Oct 222020
 

My music tastes aren’t as seasonal as they once were (let’s be real: I’m Kpop nearly 24:7 these days); however: fall really tugs the nostalgia strings in my brain and I start craving certain bands/songs. Tonight, during my late shift I succumbed and put on some Balance & Composure. The way my body reacted was insane, like having a bucket of hot emotions poured on my head. Wooo boy the tears were sprung but it felt good.

Anyway, let’s relax a little, burn our tongues on some hot apple cider, sniff some pumpkin candles, etc. blah yadda. Here are some songs I like to achieve these vibes and maybe you will them too.

It has sadly been 4 years (right after the last election, to be exact, it was somber) since I’ve seen Balance and Composure and then they broke up soon after. Anyway, every time I saw them live it was BIG WARM FEELS man like an infinity scarf pulled over my face by a high school crush.

Love this band so much, but now I wish I was on my way to a haunted hayride while this is coming out of my car speakers. </3

(P.S. I was wrong! The last time I saw them was May 2017! You really care!)

Black Queen makes me want to walk around empty city streets in the middle of an October night with some hot goth I met on Darkchat and obviously this is 1999 because I am so totally devoted to Henry you guys come on this is not a Today Fantasy.

Exile is my favorite Gary Numan album ever and one time when I lived alone in the late 90s, I fell asleep with it on repeat and had some of the most wicked, vivid nightmares that I still think about to this day.

I was home alone the other night and played this in the kitchen with the lights out and yes, still has the same hair-raising effect on me and I fucking LOVE IT.

PVRIS is such a mood. As soon as a chill hits the air, I’m ready to crunch some crispy leaves in the cemetery with PVRIS as my soundtrack. The synth, the alt-goth aesthetic, the LYNN GUNN. Their old albums bring back memories of Ex-BFF so sometimes when I need to have that “swishing a cavity with bourbon” feeling in my heart, this is the fo-sho go-to.

I used to put this song on every mix CD I made back in the early 2000s and I just recently felt inspired to cue it up – yep, I’m ready to go on a lite night drive with foggy windows IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Chino Moreno and Mike Patton with some Goblin-esque elements simpering in the background, how can you go wrong?

(Speaking of Goblin, that will be my next kitchen LED light show tune, I think.)

***

OK, well now that tonight’s debate is over, I think I need to throw these jamz on a playlist and go take a bath in the dark. Happy fall y’all (wow, I really just said that out loud as I typed it, do I have to throw a wreath on my front door now?).

Oct 202020
 

Hola mi amigos, says the girl who had 3/4 of a year of Spanish in 12th grade.

It occurred to me recently that the 20th anniversary of meeting the Cure was on the horizon and I was like, “yay another reason to post the best picture ever taken of me!” and then of course the ACTUAL anniversary was yesterday and I forgot to post it so I dunno, pretend it’s still Monday. Also, apologies to anyone who already saw this on Instagram but 20 years is a big one and I wanted to commemorate that here too. (“It’s my blog, blah blah blah…”)

Most people in my life have heard this story so many times that it’s basically turned into my Big Kahuna moment but to summarize: in October 2000, I got on several planes and flew, alone, to Canberra, Australia to see The Cure perform the last leg of what Robert Smith swore was going to be their last tour ever. Now, I had never had the chance to see them before and they were (still are) my favorite band. They had recently toured the US but didn’t come to Pittsburgh and I had just started a new job, which meant I didn’t have vacation time yet. But when they announced the Australian tour several months later, my office mate, the one who was also in charge of payroll, was like, “You go to Australia and don’t worry about it – you’re getting a paycheck.” I mean, everyone at that job knew I was batshit for The Cure, so this kind of a big deal for them that I was doing this!

Super summary: I get to Canberra and start calling local radio stations, telling anyone who will listen that I’m some rando 21-year-old broad from America who is obsessed with The Cure, and oh won’t someone help me meet them? The alternative radio station played me on the radio – they thought it was really awesome that my love was that insane intense that I would fly thousands of miles on my own to see them. They wanted to give me a ticket to the show but I already had that, at least. They took down my number at the hotel just in case something changed. A day before the concert, they called me and asked if they could record the call. I was like, “Sure,” thinking they were just going to ask me what my favorite Cure album was again, stuff like that, filler for commercial breaks. But no, they wanted to tell me that they had someone on the line who wanted to talk to me…no, it wasn’t Robert Smith, but it almost as good: it was a local guy who had won a meet & greet that the station had held a week before, and when he heard me on the radio, he thought that I deserved to meet The Cure much more than he did, and wanted to transfer his pass onto me.

CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THERE ARE REALLY ANGELS ON EARTH?

So that’s how I found myself in the same room as Robert Smith, the man whose voice and words had buoyed me through countless bouts of depression and also soundtracked some of the happiest, manic moments of my life, too.

I actually have a video of this meeting but it needs converted from 8mm so check back another time, I guess.

MEANWHILE, and this is actually my favorite part that I think about A LOT, back in Pittsburgh: Henry was starting a new job at the same place I also worked. His initial impression of me when shown my empty desk was that I was some crazy girl who ran off to Australia to see some band.

Then I came back, we became work frenemies (lol—because that’s how I flirt) and then a year later we started dating. So not only is it the 20 year anniversary of meeting The Cure, but it’s the 20th anniversary of knowing Henry. And honestly, I haven’t changed one bit because I’m still obsessed with everything and NEEDING to travel for concerts (obviously not currently though, sigh), only now I’m dragging him along with me. You can’t say he wasn’t warned!

Literally no one thought we’d stay together this long, yet here we are.

Oh and The Cure IS STILL TOURING.I have seen them five more times since Canberra (zero times in Pittsburgh though!) and four of those times were with Henry. God bless him, he’s traveled to California (Coachella), Cleveland (Curiosa), Chicago (Riot Fest), and Columbia, Maryland to see them with me.

I made this for him several years ago and have definitely (bluffingly) thrown it in the garbage can during fights but he always takes it back out. I guess he’s a pretty good guy, but don’t tell him I said that.

(SIDE NOTE: I’m sitting here cracking up thinking about who I was as a person back then, like for instance how I called my job several times from my hotel room – COLLECT – so I could keep them updated on what was happening* and all the guys would pass the phone around in the breakroom saying, “it’s the girl! calling from Australia! the girl!” And if Henry was there when that was happening, was he thinking “who the fuck IS this girl!?”)

*(What? Social media didn’t exist yet!)

Oct 142020
 

Sometimes I like to use the calendar feature on my blog to see what I was doing around this time in the past and then I sigh and say, “Wow, remember I hung out with friends?” (But honestly, was it really a pandemic that changed that lol.)

Apparently, five years ago, I was using my annual pie party as an excuse to show off my beloved succulents, because that’s a thing that normal people do…Every single one of them are DEAD NOW. I especially mourn Jonny Maplebitch. :(

***

At some point on Saturday, in between gluing sequins on my Pie Party sign and shadow dancing around Baker Henry in the kitchen, I had the greatest idea of all time. I was upstairs when it came to me, and so I screamed for Henry to hurry his ass up to our room. He loves when I do that because sometimes it’s an actual emergency just often enough for him to fall for it every time.

“What?!” he asked, panting and mildly concerned.

“Greatest idea ever,” I began, and he immediately regretted falling victim to my wolf cries. “In addition to the pie party….SUCCULENT MEET N’ GREET.” I paused for a beat, smiling and waiting for him to crumble to the floor under the weight of my brilliance.

Instead, he just stood there, arms akimbo, that patronizing smirk plastered across his dumb bearded face.

Good thing I’ve never been one to look to my BEAU for validation. Speaking of BEAU, Bo Brady probably would have supported Hope in her decision to have a succulent meet n greet.

No, you’re right. That’s definitely false. Bo thought Hope was silly and frivolous. Oh, until she was about to marry LARRY WELCH, that is.

(OMG remember when Henry was my Bo Brady?)

Later that night, we were getting ready for bed and I was still yammering on about my succulent meet n’ greet. “This is just really exciting, I’m really excited about this, and I think it’s just full of excitement, so much excite,” the words spewing out in an auctioneer’s cadence. Henry must have been delirious from baking all day and night, because he just stared at me with an amused look on his face, and that is unlike him. The looks he gives me are typically basted with disgust, contempt, and frustration. Occasionally rage, but Henry is pretty laid back so one must really give him a series of forceful shoves for the anger to really shine through.

“They’ve never gone anywhere before!” I reminded Henry.

“Well, they’re plants, so….” he muttered.

Sunday morning, while Henry was filling the car with unnecessary, boring items like forks and plates, I was carefully considering which of my succulents to bring with us. I couldn’t bring some of my faves, like Bae and Panne and Suzy Banyon, because their pots are too fragile and breakable.

“I really want to bring Johnny Maplebitch with us, but I’m worried because there will be kids there…” I murmured mostly to myself, staring at that beautiful beast on my coffee table.

“Well, you could change his name for the day,” Chooch suggested. “Like, maybe….Johnny Mapledick?” he shrugged, completely serious about this.

“Yeah, good one, Chooch,” Henry sighed, stomping past us with more unessential pie party things, like pie.

I ended up bringing him in the end, because I don’t believe in succulent censorship.

