad this is the stack I drew because I have been thinking a lot lately as we plan our family trip for next summer about how my Pappap (and Aunt Sharon, also featured prominently in the upcoming photos) instilled a strong love of travel into my life. I think he would be happy to know that Chooch is here now and is exactly the same way. I think my Pappap would have been wild about Chooch, honestly.

Anyway, please enjoy this random collection of my brace-faced, knotty-maned, chubby-cheeked adolescent self; my Pappap and Sharon’s disdain for posing for the camera; and a lot of European locations, some that I can’t exactly pinpoint all these years later – sorry!

Get ready for some signature Sharon scowls…

On this trip, we did London, parts of France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, I believe. Maybe Amsterdam, too. I would have to consult my old vacation journals and they are in a large trunk which is a pain to open. So we’ll just have to pretend that my memory is tight.

To this day, when I think of the Spanish Steps, I think of the fanciest McD’s I’ve ever visited. I wonder if it’s still there/as nice?!

I look like I’m crying but this was one of my favorite places when I was a kid, except that there were GIANT spiderwebs inside that bridge and that always scared me. I hope that I can go to Switzerland with Chooch (and Henry, I guess, lol) one day!

I guess Sharon must have taken this picture; I love it a lot.

That green was a choice.

I mean, I hate that I’m about to say this, but Shron really should have smiled more. She was so pretty. Also, seeing those coach buses in the background have me stoked for our summer 2023 trip that better fucking happen because we’ve already paid for some of it and I fucking swear to god there better not be another lockdown. It will be our first time as a family traveling with a group and I’m so excited because I love group tours!!

My pappap was probably ranting about how we had to pay for each pat of butter.

My grandma was a difficult person to travel with.

We’re probably walking off yet another ear-beating from my grandma here in Venice.

I wonder what he was talking about! That one lady is like, “NO FUCKING WAY, YA GOTTA BE SHITTIN’ ME!” in response to whatever tale had him gesticulating like so. You know how kids are always like SO BORED to be sitting with a bunch of adults at a dinner table? I was the opposite – I fucking loved sitting with my pappap because he always had interesting things to say, he always ended up being one of the most popular people on all of our trips, and I felt like A FUCKING GROWN-UP sitting there drinking my hot chocolate (which was usually disgusting Ovaltine in these hotel restaurants) with my plump pinky finger extended.

HNNNNGGGG.

Anyway, I’m glad I never burned these pictures in a hobo fire of shame and I think it’s time that some more of these old shots see the light of day. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to make these memories, even though they weren’t always as idyllic as you’d think. At the end of the day, it was time spent with my pappap and I will always treasure, today especially. Happy birthday, Pappap!!

If you’re reading this, would you like to see more vintage photo dumps like this? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS. Lol.

Oct 162022
 

Henry, Chooch and I visited Castle Blood last weekend and had the most amazing time as always! It felt, to this dumbo blond anyway, to be even more challenging this season. If you don’t know, Castle Blood isn’t just your run-of-the-mill cheap jump-scare, blood&gore animatronics, chainsaw-finale haunted house. This place is full of the snarkiest collection of undead you will ever encounter at a haunted house. You don’t just get pushed through like sheep either – you stop in each and every room and have real interactions with the denizens, wherein you have to solve puzzles in order to earn one of three talismans.

I am blown away every year by the creative and ingenuity that goes into planning these challenges and the accompanying scripts. If ever you want to be knocked down a peg or five intellectually, this is the haunt for you! Some of these challenges have sincerely had me boarding the Struggle Bus straight to StüpVille, and this year was no exception. First of all, Chooch and I are too stubborn to work together so he kept taking over and wouldn’t listen to me, and then Dead Weight Henry just stood there contributing fuck all.

My eyeballs thought that this picture turned out OK at the time, but nope. Anyway, this is Chooch with one of our favorite denizens!

I still want to donate to have my name put on the crypt wall, but I haven’t decided what name I want to use. OHHONESTLY? APPLEDALE? It ain’t gon’ be ROBBINS, that’s for sure, lol.

