Jun 292015
 

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It rained A LOT over the weekend, so when we had a little bit of a reprieve on Sunday afternoon, I begged Chooch to go for a walk with me. And then, since he got to buy a new Skylander on Saturday, I guilted him into letting me take more pictures of him, because I was bored as fuck. (This happens every time I designate a “chill” weekend. I am just not meant to sit at home.)

Henry, barely glancing up from the couch, mumbled, “Be careful” as we walked out the door.

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There are a lot of creepy alleys in Brookline, so we picked one and went from there.

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Chooch’s dumb mouth set off a series of dog-barking, which was totally annoying and brought a ton of attention to the two a-holes slinking around suspiciously behind houses. As we neared what seemed to be the alpha dog on the street, I mistakenly said, “Hi buddy!” which alerted, I am not shitting you, EIGHT MORE DOGS to come charging at the fence from the side of the house.

Granted, they were all really small dogs, terriers and things like that (I’m bad with recognizing canine breeds), but their barks were way bigger than the large alpha dog guarding the gate. Chooch and I cracked up because it was so cartoon-ish how this herd of tiny dogs just materialized seemingly out of nowhere.

I bet that street doesn’t have a burglary problem.

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His face is always dirty.

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Chooch got this shirt from the Pierce the Veil show in Lancaster when he was 6. I think it’s an Adult XS and now it almost doesn’t fit him anymore! :(

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Yes, please. Pretend like you’re breaking and entering. Alert more hounds.

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I like this one because it looks like he’s in a “DON’T COME NEAR ME!” stance, which is lovely and sends all the right messages to Child Protective Services.

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Almost all of Chooch’s time these days is monopolized by the neighborhood kids (he has a fan club — they sit on the porch and wait for him) so I was happy that he gave me 30 minutes of his precious time. He actually didn’t even bitch about it once we got out of the door!

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I’m pretty sure the only reason Chooch agreed to go on this walk with me is because he was hoping to stumble upon his GIRLFRIEND.

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On the way home, we walked past succulent city! Some house had a whole shit load of succulents in long troughs and I plucked one of the leaves right the fuck off so I could take it home and propagate it because “propagate” is now a regular part of my vocabulary. Chooch was appalled that I “stole” this, but no dogs barked so it was an easy getaway.

***

Later that night, I was inspired by the upcoming premier of the new MTV Scream series (and also my brother Corey’s fanatical texts while watching MTV’s Scream marathon) to revisit the first Scream movie. Somehow, Chooch has lived nine years without ever seeing it (though he does know about it), so he ran upstairs to grab his blanket and then settled in on the couch with Henry and me in a rare, American family moment. (Henry will usually go in the other room and pretend like he’s doing important things on the computer when we watch horror movies because he’s scared.)

“That lady looks familiar,” Chooch said at one point.

“She was on ‘Friends,'” I said, and then he knowingly said, “Oh yeah. Courtney Cox.”

This cracked me up, that a nine-year-old knows Courtney Cox’s name because of ‘Friends’.

Anyway, after Scream ended, Chooch emphatically announced, “I LOVED IT.” And then, after thinking about it, he added, “I didn’t know it was going to be so funny, too.” Nothing fazes him.

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Jun 212015
 

Here is a thing you should know about me in case you’re ever trying to really butter me up (or poison me) by sending me baked goods: I LOVE LAVENDER-FLAVORED FOODS. A few springs ago, Caribou Coffee used to have a lavender latte and it was fucking dreamy but then it went away and I got bug-eyed looks from baristas every time I asked for it after that. (Thank god for Monin syrups and Henry’s basic kitchen knowledge, because he has been known to whip me up some lavender simple syrup when he’s trying to keep me from leaving him for someone more age-appropriate.)

My friend Kara alerted me a few weeks ago to the Destiny Hill Farm’s lavender festival in Washington, PA. I forwarded this news along to Henry who didn’t even question it because he knew that taking me to this was essential to my existence. So that’s what we did yesterday and Chooch was PISSED because it required being in the car for like, 45 minutes, god forbid. But he’s really into the Smashing Pumpkins now so listening to Mellon Collie and reading the lyrics kept him quiet.

I know: a lavender festival seems like such a plebeian event for me to attend, right? But you know how I am with things: I either REALLY LIKE THINGS to the point of restraining orders or REALLY HATE THINGS to the point of cease & desist letters.

I started screaming when I saw this sign and Henry was like, “OK ERIN.”

We got to ride a school bus! I LOVE SHUTTLING TO FESTIVALS!

I will try to make this short and sweet: I tasted lots of delicious things infused with lavender (and bought it all too), only hated one person (some overly-inquisitive broad who cut in front of me at the honey stand when all I wanted was a sample of the lavender honey but had to stand there and listen to her ask 87 questions about raw honey and I was like “I’M SORRY BUT THIS IS NOT A LECTURE HALL DO YOU WANT A SAMPLE OR NOT?), ruined a pair of TOMS in the soggy farmgrounds, and managed to apply TEAMWORK with Chooch in order to cut our own lavender without the assistance of Henry (we wandered off without him and then he couldn’t find us and was pissed because OH LOOK WHO’S LOST NOW!), and basically felt like I was floating on a giant lavender-stuff satchel. It was a dreamy kind of day.

I ATE THIS! HONEY LAVENDER GELATO! My god, it was like the Garden of Eden was melting upon my sinful tongue. I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS. Lavender makes my brain shut down.

This was the exact moment that Chooch saw two girls around his age, giggling and wearing crowns of lavender. He looked at me and mumbled, “Shut up.”

“OMG LAVENDER.”

Chooch was fine until he ate a sample of lavender fudge that burned his throat, so then he spent a good portion of the time there wearing his thespian cap. He was miraculously cured when we found a baby donkey to pet, though. But then later, we were sampling balsamic vinegar and when the lady gave Chooch a sample cup of it, he threw it back like a shot before we had a chance to stop him. So that was A Scene.

Stoked for lavender.

We left the festival with Lavender sparkling wine, lavender fudge, lavender honey, lavender balsamic vinegar, bellies full of lavender lemonade & cookies, freshly cut lavender sprigs, and a purple beaded necklace! In addition to all of this, Henry also left with a headache spawned from all the times I screamed IT’S INTOXICATING! while shoving my lavender bundle in his face, and a newfound hatred of Kara.

I DRANK THIS LAST NIGHT. Not the whole bottle, even though I wanted to.

The only downside to the festival, other than ruining my TOMS, was that there was no lavender coffee! There was definitely a coffee vendor there, but it seemed to be offering just the usual suspects. Unless I missed it, but that seems unlikely since I’m never wrong.

Chooch had so much fun* at the lavender festival, that his hair turned lavender, too.

*(That might be a slight exaggeration.)

******

Today we are spending Father’s Day at Waldameer Park with our Henry who hates amusement! Happy Father’s Day to any dad who might be reading this dump.

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Jun 192015
 

Guys, hey guys. Over here, guys. I have some more succulents that are so stoked to meet you! (No, it’s not the serial killer greeting cards or the haunted house journals or the cemetery picnics, IT IS THE PLANTS THAT MAKE ME INSANE!) Anyway, my new thing in life, in case you somehow missed the botanical bulletin, is to adopt succulents and then spend a ridiculous amount of time fretting over the perfect container to pot them in, and then we all go outside on the porch for a photo shoot.
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I think I already showed you guys Ted Nude-Gent in my introductory foray into plant-blogging, but here is a sultry, scandalous, seductive close-up. BOW CHICKA ALL DAY LONG AM I RIGHT.

One of the times I was outside potting my new acquisitions last weekend, Hot Naybor Chris’s wife came out of their house and was all, “Ooh, whatcha makin’?” So I was strong-armed into small talk, which at first was OK because OMG I love to talk about my babes. But then she was telling me about the plants she has potted on her porch, but they’re not succulents so I was like, “zzzzzzzzz.” Succulents or GTFO.

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Some aerial shots of Phil-Angie. I almost forgot his name the other day and I still feel guilty about it.

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This prickly puppy still needs a name, so let me know if you have any suggestions!

Saturday morning, Henry was like, “Do you want to get your new phone or plants?” I looked at him like he was a doof-fuck for asking. “Plants,” I snapped. Obviously! So he took me to some nursery out in Allison Park. The drive there is only about 35 minutes but Chooch was SO PISSED because he hates being in the car and of course we weren’t telling him where we were going so when we pulled into the nursery’s lot, he cried, “Are you kidding me!? I hate my life.” But then there was a cat roaming around, so he was placated.

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After adopting several potted pets from the nursery, we swung by a nearby Lowe’s, which had a much better selection than the one by our house, i.e. the one that bore my obsession. This one had a pretty large display, but I quickly noticed that most of them looked diseased and malnourished.

“They’re not getting enough sunlight!” I cried to Henry.