I placed them all gently inside a carrying case while Henry was wasting time rounding up the beverage and making sure Chooch was dressed and not in danger. A little help would have been nice, but knowing Henry and his meathands, he probably would have just jammed my babes into the car all recklessly, like they’re not his real children.

Of course they’re not.

They’re the Devil’s.

I lined all of the picnic tables in the pavilion with craft paper and then had all of the succulents introduce themselves and say a little thing about pie. Because it was a pie party.

I TIE THINGS TOGETHER. It’s what I do.

IMG_9647

Chris and Monica asked me what vasterbotten pie is and I shrugged. “I’unno. I just googled ‘swedish pies’ and then didn’t get much farther than that.” So then Chris googled it and actually read about vasterbotten, and now we’re obsessed with vasterbotten pie because it’s basically just cooked Swedish cheese and I hope that Chris and Monica are currently reorganizing their wedding menu as I type this.

Henry always rolls his eyes when I bring up Phil Angie.

Leopold is the succulent I found in Savannah! I brought him so it was like having Octavia there in spirit. <3

And I had to bring Stefano so Monica could meet him in person, since she is the one who named him. (Also, two Days of Our Lives references in one blog post! And I haven’t even watched Days since 2005! <—sadly.)

Bambi had to give a shout-out to her favorite show, Twin Peaks. HOLLA.

I named this one after my favorite gymnastics coach of all time, BELA KAROLYI. He was happy to bring some Romanian flavor to the party. Isn’t he handsome?

 

Henry frowned at this one.

Some people seemed very eager to meet the succulents! Other people were like, “Why.” Henry was like, “This is why you don’t have friends.”

Anyway, if you couldn’t be there on Sunday, I hope you enjoyed this virtual meet and greet!

May 202020
 

Remember a few years ago when I suddenly discovered that I loved plants and then before you knew it, my house was full of them and they all had names like Bambi Sickafoose, Suzy Banyon (props to you if you know where that reference) and Ted NUDEgent and my favorite past time was going to Goodwill in search of mugs and things that could be turned into plant vessels? And then we got Drew and Penelope and one by one all of my plants ended up on the floor, in a heap of dirt and ceramic shards? And then eventually I just gave up and stopped buying plants?

Well, I decided that I needed to obsess over something during Pandemic Times, aside from books and Korea and exercise, so I’m back in the plant game, I guess. Henry bought me some at Lowe’s over the weekend and then I sat on the porch steps, dictating to him which pots to plant each baby in.

Henry’s grandkids who live next door, Calvin and Lily, were standing at their window while this was going on so I had fun showing them each plant as it was potted, and they oohed and aaahed and then told me to show their cat, Ham, too, who looked way less enthused than they did.

Social distancing sucks, but at least we can talk to them through the window I guess? So they don’t forget us?

I don’t think I will name these ones because I get too sad when they die. I do still have some that survived my first plant-pregnancy (??) from 2015, if you can believe that, like the aforementioned Ted NUDEgent, a jade plant that actually grew so much that I had to split him up into three pots, that growing bastard.

Oh shit, if you click on that link up there, the cactus in the picture under Ted NUDEgent is also still alive! He lives in Chooch’s room, and he has split into four thingies and kind of is slumped over but I don’t want to touch him so I don’t know how to fix him??


I always have to have something to obsess over. I have a very obsessive personality. I AM OBSESSION.

I love these ones so much!! I have one that Henry and Chooch got me for Mother’s Day a few years ago that is still alive. SEE NEXT PICTURE.

These guys (Lithops) are so interesting because they look like they’re about to die but really they’re just splitting apart for a new growth to come out, so fucking sick. They’re pretty low maintenance too.

Hanging plants never do well for me but we’re giving it a go again because I like having hanging plants in my room, I promise to try hard to keep it alive.

Here you can see the OG Ted NUDEgent, second on the left, and his two…ribs (?) over on the right. Also, that first one is something called a goldfish plant which I have had for several years and I thought it was dying for a while but then all of a sudden (KAPCHUGGI) it was like, “SIKE, MOTHERFUCKER” and then changed colors. So that was cool. I got it from some cute nursery that had a wild selection of something called fairy plants and for a split second I was like, “Hey let’s go to—-oh, never mind” because I’m sure it’s not open and even if it is, I’m still not up to going to into stores and things of that nature because I really don’t have a pressing need to. Henry is the sole shopper in our household during quarantine, even though our area has been downgraded to level “yellow.” I will just continue to stay put until further notice.

(Even though Target has been calling my name for months. I miss you, baby. We’ll see each other again, eventually.)

Anyway, I used to be really into photographing my plants so maybe I will start doing that again too, because HOBBIES.

Editor’s Note: As I was getting ready to publish this, I was scrolling through the categories because I could have sworn I had one for “plants” but surprisingly I don’t. Although I just found out that I have one for POLENTA?! Literally at one time in my life, I assumed that I was going to write about polenta enough to actually need to make a category for it. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, PAST ERIN. 

Anyway, I have a “plant” category now. Phew. Now all of my plant posts can live together harmoniously.

****

Bonus plant reading:

Plantsapalooza

Apr 132020
 

Easter is my second favorite holiday (second only to HALLOWEEN, of course) so I was determined to still make it a memorable one even though we’re stuck at home. Now, we’re not religious people, so not being able to go to church wasn’t an issue, and we never celebrate Easter with extended family, so the inability to have a big family dinner wasn’t making us shed any tears either. 

For this particular Easter, we had planned to be at Efteling Park in the Netherlands, so any back-up plan I came up with was going to pale in comparison. Yet somehow, it ended up being one of the nicest Easters ever!

Chooch kept saying that he didn’t want anything, didn’t care if he didn’t get a basket, but all he REALLY WANTED was for us to hide eggs for him. I really think he’s going to grow up plagued by the Peter Pan syndrome that he undoubtedly inherited from me. I kept saying, “NO WE ARE NOT DOING THAT YOU ARE TOO OLD, GROW UP. THE EASTER BUNNY ISN’T REAL” and I guess he really believed that we weren’t doing anything because he originally woke up at 8:30 and then said, “I’m going back to bed, wake me up at 9:30 I guess.” I was so mad because I woke up early and raced against the clock to hide the fucking eggs for that little bitch-kid. 

When he finally woke up and went into the bathroom, he was met with Doll and an egg, so he knew that it was going to be an alright day, lol.

(He is REALLY BAD at finding eggs though. Or else I’m really good at hiding them. But one was literally inside a book, so it was like wide open.)

We got him a basket too because come on, what kind of shitty parents do you take us for? IT’S EASTER FOR GOD’S SAKE. He didn’t know that he was getting one so it just sat in its hiding spot all morning until I finally couldn’t take it any longer and exclaimed, “OH WOW, WHAT IS THAT.” 

I LOVED getting an Easter basket. I still like white chocolate to this day because it reminds of me the white chocolate lambs and bunnies with the blue or pink candy eyes that my mom would always tuck in there among the jelly beans (which I didn’t like) and the Sarris chocolate eggs, and OF COURSE THE TOYS, HELLO. For most of the Easters during the elementary school years, I got a new My Little Pony. I LOVED My Little Ponies (the new ones are dumb) so I always looked forward to seeing which one I was going to get. 

Knowing me and my warped memory, this probably only happened on one Easter, lol.

I also associate Easter with springtime and baseball (loved baseball as a kid, neutral about it as an adult) and wearing pretty dresses to church and having a casual Easter dinner at my Pappap’s house. 

I try to make sure that we’re always doing something for Easter, whether it’s traveling for a concert (we saw Emarosa in Lancaster, PA one year on Easter and it was a really nice weekend), being in KOREA, inviting friends over for a Pizza Party for Jesus Christ, or just having a family dinner at a Chinese restaurant. This year, I wanted to have the Inkigayo sandwiches again like we did last year, because I think this could be a new tradition for us. 

And you know how I love a fucking tradition.

Chooch the Baker wanted to make a carrot cake for Easter, so that turned into a Battle Royale between him and Henry in the kitchen while I sat out here and read a book and watched YouTube videos about reading books and finding books to request on Libby and exercising. 

I mean, his cake decorating needs practice, but the cake itself was A REAL GODDAMN DELIGHT. And he cut back the confectioners sugar big time in the frosting and it was such a good call, because it was perfect. I don’t like super sweet frosting, especially cream cheese frosting, so Chooch got a big thumbs up from me on this one.

Henry probably would have ruined it.

The weather was  nice on Sunday so we were able to comfortably eat on the back porch and it was a Big Time Spring Mood. I could not have been happier!

Inkigayo sandwiches and kimbap, a Korean Easter picnic! Henry forgot to buy banana uyoo so it wasn’t perfect but I’ll let it slide this time, I guess. 

We’re all big fans of the famous Inkigayo sandwiches here in the Oh Honestly household. I highly recommend them! The convenience stores in South Korea all sell variations of these sandwiches and I happily devoured them when we were there. One of them had a limited edition blueberry edition! IT WAS THE BEST ONE!

We were probably making fun of Henry’s mouth-sounds here.

I’ve rambled about this sandwich on here before but a quick summary: There is a weekly music show in Korea called Inkigayo and legend has it that the cafeteria in their studio makes these tri-layered sandwiches and the kpop idols go nuts over them. Of course, regular civilians cannot go to this cafeteria to get an authentic one, but there are numerous variations of the recipe online. 