Somehow, we managed to acquire all three talismans no thanks to Henry’s refusal to participate, Chooch’s bull-headedness, and my brain essentially shitting the bed. I am definitely starting to feel my age lately because I can’t retain simple instructions – someone tells me what to do in the simplest of terms, and I immediately have to turn to someone else and ask, “Wait, what am I supposed to do?” This happened a few weeks ago at another haunt where the ticket-ghoul told us to walk up the steps and do something and as soon as I got to teh second time, I hissed, “Wait, what?” and Chooch was like, “OMG are you kidding me.”

I was feeling extremely nostalgic after we left last Sunday so the next day, I pulled out my old haunted house journals and photo albums to collect some ancient artifacts. If my records are correct, the first time I went to Castle Blood was in 1996 with my mom and best friend Christy. It was one of the original locations, and I remember standing in line in a room full of horror movie memorabilia and autographed pictures of people in the biz like Tom Savini and George Romero (probably – my memory is not that grand anymore, remember? I JUST TOLD YOU).

This picture must have been from the second time we went, when my friend Lisa came and my mom’s friend Debbie. I really miss that shirt I’m wearing BUT NOT THAT HAIR CUT.

I’m cracking up at the fact that I actually took my 35mm camera with me to haunted houses in the 90s and the actors were, I guess, just like, “Yeah sure” when I would giddily ask to take their pictures.

That’s a whole mood.

We learned that for this season, the Castle has actually incorporated some of the old costumes, like this one, as a throwback!

My friend Chris has served in the role of Professor Scrye for 25 years now, so this picture is definitely from more than 25 years ago! I can’t believe how long I’ve been going to Castle Blood – so long that I have the honor of calling many of the denizens (including the famous Gravely Macabre) my actual real life friends. If you would have told me that when I was a teenager in the 90s, I would like, “DUDE, NO WAY!” and then put my yellow Aiwa Walkman back on, blasting a mixtape that no doubt had at least 9 Bone Thugs songs on it mixed in with Gino Vannelli.

Please enjoy some ticket stubs now.

I’m sure I must have missed a season or two, and I know that 2020 was definitely a sit-out for us (I can’t remember if they were even open – I think they were but I was scared to chance it), but I have been around for nearly every season, multiple moves, cast changes, and eventually even started going to the no-scare matinees once Chooch came onto the scene:

Baby’s First Castle Blood Walk-Thru!

Getting to attend the Friends and Family Event one years was basically my crowning achievement! I remember going to work and bragging about it and everyone was like, “Wow, you have such a charmed life.”

I will never ever ever ever shut up about Castle Blood. It’s such a unique and spooky alternative to the corporate haunts out there. If you are someone who loves haunted houses but can’t get any friends to go with you because they’re scared, please suggest this one to them because while it is spooky (it’s located in a former funeral home, for God’s sake), it leans more toward the gothic Addam’s Family vibe. You *will* get heckled and belittled by the undead residents, and you *will* have your intelligence put to the test (literally), but you will have so much doing it. Get some co-workers together for a team-building experience! Take your kids/neighbor’s kids/grandkids/random kid from the corner for the matinee event!

Just trust me. Go get your tickets here. And tell them that Oh Honestly Erin sent you! (But if you tell BORIS*, he probably won’t care!)

*(MY FAVE. HE IS SO MEAN TO ME AND I LOVE IT.)

Aug 202022
 

You guys! Baby’s First Coaster Enthusiast Event! I was so giddy when we strode right past the “SURFSIDE PIER IS CLOSED FOR A PRIVATE EVENT” sign with the air of people who BELONG and went to the guest services counter to register. I couldn’t have imagined any place better to attend our first coaster event than at my beloved Morey’s Piers! I had watched some videos from coaster YouTubers who attended this event in the past and it just looked so cool and casual.

Immediately, one of the Morey’s guys called out to me from behind the counter, “Are you the reason I keep seeing those shirts all over the Internet?” and I was like, “I HAVE BEEN SEEN BY A MOREY’S PERSONNEL!!” He was so cool too!

Then I noticed right next to us was a coaster vlogger whom I follow on Instagram and sometimes watch his videos so I had to elbow Henry and he was like, “Ok. Cool.”

