Jan 182020
 

This was intended to be a Friday Five but then I went all in after work yesterday on putting the finishing touches on my cult & spiritual leaders Valentine minis which have been plaguing my brain since I first decided last year that I wanted to make them. Hopefully people like them, so look forward to that – should be posted on Etsy later today!

So anyway, here are five things that I have been putting off memorializing on this piece because I’ve had bloglock over the last few months – I think I still enjoy writing in here but I can’t be sure, and then there’s the lack of motivation because all of my energy is funneled elsewhere, so maybe the blog-era of my life is finally winding down? Here is where I perform a big, lazy shrug for no one to see.

  1. My Neglected Son–Wait, I Have a Son?

Several months ago, Chooch and I were on one of our nightly walks — you know, the ones where he oscillates between talking about school drama and new math (he had a math test the other day and practically swan-leapt out of the house, fucking weirdo) — when he so very casually mentioned that he had been interviewed by “some broad” at the teen center.

“For what? What about? Who was she? Where is this being published?” I asked in the spit-fire nature of an interrogating mom.

He shrugged. All I could glean from him was that it was something about the head of the teen center, Caitlin. And they wanted quotes from him because he’s “basically the face of the teen center.” Um, his words.

Well, on the first of January, I received an e-newsletter from the teen center – apparently he signed me up for this so now I can have evidence that I’m marginally involved in his teen center activities.

In the newsletter was this graphic:

CHECK OUT THAT QUOTE FROM RILEY, 13-YEAR-OLD 8TH GRADER…Yes, that is my son, putting his parents on blast for allegedly neglecting him and never being home. WOW JUST WOW OK SON. We get home at 6pm everyday, like most working parents, yet he stays at the teen center until 9pm anyway because he’s obsessed with being there! He even eats dinner there even though Henry makes dinner at home!? I called him out on this and he shrugged. “They took it out context,” he explained. “I also said that you guys aren’t home after school because you’re busy working hard.” YEAH, THAT SURELY SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING HE WOULD SAY.

So, that’s cool. One Saturday, Henry and I walked past the teen center while Chooch was in there and I said, “Should we go in there and officially announce ourselves as his parents so they know we exist?”

Henry considered this, then said, “Nah” so we continued eating our cookies from the bakery while walking home, and YES WE GOT COOKIES FOR CHOOCH TOO even though he is the one who abandons US but that’s fine. I’m not bitter.

Fucking teen center kidnapped my son.

2. Guy on Road

I was walking to the ATM the other night when I saw some commotion at this one intersection a block down from my house. Some guy was standing in the road directing traffic, and as I got closer, I noticed that another man was lying prostrate on the road with a small crowd of people around him, wailing, “I am in so much pain” and I’m not sure exactly what happened but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that he was trying to cross (AT THE CROSSWALK) and some OMG-IN-A-HURRY car came barreling up the hill and hit him. I HATE crossing the street here and I have to do it every morning on the walk to work (actually, I could walk on the other side of the street but then I would have to cross extra times and I am bad at crossing streets except that I just admitted to Henry that I have become better at jaywalking since working downtown because Pittsburgh is like the unofficial capital of jaywalking, not sure if we should be proud of that). Anyway, I can’t tell you how many people barely – BARELY – stop at the stop signs at this 3-way intersection and I have nearly been clipped numerous times after already establishing my right-of-way by making it to the middle of the walk. I usually have to do this really clumsy deer-run to the other side every morning because nothing makes me more nervous on my walks to the trolley than morning commuters because you know, they’re in a big hurry to turn the bend and sit in traffic at a red light.

Actually, there is something that makes me more nervous and that is having a brick fall on my head which recently happened – not the “falling on my head” part but bricks did in fact fall from the top of a building that I habitually pass by but luckily it happened late at night when no one was standing there. It was roped off by police tape for a few days and when I found out why, I did a cartoon *GULP*.

Anyway, back to the man. On my way back from the ATM, the whole rescue brigade was there by then and the street was lit up by emergency lights which is nothing new for Pioneer Avenue. I still don’t know exactly what happened, but I sure hope that guy didn’t die.

Unless he was a bad man. Then die, motherfucker. Get what you deserve.

Random Drew.

3. Geomi-Nim

I know I mentioned at one point that I had obtained a pet kitchen spider and named him “Geomi-Nim” which means “Mister Spider” in Korean but I don’t have a Korean keyboard on my work computer so I can’t type it properly. Well, he had a good long run (at least two months, I think?!) in four different locations in the kitchen, but I guess he ultimately either tired of me screaming Korean vocab at him and packed his shit and left, or he died. Because he’s been gone for a month now and hasn’t resurfaced, which makes me sad but Henry is just happy that he can use his container of sesame seeds again without being a literal homewrecker.

Anyway, here’s a picture I took Geomi-Nim in his third property. I miss him and his beautiful webs.

Also, I have no idea what gender he was because I refused to Google; look, having one mild-looking spider in my house is one thing, but I do not want my computer screen filled with threatening photos of spider species. Henry said that he thought spiders were genderless but I was like, “OK, explain then Charlotte, then” and he was like, “………that was a cartoon.”

4. ANGRY MEETING

Earlier in the week, we had a meeting to go over a new thing that is happening. During this, someone said, “But what about *boring work thing*?” and the person in charge of the meeting was like, “What are you talking about” and then I said, “Here is my idea for a work-around to *boring work thing*” and person in charge was like, “No that is dumb that won’t work” IN SO MANY WORDS so I was like, “OK” and went back to shutting down because this is my work life lately. Shrinking into the corners and hoping no one will look at me, lol.

About 10 minutes later, GLENN said, “Can’t we do *INSERT EXACTLY WHAT I HAD PROPOSED*” and person in charge was all, “Huh! Let’s test that out!” and I was sitting there with my mouth hanging open, thinking IS NO ONE REALLY GOING TO SAY ANYTHING so I did what I do best which is drop down to elementary school age, flap my arms in the arm, and whine, “THAT IS EXACTLY THE SAME THING I SAID THOUGH?!!?” and person in charge was like, “No, it wasn’t?” and I was searching the room with desperate eyes, willing someone to stand up for all that is right and take my side WHICH IS ALWAYS THE GOOD SIDE but no one did so instead of dropping it, I pressed on and said, “No, that’s the same thing I suggested and you said it wouldn’t work” and Lauren was like, “Maybe you said it a different way, I think” AND NO I DID NOT. Meanwhile, Glenn was over there wading in Smug Lagoon with a handful of old people butterscotch candies, looking so pleased with himself and I was like, “I WILL NEVER LET THIS GO” and true to my word, I spent the rest of the day fueled by that fire and made sure to tell everyone who would listen.

“I’M NOT SAYING I’M GOING TO LIGHT A FIRE OR ANYTHING, LORI, BUT MAYBE DON’T GO OVER NEAR GLENN’S DESK LATER,” I fumed, and Lori was all, “OMG you’re mad.” But Nate and Cathy consoled me afterward and both confirmed that I did, in fact, suggest the same thing, and Cathy, who always wants to give people the benefit of the doubt, said that maybe person in charge just understand fully at that time what the issue at hand truly was (she definitely didn’t, so I will agree with Cathy there). I usually don’t show my temper at work but this really set me off, primarily because it brought back some really bad, negative feelings from a former position I once held there and I didn’t like it. Bad memories. Stay in the past.

I mean, in what world does GLENN have a good idea, anyway!??!

I’m OK now though. I was invited to be a part of a brainstorming session for something else and the other people involved in this will not be so dismissive of my suggestions, so I am looking forward to that.

5. The Ring

Sometime back in 2003, Henry and I went to Salem, MA for a little vacation. This was still early into our relationship – we had been together for about 2 years at this point, I guess, and sometimes I look back on those times and think, “How did we make it to 2020?” Oh, I jest! Only a little. Anyway, while there, I bought this ring at one of the little witchy shops and I loved it, but then almost immediately after purchasing it, I accidentally wore it into the shower once and the soap/shampoo left the once-clear stone completely cloudy, so that you could no longer see the witchy design it was meant to magnify.

I complained about it a ton back then, off and on for at least 5 years I would bring it up, because I would still wear it sometimes in spite of the soap scum, which was in the underneath of the cabochon so I couldn’t reach it. I tried using a q-tip to scrub it but it was too big, I tried soaking it in jewelry cleaner, I tried witchy spells to cosmically cleanse it, but nothing worked! Henry. when asked for help, would  smoosh his mustache up while inspecting it and then shrug.

The other day, I wore it because like I said, I paid money for the thing so I’m still going to allow it to decorate my finger, you know? For some reason, I felt inspired to once again bring up my plight to Henry.

“Hmm, let me see that,” he said, taking the ring off of me. And then he got out one of his tool-things, popped the cabochon out from the prongs, polished its underside, and then put it back.

JUST LIKE THAT.

HE COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS 17 YEARS AGO?!!?!?

“I literally did not know that this was even a thing,” he said defensively, confused as to why I was yelling at him instead of thanking him.

So this leads me to believe that Henry just blocked me out for much of the early years, so should I be happy that he listens to me now, or pissed that he didn’t listen to me then? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Actually, I think he just hadn’t learned to fear me yet in the beginning. He’s learned a lot over the years about my INNER WITCH.

And I think that’s all I got for this belated Friday Five. Today I will be focusing on Valentines, Korean-learning, and reading. I got two books from the library on Thursday! ALL BY MYSELF!

 

Jan 162020
 

I needed background music while Chooch and I were having reading time on Sunday, and Kpop wouldn’t work in this sense because I always find myself focusing on the words to see if I can figure out any of the Korean (#obsession). So on a whim, I put on a dark synthpop playlist on YouTube. A MILLION MEMORIES AND WARM FEELINGS CAME OVER ME.

So, I’ve gone through a lot of music phases; some of them make me feel uncomfortable when I think about it because of the weird time of life it was, like when I was into very cold, angular indie-experimental stuff like Blonde Redhead and Deerhoof; I actually shudder when I think of those days. But when I was very heavy into synthpop, it was the very, very, very beginning of my relationship with Henry. I was obsessed with this label – A Different Drum – and used to buy all sorts of compilations from them. Henry, in an effort to win my heart, used to make me CDs of synthpop that he ILLEGALLY DOWNLOADED OMG. Can you imagine Henry, 35-years-old at that time, living alone in some weird apartment, burning synthpop CDs for me? I mean, it’s kind of cute.

Those CDs remind me of cozy winters, so even though it was unseasonably warm over the weekend, it still brought back waves of comfort as I curled up on the couch and read a book.

But then I had an idea!

I typed in “Synthpop workouts” in the YouTube search bar and was sad to see that there really isn’t much of a goth/synth cardio niche on YouTube. Look, I have been considering (only half-jokingly) of making my own amateur workout videos for some time now. My only problem, aside from being extremely awkward on camera, is that I have a difficult time moving while narrating what’s coming up and singing out motivational filler. I would want to do just super-casual and fun walking workouts, because those are my go-to videos on YouTube when I need to boost my step-count, I’m too tired/sore/sick for high-impact cardio, or I still have some energy to burn off after doing a strength-training workout.

I’m kind of obsessed with constantly moving. I don’t even watch my K-Dramas without walking in place (here is that part where I make a subtle hint for Henry to finally buy me that treadmill). But the walking workouts on YouTube are…eh. There’s Leslie Sansone, but her shrill Janice-from-Friends laugh gets to me. There’s Jessica Smith, but she always uses that generic cardio music which doesn’t help motivate me. I really like this one broad, Gina B, because her walking workouts are all themed to things like, “Walk to the 80s!” or “Disco Walk!” – so it’s fun because you’re doing these upbeat walking/cardio workouts to good pop music from past eras, and it helps keep you interested. IT DOES THAT FOR ME, ANYWAY.

But man, I would be so down for a synthwalk. Even the real morose dark synthpop still has that thumping bassline which, I truly believe, would translate well to simple box steps, grapevines, step-taps – whatever walks are in the arsenal.

So the other night, I cried out, “I WILL JUST MAKE MY OWN SYNTHPOP WALKING WORKOUTS!” And Chooch and Janna will be my back-up walkers (Chooch already said no and Janna doesn’t know yet but I guess she’ll find out if she ever reads this; say yes, Janna) and we will all black – maybe gowns? Robes? Stompy boots, for sure. And we’ll light candles everywhere, and in between the higher-energy tracks, we’ll do body-weight moves to a slower-tempo funeral dirge, maybe hoist a weighted plank, a move we will call, “The Pallbearers.”