Yes, that’s strawberry jam in the middle, surrounded by an egg & potato salad (there’s also crab in this layer but Henry omits it for us vegetarians) and a cabbage salad that includes corn and apple. It sounds hideous, but it is SO STUPIDLY DELICIOUS. And filling. I split mine with Henry, and Chooch saved his second half for today’s lunch.

Drank my coffee from my Lotte World mug to keep it extra Korean. 

(I know it’s obvious, but my heart breaks more and more each day I’m not in Korea. Sorry if I’m annoying, but this is who I am.)

The Inkigayo (or EASTERgayo, as I lovingly call it on Easter) is a two-handed affair.

You guys. Chooch’s carrot cake. Fuck yes. The best thing to come out of this quarantine (for my family, anyway) is Chooch’s blossoming interest in Kitchen Times. 

Easter, After Hours.

Really, I think this will go down as one of the best Easters. It was so casual, laid back, lots of laughing (on my part), lots of Kitchen Feuding (on Henry and Chooch’s parts, also the catalyst for my “lots of laughing”), and it made me appreciate even more that although these are scary and strange times, at least I’m going through them with Chooch and Henry and we’re still, somehow, having fun. <3

Jan 162020
 

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

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

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

But then I had an idea!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

OMG I NEED AN ACTUAL COFFIN!

Jan 122020
 

What’s up, Diva cups, I’m checking in on this cozy Sunday night to regale you with another non compos cards  Valentine commercial!

The Cure is my all-time favorite band, as in: cash in your savings account and fly to Australia to see them after they hastily announce that they’re not going to tour again after that but that was in 2000 and you have since seen them like 6 more times because Robert Smith lied but that’s ok!

True to form, this is a cringefest so get your groans ready.

The set contains 16 different mini-cards, just like the kinds we used to pass out in elementary school except much cooler because, you know, The Cure.

Henry was like I DON’T GET IT and I’ll tell you why – it’s because he’s not actually a “fan” of The Cure.

This set is now available in my shop and I am so happy about it! Part of me wants to track down all my old friends from the long defunct chatroom I used to frequent in 1998/1999 called Darkchat and send them all one of these cards (and by frequent I do mean I used to stay up until like 5am private messaging with all of my goth paramours). God, those were the days! Now when I tell people that The Cure is my favorite band, the general response, “I don’t know who that is.” Well, just break my goddamn heart.

I think this set goes wonderfully with all the serial killer ones, the vintage porn star collection, the Golden Girls series and of course all the Kpop varieties in my Hello Hanguk shop too! I’ll repost all of those ones throughout the week in case you missed them last year. I love Valentines so much!

Interested in purchasing a set of The Cure valentines for all the lovecats in your life? Click right here!

Jan 042020
 

Hi hello 안녕. I waited a full day before posting about this otherwise it would be all in CAPS and a grammatical garbage dump, even more than usual. 

But let me walk you through a thing here.

Thursday night, I was getting ready for bed and checking twitter like I normally do after my shitty Duolingo Korean lesson, when I saw that this one vlogger I follow, JRE, tweeted that BIGBANG was playing Coachella.

Now, at first I scoff-laughed and figured he was just tweeting his hopes and dreams. But then I was like, “But…what if…” so I went to Coachella’s Instagram…

and…

Image result for coachella 2020

마이

갓.

오 마이 갓오 마이 갓오 마이 갓오 마이 갓오 마이 갓오 마이 갓오 마이 갓!!!!

“HENRY,” I said sternly, standing above him as he lay in bed, which is his absolute favorite thing ever, playing the, “Does she have a knife or not” game.

And then I just fucking started screaming and he was like, “WHATTTT??” and then grabbed his phone. Once he confirmed it was true, he started looking up Coachella tickets (first weekend is already sold out) but I was like, “Look, we’re not going, and it’s ok.”

BIGBANG is my fucking ULT, and while I would love to see them live, I just…don’t want it to be at Coachella. I hate even saying the name of that damn festival. We went to Coachella in 2004 to see The Cure and it was quite literally the worst music festival I’ve ever gone to, and I don’t want to sully the first time ever seeing BIGBANG by being surrounded with thousands of starfuckers in the weed-scented desert. Not gonna happen. Also, you know the guy behind Coachella is just the absolute, right? Like, Greenpeace has his name on a list and it’s not a Nice List.

But also, this just happens to be the same time we’re planning a spring break vacation so we potentially won’t even be in the country.

Now let me tell you why I’m so excited about this. BIGBANG has been on hiatus since the beginning of 2017, when one-by-one the members entered the military for their mandatory service. Time away could be the kiss of death in the kpop scene, which is notorious for being extremely fast-paced, which groups having multiple “comebacks” a year. And then their youngest member, Seungri, became mired in a “scandal” at the beginning of 2019, and the investigation has delayed his military enlistment. Regardless of whether he has actually done the things he’s been accused of (I believe he didn’t), the Korean media has pretty much smeared his name into the ground enough that he officially “retired” from the industry and was released from his contract.

The last year has been straight terrible for BIGBANG fans, and even with the release of the other 4 from the military at the end of 2019 (T.O.P. was released in July), it really felt like this was it, that they were just done as a group. But then this Coachella announcement came out of nowhere and VIPs are fucking foaming at the mouth right now, me included. BIGBANG IS COMING BACK! And if they’re coming to Coachella, maybe that means they will do a proper US tour (Blackpink did last year) and that we could possibly GET NEW MUSIC?! G-Dragon, save us from this boring fucking music industry!! All the end-of-the-year Korean music stages have been soooo lackluster without BIGBANG.

Even if nothing happened last year with Seungri, he would be in the military right now and wouldn’t be able to perform them anyway, so I really feel like they had always planned to do something as a 4-piece while waiting for him in order to keep relevant. So….I will hold on to the hope that once his investigation is officially over and he completes his military service, he will be able to rejoin BIGBANG and all will be right again.

And for anyone who is like, “But why not BTS?!” Please understand that BIGBANG is on a whole other level. They transcend “kpop.” They are rough, edgy, musical powerhouses who get on a stage and whip it into submission. I put on loops of their live performances when I need cheering up and it never fails to entertain me, no matter how many times I have watched. They are INSANE and I hope those who do attend Coachella realize how lucky they are to stand before actual Korean gods.

I texted my friend Jiyong yesterday morning and told her.

“Bigbang? OUR BIGBANG?” she responded, and it made me feel important, to have something with her that’s an “our,” lol. When I met with her today for our weekly “Watch Erin Struggle To Speak Korean” session, we excitedly speculated over what this could mean for BIGBANG’s future. Please lord almighty don’t let this be a one-and-done farewell type scenario.

Also, for the people who are like, “Kpop groups don’t sing,” please acquaint yourselves with the legendary BIGBANG:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over here watching BIGBANG Youtube while waving my BIGBANG light stick in Henry’s face. I mean, it’s Saturday night after all.

OMFG BIGBANGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!

Dec 292019
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obligatory selfie.

Obligatory selfie part 2.

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

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

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

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

Nov 292019
 

Every time I sit down to write about this night, I drift off to my own version of La La Land that’s located on a soft, velvet cloud floating right above Seoul. I told Chooch to make sure I actually get it done this morning for real though because we’re going on two weeks now but don’t worry, it’s not like I forgot anything — I watch YouTube videos from the show every single day.

I’ve made Henry watch them.

And Janna.

And my mom.

I tried to get Chooch to make Blake watch them too but I don’t know if that ever happened. I figured it would be a nice change from Boss Baby, which Calvin makes Blake put on 24:7, apparently.

The concert was at EagleBank Arena, which was George Mason University’s basketball arena. It was a nice mid-size venue and I was cool with that because the other closest show we could have attended was at Madison Square Garden, and I didn’t want to deal with a concert of that magnitude. (Also, please note that SuperM is the first Kpop group to ever play at MSG aside from KCON, which is an entire convention! Usually kpop groups play Newark for their “NYC” date.)

Speaking of, the first night of their tour was in Ft. Worth, but the members kept calling it Dallas throughout the night and some asshole sports writer who was probably just surly because he was assigned the show to review, wrote this totally curmudgeony piece berating them for “insulting” Ft. Worth, flailing on stage trying to stay in sync (dancing, I think that’s called?), and not having a backing band (hello, most kpop groups do not bring bands on tour with them; yes, G-Dragon and BIGBANG do, but certainly not a brand new group who basically had a whirlwind tour thrown together seemingly last minute and real kpop fans aren’t going to concerts to hear the music stylized by a live band – we’re there to see our idols sing and dance, so HUSH YOUR BITCH AS MOUTH, SPORTS WRITER). The worst part was then he proceeded to then tweet that kpop is music for thirteen-year-olds, and anyone over the age of 18 who likes it should reconsider their life. Excuse me, sir? I have liked many different genres of music throughout my life and got trashed on by co-workers and friends for every single one, so this was nothing new to me. But it still pissed me off because let people listen to the music they want to listen to! This guy got DRAGGED on twitter by journalists who actually are employed to write about kpop (h/t Jeff Benjamin) and and this guy named Jack Phan, who is a CEO and tech entrepreneur who accidentally went viral a few months ago by asking “What is MOMO?” when he was shocked to see that #momo was trending at #1 and not Apple. 

