Dec 052014

Today as I was getting ready for work, I had a craving for Howard Jones so I put on his YouTube channel. I loved this man so much as a kid growing up in the 80s and he has been on my concert bucket list forever. I decided to check his upcoming tour dates and he’s coming to Cleveland in March! Usually, I find out about these things way after they happen, like when I’m scrolling through Instagram and I see one of my friends posting pictures of a Howard Jones show in Cleveland last year, so I’m taking this as a sign that I have to go. Plus, it’s on a Saturday, which makes the 2 hour drive there from Pittsburgh so much easier.

Howard must really like Cleveland if he was just there and is coming back less than a year later and it’s one of only 4 US cities listed on his tour. Thank god Cleveland is practically my neighbor.

I was about to call Henry 87 times in a row and then text him “911!!!! 187!!!!” but then Janna said she would go with me so Henry is like THANK GOD! I’m going to be in a good mood today, so everyone can thank Howard Jones, Cleveland, and Janna.

(Mike + the Mechanics is playing here in March too and if Henry doesn’t buy me tickets for Christmas, he is fucking dead to me.)

Who’s on YOUR concert bucket list? Tell me!

No tags for this post.
Dec 042014


Throwback to that time in 2006 when I tortured Chooch with clowns at my grandma’s house on his first Christmas. MEMORIES! (Also: DROOL! He was teething pretty badly.)


No tags for this post.
Dec 022014

I was adamant on not making a big to-do over Thanksgiving, because it seemed stupid to have Henry slave away in the kitchen, cooking what would essentially be three separate meals since none of us eat the same things. (Chooch mostly just eats bread, cereal, and ice cream, anyway.) But, ever since we ate at this Lebanese restaurant last week and the waitress broke my heart by telling me that they no longer serve vegetarian moussaka, having that for Thanksgiving was absolutely all I could think about. Moussaka brings back such beautiful memories of this one time I was in Greece and my Aunt Sharon was like, “You’re not going to like that” and I was like, “Bitch please” and then to be honest I can’t remember if I liked it.

So, Henry slaved away in the kitchen making my motherfucking vegetarian moussaka while I painted cat heads on the wall and then took copious Call of Duty breaks (I’m obsessed, you guys; I’m even dreaming about it now). Also, Chooch and I spent a large portion of the day watching our new obsession on YouTube: birthday party videos.

Let me back up. Earlier in the week, Chooch was watching YouTube videos on TV, which normally I hate when he does that because who wants to sit there and be forced to watch the dumb shit he likes? (Mostly stupid videos with people screaming about Minecraft.) I was reading a book, so at first I wasn’t paying attention. But then something made me look up and I asked, my question plump with disgust, “Are you watching some kid’s BIRTHDAY PARTY?!”

“Yeah,” Chooch answered mindlessly, and I proceeded to tell him how dumb he is for watching stupid shit like this, but before I knew it, I was shouting, “WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?!” and then after three more birthday party videos from the same family, I fucking knew all of their kids’ names and found myself tweeting things like, “Chase’s grandma is such a slut” and “Mike’s birthday cookies are lame as fuck.” And then I was sitting on the edge of the couch, mocking this family with such robust zest, that Chooch threw up from laughing so hard and I was yanking the Xbox controller from him so that I could find more birthday party videos, like this one of some awful girl and her awful mom who review dolls on YouTube and are both just awful human beings altogether (and of course, also YouTube famous). I was so pissed because the girl got to have her birthday party at a roller rink that was 8374028347 cooler than any of the rinks around here. Fucking YouTubers.

We even watched a birthday party video that was in some other language. French or something. Who has time to tell? And some bitch’s pool party where Diego totally had the hots for Momo. (Every time we reference these videos, Henry gives us really mad looks.)

Then Chooch found a “Taylor Swift-themed birthday party” video. And that is how we became obsessed, in all of the negative ways, with a family that goes by the SHAYTARDS.

And they’re Internet famous too, apparently, but I can’t figure out why because they’re boring as fuck. But…they’re loud. And I guess that’s all that matters? The PAY ATTENTION TO ME volume of our voices?



“The ShayTARDS!?” I cried in disbelief. “Is this really what they call themselves?!”

Chooch, still hiccuping from his puke-laughter, nodded his head. “They’re like, famous on YouTube,” he explained. “But NOT as famous as Pewdiepie.” (Pewdiepie is his ultimate mancrush.)

So then I spent the day before Thanksgiving reading about these a-holes at work and trying to drag Mean Amber down into my hateful abyss.


“You’re still reading about them?!” she asked, because this was approximately three hours later.

“Yes,” I admitted. “And apparently, the leader of this stupid family is obsessed with unitards, so that’s where their awful names come from.”

Seriously, Babytard? Brotard? Princesstard?

Chooch was calling me Mommytard as a joke at the store last weekend and it was so embarrassing! And this family SHOUTS these names at each other?!

Um, anyway. Back to Thanksgiving. One of the videos we found as we fell deeper and deeper into the birthday party video rabbit hole was a BIRTHDAY PARTY MAKEOVER with two horrible brats who somehow have like 7000 subscribers and I’m like, “STOP JUST STOP.”  We decided to watch this one again on Thanksgiving and tried to get Henry involved but after 30 seconds, all he had to say was, “What is wrong with you two? You’re both idiots” and then he went upstairs to take a nap or find a new family on Craigslist, whatever he does when he finds himself with 6 minutes of solitude.


Five minutes of this video was spent dotting 7 different kind of concealer under their eyes. They’re 12…how dark could their circles possibly be? Last night, I said to Chooch, “Can you imagine if daddy had his own YouTube channel? It would be so boring. Like, ‘Hi guys, sup. Today we’re going to watch NCIS together. But first, let’s take a nap.'” And then Chooch laughed so hard that he threw up all over the floor but at least he’s finally been mopping up his own puke-laughter now so I don’t really care. Puke away, young man. Puke away.


The holiday season is a really weird time for me. I’m obviously pretty nontraditional, so the fact that we didn’t have some elaborate family dinner to attend didn’t necessarily cut me deep. Sometimes I really miss my mom and having a big dinner to look forward to, but if I think back at the collective Thanksgivings I’ve endured over the years, it’s probably a blessing to my sanity and emotional foundation that this marks the fourth year of our Mexican standoff. Still, I want Chooch to have SOME semblance of a holiday, so we stopped over my dad’s later in the evening. (Also, I wanted my SHOOFLY PIE!!)

As soon as we got there, Chooch ran off with Corey. When I went to Corey’s room a few minutes later to see what they were doing, I found them watching a Shaytards birthday party on Corey’s laptop.

“They’re seriously called the SHAYTARDS?!” Corey cried in concern when I walked in. But then he quickly became obsessed with them too.

They were also ghost-hunting and taking weird selfies:



Meanwhile, I spent some time firing off questions at my other brother Ryan. I don’t get to see him too often so I don’t know much about his life. Then we talked about the summer we hosted a French foreign exchange student, which was probably the best summer of my childhood and it comes up at least once at every holiday. MEMORIES. Then my dad served up some traditional T-giving staples: turkey, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. I filled a plate full of all of the carbs and then hounded my dad for shoofly pie. If you were following along the saga of the shoofly, you know that my dad made a special pilgrimage to Amish Country a few days before Thanksgiving to load up on cheese, licorice, and other fine foods, including THE PIES. Apparently, my dad’s go-to bakery is called Miller’s and he gets real weird talking about it. I asked him where it is and he paused for a just a beat too long and muttered something about “back roads” and “hard to find” which is why I’m 110% certain that “Miller” is my dad’s Amish mistress.

Anyway. He cut me a slice of Miller’s shoofly pie and I took a huge, inaugural bite because I had been waiting my whole life for this (read: two years; it has literally been less than two years since I last had shoofly pie but it was in Pennsylvania Amish Country). And my first thought was, “Holy motherfucking molasses.” Seriously, it was so forceful, like someone had shoved a molasses-soaked ball gag in my mouth.


Thick, gooey, molasses. It was like a big, hearty, blackstrappy FUCK YOU to the face of all the assholes who tromp on into Ohio, sniffing around for a pie that is native to the Pennsylvania Dutch. I mean, if you’re hard pressed to understand without the guidance of a sports analogy, I guess you could say it would be like knocking on doors in Cleveland looking for Steelers fans to hug.

I felt my dad watching me expectantly as my lips instinctively curled back into a mouth-flinch.

“Wow,” I coughed through the gooey treacle. “That molasses really hits you.” But I kept forking tiny morsels into my mouth because I didn’t want my dad to think I was being an unappreciative bitch on Thanksgiving, of all days.

“Here,” he said, sliding another slice onto my plate. “Try the shoofly pie I bought from Der Dutchman.”

Yes, my dad bought two different shoofly pies because he is goddamn thorough.


The Der Dutchman version was way less gooey, less molasses-y, and had a harder crust on top. At first I thought I was going to prefer it, but then I quickly found myself yearning the tongue-numbing brutality of the Miller’s pie. It appears I had acquired a taste for it.

At first I thought it was terrible, but then…well, I still thought it was kind of terrible but I didn’t want to stop eating it. So I gladly took the extra shoofly pie home with me and struggled to swallow a slice every day over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

I think I will forever associate Thanksgiving 2014 with YouTube birthday party videos, shoofly pie, and, inexplicably, this Europop hit was the soundtrack to it all:

I feel like all we did was laugh until our faces hurt. (Or, in Chooch’s case: puked.) I was totally thankful for good humor, Henry’s delicious rendition of moussaka (the bechamel sauce, can I just face plant in a pot of it right this second?), time with my family, The Law Firm giving us two days off, and having a kid who doesn’t give a fuck about “Frozen.”

If you’re reading this, I hope that Thanksgiving was everything you wanted and that you got to stuff yourself silly with all your favorite November foods!

No tags for this post.
Nov 282014

After coming up empty on our quest for shoo fly pie in Sugarcreek, it was getting late so we decided that it was time to head out of Amish country and heed the final Post-It note on our dad’s itinerary: The “Hardware” store.