Fun fact about the above song: I once listened to it on repeat for an entire 8-hour shift at this one shitty job I had where I worked with like 8 people in a basement until midnight, and then I genuinely wanted to fucking kill myself afterward. No hyperbole here.

This could be a good cool-down track. PASS THAT INVISIBLE ORB OF ENERGY.

I have a vision of Janna crying at some point, to help keep the ambiance in the room aligned with the tragic vibe of this Mind Side Out track, so perhaps this will be the portion of the fitness video where Henry burns her with a candle off-camera.

I was telling my co-workers about this on Monday and they were like, “Wow. Glad you found your….calling.” I mean, I’ve attempted and failed at making writing, photography, and art a career,  so hopefully fitness figurehead is where my true talent lies!

NO I TAKE IT BACK: My favorite Depeche Mode song would be the PERFECT cool-down song:

 

See also: Wendy 1999 for a scintillating story sort of about this song.

“So what, are you just going to use your phone to film this?” Chooch asked me in that AWESOME judgmental tone of a middle schooler bracing himself for impending parental embarrassment. But the fact that he’s thinking this far ahead means that he BELIEVES IN ME!

Anyway, hopefully this comes into fruition once I conquer my inability to say motivational things without stepping on my foot. I think it’s going to be way better than my idea from 2004 to open a Crucifixion-themed restaurant.

ETA: I was just filling in Chooch re:The Pallbearer move.

“You made me pause my movie for that?” Chooch snarfled, and Henry Buttinsky was all, “Where are you getting this ‘weighted plank’?” because when he’s not White Knighting, he’s standing in a corner with a needle, punching holes in my logic.

“I mean, it’s just going to be, like, a board with weights on it,” I shrugged, like what else would I use? An actual coff—-

OMG I NEED AN ACTUAL COFFIN!

Jan 092020
 

OK guys, it’s crunch time. January is the saddest month, with February following close behind, so it’s time to plan as much as fun activities as possible to beat the winter blues. We’re already down one weekend, and I must say, no complaints here on my end.

Saturday was GLOOM-HEHEHEHEHEHE-MY. All gray and moist, cold with a tinge of snow. Chooch ditched us almost as soon as he awoke because GOTTA GET TO THE TEEN CENTER OMG. He didn’t know what to do with himself during Christmas break because that damn place was closed. I kept sending him pictures of Drew and me, which really triggers him because Drew is “HIS CAT” but I was like, “I’m her best friend now since you abandon her all the time for the teen center.” If that made him feel guilty, I wouldn’t know because he certainly didn’t come running home from the teen center.

It was super dismal Saturday afternoon and that made me feel very tired, but I still met up with Jiyong for the first language exchange of the year. It was real fun because we talked about the differences and similarities of dating culture. So, one of the things I learned from watching k-dramas is that Koreans use this term called “some” to explain the stage two people are in right before they commit to officially dating. So they’ll say that they’re “in a some.” Jiyong asked with the western equivalent of that would be and I guess “flirting,” although that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to lead to anything since some people are just flirts by nature, lol. And I guess if you wanted to get super old-school, you could say “courting.” So I said that things were so different back in when I was in high school because cell phones weren’t a thing that everyone and their baby sister had – my mom had one but it was literally considered a “car phone” then and I remember it had this bulky vinyl case or covering, it was so strange. I told Jiyong that we would write notes and leave them in the person’s locker, or have a friend hand-deliver it.

“You didn’t have a pager?” she asked in disbelief, because I guess it was common in Korean for teenagers to have pagers in the 90s/00s?! I actually did have a pager, so it was funny to me that she mentioned that because, and correct me if it was different wherever you, Dear Reader, grew up, but in my area of suburban Pittsburgh, it was considered something of a…certain type of status symbol to have a pager, and it also subtly implied that perhaps you were a drug dealer, lol.

I had one (it was a translucent purple Motorola) because I begged my mom for one since I needed to keep up my urban aesthetic and my mom went along with it because she figured it was a way to digitally nag me. I had my pager soooo customized. I would always change the song that played when someone called it and I remember thinking I was SO CLEVER the time I changed it to Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell,” a song I only knew because it was on some movie soundtrack from around that time in the 90s although if I had a pager right now, it would be this song:

Anyway, I guess my first “boyfriend” and I were basically “in a some” because we only “dated” for like a month and in that time, the only time we saw each other outside of school was when we met up at a tennis court near his house so I could teach him to play tennis (look I know I a slut back then but this truly is not a euphemism) but then his super over-protective mom stood in her yard and screamed for him to come home after 30 minutes i.e, the amount of time it took her to realize her son was out with a girl thanks to one of his NARC-y little brothers. But yeah, I think we held hands once in school, maybe? And then that relationship ended when my friend Scott fought him in the boy’s locker room because Scott liked me too and then they both had to go to the principal’s office and I literally cannot imagine Henry ever fighting for me (or getting called to the principal’s office for anything more than being a flunkee) so at least I can say that at some point in my life, I was fought over. THAT IS PRETTY COOL I GUESS, if you’re into Disney Channel teen programming.

Also, back to pagers, I remember being super into calling random pager numbers to see if anyone would call back (I only did this when friends were over, I wasn’t that lonely and conversation-starved back then) which having my own private phone line made it easy to do. One time, this guy called back and said he WAS A COP?! I remember we were so scared – I can’t remember who was at my house with me that time, maybe Christy? But we were just like OMG OMG OMG OMG don’t arrest us.

My mom would always text me with a 9-1-1 and it was so annoying. Everyone knew that 1-8-7 was the real emergency number to use.

SHIT NOW I KIND OF MISS MY PAGER?! I think there’s even a picture of me somewhere with it clipped to my (overalls) pocket hahaha.

Jiyong also recently came back from visiting her friends in DC, and there are lots of H-Marts in that area (the greatest Korean supermarkets in America) so she made me a little treat bag of Korean snacks, bless her. I also think I’m getting better at annunciation?! That’s what she said, anyway.

Aside from that, I feel like my Saturday mostly consisted of incessant blathering about BIGBANG? That….sounds about right.

The next day, JANNA came over in the afternoon and we headed out to Sugar Spell Scoops for some sweet vegan delights before they go on winter hiatus for the month of January. I’m sad but really, I only go here once a month anyway so I’ll survive, and it’ll just make it feel more exciting the next time we go! This is how you look at things optimistically.

I had a scoop each of Pink Peppermint and Maple & Waffles. YEAH BOI. What more can I say? I have had some subpar vegan scoops before (AHEM MILLIE’S) but Sugar Spell is so consistently delicious. They don’t get that weird, dry texture that some vegan ice cream has – I honestly can’t eat most store bought plant-based ice cream. It just always has…a taste.

Meateater Henry even enjoys an occasional animal-friendly scoop. Here, he can be seen eating the Winter Break sundae, which he had made with peanut butter chocolate ripple. It’s filling enough for a burly lumberjack-type such as himself, and the best part is that I can scarf down two scoops and not feel like absolute shit afterward. Maybe I might be mildly lactose intolerant – Janna and I were just talking about this because she thinks she too might be and this is one of the reasons she, as a carnivore, does not bitch when I suggest going to Sugar Spell and not, I dunno, the Milkshake Factory or whatever the fuck.

If you live in or around Pittsburgh, or are coming in for whatever reason, I HIGHLY suggest stopping here. The people who own it are a freaking delight and the inside of the shop is so charming with a light witchy-vibe. Just be mindful that they’re closed for the rest of January and only open Friday-Sunday otherwise. (Just Saturdays and Sundays in the winter though.) Their pints are available at some local stores so you should check their website/socials for that information – LOOK AT ME BEING A RESPONSIBLE BLOGGER.

They also do custom ice cream cakes so that might be a fun change for Chooch’s next birthday, sorry Bethel Bakery.

I love that vegetarianism/veganism is becoming so much more prevalent and accepted in America. I rarely have those awkward moments at work lunches anymore where there’s nothing on the menu for me and I have to ask for something special or just get a house salad, hold the chicken/ham/bacon thanks.

I still laugh though whenever friends become newly meat-free and start asking me questions about tofu preparation and I’m just like, “Please see Henry, thanks.”

See also:

Don’t Ask Me About Tofu

After we filled up on ice cream, we brought Janna back to our house, where we force-fed her with Korean pop culture and she at one point made the mistake of murmuring, “That guy is really good-looking” to which I practically lunged at her while screaming, “WHO?! SONG MINO?!!? YOU LIKE MINO?!” so then I made her watch a bunch of Winner videos and clips of Mino in various variety shows and then I sent her his Instagram profile and then ran into the kitchen to scream, “JANNA FINALLY HAS A BIAS AND IT’S SONG MINO!” into Henry’s face while he was making kimchi (our house smelled like the ocean all day) he mumbled, “OK, I heard” but I’m sorry, this was a big deal for me!

Image result for song mino gif"

Overall, a pretty solid weekend. Cook on, mothercheffers!

Jan 012020
 

See also: It’s 2020! HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! 

A few months ago, I started seeing people post on Twitter about the best/worst things of the decade and I was like holy shit it never even occurred to me that the decade was ending??! And then I started thinking about my own personal decade and 10 years doesn’t seem that long but shit, I am a very different person than I was in 2010. For starters, I went into 2010 unemployed and in the lowest financial rut of my life. I started working at the law firm in April that year but it took years for us to climb out of the hole.

I started the decade mourning the metaphorical loss of a supposed best friend and it took me half of that decade to realize that she wasn’t a friend at all and suddenly, my life went on!

I left Facebook in 2017, which seems like such a minor thing, why would I include it here but look – I had always been SUPER into social media attention. I used to live for blog comments, Facebook likes, adding to the virtual friend collection—come on, I’m a narcissistic Leo. But I finally matured a little bit and realized that NONE OF THAT MATTERS! Now I write what I want to write, post as much or infrequently as I like, set my phone down for longer than 5 minute increments god forbid…I realized people were looking at me like I was a character and not an actual person and that’s when it suddenly seemed really appealing to dial it back some.Sometimes I even think about quitting this blog altogether and going back to old school journaling, but….writing with a real life pen on actual paper makes my hand cramp.

Now that I’m off Facebook, I stopped comparing myself to other people who post perfectly curated scenes of their life online, and instead I focus on my own life so that I too can do the things I want to do! There was no visit from Lady Luck here, no cheating the system. Just staying patient and positive, and being careful with spending, and that’s what got us to Korea when, just as recent as the beginning of 2010, we could barely afford to go to, I dunno, the county fair. I wish I had known at the beginning of the decade that I was capable of changing my life. I was chained down by really terrible depression and low esteem, that I really didn’t think my life could ever be “OK.” When people say “it gets better” – it really does, but what’s missing from that sentiment is that it’s probably not going to get better unless you want it to and are willing to put in the hard work. And it is HARD WORK. I really think that I had hit my rock bottom back then, and now that I know what that feels like, I never want to go back, therefore, I will never take anything for granted.

What else?? I still live in the same place but I finally realized that the all-white walls were seriously killing me so now my house looks like Pee Wee could film on location here and if you knew me in high school or when I lived in my first apartment, this makes so much sense because my living spaces were always an explosion of color, lights, toys (I had glow in the dark Slinkies hanging from the ceiling of my first apartment)…it’s just who I have always been and sitting here writing in my blog with blinking lights all around my periphery is just, I don’t know, comforting to me.

Health-wise, I entered the decade weighing around 200 pounds. I didn’t feel unhealthy and my check-ups were always fine, but I felt really uncomfortable in my skin. Finally got off my ass and did something about it (there are no magic pills or shakes that are going to make the pounds off, you gotta move and actually pay attention to your damn diet!) and am entering 2020 in the 130s which is something I never thought I was capable of. Now exercise is a huge part of my daily life and maybe Henry will say I’m borderline obsessed, but I guess that’s just my personality.

OK, now I’m thinking about how I lost all 4 of my original cat crew  over the last decade and I’m starting to get depressed so I’m just going to say that the 2010s had its moments but I’m ready to start a new decade as an Older Person.

So that was my decade in a nutshell, and I won’t miss the first half of it at all. AT ALL.