Look, I have seen bands tweet about coming to Pittsburgh and half the time, they spell it without the “h,” or when we see shows 45 minutes away at our outdoor pavilion concert venue which is closer to West Virginia at that point than Pittsburgh, bands still say “WHAT’S UP PITTSBURGH” and NO ONE CORRECTS THEM BY SAYING, “Sorry, Marilyn Manson, but this is actually Burgettstown.”

Furthermore, these seven guys are from South Korea and just know that they flew into Dallas/Ft Worth, so lay off.

Jesus, why are middle-aged men SO THREATENED by kpop?!

Anyway, Mark referred to the area as DMV several times (DC/Maryland/Virginia) so nice save, Mark!

Our seats were on the floor and Chooch was like, “Wow, these seats are great!” at the same time I was crying, “WE ARE NOT CLOSE ENOUGH!!”

“You could be in Taemin’s lap and that wouldn’t be close enough for you,” he sighed.

Anyway, the stage had a catwalk with a smaller stage at the end, which that security guy in the yellow shirt is standing next to in the picture above. So anytime the guys were on that part of the stage (which thankfully was a lot!), our view was divine. But when they were on the main stage, we had to rely on the screens at times. Which was fine, I guess. IT WASN’T FINE. I AM NEVER HAPPY.

I brought my Taemin lightstick from his Japan tour! No, I wasn’t at any of the shows, but someone from a Canadian Shawol (SHINee fan club) group was selling an extra one that she had left over from a group order and I was like WHY NOT I MIGHT ACTUALLY NEED IT ONE DAY but never thought I actually would!

Oh, and guess who was sitting next to us?! The older woman who was in line behind us when we were checking in earlier that afternoon! We started talking and she’s actually originally from Pennsylvania and works remotely from a Pittsburgh-based company! What a small world. She is also a huge Taemin stan, so I was in good company. She was wearing a Taemin headband and I had major remorse for not making one, or at least a sign, like I kept saying I was going to do. Why am I so lazy!?

Well, friends, here is the part where I lose my mind, forget that I’m a 40-year-old mom, and become the best version of my 16-year-old self that will never be put to rest because I’m pretty sure that’s when I peaked.

I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to react when they took the stage. I have all kinds of different concert personalities: leaning against a wall in quiet introspection, sitting at the bar being too-cool-for-school, standing in the back with my arms crossed, in the middle trying to dance/jump/something, paralyzed and crying.

When I saw G-Dragon, I was “paralyzed and crying.” Literally just stood there, stunned, mouth agape, staring at the stage in disbelief for two and a half hours.

So I wasn’t sure which Erin was going to be present on this night, until the intro video ended on the screen and SuperM rose onto the stage amidst the fog and flashing lights, and I saw Taemin for the first time in real life and not on a screen. That’s when the rare “FULL-THROTTLE SHRIEKING BANSHEE ERIN” came out. I couldn’t stop it. It just happened. It was like this, “Oh….MY….GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHYWQIOR9328492!!!!!!”

I was a motherfucking mess. Chooch was like, “Here we go” and I’m not being hyperbolic at all when I say this, but he had to grab my arm twice because I was screaming so violently that I was knocking the wind out of myself. That couldn’t have been healthy but ironically I can’t remember when I last felt SO ALIVE.

I managed to avoid (most) setlist spoilers so I didn’t even know that their first song was going to be Can’t Stand the Rain, which is THE JAM. However, right after that, the lights went down and I was like, “OOH WHAT IS GOING TO BE NEXT??”

Taemin’s motherfucking solo, that’s what! I WAS NOT PREPARED. I really didn’t think this was going to happen so soon into the concert! I heard people in line outside saying something about “Sherlock,” which is a SHINee song, so I was confused and thought they meant he was going to perform that on his own, but what actually happened was that he did his debut solo song, “Danger,” with elements of “Sherlock”* – it was so good and the whole time I was blinking back tears and thinking over and over, “Holy shit, I’m watching Taemin dance. That is LEE TAEMIN dancing a few hundred feet away from me. How did I get so lucky?!”

*(Some parts of “Sherlock” were swirled into “Danger” and it was brilliant, really.)

And then the next song he did was “Goodbye,” and that choreo is legendary. I did cry for this one. Like, full-on scrunched up my face and let the eye water run like a faucet. Oh, I was a mess.

Here is a good video of it:

After that, Taeyong came out and performed his brand new unreleased sole “GTA.” Like I said, I did a pretty good job staying ignorant to the set list so I had no idea that new songs were prepared for this tour, so I was excited to hear them for the first time since I avoided it all on Instagram and YouTube!

Next, Mark, Taeyong, Ten, Baekhyun, and Taemin came together for “Super Car” which features Taemin’s legendary “vrooom”:

I COULDN’T STOP SCREAMING MY FACE OFF.

Next, Ten graced us with his effortless dancing when he performed his two solos, “Dream in a Dream” and “New Heroes.” I yelled, “I LOVE THIS SONG!!!!” at Chooch’s bleeding ear when “New Heroes” began. Honestly, even if Taemin wasn’t in SuperM, the chance to see TEN would have had me tossing my wallet into the sky and dancing beneath the raining credit cards with wanton abandon.

This one is actually my video:

Next, we had Chooch’s highlight of the night, Lucas’s unreleased solo “Bass Go Boom,” which was adorable and entertaining (I only know Lucas from NCT reality show-type videos on YouTube so I don’t have a very good feel for him as a performer – this was a really good showcase for him!), and then Baekhyun came out with “Betcha” and “UN Village,” which I love and the whole time I was thinking, “Wow, this is really Baekhyun.” I have never seen EXO and at this point, I’m starting to think I’m never going to now that a bunch of them are in the military and for some reason, SM Entertainment likes to deprive America of their artists.

I’ve said it hundreds of times, but I think EXO deserves more attention and accolades than BTS, the group they are always pitted against. Seriously, those two fan bases harbor extreme feelings of hatred for each other, it’s chaos.

Afterward, the whole group reconvened and hit us with an acapella intro to their new song, “Dangerous Woman,” which I am desperate for them to record and release because I think it’s my new favorite SuperM song!? Also, that dick-noodle sports writer who said SuperM lipsynched through the whole concert can suck a dick, because they were clearly singing. Granted, I will admit that there are times where they rely on the backing track but that’s because they’re busy dancing their fucking faces off. We made Janna watch one of their videos and she was like, “Whoa, look how sweaty they are!” YES JANNA IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE WORKING HARD TO GIVE US THEIR ABSOLUTE BEST BECAUSE THAT’S HOW DEDICATED THEY ARE TO THEIR ART, GOD!

This song is EVERYTHING to me. Watching Taemin sing so joyfully, so close to us, it just sent me over the edge. I had the vapors. Pass me my fainting couch, thanks.

Next was 2 Fast, and then Ten and Taeyong performed their NCT U duet, “Baby Don’t Stop,” which I totally called months ago when this tour was announced! The one thing I also called that I’m really shocked didn’t happen and really think SM slept on a golden opportunity, was to have Taemin perform “Pretty Boy,” one of his solos which features Kai! WHY, SM?!!?

Mark got to take the stage next with his brand new solo “Talk About” and Chooch went nuts because Mark is his bias. Mark is so talented! SM had him in every NCT subunit and there was this joke when it was announced that there would be a Chinese unit that they asked Mark to say hello in Mandarin, and that was enough for them to put him in WayV, lol. Shockingly though he’s not actually in WayV!

Kai also got a brand new solo to perform, “Confession,” and when he coyly lifted his shirt at one point, I was like, “OH DAMN HENRY IS REALLY MISSING OUT!” I did get a short clip to send him though and he was like, “Wow, thanks” afterward. He won’t own up to the fact that Kai is his bias but I think it’s cute because TAEMIN AND KAI ARE BFFs.

“No Manners” was next and I died because they performed this on our part of the stage and prior to the concert, it was my favorite song on the SuperM release!

AGAIN, CAN I PAUSE TO SCREAM MY FAT FACE OFF???

Ugh, these boys! My heart! They have it! They took it back to Korea! OH WELL, GUESS I’LL HAVE TO GO BACK AND FETCH IT.

Another new song was next, they were really blessing us hard with the new-new. This one was called “With You” and it was so uplifting and light-hearted! During this song, they each had a basket full of balls that they were tossing out into the crowd and I wanted one SO HARD. Here’s Chooch’s instavid of this song and it’s hilarious how fast he put his phone away once he realized it was the FREE SHIT portion of the night:

WHEN TAEMIN DOES THAT CUTE HIP SWIVEL OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.

Breathe, Erin. You can do this. You made it this far! One more song!

The finale of the show was obviously a performance of their big single, “Jopping,” which I will admit I wasn’t SUPER BLOWN AWAY WITH when I first heard it but goddamn if that song didn’t grow on me faster than the 11th toe I picked up from that one time I accidentally dipped my foot into the Trump supporter gene pool.

This isn’t the greatest, but here’s someone’s recording of the big screen during “Jopping.” I just can’t enough of this choreo….and Taemin in those plaid pants. There was this girl who came over before the show started to talk to the girl next to my new friend and she had recreated his outfit from this song sooooo perfectly. I complimented her on it and in hindsight I wish I had asked to take a picture of her because it was pretty impressive.

That’s some dedication!