First though, Corey’s GPS took us down what I referred to as the Las Vegas Strip for craft fanatics. Literally just one long sprawling road of shop after shop boasting rustic Amish wares. There were people and cars everywhere and it took an ungodly amount of time to crawl through the traffic lights. Looking out the window at all of the window fluttering from shop to shop like locusts with too much money, I felt eternally grateful that I was there with Corey and not some middle-aged broad with a hankering for quilts and Christmas wreaths. It brought back flashbacks of the time we went to Lancaster in 2010 with Tommy and Jessy. Jessy insisted on going inside every last shopfull of overpriced, commercialized pieces of “Americana” while Chooch, Henry, Tommy and I stood outside shooting ourselves in the face with finger-guns.

Finally, we made it back onto a peaceful, country road, drove past Heini’s and waved goodbye, and then felt scared when we witnessed the second Amish person that day staring vacantly at a burning pile of leaves.



The sun was setting when we pulled into the Lehman’s parking lot. I still don’t know why our dad calls it the hardware store, maybe it used to be one? When we walked in, I noticed that it did have kind of an industrial, saw-dusty smell. And then, right away: BIRDHOUSES!



Honestly, I have no idea what about me gives my dad the impression that I’m an avid looker at birdhouses, but there you have it. The wall of birdhouses that my dad was sure would please my eyeballs. I wonder if he’s confusing birdhouses with the frog hotels I used to build when I was a kid? And by build, I literally mean I would tape a bunch of boxes together and cut doorways in them and then fill them with Barbie furniture and, obviously, frogs. Way cooler than birdhouses, dad!

We rounded a corner and it suddenly became very clear to me way our dad loves the hardware store so much: novelty beverage. He is what you’d call a soda savant. A pundit of pop. A carbonation connoisseur. He has numerous vintage Pepsi machines around his house, and I’m not sure what the contents are like now, but when I was a kid, you could go out to the garage, skirt past one of his vintage cars, and grab an ice-cold glass bottle of Barq’s Root Beer out of one. It’s one of the quirks that make him who he is: he loves old shit.



My dad was kind of leery of Henry at first because of the age difference and the whole IMPREGNATING ME OUT OF WEDLOCK situation, god forbid. But then one year, Henry brought him an entire case of Faygo root beer in vintage-looking glass bottles and my dad, holding one up to the kitchen light, breathlessly said, “Oh man. Oh my god. You can’t find these anymore!” They’ve been beverage-buddies ever since.



Corey got the Bacon Soda just because, why not? He said the reviews online were like, “This is the best thing ever!” but that it was literally the most disgusting thing he’s ever drank and that it didn’t even taste anything like bacon. There was a PB&J soda that I was tempted to buy, but I ended up buying Chooch some kind of zombie drink that he actually drank so I guess it wasn’t too vile.

A Lehman’s worker walked by, pushing a cart of shopping baskets. I followed her and asked if I could take one. “Oh!” she cried cheerfully, handing me one. “Please do! It would make me so happy!”


Then some man kept trying to talk to us because this is what happens in Amish Country: everyone forgets that it’s 2014 and wants to start talking to their neighbors. It ‘s uncomfortable for people like me who assume that they’re only being spoken to as a decoy while a pick-pocketing is taking place.

Anyway, the rest of the store was full of housewares, food mixes like split pea soup, and then an entire showroom of vintage stoves and furnaces, which my dad probably kneels before and prays.



And then we saw an Amish person! I felt like an asshole after I took this because I had literally gone the whole day without violating one of the basic rights of the Amish, but at least this picture is blurry, so maybe it doesn’t count? It was interesting to  note that Lehman’s was the only place we ventured all day that had Amish shoppers. Right before we left, I noticed that he was looking at a rack of Amish Country postcards.

“Do you think he’s looking to see if he’s on any of them?!” I whispered to Corey. And then I started to wonder if I’m accidentally on any Pittsburgh postcards. That would be horrible/awesome.

By the time we checked out, it was 6:00 and we still had something like a two and a half hour drive home, so we said goodbye to Amish Country. BUT NOT GOODBYE FOREVER.


We stopped over my dad’s last night for Thanksgiving (and so I could claim one of the shoo fly pies he special ordered!) and I got him to talk about Amish things for nearly 3 hours. He mentioned the Amish roofers and I had to pretend like I hadn’t seen 54548 pictures of them, courtesy of Corey. And then he was like, “Do you guys like apple cider?” And then, taking two frosted mugs out of the freezer, he said, “Well, you’ve never had apple cider like this!” and then handed us two ice-cold mugs of glorious Amish nectar.

“Did you guys go to the hardware store?” he asked me excitedly, and I know he knows that we did because Corey showed him the novelty beverage he bought, but I figured he just really wanted to hear about it again. While I was telling him about our experience there, he got this faraway look in his eyes, like he was trying to mentally trace our footsteps through the blueprint of Lehman’s.

You guys. Not only did my dad get shoofly pies, but he got THREE of them from TWO different bakeries! The one bakery, he’s still being pretty vague about it so Corey and I are convinced that this supposed bakery is actually the kitchen of his Amish mistress’s farmhouse. But the third pie came from goddamn DER DUTCHMAN are you kidding me!? We ate there that day! When I mentioned that to my dad, he was like, “Yeah, Corey told me he had a CHEESEBURGER. Who goes to an Amish-style restaurant and eats a CHEESEBURGER?!” he asked in rhetorical disappointment.

“I had a grilled cheese,” I laughed, and my dad just sighed. We are clearly not doing a good job filling those Amish boots. He was also disappointed that we went to Heini’s Cheese Chalet and not Walnut Creek Cheese House, because Heini’s is a disgraceful tourist trap.

Then, after offering Henry thirds of Amish beef sticks and licorice, he told me about this annual Amish auction he goes to in June, where the local Amish fill a schoolhouse with all of their wares and you bid on all of their meticulously handcrafted goods which immediately depreciate once you bring it back to your house of whores and inverted crucifixes.

Apparently, they set up tents and serve homecooked meals all goddamn day while all of their horses and buggies are parked on a giant hillside and everyone acts civilized and peacefully.

“You never hear anyone yelling at their kids!” my dad exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief. “They are SO WELL-TRAINED” as I’m standing there repeating, “Turn the flashlight off. Turn the flashlight off. Stop shining the flashlight in our eyes. Put the flashlight down. Put it down. Give me the FUCKING flashlight. Get your shoes. Put your shoes on. Put your shoes on. Put your FUCKING SHOES ON” to my disobedient spawn.

“I’ll give you the information for that auction when I get it in the mail,” my dad said, walking us to the door.

Great. Hopefully that have Amish Kid Prison where I can send Chooch while I’m mocking people fighting over quilts.

No tags for this post.
Nov 252014

I have some kind of terrible restless brain syndrome, where if I’m not already doing something, then I’m thinking of 87 different things that I want to be doing / could be doing / should be doing. Usually it’s just small tasks, like “ATTEMPT TO MAKE SHIT WITH SCULPEY AND CRY!” or “TRANSCRIBE THAT CLEVELAND TRIP FROM ’04 ONTO THE BLOG*!” or “TAKE CHOOCH TO EXORCIST.”

*(I think I really am going to do this though because there are some choice Henry anecdotes up in that piece. EVEN A SERVICE STORY.)

But then last Thursday, I was sitting here at work and texted Henry, “LET’S PAINT THAT ONE WALL IN THE LIVING ROOM GRAY!” which turned into “AND ALSO LET’S PAINT THE INSIDE OF THE ARCHWAY AND SHELVING UNIT YELLOW!” and then by the time Friday rolled around, it had morphed into “FUCK IT LET’S KNOCK DOWN THE ENTIRE HOUSE AND REBUILD!!”

It is imperative that I stay busy during this time of the year. It’s my top survival tactic.

I worked from home on Friday while Henry diligently moved all of the furniture into the center of the room and then when I was on my break, I helped him take everything out of that shelving unit, which is super cute and built into the wall, but it admittedly is like a catch-all for shit that we shouldn’t even be keeping and by we I mean me and my ridiculous bottle collection.

“Really?” Henry asked, holding up a dusty, unopened Fiji water bottle.

“I didn’t know they were going to become so readily available!” I cried in defense, chucking it into the “GOODBYE CRAP” pile. Ugh. He tried to pitch a dusty, plastic bottle of Coke but I screeched, “THAT’S FROM GREECE, YOU ASSHOLE!” I’ll probably dust it off here at some point.

I also found one of my journals and the first page I flipped to was from June of 2006 where I was writing about a fight (pick one) that Henry and I were having and he stopped and said, “ANSWER THIS FOR ME: DO YOU EVEN STILL WANT TO BE IN THIS RELATIONSHIP” and I wrote all this self-absorbed shit about how I didn’t really care either way but how would I be able to pay my bills if we broke up?

(For the record, my answer today would be OMG HENRY DON’T LEAVE ME.)

And then Henry found a bunch of my old address labels from when I was HEAVY into penpalling.

“‘Ace‘?” Henry asked, holding them up for me to see.

“Yeah, that’s when I was a tennis player. Duh Henry.”

“‘No preps or posers‘?” he continued, ending with a mumbled “Oh my god.”

He’s just upset that he didn’t know me then, that’s all. And then he found a picture of a couple and read the back. “Oksana and Bob? Who are they?” And before he even showed me the picture, I knew that it was my much-older pen pal Bob  (a 40-something-year-old man writing to a 13-year-old girl, nothing to see here) and his Russian mail order bride, Oksana. Bob was kind of dull so we didn’t write to each for very long. (He was no Eddy, that’s for sure.)


On Sunday, I was sitting on the couch pretending to rest because I was sick, when I started staring at one of the smaller walls that has always, almost for as long as I have lived here (since 1999, omg), held a large portrait of Robert Smith. It’s always bothered me because it’s so plain, but I didn’t want to paint it another color, because it’s adjacent to the gray accent wall that Henry just slaved over.

I chose gray because there are approximately 702374028375489023456 different colors in our living room alone. Sometimes Henry will mutter about all of the colors and  Have you been to my house? Someone once said it looked like a Crayola box had exploded in it. Thanks for the compliment, friend.