Anyway, here was the agenda!

So the reason why this is so cool is that the piers don’t officially open to the general public until noon (Adventure Pier opens at 2pm) so from 9:30 to noon on Saturday, we had free reign of the rides listed up there for special ERT (early ride time / exclusive ride time).

We were the first train of the day on the Great Nor’easter – a trainful of true thoosies! It was a really cool experience because, and I mean this in the best way possible since I’m talking about myself also, but to be a true coaster thoosie, you gotta be a little bit psycho! So imagine a trainful of us assholes, totally screaming our lungs out and just LIVING FOR IT.

And goddammit, this is STILL the best Vekoma SLC IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Literally the ONLY one worth re-riding. Morey’s Piers puts so much TLC into their rides and piers, and their ride operators are just TOP NOTCH – it really elevates the experience.

Oh I should mention that last year, Henry didn’t get a wrist band (we weren’t there for the event last year, this was just a regular day) so the only things he rode was the Great White once and the carousel once. This time, he got to ride everything!

I kept calling Dante’s Dungeon “Dante’s Inferno,” which IS a ride but just…not one at Wildwood. Chooch mocked me which is basically his sole purpose in life these days.

I love love love me a darkride.

Chooch was “not scared” at the real life person who comes after you at the end. They totally got me, though!

Runaway Tram is such a fun family coaster! You would never know it by Henry’s stoic stance.

Now, brace yourselves for a series I like to call Before the Tilt-a-Whirl Tilted and Whirled Our Breakfast.

Me, on the cusp of realizing that Chooch is taking bursts.

Me, starting to sense that something is wrong.

Me, desperately asking for my phone back.

WHY DOES HE TROLL ME SO HARD I HATE IT.

Chooch and I went back for more Nor’easter rerides before ERT ran out. We walked right onto the front, and then they let us re-ride on any unoccupied row of our choosing and the backrow was open so we snagged it! I realized that the front is waaaay rougher/more intense than the back. The back is where you want to sit to get a nice, smooth ride where you can walk off without your brain feeling scrambled!

Gathering our bearings after a ride on It, which is like the Claw ride that is so ubiquitous in traveling carnivals. It’s fun but WHOOO BOY between that and the Tilt-a-Whirl all before 11am, it was a bit much for me and my baby stomach.

OK, that made me sound like I was alluding to pregnancy. That ain’t it.

Um, OK Boardwalk King.

This was before my WHERE IS MY BIRTHDAY PRESENT, YOU PROMISED ME THAT I WOULD GET MY BIRTHDAY PRESENT IN WILDWOOD / lack of sleep / probably a bit of dehydration breakdown that would happen later that evening. Who, me? Throw a temper tantrum? Pfft, never.

The last thing we did for this portion of the ERT was the Zoom Phloom which we didn’t ride last year and I can’t remember why now – either it wasn’t running or we just didn’t care?? But I am here to tell you that if you are a log flume aficionado, and even if you’re NOT, do not skip out on this. First of all, don’t worry about getting drenched. I mean, yeah, you’re gonna get a little wet but not like, excessively so. Plus, if you’re on the boardwalk in the summer, your ass is gonna dry up REAL QUICKLIKE.

But look, this log flume has an amazing layout where it weaves around and interacts with the waterpark slides and the Great Nor’easter. It’s REALLY cool in that way. And after one of the drops, it literally puts you through a tunnel under the boardwalk while UNDER THE BOARDWALK plays around you! It’s not the Bruce Willis version sadly (aka the BEST version) but it’s so wonderful, nevertheless.

I couldn’t stop gushing about this!

Then at noon, everyone gathered for a group picture. Numerous shots were taken and I have been OBSESSIVELY checking the Morey’s Piers socials but nothing has been posted yet. I am desperate for a copy of this picture because if you know me, you know that I love being a part of a group and even though I hate having my picture taken, I am ALL ABOUT THE GROUP PHOTOS.

We had a bunch of free time after that, which I loved because I would have been sad if we were back in Wildwood with no time to soak up all the boardwalk vibes.