And that was it – an hour and a half of pure Korean bliss. My whole body was buzzing and Chooch and I were smiling so big by the time we met up with Henry at the car that we probably looked like our faces were splitting. I can only imagine how deranged we looked!

I wish that I had been able to also go to the NYC show,  or that any of the shows on their second leg of the tour were close enough for me to attend. I would just get cheap seats! I don’t care! I just want to be there again! I heard that they slipped during the NYC show and said something about seeing us again in the spring….so maybe there’s hope after all?!

Oh my motherfucking sweetly-spanked Mussolini, I can’t believe that I saw Lee Taemin. I saw him in real life, his precious angel baby face, and I heard his smoky vocals and saw him dance like the devil himself had stepped into his body. Holy fucking shit, I will never stop being grateful of this moment in my life.

“I was trying to get Taemin to wave to me just so I could say ‘haha Taemin waved to me and not you,'” Chooch said at one point on the way home and I was like fuck off, nerd alert.

****

We were supposed to spend the night in Fairfax and hang out in DC the next day, but dumb Chooch told us a few days earlier that he had PSATs on Monday and that nerd was actually crestfallen when I reminded him  that we weren’t going to be home, so that is why we ended up canceling the hotel, making a quick stop at the local Fairfax H-Mart for makgeolli and other Korean goods, and then driving straight home through the night.

Henry ended up going to work that next day, but I kept my day off and spent it lying around wistfully with an arm slung across my forehead, watching videos from the concert and sobbing to the point where I had to take my contacts out. It was a bad scene.

Then Chooch came home from school and screamed, “OMG THE PSATs WAS THREE HOURS LONG! IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!”

Get the fuck out of here.

No really, you can go now. Until next time!

Nov 262019
 

After lunch, I wanted to go back to the George Mason campus so we could walk around and digest which really just means I wanted to burn off all the nervous energy I had coiled around every last muscle in my body. YES EVEN MY TONGUE, YOU DON’T KNOW.

We were creeping near the basketball stadium where the concert was being held because we saw all the tour trucks. Look, I’m sure motherfucking Lee Taemin was not skulking around the loading dock, hauling amps out of the backs of the trucks, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW – maybe he wanted to step outside and breathe in the basic Virginia air!? Chooch got a bit too brave and one of the security guards was like YOU CAN’T CROSS OVER HERE YOU GOTTA GO AROUND and Chooch was like, “yeah, I knew that, I wasn’t trying to do anything funny MY MOM MADE ME DO IT I’M FUCKING SORRY OK.”

Whatever, there were gaggles of girls standing across the street being just as creepy as us, but at least they’re in the proper demographic I guess.

We had to walk over to this one pond—I guess it was like the “centerpiece” of the campus—just because there was duck floating in it. Just the one. But Chooch has to talk to any duck he sees, so there was no way around it.

Somewhere by the pond, Chooch found a stick and wtf is it with boys and their constant need for walking sticks!? Like, when does he outgrow it? I guess never because don’t grown men like sticks too!? Anyway, he was annoying me so badly with this jackass stick that when he eventually dropped it (this part is always inevitable) and it started to bounce down a set of steps, I raced him to it, got there first, and stomped on it with my foot.

The sound of splintering wood was so satisfying!

Would you believe me if I told you he made himself cry over this? Probably. You know he’s my son, after all.

He wanted to buy glue so he could repair it, LOL I love doing mean things to Chooch. I MEAN, LIGHT-HEARTED MEAN THINGS.

God. Whoever called CPS on me in 2011 probably has a publishable log kept on me at this point.

Chooch was obsessed with these adorable robot food deliverers. Some COLLEGE GIRL caught him chasing after one and waving, and she smiled at him which made him blush. The last time he was at a college was a few weeks ago with his school when they visited IUP and he said some college girl acted all disgusted and scoffed at him in the cafeteria when he exclaimed, “OOOH, PIZZA!”

I mean, I can only imagine how annoying he was being.

Then Henry had to “go to the bathroom” and found the student union building, so Chooch and I sat on a couch and talked about how embarrassing Henry is, shitting at a college, and for some reason I was telling Chooch about the time that me, Janna, and our friend Wonka went to Buffalo, NY and Wonka and I tucked a phone book under Janna’s mattress while she was in the bathroom to see if she noticed and the verdict was:

SHE AIN’T NO PRINCESS YO.

I don’t know why, but Chooch and I got super giddy in this place and couldn’t stop laughing and then Chooch got the hiccups so by the time Henry was DONE, we were walking over to meet up with him and Chooch hiccuped SO LOUD and people were like, “the fuck. get out of our college.”

Anyway, I really want Chooch to go here now because guess where else they have a campus? OH, INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA, BOY.

By now, it was almost 3 so Chooch and I decided to walk back to EagleBank and get in line for check-in.

Thankfully, the line wasn’t too long, and we were entertained by chatting with the friendly people around us, including a woman even older than me who also loved Taemin! Every once in awhile, we would see people go running frantically through the courtyard because someone would appear and begin handing out freebies. I kept using Chooch as my runner so we wouldn’t lose our place in line. Once, he came back with a little package of Taemin stickers. I sent him back to get some for the lady behind us but they were all out by then; he said people were like mobbing the girl handing them out and screaming, “DO YOU HAVE BAEKHYUN! KAI! TAEMIN!” K-pop is a real scene, you guys.

Another time he came back with a homemade “SuperM” bead bracelet, which he said he was keeping for himself. Rude. We also got a banner for Baekhyun and Mark, made by their fan sites.

My other scene was not like this at all. Granted, we used to get a lot of free swag at Warped Tour, but that was mostly from local bands giving away samplers or clothing companies doing contests, etc. This is all stuff from fans, and it’s so awesome. I love how much the fans love each other and their idols. Especially in this case, with SuperM bringing together 4 different fan bases.

When he wasn’t being lackey, Chooch stood quietly in line, reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which is a real uplifting read.

Anyway, the doors opened promptly at 3:30, which I loved, and we were inside at the check-in table in no time. I loved how organized it was! Once we claimed our VIP merch (a collectible VIP lanyard, canvas bag, bandana, hat, and a reallllly high-quality tour poster that I would classify more as a print and is going to get matted and framed here very soon), we got to go to a special merch booth to purchase additional goods without having to wait in line with the common folk, lol. Chooch really wanted the official SuperM lightstick and I really wanted him to have it because it just feels wrong going to a kpop concert without a lightstick, but it was $60! It pained me, but I bought it because, I don’t know, YOLO or whatever. We wanted to show our support for SuperM so it was worth it in the end!

On the way back to the car (Henry was like, “Fuck no, I’m not waiting out there with you”), soundcheck started and we were able to hear part of Can’t Stand the Rain and Jopping! This is Chooch’s “Hark, is that Mark’s part I hear?” expression. We were REALLY GETTING STOKED NOW!!

But…we still had two hours to kill. Henry suggested we walk across the street to Dunkin’ Donuts, so we hung out there for a little while with some other SuperM fans pre-gaming with Coolattas and breakfast sandwiches. I kept trying to get Henry to buy himself one of the single nosebleed seats that were still available, but even the $50 tickets came out to be almost $80 by the time Ticketmaster was done inflating it like a trendy unicorn pool float. I think he was beginning to feel a bit of FOMO because no matter what anyone thinks, Henry likes k-pop and SuperM and yes, Taemin singularly too.

By the time we got back to the EagleBank parking lot, I was ready to keel over with nerves. Chooch and I ended up getting in line around 5:30 and of course the dumbest duo of moms waddled over behind us and proceeded to say, “THEY NEED TO JUST OPEN THE DOORS” and “WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO LET US IN” and “THIS IS RIDICULOUS” back and forth to each other like some weird SNL skit that forgot to be funny and I was like, “Doors don’t open until 6, though?! It clearly stated that on the tickets? Why is this confusing?” I swear some people get off on complaining. We are such an angry nation.

Guess what time they opened the doors? 6:00. BOOM.

NEXT POST: THE ACTUAL CONCERT OMG HOLD MY HAND AND TELL ME IT’S GONNA BE OK.

Nov 222019
 

I woke up Sunday morning sick to my goddamn stomach. 100% pre-show, I’m-seeing-Taemin-today wad of electric nerves in the pit of my gut. The last time I felt this sick before a concert was in 2017 when I saw G-Dragon, and the time before that was in 2000 when I saw The Cure in Australia.

So, now you know.

The concert was in Fairfax, Virginia. I got ready, put my Taemin socks on, stuck my arrived-just-in-time Taemin “Jopping” pin on my sweater, and we were out the door by 7AM.

The pin is based on this frame from the “Jopping” video – Taemin’s signature King of Dance pose:

I always forget how close the DC area is to Pittsburgh, I guess because we typically find ourselves going east into New York or west into Ohio/Chicago for concerts or whatnot, and rarely south. I wish more Kpop concerts played DC because I would gladly choose those ones over fucking NEWARK, please Lord don’t give me any reasons to travel to Newark in the near future unless it’s something that I can’t deny, like a Taemin solo concert. I’d become a Newark resident if that’s what it took for me to see Taemin again, and that’s maybe a tiny bit hyperbolic, but YOU DON’T KNOW ME AND MY SNAP DECISIONS.

Step off!