This is me in my bedroom in 1996. I have always loved to be surrounded by color! That room was like sleeping inside of a Spencer’s. I had strands of novelty lights and lava lamps everywhere, and my wallpaper was foiled. FOILED! 

Then it hit me: lyrics. I would paint lyrics to a Cure song on the wall and then hang Robert up like the God that he is, so his words would surround him.

“I’m going to paint lyrics on the wall,” I said casually to Henry.

“OK,” he hesitantly answered. “Which ones?”

“Same Deep Water As You,” I said in my DUH voice. Because DUH, Henry. That’s only like my favorite Cure song ever.

He shrugged and said OK and then went back to what he was doing. I forget what it was, other than it was something I told him to do.

“Well, you have to draw the lines for me!” I cried. Because I need lines. Otherwise, those words are going to slant right on up to the ceiling.

I guess he thought I meant, “Take your time, we don’t need to do this right now” but then he saw me standing there, tapping my foot and holding a pencil, so he sighed and came over with his level.


I wrote the lyrics, freehand, with a pencil and then went over with black paint and a brush. My hand felt AMAZING the next day, you guys. Like the hand of someone who just learned how to masturbate, ugh.


The lyrics start right below the ceiling and run all the way down to the floor. It’s all finished except for the last two lines, which I plan on doing tonight after work. (My right hand just spasmed as I typed that.) I will post

After that’s finished, we have approximately 58 other things to tackle and did I mention that I started all of these projects one week before people are coming over for a post-Thanksgiving game night? We are literally stepping over piles of furniture, paint cans and stuff. I DO LOVE A GOOD HUSTLE.


Here is the song that’s on my wall, IN CASE YOU ARE INTERESTED.

No tags for this post.
Nov 212014


After our life-changing trip to Heini’s Cheese Chalet, Corey and I decided it was time to get a substantial meal that didn’t consist of cheese cubes on toothpicks and (the best) butter (in the world) on Wheat Thins. We opted for Der Dutchman because it boasted Amish Kitchen Cooking, so of course we went and ordered the two most American meals on the menu: a cheeseburger and grilled cheese. And we forgot to use our dinner rolls the way they were intended: as vehicles for Der Dutchman’s peanut butter spread. Corey wanted to ask our waitress for more rolls so that he could have a do-over, but then he kept chickening out. Also, we had to stand in line just to get inside the restaurant, which normally would be a huge HELL NO for me, but when in Amish Country, I guess. Some hag in front of us kept trying to make conversation because we clearly have such avuncular faces? I’ve always been told that I’m stand-offish, so I guess that doesn’t translate in Ohio.

Before we were seated, there was a brief moment of panic when Corey and I thought that this was a family-style restaurant and that we might have to sit at a table with some horrible family, asking us to pass the biscuits, and I almost fled. When I was a kid, this might have been pre-Corey, our family went to Lancaster, PA, which is essentially the Amish capital of America.  We ate at some restaurant that had an attached petting zoo and we sat a long wooden table with other families and I was crying internally because I didn’t want to eat with people I didn’t know but our dad was like FUCK YES THIS IS REAL COUNTRY-LIVING! He was all about it. But what I remember most about that meal was the shoo-fly pie. Because of that experience, it has always been the first thing my mind goes to when I think of Amish (OK fine, right after I think about them copulating through a hole in a sheet).

This is all to say that I was really looking forward to piggybacking  my grilled cheese with a slice of that sticky molasses Dutch pie.

(Oh dear god, my tongue is having vivid flashbacks of my last shoo-fly pie experience.)


I was really excited about the creamed corn.


Halfway through lunch, I noticed that Bitch-Broad from Heini’s, the one who had the nerve to yell at our beloved Father Cheese, was also dining at Der Dutchman! (That’s her in the green shirt and stupid poufy hair behind Corey.) Corey said she was also at the bakery we stopped at across from Heini’s and that even in there, she was bitching about how she couldn’t believe the price of whatever bakery item she was glaring at. Then we saw her after we left Der Dutchman as she and her horde of less-bitchy broads walked into a chocolate shop. She still looked mad! How are you going to be mad walking into a CHOCOLATE SHOP? Maybe she should have just stayed home and watched her DVR collection of The View.

But as usual, my train of thought is getting derailed once again. She has literally nothing to do with shoo fly pie.

When our waitress asked us if we wanted dessert, Corey and I declined because we hadn’t seen shoo fly pie on the menu and we were obviously saving room for that down the road.

Before we left the Der Dutchman parking lot, Corey decided that we should call our dad and ask him where to get the dessert of Amish gods.

Corey put him on speaker, and it was one of the  most painful laugh-stifling moments of my life, possibly even moreso than the one at Heini’s, because I felt actual kidney pain. Like the angel on my shoulder had hopped off and started punching me in the side for being the type of asshole who laughs at a dad who is genuinely trying to help his kids have the best Amish experience possible.

“Oh, I doubt you’re going to find shoofly pie,” our dad said gravely. “In fact, I had to pre-order one the last time I was there because I knew the bakeries wouldn’t have any otherwise.”

We were suffering at this point from what I can only describe as “The Wet Laughs.” Tears were streaming down our faces and I was even starting to break a sweat from the exertion of laugh-containment.  Corey wheezed, “I can’t!” and flat out hung up on our dad. I can only imagine how ugly I looked in that moment, with my face wet, red and twisted in a mixture of pain and hilarity. I FELT ugly. It was an ugly laugh. Hearing our dad speaking so seriously about shoofly pie was just too much.

Finally, we calmed down enough for Corey to call our dad back, who answered immediately by saying, “The reception is really bad out there, I know.” And then proceeded to sound disappointed when we mentioned that we chose Heini’s over Walnut Creek Cheese, and then asked, “Did you guys go to the hardware store yet?”

That fucking hardware store!

“It’s not like a Home Depot, you know,” he earnestly advised. “It’s TWO FLOORS and it has a lot of things that Erin would like to look at. Like birdhouses.”


We promised that we would stop and check it out after we visited Sugarcreek, but first we had important business to tend to at Swiss Heritage Winery, which was essentially like your Aunt Rhoda’s house, full of sparkly trinkets, Betty Boop memorabilia, and clashing floral patterns, with a small wine bar thrown in almost as an afterthought.



Corey and I each chose 5 wine samples from a cheerful lady in a supposedly traditional Swiss dress and then plucked some complimentary chips and cheese cubes from a platter and took our wine samples over to a tall table where we recalled what we learned from Roberto at Narcisi Winery last year, and proceeded to stick out like sore thumbs. I liked all  the wines just fine, but wasn’t really in the mood to purchase any bottles until I noticed that he cherry cranberry variety was called “Han’s Favorite Wine” and featured a picture of Hans himself, in a Swiss cap and lederhosen. Swiss Heritage, you got yourself a sale.

While Corey and I were paying for our wine, I used it as an opportunity to ask the older women behind the counter if they had the shoofly pie 411.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that the expression on the one woman’s face actually darkened, like we were suddenly in I had audaciously screamed “Voldemort.”

“I wouldn’t even know,” she said curtly. “That’s something you don’t see very often around here anymore.”

“You might want to try Der Dutchman,” the other woman offered, with a slight shrug, but I told them we had just come from there and it was a no-go. (Although we never actually ASKED the waitress. Now I’m kind of glad we hadn’t. We might have been told to get the fuck out.)

“Sorry, I just don’t know,” the first woman said without even a HINT of apology as she handed over our gaudy gift-wrapped wine purchases.

As we shirked out of the door, I could hear the two of them still talking about shoo fly pie, like they had just been reminded of something that they were told to forget.

“I think I might have a recipe for that somewhere….” the nicer of the two was saying as the door closed behind us.


“What the fuck, Corey!?” I laughed as we set off for Sugarcreek to finally gawk at the world’s largest cuckoo clock. “Why did t hey act so weird about shoofly pie!?” We spouted off some theories, like maybe there was some feud between the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish community and the Ohio Amish, and the PA peeps won the rights to the pie.

After checking out the clock, we stopped in some novelty shop called Finder’s Keepers, where we quickly learned that a movie was recently filmed there called “Love Finds You In Sugarcreek.” Almost every shop along the main street had signs and DVD displays in  their windows. Even the Gospel Shop! We stopped in the Decanter and Stein “Museum,” which was basically just a small,  musty room full of steins and decanters for sale. I found pretty  much the only one that wasn’t $500 dollars and decided that I needed to buy it because I refused to leave Sugarcreek without a stein. I’m suddenly hot for steins, I don’t know.

The proprietor was a really old man who took his grand old time wrapping my stein in newspaper and taping it with 87 pieces of Scotch tape while I was having a coughing fit. My allergies had been flaring all week and basically as soon as we set foot in that shop, I knew I didn’t have much time. This was he only low point of the day for me, and as sweet as that old man was, I had strong urges to snatch the half-wrapped stein from him and yell, “I’LL JUST DO IT MYSELF THANKS” except that I couldn’t even speak since I was coughing so hard.

Once we stepped out into fresh air, I felt fine, so we went to Esther’s Home Baked Goods which was right next store. The inside of the bakery was very brown and austere. But Esther’s friendliness and bonneted-head compensated for the lack of paper lanterns and pastel palette.

“Oh, I see you looking at my chocolate pie!” she enthused, and I had porn flashbacks. “It’s on sale because I messed it up. It still tastes good, though!”

Way to sell it, Esther!

“You don’t happen to have any shoofly pie?” Corey asked.

“No,” Esther said, seemingly bemused by this question. “But it’s funny you ask, because several people have asked me that lately! Maybe I should try to make it again….” she added, mostly to herself.

I ended up getting some weird date cake thing and Corey got pumpkin ice cream and peanut butter fudge.

“Tell me if the fudge is OK!” she begged Corey. “It just didn’t seem right when I made it.”

This lady and me would make a great business team. Esther and her “Dessert Messes” and me and my “Fake Art.” Our confidence will bowl you over.

My date cake thing was actually pretty good though. Corey said the fudge was way too soft but he liked it. He left out the “too soft” part when he gave her his review before we left to set off for the infamous “hardware store.” If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were being sent off for slaughter.