“There’s a skylight right above them,” he pointed up at the ceiling.

“LOWE’S ABUSES THEIR SUCCULENTS!” I yelled, making sure there was some asshole in a Lowe’s apron within earshot.

And then some motherfucker was blocking one side of the succulent stand. Just fucking standing around and chatting it up with some bitch he ran into, NOT EVEN LOOKING AT THE SUCCULENTS, like this was a goddamn water cooler. And the worst part was that in addition to blocking it with his stupid body, he also had a large cart that was jutting out, preventing me from getting as close I needed to be.

I turned to Henry and said in more than an indoor voice, “NICE PLACE FOR THAT ASSHOLE TO STAND. LIKE, GO OUTSIDE AND TALK. I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW RUDE THIS DOUCHEBAG IS BEING.”

“Are you done?” Henry sighed.

“NO BECAUSE THERE IS ONE I WANT DOWN THERE BUT I CAN’T REACH IT BECAUSE THAT MAN IS BLOCKING IT!”

So then I made exaggerated motions to illustrate how hard I was trying to reach over the man’s cart in order to grab a plant I had been eying.  So before this could escalate, Henry walked over and politely asked the man to move it.

Finally free to claim the plant I wanted, we headed over to the register. I was still mouthing off about how rude that man was.

Henry said, “You could have just said excuse me.”

“I shouldn’t have to! He should know not to park his cart in front of the succulents!!”

“OK,” Henry conceded in exhaustion.

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I may have beef with Lowe’s, but at least they had this adorable Living Rock dude! I have been dying to add a Living Rock to my collection! (LOL, like I’ve been collecting plants for 15 years and not just two weeks.) I actually carried this guy home in my lap because he’s too adorbs and I wanted to stare at him with googly eyes.

I named him Little Otik, after Little Otik from the movie Little Otik. Google Little Otik if you haven’t heard of Little Otik prior to my mentioning of Little Otik.

Glenn was walking past my desk the other day and I stopped him. “GLENN, LOOK AT LITTLE OTIK!” So Glenn was standing there, looking at Little Otik, and I was looking at Little Otik, and then finally Glenn began shaking a stack of papers at me and said, “ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE THIS? I’M NOT GOING TO STAND HERE ALL DAY” and here, the only reason he stopped at my desk before going back to his was because he had grabbed my print job for me (I know, I was shocked too) and was waiting for me to take it.

“Oh,” I said sadly. “I thought you just wanted to keep looking at Little Otik.”

Later, I witnessed him getting INVITED TO A PARTY and when I whipped around in my chair to add my own disparaging remarks to the conversation, he told me to go home and play with my plants, which probably sounded weird to the guy he was talking to. (It was TERRY, if any of my work pals are wondering.)

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DIEM AND CT! I named them after Diem (RIP) and CT from the MTV Challenge. They must not ever be separated.

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I was so excited about Diem and CT that I texted a picture of them to my brother Corey on the ASAP. He was excited but then he asked, “Um, how many plants do you have now?!”

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Last weekend, I learned that my succulents are going to grow?! I thought that was why they had various sizes available, like S, M, L. All this time I’ve been picking the Size S versions of all my succulents because I thought they were midgets, and midgets don’t grow.

So…

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CRAZY PLANT LADY. Look at Panne over there in the right-hand corner! God love ’em.

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Just hanging out with Suzy Banyon, Nipsy, Ted Nude-Gent, and Panne, no big deal.

In other, stupid plant news, I remembered to water my fledgling spider plant at work the other day. I hate him. He’s no succulent.

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I still have more plants to show you! I’ll save that for another day. I don’t want you guys to get too excited all at once.

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Jun 142015
 

I bought tons of new plants yesterday and I have so much to tell you about them, B(otany)log! But it’s hot in my house and I don’t have much time today, so instead let’s spotlight my favorite one of the lot: CARLY.

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My brother Corey wanted me to name one of my plants Carly, after two Carlys: Carly Simon (because of that famed game night where we were playing Catchphrase and all Henry said was, “I don’t know….she’s a singer” and I jokingly screamed, and I mean SCREAMED “CARLY SIMON!” totally randomly and it ended up being right, wtf) and also Carly Rae Jepsen, based on the obsession Chooch and I had with Call Me Maybe during the summer of 2012. (Remember Ross’s Blackberry?!) But that particular plant didn’t look Carly-esque, and that plant became known as Stefano DiMera.

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But then I saw this Pink Vygie (heh heh heh vygie) at some nursery yesterday, and I was like, “That’s the one! That’s Carly!” because it’s got the thorny parts to represent Carly Simon bad-assery and unconventional beauty, and the pink stem-things reflect CRJ’s bubblegum pop. (I AM DEEP IN THE PLANT GAME, PEOPLE.)

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I didn’t realize that Carly was going to have FLOWERS on her until we got home (because I don’t read the informational tags that come with the plants after that part that states their species) and Henry was like, “Oh wow look the plant bloomed” in his typical “who cares” tone and I was like, “SHE HAS FLOWERS ON HER!?” Even more apropos! WHAT A POP STAR!

I adopted Carly at the perfect time too, because my CRJ obsession has been reactivated with the buzz of her upcoming album release. I AM OBSESSED WITH THE TITLE TRACK “EMOTION”! It reminds me of rollerskating parties at Spinning Wheels in the late 80s and I just feel so happy and excited for summer.

I can’t even say she’s a guilty pleasure, because I feel no guilt. MY LOVE IS UNABASHED.

And then this joint is the perfect couple skate jam and why am I sitting in my dining room writing this and not gliding gracefully around a roller rink RIGHT NOW?! Ugh. Everything I’ve heard from this album gives me those dreamy late-80s pop feels. I am really anxious to hear the tracks she wrote with Tegan and Sara and Sia.

Ugh, I love you, CRJ.

And in case you read the Ross’ Blackberry post and wondered “WELL?! DID HE GET HIS PHONE BACK?!” the shocking conclusion can be read here.

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Jun 092015
 

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Well, guys. I’m still obsessed with my succulents. Earlier tonight, I unwound by taking some of them outside for a PHOTO SHOOT. It gets really wild over here sometimes. And crunk, too, if anyone still says that. Anyway, I named this one Suzy Banyon.

 

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One of the downsides to where I live is that there are ALWAYS people walking by and I kind of felt like I was being watched as I filmed a porno, you know? Because what I was doing was so INTIMATE. I’ve never been one to take photos of flowers and general objects of nature, so that’s how you know I am infatuated with my dumb plant collection. Henry’s mom was here today and right away I shouted COME LOOK AT MY PLANTS OMG. She agreed that Bae is pretty much the shit. 

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This babe is Gossamer.

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And you already know Bae! THIS IS A CLOSEUP OF BAE.

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More Bae!

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Sandworm, obvi. [Sidenote: I finally have a use for the root beer jug Janna bought me for my birthday at the Fayette County Fair a few years ago!]

 

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My precious Panne.

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PANNE AGAIN. I think Panne might be tied with Bae for my favorite.

 

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Nipsy.

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This one is still a John Doe. I have to stare at it intensely some more. EDIT: Monica has dubbed this one Stefano Dimera because, like his namesake from Days of Our Lives, he’s hard to kill! (hopefully.)

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Gossamer’s nickname is Nun’s Vag.

Henry just walked by and sighed. That might be my cue.

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Jun 082015
 

One day last week, Timehop was all, “Hey crazy lady, here’s a round-up of all the cat-related things you posted about on the Internet on this date in the past.” Look, they’re not ALWAYS cat-related, OK? But this particular Timehop day was prolific with Marcy shout-outs:

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For instance, one year ago when she was street-teaming for the new Emarosa release, and two years ago when I was trying to create a real-life Vampire Diaries story-arc to help keep Marcy alive forever.

Real talk: I have been a hot mess since putting Marcy to sleep on 3/31. For some reason, I have been bottling it up this time around. OK, not for “some reason.” I know it’s because part of me is like, “If I pretend like I’m OK, I’ll be OK!” Which is so stupid and I’m normally such a huge advocate for crying it out. Nothing has felt right since she died, and getting that tribute tattoo opened the floodgates. I have cried every day since then and…it has felt pretty good. Even Henry was like, “It’s OK. Just let yourself cry.” AND HE IS A HERO SO HE WOULD KNOW. I really do feel a sense of peace now that I have her furry face permanently etched upon my arm, but man—-I fucking miss her so hard. 17 years is a long time to be around someone every day and then have them taken away, so I know that feeling this way is normal, but I guess I also didn’t want to get to that point where I was making everyone around me feel uncomfortable, because “fuck, she’s crying about her cat again, maybe we should call HR.” I have pretty much stopped painting since her death, too. It’s like, why bother.