2019 as a whole was a really nice year for me personally (I mean, politically and globally, we were fucked as ever so nothing new there). My only goal in life is to have as much fun as possible without, I don’t know, losing my job or whatever. I think we managed to cram in a lot of fun into 2019 (for Henry, my version of fun loosely translates into STRESS for him, or PAIN, like driving 13 hours to Silver Dollar City with a half-broken back):

And here’s my Top 9 Instagram posts, apparently:

The more I think about it, the more I realize that 2019 can honestly be filed away in the FUCKING FUN drawer. Of course, not every day was great. I still had flip-outs but I think I’m doing OK at managing my moods. (Somewhere Henry is reading this and muttering, “You might want to consider putting in some OT, ‘babe’.”) Having things to look forward to is what helps me get through the work week and combat the Sads. I know it’s not a cure-all, and maybe it’s really not much more than a crutch, but even just having small road trips on the horizon really keeps me giddy.

Not trying to jinx anything, but I think 2020 has the potential to be pretty great and I’m going to make sure I work hard to steer it in that direction! Hopefully kpop will be better this year; 2019 was super traumatic and depressing in that scene. Also, I hope 2020 is a better year for the environment. I’m going to try and make more changes to my own lifestyle as well for the environment’s sake. I keep getting angry at myself because I always forget to bring a damn canvas bag with me when I go to CVS and we have TONS OF CANVAS BAGS so there is literally no excuse. The last time I went to CVS was for a jug of milk and a bottle of Coke for the holiday party we were having and I was like, “NO I DO NOT NEED A BAG” but then I had to carry those damn beverages home and I only live a few blocks away but that shit got heavy after a while!

And if you’ve stuck with this blog til now, thank you! I will try to be less annoying/better at proof-reading in 2020 but I can’t make any promises. My brain is fried and I’m usually blogging from my phone in bed or on the trolley, but I will make some attempts to be more disciplined like I was during the LiveJournal years when I refused to hit “post” until I read the damn thing 17 times and then also made Janna proofread it but no one’s got time for that.

On that note: cook on, mothercheffers.

Dec 292019
 

Our Thanksgiving dinner to go set notwithstanding, it had been a minute since we last dined at Zenith, which is a damn crime because it’s not only my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Pittsburgh, but also one of my favorite restaurants in general all around. I mean, how many places do you know where you can eat a vegan fish sandwich, drink of pot of whichever tea you choose from the broad collection in a cabinet, and buy an antique mental institution wheelchair?

We don’t eat out very often, but even for as infrequently as we visit, the family who runs the place still remembers us and they really make it feel like you’re dining in their home—it’s so cozy and intimate and there is not even a HINT of pretension swirling around the rafters.

I’m not sure I have ever been here during Christmas, now that I think about it…HAVE I BEEN?! My memory is getting foggier and muddier, and I’m not handling it very well. Did I tell you that a few weeks ago, Margie at work asked me when CHOOCH’S birthday is, and with the UTMOST CONFIDENCE, I answered, “June 6th.”

THIS IS NOT CORRECT! That is Henry’s birthday! So I laughed and said, “OMG no that’s not right! It’s April 6th.”

Margie laughed it off and started to change the subject but then the blood began bubbling behind my cheeks as I realized that I WAS WRONG AGAIN. I could have just let it go but what if Margie has some ironclad memory and would always remember that it’s April 6th and then there would be this whole thing where she sees his birth certificate and notices a different date and then puts two and two together that Chooch was kidnapped and NO WONDER ERIN HAS NO MATERNAL INSTINCTS SHE IS NOT A MOTHER.

Sorry. That took a turn. I’m waiting for Henry and Chooch (?!?!) to finish making dinner and I think I’m light headed.

Foodwise, Henry actually enjoys Zenith. I know, it’s hard to imagine him not double fisting some bratwurst but he doesn’t mind going meatless every now and then. (He does not like tofu, though.)

However, Henry usually clenches up the whole time we’re there because I usually find some obscure thing that I need to have, like this hanging lamp from a church that I bought straight from the ceiling of the dining room as Henry and I ate dinner. Or the time Kara and I were having lunch there and whoa, who invited this clown to join us? Oh, right – me.

(Also, apparently I HAVE been there while the Christmas decor was up. My blog serves as my memory now so it’s a good thing I’m all about the HONESTY on here, lol.)

I’m not a big tea drinker but it’s part of the process to pick a fancy tea at Zenith. On this visit, I chose maple vanilla and it was AMAZE. I think sarsaparilla (REALLY THIS IS HOW THAT’S SPELLED?!) is still my favorite that I’ve ever had there.

Oh, and for those playing along at home, Chooch burnt dinner, which was a french fry recipe called “Hume Fries” from his new “The Good Place” cook book. We blamed Henry though because Chooch was supposedly only in charge of cutting the various carbs and Henry was responsible for the oven part.

Henry’s salad. I always appreciated how colorful the Zenith side salads are. None of that soggy, wilted iceburg lettuce and cherry tomato bullshit.

Henry opted for the seitan teriyaki entree – he’s a big fan of seitan, and I am too, honestly. That shit is the meat substitute that God wanted us to have. If more people would open their hearts to seitan, the world would be such a better place! HAVE YOU EVEN TRIED SEITAN WINGS?!

BBQ tofu sandwich – I don’t eat very much bread on my daily diet, so sometimes I crave sandwich buns. This was one so soft and honestly it was almost as good as the BBQ tofu spilling out of it, which btw was the perfect texture: firm but with a nice, springy bounce, like what Henry’s imaginary mistress Cheetah Girl’s boobs were probably like in the 70s.

Chooch got the black bean burrito but I didn’t take a picture of it because you know what a burrito looks like but also because he fucking gutted it immediately so it was basically inside out and looked like a Mexican crime scene.

Oh, and he also ordered an appetizer of buffalo hummus and pita “for the table” and holy shit you guys, is that what buffalo chicken dip tastes like?! I never had it before because I don’t think it was a popular party food yet back when I still ate meat, but I guess the hummus was supposed to be flavored the same and it was honestly the best hummus I’ve ever had and look, I live down the street from Pitaland and also, I’ve been to Greece, so.

If you go to Zenith, save room for whatever vegan Bundt cake option they have going on that day because it will blow your meat-mind, yo. Personally, my favorite will forever be the lemon poppyseed but the chocolate hazelnut hunk up there was *FRENCH FINGER-KISSES*

Chooch and I ditched Henry once the cake plate was licked clean and we walked around to explore. I’m always on the prowl for new things to add to my mishmashed collection at home. There is this old-fashioned pram hanging from the ceiling and I have had my eyes on that for years but I didn’t hound Henry for anything on this visit because we are planning an Easter trip and I am trying to be responsible with my monies but shit, it’s tough when you want everything.

One of the Zenith people came over while Chooch was tapping on an old typewriter, and I thought he was going to be like DO NOT TOUCH but instead he told us that he just recorded a song using the sounds of a typewriter as the background and I thought that was really cool and wanted to ask him if he has it online anywhere but then he distracted me by asking me how long it’s been now so I’ve been coming there and I had to think for a second but wow, it’s been over 10 years now. My first visit was with Kara in 2008!

If you ever go to Zenith, after you polish off the slice of cake that I told you to order, make sure you don’t leave without checking out the bathrooms. There are two, but the door on the left is my favorite. It’s owl-themed! I’m still a little sad because this room was originally painted blue, but it’s been green for so long now that it’s grown on me. I mean, it’s a room full of owls! The only thing better would be a room full of…G-Dragons.

Obligatory selfie.

Obligatory selfie part 2.

Such a selfie station. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been peeing in this bathroom long before Instagram was even a thing yet.

I keep saying that I want to start collecting these old light up Santas (and Easter bunnies!) but then I never do anything about it. Obviously I would keep them year-round in my house.

Ugh, the most nostalgic Christmas trees! My OCD would always flare up anytime the ones we had growing up would be missing lights. I wish I had kept one.

And that was our lovely Saturday afternoon at Zenith, a place that I do not visit nearly enough. One of these years, I will have my birthday dinner there like I have been saying I want to do for the last 10 years. (OR SOMEONE COULD PLAN THAT FOR ME, I DUNNO, JUST A THOUGHT. MY BIRTHDAY IS JULY 30, EVERY YEAR.)

Sep 302019
 

Today I was thinking about how I would like to decorate for Halloween at work, like the olden days, but I just don’t think I will have the time and that KILLS ME. I’ve only had the chance to do this 5x out of the 9 years I’ve been there, and I think my favorite was 2014: the year of the Funeral Parlor Desk. This one was fun because it enabled me to purchase items on eBay that some people might coin “morbid” or “gross” but for me, it was stuff that I wanted to have anyway, like vintage embalming fluid bottles, so it was a lucrative theme for me! Anyway, I’m sharing here the blog recap of the decoration process and the interactive portion of the desk too. It was fun but I remember being extremely frustrated when SOME PEOPLE wouldn’t play along. Like, you don’t want to win a prize? ARE YOU DUMB?!

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My theme this year is Funeral Parlor. I have several post-mortem photos that I keep on my desk year-round and I figured I would just build my Halloween theme around those this year. I’m still in the beginning stages, but so far, it’s really all up in Glenn’s face so that’s good!

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Candy urn. I burnt paper to make ashes and luckily I didn’t burn the house down since I was home alone while playing with fire. You should have seen the disapproving look Marcy was giving me!

It’s been surprisingly difficult to get co-workers to take some candy maggots out of the urn.

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Some light reading.

Today while Glenn was at lunch, I added some cobwebs to his desk too. “Wow. I was gone longer than I thought,” he dead-panned, and then I got all offended when he took it down.

“I had to! You taped it over my keyboard and mouse!” he said defensively. God, chill out, Glenn.

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Ugh, that paper in the background is  going to be the death of me. It’s just scrapbook paper but I’m three pieces short of covering the whole cubicle wall and I’ve already been to three Pat Catan’s (craft store) in search of more. It’s perfect though because it has a velvet-texture. That bottle is one of several empty embalming fluid bottles.

“Oh….you’re decorating again,” my boss said last Friday, after doing a double-take. I couldn’t tell if she was excited or scared, or a mixture of both.

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The next several stages are going to be really fun! I’m building up to the point where it will be interactive like the carnival desk of 2012. Glenn is just totally on the edge of his seat!

Today, I came up with an incredible idea that made me lose it at my desk. I confided in Mean Amber who said, “Wow. You’re a genius.”

“I know,” I said, but that came out all wrong.

What I meant to say was, “duh.”

*****
Things are heating up over at my desk/funeral parlor this week! (OK. Not really. I still have to lure people over by convincing them that I have Really Great Prizes under my desk.) The first week+ was more of just an exhibit of funeral shit. I was just getting my feet wet. My co-worker Colleen one day was like, “I mean, is this it?” and then apologized when my face fell and said, “No, it’s just that we all expect more!” And I understood. I gotcha.

So I came up with a way to make it interactive. Because who doesn’t like getting free shit? Even if it’s just dumb shit like candy and Glenn activity books. Basically, gross Glenn is robbing graves again and hiding severed fingers around the department. There are clues on the back of department-specific prayer cards (RIP Natalie’s Pizza Rolls that were stolen from the freezer) and anyone who finds a finger and returns it to Erin’s Funeral Parlor gets the aforementioned prizes! OMG!

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Printer 39 had to have major surgery yesterday. :( It was real touch-and-go but he’s back and only jammed for me once today….although, I think I only printed to it once.

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I know. It’s kind of dumb. But I just like making people happy!

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Glenn actually laughed real laughter when he read about his latest dastardly deeds, and he has been excitedly telling people, “You have to get a prayer card to get a clue! Did you read the newspaper article? IT TIES EVERYTHING TOGETHER!”

OK, he only actually told one person this. But still! He seemed excited!

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One of the prizes is The Great Glenn Activity Book. I was sitting here at work last Thursday when it hit me: GLENN COLORING BOOK. But then I was like, “No we need activities, too!” And then Mean Amber (new nickname in the works) said that a Where’s Glenn would make her really happy. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE:

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“It’s nice to know that my favorite band is Village People,” Glenn mumbled last week when he found the extra crossword puzzle I accidentally left on the printer.

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The next phase was to bake funeral biscuits. Obviously here you will read between the lines and know that this means Henry baked the funeral biscuits. It was a Victorian tradition to give these gingersnap-esque cookies away at funerals. So basically what I’m saying here is that my Halloween theme is educational, OK?

They’re made with molasses and I’ve had to listen to Henry bitch for two days about how disgusting molasses is after he presumably chugged it straight from the bottle.

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(Yes, I used food coloring markers, thank you for your concern!)

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Some prizes!

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Henry and I watched reruns of Dexter while packaging the cookies last night. Each one is individually-wrapped in a paper pouch, sealed with wax and wrapped with a black ribbon. Funeral biscuits don’t just get plopped naked on a tray! Respect.