I don’t know why I didn’t bother doing this while we were there, but a quick google of “shoofly pie” explains that it really is mostly just a Pennsylvania Dutch thing. No wonder those broads seemed so weird about it. They clearly hate Pennsylvania.

If there is one takeaway from our day in Ohio Amish Country, it’s that I really need to spend more time with my dad. He has inadvertently given Corey and me a day that we will probably talk about (and laugh about!) for the rest of our lives. And THAT is better than shoofly pie.




No tags for this post.
Nov 192014


You might know this about me, but I am a hoe for Swiss/Bavarian/German culture, especially when it involves American tourist traps. So it’s really no surprise that one of the biggest draws for me when it comes to Ohio Amish Country is definitely the small town of Sugarcreek. Henry, Chooch and I had briefly stopped there in 2010 after I insisted we take a detour on our way home from Michigan so that I could see the world’s largest cuckoo clock. Henry was PISSED because when we finally found it, it wasn’t even assembled; it had apparently been dismantled after the restaurant it was once attached to had closed, and now it was just sitting in an empty lot.

I had heard that it had finally been bought and moved to the center of town, so I had been begging Henry to take me back for the last two years now and he always has some stupid excuse like, “I don’t want to spend money” or “That place is dumb.”

So when Corey suggested we take a sibling trip to look at Amish people in Ohio and I found out that he was actually talking about THIS SAME AREA, it was on.


We arrived in Sugarcreek sometime after lunch at Der Dutchman but before visiting our dad’s beloved “hardware store.” The clock puts on its show every 30 minutes, so since we had about 15 minutes to kill, we asked some local jogger to take our picture. She was pretty much slowing her roll before we even asked because I’m sure we looked like idiots trying to take a selfie while capturing the entire clock in the background. The struggle was real.

People in Sugarcreek are super nice. Obviously. IT’S OHIO’S LITTLE SWITZERLAND!

Sitting on the bench (which Corey discovered flips over into a picnic table!), waiting for the 3:00PM edition of Swiss folk music to blare out of the barely-hidden speakers, I was revisited by all of my past lives where I was better known as Swiss Miss, Heidi, and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

(Whoever said this waste of Internet space wasn’t occasionally educational?)

I felt so excited and in touch with my inner Alps-frolicking, Ricola-sucking self at that moment, it was like someone stuffed a bouquet of edelweiss up my ass.


Very kitsch. Such creep. You just know those lederhosen-clad band members sneak off in the middle of the night and drag stray cats and severed human limbs back into the dark penetralia of the cuckoo clock.

Another family joined us for the highly anticipated 3pm viewing, and somehow Corey and I were able to act like civilized human beings through its entirety. We managed to get our fill of the cuckoo clock’s 2 minute presentation of robust Swiss folk music**, right before a tour bus, probably full of those impatient cheese-grubbing fuck lords at Heini’s, rolled up to clog the area with a coterie of obstructed bowels.

**(Seriously, click that link to watch exactly 15 seconds of the clock in action. It’ll take you to Instagram, because I just found out the hard way that I apparently can’t embed my Instagram videos here now.)

After sufficiently making fun of the tour bus, we decided that our next sibling adventure will definitely need to involve us booking one of those weekender tours.

“It’ll be us and old people,” Corey said dreamily. “They’ll love us!”

And they really will, too, because somehow old people are incapable of sniffing out our douchiness.

Next up: the shoo fly pie saga.

No tags for this post.
Nov 102014





As far as November weather goes, we were having a pretty beautiful Sunday here in Pittsburgh. We had nothing planned for the day, and even though I was fighting an annoying cold/allergy attack, I decided it was too perfect of a day not to go out and take pictures. Nothing major, I said. Let’s just, I don’t know…go to the grocery store first and buy a birthday cake. For no reason.

Oh just a simple, cheap cake, I said, giving the false impression that this was going to be a breezy, casual, in-and-out trip to the grocery store. Except that we got there and I threw a fit because NONE OF THESE CAKES LOOK RIGHT! NONE OF THEM MATCH MY VISION! THIS IS FUCKING BULLSHIT! I HOPE GIANT EAGLE GOES OUT OF BUSINESS!


I know this game, Henry said out loud, and instead of going home, he drove down the street to a different grocery store, smartly left Chooch and me in the car, and came back with the gaudiest birthday cake, complete with plastic clown head whose icing body was splayed across the top in a hideous, prostrate fashion.

It was fucking perf.


We took the cake, and a “just-in-case” rabbit mask, to Henry’s workplace which has always treated me well as far as photo shoot locales go. Henry was happy because my attitude had adjusted slightly with the purchase of the cake. (Although there was a brief argument in the over birthday cake candles, or lack thereof.)

Thank god we happened to have a random paper mache clown figure in the trunk of the car, too. (Our trunk is like the Mary Poppin’s Tapestry Bag of Animal Masks, Hats, and Other Assorted Oddities. We are always prepared for impromptu costume parties or induction into the witness protection program.)



My only direction for Chooch was “pretend like it’s your birthday party and no one came.”

I can do that, he said with a shrug.

He was very accommodating and easy to work with because I promised that I would play 10 (ten!!) rounds of Call of Duty when we went home. (Mostly because I am really beginning to like playing even though my skill level is not improving.)











The stages of being blown off on your unbirthday.





Now pretend like you don’t give a fuck and just eat the everloving SHIT out of that cake, I said to Chooch, always ready to provide direction.





And then I got to smash cake in Henry’s face because who knows if I’ll ever have a WEDDING DAY. Henry wasn’t very pleased about this, but Chooch and I were laughing so hard that he eventually cracked the tiniest smile while muttering, “You just wait, little bitch.”





It’s been awhile since Chooch and I got along during a photo shoot. I think it was because I mostly let him do whatever he wanted. Plus, the cake. He got to eat cake.



I don’t always go into these things with some high-brow, art student intentions or subtle nuances suggesting a deeper message. But while I was editing these last night, my brother texted me something along the lines of how it makes him happy that even though we were dealt a pretty crappy hand as far as families go, we were still able to have a strong sibling relationship where we can go off on random adventures and laugh to the point of an ugly-cry.

So, I guess this photo series has a cheesy moral to it after all. Um….: When things don’t go the way you intended, try to make the best of what you’re given, eat some cake, etc etc.

Or just go and cut someone. Whatever makes you feel better.

No tags for this post.
Nov 042014

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!?”


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!


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.





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!


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.”


Stop making me be a MOM on HALLOWEEN.


Henry was absolutely no help whatsoever.


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.


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.




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.



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.


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.


All in all, it was a pretty “meh” Halloween, and I hate the word “meh” so now you know how “meh”-ish Halloween must have been for me to say it was “meh.” Chooch was kind of like, “I have a headache, can we be done now?” with about 30 minutes left to go and I wanted to go to a haunted house afterward but Henry was all, “YOU HAVE BEEN TO ENOUGH GODDAMN HAUNTED HOUSES, DAUGHTER” and it just didn’t feel like Halloween, you guys. The weather was so dreary and I was tired and something just felt…off. It felt off the whole entire month, if we’re being honest with each other here. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it: Did I not watch enough horror movies? Didn’t go to enough haunted houses? Was it because we didn’t carve pumpkins (or even BUY any for that matter)? Not enough pointless trips to the Halloween store?

It hit me over the weekend. I miss my mom. My stupid fucking mommy. Wait. Let me rephrase that: I miss the person my mom used to be. You guys, she had a lot of really great moments, and Halloween was always one of them. She was so into it: our yard decorations were on point. My homemade costumes were award-winning. She’d host costume parties for her friends—back when she had friends—and she would make sure the cheese trays never ran out of perfectly-cubed bites of colby and cheddar. And when I was older, we would have Halloween bonfires at her house, all of my friends and my brother Ryan’s friends, with beer and Woodchuck and autumnal revelry…and it hasn’t been the same since then. I try to distract myself with all of the haunted houses and the crazy-detailed Halloween desk themes at work, and it mostly works. It does! But that slippery depression is there in the shadows, waiting for me to forget to busy myself for a few minutes so that it can slip in and remind me of everything that I try so hard to forget.

Next year, I’ll just have to try harder.

No tags for this post.
Oct 202014

Livermore is a supposedly haunted cemetery in Blairsville, PA. There are so many conflicting stories on the Internet (HARD TO IMAGINE – it’s outrageous how many people think that this is the cemetery from Night of the Living Dead) but I’ll just summarize by telling you that there was a flood at some point and people died. Or they didn’t. You don’t come here for history lessons.


I know you just come here to do shots every time I squirt out a typo.


I thought it would be fun to stop for a quick visit since we were about to drive past it yesterday on our way back from Knoebel’s; it’s been at least 10 years since we were there last. I could tell Henry wasn’t exactly down with the slight detour, but he did it anyway because I own him.

It’s not really all that scary there during the day, because the end of Livermore Rd spills out into a makeshift parking area at the entrance of a bike trail, which is right near the cemetery entrance. In other words, our parked car was wishing running distance in case something wicked happened back there.


First we walked along the old train bridge because we like to live dangerously. BUT NOT TOO DANGEROUSLY! I kept yelling at Chooch for being too close to the edge, I didn’t trust that FLIMSY FENCE.


What a beautiful spot for a family portrait, I thought to myself and then made my puppets jump. This one is definitely a Christmas card contender.


I got suddenly smart and had us face the other way. I’m a good piktchur-taker.



Chooch and I were like WHY ARE THESE KEYS HANGING HERE and then Henry had to go and spoil all of our fantasies by going into a long, dull speech about how someone probably found them and hung them there in case the key-owners came back looking for them and we were like “STFU you’re stupid and boring.”

I’m actually surprised Henry didn’t take them for his gratuitous key collection that he keeps dangling in a clump from his belt like he’s ready to audition for the role of Schneider on a 2014 revamp of “One Day At a Time.”

After about ten minutes of being too close to the river, I quickly tired of all this supposed beautiful scenery and we all walked back toward the car, which was parked near the path that leads to the cemetery.




This gate literally only keeps out truck-sized people.



Henry REALLY didn’t want to do this.



Pretty sure this was written in crayon. Also surprising that “cemetery” is spelled correctly.