I was so nervous, like stomach-churning nervous, all day long prior to my tattoo session, mostly because I hadn’t seen the design yet but also because I knew that I was going to be struggling to hold it all together. As soon as I arrived at Kyklops, Erin pulled the sketch out of a folder and my eyes started to well up so fast because it was like being face-to-face with Marcy again; literally love at first sight. There wasn’t one single thing that I wanted changed. Then, while Erin was prepping, I noticed that she had the most perfect portrait of Mike Patton not only hanging on her wall, but also tattooed on her inner arm. So we talked about Faith No More and that made me start to calm down.

I had over three hours to sit in a chair and think. We talked here and there, but I’m not a big talker while getting tattooed, and we were both in the zone. So I sat quietly and thought a lot about how everything has changed. For the first time in my whole entire life, I am without a pet. It is devastating, but I just don’t feel ready to bring a new one in. I still have guilt. And it feels so raw that as I’m typing this, tears are burning my eyes and my heart seems like it’s actually sighing. So I started thinking of plants, succulents to be specific. I have been wanting to bring some into the house for some time now, mostly because the idea of finding/making/repurposing containers in which to hold them is super appealing to me. Second, they are supposed to be easy. Part C, because they’re pretty weird-looking and I love weird-looking things (see: Henry, jewelry made of teeth, Asian fruit). And most importantly, because I need something to take care of and take my mind off things.

No, plants aren’t replacing my pets, but they’re an adequate fill-in for the time being and they make my house look prettier. (Kind of.)

(Side note: this tattoo has healed almost magically; it’s kind of bizarre. But several people at work even commented on how it already looked healed and I really feel like it’s because Erin is just seriously amazing. Of course, I threw in the fact that it’s because she’s a girl and Glenn was like, “OH PLZ” and made some disgusted noise.)

The very next day, Henry took me to Lowe’s and we bought three succulents: some jade-plant thingie and two cacti.

I am smitten. IS THAT WEIRD? That me, Erin Rachelle Kelly, after 35 years of not giving a basic shit about vegetation, is suddenly O to the Bsessed with these creepy earth-growths? I spend most of my free time Googling about them and perusing succulent shops on Etsy and YES EVEN WATCHING YOUTUBE VIDEOS, which caused Chooch to walk by, stop, roll his eyes and mumble, “Oh Jesus Christ” as some d-bag urban gardener taught me how to propagate*.

*(That means MULTIPLY my succulents, you guys! THEY MAKE BABIES!)

I happily potted the jade thing in a nudie mug that I bought at the flea market over 10 years ago and have always been too afraid to drink from so it’s been sorely underused all this time. So of course he’s aptly named Ted Nudegent.

Chooch planted his in some old coconut thing that I drank booze from at some Italian festival in West Virginia one year. (Ha-ha, just kidding. Henry planted it.)

I spent all week pining for more succulents. And then, Henry took me to buy more on his birthday! I guess Henry enjoys garden-y stuff. I asked him if he used to have a garden and he said yes and then I asked him if we could talk about it and he quickly snapped NO because he’s always trying to keep secrets. So we bought some new plants at Home Depot, where an older man came up behind me, said “Excuse me, dear” and then PUT HIS HANDS ON MY WAIST AS HE SQUEEZED PAST ME and I seriously couldn’t stop reliving the moment for the rest of the weekend because it WAS SO INTIMATE and I really dislike human contact. Henry witnessed this whole horrifying scene and actually laughed out loud in public, which he hardly ever does in private, even. And then I was all excited because we were listening to Pet Shop Boys in the car on the way there and then it was also playing at Home Depot! I couldn’t believe it and was just about to mention something about kismet or serendipity to Henry when I realized that Pet Shop Boys was actually PLAYING LOUDLY FROM INSIDE MY PURSE because Spotify had switched over from the car stereo to my phone.

Maybe that older man was actually trying to dance with me?!

Ugh.

After Home Depot, we went to an actual nursery which was a HUGE LET DOWN and I made lots of angry and disappointed noises every time we walked past an employee so that they would know how worthless their dumb plant store was. Thank god we wrapped up Saturday’s succulent spree with a stop at Goodwill, where I found some 1970s-esque mugs and then lost Chooch but he was just in the bathroom so it’s OK.

I named this guy Phil Angie because he looks like alien finger (a/k/a phalanges, WATCH AN EPISODE OF FRIENDS NOW AND THEN, WHY DON’T YOU).

Haunting.

 

This one is Chooch’s, obviously.

The mug on the right is from Taormina, Sicily and had been collecting dust on my shelf for the last 15 years. WELL, NOT NO MO’.

Some of my new adopted friends are still Jane and John Does. These things take time. I don’t give hasty names.

These photos are horrible. Don’t worry—I plan on doing a legit photo shoot with my real camera. I need to make hats for them first.

Not really a secret, but this one is my favorite so naturally I have to call him Bae. (Also, I had to explain to Glenn this morning what Bae means and he looked sorry that he asked.)

Panne, for pannekoek, because he’s obviously Dutch.

And then yesterday, Henry took me to another Home Depot while Chooch was at piano lessons and I got even more ahhhh can you stand it?! When we picked Chooch up, I was like, “GUESS WHAT I GOT?! MORE SUCCULENTS!” and he made a really disappointed, tired sigh. But whatev—Pearl and Aloysius are such babes!

I have even more than this windowsill illustrates now. Last night, I bought RARE SUCCULENT SEEDS from some Etsy seller in CYPRUS! Wendy said that I probably invited some deadly disease into the States but who cares once my bunny-eared succulents sprout!

This morning, I was still getting ready for work when Chooch started to leave for school.

“Say goodbye to the succulents!” I shouted down the stairs.

“No!” he shouted back with disgust. But then I heard him quietly sigh, “Goodbye, succulents. Goodbye, Bae.”

I couldn’t wait to come to work and share pictures of my new acquisitions with everyone! Glenn was thoroughly impressed and has added “I hope your succulents die” to his malicious repertoire of retorts.

I couldn’t even make it through our weekly meeting today without blurting out that I’m collecting plants now. This conversation carried on as we all walked back to our desks after the meeting and I told Todd that some people even pack a bunch of succulents into a picture frame and hang them on the wall.

“Wait…so they just like grow, in the air?” Todd questioned me in a tone that me feel like I was being accused of something.

“No, but there are plants that grow in just air! They’re called—-” and here I paused to curtail a giddy laugh “—tillandsias! I learned that because I was watching YouTube videos yesterday.”

I sat back down at my desk (because during this conversation, I was excitedly pacing back and forth between Todd’s and Glenn’s desk) and then said, “Wow. Hearing myself say that just now made me realize I don’t know who I am anymore.”

***

I will eventually get another pet someday, I swear. But right now, it’s comforting to know that if I try to hug most of my succulents, I’ll get injured. Just like when I would hug Marcy.

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May 292015
 

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I didn’t want to wait until #mcm (MAN CRUSH MONDAY) to post this, so let’s pretend like today is #fgf (FAVORITE GUY FRIDAY).

When I first started dating Henry, I was 21 and he was 35. A LOT of people were like, “Ha-ha, say goodbye to your life. Have fun listening to country music and drinking IC Light.” Because that’s what all 35-year-old men do? And I guess I was a little worried at first, because I loved road-tripping for concerts back then. My friend Wonka and I would drive all over to see our favorite band at the time, Cold. In the first few months we were together, Cold was playing in Hershey, PA and Wonka wanted to go. I was worried that Henry would be like, “YOU ARE NOT DRIVING THAT FAR AWAY WITH ANOTHER MAN.” But Henry understood even then how much these things meant to me, and he was OK with me going.

(I mean, I totally would have still went anyway because that’s the kind of selfish, arrogant, solipsistic fucking bitch that I am!)

But then Wonka started dating the future mother of his children, and our roadtrips came to an end. I had no idea that Henry would ever want to do these things with me, because I was so used to having completely separate lives from every boyfriend I ever had. But by that May, there we were, driving to Wisconsin to see Cold. And there have been many, many more concert-spurned road trips since then, whether he liked it or not!

Wednesday night, I was watching music videos on YouTube, because that’s just what I do, when Henry said, “Look.” He was holding up his phone to show me that this year’s Riot Fest line up was finally announced. I ran over and snatched his phone from him and immediately started freaking out because FAITH NO MORE. I had a feeling that they were going to be there so my eyes were blind to everything else on the list but that for the first ten minutes. And then the more I looked at the lineup, the more I freaked out. THE NOSTALGIA FACTOR IS OFF THE FUCKING CHARTS.

I started freaking the fuck out and chanting PLEASE CAN WE GO PLEASE CAN WE GO PLEASE CAN WE GO CAN WE CAN WE CANWECANWECANWE over and over but I was pretty sure the answer was going to be no because we kind of broke the bank when we went last year. But you know, I’m immature, head-in-the-clouds Erin and I don’t think about things like RENT and GROCERIES and BILLS. I was just about reaching Veruca Salt levels of brattiness when Henry got up from the couch in a huff and said, “Don’t start!” So I sat there, staring at the lineup and crying because these are things I cry about, when I got a text from Henry, who was in the kitchen. IT WAS A SCREENSHOT OF THE TICKET CONFIRMATION OMG CAN I KEEP THIS MAN FOREVER?! I guess he knew for awhile that going again was inevitable, so he was prepared.