I didn’t get any Polish Water Ice last year and it was on my agenda this time around because I had a vague memory of Kennywood possibly offering something like this back in the 80s, to the point where I could imagine how this was going to taste and it was 100% the same as in my taste buds’ imagination! Henry and I shared this because even though I always think that I can house something all on my own, chances are my belly will step up and remind me of my limits.

Random Henry Shot.

Chooch passed on the water ice and opted instead for boba.

We went to a really sad arcade inside the Boardwalk Mall. It was…really sad but also full of character. The elderly lady running the place seemed like a true Boardwalk installation. Someone came to visit her, presumably her daughter (?) and brought their dog, who the elderly lady later told us was named Boardwalk Bob. I LOVED THIS WHOLE PORTION OF THE DAY.

GOD LOVE HER.

PROTECT THIS BOARDWALK BROAD.

Well, I think I will end the first portion of day 1 here.

Aug 112022
 

I can’t believe I missed Duran Duran Day yesterday! I even saw it on the work calendar earlier this week and was all geared up to Simon Le Bon the shit out of my coworkers, but alas. Here we are, a day late and a…Duran short.

This is super cliché, but my all-time favorite Duran song is Hungry Like the Wolf. I was just a small tot when it came out, and it’s one of those songs that still triggers an emotional response in my brain and belly, and I want nothing more but to be transported back in time, riding to my Pappap’s house in my mom’s red Pontiac with the McD’s sweet and sour sauce stains on the backseat, ready for a long summer day of swimming. Ah, to relive the 80s!

My dad had several Duran Duran CDs in his garage music collection and I can remember sneaking in there during one of our many STAND OFFS and “borrowing” some of them to make mixed tapes with in the mid-90s.

And another strong memory involving this song was the time in high school when I accompanied Lisa to get her bellybutton pierced in Oakland. Her mom was also there since Lisa was a minor, and Lisa’s older friend / former babysitter Kim who I thought was SO COOL back then but then learned as an adult how decidedly NOT COOL she is when we had briefly reunited. Anyway, I had my camcorder with me because that was basically an extension of my arm back then, and I remember walking down the sidewalk and screaming I LOVE THIS SONG as we walked past a parked car with Hungry Like the Wolf emanating from within. (This is yet another reminder to get all of my old home videotapes converted – HENRY HELP WITH THIS PLZ AND THANKS.)

To this day, when I hear this song, I have to pause and take it in, marinate in that 80s new romantic synth bath. It just never gets old to me, and that opening laugh makes me giddy every time.

Pretty  much anything Duran Duran did in the 80s is my personal preference, but tailing Hungry Like the Wolf for my favorite is this masterpiece that they released in the 90s which I always associate with the way my bedroom was arranged at the time – bed to the right of the doorway, facing the window – which my mom did while I was in Europe with my grandparents. Every time I hear that song, I can imagine myself laying on my bed and watching the video on MTV on my teeny tiny white TV on the wavy metal shelf that I STILL HAVE as an adult. 

Anyway, I love when so many childhood memories are attached to a band.

P.S. My aunt Susie had the most majestic Simon Le Bon bouffant back then too – Simon Le Bouffant?

Jun 052022
 

Today’s tale is a repost from the time Chooch and I heroically saved a moth on the Boulevard during the summer of 2017. Please do enjoy. Let me fluff your pillow for you first. I’m that Nice Bitch.

***

Henry had to work for a few hours this morning, so Chooch and I were over here unsupervised. I decided that I didn’t want to make coffee so I woke him up and suggested that we walk down to Brookline Boulevard so I could get an iced latte from Cafe Noir. I used to hate Cafe Noir because it moved in when Cannon Coffee closed, and the first latte I had tasted strange, not bad per se, but just kind of off. However, I’ve been there numtoerous times since then and the lattes have been phenomenal so now I think it was a problem with the soy milk that day? MAYBE IT WAS ROTTEN?! I don’t know.

Anyway, Chooch and I made it all the way there without disaster or talking to strangers or getting bit by dogs. I guess it was too early for domestic disputes, and the bars weren’t open yet, so the Boulevard was pretty quiet.

Las Palmas didn’t even have their insanely popular taco cart set up yet — it was that early.