Henry wouldn’t come into the cemetery with us, opting instead to loaf (haha, loaf) near the handmade Livermore sign, hands in-pocket, head nervously whipping over his shoulder. He claims he was more worried about townies than ghosts. Oh ok.

As soon as Chooch and I crossed the threshold into the graveyard, I experienced a pretty strong episode of déjà vu and it occurred to me that I was wrong: we have definitely been there before with Chooch. He must have been two and I remember that it was about to storm.




Earlier, I asked Chooch if he had anything to add and he mumbled from the couch, “No. Yeah! Tell them* about the tombstone with my name!”

“I already did,” I said.

“Oh. Then…no,” he mumbled and fell back into his stupid video game.

*(I wonder who he thinks comprises “them.” Cats, probably. My blog is the one all the cats read.)

I thought the trees were making weird noises but Chooch said they sounded like normal tree-speak to him, so maybe I was just being paranoid. But it really sounded like the one tree was trying to spoil the end of The Crying Game.

I don’t know why I thought that but it’s late and I’m writing this in bed with the lights off like I’m telling the Internet a ghost story where the ghosts forget to show up. RSVPs don’t mean shit anymore.
We rejoined Henry after awhile and headed back to the car.

“Look,” Henry quietly said. “A squirrel.”

“WHERE?!” I cried as if this was Jurassic Park and Henry hadn’t just pointed out something that we see 61818293 times a day in our backyard.

Meanwhile, Chooch was walking with such Frankenstein-esque force upon the leaves that it sounded like vertebrae were crunching and cracking beneath his feet. “WHAT? WHO?! WHERE?!” he screamed extra loud to ensure Henry, the squirrel, the squirrels cousins in Pittsburgh, and all of the restless Livermore souls could hear over the sound of his leaf-murdering.

Henry sighed. “Remind me never to take you two idiots on a stakeout.”

And I will now end this with the original post I wrote on LiveJournal after Henry and I first visited this place in October of 2004.


Henry and I decided to try and scope out the Livermore Cemetery yesterday, during daylight. Livermore was once a town about an hour from Pittsburgh, that was flooded in the 1800’s. So of course it’s haunted there. The road that leads to where the town once sat is scary in itself; surrounded by woods with an occasional farm house here and there. The road eventually leads to a gate and you have to walk the rest of the way.

I would have been less frightened if the sun was shining, but it was miserably overcast. We walked along a trail for thirty minutes or so, over two old railroad bridges, with water on either side of us. Supposedly, if the water level is low enough, you can see the foundations of the town. I couldn’t see jack shit, plus I was cranky because the quest to find the cemetery seemed hopeless. Also, I hadn’t fed my fat face in like, two hours! I demanded that we turn around and go back to the car immediately before I died of malnourishment. Even walking proved to be a struggle for me, and I kept falling. My legs just kept giving out on me because I was so hungry. Henry, never picking up on the emergency of these situations, laughed at me and kept walking. Then I thought I saw a skull! But it was only a soccer ball.

As we crossed over the last bridge, Henry happened to look up to the left, and he shouted, “THERE! OVER YONDER!” And there it was, the Livermore Cemetery. A few lone tombstones could be seen on the edge of the hill, between the trees. Maybe it was just the sight of the cemetery itself that heightened my senses, but if I believed in God, I would swear to him right now that the atmosphere around us changed. The wind kicked up and there was a noticeable chill in the air. This is the part that elicited the trademarked Skeptical Father look from Henry: something grabbed my leg. Would I lie to you guys? It’s true, I tried to lift my right leg to continue walking, and something held the back of my jeans onto the ground for around three seconds. When I turned around to look, there was positively nothing that my jeans could have stuck to, and there was nothing on the bottom of my shoes.

From this point on, all I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears, and I grabbed Henry’s arm and power-walked him back toward the car, whipping my head over my shoulders every other second. I even made myself dizzy. I haven’t been this lethally afraid since we stayed overnight at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast last year.

My hair was slapping me in the face from the heavy wind. I reached up to swipe a strand of hair from my mouth, causing Henry to go ballistic on me.

Henry: “What did you just do!?”
Me: “Uh, I wiped the hair away from my mouth.”
Henry: “Oh, I thought you made the sign of the cross. I was going to say, if you’re crossing yourself and you don’t even believe in god, we have problems.”

There was a trail to the left of where we parked the car, and it was certain that that was the way into the cemetery. Henry pleaded with me to walk up with him, stating that “nothing was going to happen.” Now, I’ve seen enough movies in my twenty five years for this claim to make me lose control. “DON’T YOU EVER SAY THAT! YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP RIGHT NOW YOU STUPID ASSHOLE! DON’T YOU KNOW THEY WAIT AROUND FOR SOMEONE TO SAY THAT!? GET IN THE CAR!!” I adopted my ‘hissing through clenched teeth’ way of speaking for this moment; I felt it was the most fitting in my cache of tones.

And so we left. We ate at a restaurant that hosted the weirdest assortment of humanity I’ve ever witnessed. It was great fun, and it made me feel a lot better about myself. I especially felt better after I inhaled a soggy grilled cheese and fries and slurped my way through two cups of coffee. They had Presidential sundaes: Bushberry and Kerryberry (and strawberry for those who are undecided). I thought it would be so cute if Henry and I ordered our respective picks, but he didn’t want to play along. We left after I was becoming dangerously too engrossed in analyzing the differences between the two sundaes. (The Bushberry variety cost more!)

Something about the Valley Dairy restaurant made my courage surge, so I slammed my fist on the dashboard and demanded that we go back to Livermore straight away.

When we got out of the car after returning, we noticed that someone had dumped a garbage bag off the side of the path. Henry, being the curious garbage picker that he is, decided that he needed to have a closer inspection of the contents. Laying on the top was a piece of mail. Who litters a giant bag of garbage and leaves an envelope with their name and address on top? Ironically, the zip code on it was the same as ours. We thought that was rather coincidental considering we were nowhere near home. AN OMEN, perhaps. Livermore is partial to collecting souls from the 15226 area?

After a minute of silent deliberation, I finally heeded and followed Henry up the path. It was blocked off after a few feet, but this was not to deter Henry. He was eager to show off his trespassing prowess.

I’m getting antsy with this, and it also makes me feel kind of creeped out as I rehash it, so I’ll speed it up.

We came across the entrance to the cemetery

and crossed over the threshold. I thought for sure the sky was going to start hailing fireballs at this point, but everything was actually very quiet. From this point on, the time we spent in the midst of crumbling tomb stones was very leisurely and calm. I even started to zone about ice cream sandwiches, so it really couldn’t have been all that bad there, right?

Naturally, we couldn’t leave until we argued over the camera settings, which is customary for us. It certainly lightened the mood a bit. Until, as we began to walk back to the entrance, Henry pointed out that while it was windy everywhere else, it was absolutely still in the cemetery. Shut up, right? His observation made my heart threaten cardiac arrest for the second time in two hours, and I said, “Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that it’s haunted, right?” Henry shrugged and kept walking. Shrugging is not a good enough answer for me and I began to tug on his arm, begging him to tell me why it wasn’t windy. The phenomenon didn’t seem to be plaguing him as it was me, and he mumbled some half assed Discovery Channel explanation. I paused, letting it sink in, and said, “No. It’s because it’s haunted. OH MY GOD IT’S HAUNTED!! OH MY GOD THERE’S NO WIND!!! EVERYTHING IS DEAD IN HERE AND WE’RE GOING TO DIE TOO!!!!”

And then we got in the car and left. The end.

And the pièce de résistance:

Ha ha.

I mean, what? You don’t think that’s real?

No tags for this post.
Oct 182014

When my brother Corey was texting me pictures of the Amish guys working on our dad’s roof, it brought back fond memories of the time my other brother Ryan and I stalked the man who was building our back porch when we were kids. I knew I had written about it at some point, so I searched my LiveJournal archives and now I am sharing it here, because I think it’s kind of funny how I am still basically the same person as I was when I was a kid.

I have a different dad than Corey and Ryan, so clearly our penchant for stalking comes from our mom.


What was the best summer ever? Could it be the summer of ’92 when we hosted a French exchange student (that deserves it’s own entry)? The summer of my nineteenth birthday party marathon? No, my friends. It’s the summer of 1994 that wins this title.

My parents were in the process of having a back porch built onto our house. This was a big deal for my brother Ryan and me, because stalking one of the workers became the sole reason we got out of bed each day. I mean really, who wants to swim and lay out in the sun when you can be violating someone’s privacy?

We would run from window to window, snapping pictures of him. One day, Ryan even chased his truck up the street. Those pictures turned out fabulously. I’ll never forget the day we discovered his name was Gary. We ran into the house, erupting into shrieks and giggles.

After a week of wasting film on this fine craftsman, we decided to incorporate a little more extremity to our game. More thrill, if you will. We needed a bigger adrenaline rush. The next obvious step was to collect Gary’s cigarette butts and beer cans. When you’re young, you want souvenirs for everything you do.

We would wait until he would go to his truck, then sprint out in the backyard like scavengers, picking through the grass in search of a butt or two. Once we accumulated enough to satiate our pursuant appetite, we brought our treasures in the house and stowed it underneath the couch in the family room.

Stalking Gary consumed so much of our summer. How much, you ask? So much that it infiltrated the summer of my friends, as well. Christy was in Atlanta (I believe) for some sort of academic camp. I wrote her a letter and enclosed one of Gary’s cigarettes butts for her to cherish as well. I just wanted her summer to be as rich as ours had become, thanks due to Gary. I wrote letters to every one of my pen pals, detailing Gary’s every action and movement. Everyone clung to the Summer of Gary with bated breath.

Unfortunately, the fun and games ended when my dad unearthed our stash of memorabilia under the couch. Now, any other dad would have rightfully accused us of smoking and drinking. Not my dad. Luckily for us, my dad recognized the extent of our weirdness long before this incident, so he believed our tale and we escaped punishment. The downside was that he forbade us to continue our game. Something about we were embarrassing him or something.

I often wonder what Gary is doing these days, and if he knew he was being stalked. Was he flattered? My mom says ‘nay.’