And it’s a good thing, because I’ve had the days requested off from work since January.

I know I bitch about him being a killjoy a lot, but even though he really doesn’t like these things at all, he still does them because he is an A+ kind of guy. And I am super lucky to be with someone who maybe doesn’t  share the same passion for music as I do, but he understands that it is a necessity for me, like food and water. I crave this stuff! I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back and looked at pictures from last year’s Riot Fest because it puts me in a good mood. That weekend was so close to perfection, and I can’t wait to do it all over again with my frowning sidekick! #blessed

(Snoop Dogg is performing Doggystyle in its entirety. My 1994-self is FUCKING FANNING HERSELF with her Snoop lyric-doodled science folder.)

I am going to be so nice to him for the next several days months. Take all the naps you want, Big Guy!

***

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So yeah, naysayers: 14 years later and I’m having fun listening to whatever music I want while Henry drinks craft beer.  

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May 102015
 

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Disclaimer: I can’t write objectively about Dance Gavin Dance and this post is all over the place because I’m like a little kid who just ate three meals of candy.

Before I get into the juicy details of last week’s Dance Gavin Dance show, please indulge me while I explain the sordid history of this band and what it has been like to be a fan: I go through a lot of phases, musically, but my love for Dance Gavin Dance has only gotten stronger over the years. From the moment I first heard them in my car, driving home from Cincinnati in the winter of 2008, I was entranced. I had just randomly downloaded a bunch of their stuff based on their band name and the fact that they were listed on PureVolume as post-hardcore and that is MY FAVORITE GENRE. (The amount of times I have struggled to explain what ‘post-hardcore” means to people at work is hilarious; it’s kind of like the new “wtf is emo?” in that it’s almost impossible for me to put into layman’s terms. Wiki it, I guess? Good luck!) Downtown Battle Mountain is right up there on my Stranded on an Island album list.

This was also, sadly, the start of a 7-year relationship-threatening obsession with their original clean vocalist, Jonny Craig. Thankfully, he’s no longer in DGD, which is great because I hate him now and he could have easily destroyed DGD.

Jonny era:

To this day, I have yet to hear another band that sounds even remotely like them and, in my opinion, they have only gotten better with age. The only time my love for them was strained was after they kicked out Jonny for the first time and replaced him with Kurt Travis for two albums. Look, I LOVE Kurt Travis. But during that time, their screamer Jon Mess had also left the band and his role has always been one of my favorite parts of DGD. (In fact, I think I actually fangirl over Jon more than anyone else in the band.) I only saw them live twice during the Kurt Travis-era, and ironically once was a tour where past, present and future DGD vocalists were all on: Jonny Craig was there with Emarosa, Kurt with DGD, and Tilian was there with Tides of Man. (This was in 2009, and it was also the first time I ever saw Of Mice & Men and then fell in love with Of Machines, who are sadly no longer together.) It just didn’t click with me, though I have much more appreciation for the Kurt albums now than I did then.

Kurt era:

The summer of 2010, they brought Jonny back for a new album and a tour and this was supposed to be their swan song; Jon Mess came back too and it was like the biggest music orgasm for me. I got to see Jonny perform with DGD twice after that and it was like a dream come true, and then they announced that they were going to write another new album with Jonny and it seemed like their future was so bright. Except that Jonny is a forever fuck-up and they ended up having to kick him out again, in the middle of a tour. It seemed like this was it for them for sure. Maybe Jon, Will, and Matt would just make their side project, Secret Band, their priority.

But then they announced that Tilian Pearson, formerly of Tides of Man, would be their new singer. I was on the fence. In 2011, I saw Emarosa with Tilian as an interim singer; Jonny, who was trying to be in Emarosa and DGD at the same time that year, was forced off the Emarosa tour and into detox on the same day as the Pittsburgh show. Tilian’s brother’s band at the time was also on that tour, so I guess that’s how Tilian came into play. Tilian did fine…but he wasn’t Jonny. And this is how I felt the first time I saw him with DGD at the Altar Bar. It felt wrong to me. But you guys, when they eventually recorded new music with Tilian, everything fell into place and I made a statement that I never thought I would say: Tilian is my favorite DGD singer. They just sound so cohesive with him, and he has really gotten more comfortable with performing the old stuff too. All of that said, it has been a really rewarding time to be a DGD fan. I’m Team Tilian, and DGD remains one of my favorite bands of all time.

(Henry is probably reading this and thinking, “Trust me, this is the short version.”)

Tilian era:

ANYWAY! I’m so excited because their second album with Tilian just came out in April and they were here in Pittsburgh last Sunday! I had butterflies in my stomach all weekend and kept shouting, “AREN’T YOU SO EXCITED?!?” in Henry’s face. Surprisingly, he doesn’t hate them like you would expect him to. He admitted a few years ago that he kind of liked them and I just knew it. The Robot With Human Hair Pt 2 was his ringtone for me for awhile, for Christ’s sake! He just doesn’t like being the token Old Man at all of their shows, is all.

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  • Henry was annoyed because instead of sitting in the car and waiting for doors to open, he had to stand in line with all of the kids. To be fair, the average age was probably about 24, but I guess when you’re as old as Henry, even that constitutes as a “kid.” There was this one teenage boy in front of us, though. His name was Collin and I know this because his mom pulled up alongside the line in her mom-wagon and started shouting, “Collin! Collin! COLLIN!” until he dejectedly left the line and walked over to her car with his head down. “I can’t wait to do that shit to Chooch,” I laughed. “Yeah, except you’ll be calling from another part of the line,” Henry mumbled. And this is probably true. Unless he starts listening to crappy bands when he’s older.
  • I had a tiny container of miniature Altoids, and I tried to get Henry to pretend like they were Grown-Up drugs with me, but he was like, “Don’t be stupid.”
  • As soon as we got inside Mr. Small’s, I saw Christopher Kim at the Polyphia merch booth and I got so excited! He recently made waves for leaving Jonny Craig’s current band, Slaves, and has been pretty candid on Twitter about how fucked that band is so of course I love him because Team Anyone But Slaves. I was too shy to say anything to him so I took the creepy way out and tweeted about seeing him and then he favorited it so basically, we met.
  • Henry plied me with Angry Orchard in an attempt to get me to stop talking a mile a minute. I WAS SO EXCITED!!!!
  • Stolas was the opening band. We saw them last September with Hail the Sun and Icarus the Owl and I loved them immediately. They’re on Will Swan’s label, Blue Swan, and are part of this intricate, technical post-hardcore sub genre that I feel like DGD should take full credit for; they’re the godfathers of this style at this point. I’ve never been a fan of prog-rock in the traditional sense, but when elements of this style is car-crashed with a post-hardcore foundation, it makes me want to start punching faces. Stolas was the perfect way to start this night. My favorite part about them is that some parts of their songs downright sound like incantations. Henry’s review: “No.”
  • I like to called Henry “bae” sometimes, ironically of course, just to annoy him. But when I’m really giddy, and I was Really Giddy, I apparently called him my ride or die. “Can I choose ‘or die’?” he mumbled, while continuing to look at whatever uninteresting info his phone was showing him.
  • A band I used to love was playing whilePolyphia was setting up and I played Henry’s favorite game with him, which is “Trying to Get Henry to Guess the Band & Making Him Feel Like Shit When He Fails.” Here are the clues I gave him:
    • This album is called The Ugly Organ.
    • Henry hates them.
    • Tim Kasher is their singer.
    • His other band is The Good Life.
    • We saw them at Coachella in 2004.
    • Saddlecreek.
    • My ego’s like my stomach– it keeps shitting what I feed it.”
      • If you guessed Cursive, then you have one more point than Henry does.
  • Hail the Sun is amazing. That’s literally the note I wrote myself in my phone. This was my fourth time seeing them and they just keep getting better. We saw their drummer/singer Donovan outside of the venue when we were in line and even Henry knew who he was because HE CAN’T ESCAPE THIS SCENE. Imagine how boring his life would be if he was with a girl who only listened to the radio. Boring, but probably a lot happier and with less headaches, haha. Henry’s review: “*shrugged* It’s too early in the morning for this. You should have been a news reporter.”
  • The crowd was so much better than at the Circa Survive show earlier in the week. I was basically in love with every one there. Maybe those really were Grown-Up Drugs in my Altoids tin….
    • The cider also helped.
  • Polyphia, holy shit. This was my first time seeing them and they blew my fucking mind. Like CHON, they’re also 100% instrumental. The crowd went apeshit over them and I think it says a lot about the talent of a band when they can capture the attention of young people without gimmicks or, you know, a vocalist. Henry did not like them, but that means nothing.