Even too early for any strippers to be leaning all slinkily inside doorframes. (Chooch and I actually passed a trio of suspect hookers/strippers the other evening. When I mentioned it after we walked away, Chooch said, “Oh I didn’t notice. Why do you think they’re strippers? Because the one had on that that black shirt that was open all the way down to her bellybutton with a small bra underneath—”

And I interrupted to say, “Yeah and she had on that leather—”

“Choker,” Chooch finished knowingly. OK but yeah, he didn’t noticed.)

But yeah, back to this morning.

We made it to Cafe Noir, where I finally got my morning fix and Chooch ordered his Arnold Palmer with a strangulated stutter and then dwelled on it for the next minute, and probably even longer had we not noticed a small lump on the sidewalk two storefronts up from Cafe Noir.

At first I thought it was a furry leaf, but upon further inspection, Chooch and I found out that it was a MOTH! The largest moth I ever saw in real life! It was laying on its side with its wings together, so it just looked like a basic moth. I didn’t like that it was sitting out in the path of walkers, joggers, bikers, skaters, dogs, future serial killers who love to pull wings off beautiful things….so I said urgently to Chooch, “We have to move him. He’s not safe here!”

Chooch dove headfirst into the deep end of the animal rescue pool. If he was wearing long sleeves, this would be where he rolled them up in a serious LET’S DO THIS motion. JUST LIKE ON TV.

Ever since I was a child, I was always told DO NOT TOUCH A MOTH BECAUSE YOU WILL RUB OFF THE POWDER FROM ITS WINGS AND IT WILL DIEEEEE. So I have never touched a moth or a butterfly because I’m not a murderer.

Of animals or insects, that is.

So I grabbed the nearest leaf and gently tapped it against the moth’s legs or whatever they’re called.

And it was at that moment that it twitched and sat up straight, and in the most dramatic fashion it spread it’s huge wings open wide to reveal the grandest markings I have ever seen on this side of a slideshow in a darkened science classroom.

Chooch and I cried a seriously impressed “WHOA!” in unison, and leaned in closer to admire this total babe all spread out in front of us. People were walking by giving us double takes, because what are those dummies looking at, last night’s puke? A discarded syringe?

NO, JUST A GIFT FROM NATURE, RIGHT HERE IN FROM THE RECORD STORE. YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND.

I swear to god, this majestic moth was the size of half my hand. We expected it to fly away now that it’s wings were open, but it still just sat there.

“Maybe it’s injured,” I said sadly. We tried a few more times to move it, to at least scoot it over closer to the window of the record store where it was out of the direct path of foot traffic but it was becoming increasingly clear that it wasn’t going to budge.

“We can’t do this without something sturdier to slide under it. I hate to leave it but I don’t think there’s anything we can do for it without touching it with our hands and I don’t want to hurt it!” I cried.

“Too bad we don’t have like, a plastic lid or something,” Chooch shrugged hopelessly as we started to walk away. And then 10 feet later, no lie, there was an old red tupperwear lid laying on the sidewalk.

WHAT ARE THE ODDS, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? IT WAS A FUCKING OMEN! Just like the time Chooch was singing some semi-obscure song from the 80s that I can’t remember at the time of this writing, and then it came on the radio at Eat n Park. He has a bit of magic in him I think. OR HE’S REALLY GOOD AT HIDING HIS SORCERY SCHOOL SYLLABUS. Why did I capslock that, who knows with me, I have blogging dementia.

Chooch grabbed the magically materialized lid and we excitedly ran back to our post-caterpillar charity case and if this were a silent film from the 20s, the caption at the bottom would say HELP IS ON THE WAY! as Chooch and I crashed into each other and fell into a heap of incompetence and idiocy.

With steady concentration and determination, we were able to scoop the moth up on the lid. There was a small grassy area — you know, like a tree bed or whatever you call those parts of sidewalks that are grassy with flowers and bushes and usually some small trees too — a few feet away from our starting point, and I made it almost all the way there before the moth flopped back onto the sidewalk.

“Nooo!” Chooch and I yelled with unbridled anguish. We sat back down on the sidewalk, trying to essentially tickle the moth back onto the lid with a leaf.