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My work-friends seemed pretty skeptical at first, but once they found out that Henry baked them, they were like, “Fine. We will eat one of your dumb cookies.” Everyone is still alive, you guys!

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Of course The Shiny One got a skull and then made me take a picture of her before she went around gloating to people. Sandy got a skull-less cookie and immediately blamed Henry.

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THAT WAX SEAL, THO.

Henry has been a pretty good sport about all of this. Even when we had to go out of our way on Sunday to get the dumb wax seal stamp. (My choices were a fleur de lis or wedding bells.) He’s been on the ball with the Great Glenn Activity Book one-man printing press.

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 “How much time did you spend on all of this?” Jeannie asked me in her typical “you need help” tone.

“I mean…let’s just say I haven’t been cleaning or washing the dishes lately,” I answered. I always joke that I have too much time on my hands, but the reality is that I don’t have enough. Not nearly! And I get so caught up in ridiculous ideas and projects that other things suffer.

“She hasn’t fed her kid in a week,” Glenn joked when someone was commenting on all of the details I’ve put in around my desk.

He’s not entirely wrong…

 

Apr 112019
 

After Halloween, Easter is my favorite holiday. I guess it’s just because I have spring fever, definitely not because I’m a Religioso, plus also it’s another holiday that revolves heavily around candy and chocolate.

Anyway, this old post from the Easter season of 2015 popped up in my blog stats, and I got all kinds of nostalgic! This was one of the best Easter-esque memories of all time and I have to share it again as a Throwback Thursday because I’ll seize any opportunity to mention Janna’s Robitussin abuse!

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I Kind of Threw a Fit: The Story About a Girl & Her Robitussin
April 2015

A few weeks ago, Janna sent this devastating message to my cellular phone. Naturally, I sent it to Corey and then also posted it on Instagram with the hashtags #JannaWhite #Heisenjanna #JannaMakesMeth and Corey immediately piggybacked with #JannasDoubleLife #JannaPaystheToll and #LockYourMedicineCabinets

I was laughing so hard about this that I started to see sparks in my vision. Henry of course was scowling because he just doesn’t understand. It’s the generation gap, I think. Probably.

A couple nights later, Janna and Corey came over because we were going to attend a Tenebrae service at my old friend Brian’s church. Brian is actually the music director at the church; he doesn’t own it. I haven’t seen him in years (he lived in Nebraska for awhile) and I’ve always wanted to attend a Tenebrae service, so this seemed perfect. Janna agreed to go even though she was sick, and she showed up at my house with an entire box of Kleenex in tow. And then Corey said he wanted to go too, because Church on a Saturday night?!?! Yes, please!

I tweeted something about this and Barb immediately said something along the lines of how we better behave, which made me crack up, because what a horrible idea, Corey and I going to church together.

On the way to the church, Janna told us the Robitussin story. In a nutshell, she tried to go through the self check-out line and it wouldn’t work so a clerk had to come over type in codes and then that still didn’t work, so then they made her go to a regular checkout line, at which point she was asked for her ID and she didn’t have it on her.

“I kind of threw a fit and just slammed the bottle down into the candy bars and left,” she said, and Corey and I were crying over this image of Janna hulking out over needing ID to buy cough syrup. Then apparently she went to the bathroom and when she came out of the stall, the manager was waiting and accused her of stealing the Robitussin and taking it into the bathroom to slurp it in privacy, so then she had to take the manager over to the checkout line and prove that she left it there.

The whole point here is that Janna was sick as fuck and had a coughing fit during the Tenebrae service and had to excuse herself, which made Corey and I start cracking up in God’s House. It was even worse when she left, because she had been separating us, so now we were able to see each other laughing, and that just made it worse and oh god, my kidneys. I had to turn to the side and cover my face with my hair so that I wouldn’t see Corey in my periphery and that hopefully none of the somber church-goers would notice that I was red-faced and crying in the back pew. (Yes, we were smart enough to sit in the back pew.)

Meanwhile, some old man in front of me had pulled out his phone and was blatantly recording the service and kept slowly panning from left to right, so I was like, “Well, if this dildo is going to be so obvious, then I’m at the very least going to grab a quick Instavid.”

So I did, but then it started PLAYING BACK AT FULL VOLUME. I was like “Abort! Abort!” and ended up accidentally deleting the video in the end, but at least no one seemed to notice what was happening because the real life singing was so loud.

Janna eventually came back and Corey and I were bracing ourselves for another laughing fit, which started as soon as we heard rummaging in her pocket for a cough drop, followed by the rustling of the wrapper as she opened it.

Maybe I should quickly inform you what a Tenebrae service is. It’s like a Roman Catholic church thing that happens around Easter. It’s supposed to start out with all these candles lit, right? And then as the service goes on, the candles are extinguished one by one until the church is all dark by the end, and then there is supposed to be a loud bang, signifying the earthquake that followed Jesus’s death, and then everyone is supposed to leave in silence.

These things did not happen. Some candles were snuffed out, that part is true. But the overhead lights stayed on the whole time and there was no apocalyptic bang at the end! I was pretty bummed about that, because in my mind, this thing was billed as a Scary Church Event.

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Actually, now that I’m looking at the poster, it says nothing at all about Tenebrae. I KNOW THAT THE FACEBOOK EVENT DID THOUGH.

Luckily, the music and the singing were actually really sad and beautiful (Song of the Shadows, y’all), which obviously is my favorite kind. One of the soloists is an attorney-by-day, and Corey and I were obsessed with her. She was also in the Miss America pageant once! Maybe I’m making that up! I can’t remember! Where’s my program when I need it?!

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I paid real money to light a candle! I didn’t cheat the church! #newleaf #Ijustlikefire

We were going to just leave after the bang-less ending, especially since Janna was feenin’ for her ‘tussin, but then Brian grabbed the mic to thank everyone for something and urged everyone to stick around for the reception. And then he said the magic words:

Sugary treats.

Corey and I exchanged looks of exaggerated merriment. “Sugary treats!” we mouthed to each other around Janna, who was looking like she might pass out at this point.

We followed those “in the know” out of the church and across the street into an adjacent building, where tables of sugary treats were set up in a small room. Right before we entered the room, Janna had a truncated coughing fit and some old man amiably commented that “uh oh, someone sounds sick!” I almost died. Janna was drawing attention from The Olds. Maybe they could have a cough drop exchange in the parking lot.

We were among the first to forage for sugary treats, THANK GOD.

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It was difficult to be so close to the parishioners because I was giddy. The Laughter was threatening to eject from my mouth at any given moment, so I made sure to not make eye contact with anyone. I filled my plate with the critically acclaimed sugary treats and hightailed it to the back of the room, where Corey and Janna joined me and we proceeded to stand in a suspicious circle, looking totally out of place, and giggling nervously. The unfortunate part of our location was that it was near the garbage can, so a steady stream of church-goers kept interrupting our heretic huddle in order to pitch their empty punch cups.

Finally, Janna had enough of this and brusquely picked up the trash can and then slammed it down a few feet away from us, so it was just chilling alone in the middle of the floor. Corey and I were like, “HOLY SHIT, JANNA IS SO VIOLENT WHEN SHE’S SICK!” She had this “Nothing is funny right now” look on her face, which just made us laugh even harder, and there is a thing that you should know about my brother: he has a REALLY LOUD LAUGH. The kind that ricochets off walls and bald heads and causes all eyes to fixate on us. It is simultaneously hilarious and embarrassing.

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I think this picture was taken before Janna slammed the garbage can down.

Some old lady came over and asked, “IS THIS ON?!” because there was a coffee maker on the counter next to us. I was like, “Bitch who knows?” She pushed a button and cold water squirted out, so she was like, “I guess not” and then walked away. Even this was hysterical to us. And then another old lady attempted to get water out of a water cooler but it was empty, so she shouted, “YOU’VE GOTTA BE KIDDING ME THERE’S NO WATER” and then Janna pointed out that there were bottles of water on the counter, so the lady was like, “I’M TAKING ONE” and then stormed away. I think Corey wanted her to be his spirit animal. He was pretty entranced. Everything just seemed like a blatant parody that night, like all of these people were walking caricatures put in this room just to test our resistance to cracking up. Newsflash: our threshold is ridiculously low.

I wanted another peanut butter thing, but I was afraid to go back to the table because the room was way more crowded and everyone knew each other, which meant they knew that I didn’t belong. IT WAS SCARY.

After awhile, I decided that we looked too suspicious, so we went out into the hallway to wait for Brian, and this is where I honestly came very close to peeing my pants, so I cried out, “DON’T MAKE ME PEE I’M WEARING A SKIRT!” and possibly people heard this, but everything was So Funny!

“I feel like we’re a sleeper cell,” I blurted out, and Corey was like, WTF is that so I explained it to him and he was like, “WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT!?” I don’t know, actually. It seemed to make sense at the time because we moved in a tight huddle everywhere we went, like we didn’t want religion to penetrate us.

Corey kept hashtagging everything that was happening (there was even a #tenebraeslut!) and Janna was like “#canwegonow” but I wanted to say hello to Brian since he invited me there, after all. We ended up having to go back to the church to see him, because he had slipped out of the Sugary Treats Room to go back to his office. On the way there, Janna reminded us for the 87th time that she was really sick, so I told her she could just wait in the car as long as she didn’t spill her syrup everywhere. But she just sighed and trudged along after us.

Brian gave really bad directions to me via Facebook messenger so we ended up in parts of the church that we probably shouldn’t have been. (Corey started to walk into a room right behind the altar and came backing out in a hurry, waving his arms in an “abort! abort!” motion. He said there were two men back there, reading the Bible.*)

*(Literally reading the Bible, you guys. This isn’t some weird Altar Boy euphemism.)

We eventually found him, and it turns out the problem is that I just didn’t understand “front of the church” versus “back of the church.” So we had a quick reunion with Brian, who pelted Janna with a handful of cough drops for the road, and then we left before the whole Church thing started to make us soft, like we’d start picturing Jesus frowning at us every time we started to laugh at Janna’s pratfalls. The whole night was almost funnier than the “Janna Stole Her Mom’s Car” incident.

Almost.

Janna was like, “I NEED TO GO HOME AND DIE” — which obviously is drug addict speak for “I need to go sit on the bathroom floor and drink my Sizzurp” — so she left as soon as we got back to my house. But Corey stayed for awhile and we giddily filled Henry in on the evening’s events, and he laughed at exactly zero parts. Then Corey drew a picture of Janna drinking Robitussin and we were both crying while Henry shook his head disapprovingly and Chooch drank in the bad influence filling the air around him.

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Apr 062019
 

[I love how this sounds like a Christopher Pike book. (LOL, I just Googled it and it’s actually an R.L. Stine book!)]

Back in 10th grade, so let’s say 1994 (I honestly googled “what year was I in 10th grade” – that didn’t help), my friend Christy was sleeping over. It was pretty late and we were just getting ready to go to bed when my phone rang. I had my own phone line in high school, to go along with my purple not-because-of-drugs pager, and LOVED to talk on the phone, so getting calls late at night was not unusual.

I have to side-bar here for a minute because I am hilariously the opposite as an adult and rarely ever answer my phone. In fact just the other day, I got a local call and figured it was a robocall or a bill collector tricking me by using my own area code, so I ignored it. Less than 30 seconds later, Chooch texted me and said, “Call back that number, it’s the school nurse.”

MOM OF THE YEAR.

But, on that night in 1994, I actually did answer the phone, because it could have been JUSTIN, my on-again-off-again sometimes-boyfriend who I was fucking obsessed with. It was a guy, not like a creepy dad-age man, it sounded like an older teen, and he was asking for Celeste. I remember without a doubt that it was Celeste, because there was a Celeste in my class and it was just wasn’t a name I heard that often outside of that.

I told him he had the wrong number because, you know, I’m not Celeste.

“Wrong number,” I said to Christy, and then she rolled over and went back to sleep.

But then! A minute later, my phone again.

It was the same guy, but this time, he was calling to talk to ME.  Look, I was 15 at the time, and it was the 90s, the term “Catfish” was a whole decade away from being coined, so yeah, I’m going to tell this stranger my name when he asks.

“Is that that same guy?” Christy asked. “HANG UP!”

But of course, I stayed up and talked to him for probably an hour that night, because I never listened to my friends. Case in point, several years later when Christy told me not to  date this dude she knew from her school because he was crazy and literally set his best friend’s house on fire over a borrowed video game and that my friends is how I ended up in the most emotionally and physically abuse relationship of my life with Psycho Mike! So yeah, preach, Christy!