And then……..DGD!

Here are the notes I had in my phone:

  • THUG CITY
  • EVERYTHING IS AMAZING
  • PERFECT CROWD
  • JONNY WHO
  • TILIAN IS THE BEST

Oh no, tangent: What I love the most about DGD fans is that most of them are music geeks in that they understand and appreciate the technicality involved in DGD’s music. These are the kinds of people who want to meet Will Swan after the show to talk about time signatures and ask him about his pedals. This is why I think that DGD is so fucking underrated. They’ve been unfairly marginalized and stuffed into a generic scene pigeonhole, which is why I think that their fan base remains young. Young people keep their minds open when it comes to music. Granted, there were some people at the show around my age, but it made me wonder: why hasn’t their fan base grown with them? Why do people hit a certain age in their 20s and just abandon what they used to love? I hope that doesn’t happen to me, ever.

DON’T PANIC, I’VE GOT A PLAN:

Tilian can sing any of the Jonny-era songs with motherfucking panache.

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT ELSE TO SAY! This post is all over the place, just like their music, and just like my brain. One of the things that I miss most about Barb not working at The Law Firm anymore is that I wasn’t able to go to work the next day and vomit all of my feelings onto her desk. She was always so good about patiently listening to me jaw off about DGD! I remember telling her a long time ago that I liked this music because it panders to the dysfunction in my head; it’s what my brain would play if you plopped it on a turntable and put the needle down.

“I just love Jon Mess so much!” I shouted to Henry. “Did you know he’s a genius?” I LOVE REMINDING HENRY OF THAT! I have never loved a screamer so much before.

I didn’t stop moving the entire night and my body spent the next two days reminding me of Sunday’s perfection. I think I smiled all day long on Monday. MONDAY! Come at me, work week; I just saw DGD.  

I’m so proud of this band for powering through all of the shit and turmoil and managing to create two beautiful works of art with Tilian. It feels so good to be a DGD fan. One of these days, I’m going to finally get that Robot with Human Hair tattoo. He might be holding a sword-speared strawberry.

Henry’s review: “I’ve heard all of these songs. Many times.”

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May 072015
 

HAHA SIKE. This is just another post about Warped Tour and not actually the maniacal manifesto/illegible murder confession that I think some people (Henry) have been nervously expecting.

Every time I look at the Warped Tour lineup for 2015, I feel like I might have immaculately conceived. The only downside is that there is no way I’m going to be able to see every single band on my list; there are just too many and some are bound to overlap. #musicfestivalproblems

In all of my obsessive Warped Tour thinking/planning/daydreaming, I uncovered some photos of Chooch that I never posted from his first time at Warped Tour in 2013. They were lost in some random desktop folder, probably Henry’s fault.

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Christofer Drew is offering 45-minute songwriting classes this summer and Chooch and I have been talking about whether he wants me to sign him up for that or not. It costs extra, and if he’s going to get all starstruck like the last time he met Christofer, then that’s kind of a waste.

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Chooch was all pissed off a few weeks ago because he was waiting for the bus that takes him to the after school program, when some middle school girl walked past him, saw that he was wearing a Pierce the Veil shirt, and said, “You probably don’t even listen to Pierce the Veil.” Bitch, he was singing Isles and Glaciers songs when he was still sitting in a CAR SEAT, so shut your dumb face.

If she only knew that he was practically born into this scene! Last night, I was YouTubing live Dance Gavin Dance videos while Chooch was putting together some Minecraft Lego thing, when he said, “Put on something from when Kurt Travis was the singer.” And then we watched an entire A Lot Like Birds show.

Because clearly, Chooch is a poser.

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I hope we see that girl at the Sleeping With Sirens show next month. You know, if she was able to get tickets before they sold out in less than 5 days.

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I posted a picture of my Warped Tour ticket (it’s the special 3D collectors ticket with Choonimals artwork, duh) on Instagram and WARPED TOUR REGRAMMED ME!

^^^^ Totally the apogee of my Instagram tenure.

TWO MORE MONTHS. TWO MORE MONTHS. TWO MORE MOTHERFUCKING MONTHS!!!

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Apr 192015
 

Clearly, Dance Gavin Dance is one of my favorite bands in the whole entire world, so when they offered an extremely limited edition mega-bundle pre-order that included hand-written lyrics, my brain was like DO NOT EVEN LOOK AT THE PRICE JUST FUCKING PURCHASE! So I did and Henry was like, “That’s fine. I didn’t need to buy groceries this week.” Except that he kept those surly sentiments in his head because he knows better than to get lippy with me when it comes to band stuff.

I got my pre-order in the mail last week, and a day later, the lyrics were sent directly from Tilian Pearson! (I was very happy with the song that was chosen for me, too! Although, I would have been happy with any of them, to be honest, because this new album is perfection.) I couldn’t wait to go out and buy a frame for the lyrics, but then I was like, “HENRY CAN YOU MAKE ME A MAT OUT OF THE INSTANT GRATIFICATION ALBUM ART?!” and he did it because he is the fucking best in the whole entire world and I love him.

(I only love him when he’s doing shit for me, FYI. I haven’t turned soft on you.)

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And now it’s on the wall, right next to the DGD painting I made back in 2008 out of the DGD t-shirt that Christina bought for me that fit too awkwardly.

I’m so happy right now. It’s the little things, guys.

And a big shout out to Mattias Adolfsson, the phenomenal artist who designed most of DGD’s album covers. I am infatuated with him.

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Apr 102015
 

Grief is such a fucked up emotion. My first taste of it was when my Pappap died in 1996 and I honestly felt like there was an icy fist squeezing my heart—for months. It was this sickening, cold sensation inside my ribs, a constant reminder of loss. But even though I was grieving, and crying, and puking, and wallowing…I wanted to talk about it. I needed to, really. But my family isn’t like that. No one wanted to talk about it, but luckily I had friends…and the high school social worker.

It always made me wonder how I turned out differently. Talking about it has always been how I process, make sense, cope, and heal. I will talk about the same thing over and over until I’m blue in the face, and maybe it’s annoying for everyone else (i.e. Henry), but it helps me understand and heal so that I can go back to living my life.

On my 21st birthday, I went to visit my grandma. It had been 5 and a half years since my Pappap’s death at that point, and this particular birthday was difficult for me. I sat with my grandma on her bed and tried to talk about it. She shot me down immediately and became visibly upset at my audacity to speak of such verboten subjects. I explained that I really needed to talk about it, though, that his death had really affected me too.

She looked at me and said, “You were just the granddaughter.”

I don’t know what I thought was going to happen. Those people are just absolutely allergic to feelings, and here I am, the emo black sheep.

Am I completely over my Pappap’s death? FUCK NO. Maybe I’m not curled up in the fetal position, sobbing about it every night, but I do have those moments every now and then, on my birthday, on his birthday, at a damn Mike + the Mechanics show. But mostly, I smile when I see pictures of him, or hear songs that remind me of pool parties at his house, or post-church grilled cheese at Blue Flame. I like to talk about him and write about him because it keeps his memory alive. I try to honor him any chance I get, because he was the greatest man I have ever known. There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of him.

I have been grieving Marcy in this same fashion. It fucking hurts. I cry a lot when I’m alone, because that’s when her absence feels the heaviest. But…I am also able to tell stories about her at work (Glenn and Todd* are thrilled about this) while SMILING. I’m not 100% ready to let go yet. There are still some things I need to do, like the dinner we’re having with some of our friends tonight in her memory, the actual burial next month (the pet cemetery doesn’t start burying pets until May), and the tattoo that is already being drawn up. And then on Monday, Amber

 

*(Yesterday, I thrust my phone in Todd’s face and said LOOK AT THIS PICTURE OF MARCY FROM ONE DAY LAST SUMMER WHEN I WAS LOCKED OUT OF THE HOUSE AND SHE DIDN’T CARE. Todd was like, “OK. Wow.” Also, Todd is terrified of cats, so my Marcy stories don’t really do much for him.)

****

Completely befitting of Marcy’s volatile nature, it was thunder storming pretty savagely on Thursday evening when we arrived at Animal Friends. I half-expected to be struck down by lightning, one last act of Marcy-controlled physical infliction.

We were a little bit early, so we spent some time looking at the shelter animals. Mistake, mistake, mistake. I was crying before the vigil even started.

At 7, we gathered in a small room with seven others. Two were the volunteers in charge of the vigil, and one was a Methodist minister who was there to provide the spiritual portion of the evening. There was an older woman who lost her dog, an older couple who lost their dog, and an old lady who lost her rabbit. (And when I say “older,” I mean “older than Henry.”) To start off the vigil, one of the volunteers stood up and read the Rainbow Bridge poem, and I just sat there, box of Kleenex on my lap, openly weeping. It was OK — the older woman who lost her dog was sobbing too so that was comforting. Kind of.