An old man stopped.

“Wow, that’s a big Monarch butterfly!” he exclaimed and we were like yeah whatever guy it’s not a butterfly, probably, but we don’t know, so maybe. (Actually, we used our Phone a Friend lifeline later and asked Chris via text, who confirmed that it was a moth so…..sucks to be wrong, old man.)

I explained that it appeared to be injured so we wanted to move it out of harm’s way so that he wouldn’t think we were mothnapping it for our bug prostitution ring or something.

“Oh it’s injured?” he repeated.

Well I mean it’s NOT FLYING AWAY SO EITHER HELP US OR LEAVE, OLD MAN, UGH.

He lost interest and left.

But then a couple who had passed us earlier paused on their way back. The man part of the couple got real close to us and asked tentatively, “So, what’s going on here?” while the girl part of the couple stood far back, shaking her head in an UH UH, NOPE, NO BUGS FOR ME fashion.

We sighed and explained once again our mission, but this man, this kind brave avuncular soul said to us, “Oh, I have something that I can help.”

He set down the shopping bag he was carrying and I waited for him to pull out the butterfly net or the Magic Moth Dust jar, but instead it was two Avon flyers. He placed one on the ground, on either side of the moth, slowly pushed them together until the moth was in the middle of the makeshift gurney, and asked us, “Where we taking it?”

Chooch pointed to the grass next to us, and our wonderful Samaritan gently laid the flyers down and let the moth free in its new safe haven.

“Oh my god, thank you so much!” I cried.

“Oh, you’re welcome! I like helping animals too. Oh, and while I’m at it….” he said, pausing to reach into his shopping bag for the chloroform-soaked handkerchiefs to help him turn Chooch and me into the latest items of his People of Brookline trafficking catalogue. “—I’m helping my daughters sell Avon, so you keep that flyer and here’s an Avon book, too,” he said, handed me all kinds of Avon literature, which I happily accepted because I’d rather wear gross Avon perfume than a chloroform handkerchief any day.

The guy’s name was Marcus, and I will never forget him.

As we parted ways, saying one last goodbye to Moth, we turned just in time to see a man walking his pug straight into the path of where we had originally found Moth.

“DID YOU SEE THAT?!” Chooch yelled with his hand over his chest like a Golden Girl. “THAT is why we had to move that moth!”

I wholeheartedly agreed.

We walked the rest of the way home, sucking on our Cafe Noir drinks with the force of two firefighters, exhausted and dehydrated from putting out some 5 Alarm blaze, recounting our Super Big Exciting OMG Can You Believe It Morning, adrenaline pumping and egos flaring. Then Chooch and some old man crashed into each other on Pioneer Ave, and then awkwardly stood in a weird embrace as the old man struggled to regain his bearings, and Chooch wiped his Arnold Palmer spills from his shirt. It was great to watch as a third-party bystander.

As soon as we got home, I sent Henry this text:

He literally had no fucks and negative cares to give about this. Chooch and I were extremely offended.

“What exactly did you save it from?” Henry went on to text from work.

“Imminent death?!” I replied, like duh, what a dumb question, and Henry replied that he thought I was being a bit extreme.

*************************************************

“Why didn’t you just pick it up?” Henry asked me just a little while ago, so I told him about what I had learned as a kid.

“Didn’t you ever hear that?” I asked.

“No!” he laughed, and his outright skepticism made me google it just now and turns out IT’S NOT TRUE! So I basically missed out on 30+ years of moth touching? I did read a lot of things just now that say while it won’t kill moths and butterflies, it could still shorten their lifespan and handling them incorrectly could fatally injure them. So probably it’s for the best that we didn’t pick up Moth with our fumbling, uncoordinated meat-mitts. I also read that they like to play dead, so hopefully that means Moth wasn’t actually injured, but just in some type of self-preservation mode.

A few hours ago, Chooch and I walked back to where we left Moth, and he was gone! We took that as a good sign, that Moth presumably flew home to his family in….a bush or wherever they live, with Saturday morning donut crumbs from Party Cake bakery. What I refuse to believe is that some dumb dog devoured him or that it hopped out into the road and…..don’t make me spell it out for you. :(

God, it feels great to be a hero though. If I was a Girl Scout, I bet I would have earned a badge.