No tags for this post.
Oct 052014


The truth is, I have purposely been putting off writing the last installment of Riot Fest, because it feels like once I write it, then that’s it: Riot Fest is truly over. The whole weekend was so perfect to me, especially coming off the tail end of a summer that was emotionally draining, just a total black spot on the year. Maybe it seems like I’m being overly-dramatic, god knows that’s basically my default, but I’m serious when I say that my three days at Humboldt Park felt like a religious retreat, in the same way that some people climb mountains to escape their past, cast out their demons in sweat lodges, or rail a quadstack off a hooker’s ass in the back of a 1984 Pinto.

This is how I heal.


The whole weekend was a collection of experiences and heart-clutching moments, stepping stones that paved the way to the culmination of my catharsis: The Cure.

As I mentioned in my last Riot Fest post, The Cure was scheduled to play the main stage at 7:45, so we made our way over there during Patti Smith’s 5:45 set in hopes of getting a decent spot.

My expectations were low. I even told Henry that I didn’t care if we ended up across the park by the food trucks. As long as I could hear The Cure (and not shitty Weezer who were going to be playing at the same time on a smaller stage), I was fine. Besides, I had been dragging Henry around like a rag doll all weekend, and I knew he probably wouldn’t want to be standing stock-still in the middle of 50,000 people at the end of the day.

Except that Henry grabbed my hand and pulled me further into the crowd during Patti’s set. Every time even the smallest gap would open ahead of us, he would continue to squeeze us in. And he kept doing this until we finally hit a wall of unbudging people. Still, I was impressed with his determination and how far it got us, so I wasn’t complaining!

After Patti was over at 6:45, people began leaving the Riot Stage, which opened up more spots, so Henry once again tgook  my hand and started weaving us closer to the stage. He got us to a really great spot, about 50 heads back from the stage. This was pretty remarkable, considering most people had been standing there all day in order to get a close spot.

Don’t tell him this, but Henry was kind of my hero that night.

Social Distortion began playing on the stage adjacent to us and I was so thankful that we got to listen a decent band for the next hour, because I was so full of anxiety waiting for The Cure, that I couldn’t imagine adding shitty music on top of that. Also during this time, we made friends with the people around us, like an older couple (Henry’s age, probably, haha) from St. Louis. The wife was really kind to me and even offered to take the above picture of me and Henry, which is why he’s smiling — because a stranger is taking the picture. She reminded me a little bit of my friend Natasha, who is also a rabid Cure fan, and I think that’s why I liked her so much.


The view behind me. 

The only downside while waiting was the two middle-aged assholes in front of me, who spent the whole wait loudly talking about how they’re such seasoned music festival attendees, and how they saw The Cure last year at ACL and then the one guy, the one who was wearing a huge professional backpack that jutted so far from his back that it kept hitting me in the face, extracted a video camera with an extension stick thing and I was just like, “Oh great. And he’s a rock documentarian, too.”

I don’t think that’s a word.

Then they started making a big deal about passing a joint back and forth, like LOOK AT US, WE’RE OLD AND STILL SMOKE POT! and I honestly had to cup my hands in front of face in case I needed to catch my eyeballs when they rolled out of my head.

When I heard of one them mention Weezer’s upcoming set, it all made sense to me. Weezer fans. Of course.

My new friend from St. Louis pulled me closer to her so that dildo’s backpack wouldn’t hit me in the face anymore, and I thanked her profusely. She was also extremely good at blocking people from getting in front of us once The Cure started. We worked hard for our spots way before The Cure came on! You can’t expect to wait until after they start playing and just steamroll your way  through. Bitch, you gotta work for that shit.


I like Social D just fine, but when they were still playing “Ring of Fire” at 7:45, I was like, “I FUCKING HATE YOU SOCIAL D! STFU! GO HOME!” And then Mike Ness kept screaming, “ONE MORE TIME!” and the crowd over at that stage would sing the fucking chorus ONE MORE TIME and it was so obnoxious and we were all getting super agitated.

So they went a few minutes over. It wasn’t the worst thing ever, but that was like an entire extra song that The Cure have played at the end of the night!

But as soon as the last note of “Ring of Fire” petered off into the air, the lights on the Riot Stage came on and the most beautiful sounds to ever have been crafted enveloped us all in such warm beauty. And then Robert walked on the stage and my hands flung up to my chest and basically stayed there for the next two hours, along with the burning lump in my throat and the stinging tears in my eyes.

The Cure, you guys. The motherfucking Cure. This was my fifth time, but it might as well have been my first. Seeing them will never lose its value to me.

I have never been the type of person who could separate herself from the show unfurling in front of her long enough to keep track of the set list. Luckily, I knew that Chain of Flowers (the best Cure fansite in the world) would have me covered.

  • Open
  • Fascination Street
  • Sleep When I’m Dead
  • Push
  • Inbetween Days
  • Play For Today
  • A Forest
  • Before Three
  • Lovesong
  • Just Like Heaven
  • From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
  • alt.end
  • Pictures of You
  • Lullaby
  • Close To Me
  • Hot Hot Hot
  • Wrong Number
  • The Caterpillar
  • The Walk
  • Mint Car
  • Friday I’m In Love
  • Doing the Unstuck
  • Bananafishbones
  • Want
  • Hungry Ghost
  • One Hundred Years
  • End.


We were this close! Not bad for waiting until 6PM to stake out a spot!

Around 8:30, the idiots in front of me (who acted all smug as  they recounted all the times they’ve seen The Cure and the proceeded to just stand there like lumps once the show started…some fans they are) got their Riot Fest alert on their phones that OMG WEEZER was about to start over on the Revolt Stage, so they turned around and began pushing their way out of the crowd. I cheered and then moved up into their vacated spots, which came with a better view of my beloved Robert Smith.

Aside from those Weezer dorks, we were surrounded by true Cure fans. Those who knew all the words, knew to thrust their hands upward when Robert sang, “Put your hands in the sky” during From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, and who didn’t engage in banal discourse with their friends. I know that if we had stayed in the back, I would have been miserable and forced to listen to drunk assholes scream to each other about sports and god knows what else. Just like the miserable time I saw them at miserable Coachella, where drunk frat boys screamed out, “Play Just Like Heaven, Fat Bob!” and then booed every time deeper cuts were played instead. Fucking Americans. The Cure graces our country with their presence and this is how they’re treated. Coachella will always have such a sour connotation to me. The hipsters can have it.


I can’t think of a better way this weekend could have ended. My favorite band in the whole entire world with my favorite person in the whole entire world (ugh fine, I’m referring to Henry and not Robert Smith). There’s no one else I would have rather experienced this with, no one else who understands how much this band and this music means to me.

When we first started to get to know each other back in 2000/2001, before we were dating, Henry made me a Cure screensaver. Totally out of the blue. I was like, “OK. You have my attention.” I know that The Cure headlining this festival is without a doubt the reason Henry didn’t say no to me.

And he actually said that this was his favorite part of Riot Fest and not because it signified that the end was near. He even displayed moderate levels of PDA throughout the night by placing his hands on my back!

From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea – Chicago, Riot Fest 14-Sep-2014 from itsaperfectday on Vimeo.

Thank you to this person ^^^ for recording this because my heart felt like it was about to combust inside my rib cage during this one. One of my all-time favorites, ow ow ow. 

There was supposed to have been an encore, but they ran out of time. Thanks, Social Distortion.

Even though I think this was the shortest of the 5 Cure concerts I’ve been to (clocked in at just over 2 hours), I have to say this one ranks #2 on my list. Right under Canberra, Australia for the Bloodflowers tour. It was the perfect crowd, the perfect ambiance, the perfect company and the perfect weekend. What else can I really say about it, short of copy/pasting every synonym for “heaven” and “perfect” and “emo” and “STFU Erin, we get it.”


“You know what would have made that weekend even more perfect?” I asked Henry on the way back to Pittsburgh the next day. “If you had proposed to me during The Cure. Way to go, you blew it.”

Because even during moments of extreme, euphoric perfection, I still manage to find the flaws. But I wouldn’t be me otherwise. Right?


No tags for this post.
Oct 012014


Shit. Before we even finished breakfast (that’s a word with which the Econo Lodge takes great liberties), I was already feeling that panicky “today is the last day” sensation percolating in my gut.

(I’m sure Henry was experiencing very different feelings. His was probably more of a giddy countdown.)

We accidentally found a fly-by-night event parking lot on our way to Humboldt Park the day before, so Henry decided THE HELL WITH UBER, we’re going to entrust our car with these people that are wearing neon construction vests so they must be legit.


It took us three days to figure out there was an actual area where we were supposed to be waiting for our stupid Uber rides. 

The sketchy parking lot cost the same as a one-way trip with Uber, and it wasn’t my money Henry was using anyway, so what did I care. All I knew was that we were only two blocks away from my homeland and I couldn’t wait to get there.

And stand in line for an hour. Because even by the third day, the gatekeepers hadn’t gotten their shit together.

All three days, we were lucky to not get stuck by any assholes, at least. The guy in front of us, whom I dubbed Dwight Hader, because he reminded me of Dwight Schrute and Bill Hader, was there by himself. “I’m just here for Patti Smith and The Cure,” he said nervously. “Basically, I’m going to get all the way to the front of the stage for The Cure,” he told us of his Riot Fest plans.

“Were you here the other days, too? What was it like? What’s the food like? Is it expensive?”

“Do you think I’ll be able to take in my water?” he asked anyone who was listening.

He was very concerned with his unopened water bottle.

Would it be confiscated? Did he have to drink it all now? Because he wasn’t thirsty yet. He wanted that water for later, when he was raging to Patti Smith. BECAUSE THE NIGHT BELONGS TO WATER.

The girl behind me pointed out that empty water bottles were allowed in, because there were refilling stations. But she and I both said that probably an unopened bottle wasn’t a good idea. The girl’s boyfriend was like, “Eh, just do it. Smuggling in water is so punk rock, man.” And Henry was like “IDGAF what this kid does.”