The minister told us a story about her childhood dog, and I briefly considered converting to Methodist and joining her church, because she was pretty awesome. I started to feel better listening to her homily. She talked a lot about grief and how losing a pet hurts just as much as losing a person, and the worst thing that anyone can say to us during this time is, “Get over it” or “It’s just an animal.” She made me feel less crazy.

After the homily, the main volunteer—Jannie—read each story that we were asked to submit ahead of time, and as she read for each pet, the other volunteer lit a candle and presented us with a rose, a copy of the Rainbow Bridge rolled up like a scroll and tied with ribbon. Attached to the ribbon was a paper heart with a seed inside of it, for us to plant in our pet’s honor. I cried so hard listening to the story’s of the other pets being read. Everyone else there wrote about their pet’s death, but I didn’t include that part in Marcy’s story. I just wrote about what she was like, and Jannie interrupted herself when reading it to say, “Geez, she sounds like Grumpy Cat!” It was nice to laugh with everyone. But at the end of the story, Speck was mentioned and Chooch started crying when he heard her name. He is still so upset about her death, three years later, and it breaks my heart. When we came home from putting Marcy to sleep, Chooch took a picture of Speck off the wall and carried it around with him the rest of the day. Totally heartbreaking.

After the vigil, Jannie invited everyone to stick around and share more stories about their pets. “You know who I’m dying to hear from? Riley!”

I kind of thought he was going to pass, but he sat up straight and said thoughtfully, “Well…Marcy only ever scratched me twice, but she didn’t have her claws out so it didn’t hurt. I guess she was just warning me. Um…every time Mommy’s friend Janna came over, Marcy would attack her and then Mommy would laugh and post about it on her blog.” Everyone was laughing, and I thought that was all he was going to say, but then he burst into tears and, a la Chunk being interrogated by the Fratellis, went on to say, “I liked Marcy, but I was the most upset when Speck died. She was my favorite cat.” And you guys, he was crying so hard that he was shuddering in his seat. I felt so terrible and kept squeezing his knee and patting his back, and the volunteers and the minister were so quick to offer wisdom and words of comfort to him.

But it was good for him to cry and important for him to know that it was OK to cry. It was good for all of us to cry together, with strangers who are going through the same thing, rather than keep it all bottled up and act  like nothing happened, like my family always does. I honestly believe that not properly dealing with their father’s death is what made my mom and aunt crazy.

My favorite part though was when I got to show everyone a picture of Marcy. Everyone was like, “Oh wow! Those eyes! What a beauty!” and I was like, “Yeah, that’s how she got you! She lured you in with her looks and then attacked.” That was the funniest thing about her: for as much as she “hated” humans, she was ALWAYS FRONT AND CENTER. Any time I had a party, and I used to have a lot of crazy parties back in the day, she was always present, stalking around the floors or glaring down from tabletops, just waiting for some idiot to stick their hand out. She was fucking smart as shit. Scary smart, really.

Before we left, one of the volunteers said, “I just want to  tell Riley that I think it’s awesome he loves cats. Men who love cats are so rare and special. One day, you’re going to meet a girl, and she’s going to say, ‘Here, meet my cat!’ and when she sees that you’re a cat lover, she’s never going to want to let you go!” Chooch was still quietly crying, but this made him smile (and blush) a little.

I felt OK when we left. A little less heart-achey. Not completely “cured,” but I think that was a really helpful and important part in the process for me. I’m the type of person who needs to DO SOMETHING about it. I can only lay in bed and cry for so long. I need to talk and be with people and laugh and remember. (If Barb was there, she would have for sure quoted the “laughter through tears” line from Steel Magnolias*. I think it’s her favorite thing to quote.) And this night of grieving with strangers helped put some light back into me.

And, I think it helped Chooch even more than any of us imagined.

*(It really does feel good, though.)

 

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Apr 032015
 

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Thankfully, being snap-happy runs in my family, so my bro Corey was always taking Polaroids when he was 8. The day after she died, he texted me this photo he took right after I brought her home in 1998. I’m so glad that he did, even though it made me cry, because it also brought back good memories.

I know I told this story before, but IDGAF. I was working at Olan Mills when I was 18, and one day the proof consultant mentioned that her neighbor’s cat had kittens, and there was one left that they were trying to place. My family was NOT into cats. I had barely ever even been around any cats, so the whole time I’m like, “Erin don’t do it—” but it was too late — my hand had already shot in the air, and I had claimed this kitten.

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The next day, this tiny, weeks-old fur ball was waiting for me in a box near my work station. You guys, this is no joke: this might have been the first time I ever got heart-eyes. My boss Gladys wanted me to name her Shaniqua or something equally as dumb, but I knew right away that she was going to be Marcy. I was really into alternative rock back then, and Marcy’s Playground was the shit, y’all. It was Marcy or GTFO.

Though I did have a wide array of “a/k/a”s for her, such as: Mitch, MadgeOla, Smidge, Maybe It’s Maybelline, Pretty Rainbow Sparkles, Jock Strap (???), Plumey (because of her big, full tail), YoYo Berry, Girly SueSue, and Shark Attack. But her full, God-given name was Marciples von Schlugenhusen.

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I couldn’t believe that she was the last one in the litter. How was she not the first one adopted?! I feel sorry for the people who opted for the other kittens, because they have no idea that they passed over the sassiest, bossiest, most motherfucking regal feline in all of the land. Their loss, my gain.

My rocky relationship with Psycho Mike was ending around this time, and there’s no way I could have known how much I needed her. Marcy was like a 24-hour therapy session, with bright blue eyes, soft fur, and a propensity for stealing my food right off my plate and taking up most of my pillow space. The healing process started as soon as she stormed her way into my life.

Janna and I used to take her for drives around town, because I had always had dogs as pets and thought that this was a normal thing. Turns out, nope. She wasn’t really down with that, so we eventually gave up.

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Marcy accumulated an eclectic array of interests and disinterests in her 17 years.

She hated: me, laughter, Janna, children, the other cats, the mailman, the gas man (notably the one who called her “that dog”), bubbles, having her tail touched, being pointed at (she would come at you), being tic-tac’d (I would tap her on the back and then turn and pretend it wasn’t me), having yacht rock dance parties, when I would hold her up to the mirror and cry MOMMY AND MITCH IN THE MIRRORRRRR, God.

She loved: Henry, Satan, Frostys, Cool Ranch Doritos, the taste of blood, the smell of fear, destroying puzzles, game board-blocking, going outside with Henry’s mom, yelling at birds through the window, when I would rub an ice cube on her in the summer and say OOOOH, NICE N’ COO! (OK, maybe not the last part), having a reputation, generally being left alone.

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It occurred to me the other day that Marcy was in my life longer than my Pappap was. This utterly blew my mind. If you have never had a pet, maybe this seems absurd, but she had as much impact on me as he did. They were both strong, positive constants in my life; two very different beings from which I felt comfort and familiarity. He was my entire childhood; she was my entire adulthood up to this point. And it’s pretty ironic, because my Pappap hated cats with a passion. No one in my family ever even THOUGHT about getting a cat while he was around. So it’s giving me a little bit of peace to think of them together right now, my Pappap trying hard to pretend that he doesn’t like her. You know, like she did with me. <3

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Feb 202015
 

Thank the fucking Good Sweet Brown that it is Friday. This week was a….weird one. Let’s bullet it out.

  • I mentioned in passing earlier this week that BARB is leaving the Law Firm. Words cannot express the emotional paralysis I’m experiencing because of this. WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF ME?!?! I suggested that she train Glenn and we all had a good laugh. Who will post passive-aggressive signs in the kitchen when someone leaves their dirty shit in the sink for more than 5 minutes, or send snippy emails to all the right people when our printer gives up the ghost for the 87th time this week or there is an alarming stench emanating from the restroom!?BAAR-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA-ARRRRRB, DON’T GO!!!!
    • SPEAKING OF, we were out of plastic spoons in the kitchen for a few days and I kept having to go to a different floor to get some. Then I would come back to my desk and fill Glenn in on my latest quest, because he lives for these updates. When I came to work the other day, this was sitting on my desk, because Glenn apparently IStryingto be New Barb! I t old Amber-with-Child that this means Glenn andIarebasicallyBFFs now. A few minutes later, she asked me where he was and I was like, “I don’t know. We’re not THAT good of friends.”
      • But back to the spoons: to use them or nah? THEY MIGHT BE LACED.