Our drive was pretty uneventful. We ate a sleepy to-go breakfast from Sheetz, Chooch slept, and I kept chanting “omgomgomgomgomg” while Henry drove with glazed-over eyes.

I took a mirror selfie in some truck stop gas station so I could always remember what I wore when I saw TAEMIN FOR THE FIRST TIME HOLY SHIT. I’m not then type of person who gets all slutted up for concerts or wears band shirts or whatever. I wore the aforementioned Taemin socks and pin and felt that was sufficient, although I did have remorse for not making a Taemin headband like I had briefly considered, especially after we got to the venue and I saw so many various bias headbands and wow, I’m a terrible kpop stan.

Also, “stan” is such a fucking stupid word, isn’t it!?

We arrived in Fairfax, Virginia around 11, I think. Check-in for the VIP tickets was at 3:30 so we didn’t want to go to DC or do anything else too involved, in case something went awry BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW. So we went straight to the venue to scope it out (it was at the basketball arena on the George Mason University campus) – there were numerous parking lots and they were all free so Henry was extremely stoked about that.

I was so excited to see that some of my kpop brethren were already gathering around the arena gates and then the waves of acid in my stomach went from “baby splashing in the bathtub” to “FAT GUY JUST BELLY-FLOPPED IN THE POOL.” Look, it was really hard for me to enjoy any of the minutes preceding the concert because I was in this nervous haze, my heart rate was up (FitBit told me so), and I had the sweats. Maybe similar to the meat sweats? I DON’T KNOW, I DON’T DO MEAT.

Do you get like that before a concert, ever? I very rarely get THIS WORKED UP, but I would always accumulate moderate pre-show nerves, especially ones that I was going to solo. People will tell you that after you do it for awhile, you get used to it, but those people must be way more numb inside than me because I never got used to it, although I was always OK once I got inside the venue and staked out a spot. But man, those moments leading up to that were stressful and semi-sickening.

But this one…this was so different. I never thought I would get to see Taemin in real life, and I know I keep saying “Taemin Taemin Taemin” like he’s the Marsha of SuperM, and I do feel bad about that, because SuperM is dope for real and even if he wasn’t in it, I still would have got tickets to this show. But Taemin. I would pay the price I did even just to see him walk out on the stage and wave for a minute and leave. Just to know that I was in the same state as him, the same building, under the same roof, breathing the same air. He is just such a brilliant artist and I go on about him so much on here because I think everyone should know about him!

After scoping out the venue, we decided to get an early lunch even though food was the last thing on my mind which happens very rarely so you know I had it bad. Come back later for a LUNCH REVIEW. Annyeong.

 

Nov 162019
 

Tomorrow night, I will finally be in the same room as Lee Taemin, under the same roof, BREATHING THE SAME AIR. This has been my dream for quite some time now and while I’d have preferred to see him with SHINee or solo, seeing him with the other 6 members of SuperM is just as wonderful and I feel so grateful for this opportunity!

I’ve been trying to not binge on SuperM in the days leading up to the concert — this is hard considering I follow a ton of SHINee & Taemin accounts on Instagram plus the Taemin hashtag so my feed is full of videos from the shows that already happened this week and it’s killing me not to watch them! But I want to be surprised! I don’t want to know what else is going to happen in addition to the SuperM songs but I do know that there will be at least one Taemin solo and it doesn’t matter WHAT song it is, I am going to lose my goddamn mind.

I usually have a playlist of all his performances on the TV for background noise when Janna is over here visiting and she has even admitted to getting distracted by his mesmerizing (OMG I had to look up that spelling, I am really suffering) moves and vocals. He is really so much more than just “Kpop.” He is a dancing genius, and his voice is so distinct.

We were watching some of his live performances last night, and through tears I blurted out, “Taemin’s voice is like the sizzle from the flames of the fire you set to painful memorabilia.” Henry gave me the “okayyyyyy” sneer, but I stand by this comparison. His sultry vocal husk is warm, cathartic, satisfying.

Other things I have compared Taemin’s voice to:

  • the fog that covers the road on a late October night while you’re driving with a date through the woods to a haunted hayride;
  • an opulent, ridiculously expensive rich old lady’s shawl from the 1920s, mauve with various elements of silk, crushed velvet and lace. Delicate, but will keep you warm while making you feel pretty.

So, in honor of finally seeing this beautiful artist tomorrow night, I would like to share some of my favorite live solo performances of his and I really think everyone should watch them because he is A DREAM.

“Rise” is in my Top 3 favorite Taemin songs and if I ever got to watch him perform this in real life, I might not survive. It’s one of those times where a song truly transcends language – the first time I heard it, I obviously had no idea what he was singing about, but my heart and brain knew to be moved to tears. This song. This damn song.

It took a minute for “Artistic Groove” to really hit me, but once my mind caught up, I couldn’t stop listening to it and watching every single music show performance of it. The choreo and his sweet baby angel vocals are like a baseball bat to my knees. He is really really putting out some sick 1980s jazz vibes and no one else comes close to matching this! So really, we need to stop calling Taemin “kpop.”

I watched this Music Bank performance approximately 87,000 times during November 2017 and I now associate Thanksgiving with Taemin’s glorious hips. I mean….But in all honestly, this was the song that REALLY MADE MY EARS PERK UP to his unique, smoky voice and who needs turkey when you can just fill up on Taemin’s vocal feast. Keep the mashed potatoes, give me more pelvic pops. I mean, velvet vocals.

YOUNG TAEMIN. This song makes me feel like I’m in high school again, falling asleep to Quiet Storm on WAMO after talking to MY FRIST LOVE JUSTIN on the phone (sorry Henry). I made this comparison once and Henry was like, “THE FUCK” but Taemin’s voice in this song reminds me a bit of Anita Baker. There, I said it, and I will defend it.

“Day & Night” WAS SO UNDERRATED AND UNDERHYPED. Why did so many people seem to sleep on this song?! When I was looking for this video on YouTube, I saw a comment that said so many general kpop fans pass Taemin by, but all of the other idols gather around the stage to watch him record these music show performances. He is a living legend among his peers, you guys.

This was my first favorite Taemin solo song, and I know for damn sure I have posted the actual MV and various live stages of this because I love the dance so much, but this one really shatters that misconception that “kpop idols can’t sing.” Um, plus the end where he takes off his jacket.

OK, I could do this all day but I’ll wrap it up with this medley that Taemin showcased at the 2016 MAMA Awards. I honestly can’t watch him dance to “Goodbye” without silently crying. I am obsessed with people who can express such strong emotions just by moving their body, and Taemin pretty much pens an entire romance novel with one goddamn hip swivel, how does he get away with doing this to us?!

BONUS! Here is Henry’s favorite live performance of Taemin!

I wanted Henry to write two sentences — JUST TWO — about why he chose this video but he’s being a dumb moron about it, and all he will say is that he likes Taemin’s full, plump lips.

So on that note, please enjoy these beautiful performance art pieces from my beloved Lee Taemin.  <3

Oct 262019
 

I’ve been counting down the days for G-Dragon’s military discharge, well, since February 27, 2018 when he went in. Haha. I knew that I wanted to do something to celebrate, but that aside from Janna and those two that live with me, I probably wouldn’t be able to get anyone to join me. Lame!

But then last month, my work friend Margie was showing me pictures of cookies that her daughter Shannon made and they were so GOOD. Shannon went to school for this and is skilled at cake and cookie decorating, so then the antique oil lamp above my head lit up and I yelled, “COULD SHE MAKE G-DRAGON COOKIES?”

Margie shrugged and said, “Probably. I could ask her.”

So I ran to my desk and found an image for her to base the cookies off of, and Shannon came back and said YES.

And this is how it started: a way to drum up some business for Margie’s daughter while also celebrating G-Dragon, because what better place to have a party for him than at THE OFFICE where people could be forced to join in!?

So what started out as 2 dozen G-Dragon cookies to be causally laid out on the snack table at work turned into Henry making “G” and “D” cookies and also the Peaceminusone (GD’s clothing line) one-petal-missing daisy cookies.

And then I needed to make GD photocards for my co-workers. And a “Welcome Back” sign. I managed to find the leftover sheets of craft foam that we used in 2007 for Chooch’s first birthday invitations, and while I was cutting out letters, I decided that Henry should go to the party store and grab a “G” and “D” balloon because that would make it look cooler and also I didn’t feel like cutting out more letters.

Then I was like, “WE SHOULD ALSO GO TO THE ASIAN MARKET AND GET KOREAN BEVERAGES” and Henry was like, “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY” like I had just hired some goon to baseball bat his knees or something.

Basically what I’m saying is that, in typical Erin-fashion, it turned into a Thing.

During one of my order-barking phone calls, Henry mumbled that this was almost as involved as the Pie Party which I opted to stop having because “they’re too involved.”

“I don’t care! Our king—”

“—YOUR king,” Henry calmly cut in.

“—is coming back and this has to be perfect!”

And then Henry gently reminded me that it’s not like he’s ever going to know we did this but I don’t care. I have so much love for G-Dragon, his music pulled me out of a dark place, and I like doing things like this! I also thought it would be a fun thing for my co-workers, even though they’re not into Kpop, to end the week with some treats and frivolity.

Henry spent Thursday night baking the rest of the cookies, and then we took them to the office, along with all the drinks, because there was no way I was going to be able to carry all that stuff on the trolley. Plus, I had some various memorabilia to take in as well.

I woke up extra early yesterday morning and got to work an entire hour early so that I could start decorating. Marlene, who works an earlier shift, was like, “Oh hello, what the hell?” and then I had to explain to her what was going on and she was like, “……….” but she happily helped Margie blow up the G and D balloons and made sure everyone knew it all day long!

When Henry was at the store procuring said balloons, he texted me: Gold or silver?

I thought it was pretty clear but I texted back, “Gold for our king.”

“Your king,” Henry replied.

As I was spreading everything out on the table, Margie was just like, “Wow, OK…” because I might have failed to mentioned that this had morphed into a Big Thing in my head and I needed to execute it exactly as my visions showed or I would never be able to live with myself.

This is what it’s like being a Leo.

DID YOU KNOW GD IS A LEO TOO??

I even wore my special Lip Service dragon blazer that I bought when I was 18 and kept for 22 years even though it didn’t fit me for 20 of them. Thank you, Jillian Michaels, for helping me fit into it again or else this day wouldn’t have been as elaborate!

Margie let me borrow one of her sunflowers to put in the empty G-Dragon iced tea bottle (BIGBANG used to be the spokespeople for a Chinese brand of tea called Nongfu Spring and I went crazy trying to collect them all, you have no idea) and I put my GD heads-on-sticks in the other bottle. Then I filled my GD bowl with Korean peanut balls (such a great snack!), which I made Henry buy specifically so I had something to put in my GD bowl.

Oh, and I brought in my GD painting too!

These are the Peaceminusone daisies — icing cookies is hard and I hate it!

After an hour, I was satisfied with the spread, so I sent out the department email letting everyone know that there were cookies in celebration of GD’s military discharge. I purposely left Glenn off the email because he’s mean to me about these things and kept yelling, “No one cares!” every time he heard me at Margie’s desk talking about it.

Each photocard had some information about GD on the back and I was super pleased to see that they were mostly gone by the end of the day!

It was so much fun watching people’s reactions, especially the ones who I don’t talk to much because they had NO IDEA what the fuck was going on. The one guy was like, “Wait, what is kpop?” and I was like, “OMG LET ME TEACH YOU, GRASSHOPPER!” I saw him come back to the table later, laugh to himself, and then grab a cookie.

I was moderately concerned that our boss would be not thrilled that I did this without asking her, but I swear to god it wasn’t going to be all this at first and the it just spiraled and by then I was in too deep and didn’t want to say anything to her. But then Jeannie walked in and was like “OH MY GOD” and I was like, “Shit…..is it too much?” because this is the table that our boss uses for her snacks and I totally usurped her territory.

“No, it’s actually really impressive,” Jeannie said. And then she reminded me that I have done way more questionable things in the past without getting in trouble, so she thought I should be fine.

“You mean like when I had my desk decorated like a serial killer’s office for an entire month and someone complained that it was a hostile work environment?”

“Yeah, that’s one example,” Jeannie laughed, and then walked away without taking a cookie or a photocard!!

Guys seriously, the piece de resistance. Shannon did such an amazing job! Hilariously, no one would touch anything on the table for a good hour after I sent the email because they didn’t want to mess it up. This platter of Jiyongs (GD’s real name) looked so adorable, and they tasted even better!

I wanted the G and D cookies to have Asian flavors, so Henry went with black sesame shortbread and matcha (with white chocolate chips) shortbread. They were OK but honestly their only purpose was to display his initials, lol.

Nate was really into it.

And the our boss arrived and I was like, “OH GOD OH GOD” but after a second, she just started cracking up and then she said, “I can’t stand it” and went to her office. However, she did go and tell Glenn to come look at it and I was like, “NO SUE! HE’S NOT INVITED!” UGH!

Of course he happily took a cookie and a pear juice, but I made him pose for this picture as payment. What a jerk.

Into it.

Later in the afternoon, Megan took some “mingling” pictures so I could prove that people cared, lol.

I got some texts and emails throughout the day from co-workers who were either off or working from home and they were actually sad to be missing this! It warmed my heart. I love GD so much and I know he’ll never know that some random broad in America made her coworkers celebrate his military discharge, but I was so excited about it and I cannot just sit alone with excitement exploding out of my heart — I need to share it with people and I feel super appreciative that I work in a place where this can happen.

Even the mail room lady—Betty—was like, “OK WHAT’S GOING ON HERE” and then me, Carrie, and Marlene filled her in and she was skeptical at first because she knows I’m the girl with the weird foreign candy and doesn’t trust me (she said she wants to know where I get my candy so she can give it to her grandkids so that they won’t like candy anymore, lol) but the more she looked at the GD table, the more intrigued she became.

“I’m going to look him up when I get back to my floor,” she said.

But then came down later and asked, “What is that man’s name? Johnny D?” and there was a unison of “G-Dragon!”s through our quadrant. So she was like, “OK, I’m going to remember that. G-Dragon.” And then as she rounded the corner, I heard her walking away, chanting, “G-Dragon. G-Dragon. G-DRAGON. G-DRAGON.”

Jana came out of her office and said, “That was my favorite part of today!”

It really was super adorable.

Betty came back down later and decided she was ready to take a cookie and a melon Milkis. Then she was like, “And who painted that?” pointing to the G-Dragon portrait.

“I did,” I said. “That’s how much I love him.” So now Betty is basically my manager, even though I’m retired from art.

You guys, I love my co-workers. Even when Missy was like, “I like that song with Halsey, is that BIGBANG?” committing the biggest party foul, even bigger than when Sue invited Glenn! When Missy said that, Carrie was like, “Hnnnnnggghhh” because she knew I’d get bent out of shape, lol.

Megan and me! Also, I realized 3/4 of the way through the day that I never changed out of my tennis shoes, way to violate the dress code, Erin.

Here I am with Carrie, holding my G-Dragon bowl. I’m just really proud of it, OK?!

I don’t know if you can tell, but I was also wearing a DG pin and my red bull clip that came with my VIP package for his 2017 solo tour!

Speaking of, let’s pause and watch this video Henry took of the highlight of my whole life:

I was two heads back from the barrier during this and my legs shook so bad that Henry had to take my phone and record for me. I was a MESS.

I had the photocards displayed on my BIGBANG candy tray that I made and that MY CAT DREW BROKE so now it looks like shit because Henry glued it back together with weird, gummy glue.

I guess Glenn feels dumb now since people clearly cared!

All of my favorite G-Dragons. I loved his “FXXK It”-era green hair image the best.

Oh, and if it was any wonder, I was also wearing my GD socks yesterday.

Then last night, I watched all the live streams of Jiyong’s official discharge and felt ALL THE EMOTIONS (I’m crying right now thinking about it). I don’t know what the future holds for BIGBANG with Seungri retired from the industry and by that I mean chased out for something that wasn’t even proven but we won’t get into that here because it makes me so angry, and TOP alluding to the fact that he no longer wants to perform. But Daesung and Taeyang get out of the military next month, so we’ll see. If anyone can save BIGBANG and YG Entertainment, it’s G-Dragon.

I wish I could have been there. Welcome back, King!

Oct 162019
 

Hello and welcome to my love story about Millie and Steve, two rollercoasters that the general public may know as Millennium Force and Steel Vengeance. I will try to keep this PG, only because I couldn’t get Fabio to pose for the cover.

I’ve always been super into amusement parks (and county fairs until I almost died at one) but even though I like roller coasters, I never really considered myself an ENTHUSIAST. Then I rode T-Express at Korea’s Everland and, for a wooden coaster, that thing impressed me more than any crazy-ass steel multi-inversion Jojo-rolled contraption ever has. It made me want to seek out other crazy wooden coasters, because up until then I equated wooden coasters with rickety old back-breakers. I started binge-watching rollercoaster videos on YouTube, becoming more and more obsessed. That’s how I started learning about the different manufacturers, but the one that stuck out the most to me was Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC). I was fascinated by the way they take old, rough woodies and refurbish them into these head-spinning feats of engineering magic. The first one I got to ride was Lightning Rod at Dollywood and it was a game changer for me, I have been on a mission ever since to ride all of the RMCs. I am an RMC fan girl all the way.

Look. When I find something that I like, I don’t just LIKE IT: I LIVE IT, I BREATHE IT, I DREAM IT. And, I watch YouTube videos until my Roku crashes, I read Wikipedia and personal blogs, I search Instagram hashtags, I adjust our budget so we can do weekend amusement park road trips (STOP GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE, HENRY – WE DON’T NEED FOOD WE NEED COASTER CREDITS. THIS IS THE GREATEST DIET EVER). It becomes my driving force, the thing that gets me through the work week and gives me something to anticipate.

I never had much of a burning desire to go to Cedar Point until last year, when RMC refurbished the old Mean Streak into Steel Vengeance. So when we finally went a few weeks ago, I was practically salivating on myself at the thought of riding this bad boy.

Because this coaster is still new-ish and world class to those who know some things about the coaster scene, the line for this was between 90-250 minutes all weekend. We kept putting it off and putting it off, but finally, around 8:00pm on our first day there, I told Chooch, “Look, if we want a night ride on this bad boy, it’s now or never, bud.”