Apr 232022
 

It all started with Korea. Almost everything in my life does, so who’s surprised here.

We were talking about the upcoming Psy album because it’s full of super-hyped duets and collabs. Henry actually scooped me on this one: Psy and Hwasa have allegedly covered an old Pia Zadora song.

“PIA ZADORA?!” I screeched.

Look. Someone at my Pappap’s house liked her in the 80s and I can remember that one of her cassettes was permanently housed in a kitchen drawer near the fridge. As a kid in elementary school, all I knew was that she was “the singer with the crazy hair and weird name.” Of course I didn’t know until years later that she was also the butt of Late Night jokes and a bit scandalous.

I’m pretty sure it was my Aunt Sharon who liked her, and Sharon must be sending me signs from the beyond because I have been reminded of her nearly every day this week.

Anyway! This started the Google descent because first I needed to know what song this was that Psy and Hwasa would be covering and I can safely say that I have never heard it but this is evidently the second time it’s been covered by Korean singers – is Pia big in Korea?!

Then I needed to, of course, see if she’s dead. She is not!

So now I’m on getting deeper in and this is how I saw that she was listed in the cast of Troop Beverly Hills…wait, what? And then it was starting to come back to me because I saw that movie (one of the best, honestly) in the theater with my Girl Scout Troop OBVIOULSY and have a vague recollection of cheering when she was on the screen for a blip and everyone being like, “????” but then not really caring to know because this was also around the same time I was obsessed with Zsa Zsa Gabor too so my peers just knew when to walk away.

Well, now that I was fully immersed in the Troop Beverly Hills cast list, Henry admitted that he had never seen it. Friends….WHAT. I have clearly done this man a disservice if I wasted 20 years of opportunities to rectify this.

I know that we’ve talked about this movie before at least because he was there in the early 2000s when I realized that JENNY LEWIS was in Rilo Kiley — I used to love them so much in their early years! And fun fact: When Chooch was born, I opted for him to have Henry’s last name because I thought that “Riley Kelly” was too much like “Rilo Kiley” and also didn’t cascade off the tongue as beautifully as Riley Robbins.

Back then, when I told people my reasoning, they were like, “Rilo who?” It got even better when I said he was named after the drummer of Thrice.

“Thrice?”

But I digress! Now that I knew that Henry hadn’t seen this, and after watching the 30 year reunion of some of the cast (Shelley Long is the greatest) on YouTube, I made the unilateral decision that we would be spending our Friday night by watching one of the best movies of my whole childhood.

I screamed at the Frankie and Annette cameo!

This movie REALLY HOLDS UP. I forgot about how perfectly it makes fun of itself. And how fabulous Shelley Long is. And how much I miss the show Life Goes On.

And guess what?? Henry said that he didn’t hate it and I kept staring at him to make sure he wasn’t falling asleep. Of course, he did his typical “ok what?” smirk here and there but that’s only because he doesn’t understand Girl Scout things.

I screamed, “I can’t believe you never saw this!” And he goes, “What year did this come out? YEAH, I WAS 24.”

OOh OK, tough guy. So, after he went AWOL.

Still on that Pia Zadora tip though and needing someone to stop me from purchasing a vintage Pia Zadora satin bomber jacket for $130.

I’ll leave you with the opening credits because I forgot how amazing they are and also because I WAS OBSESSED WITH THIS BEACHBOYS SONG and 100% had this recorded from the TV onto a mix tape so I could roller skate to it in the basement. Just so good, I’m crying, I want to be 9 again (well, actually no).

Mar 242022
 

Oh diary, dear diary, you might recall that I had the day off on Monday. I didn’t really do much other than go to the dentist (ugh), read more of two books that I was trudging through (they ended up being BACK TO BACK 1 STAR READS), and go on two long walks – once around my ‘hood and then after lunch I went to Jefferson Memorial.

I know most cem-enthusiasts would choose a place like Allegheny Cemetery or Homewood Cemetery as their fave graveyards for the gothic, historic aesthetic. But my favorite is Jefferson Memorial in Pleasant Hills. It has more of a park-feel, and no above ground headstones or crypts. BUT, it is where my birth dad, grandparents, and Aunt Sharon live. It is also where I learned how to drive with my pally Lisa (my parents absolutely refused to teach my ass and I subsequently didn’t get my license until I was nearly NINETEEN because my mom “didn’t trust me.”).

Actually, here is a clip of that amateur drivers ed class because I just found a VHS of high school footage in the attic, which is evidently just a gigantic treasure chest for mementoes and memories.

I tried to “relax” after I was done walking (apparently had five miles under my belt at that point which someone on Instagram commented that I must not be human, walking that much in Vans and I honestly didn’t even notice that I was wearing Vans as opposed to whatever types of tennis shoes are made for walking). Relaxing is extremely hard for me. I sat here for MAYBE five minutes. MAYBE. This is my favorite area of all of the cemetery though.

I thought this was in focus when I took it but now I can see that it clearly was not. Good thing I finally made myself an eye appointment for this Saturday. WOW WHO AM I?? A dentist, eye, and hair appointment all in the span of one week-ish?? Am I an adult now? Me thinks so.

OK, I have to be stupid/sappy/cringey here for a second. While I was clomping around the cem in my Vans, I suddenly felt VERY SAD and lonely. Kind of wistful I guess?? I dunno that I have ever really thought about that sort of feeling but I think I was having it that afternoon: WISTFULNESS. Wow, now I’m imagining myself standing on a windy cliff in Scotland on an overcast day, with a veil blowing in the frigid breeze, staring into the sea.

WISTFULNESS.

Let’s not get carried away, Erin.

I realized that the cause of my weird empty-pit feeling was that I wished dumb Henry was there.

In this exact spot in 2001, I was having a Really Bad Day / Borderline Breakdown (it’s near my birth dad’s grave & I was having an identity crisis). For some reason, I called Not-My-Boyfriend-Yet Henry on my NOKIA cell phone, & he came to the cemetery to calm me down. He brought me a bottle of water, which I promptly choked/drowned on. Something about that moment must have made him think, “this girl is a MESS. I’ll stick around, see how this plays out.” Lol. Anyway, we were at the same spot together a few weekends ago so I RECREATED that moment.

Pretty sure I have referenced this moment in here before, but a quick run-down of the full story is that I was still dating my then-boyfriend Jeff. Just that day, I had been reunited with my birth dad’s mom and aunt, having no contact with them at all after my dad died in 1982. I had absolutely no memory of these people, and it was really jarring to sit there and hear good stories about my birth dad when I had spent my whole life up until then either being told about all the horrible things he had done or just flat out or just having everyone act like he never existed, like I didn’t grow up not knowing who my dad was.

So, it was VERY emotional for me that day. I was supposed to have plans that night with Jeff, so I called him from my car on the way back home from this bizarre reunion. I was pretty rattled and cried a little bit while recapping the afternoon for him. His response was something along the lines of, “Well, if you’re going to be all upset and crying, let’s just hang out another time.”

What a sweetheart!

Instead of going home, I stopped at the cemetery. I found my dad’s grave (my mom had showed it to me once when I was a kid and I remembered the general area, but I spent a good while shambling around like a zombie until I finally spotted it) and sat there, just absolutely losing my mind and mourning the loss of a dad I barely knew, for the first time in 20 years.

I had a boyfriend who wanted no parts in supporting me while I tried to process this new family and information, and a co-worker/something more who dropped everything when I called him, told me not to go anywhere, and met me at the cemetery with a bottle of water. Dude, choose the person who cares about your hydration. Choose them every time! Obviously I dumped Jeff very soon after this and then, well, THE REST OF HISTORY *vomit puke barf*

****

Back to 2022. So I was feeling all “wah wah” without Henry and thought, “Hey. I will call him. That is what cell phones are for.” So I did and he was really short with me and being annoying because he was “WORKING” so then I quickly fell back down to earth and just like that, WISTFULNESS CURED, MOTHERFUCKER.