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  • Several of my friends postedthatJNCO is coming back! I was like OMG memories because I used to wear the shit outofJNCO,Stussy,KarlKani (that was my SHIT), and Cross Colours. I started Googling the other brands and was so stoked to see that they’re all still around, but theKarlKani hoodies especially made me catch my breath. I kept shoving my phone in Henry’s face so he could really marvel overtheKani signature name plate on the shirts. Henry was like, “Nope. Still don’t remember.”  HE WAS THE GODFATHER OF URBAN FASHION,forTupac’s sake! I was really going hard down memory lane at this point and asked Henry if he remembered the clothing store Merry Go Round. He said yes, probably just to placate me, and I went on to tell him that’s where I bought all of yo-girl threads. “Cross Colours in particular had an entire girls’ line of clothes, but I always wanted the boy stuff. Because I was a THUG,Henry.” Henry sighed and murmured, “Yeah. I keep forgetting.”
    • Ugh, why didn’t I keep all those old clothes?! Now I feel sick over this.
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  • OMG THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER HAPPENED. The other day, Barb was all, “Yo, how far into Breaking Bad are you?” and I was all, “Blahblah blah Jane and Jesse” and Barb was all, “DID YOU NOTICEWHOJANE’S DAD IS!?” And I was like, “Whatno who?!” and she was like, “He was on some soap opera years ago, I can’t remember if it was Another World or Days of Our Lives, and for some reason all I can remember is that he had a girlfriend named Calliope—-” I cut her off to cry, “EUGENE!?!?!?!? AND HE WAS AN INVENTOR! AND WHEN HEANDCALLIOPE GOT MARRIED HER DRESS LIT UP!!!”  and then I had to run back to my desk and YouTube it before my head exploded because if there is one thing I fucking go bananas over, itis1980s-era Days of Our Lives, people. So then that night, I was so excited to tell Henry, but apparently my lead-inwastoo over-the-top because he thought it wasgoingto be something more amazing, and I’m like MORE amazing? What more could you want? Eugene fucking Bradford is on Breaking Bad!
    • The next day, I told Barb that I watched another episode of Breaking Bad the night before and was so excited to see that it really is him, and I even cried out JOHNDELANCIE! when his name popped up in the opening credits. Then we were talking about Calliope and I mentioned that Arlene Sorkin was like, my style icon as a kid and Barb was like, “Oh I didn’t know that was her nameinreal life.” I told her that of course I knew her name, because I kept a Days of Our Lives scrapbook when I was in elementary school. Don’t be jealous.
      • Eugene was last seen in Salem in 1989, after which he disappeared in his time machine.
  • Yesterday, Glenn was telling campfire tales about the OLDEN DAYS when it was unheard of for school’s to have 2-hour delays due to weather. “Except for that one time in the 70s when the rivers froze and the barges couldn’t get through.Schoolswere closed that day.” Then he and Patrick launched into some sordid conversation about gas fireplaces and I was like, “Where am I? Is this Hell?”
    • Also, Glenn lectured meonnot watering my stupid spider plant often enough. “Look at it, it’s all desiccated,”hemonotoned. “MAYBE THAT’S HOW I LIKE MY THINGS!” I cried defensively. Glenn must have just learned the word “desiccate” because he seemed excited to use it. Why couldn’t he have been this active when I was live-blogging our terrible late shift?
      • Barb would never lecture me. Whenever she tries to teach me to do something new (like, use an apple corer or find my way around town), she always swaddles her words in baby’s breath and whatever material the gloves that handle the Stanley Cup are made from, and punctuates it with a reminder that I am a special, special star.
  • OK, girl talk: Pretty much have spent all week obsessing over Lynn Gunn’s (singer of PVRIS) relationship with Love, Robot vocalist Alexa San Roman. And thank god, too, because I am so over Whitney and Sada. All they doonInstagram is post club flyers and pictures of their post-workout smoothies!!  So I’ve officially hopped on the fast train to Lynn & Alexa Town. Of course, this obsession is salt/wound, but I don’t care. Last night, I was babbling on to Henry about something that I read about them. “I saw it on the Lynn & Alexatumblr,” I excitedly explained. Henry responded with a stretch of intensely disappointed frowns. “WHAT HENRY?! HASHTAG RELATIONSHIP GOALS, OK?!” Seriously. I wish I could go back to my early 20s and bag a hot lesbian singer in a beanie and then hold hands at Warped Tour. I clearly chose the wrong path. #LESBICORE
    • Thank god Henry is so goddamn patient with me.
  • Today I’m wearing a shirt that I forgot bought in the junior department of JCPenney’s and apparently it’s a “great color on me.” Sometimes coming to work is a real feel-good experience. And while I really appreciate the compliment, I’mma pretend it was really coming from my figmented girlfriend who sings in a make-believe post-hardcore band. IMG_3022.JPG

Me in my nice-colored shirt.

  • The security guard just tromped past my desk with a new security guard who looks like a 1980s serial killer….or Henry in the 90s. I feel considerably less safe.
  • All I want to do this weekend is write stories.

HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND, INTERNET BEINGS!

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Feb 182015
 

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Wednesday, February 11th, fuck yeah! That was the night of the Pierce the Veil/Sleeping with Sirens World Tour here in Pittsburgh. They played here for two nights because Pittsburgh goes HARD for PTV; I wanted to go both nights but Henry was like YEAH RIGHT PICK ONE so we went the second night because everyone knows that the second night is the best. (That’s a thing, isn’t it?)

We went to Rivertown first for a quick pizza dinner and drinks, passing the ever-growing line of kids outside of Stage AE. Worried about not getting a good spot, I lied and said that the show started at 6. “An early show tonight, I guess,” I shrugged, and Henry didn’t question me.  I rushed him out of Rivertown around 5 so we could get in line.

“Are you kidding me?!” Henry cried, double-checking his ticket once we were already firmly planted in the snaking row of scene kids. “It says DOORS at 6, not SHOW at 6!” And I just laughed, because duh. So we stood outside in the cold for the next hour while crackheads tried to get us to buy their black market PTV t-shirts (my favorite was when one of them dropped one on the ground, accidentally stepped on it, and then waved it around in the air, hollering about how great the quality was). The wait in line was mostly OK, the group of kids in front of us were relatively tame, but the one had her mom with her and she got increasingly more showboat-y as the wait progressed. She kept trying to be all self-deprecating about her age (39) but then tried to make up for it by bragging relentlessly about all the shows she’s been to. (BLACK SABBATH. BREAKING BENJAMIN. THE VERY FIRST WARPED TOUR EVER OMG.) And then she was like, “CLUTCH IS SUPPOSED TO BE COMING HERE SOON I WOULD LIKE TO GO SEE CLUTCH I THINK THEY’RE PLAYING HERE NEXT WEEK CLUTCH CLUTCH CLUTCH” and it was like, “OK WE GET IT YOU LIKE CLUTCH.” Personally, I don’t like Clutch, and this bitch was making me dislike them even more. She just kept going on and on about all these old concerts and how she was probably dating herself, because you know, being “old” means you have to go to great lengths to prove that you still like music.

So I kept trying to raise Henry’s arm in the air while obnoxiously crying out, “Judas Priest! Ted Nugent! CHEAP TRICK!” For some reason, this just put Henry in an even worse mood and then he looked like this:

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I was going to launch into a rant here about age versus music and why does it even have to be a factor, but I’m trying to live a stress-free life and that topic just makes me angry. I’m sure Henry could offer up a transcript of the rant he had to listen to before the show at Rivertown, if anyone is interested. (Kidding. Henry doesn’t listen to me when I speak.)

Bottom line is you’re never “too old” to be a fan of a band. If I didn’t go to a show because I was afraid of being the oldest one there, or having people mistake me for a chaperone/mom, that would just be a shame. And also, I would probably not go to a LOT of shows then since most bands I like have a young fan base.

Once the doors opened, the line moved relatively quickly. Henry and I got separated at the security checkpoint, and he was extremely dismayed to learn that I made it in first and claimed a prime spot against a railing. I thought this was a Good Thing since he didn’t want to go all the way onto the floor with the children (plus, I wanted to be able to see while still being in the midst of things, so this spot was seriously the best of both worlds because we were raised up just high enough that no one could stand in front of me on the floor and block my view); apparently though Henry had hoped that we could go upstairs with the parents in the balcony. I just laughed, because no. I told him he was welcome to go up there alone, but he always gets scared when I get faux-courteous. Who knows if he’ll get castrated later for taking me up on my trick offer.

Now is the part where I type words about the bands that were there, so you are welcome to peace out.

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I. PVRIS

I am notoriously snobby when it comes to girl singers. I always have to laugh when Scene Fems get all up in arms that there are “never enough” females on Warped Tour because why flood the tour with mediocre music? PVRIS is one of the few bands with a female lead that has actually gotten my attention in awhile. I hesitate to describe them as dark electro-pop, because that usually calls to mind something of a more Goth nature, but to me they sound like a glorious collision of synthpop and post-hardcore. They are SO YOUNG and started making waves in the scene before they even had an album out. I like that they’re bringing some estrogen to Rise Records, and I also like that they have essentially been groomed by Blake and Sierra from Versa. It shows.  Lynn’s voice is just what this scene has been missing. Ugh, they are wonderful. This is why I can’t write about music for a living, because it’s all HEART EYES and UGH YOU GUYS THEY PENETRATE MY SOUL. Can’t turn off how I feel, ever.