But back to the wrong number. I learned that night that this guy’s name was Kevin Wilson, he was from a nearby neighborhood called Brentwood, I think he said he was 19 or 20–he was definitely not in high school anymore. So right away, you’re thinking that this is going down some rocky statutory street, right? Well, here’s the weird thing: we became solid phone friends and he never once crossed that line. It always remained platonic, no, “What are you wearing?”s or even any sweetly-veiled manipulations to meet in an empty parking garage at midnight. And this was pre-cell phone, pre-email, pre-text age so he wasn’t sending me dick pics or trying to get me to cyber with him.

I was the one who was always trying to hang out in person. You know, like, let’s go to the mall or Denny’s! I’d get all whiny about it too, probably. But he always had excuses or reasons why he couldn’t and I just went with it because I was dumb. He did throw me a bone once though by dropping pictures of himself off in my mailbox one day, and I was so mad that he did it while I was at school! But oh my god, you guys, he was so cute! Like, classic young American boy who probably played football in high school and can drink three chocolate milkshakes a day and not get fat. I can remember taking the pictures to school and showing everyone at my table during lunch and girls were PISSED that this guy was calling ME. I mean, I wasn’t the worst-looking girl, but I had braces and was going through a pretty heavy Yo-Girl phase where I lined my lips with brown liner and practically swam in my clothes, so….

He was almost like a big brother to me, giving me advice, checking up on me, making sure I was doing OK. I don’t think we talked every day, but probably weekly. And it was really good for me  too, because that aforementioned sometimes-boyfriend Justin was always giving me the run-around and was hardly available, so having someone else to talk to really filled a void. Plus, he would say brotherly things like, “DO I NEED TO KICK THIS GUY’S ASS” and “YOU ARE TOO GOOD FOR THIS JUSTIN KID” and even though I didn’t believe it at the time, he was so right but of course I didn’t listen to him and I’d go right back to writing ERIN <3’Z JUSTIN all over my Composition books.

So, I know what you’re thinking: Wow, Erin, you’re 15, talking to some older stranger on the phone who KNOWS WHERE YOU LIVE and COMES TO YOUR HOUSE WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME, do your parents even know the shit you do!? How did you live to see your 30s?!

Well, let me tell you something: my mom not only knew I was talking to this boy-guy, but SHE MET HIM! I had left him pictures of me in our mailbox and when he came to get them, she happened to be coming home or leaving at the same time, and they got to meet! I was so devastated that my mom met him first!

BUT IT GETS WORSE! She freaking gave him a job at our family’s drywall company! So now she got to see him everyday! She’d come home from work and tell me things, like, “Kevin is so cute! Kevin is such a boy!” and I would just be like, “GOD WHY DON’T YOU JUST DATE HIM THEN.”

I don’t remember how long we were in contact, maybe around a year, but then he ended up moving away to Virginia Beach, I think. And we lost touch after that, having never met in real life, not once.

Something made me think of this last Friday and after spending the last week racking my brain and texting friends for more information, but no one remembers this. Janna said she doesn’t remember, and Christy said she vaguely remembers but that I was always friends and penpals with “so many prisoners, etc. so they all blur together” and then went on  to ask me if I remember my pen pal Alisha who was obsessed with the movie “Newsies” and I was like, “Of course I remember her, she was my best penpal friend!” but when I found her on Facebook a few years ago, she DID NOT ACCEPT MY FRIEND REQUEST.

Janna was like, “Can’t you just check your old journals?” Look, 10th grade was a very traumatic year for me and I’m not trying to revisit that by reading my own emotionally-damaged words, thanks Janna.

The one person who would probably remember is some broad who I haven’t talked to since Chooch was born because she chose free beer over our friendship. (LONG STORY.)

Then I texted my mom and asked her if she remembered him and her immediate response was “LOL are you serious!?!?!?”

Now, knowing  my mom like I know my mom, I read this in the most paranoid way as possible and my suspicions immediately peaked. To me, that meant, “All these years later and you still haven’t figured it out?” So my conclusions catapulted straight to, “HOLY SHIT MY MOM HAD ME CATFISHED.”

She hasn’t admitted to anything and probably never will BUT THIS IS MY THEORY:

She hated Justin SO BAD that she had this guy “accidentally” call me and then become phone-friends with me as a DISTRACTION. Probably he was already someone who worked for her, maybe!? And those pictures that he “dropped off” could have been of ANYONE. I mean, my mom often threatened to send me to an all-school because of the serious problems Justin was causing me, and I wasn’t even allowed to get my driver’s license until I was 18 and living on my own because she didn’t want me to driving to see him when I was still in high school which is hilarious because by then I was dating an even worse guy. (See: Psycho Mike.)

But then, the more I thought about it that night, and the more Henry had to sit there and listen to my delusional rantings, I came up with a second possibility that’s EVEN WEIRDER but still HIGHLY PROBABLE.

OK, bear with me.

When I was 19, my mom dropped the HALF-SIBLING bomb on me. She told me that my birth dad had a kid with the lady he was with prior to my mom, and that I have an older half-brother. Apparently, my mom and his mom stayed amicable after my dad died when I was super young, and my brother knew I existed but I had no idea about any of this. I agreed to meet him and was a little shocked to know that he had basically kept up with me my whole life through my mom. She would tell his mom things like when I would be at Spinning Wheels, so then his mom would take him there so he could see me. So yes, my mom basically let my half-brother stalk me in the 80s. Seems weird now that I see it in print!

And he would sometimes visit my mom at her office. But my mom was so afraid to bring him into my life because she thought I’d flip out, which is actually a legitimate concern because I was highly unstable back then.

(Lol, “back then.”)

But my brother wanted to have contact with me so what if that was my mom’s solution!? WHAT IF HE WAS THE ONE I WAS TALKING TO. It would explain why the calls were so sterile and textbook platonic, why he could never hang out, why my mom didn’t flip her shit when she found out that I was talking to some older guy on the phone who was also coming to my house and leaving photos in the mailbox.

IS THIS CRAZY? AM I BEING NUTS HERE?!

It feels so plausible in my head! This feels like Classic Val!

I was telling this whole thing to Glenn yesterday at work and he was like, “Or….it really was some old man…”

OMG WHAT IF IT WAS HENRY!? Maybe that was his release back then – he’d sneak away from his kids, hide in the garage with a case of beer and start cold-calling girls. Ew, he would have been 30 then! Our age difference is so much creepier when we take it back to the way-past.

I just asked him right now, while he’s washing dishes, if it was him. “What year was it?” he asked. “Nope, wasn’t me,” he mumbled over the clinking of soapy silverware. But he had to ask, though!

That’s my story about the supposed Kevin Wilson. Maybe someday I will have a solid conclusion to this. Next time I see my mom, I’m going to start talking about it again and gauge her facial tics.

 

Mar 292019
 

Today’s Friday Five is going to be MEMORIES. Ooh-wee, more insight into my past! Thank god I have such a steel trap up there in my head.

DIRTY JOKES

So this morning, out of nowhere, I had a flashback to my, shit, 7th? 8th birthday? I guess my memory isn’t that great. I didn’t have a party that year because we had just moved into our new house, maybe? And my mom was probably stressed from the move? I know it was that year because our yard didn’t have grass yet and remnants of the construction were still laying around. God, this is so interesting already. OK, I think Christy was probably there, but I remember Spring and Audra for FOR SURE were there because Audra got me some kind of kids soap set or something and MY DAD snickered, “HONEY DID  YOU TELL HER THAT YOU DON’T USE SOAP?” thinking he was SO FUNNY but I was fucking  mortified! I was like, “I DO SO USE SOAP!?” And you know the worst part? THERE IS A VIDEO OF THIS! It’s on a VHS tape somewhere and every so often over the years, it’d get plucked from the pile of HOME VIDEOS and shoved in the VCR to see what was on it, and every single time that scene cued up, my face burned all over again because it was so excruciating to watch, both the shitty Dad Joke and my subsequent reaction. JUST TYPING THIS has me feeling some type of way, and it’s the good.

Maybe Christy wasn’t there after all because I feel like this would be something she’d reference occasionally.

The only good thing about that incident is that I also got a WATCHIMAL and those things were so cool. DID YOU HAVE ONE?

Anyway, I do use soap.

(But I’m really picky and it can only be Dove, Olay, or Caress. Any scent is fine though. I hate soap like Irish Spring and Dial or any other basic soap that Henry buys for himself and Chooch because it makes my skin feel squeaky and I’m sorry, but I’m fine with being quietly clean, I don’t need to be squeaky clean. UGH I JUST GOT CHILLS.)

Scenic Precincts

This one time, for summer vacation, my grandparents and Aunt Sharon took me to Italy and Sicily which was really fun except that we were in Palermo during the time that some mob thing was happening where CARS WERE BEING BLOWN UP BY PIPE BOMBS and like, judges and cops were being targeted? All I know is that I was like 10 and had no fucking idea what any of this meant but everyone on our tour was talking about it and my Pappap made some joke about how we would be fine as long as we didn’t go near any precincts. I asked him what a precinct was and for some reason, when he explained it to me, I still didn’t understand but pretended that I did and then forgot about it until years later when I was watching something and someone mentioned going back to the precinct and it suddenly clicked and then, like 8 years later, my Pappa’s joke made sense to me.

WHY DIDN’T I UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANT, THOUGH?? I swear, I was a smart kid. But I guess smart kids can be dense too, I type as I look at my kid over my shoulder.

This memory brings up a related memory of the time I lived in South Park and was watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in my living room with the aforementioned Christy and when Micky said whatever he said about just enjoying the scenery, I asked Christy what scenery meant and I’m sure she explained it to super well because she was (is) a genius, but shit that was too abstract of a term for me to understand, I guess.

(I know what it means now though, don’t worry.)

Oh wait, here: I remembered that I could use that Google thing and I found the Palermo bombing stuff! It happened in July 1992 so I was 12, I guess.

The Sun Roof Incident

#3 is a throwback to one of my favorite memories that I already wrote about once a long time ago but am resharing the link because I have been thinking about my Pappap more than usual lately – no I don’t miss my Pappap, YOU miss my Pappap! *sniff*

So yeah: The Sun Roof Incident

Accidental Greaser

One morning in second grade, I was getting ready for school when I noticed that I had dry patch on my chest, like a mild rash or something, who even knows, if that happened today I would probably have 97 tabs open on my computer, each one highlighting a different terminal disease. In all of my quick-thinking glory, I scooped a glopping heap of Vaseline from the jar and transported it my hand-hook petroleum jelly vehicle straight to my chest. Satisfied I’m sure that I handled this on my own, I then proceeded to take a shower, not knowing that my hand-hook petroleum jelly vehicle was now commuting that greasy paste straight atop my pate.

Oh don’t worry, I figured it out as soon as I started to blowdry my hair and then I screamed for my mom and she was like WHAT DID YOU DO OMGGGG and at this point I was having what might have actually been my first panic attack and even then, in like 1986 or whatever, I was so worried about going to school and getting made fun of for having greasy hair, so my mom let me stay home.

I guess it was ok the next day?!

Strange Maybe-Candies 

A few weeks ago, I was wearing blue pastel pants and a pink blouse. Carrie said I looked very spring-like, and then HOURS later, Wendy came over and said the same thing and Carrie and I were like, “Nice try, Wendy, but you’re a little late.” (This has nothing to do with the story but I can’t even pass up an opportunity to drag Wendy.) Then I was eating Reese’s easter eggs and realized that even the candy matched my outfit so I took a picture because we live in the age of Everything’s a Photo-Op.

But then this whole pastel passage conjured another old AF memory! WANNA HEAR IT, OK!

The year was probably 1985 but if this post has taught us anything it’s that I don’t know dates.

My brother Ryan had just recently been brought into the world to ruin my life, so I was just a little ball of raging fury in those days.

One particular afternoon, Ryan was being showered with an exceptional amount of attention. I couldn’t take it any longer so I stormed off to my bedroom. When you’re young and pissed off, what’s the first thing you turn to (before you discover drugs or hardcore gangsta rap)? For me, it was destruction. But if I wasn’t feeling in the mood to desecrate Ryan’s nursery, I would choose the next best thing – defiance.

We had a guest room that was really just a holding cell for family heirlooms and other assorted antiques that my mom had acquired when her aunt had died. I was never actually told not to go in there, but it was more or less implied; the air of the room screamed Do Not Disturb. Not to mention it scared the shit out of me and reeked of old person.

Knowing that I shouldn’t have been in that room was the one thing that was drawing me to it. At first, I sat on the immaculate white knit bedspread. Quickly becoming bored with putting butt prints in the smooth covers, I moved on to explore the dresser and desk drawers. It was in the desk where I unearthed peculiar pink and green wads of foreign substance. Each drawer contained various pieces of it and the shapes were random and inconsistent. Some were rolled into little logs, while others were mashed into the wood.

I pulled a chunk off from the bottom of the drawer and detected a taffy-like texture. Looked like candy, felt like candy, probably didn’t smell like candy but never mind — MUST BE CANDY!

And so I ate it. It didn’t taste like much, but I figured that was because it was really old, expensive antique candy. Clearly, I was having my own Lewis Carroll experience. I went to bed that night gloating and feeling smugly indulgent. Can’t remember dates, but I remember THAT.

From that day on, whenever I would get shafted by the parents, I’d run to my magic candy. It was something that was all mine and Ryan could never have it (I mean, he really couldn’t have it – he was barely crawling at this point). This went on for a few months, maybe a year, until I moved on to bigger and better things. Like pyromancy and staging my own kidnapping.

I remembered this out of the blue one time, about 20 years later. Surely it would be an OK time to tell my mom. I was hoping she would be really hurt. “Oh honestly! That candy had been in the family for trillions of years and it was so special to me and now I’m crying.”

But what really happened was this:

After telling her the sordid tale, I smugly spat, “Yep, that was me. Eating your cherished heirloom candy that Aunt Cill brought back from the motherland.”
Mom: “That wasn’t candy, you asshole. That was sticky tack.”

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

Guys, while I was blowing fuses in my brain thinking of old shit to write in here tonight, I actually thought of another memory that has since evolved into WHAT MIGHT BE A TALE OF DECEPTION AND BETRAYAL so I will save that for its own post sometime this weekend because now I’m really freaked out. But also probably jumping to conclusions like I do.

Mar 232019
 

Exactly one year ago, we were in Korea! It still feels like it didn’t really happen, and I look at the pictures on my phone every day to remind myself that it was true. I’m not exactly sure what I thought was going to happen by going, but being there made things even worse for me, if possible, because I went from crying every day about how badly I wanted to go to Korea to crying every day about how badly I want to go back! This is definitely more than an obsession, I think. It’s a passion. I have never been this interested in anything else in my life, and this is coming from someone who has A LOT of interests and hobbies. I still watch travel vlogs on YouTube while eating my Korean dinners after work. I’m still (slowly) learning the language. I’m still knee-deep in kpop and kdramas. but to be perfectly frank, one of the main reasons I watch the dramas is because it teaches me a lot about the culture and social interactions.

I guess I just finally found The Big Passion of my life? (Sorry, Henry, it’s not you, lol.) I can’t think of anything else that I have devoted this much of my time (and heart real estate) to. Anyway, when I saw today’s date, I got super nostalgic. It’s only been a year, but I can already promise that those memories we made in Korea will wind up being some of the best memories of my life (hopefully Chooch’s too).

(I don’t think Henry cares about memories.)

The countdown to our return is in full effect. I mean, I have to go back for my heart, after all!

 

Feb 052019
 

“No Ordinary Love” by Sade came on when I was perusing the Pop Sugar clothing collection at Kohl’s on Sunday and I did that thing that I do when I am struck by warm, trickling nostalgia: gasp audibly and clutch my heart, theatrically mouth the words. Then I realized Henry wasn’t standing near me anymore so I was That Person and it was fine. I care about so little these days.

I know so many people disagree with me on A LOT of things but I’d be willing to wager that if you are reading this right now, you may have thought to yourself, “Hell yes blogbitch, that is the mutherfuckin’ SLOWJAM of our generation, preach.” Anytime I hear it, whether it’s because I have on the actual record (you know, back when I had a record player that worked and then suddenly it didn’t and Henry was all, “I WILL FIX IT WITH MY FIXER MAN HANDS” but then he fell asleep for 40 days instead) or because I’m tagging along at the grocery store and Sade’s sultry-husk comes pouring out of the speakers while I’m dramatically gagging at in the meat department, I am instantly taken back to 7th grade, sitting on my bed and watching the video on BET, scribbling in my Composition book-slash-diary (probably the one that said ERIN LUVZ JOSH all over it in pink highlighter) about how I couldn’t wait to grow up and have a NO ORDINARY LOVE of my own.

And then I grew up and…well…lol.

(Who else was like mindblown when they learned how to pronounce Sade and then spent the rest of their life as a pronunciation crusader, correcting every dummy that called her SAYYYYD? Where all my know-it-alls at?)

On our way home from Kohl’s, I put on “Play Me” by Taemin and that is when it hit me: Taemin is my NO ORDINARY LOVE YOU GUYS.

No but really, the way Taemin’s music makes me feel is the same way Sade’s music made me feel back then (and still to this day): like I’m flushed from making eye contact with a crush.

His voice is so warm, with a tinge of huskiness, and it makes me FEEL SOME THINGS.

All of this is to say that we are one week away from his comeback and I can barely stand it. It feels so good to be excited about something and it is getting me through the long, dark work days, that is for-fucking-sure.

The other day, a teaser was released and I am convinced that Lee Taemin is out to murder us. I can’t even imagine what he has in store for us, but if this teaser is any indication, it is one smoking hot horror flick and I am all about it.

I hear all these male singers on Top 40 radio stations and they got nothin’ on Taemin. Regardless of language, Taemin is an artist that should be in everyone’s playlist.

Now accepting applications for an eulogy writer if he announces a North American tour this year.

Jan 012019
 

On Sunday, we went to the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland because I’ve been on this “must see the Christmas decorations” kick and figured that would be the last chance. I like to visit the Cathedral every so often because it brings me great peace which is funny considering that whenever I was an actual student there I felt sick to myself every single time I walked in that place. Lol.

(Afterward we went to Sumi’s for some Korean 빵 and boba tea. The girl working was listening to Wanna One and Henry kept trying to get me to talk to her but I wouldn’t because I am the epitome of awkward shut-in when it comes to spontaneous social interactions.)

Anyway, these are the last pictures I took in 2018 because I worked dumb late shift from home on New Years Eve and instead of going to any parties I opted to stay in and watch rollercoaster and Winner videos because you know what, THAT IS WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY which leads me to my 2019 resolution which is CONTINUING MAKING MYSELF HAPPY.

A few years ago I realized that the key to (my) happiness was being selfish. Yeah, I’m a selfish person when I need to be, I say no way more now than I used to, and I don’t feel guilty for opting to make more time for myself. It makes me less stressed which in turn makes me more bearable to be around (mostly, right Henry? Lol).

2018 was a real rollercoaster (lol) but this was the first time in years that I made it through a year without it giving me the proverbial bad taste in my mouth. Yes, politically and socially shit is more fucked than ever. But on a personal front, 2018 didn’t do me too dirty.

Of course I had my lows. How can you highs without the lows? I basically don’t want to remember the month of June at all but at least I can say that I made it, I moved on, I grew (a little bit?).

But man, the highs were so high that they made the lows seems like super distant memories. We went to goddamn Korea, the trip of my dreams, and my life was changed.

We went to NYC twice, and a bunch of awesome amusement parks beyond Kennywood like Everland, Holidayworld, Knoebel’s, and Dollywood.

Overall, when I think of 2018, one word comes to mind and it is F-U-N.

So why fix something that’s not broken? I want to fill 2019 with even more fun! More amusement parks, more trips, more Kpop concerts (we’ve already got two coming up!).

Another thing that will continue into 2019 is my obsession with overall wellness. It was New Year’s Day 2013 (OMG that feels so long ago) when I was tipping the scale at 200 pounds and FINALLY got the wake-up call to make changes. My journey has been extremely slow and my methods have changed over the years, but the bottom line is that my main focus is always on my health/fitness, and I’m happy to say that even though it has taken me since last spring to get myself into the “healthy BMI zone” whatever the fuck that even means, the mindset and routines are cemented into my brain now. Sometimes I’m SOOOOO near-sighted when it comes to this part of my life and I get all stressed out over gaining a pound or two when the bigger picture is that I have lost over 50 pounds and am way more physically active than I have ever been!

I don’t give myself enough credit for that. So this is me, I don’t know, giving myself credit. As cringe-y as this makes me feel!

But the whole reason I brought this up is because Chooch has willingly, on his own, decided that he’s ready to make lifestyle changes too! I’m so excited about this! We started working out together (he’s now a huge fan of Jillian Michaels lol) and I’ve been helping him make healthy food choices. He’s even agreed to eat the same things I eat for dinner now which makes Henry happy because he used to have to make us separate meals since Chooch is so picky and I’m so Korean (lol). In just a week, Chooch has already noticed a difference in himself and has begun to look forward to our workouts! It’s a really great feeling to know that I’m contributing to what hopefully become lifelong healthy habits for him and not looking for the easy way out, fast fixes, and crash diets like I used to do because I didn’t have anyone in my life who was like, “Lose the Slim-Fast and try actually eating healthy meals.”

(LOL @ Henry sleeping in the back of the class)

During one of our Leslie Sansone walking workouts (you guys, they’re so dumb and we make up back-stories for everyone in her walking crew, like this one broad who we have pegged as a chronic adultress), I suggested to Chooch that we start our own YouTube workouts and he was like “big fat NO to that.”

Now that Chooch is a nutritionist, he’s been criticizing Henry’s poor choices. Henry snapped one day and yelled, “OH, AND YOU’RE JUST THE PICTURE OF HEALTH!” Henry is so supportive, basically the manager of our fan cafe.

Chooch made a food-shaming video of Henry eating an ice cream in the car on the way home from the grocery store last weekend and it is EVERYTHING. Chooch’s laugh in this video makes me nearly pee my pants:

The more I reflect back on 2018, the happier I am with how it turned out. There is always room for improvement though so I’m not going to be a slacker during 2019 by any means! I definitely don’t like how easily I succumb to negativity so that’s on the list of shit to work on. Baby steps! My power of persuasion can only get me so far. It’s not actually a super power!

I just asked Henry if he has anything he wants to say about 2019 and he said, “Yeah, 2019 you’re on your own” because that’s his “resolution” that he has been threatening Chooch and me with for the last few days, something about how he’s not going to do anything for us anymore and we’ll have to feed ourselves, blah blah blah.

LOL ok Henry.

Well, here’s to another year of riding roller coasters, staying off Facebook (honestly the best decision!), laugh-puking with Chooch, and maybe Korea again!? And on that note, I’m going to rest for a bit because I have my annual New Year’s fever – it’s the weirdest thing. I almost always start the new year with a fever WHAT DOES IT MEAN.

SHINee Taemin sexiest dance moves

Oct 192018
 

I had a different post in mind for today but then my cat Drew and I just spent the last hour being terrorized by a thousand-legger / whatever those quick-moving basement bugs are called, and I am honestly afraid to take my eyes off the floor for very long because WE LOST SIGHT OF IT AND IF IT CRAWLS ON ME I WILL HAVE TO SET MYSELF ALIGHT. It ran across Drew’s back leg at one point she nearly jumped through the ceiling while I screamed like I was in the ultimate haunted house, and Penelope slept through it all.

OMFG WHY DID I JUST GOOGLE-IMAGE THOUSAND LEGGER NOW I’M CONVINCED I HAVE 78 OF THEM CRAWLING ON ME, POINT ME TO THE NEAREST GASOLINE CAN, I’M TOAST.

I mean, what I came here to say is: here is another Halloween costume memory. This one is from 2016 when Chooch had the brilliant-to-him idea of being a bullet with butterfly wings, a la Smashing Pumpkins, and pretty much no one got it, just like the year before.

Enjoyyyyyy! I’ll just be over here holding a blow torch and flipping over furniture until I find that fucker, otherwise I will never be able to sit down on my couch again, OMG CHILLS.

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

I can’t remember the exact moment that Chooch’s costume lightbulb went on above his brainy head, but it was definitely fairly soon after Halloween 2015. He was going through a Smashing Pumpkins phase, and casually decided that he was going to be a bullet with butterfly wings for Halloween.

At first, I laughed really hard and gave it my Great Costume stamp of approval. Also, what a novel concept – knowing what he was going to be with ample time to construct the costume. Had this ever happened before?!

NO.

But then reality set in and I remembered that perhaps not many people would understand it, you know, since it’s not 1995/1996. So Henry and I tried to subtly change his mind, and really—how shitty of us. I’m glad that Chooch was committed to his idea and didn’t let us sway him.

Flash forward 8 months. It’s a week before Halloween and Henry still hasn’t started working on the bullet. I kept saying things like, “This isn’t going to be finished in time, is it?” to which his response was supposed to be, “OF COURSE IT WILL BE, ERIN!” and not, “I don’t know. Maybe not.”

Spoiler alert: Henry worked a miracle and got it done! At the last minute though, he scrapped the paper mache bullet tip he made because it looked too dildo-esque, and instead opted for a large balloon (the punching kind) which he spray-painted silver. It looked much better!

We waited until the day before to get the wings. We try to be as DIY as possible when it comes to costumes, but I was willing to splurge on the wings because I just wanted this to be done. So we went to Party City after Chooch’s piano lesson on Sunday.

SIDE STORY, unrelated to Halloween:

For as long as I can remember, I do this thing where I walk into a store or restaurant ahead of Henry and pull the door shut on him. It’s like my thing, and it pisses him off so much.

And our visit to Party City was no different. I walked in ahead of him and, without so much as a glance behind my shoulder, I shoved the door shut behind me. I mean full-force, as aggressively as possible, I gave that fucking door a Hulk slam.

I heard Henry say, “Erin!” but it sounded further away than it should have. So I slowly turned around and realized that there was a small woman behind me, looking totally stunned from having a GLASS DOOR SLAMMED SHUT ON HER. Fucking Henry had let her go ahead of him and then stood back to see how it would play out, what a motherfucker!

So then I was put in this terrible social situation where I had to profusely apologize to a stranger while trying to explain to her why that happened, how it’s just what I do, until I heard the words I was saying and realized I was making it so much worse.

SO MUCH WORSE.

Oh, Henry loved every moment of it.

I mean, it was bound to happen eventually.

Anyway, Chooch got his wings but not the pair I wanted him to get but whatever, DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.

****

This year was Chooch’s last Halloween parade at school. I was kind of sad about it, but it isn’t how it was when I was a kid. The classroom parties aren’t shit because there are so many restrictions, and so many costumes are against school policy. So basically the parents gather around outside the school just to watch a 15 minute parade, where only some of the students are in costume because HALLOWEEN IS DYING, ISN’T IT?? Oh I just can’t stand it.

But, speaking of school policy, Chooch could 100% not dress up as a bullet at school. I mean, I didn’t need the rules and regulations paper that was sent home last week to remind me of that. So in my effort to find him an alternative costume that still involved his wings (they were $20 and I intended on getting as much use out of them as possible!), I found this lame social butterfly get-up, which I’m sure has been done to death at hipster Halloween parties, but it was a hit with the elementary set.

30626260362_a5b87a5533_c

So easy! And I can say that because I threw a huge temper tantrum Sunday night and went to bed at 8:30 on purpose so that Henry had to print all of the social media icons out, LOL I win.

Chooch loved it! Especially when he got to rip the musically icon off his shirt afterward and give it to his crush. Ugh.

30654836341_0789fa96d1_c

Meanwhile, this just served as yet another reminder that I will never fit in with other parents.

Oh! AND I GOT TO SEE HOT GYM TEACHER. Totally worth rubbing elbows with basic moms.

****

Later that evening, Henry came home from work and finally finished the damn bullet costume. I’m not exaggerating – it was 5 minutes to trick or treat o’clock and Henry was hot gluing one last thing to it.  Fucking amazing.

Originally, Chooch and Dimajio were going to go together but then Dimajio had to go over his cousin’s or something, I don’t know. I don’t keep track of kids. It was just as well, because Henry and I had to tag along with Chooch anyway because he can never Chooch a costume that doesn’t require handlers. We had to tie his shoes, make sure he didn’t fall down steps, get candy for him if it was in a bowl on the ground which required him to bend, fluff his wings, make sure he didn’t bust the balloon-top of the bullet….

It’s a tiring, thankless job.

It always puts us in the SMALL TALK crosshairs with other adults! That’s my least favorite part!

After a quick photo with the neighbor kid, we tentatively made our way down the street. I kept hissing things like, “This was a terrible idea” and “We should just go back to the house and he can wear the pig mask instead, we’ll think of something.” I was just so worried that he would get made fun of or just be completely disappointed that no one understood his costume.

But Henry assured me it would be fine and to stop whining before I gave Chooch a complex.

And it was fine! Papa H Knows Best, everyone! He didn’t get made fun of at all, and there were actually A LOT of adults who were like, “OH I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.”

It helped that he was also wearing a Smashing Pumpkins shirt and was carrying a portable speaker that was playing the song on a loop.

Even one of my mom nemeses started cracking up and said, “I get it. I love it.”

So he was pretty damn proud of himself.


30742948835_c2a507fffe_c 30742942065_b1aa471ecc_c

One guy was like, “Let me guess….Iron Butterfly?”

“Close! It’s a music reference but you got the wrong band,” Henry laughed.

This was actually a fun game! We were like a traveling quiz show.

“He’s a bullet….but I don’t know what the wings are for!” one old lady grunted to another old lady after Chooch left their porch, and I just started cracking up.

People were actually excited for him to finally get to their house so they could try to guess what he was supposed to be! “These are the best kinds of costumes,” one lady said in between sips of beer. “We want to have to figure it out!”

At one house, I told the people that we had tried to talk him out of this costume idea but he was insistent.

“Well, good for you!” the one mom said to Chooch. And she’s right—good for him! I never would have had the confidence to pull something like that off when I was his age, no matter how badly I wanted it. Chooch is my fucking role model.

He got a few people who said “this is the best costume I’ve seen tonight” and one guy gave him a knowing nod and declared Chooch the winner of Halloween.

I’m pretty proud of him for coming up with this and sticking with it. Even though we had to constantly adjust his wings and do damage control. Perhaps Henry could have SPENT MORE TIME working on the LOGISTICS of the damn bullet.

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A photo of Henry making sure Chooch doesn’t perish inside his bullet. 

But….next year, I’m handing him scissors and a sheet and telling him to go to fucking town.

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

We walked down the street to Eat n Park afterward for dinner*. “I Missed Again” by Phil Collins was playing, so of course I had to loudly announce this, as is my forever-custom when I walk into an establishment that’s full of the sweet note-blossoms that churns forth from Sir Collins candied-throat.

“Oooh! I should go as a Phil Collins song next year! ‘In the Air Tonight’ maybe?!” Chooch shouted excitedly, to which Henry and I were like:

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*(And yes, I pulled the door shut on Henry when we walked in. “You’ll never learn your lesson,” he sighed.)

Oct 132018
 

I woke up sick this morning which is par for the course since it’s the start of my annual October vacation week so instead of trying to write an actual blog post like I used to years and years and years ago, here is another Halloween Costume Memory. This one is from 2013 and even five years later, it still makes me twitch and cringe just thinking about how murderous it made us. Like, if there had been one more mishap or misstep, there could have been a horror movie based on our family. Brooklineville Horror. Can’t you just picture Henry losing his mind and grabbing an ax and then all the neighbors would go on record saying that he was “such a nice guy, we’re so surprised” but all of you guys would be like, “CALLED IT.”

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This may have been the most stressful Halloween yet. I almost said it was the worst Halloween, but that’s not true, because Chooch had fun and even though I AM THE MOST SELFISH MOM EVER, even I am able to acknowledge that that’s all that really matters. Right? Right.

You know how I always said I would never put my child in a box, after spending most of my childhood Halloweens being chafed by cardboard thanks to my overambitious mother? (Just nod.) Well, it took seven years, but it happened. We put Chooch in a box.

But first let me say that I repeatedly asked him, “Are you SURE? Do you REALLY want to be this for Halloween?” and he kept saying yes, so I’m not really the bad guy, right? I don’t ever want him to look back on these years and say, “My mom MADE me be this and I hated it.” Not that I know anything about that.

Anyway, I know the Claw Machine thing isn’t exactly original, but I thought it would be fun to make it a little more post-apocalyptic. Have all of the stuffed animals be ripped open and bloody, etc etc.

Oh and also? This didn’t happen until last Friday night. Just the birth of the idea itself, I mean. And we were barely home at all during the weekend, which meant that Henry had three work nights to try and get this done. I’d nervously text him for updates while I was at work and he would give me vague responses, like, “It’s coming along” and “This is Henry’s girlfriend…who’s this?” and “I want a divor—-oh, wait. Haha!”

By Wednesday night though, he swore he was “like, 95% finished.” So then I was feeling kind of OK until I read the Halloween rules that Chooch’s school sent home which included the most restrictive costume guidelines ever, so why even bother celebrating Halloween!? No fake weapons (OK, I can understand that one!), no makeup, no masks, it has to fit into a bag, and no parents permitted in the classroom to help with the costumes.

Well, fuck. There was no way we were fitting a huge box into a bag and also no way he was getting this on by himself. In fact, I couldn’t even do it. Only Henry could, because only he could understand his own stupid design. Oh and also? Everything else we have laying around the house involves makeup and masks–animal masks, clown masks, gas masks. I couldn’t even resort to the old vintage ghost-sheet standby because god forbid, HIS FACE WOULD BE COVERED IN COTTON. And there was no way I was going to the stupid Halloween store….

….so it was decided that for the school party and parade, he’d wear his old ice cream cone costume.

Oh! And did I mention that no baked goods can be sent along for the class party? Everything has to be storebought and individually-packaged. No creepy cupcakes or cookies, no rice krispie treats or cakepop eyeballs. (I’m pretty sure Henry was actually relieved about this rule, though. One less thing for him to labor over!)

I know it’s not the school’s fault, and I know that these stringent rules have been implemented in schools all over the country, not just Chooch’s. But it just makes me so sad that this generation will never know Halloween like we knew Halloween. All those “Creepy Vintage Halloween” articles have been circulating on Facebook, but you know what? I would even take 1980s Halloween over what it’s become now, thanks to religious zealots and all of those motherfuckers who just can’t help themselves from shooting up schools. You assholes with nut allergies probably fucked this up somehow, too. (Kidding. Save the hate mail for next week’s blog post about Satanic abortions.)

It’s goddamn depressing. So I ranted and cried about this for a long while Wednesday night. I think Chooch genuinely felt bad for me (I do play a pretty fantastic sadsack), and he agreed to take his ice cream cone costume to school the next day.

And then I conveniently got a call from the school nurse that afternoon, telling me that Chooch puked and wanted to come home. I was 100% convinced that he puked his way out of the parade, but he insisted that he got sick off of a taco at lunch. By the time we got home, he swore that he was feeling better and wanted to go back to school for the parade and party. I asked him if he was sure at least 87 times before signing him back into school. (He’s lucky we live close enough that it’s less than a 10 minute walk.) When I was standing in the hallway talking to his teacher, some other mom was there picking up her kid and she overheard the teacher say that Chooch threw up after eating a taco for lunch.

“My son pukes EVERY TIME IT’S TACO DAY!” the mom bystander shared, so maybe he wasn’t actually Tracy Gold’ing it to get out of the parade after all.

45 minutes later, I was walking to school for the 4th time that day to watch the parade, which was scary because Henry couldn’t leave work in time so I had to GO BY MYSELF. Obviously I didn’t know anyone there because I’m so parentally antisocial, and pretty much everyone else was buddied up with other parents. So I stood next to the only other person there who appeared to have gone stag—some mom with a septum piercing.

Luckily, the parade was short…..and very anti-climatic. Tons of kids didn’t even dress up at all! And then there was Chooch, who was doing his best to smile in spite of the fact that he was probably daydreaming of killing me in my sleep.

“Everyone was laughing at me!” he told me afterward (and no, he wasn’t CRYING ABOUT IT).

“Because it’s funny! It’s SUPPOSED to be funny!” I cried. Yeah, I’m definitely going to bite it in my sleep one of these nights. You guys were all right.

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Meanwhile, the school’s stupid costume policies allowed Henry more time to finish the real costume that was supposed to be 95% done but somehow took another three hours to complete. So while Henry did things that required the use of a ruler and math, I figured I could use that time to maim and mangle the stuffed animals. I asked Henry for the fake blood, which he SWORE WE HAD IN THE GARAGE, and it turns out we definitely did NOT have any fake blood. (I know, it’s hard to believe that people like us actually forget to restock our fake blood.)

So I threw a huge fit and Henry was all, “OH YES LET ME JUST STOP WORKING ON THIS AND GIVE A SHIT ABOUT FAKE BLOOD!” He suggested I walk to CVS and just buy some, but hey, FYI: CVS replaces all of the Halloween stuff with Christmas stuff on HALLOWEEN. I even asked one of the cashiers, thinking maybe they could just snag a tube for me out of the back, but she crinkled her nose and repeated, “Fake BLOOD?” like I was asking for a Englebert Humperdinck 8-track.

Actually, that’s a horrible reference because that cashier was like 70 so she would have been happy about that.

I ran back home after that. Me! Running! In the rain! In the rain I ran!

Did I mention it was raining? Of course it was raining—it’s Halloween in Pittsburgh. All fucking day, it was drier than a nun’s kooka* until an hour before trick-or-treating was set to start.

*(Unless it was one of the nun’s in the Italian porn we may have recently watched. And by we I mean Henry by himself because I am too classy for that, obviously.)

With no fake blood to transform the bag of stuffed animals, I focused on doing Chooch’s makeup. This part was pretty stress-free because Chooch suddenly enjoys being made-up and even dug around my makeup box for the shade he wanted around his eyes. (All makeup used was My Pretty Zombie, of course.)

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The final step for Chooch’s makeup was to adhere some stuffing to his cheek, to give it that “ripped open stuffed animal” feel. Unfortunately, in order to get the stuffing, I had to cut open one of the stuffed animals, which was the whole point in buying them from Goodwill anyway. We were going to decapitate some, amputate some, etc etc. Chooch beat me to the bag and furiously dug through it, desperately yelling, “Wait! Not the dog! Not the kitty! No, not the dragon, either!!” and before I knew it, he had almost the entire bag of stuffed animals in his arms, frantically hugging them into his body.

Finally, I found a frog and tried to be all dismissive about it. “Eh, it’s just a frog,” I said with a wave. “It’s not even all that cute.” But son-of-a-bitch, when I raised those scissors up to its chest, I was overcome with a wave of anthropomorphic guilt.

“Mommy, don’t!” Chooch whimpered.

But…I had to do it, you guys. I had to slice open this poor fucking frog that already had the misfortune of being orphaned at a thrift shop. What dumb luck. As the sound of those dull blades slashing through fabric rang through the air, Chooch burst into tears. Like, REALLY BIG TEARS rolling down his poor wolf-cheeks, taking strips of makeup along for the ride.

“Oh for Christ’s sake!” Henry muttered as Chooch sobbed and I apologized profusely, more to the frog than Chooch, if we’re being honest.

Then when Chooch wasn’t looking, I smeared the frog with red paint.

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Chooch, post-cry. I had to reapply his makeup afterward. At least he got to wear his Never Shout Never-inspired wolf hat!

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So, that pretty much killed the stuffed animal idea. Luckily, we had enough pre-bloodied plush options, like the Batman that our friend Bonecrusher zombified for Chooch’s 5th birthday, one of Andrea’s zombie Barbies, Ju-On, a Jason Voorhees plush, the stuffed rabbit I bloodied for my Fatal Attraction costume last year and Chooch has still not forgiven me. All the while, I kept mouthing off to Henry about every last thing, all the way down to his audacity for even having been born. I have medals in this sport, you guys. My endurance for berating Henry is porn star-caliber.

Janna arrived right around this time, and she should really write a guest post about how comfortable and mellow it is to sit on the couch and listen to my mouth flap like your basic Roseanne Barr and Henry quietly simmers in a broth of domestic abuse and emasculation. I think my salutation as she walked through the front door was, “THIS IS THE WORST FUCKING DAY EV-HER-HER-HER-HER-ERRRRRR.”

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He insisted on putting a non-maimed dog in the front with him, but he was telling everyone its name was Murder Victim.

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I know, Chooch looks miserable in the video. But he was trying to look like a sad wolf, OK?! I’M NOT REALLY THAT BAD OF A MOM.

Finally, Chooch was situated in his box and we set off in the rain. We tagged along with our neighbor and two of her kids. Her son Josh is in Chooch’s class and they’ve known each other basically since they were born, since they’re only 2 weeks apart in age. Sometimes they don’t play very well together, but they made a good trick-or-treating duo. I was really glad for that, because this day did not need any more stress! Plus, Josh was really enthused about Chooch’s costume, which made him get even more into it.

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Too bad the rain forced him to take it off after the first block. Totally broke my heart, which I communicated by being a complete asshole and stamping my feet and threatening that I was JUST GOING TO GO HOME. Because you know, it’s all about me and my feelings. Meanwhile, Chooch was like, “Erin, Imma let you finish, but not having to wear a box in the rain is one of the best Halloween costumes of all time.” And frankly, he looked adorable as that stuffed wolf, so I got over it pretty quickly. (Not without verbally raping Henry a few more times though. Because the rain was ALL HIS FAULT! Why didn’t he smear himself with his own feces and crump to What Does the Fox Say beneath the Harvest Moon like a REAL FATHER?!)

I really don’t handle this shit well. I act like every little tiny event is my wedding/funeral. And it always ends up being fine! And we have fun! And we laugh! But there is always that hour where I am such a raging control freak bitchnugget asshole that I have no idea why I still have any friends. Or, you know, a Henry and a Chooch.

So I will summarize the rest (thank god, right) by saying that:

  • it rained like it motherfucker
  • Henry tried to go home
  • some lady in a Blazer almost ran us over and then put her window down to tell Chooch he had the cutest costume, and I said, “Thanks…FOR ALMOST RUNNING US OVER”
  • Henry and I broke up over an umbrella
  • I pointed out all of the things Henry forgot to put on the claw machine and he growled, “THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I WOULD HAVE DONE IF I HAD MORE TIME.” God, quit your job then, asshole.
  • Henry tried to go home
  • Chooch had to take off the box before we made it off the first block and went the rest of the night as a “sad stuffed wolf”
  • Henry tried to go home
  • Janna had a cold
  • I called Henry a motherfucker (x 87)
  • Henry got to go home

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Fuck you and your purple umbrella, asshole.

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Sopping wet chaperones.

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I don’t even think they noticed it was raining. (Josh had a really cute pirate costume, and it sucked that he had to wear a windbreaker over it. I hate Pittsburgh weather.)

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We probably only saw 15-20 other trick-or-treaters in the 60+ minutes we were out there. And most houses just left out a bowl on the honest

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Tourette’s was trick-or-treating, too!!

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Cast of Claw Characters

“What did you use for the blood?” Henry frowned, rubbing his wet, red fingers together.

“Paint. It was either that or Ketchup,” I said with a shrug, and then when he gave me The Disappointed Father look, I screamed, “OH DON’T EVEN START WITH ME ABOUT THE FAKE BLOOD, YOU SON OF A BITCH.” I mean, good fucking god. Sorry that paint takes so long to dry!

****

Afterward, Henry, Chooch, Janna and I went to Eat n Park for dinner, and miraculously Henry and I quit hating each other long enough to (BRIEFLY) hold hands at the booth. And now Chooch is apparently really into eyeliner. I came home from work last night and he had it on one eye. Henry gave me the “thanks for THAT, Erin” smirk.

All in all, it ended up being fine and we had fun in spite of the rain. I mean, if I had nothing to bitch about, how would I ever remember this night?!

Did your Halloween go off without a hitch? If so, fuck you.

Oct 082018
 

Today’s costume flashback is brought to you by the victory I received over the weekend when Henry caved and said, “FINE WE CAN  GO TO KNOEBELS FOR THEIR STUPID HALLOWEEN THING.” It’s from 2014, which was probably the most stress-free Halloween that Henry and I had ever since bringing Chooch onto the scene.

Here you go!

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Standing in line for Flying Turns at Knoebel’s two weeks ago, Chooch spotted a kid at the front of the line, wearing a bacon costume.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if his name was Kevin?” Chooch asked, laughing. “And he’s wearing a BACON costume?” He was beside himself with laughter at this point. “GET IT, MOMMY? KEVIN…BACON!?”

YES I GET IT! GOD.

He watched Footloose once last year so obviously Mr. Bacon has been on Chooch’s radar ever since. I mean, it’s Kevin-fucking-Bacon.

In fact, earlier that same day, as Henry was driving around the town of Danville, PA in circles, Chooch piped up from the backseat, “Don’t Kevin Bacon your way around.” It makes less and less sense the more you think about it, but goddamn did we laugh at the time!

And then, after seeing the bacon kid at Knoebel’s, Chooch said that’s what he wanted to be for Halloween: a bacon suit with a Hello My Name Is: Kevin name tag. You guys. Finally. A simple goddamn Halloween costume. With two weeks to go! No makeup needed! No DIY crossbows or cardboard boxes to turn to mush in the rain! No ONELASTTHING that has one of us running to CVS 15 minutes before trick-or-treating begins.

Last weekend, we went to the Halloween store and bought the bacon costume. I had no problem spending $30 on it because even though it seems like we’re being so economical with all of our DIY costumes of Halloween-past, all the bits and pieces that we have to collect from Goodwill and eBay add up, not to mention the stress of putting it all together. But the best part was the Chooch was so excited and proud of this costume! I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he’s not the first person to do this. But he might be the first 8-year-old to come up with the idea on his own!

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Halloween was a wet mess. It started raining late-morning and basically never let up, so the parade at Chooch’s school was moved to the gym. At first I was really pissed off about the parade in general because Henry kept saying he would probably be able to make it but of course at the last minute, his mistress showed up a truck driver showed up at work, so he couldn’t leave in time to make the parade. But then when I got to the school, I quickly forgot about being mad because THE GYM TEACHER WAS THERE AND I AM SO HOT FOR THAT GUY! So instead of sending Henry death-threats via text, I occupied myself with taking stealth-shots of my gym teacher crush while Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” played on a loop in my slutty head.

Don’t worry! There was still room for me to judge 3/4 of the parents in the room.

The parade only lasted about 15 minutes. Once the adults realized Chooch’s entire costume, there was a ton of snickering and he seemed pleased. I figured most people assumed this was a costume that his bossy parents forced on him.

“None of your friends are going to get it,” I told him the other day.

“No…but the teachers will,” he shrugged. Because that’s all he cares about: impressing grown-ups.

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***********

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It was still raining by the time trick-or-treating started and I was completely upset about it. Chooch didn’t give a fuck, but I was all, “HALLOWEEN IS RUINED! AGAIN! WAHHHH!” But really it was because I was mad that I had half-assed a baby doll costume (I was wearing a donuts-in-space baby doll dress, even) and then had to cover everything up with a rainjacket, ugh. I hate everything!

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Anyway. We wound up going around the neighborhood with our neighbor Sam and her son, Markie. Markie is kind of like the little brother that Chooch always says he wants until he spends too much time with Markie and then he turns into a little jerk-bully and it is so infuriating. I hate kids with superiority complexes and Chooch definitely has one that rears its head every now and then. I spent most of the time saying things like, “CAN’T YOU JUST BE NICE?! WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO MARKIE? STOP BEING A JERK.”

Ugh.

Stop making me be a MOM on HALLOWEEN.

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Henry was absolutely no help whatsoever.

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Markie’s mom has trick-or-treating on LOCK. She would quickly point out if they missed a house or if they only took one when the sign said TAKE TWO and she was on top of things when it came to crossing the street. Have you seen me cross the street? Thank god for Markie’s mom.

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A few Halloweens ago, Chooch completely bit it down a set of stairs not unlike these ones. And this year, he was practically making the trek in a DRESS. He did fall once, not down any steps at least, and Markie’s mom was on top of it. That’s just one of the reasons why everyone assumed she was my kid’s mom that night.

Sigh.

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AFTER THIS HOUSE GO TO THAT HOUSE. DON’T WALK THROUGH THEIR YARD! YOU MISSED THAT HOUSE! THE LIGHT IS OFF BUT THERE IS A BOWL ON THE PORCH!!!!

Ah, the sounds of hyper-bossy trick-or-treating parents. They should have their own show on TLC.

And I thought Henry was a candy-fetching militant.

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Seriously, Chooch’s costume. It’s like a breakfast gown. I had the ingenious foresight to pin it up, but that brilliant mom-idea came the day before, so by Halloween, I had forgotten to do it. But still, people freaked out over his costume. One lady even asked to take his picture. I was happy to stand in the background and not take any credit. This was all Chooch and I let him have it all. (There were times when people would laugh and say to each other, “Oh, he’s bacon, how cute” and, after fisting their candy bowl, he would snap, “I’m KEVIN Bacon” and then sauntered away while they let that sink in.

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Toward the end of the night, we parted ways with the neighbors, and if there was a house Chooch felt like skipping, we let him skip the everloving FUCK out of it. It was cold and wet and we wanted to go home and eat candy, you know? Leave us alone.