I think it said it was an 80 minute wait when we got in line, because by that point, all the haunt attractions had opened so most of the people in the park were in line for those things. Well, 80 minutes was a lie. They must have changed the sign to 120 minutes as soon as we walked past, because we stood in that queue—which winds around underneath the tracks so you’re like, majorly cut off from the rest of civilization when you’re in that line—for so long that I started to forget what Henry looked like (he opted out) which is either good or bad depending on what kind of day I’m having when you ask me.

Luckily, they have TVs in the line, so we got to watch clips of horror movies, fight with each other over trivia, and watch random music videos while eavesdropping on people around us playing Heads Up (this one girl was SO LOUD and also extremely stupid—some of the things she couldn’t figure out were maddening to us bystanders). There was a mom in front of us with her elementary school-age son and an older boy who I think was in college and also may be have been a Spanish exchange student? Look, we had a lot of time to spy on people.

So yeah, after standing in line for…I lost track but I want to say it was about 90 minutes, then it happened.

I will never forget it because we had made it to the last part of the serpentine path, all the twisty-windy parts of the queue were behind us, and we were finally on the lone path to the station. (Granted, that lone path still had some turns, a metal detector, and steps, but still!) We were standing right next to the giant billboard that had the Steel Vengeance character on it along with all the record-breaking stats.

This is where we were standing when the dreaded THIS RIDE IS CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE announcement came out of some hidden hell-speakers and we could barely hear it over the loud roar of idle conversation around us, but it didn’t matter because we KNEW.

“Huh, that train didn’t have anyone in it,” the guy behind us noted as an empty train soared past us. We were in the part of the line now that had an excellent view of the first drop.

Yeah no shit asshole, if you would stop talking about dumb video games for a second, you’d have heard the announcement! As people finally started to figure out what was going on, a small exodus happened and because of this, we kept moving further up in line.

Chooch and I kept waiting for the other to cry uncle and suggest to leave the line, because neither of us wanted to make that call. All I kept thinking was that it would be our luck that it would start running again after we got out of line.

Long story short (LOL yeah like my stories are ever short), we opted to stay in line and after about 30-45 minutes, the damn thing started running again and everyone cheered and fuck if it didn’t feel like we were REALLY A PART OF SOMETHING, you know? Like, the Donner Party.

No, not the Donner Party.

Maybe a hostage situation, though. But then the hostage guy ends up having a squirt gun so we can all laugh about it later as the popo haul his soiled ass away.

Something like that.

Anyway, we rationalized that we had moved up in line just as far as we would have if the ride hadn’t broken down, so it was all the same, really.

The ride attendant at the top of the steps was assigning people seats but we thought, Look, we stood in line for this long, what would it hurt to just ask if we could snag the back row?

So we asked.

And the broad was all, “Eh, sure go ahead.”

And we had the most epic, glorious, whirlwind night ride on what is now my TOP ROLLERCOASTER BAE OF ALL TIME. I’m not even going to try and describe it other than it whips you around with ungodly force and everything happens so fast that you can’t even wrap your mind around the logistics of it and then when you think you’ve gotten your bearings, you’re suddenly being lurched through an inversion that makes you feel like dish water being sucked down a drain, and then suddenly you’re back in the station, fingerbrushing knots out of your hair and looking at your riding companion like, “IS MY FACE IN ONE PIECE!?”

Chooch actually ran his hands through his hair and made this wild-eyed I’VE HAD AN EPIPHANY expression like he was about to convert to the Kabbalah or some shit, and honestly, I personally nearly wept.

It was that good.

I felt like Steel Vengeance had actually rescued me from a burning building or something and then, oh god, oh no, was I getting a crush on Steve?!

Meanwhile, Henry was sleeping on a bench like a regular old back-alley wino, just kidding, he was actually awake and not at all concerned even though we had been missing in action for two and a half hours and he had our phones so we had no way of telling him what was happening, but since this was Cedar Point, he assumed that the ride had broken down because that’s what rides do at Cedar Point. So I guess he probably just ate a bunch of soft pretzels and scrolled through Reddit on his phone, because somewhere along the way I didn’t pay enough attention to him and he turned into the type of person who loses himself in asinine threads of Internet memes. Coo-coo-cool.

We were just like, “O-M-G YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW FUCKING SICKENING THIS RIDE IS, HENRY! YOU MISSED OUT BIG TIME! GOOD LUCK SLEEPING IN THAT BED OF REGRET TODAY!”

The next day, Henry wanted to see if Steve was all that we made it out to be, but as you might be aware, our plans of getting in a morning ride on this bad boy before the crowds rushed in was dashed when Steve was closed during early entry.

And then he proceeded to be down for most of the day it seemed. We kept tracking him through the Cedar Point app and sprinted over to him as soon as the status changed to “open.” It said that the standby time was 45 minutes.

LIES. LIES LIES LIES.

We 100% stood in line for nearly as long as Chooch and I did the night before. This time, right as we shuffled past the Steve billboard thing, an announcement came on.

WE FROZE.

But it turned out that it was just a “slight delay” while they added another train.

We exhaled.

Not more than 10 minutes later, another announcement cut through the gaggles of groups engrossed in Heads Up and the weird mom and son who were arguing with each other the entire time they were in line.

IT WAS FUCKING DOWN AGAIN.

“You have to be fucking kidding me!” I cried dramatically. I could actually feel the synapses firing inside me and I imagined peeling my skin off and shooting into the air using nothing but the sheer force of my anger.

“You guys can leave, you’ve already ridden it,” Henry said calmly, but I noted a twitch in his ‘stache. “I’m invested at this point.”

Well, I wasn’t leaving! I had major FOMO just thinking about Henry riding Steve without me. So we all opted to stay in line. People started exiting in small waves. A ride attendant walked past us, en route to the entrance where a CLOSED sign needed to be erected (lol). “Just so you know, this isn’t just a small problem,” he monotoned to everyone within earshot. “It’s probably going to be at least an hour.”

We all exchanged looks. Even more people left, so we moved up significantly in line and shrugged.

Henry and Chooch argued about every single thing.

Arguing.

But then, less than 30 minutes later, they sent a test train. Everyone cheered. Then, they sent a fully-loaded train, and everyone REALLY CHEERED. The line started moving for real. Of course, they opened the Fast Lane right so loads of people filed through on that side and I was SO PISSED because the rest of us had demonstrated extreme levels of patience and endurance by waiting this out and Cedar Point could have rewarded us by at least keeping that line closed off for a few more minutes, goddammit.

I have never been the type of person who would stand in line for THAT LONG for a RIDE so I must really be thirsty for Steve and his wood. Henry and I snagged the back seat and as we buckled ourselves in, I yelled, “YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE THIS!” and he was just like, “WE WILL SEE ABOUT THAT” because Henry does not know how to have fun or display any sort of emotion aside from exhaustion, irritation, and disgust. Maybe envy whenever he sees someone wearing a better beverage t-shirt that him.

But when we hit the midcourse break run, he looked at me and mouthed, “WHAT THE FUCK” and I was like, “RIGHT?!!!?” Holy shit, this ride. It’s everything. I was so fucking annoyed every other hour during our weekend at Cedar Point, but THIS RIDE was redemption. I would go back to Cedar Point every fucking weekend and be jerked around by the shitty operations if I knew I could ride this at least once each time.

It’s that good.

It’s world class.

There is a reason why so many of the experts and enthusiasts rank this as #1.

I AM TEARING UP JUST THINKING ABOUT YOU, STEVE. WAIT FOR ME! I’LL BE BACK.

Meanwhile, Chooch’s favorite ride that weekend was actually Millie, a/k/a Millennium Force, though he said it was difficult to choose between the two. The first time we rode Millie, on our first day at Cedar Point, we had the back row and I experienced a pretty good greyout, to the point where I ran down the exit ramp in search of Henry, who had ridden on the train before ours, just to excitedly scream, “I GREYED OUT, DUDE!!!”

I have never greyed out on a ride before, and it was so awesome!

Millie is pretty fucking beautiful. My favorite things about her, aside from that wicked first drop, was the cool 1970s space-y soundtrack that plays in the station, and the killer views of Lake Erie that the lift hill offers. Honestly, for as many times as that park let me down that weekend, I can’t deny that the atmosphere is unbeatable. I mean, it’s not at DisneySea’s level of beauty, but it is pretty fucking close. Oh, and the ride operators on Millie were phenomenal. They were entertaining (on our second ride, one of the operators asked, “Who knows the manufacturer of this ride?” and Chooch and I screamed, “INTAMIN!” before anyone else could answer even though we knew there wasn’t a prize but we were born to be first, OK; the ride operator was like, “FRONT ROW GOT IT!” and we rode that wave for a good 45 minutes) and super efficient. They had three train ops down to a science.

Chooch and I had a good ride in the front row on our second day, but I think I preferred the back. We are definitely backseat riders for the most part, on most coasters, but I do really love front row at night. We unfortunately didn’t get any night rides on Millie, so clearly we have to go back at some point. Like, this weekend. OK, probably not this weekend. I think Henry will murder me with his eyeballs if I even ask, lol.

I think I actually might be in love with Steve. Sorry, Henry.

Chooch just ran by and I said, “Chooch is there anything you want to say about Millie?” and he said, “Uh yes!” in a way that I expected a saccharine sonnet to come wisping out of his mouth, but instead all he said was, “It was good.”

WOW. Just so you know, he teared up looking at it from the car window when we drove away, so.