Meanwhile, the couple behind me were talking about all of the ska bands that they had seen so far at Riot Fest and I was so thankful that I wasn’t there with them because ska is pretty much the only music genre that I flat-out dislike. There isn’t one ska band that’s redeemable to me. I’m sorry if you’re a ska fan. I promise we can still be friends. Just get those fucking trumpets out of my face. I DON’T EVEN LIKE THE JAMAICA SKA SCENE IN BACK TO THE BEACH AND THAT IS LIKE MY FAVORITE MOVIE.


1. Whispering, “It’ll be alright, Water Bottle. We’ll figure something out.” 2. Googling “will I be detained for bringing an unopened water bottle into Riot Fest?” // “ways to make a water bottle in your pants look like a medical condition that security guards won’t ask about.” // “smuggling contraband into a music festival- WWJD?”


  • TheMenzingers were due to start playing a few minutes after the gates finally opened. (DwightHader and his unopened bottle of water made it through unscathed!) But we had enough time to hit up one oftheRiotFestmerch booths soIcouldfinallybuy the hoodie I wanted,whichofcoursewas sold out so I got all shitty about and ended up buying a t-shirt that I didn’t even want and then I proceeded to bitch about it on the way to the Roots Stage so Henry was like OMG I WILL FIND YOU A FUCKING HOODIE but apparently he said this to himself because I had no idea where he had gone off to, leaving me to stand alone with strangers by the stage. Then he returnedrightbeforetheMenzingers came out, and he had the hoodie I wanted, but then I was still mad because now I had a t-shirt and hoodie in the same design and that seemed so unnecessary so I threw another tantrum and then Henry was like I AM GOING TO COLD COCK  YOU but instead of doing that, he grabbed the t-shirt from me and stormed off and then the show started so I hadtowatchtheMenzingers by myself.
    • This was surprisingly the only time we fought all weekend.
    • I hated not knowing where he went/what he was doing/if he was coming back.
      • Every time I glanced behind me, I thought I saw him, but it was always one of the other 8700 guys wearing a blue flannel that day.
  • Even though I was quietly stewing over this hoodie/t-shirt emergency, I still found some room in my head and heart to enjoy the Menzingers. I only have a very base knowledge of them, thanks to my friend Terri, and since I know how much she loves them, I made a point to check them out. It was a good way to start the last day, because they got everyone pumped right out of the gates.
  • I texted Terri the lyrics to the one song they played that I really liked, and she was like, “That’s from their new album. That song is so emo!” Which totally explains why I liked it!
  • After their set ended,Ipanic-strickenly made my way through a moving wall of people, desperately looking for Henry, near tears (I HATE FEELING LOST), but then he grabbed my arm and I suddenly forgot that I was in the middle of hating him because YAY I’M NOT LOST ANYMORE!
    • “You were never lost,” he sighed. “I knewwhereyouwerethe whole time.”
      • In case you were wondering, Henry apparently exchanged the t-shirt for an XS for Chooch, which made me mad all over again because why the fuck would Chooch want a t-shirt from a festival he didn’t go to?! And to back this up, when we gave it to him, he was like, “Ok….?” and then right away noticed that one of the bands on the back of the shirt was Pity Sex, so then he was like, “REALLY, MOMMY?! REALLY?!” all annoyed and exasperated.



  • There was nothing on Sunday’s line-up that was OMG URGENT for me to see until Billy Bragg played around 2.
    • To me this meant: Let’s wander around and check out the other stages! We might find our new favorite band!
  • Of course, my plan won out and that is how we wound up at the Rise Stage in time for Laura Stevenson, who has an accordion player and is just the most adorable thing I saw on stage all weekend. I’m notoriously picky when it comes to girl singers, but her style was kind of old Tegan andSarameetsSherriDuPreefromEisley, in a way. I immediately adored her.
    • Especially when she pretty much announced every song as, “OK, this is a sad one.”
      • I love sad music.
      • Her music was the deceiving kind of sad though, where it sounds happy and upbeat but, no.
  • Laura’s between-song-banter was painfully awkward at times, which endeared her to me even more.
  • Fuck it, go listen to her on Spotify and then buy her albums!



Henry’s mad because we were kind of matching. Also, I think this was right before La Dispute and he hates La Dispute.


  • Right after Laura was done playing, The Front Bottoms came on the adjacent Revolt Stage. This is another band that I have read and heard a lot about but just never bothered checking out. Since we still had a little bit of time to kill and the stage they were playing on was conveniently located near the one Billy Bragg would later be playing on, I dragged Henry through droves of lost locust-people and claimed a prime spot near the side of the stage.
  • And then they came on and proceeded to captivate us for their entire 30 minute set.
    • If you can win me over with your stage presence alone, then you’re doing it right.
    • If your music is good enough to back up your stage presence, then you’re golden.
  • I thought Henry hated them, but he admitted later that they were a high point for him.
    • Last week, I came home from meeting my friend Katrina for coffee, and Henry was flat out listening to them on xbox music. “SO WHAT?!” he cried in defense, like his mom just busted him watching tranny bukakke.
  • They reminded me a little bit of Never Shout Never for grown-ups, so I wondered if Chooch would like them too. Spoiler: he does.
  • My favorite part was when Tiny Moving Parts stormed the stage and started fucking with them. I LOVE IT WHEN BANDS ARE FRIENDS WITH EACH OTHER.



  • WhenIsawBillywas listed on the line-up, I died a little of excitement. This guy is a living legend and I made Henry get right up front for him.
    • We were surrounded by a lot of Older People so I thought Henry would feel safe.
  • In high school, I dated this real piece of shit. Pretty much everyone called him Psycho Mike, because well, that’s what you call a guy who intentionally sets his best friend’s house on fire (thankfully,whilethe whole family was on vacation, but still) all over a video game.
    • Yes, I knew this going in to things, but warning labels don’t ever deter me.
    • Anyway, Psycho Mike and I didn’t have much in common, musically. I would cringe when he would play Anal Cunt in his car and even though I bought him the Misfits boxed set for Valentine’s Day one year, I made it clear that I didn’t want to listen to it. We would meet in the middle with classic rock mostly, but occasionally he would play things for me that I actually liked. Some of those things were: Neutral Milk Hotel, Hayden, and Billy Bragg.
  • Billy Bragg is a British folk/punk singer-songwriter who sings a lot about politics, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but there is just something about him that has always appealed to me. I thought Henry would be all about him too, since Billy is known to sing in favor of all those blue-collared blokes like Henry. But Henry was just like “eh” when I asked him if he enjoyed it, which basically means Henry is clearly a fascist.

  20140928-123525.jpg Henry not understanding why everyone was all FUCK YES during Billy Bragg.

  • My favorite Billy Bragg songs are “Must I Paint You a Picture,” “St. Swithin’s Day,” “She’s Got a New Spell,” “The Man in the Iron Mask” and “A New England,” none of which he played, but he did play my ALL TIME FAVORITE which is “The Milkman of Human Kindness” and the 17-year-old slut-who-was-fucking-around-with-a-psychopath-in-1996 in me was so stoked.
  • Billy also made me super stoked about Scotland, which I had otherwise not really thought about at all because it’s basically me and my music under a rock. But on this day, I was like, “YAYSCOTLAND! GO GET ‘EM!” And then suddenly I understoodwhysomemenhad been walking around Humboldt Park all weekend in kilts and carrying Scottish flags.
    • I catch on quick.



  • Might sound extreme, but getting to see Billy Bragg live was a milestone for me. I have literally waited half my life! This man is a living legend. Familiarize yourself with him.


  • On our way to the Rock Stage, immediately after Billy Bragg, we got to catch a little bit of Tiny Moving Parts.
  • Henry said he doesn’t remember this happening at all. I think he might have been buying more cheese-on-sticks and beer?
  • TMP iskindoflikeneo-emo I guess? It’s definitely a sound that I really adore. And they are really energetic and passionate on stage, which is what made me stop mid-trek to the Rock Stage and say to Henry, “They are calling to me.”
    • I like them way more live than listening to them, say, while driving to the dentist or writing in my blog.




A rare moment where Henry got to sit for a few minutes until the girl next to him annoyed him to such extreme levels that he suddenly didn’t care about resting his weary joints anymore and actually stood up and moved. And no, surprisingly, that girl wasn’t me. 

  • I let Henry stand far away for La Dispute because he can’t stand them. But I was like, “See ya, sucker” and elbowed my way through the crowd along the side of the stage until I was nearly to the front. I stopped right before I hit prime crowd-surfing / circle pit real estate. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that deep down, I have some fragments of the “Sensible Mom” gene and I remember to keep myself safe.
    • Otherwise, I just feel like I would be such a great candidate for Idiot Who Broke Her Neck At a Show.
  • Have you ever listened to La Dispute? They are a part of a music genre that I am in love with. Like, if I could mold it into a penis, I would fuck it. It’s technically post-hardcore, and Jordan Dreyer shouts and barks the lyrics with so much emotion, that it’s, for me, the equivalent of listening to some kind of passionate Sunday sermon. Their songs tell stories that make the hair grow erect on my arms and I spent most of the time standing there with my eyes closed and, at times, wishing I had a wall in front of me to punch. There’s an urgency to the music and the way the vocals are delivered that make me feel uncontrollably aggressive. And then….sad.
  • When they played “King Park,” we all went fucking nuts.  This song is about a shooting and all of the elements and emotions surrounding it, and it is raw, devastating, angry, sad, honest—this song is REAL LIFE. The way they build up to the crescendo of this song, OMFG—it’s like climaxing for real.  Jordan started hoarsely shouting “Can I still get into Heaven if I kill myself?” and that’s when I realized that I had been crying through the whole fucking thing.

  • “Wasn’t that fucking amazing!?” I cried afterward, reunited with Henry. “Not really,” he mumbled.
  • I walked away feeling like I could start a revolution. Or at the very least, make a REALLY GOOD POSTER about MAYBE starting a revolution.