This is basically the same way I felt when I first heard Paramore back in the day. “Fuck yes, a singer-broad who doesn’t annoy me!” I can’t wait to go see them 934790374 more times. They remind me a little of The Flir, and I fucking loved The Flir so much but then they just kind of….stopped.

Henry said they were “OK” but that “the singing needs worked on.” You can catch Henry on the next season of The Voice, by the way.

I think I’ve posted about them on here before, but here is an acoustic video in case you felt the urge to put something in your hearing orifices.

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II. Mallory Knox

They’re from England and this was their first time on tour in the States. So that was cool. I don’t know what else to say. It’s not that I didn’t like them, but my attention was definitely elsewhere during their set. The Penguin game had started and I was frantically checking my phone for updates, etc. and then I saw on Instagram that EMAROSA announced they’re playing Warped Tour this summer so I was basically peaced out of Mallory Knox’s set from that moment on….until I heard what I was sure was about to be a Whitesnake cover and then realized that the singer just kind of sounded like David Coverdale. I shared this observation with Henry, who just frowned and shook his head no.

Maybe I need to listen to them some more, I don’t know.

III. Sleeping With Sirens

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Sleeping with Sirens is kind of THE BOY BAND of this scene. Their opening video montage even spoofed off of that, actually. So when Mallory Knox was over and the SWS backdrop slowly began to rise, the girls in the crowd went ballistic. “Take it easy!” Henry spat disgustedly into the general area. “They’re not even coming out yet!”

Truth: I was disappointed when this tour was initially announced and I saw that Pierce the Veil was co-headlining with SWS. My feelings toward SWS have really run the gamut over the years. When I first heard If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn back in 2010, I was all a-smit with Kellin Quinn. Granted, he looked like a little scene fetus, but that didn’t change the fact that this was going to be The Song that Henry and I fake-danced together at our imaginary never-wedding. I even considered having it choreographed. I used to walk the high school track by my house after work some times and I would listen to that song on repeat, with complete and utter disregard to the rest of the album.

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But then I saw them live and was like, “Oh.” At first I thought it was just because it was Warped Tour. Sometimes bands just sound better inside grimy venues at night, than on some tiny stage in a parking lot, you know?

But then I saw them several more times, in a variety of settings.

He cannot sing live, you guys. I don’t know what it is. Acoustic, he’s not too bad. But with a full band, up on a stage, it’s like, “No, go home.”

However, I was shocked this time around because he didn’t sound as terrible as he normally does! But then Henry pointed out it was because they turned up everything else. And then I was like, “Oh. That makes sense. Never mind.”

Ew, agreeing with Henry makes me feel itchy.

But this is not to say that the rest of the band sucks! They are actually pretty wonderful have always saved the show every time I’ve seen them. They’ve definitely jumped on the fast track to fame, so their shows are pretty spectacular on the ol’ eyeballs nowadays. It’s all kind of lights and videos and streamers — you know, things to distract you from the vocal flaws!

OK FINE, I totally wear Kellin’s clothing line and keep a picture of him on desk.

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The one huge highlight for me was seeing Nick Martin, who assumed the role as their guitarist after Jesse Lawson left in 2013. I LOVE NICK MARTIN SO MUCH! Back in the day, I used to play one of his old Underminded songs over and over in the car and sigh dreamily to Henry, “Isn’t he the best screamer ever?” Of course Henry answered with a frown.

I met Nick in 2009 when he was on Craig Owens’ solo tour. He is such a fucking great guy. He was also in Isles and Glaciers and then Craig Owens post-Chiodos “I’LL JUST START MY OWN BAND!” band D.R.U.G.S. But then Craig went back with Chiodos and basically left the rest of D.R.U.G.S. hanging. So it’s nice to see that Nick got himself a gig with a successful band, playing for bigger than crowds that he was with D.R.U.G.S.

They played “…James Dean” and I was trying to get Henry into it but he had the “Not enough beer in the world” expression on his face.

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Streamer Chicken.

IV. Pierce the Veil

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I don’t even know what to say about Pierce the Veil that I haven’t already. They have been firmly planted inside my heart for the last eight years and they inspire me so much. I can honestly say that I have never been to a bad PTV show (except maybe the one in Buffalo but that wasn’t their fault) and it’s pretty expected at this point that I am going to be emotionally ravaged for the next few weeks after. So I’m going to be really blunt and say that I don’t think I can write much about it, other than to say it was an amazing night that made me want to paint and write and potentially send an email that maybe I shouldn’t.

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They played “Caraphernalia” and I almost chewed off my lip because THAT SONG. So much meaning. What’s so good about picking up the pieces, indeed.

JAIME!!!!!!! Henry was pissed that he missed this because he was off buying me a shirt, LOLforever.

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“One of these days, that will be me up there, having my face sung to by Vic Fuentes,” Henry dreams.

Kellin Quinn came out to close out the show by singing “King For a Day” with PTV, which was expected. And good. I’m so happy to see Pierce the Veil playing for so many people now, but I selfishly long for the days when I was standing right in front of the speakers at a skate park in Buffalo with only about 100 kids behind me.

LOOK AT WHAT A LITTLE BABE HE WAS IN 2008!

Really, what I miss the most is hearing the old stuff. One of the last times I saw them, they played “Yeah Boy” but it seems like it’s so rare. I would kill to hear some stuff from “A Flair for the Dramatic” because to me, that is their best. I was whining about it to Terri (thank god for Terri!) and she said maybe they’ll do a 10th anniversary tour for it like so many other bands have been doing lately. I would fucking die if that happened.

***

After the show, we were briskly walking through the frigid night to the trolley station, when Henry said, “Tony cut his hair, didn’t he?”

“I don’t know!” I cried, because sorry, bro, I’m there for the music not the looks.

“I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. He cut his hair, definitely.”

Oh OK, Henry. For someone who doesn’t care about this shit, he sure has a thing for the post-hardcore coif scene. If Craig Owens from Chiodos even uses the tiniest spritz of Sun-In, Henry is all over that shit.

“Craig’s hair is lighter,” he’s been known to scream in the middle of shows.

So now I’m convinced that Henry dreams about being some kind of Scene Barber, snipping Vic Fuentes’s split ends, pomading Andy Biersack’s pompadour, freshening Jonny Craig’s fade and “accidentally” nicking his jugular. OMG we can call him Scene-y Todd!

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Apologies for the shitty ‘shopping on this but I did this quickly on my lunch break at work and had to use PAINT. Ugh!

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Jan 222015
 

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In collecting old photos of my Pappap’s house, I found several that reminded me of how much music has always been a part of my life, and why so much of it naturally reminds me of that house.

I got my first damn cassette player from my grandparents for my third (fourth?) birthday. A year or two later, I upgraded to a Fisher Price tape recorder—it was taupe in color like all electronics were in the early 80s and came with a microphone, which I would hold up to TV speakers in my Pappap’s den, in order to record shit from Friday Night Videos. Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” was on my very first mixtape. That song came on in the car a few weeks ago and I tried to get Chooch stoked on it but he only thought it was just ok.

The above picture was taken on the porch of my Pappap’s house, and anytime I hear the song “Under the Boardwalk,” my mind automatically beams me back to that porch, sitting at the glass table, playing Monopoly and listening to the Bruce Willis version of that song over and over while my grandma babysat me and my brother Ryan in the late 80s. AND THAT WAS MY FUCKING JAM.

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Here we have my grandma holding me in the kitchen, and you can just barely see a stereo system on a shelf to the left. This is how I grew to love Phil Collins, Kenny Rogers, and Gino Vanelli and also grilled cheese sandwiches. SOFT ROCK 4 LYFE. NO SHAME.

(I made my Pappap order me the Time Life “Body Talk” CD collection, and literally every song reminds me of either sitting in that kitchen or my favorite childhood restaurant–the Blue Flame.)

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This is my aunt Susie and me in the clown room. Inside the desk behind us was a record player, and this is how I heard Frank Zappa for the first time ever.

There was always music playing in that house back then. And today, there is always music playing in my house. Sometimes different music is playing in multiple rooms at once (soft rock radio in the bedroom, Spotify on the computer downstairs, music videos on TV); this drives Henry nuts. Especially if we’re watching something on TV and then I scream something unintelligible and clamber up the steps because some cherished song is playing on the bedroom radio and I want to pretend like this is a serendipitous moment, like I can’t just queue it up on my phone, and so I’ll flip down on the bed and listen to “In the Air Tonight” or “Eye in the Sky” like I haven’t heard it in 20 years, while Henry is downstairs mumbling, “How did you even HEAR that from down here?”

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some soft rock to Spotify.

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