  • I first saw Tegan and Sara in the year 2000 at now-defunct club in Pittsburgh called Rosebud. I didn’t know anything about them but my friend Wonka was like, “I heard one of their songs on WYEP. PLEASE GO WITH ME!” Wonka was my prime concert-buddy back then, and we went to tons of shows where we barely knew who we were seeing, plus I was buying my ticket with my AmEx that my mom paid for, so why not? It was us and maybe 40 other people and I think Tegan and Sara walked away with all of our hearts that night. They were VERY different than they are now, way more stripped down, way less pop. But their stage banter was just as on point. We got to meet them that night and I still look at that picture, of these twins who look so different now, and I laugh because I remember saying to Wonka, “Holy shit, these girls are going to explode!”
  • They were playing on the main stage at Riot Fest to some tens of thousands of people, so I’d say that they definitely exploded.
  • I didn’t want to get too close because I knew we were going to have to split before they were done, and I didn’t want to make our exit any more difficult than it needed to be, so we stood pretty far away. The problem with that is that the further away you stand, the more likely you are to surround yourself with people who couldn’t give a fuck what band is playing, they’re just going to stand there and brag about what college their daughter is going to. Sometimes old people are WAY WORSE at shows than young people.
  • The first time Henry saw Tegan and Sara was with me in 2002/2003 at the Hard Rock Cafe. He didn’t know anything about them but it didn’t take him long to realize that he was a man in a roomful of lesbians. At one point, he tried to go to the bathroom, but a girl with a shaved, rainbow-tattooed head was blocking his way (not even menacingly! she didn’t know she was in his way!), so he turned around and came back. I think about this EVERY TIME I hear a Tegan and Sara song. GOOD TIMES.
  • And before you’re like “Tegan and Sara are so Top 40,” please watch this video:

  • Sure, they’re mainstream now but I will always believe that they still have a little bit of that quaint singer-songwriter ethic that they did when they were teenagers. I just love them.


Never had time to play Riot Putt. :( Or go through the Zombie Contamination Unit. Or ride any rides. Or see the sideshows. TOO MANY BANDS. 


  • We cut out of Tegan and Sara in order to run back to the Rock Stage just in time to see Mineral, who have recently gone on tour for the first time in 17 years. I’m so happy Riot Fest was on the super-shortlist of shows they were doing, because god knows Pittsburgh was nowhere on that list.
  • MineralisstraightupEMO.
    • I fucking love emo.
  • Mineral broke up in 1997, before I ever had a chance to see them. The singer went on to form The Gloria Record, another band that I fucking loved so hard but never got to see live. Henry claims he has no absolutely no recollection of a band called The Gloria Record and I was like “ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID, I LISTENED TO ONE OF THEIR ALBUMS COMPULSIVELY IN 2005!” Then I even played him my favorite song (“Good Morning, Providence” — if you look at my Spotify sidebar, it’s actually the second song listed in my “Perennial Favorites” playlist, COME ON HENRY) and he was like, “Nope. Don’t know it.” That man is a master of tuning things out.
  • However, Henry admitted that Mineral was “pretty good.” The whole time I was just standing there in awe, thinking of how grateful I was to get to see them after all this time. So grateful that I almost wrote an emo poem about it.



  • After Mineral, we decided that we should probably make our way back to the Riot Stage because if we waited too close to The Cure’s start time, we would never be able to get close enough. Patti Smith was playing at the time, so we pushed our way through the outskirts of a crowd of aging hippies screaming along to “Because the Night.”
  • If it wasn’t for the sake of the Cure, I never have would have stopped to watch her. I’m sure that makes me something of a heathen to a lot of people. I can definitely respect her! I understand the mark she’s left on not only the music industry but also the political landscape. She’s a living, breathing legacy. I get it. And while it’s not particularly my thing, I am definitely glad that I can say “I saw Patti Smith.”
  • She is old as shit but fuck if she wasn’t rocking the shit out of that stage.
  • There were men older than Henry standing around us who were screaming “PATTI!!!” so fiercely, I feared that they were going to hemorrhage.
  • In between every song, Patti would stand on her soapbox and promise us that we can change the world. “PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER!” she kept shouting and everyone screamed so loudly that they turned into South Park Canadians.
  • By the time her set was over, I definitely didn’t feel like I could change the world, but I would have liked to have changed into a pair of more comfortable shoes.

I’m going to end this here because I’ve been writing it for four days and I want The Cure to have their own post. Because they’re the motherfucking Cure.

If you’ve read any of these word-dumps, I am eternally grateful (and extremely shocked)!

No tags for this post.
Sep 082014

All day at work, I kept obsessively checking the tracking info for my Emarosa preorder bundle.

“Out for delivery.”

All day long.

Longest fucking delivery route of all time.

Henry picked me up from work at 5:30 and on the way home, I noticed that the status had FINALLY been changed to “delivered.”

I did an uncoordinated air-pump thing.

“Have you been home at all today? WAS IT THERE?!” I screamed at the side of Henry’s bristled cheek as he steered the car around potholes.

“I was home for a little bit but it wasn’t there,” Henry replied in the calm voice reserved for cloud-watching with kittens and lacking the URGENCY required when one is discussing the status of an Emarosa album delivery.

My heart began its nervous jig inside my chest. A parade of lost packages drove through my memory like a fucking funeral procession, my Emarosa bundle in the hearse.

I checked my email again.

“It says it was delivered at 2:06!” I cried, my wildly gesticulating heart inviting my cheeks to join the panic party by pumping warm blood into them.

“Well, it wasn’t there when I was home,” Henry mumbled.

He pulled into the driveway and I craned my neck to see the porch.


He parked the car in the driveway and Chooch took his good old time getting out of the backseat so I ran around the front of the car, practically knocking Henry back into the drivers seat, and raced up the driveway. I yanked the screen door open to see if my package was laying in between the doors BUT IT WASN’T.

Henry had caught up with me by then and as he was unlocking the door, I was on the cusp of tears.


“It’s not here!” Henry insisted as I pushed my way into the house and ran around wildly.

He’s right, I thought as I looked at the package-less coffee table. It didn’t come. SOMEONE STOLE IT!!

I was eight, thirteen, nineteen, twenty-three, thirty-two all over again and not getting what I wanted for Christmas. I was just about to shriek, “THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER AND I WISH I WAS DEAD!!!!!” when I noticed the MerchNow package resting surreptitiously on a dining room stool.

I snatched it and caught Henry laughing at me. And I started to cry.

“WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?!” I screamed, and my whole body WAS SHAKING because that is how much this shit matters to us kids, ok?

And then I proceeded to rip the package open, smash the Versus beanie on my dumb head, hug the CD, kiss the vinyl, put on my Emarosa shirt, and string up the fox ring on the included chain.




Today is a good day.

No tags for this post.
Sep 052014

I mentioned my love for the Game Show Network several times on this blog recently, but another thing I really loved about the invention of digital cable was all of the music channels! I’m not talking about MTV, et al, but the ones that are like radio stations for TV. You can listen to music while reading random facts about the music you’re listening to.

I mean, that’s how it works nowadays. But back then? It was literally a black screen. It didn’t even tell you the name of the song and the artist you were listening to! Shenanigans. (a/k/a Salem’s best bar.)

One day, this song came on the alternative channel and I was like, “EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND HEAR, I MEAN REALLY HEAR, THIS SONG.” And for once I wasn’t talking to my imaginary friends, because back then, I actually a ton of real life people who were always hanging around my loft. I had no idea who it was singing this haunting song; it didn’t sound like anything that was being played on the radio, which was odd because there was no real underground thing happening on these channels back then. It was seriously all bullshit you would hear on regular radio stations. But this song 100% was not being played on Pittsburgh’s alternative radio station.

I lunged over and hit “record” on my VCR, because this was pre-DVR days, my friends. I literally recorded a blank TV screen onto a VHS tape, just so I could later record that onto a cassette tape too. I was real tech-savvy in 1998.

Now that I had it recorded, I decided to call the local alternative station and do this: “If I play a song for you, can you tell me who sings it?” This worked once for me, when I first became transfixed and heart-eyed by Huffamoose’s hit single “Wait.” The DJ knew immediately who it was, flaunting his credentials and probably blowing on his finger tips as soon as he hung up the phone.

So I tried this tactic and the DJ was like, “I have no idea. Sorry.”

I waited for the next DJ’s shift and made the same call. Still no dice.

And I kept doing this for days until I exhausted all of my options. I was really big into videotaping every mundane thing I did back then, and I can tell you for a fact that I have legit video of my friends making these calls for me, too. One night, we just went around the room, taking turns calling the same DJ who fucking FLIPPED OUT finally and screamed, “I TOLD YOU I DON’T FUCKING KNOW WHO SINGS THIS STUPID SONG!”

You might say that this was the title track to Erin’s Summer of 1998.

I would play it over and over again in my car. I didn’t even care that the beginning was cut off. My friend Heather, who was basically living with me at the time, would subconsciously hum this song while half asleep on my couch. Some of my guy friends would threaten to pull the mix tape apart if I didn’t stop listening to it.

WE WERE ALL HAUNTED BY THIS FUCKING SONG. Friendships were ruined. Sanity was snapped. Local radio DJs were angered. That’s why I slept with so many guys that summer, Henry. It was the song making me do it. Really.

That fall, I met and began dating Jeff; even then I was still listening to The Song in the car, not as obsessively, but it was on several mix tapes. So this fucking song at some point had wormed its way into Jeff’s ears and set up camp in his brain, just as it had every sorry mother fucker that came to my apartment that summer. Flash forward to that spring, and we’re hanging out in my apartment (a different one at this point), and Jeff casually says, “Hey, that band you like was on [some late night show] last night.”

“Which band?” I asked, because hello. There are many.

“Guster,” he answered, and then looked confused when I said I didn’t know any band named Guster.

“Oh my god, are you fucking kidding me? You listen to that damn airport song all the fucking time!” he cried. And then it hit me. The airport song. The song I obsessed over that ended with the line “You’ll be selling books at the airport.”

Jeff unknowingly cracked the fucking code. And yet I still I fucking dumped him. Sorry, Jeff.

I went out and bought their CD immediately. But…I never actually became a Guster fan. I only just liked that one song. The fucking Airport Song. (That’s actually the name of it, too!”

So today, I am going to share this goddamn song with you, because it practically ruined my life and you should know that.

I recently posted this video on Heather’s Facebook wall and she was like, “Thanks. I hate you.”


No tags for this post.
%d bloggers like this: