Sep 042022
 

One of my favorite things to do before going on a road trip is look for restaurants in the area. I have a very particular set of requirements so it’s good to be proactive. If we’re going to a bigger city, I will for sure look for vegan joints but small towns have me looking for the greasy spoon time capsules. If a review is bad because the place is outdated, it goes on the list.

If it’s quirky or novel, borderlining on roadside attraction, here comes Erin. (See: Mr. Happy and Pal’s!)

These are the very important duties I task myself with, in case you were wondering what I do when I’m not getting yelled at by attorneys at work or walking my feet off because I’m a slave to my step goal.

So when I came across Mr. Pancake, housed in a structure shaped like a river boat and family-owned dating back to the 60s, I refused to leave Wisconsin Dells until we ate there.

Especially after watching some local news story from 12 years ago highlighting the breakfast spot loved by tourists and locals alike.

That clip of the food-faced bitch getting floaters all up in her apple juice made me dry heave though.

But I was otherwise reminding Henry by way of FACE-SCREAM that we were going to eat at Mr. Pancake and he was like “ok” while pushing past me to finish his chores and Chooch would just curtly say, “I don’t know what that means” and then acted like it was NEWS TO HIM when we drove past it yesterday while going to our hotel.

Anyway, we almost had to scrap the plan because they’re only open until noon so we would have had to go Sunday morning except that we still need to drive to Chicago-ish to go to Six Flags and prefer to get to new-to-us parks when they open because we’re always on a mission, you know.

I’m sure Henry and Chooch were less then thrilled with my declaration that we’d just have to leave the hotel earlier than intended and get to Mr. Pancake as soon as they opened at 7.


We were the first ones here! We arrived at 6:53 and Henry was like I AM NOT SITTING IN THIS PARKING LOT IT WILL MAKE THE WAITSTAFF NERVOUS so we had to drive around the still-sleeping Dells. When we got back at 6:58, the lot was still empty and I told Henry to park right next to the door and he was like I AM NOT PARKING THERE I WILL PARK OVER HERE AWAY FROM THE BUILDING. What a weirdo.


Then I got out and ran over to the door but the CLOSED sign was still up even though it was now exactly 7 so I got nervous but JUST THEN the hostess came over and flipped the sign while smiling at me through the window of the door.

I ran back down the steps and yelled, “SHE CHANGED THE SIGN TO OPEN!” to Chooch who was like “yes I know I’m standing right here, I saw, you’re so annoying.”


MR PANCAKE SELFIE! WE WERE THE FIRST PATRONS! Our waitress’s name was Paula and she was amazing and really helped us navigate the tricky menu.

(It was not tricky but she still held our hands and promised us that we would never walk alone while in her care.)

(Fine. She didn’t hold our hands but her soothing tone implied that was spiritually braiding her fingers into ours while leading us down a path of tulip petals and housemade maple cinnamon syrup.)

FIRST ONES BEST ONES!

Chooch is in the Blocking His Face From Mommy’s Camera stage of his life.


You guys!! I got a blueberry waffle which came with lemon butter! When Paula checked in on us later, I blurted out with such urgency that her face flashed with alarm, “I didn’t know the butter was going to be lemony!” But then I gushed, “I love it!” so her face relaxed into her standard cheerful Wisconsin visage and she proudly declared that it’s made in house. JUST LIKE THE SYRUP.

A few years, two bitches from some local supper club took the reins of Mr. Pancake from the family who had been running it since the 60s. The history on the website says that they kept the OG recipes but added some stuff to the menu and I told Henry I bet the BARISTA section of the menu and the fancy house made butters and syrups were their doing. But for some reason I said it is a disparaging, snippy tone like these uppity supper club broads were really leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth for literally no concrete reason that I can give you to back up my intentions. Sometimes I JUST BE LIKE THAT.

Anyway, I also had my eyes on the Iowa Corn Pancakes (?!?!?!) because they were filled with corn and corn meal!! But I cannot eat three pancakes and there was no down-sizing option. However, Henry got an omelet which came with two pancakes and Paula said that he could substitute any of the specialty pancakes for a small upcharge so I told him to get the corn ones and he did and they were SO GOOD. Actual corn kernels plopped out when he cut into them. I mean, it wasn’t like a pouch of corn cooked into the cakes but more so just interspersed throughout. I love corn stuff, especially when it’s surprise corn like in Korea, where they love to sneak handfuls of kernels in where you’d least suspect it, like pizza and lattes.

음ㅁㅁㅁㅁ, 옥수수 🌽.

By the time we left, Mr. Pancake had filled up with patrons filling up on carbs before a day of water-parking, including a family with a really fucking bratty toddler that proceeded to scream its face off immediately upon being seated and at one point the mom yelled YOURE BEING BAD and I am going to start publicly calling Chooch out for being bad too. It’s what he deserves.

Mr. Pancake gets an A- from me though because I didn’t like their souvenir T-shirts and they didn’t have coffee cups for sale!! I would have bought one for sure. They should make white ones with a red outline of the Mr. Pancake river boat thing.

끝.

Sep 012022
 

Today I’m going to tell you about one of two times in the span of a week that I sobbed like I was auditioning for a soap opera.

I’m not proud of my behavior, but I also CAN 100% JUSTIFY IT OK STEP OFF.

It all started last week when my best Kpop friend Veronica DMd me on Insta. She had randomly noticed that she had a Ticketmaster email in her SPAM FOLDER.

Announcing NCT127 US DATES.

Two of them, to be exact. LA and Newark.

At first I was like OMFG yessss! So excited!

But then it quickly dawned on me that only two dates meant that tickets were going to be EXTRA HARD to procure. It’s already Hunger Games for a regular Kpop tour, just a bleak landscape of scalpers and Ticketmaster price gouging, preventing the true fans from getting the best seats possible without their parents having to take out a second mortgage.

Tickets for Newark were slated to go on sale Monday at 3pm, so from the moment I read Veronica’s message until Monday, I was a mess of stress, a web of sizzling nerves and heart palps.

Henry came home Monday afternoon in an effort to help me get tickets. I thought he was going to be late, but he strode in around 2:30, totally carefree, pep in his step, while I was sitting at the computer burping up stomach acid and running my hands through hair slick with PANIC GREASE. I threw myself at him and wailed, “I KNOW I’M NOT GETTING TICKETS. I’M NOT SEEING NCT. I’M NOT GOING.” And then I just started sobbing like a three-year-old who needs a nap but doesn’t know it.

I think you know the hell that is Ticketmaster. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but that waiting room bullshit is so stressful (like, they could at least play some Chuck Mangione or something, even Kenny G for God’s sake) and the fucking QUEUE is insulting. Henry and I both had 2000+ bitches in front of us, and by the time it “our turn” to buy tickets, everything was already resale or TICKETMASTER PLATINUM.

You guys know about this, right? Just another way for TM to fucking price-gouge by being THEIR OWN SCALPERS. It’s so fucked up, I can’t even….

I was fully prepared to throw down a pretty penny for a floor seat, but they were already up to $4000.

I can’t.

I wish.

But even if I could.

Would I?

That’s a shit ton of $$$.

Sorry: $$$$.

So then I was like, “OK, if I can’t get the floor, then I’ll take the next section up. But those were all Platinum by then, and every time I would click on a seat, I would get the frustrating, “We’re sorry, someone else us beat you to it” message AND I WOULD FUCKING RAGE OUT.

At one point, I screamed really loud and threw my mouse across the desk and Henry had to put his hands on my arms and say, “OK. EASY.”

Finally, I panicked and paid entirely too much a seat in the first row of section 127 (127!!!!) which is not where I wanted to be.  I could have waited to see if resale tickets would go down as the date gets closer, but when it comes to Kpop I don’t gamble. These groups have expiration dates and military enlistment is looming for some of them.

I thought I would get a chance to see SHINee, and look what happened.

I thought I would get a chance to see BIGBANG, and look what happened.

So, I spent a lot of money, but even though it made me sick, I can’t say I regret it because NCT127 is my #2 group, you guys. (BIGBANG and SHINee now share the honors for being #1.) So, I splurged.

I didn’t realize just how much stress over this my body was carrying until after it was all said and done, and it almost felt like static electricity lifting off my body. It was insane.

Henry had retreated to the bedroom for his daily after-work nap by this point, confident that I was pacified and that the kitchen knives wouldn’t need to be confiscated. Stress now replaced with frenetic, nervous energy, I followed him up there, threw myself down on the bed and wailed, “HENRY I DON’T CARE IF I SOUND LIKE I’M 16, I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH AND WANTED TO BE AS CLOSE TO THEM AS POSSIBLE, NOW HOW WILL JAEHYUN HEAR ME SCREAM HIS NAME??” I flung my arm across my forehead for good measure.

Henry casually said that we could try to find them in NYC afterward, and I got really excited about that, BECAUSE ONE TIME WE ACTUALLY DID SEE A KPOP GROUP IN NYC, but then he said he was kidding. :(

I let myself wallow a little bit. I ate ice cream out of the carton with whipped cream. And then once I came back down to Adult Land, I was finally able to realize that I was lucky I could afford one overly-inflated ticket (um, my one ticket was 3x what Corey and I paid to see Genesis, so…) and the big picture is that HELLO I AM GOING TO SEE NCT127!!

So then I sniffled, “Alexa, play NCT127” and straight-up sobbed when “Favorite” came on because I AM GOING TO SEE NCT127!!!

Poor Henry has been periodically checking to see if he can find a cheap nosebleed seat for himself (I am not making it up when I say that he likes them!) so hopefully he can also go. I’m still also holding onto hope that they announce more US dates (they did say “more dates coming soon” but this is a world tour so that doesn’t necessarily mean more North America dates ugh.

I love that Kpop is finally acknowledged and not treated like a joke so much anymore here in this shitty country, but I also hate it because now it’s so hard to get concert tickets!

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling like a brand new person though, and that’s when I realized just how stressed I was over buying a ticket. It just….shouldn’t be that way. Ticketmaster needs to, I dunno, go to prison.

Oh and in case you were wondering, the other time I sobbed like Susan Lucci was the weekend I had COVID. I was so emotionally depleted to begin with, so when I realized that my new FitBit, which Henry had just set up for me that day, had LOST ALL OF MY STEPS AND 3/4 OF THE STEPS FROM THE DAY BEFORE, REMOVING MY STAR AND BREAKING MY 2 YEAR STREAK, I fucking lost my mind so hard that I started LOUDLY CRYING while home alone. Like, full body-racking sobs, real tears, all snotted up.

Over a FitBit.

I called Henry and basically threatened his life, so he came home and spent 45 minutes researching the inner workings of FitBit and (mostly) fixed it then had the audacity to request a THANK YOU from me? AFTER HE CAUSED THIS? I clearly was very sick and my body need to cleanse by way of Ugly Cry, so this was the opportunity I chose to let it all hang out. A choice, for sure.

BUT I’M GOING TO SEE NCT127!!!!! I’LL GET TO USE MY LIGHTSTICK IN PUBLIC!!!!

Jul 192022
 

Saturday was a pretty chill day. For alibi purposes, here is what went down:

I spent a million hours at the salon getting babylights. I went to a new-to-me place called Bad Apple because my friend goes there and posted about it on Insta and I was like, “That place sounds nice and the name matches my tattoo” so I made an appt because the last place I went was only out of convenience and being panicked about going back to work after two years of WFH’ing and I needed something done FAST.

I liked it but they only did partial highlights without me even realizing what was going on and the gray coverage was NOT good – the whole front of my head was like a billboard for gray hair recognition! And the broad who did my hair was not really my style. She was more like, Big Hat at Coachella vibes and I wasn’t comfortable with that.

I’m picky. We all should be when it comes to our hair!

Anyway, I really liked Bad Apple a lot and the girl who did my hair (Carly) was SO CHILL and easy to talk to. Definitely my type of person. My hair isn’t like, IN YOUR FACE, different since I only just recently had highlights done, but she did a full highlight and blended and toned it SO WELL. I didn’t even need a cut and she was gushing about how healthy my hair is and that like, never happens, so I am crediting that to Vegamour (which I was going to cancel but now I’m like SHOULD I??) and Jennifer Aniston’s Lolavie product line.

After spending nearly all day in The Chair (9:30 – 2ish ugh this is why I’m like the ONLY GIRL in the world who does not enjoy going to the salon. Sitting still is not in my wheelhouse), I came home and scarfed down a quick salad and then Henry and I went to Allegheny Cemetery so I could walkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalkwalk.

We took this to send to our AWOL son.

Shortly after, I saw a fun photo op and asked, tentatively, for Henry to help me achieve said shot. Of course, he blundered it bigly, resulting in A Fight because honestly his lack of even the basic, most RUDIMENTARY photo skills drives me nuts. So then he had the audacity to get mad at me for getting mad at him and I was like YOU KNOW WHAT, JUST LEAVE AND PICK ME UP LATER and then I performed a perfectly-timed storm-off down a brick path while he stayed on the road.

I made sure I waited a long time before tossing a furtive glance over my shoulder to see if he was following me.

HE WAS NOT.

Which equal parts pleased and angered me.

THIS IS CHOOCH’S NEVER SHOUT NEVER SHIRT :(

Well I was off on my own, I paused to take some pictures of my new Korean Vans <3. I’d like to point out that they were shipped from South Korea on a Sunday, and I had them on my feet by the following Wednesday.

South Korea does NOT fuck around with shipping. When you hear expats saying that South Korea has THE BEST delivery service, believe.

Meanwhile, Henry was commenting whiny things on my Instagram for all to see and I was like OMFG this man is so desperate so I made my way back to the car and then he had to play his little hiding game with me which is so annoying. I should have just left him there – I had my car key on me….

…but not my house key. Dammit, I’m always missing something!

I felt bad for Henry because he clearly cannot survive without me so I accepted his groveling apology but only because I wanted to go to the Grant in Millville because it’s been years since we had a slice of the best coconut cream pie in at least the whole state if not the UNIVERSE.

We got there right when they opened at 4, us and all the Olds! We were relegated to the BACK ROOM which isn’t as woodsy and Bavarian-esque as the main dining room so I was pissed. I guess we weren’t OF AGE enough. (Henry probably was but then I lowered the average.)

I like this picture up there though because Henry sort of looks like he’s smiling at me. Smrobly a fluke though.

We decided to get dinner while we were there too even though we weren’t really hungry but it’s a good thing that we did because our food took a really long time to come out – I didn’t mind so much because we didn’t have any where we needed to be and this was basically just helping us build up an appetite, but our waitress was so stressed about this delay and she kept reporting back to us and making sure we were properly hydrated. I fucking LOVED her. Honestly, we didn’t care about the wait at all because we were super engrossed in receiving updates from Chooch (this was when he was suffering through the off-the-cuff vegetarian burrito made from pineapples and cactus, lol) and we were obsessed with the ongoing plight of the young host/busboy who kept trying to sit down and take a break in the corner only to immediately be summoned. My favorite part was when he tried to seat people in our dumb room and one of the waitresses came back to say, “They want to sit in the front room.” He went back to retrieve the menus from the table and as he walked past us to go back to the front room, I heard him huff under his breath, “of course they do.” It was fantastic.

Anyway, our waitress ended up comping us one of the slices of coconut cream and I was like, “This was not necessary – Henry leave her a giant tip” but when she came back with the check, she wisely gave it to me which was good because Henry is a shitty tipper.

Oh man, we ended up so stuffed from eating a dinner that we weren’t really hungry for but that pie man. THAT PIE. It is a religious experience. I am a FIRM believer in the Book of Whipped Topping Coco-Cream. Meringue is for pariahs.

Waiting for Henry to pee on the way out. This is the room I wanted to sit in. :(

HENRY, POST-PEE.

Well, those were the highlights of the day. We came home and spent most of the evening rearranging Chooch’s room. We really want to have that fucking attic cleaned out and painted before he comes back so it can be an extension of his room (like the lounge area) but I don’t think that’s happenin’ hot stuff.

May 302022
 

I was looking for something that we could do Sunday morning to kill time since Six Flags doesn’t open until 11 and OH BOY-O did I find just the thing!

Apparently, there is a place called Stanley Park a few miles away from Six Flags and the reason why this is relevant to my interests is because it’s known for having a large population of BLACK SQUIRRELS. Seems that some dude in the 40s was gifted with several black squirrels from Africa or something?!

This place is referred to as Black Squirrel Town on Roadside America and there even used to be a local store where you could by souvenirs but now it’s online only, I guess.

Obviously we needed to go here, and Chooch suggested that we grab breakfast sandwiches to eat there. (Actually, that’s already what I had wanted to do but you can’t even tell Chooch that you had the idea first, god forbid.)

So we went to some place called Baker and the Bean or something and it was a nice place! Someone working there mistook Chooch for someone in one of their classes so that was weird.

They had huge snickerdoodle cupcakes so we scooped one of those up to split between us.

It was ok! The icing was very thick and heavy cream cheese which was unexpected but not the worst.

Sat on a bench at Stanley Park and wolfed down our sandwiches (I only ate half because I was in such a hurry to see the squirrels!!) and then ran down a path into a wooded area where it was a SQUIRRELPALOOZA.

There were definitely black squirrels but way more Mr. Gray Guys. They were all running around and chirping at each other and for a second I was actually concerned that we might get attacked. It was like a wooded wonderland in this park though!!

Chooch has always been obsessed with geese and ducks so he was more into that portion of the wildlife free-for-all. These guys were so friendly! The geese in Pittsburgh are borderline aggressive. And that’s not even when there are babies around!

We spent about two hours here and it was worth every second – I could have easily spent more time in this wildlife paradise. The squirrels! The geese! The ducks! THE CHIPMUNKS!! I swear, we hadn’t seen chipmunks in Pgh for years and years it seemed but then started noticing them again within the last two years at the cemeteries – not in our neighborhood though. They are super scared of people though and zip past us with nary a shred of curiosity.

At this park though, we were basically stalked by the chipmunks! They kept running up to us waiting to be fed I guess. Henry went to the car to get change for the goose feed machines and found a lone peanut and some pieces of dehydrated strawberries and bananas.

(I kept telling Henry on the way there that we needed to stop and get peanuts or something but he was being a real STICK IN THE MUD* about it and kept mumbling excuses like, “We don’t even know if there are really going to be that many squirrels there.” OH OK so we only feed squirrels if there are…what, more than 5 of them? OK Cuz.)

I could never get my neighborhood Mr. Gray Guys to come this close to me! I wasn’t able to hand feed this babe, but he did get super close and kept hopping all around me until I finally just tossed a piece of banana to him.

But you guys, the chipmunks!! Chooch and I were both able to hand feed some and Chooch even got gently nibbled by one!

This picture sucks because Henry took it with his broken-ass phone, but here I am feeding a peanut to a chipmunk!! This might be “whatever” to a lot of people but I am animal-obsessed and have always been jealous of Snow White (lol), like I wish bluebirds flew around my head like a crown of flowers, etc.

Here please enjoy a boring video compilation I made:

On the way out, Chooch said, “Look there’s a lady reading a book in the rose garden. That could be you.”

TOTALLY! I would go there every god damn day if I lived in that area. It was IDYLLIC.

Oh! I forgot that one of the best parts was when Henry almost fell down the steps and then Chooch and I took copious liberties of reenacting it/mocking him.

It’s how we show our love.

Today, I went to the Black Squirrel website and bought a magnet!! I LOVE STANLEY PARK.

May 102022
 

People. Listen. You know that I am a SLUT for Rocky Mountain Construction. One of my bucket list items is to ride every RMC in the world because they are actually works of art.

One of the most controversial RMCs of late is Iron Gwazi in Busch Gardens Tampa. It was originally a dueling coaster called Gwazi, which was notoriously rough and a prime candidate for the RMC treatment. It was like HUGE NEWS in the coastersphere when Busch Gardens officially announced that it would definitely be happening. I think this was in 2019, and it was slated to open for the 2020 season.

Welp. We all know about 2020.

So then it was pushed to 2021 but ended up SBNO (standing but not operating) for the entire season. I looked GREAT though! Seemingly complete, but you know, you just couldn’t ride the damn thing. I remember at some point during the summer of 2021, there were videos circulating of IRON GWAZI TESTING!

But then nothing.

The park finally announced sometime that fall that it would be officially opening in March 2022. We had actually tossed around the idea of doing a Florida park road trip last January, but omicron was still rampant so we nixed that idea. It was for the best though because I don’t think I would have been able to handle being that close to such a magnificent RMC without being able to ride it.

Imagine my screaming when we solidified our spring break plans and I finally let it sink in that I WOULD BE RIDING IRON GWAZI less than a month after it opened!! (I mean, GOD WILLING.) The world’s steepest and fastest hybrid coaster! (As of this posting anyway!)

Obviously we made a beeline for Iron Gwazi as soon as we arrived at Busch Gardens on this beautiful, sunny Wednesday in April. It is right near the entrance too so that was great! Now that I’m thinking back to this day, I don’t even remember walking through the gates. I mean, we definitely did, but I have no recollection of it AT ALL. I just know that we got there a little bit after the park opened and I was so nervous that everything was going to be crowded already.

LOL. Janice. Please. Iron Gwazi was a motherfucking STATION WAIT.

A STATION WAIT.

Can you even!?!?

And not just for our inaugural ride. It was like this all day long. I think the longest we waited MIGHT have been 25-30 minutes but that was just because we wanted the front row.

LOOK AT THE FRONT OF THE CAR THOUGH!!

And I loved all of the greenery around the queue, and the polynesian-esque roof thingies. I am very cultured. Look at me go.

I love this picture of us so much!

OK let’s back up, Brenda. The line attendant was assigning seats but anytime we asked for the back, they were just like, “That’s fine” which cracked me up. I love a backseat ride on an RMC, and this was no exception. Broken record here, but I am not good at explaining roller coasters so I will just say that this was 100% worth the hype and I got off the damn thing feeling INVIGORATED. Like most RMCs, this bitch is RELENTLESS. It makes you feel like you’re being yanked around on a leash, or riding out an avalanche down a mountainside. From the first drop, you’re just careening at breakneck speed, unable to even contemplate the elements you’re whipping through.

And it only got better and better with every ride as the day went on.

Here’s how you know RMCs are the real ones: Henry does not often re-ride coasters, but he always gets back in line for an RMC.

This is Henry agreeing with what I just said up there.

I rode once with Henry in the third to last row and this broad in the dress was right behind us yapping at the back of my head the whole way up the lift hill, and on one hand I was agreeing with all the super hype shit she was saying about air time, etc, but she was more annoying than anything else. Especially when we arrived back on the brake run and I said to Henry, “OK, that sealed it for me. I like this better than Steel Vengeance,” and it was almost like she heard me and was purposely squawking to her husband about how Steel Vengeance is still superior because it’s a longer ride, and OK I’ll give it that, but Iron Gwazi did more for me in a shorter amount of time than SteVe.

Also, SteVe is RARELY re-rideable. That motherfucker always has a huge line every time we’ve gone to Cedar Point, except for when it’s down.

Which is often.

So this is why I’m ranking Iron Gwazi higher – the entire experience from the queue to the ride itself was just a bit better than SteVe in my opinion.

Chooch and I got right back in line and this time opted for the front and that dumb bitch got in line right behind us so we had to endure her being a THOOSIE IN A DRESS again but at least since she was in line for the same row as us, that meant I wouldn’t have her screeching behind me again.

She was the only person who annoyed me all day (aside from Henry, natch) and honestly, she wasn’t even that bad.

EW, DAVID.

Henry liked Iron Gwazi so much that HE BOUGHT THE DAMN HAT. Chooch got a t-shirt. I got nothing and I have big sads over that. I should have gotten at least a coffee cup or something!

This was the last BIG COASTER that we had to check off the list for this road trip and it was really like saving the best for last.

Ugh, but VelociCoaster…

No, Iron Gwazi….

Yeah, but those VelociCoaster night rides…

OK but Iron Gwazi’s insane elements…

Yeah, I can’t decide. Those are two very different coasters and ride experiences. Can it just be a tie!?

This was our 8th RMC (just Henry’s 6th LOLOLoser) and it’s safe to say that RMC still owns my heart. This trip had Chooch replacing B&M with Intamin for his favorite manufacturer, but it’s still me and RM sittin’ in a (hybrid) tree.

Mar 302022
 

I waited two entire days to post about NCT Dream’s comeback in order to prevent the entire post looking like a gang of toddlers took over.

Because I was excited, guys. Even now, I am screaming these words in my head maniacally as I type them, but you can’t tell, can you? No CAPSLOCK abuse here.

(You can do this, Erin. Be professional. Be-be professional.)

Early Monday morning, NCT Dream dropped their second full-length album, Glitch Mode, and the video for the eponymous first single. Let’s take a morning pause with our fresh cup of coffee to watch this together, shall we? I haven’t already watched it 87 times.

I love that SM doesn’t shy away from super different, unique, not always immediately accessible songs. Very few groups could pull something like this off, and NCT Dream is 100% one of them. Glitch Mode is wild, Mary. It’s already jarring (in all the good ways) and then 갑자기 metal breakdown!? WHAT? IN KPOP? Yes. That happened. And it brought out my old post-hardcore sentimentalities. 

If you want something more slow-jammy, they got you covered there too. This is my current favorite song on the album OMG (OK it’s becoming hard for me  to stay composed now):

But this song is a close second – it makes me want to hostilely speed skate through the neighborhood, knocking over everyone that gets in my way while imagining them to be various people who pissed me off during the work day. (Namely all the people who call me KELLY. I almost made it through the day yesterday without that happening, but nope. There it was. Post-lunch email. “Hi Kelly,”….OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE.)

 

There are other songs that I want to highlight too but I will keep calm and kpop on in private. I don’t know what the b-side will be yet that they’ll perform during the promotions, and I can’t wait to to find out!! I live for this shit – waking up every morning and watching the latest music show performance. It keeps me young, Cliff.

But I will end with NCT Dream’s debut, because it’s really awesome to see how they (and their talent!!) have grown – I think Jisung was only 14 or 15?!?!:

just really love this group. They have kept me afloat during some Dumb Adult Days, that’s for sure.

Mar 282022
 

In more “Chooch bought a 3D printer” news, he printed me a topography map of South Korea and it is so beautiful, so perfect, so meaningful. I  knew as soon as he handed it to me that I wanted to make it into an art piece because it’s just too special to lay around on a desk or in a drawer. Or on the floor once a cat discovers it on some surface and desperately needs it to drop to the floor. (Actually, in the above picture, Drew just couldn’t resist slowly touching it with her paw when she thought I wasn’t looking. Cats, amirite.)

We had several oval frames laying around because we always always always buy frames from Goodwill whether we’re in the market for them at the moment or not because you never know, bro. Henry painted it pastel pink and I found this gift wrap that I saved from a traditional Korean jewelry box store the first time we visited (which, at the time of this writing, was exactly 4 years ago; HOW). To be super exact, the box I bought for Barb was wrapped in this paper and after she opened the gift, she asked me if I wanted to keep the paper and I snatched it off her, like, “I THOUGHT YOU’D NEVER ASK.” It’s been chilling in a box in my closet all this time, patiently waiting for its time to shine.

Well, gift wrap, that time be now.

I just love it so much. It brings actual tears to my eyes. I still can’t believe how much of an impact this country and its culture has had on me over the last 6 years. I’m sure it’s very annoying and strange to some, but when I think back to 2016 and how miserable, low, depressed, traumatized, angry, and just honestly even in bad physical shape I was, I am ever so grateful to that fateful Christmas Eve in 2015 when I accidentally stumbled upon KpopX Fitness, even though it took a full year for it to give me that hard push down the rabbit hole to what ended up being an entirely new lifestyle. It literally started with me searching “hiphop cardio dance” on YouTube.

(Shocking, but no I didn’t “discover Korea” because of BTS.)

I made the right choice that night. So maybe some people might think this is a weird obsession or find it hard to understand, but I see it as the catalyst to me making big changes that may have potentially saved my life. When I say 2016 was bad for me personally (obviously also politically), I am not exaggerating. I didn’t think I could ever bounce back from the trauma I went through that year, but Kpop and learning about Korea gave me something to be excited about. So, you’ll understand when I want to surround myself with mementos and art from Korea; it’s very symbolic to me and when I’m having a bad day, I clutch my experiences and memories that I made on those two visits like an emotional support stuffed animal.

It’s like those people who love the beach so much, they hang flip flop art around their house. I just took a step further and hung a giant light-up map of the Seoul subway lines on my wall. You know, for example.

I also like that the paper is gently wrinkled just like my face.

I think it really adds something different to this wall! Plus, we hung up the Old Crafty Man’s bunny!

Underrated corner, to be honest.

While I was at it, I framed this old photo of my grandparents from the 90s in a frame that I finally brought home from work. It used to have fake blood sprayed on the glass, with a picture of Sweeney Todd’s wife and kid inside, which I used for Todd’s Halloween motif the first year I ambushed my coworkers with covert Halloween decorations based on their names. And of course Todd got the Sweeney Todd theme and had no fucking idea what was going on. I even made disgusting meat pie things!

So many things around my house have fun stories but I never get to tell them because I’d need to have visitors for that HAHAHAHA ugh.

Well, that’s all I have to say about this because if we’re being honest here, today was the day of NCT Dream’s comeback and I need to get back to sitting here with my mouth open while watching YouTubers reacts to the video. I don’t pretend to have a glamorous life, you guys. Fair warning, I will probably spam the fuck out of this space with NCT Dream fan-swooning tomorrow.

Anyway, I miss interacting with people so if anyone happens to read this, tell me about an item in your house that is special to you, and why. I love reading about things like that!

Mar 222022
 

The other day, I received the sweetest gift in the mail from my friends Nix and Dustin! It came at such a good time too because I was having a shit week, feeling like no one liked me, you know, real insecure bullshit that happens from time to time. But then I opened this package and it felt really nice to know that people who only know me from Instagram thought of me! (I did meet Dustin once though! He came to my last Pie Party in 2017!)

First of all, the way the package was addressed filled me with joy right off the bat:

Did I ever tell you, Dear Blog, that I am called “Kelly” practically on a daily basis from people outside of my work department (and sometimes from people IN THE SAME DEPARTMENT, which is pretty soul-crushing). I swear to fucking god I have such a complex over this. I know it’s an “honest” mistake or whatnot but how hard is it to actually look at the full name of the person emailing you?? Aigoo, the perils of having two first names.

Anyway, you might remember that I started going by Erin Appledale sometime in 2007 or 2008 when we drove past an “Appledale Farm” on the way to Lakemont Park or something, and I was like “THAT’S IT. THAT IS MY NEW SURNAME SINCE IT WILL NEVER BE ROBBINS BECAUSE HENRY WILL NOT MARRY ME.” This was back when I was really into lomography and started an Etsy shop just for my prints called Appledale Snaps.

All of this is to say that I am back to seriously considering getting my name legally changed to Erin Appledale because just let me live in peace.

Inside the package, shit got even better!

Yo. A Cedar Point scarf, complete with a WICKED TWISTER PIN?? And a vintage book called White Knuckle Thrills, loaded with old pictures of coasters and other amusement park sundry? YES, PLZ, this is so apropos for Erin Appledale! And the best part was that I opened to right to the page about Comet at Six Flags Great Escape, which obviously recalled fond memories of our trip there during Labor Day weekend when we saw Henry’s doppelganger!!

Oh man, it never gets old!!!

And let’s back up a bit and talk about that WICKED TWISTER pin! Cedar Point actually just removed it last fall, and when they announced that the last day of operation would be Labor Day, we made a spontaneous trip out there in late August to get one last ride. It was bittersweet! Chooch and I loved that coaster so much. He lovingly dubbed it Spaghetti Noodle. It was terrifying and thrilling. I actually liked it so much more that Top Thrill Dragster.

I always am kind of flabbergasted when people see something and think of me. I guess it’s my inferiority complex shining through (weird for a Leo). But this surprise package really made me feel special and I appreciate it so much! I am going to wear that scarf so much next winter.

This also really got me excited to ride coasters again – hopefully our season will start back up in April. We do have a road trip planned for spring break but we have such bad luck with spring break trips these last several years that I am hesitant to even say anything more because if there is one thing we learned from 2020: no plans are set in stone.

Mar 192022
 

I was never super big into collecting enamel pins until I got into kpop and then suddenly had to buy pins commemorating even the most obscure “inside jokes” from my faves, like Johnny from NCT talking about how his dad invented coffee. A CLASSIC

Most of my pins are SHINee or BIGBANG biased, but I realized recently that I my collection is horrifically remiss of NCT pins so I treated myself a few weeks when one of the pinmakers I follow had a huge shop update. She’s in the UK so it took a bit to get in the mail but they finally arrived today and I was SWOONIN’!! Let’s look at them, shall we??

Haechan is one of two ult NCT Universe biases and Boom is one of my fave NCT Dream songs, so I had to get this one.

I’ve posted about my obsession with NCT127’s October comeback single “Favorite” tons of times on here since then so it’s not a shock that I desperately a pin to further express my love of this sweet ass jimmy-jam. Oh, you don’t remember? WELL HERE IS A LIVER PERFORMANCE FROM INKIGAYO:

JAEMIN IS SUCH A BIAS WRECKER FOR ME. I watch so many compilation videos of him being an absolute lunatic and I am just obsessed with his strange mind. Had to scoop up this We Go Up pin of him.

SURPRISE IT’S TAEMIN!

90’s Love is easily one of my favorite NCT U songs so I had to have this one too! I love love love these heart-shaped designs so much!! Also, I really need more NCT U songs that include both Ten and Haechan (my co-ult NCT biases!). <3

Um, if you live in My House / Pioneer Ave you will know that I have been stanning Renjun HARD of late so this pin is killing me! I really think that Renjun has the best voice out of everyone in the entire NCT universe and it has brought me to actual tears at times.

Now I have pins to display in my NCT127 Cherry Bomb purse!!! #ForeverYoung

OK so this was totally just an excuse to ambush you with NCT videos. Maybe there will be a quiz someday. You never know.

Mar 082022
 

When I saw an NCT U “7th Sense” shirt on Etsy several weeks ago, I bought it with no hesitation – buyer’s remorse weighs heavily on me so I usually end up abandoning my shopping cart more often than going through with the transaction – manic shopping is actually one of the few characteristics of bi-polar disorder that doesn’t apply to me. As soon as it arrived, I tried it on and was all Heart Eyed Noona over here. I couldn’t wait until the weekend to wear it out! Because my life is so boring that I literally do not leave the house until Saturday AND MAYBE NOT EVEN THEN.

I wanted Henry to help me get a good picture of it so that I can get a discount from the Etsy seller (he promised!) because he other amazing Kpop designs that I need.  But then Henry was quick to remind me with no words needed that he sucks at taking pictures but excels at capturing my worst sides/angles/scowls/jowls.

We went to the Round Hill Cemetery on our way home from our dumb SaturDate and luckily there were witnesses there so we both stopped JUST SHORT of actual murder when bitching at each other over these dumb pictures.

We could have stopped with this one, only a few minutes into the “shoot,” if Henry had done a better job making sure my jacket wasn’t covering part of the shirt, Ihatehimsomuch.

Getting angry.

  1. I like this Hipstamatic filter and rarely get to use it but apparently it comes in handy when you need to block out your miserable mug.
  2. My purse is actually an NCT Cherry Bomb purse! The other side has a clear vinyl window so you can display your NCT enamel pin collection. I love that I’m like, “I RARELY BUY THINGS” but then I’m also like, “WILL PAY A LOT TO PREORDER A PURSE DESIGNED BY A PIN MAKER IN SINGAPORE THAT I MAY OR NOT EVER RECEIVE.” Spoiler alert: I obviously did receive it but it took like half a year. I paid for it in the fall of 2019 and then covid happened which delayed an already drawn out process.  #WorthIt

I was so over it.

All of this was going on while Henry’s phone was in the car so when we finally went to leave after nearly killing each other, Henry had like 87 missed calls from Chooch who “assumed” that we were picking him up from work and you know what they say about people who ASSUME.

(LOL, when I was a kid and heard that saying for the first time, I thought it was the greatest thing ever and was so excited to use it all the time, not knowing that the person I heard it from – probably a teacher – didn’t invent it.)

Oh well, that’s all for now. It’s only Tuesday and my brain is the perfect consistency for oyster crackers. I don’t know why I said that. What does that mean? My brain is chowder? OMG THAT MADE SENSE AFTER ALL.

OK. Bye. Stan NCT.

P.S.!! I forgot that Chooch and I saw this when we were at SM Town in Seoul!!

Feb 222022
 

I used to be really into going to major FOODIE type of restaurants, but lately I’m looking for something a bit more down to earth than sitting in a candlelit room with yuppies, having the essence of hickory and truffles elegantly farted into my face by a haunted accordion. I mean, that shit is cool for a second but sometimes I just really want to eat comfort food in some small town dive with the local yokels, you know what I’m saying?

I guess this is our current version of “going out on dates” since Chooch has ditched us for That McDonald’s Life. Not gonna lie, it’s been nice to get out of the house and neither of us are opposed to driving out of Pittsburgh so it’s been nice to see non-Brookline sights. Even rural shit, I guess.

For this weekend’s diner date, I let Henry choose. As usual, he chose poorly. It was some place called G&G’s or something else equally auto body-sounding. It was in VANDERGRIFT, whatever that means, and at first I was like, “OK G&G’s, I see you. Let’s goooo” because it was situated squat in the middle of an adorable small-town street (actually, it was on the corner) and it looked cute! Not all like tires were getting rotated in the back!

Except that it was PACKED and not regular-PACKED, but TIGHTLY-PACKED. So as soon as we walked in and put our name and number on the list, I felt panicky. I mean, I’m getting less OMG about eating in restaurants during The Bad Times, but I’m not OK with crowds still. And I really didn’t want to sit in the middle of so many small-town mouth breathers just for the sake of a grilled cheese that, let’s be real, would be devoured within 4 bites.

Since the host had my number, we went back to sit in the car. There was nowhere to stand in the little foyer without jutting your buns into the face of diner.

We had only been waiting in the car for about 10 minutes before I started getting RULL antsy and “don’t they know who we are”‘ish, so Henry was like, “OMG fine let’s find somewhere else to go, fuck me for trying to choose a place without your consent.”

THAT’S RIGHT, BITCH.

I ended up finding a place through my nemesis Yelp that was allegedly “9 minutes” away. At first I was like, “I’m not sure about this place, it has taxidermy” which is obviously completely off-brand for me. But at the same time, it was the kind of DARK LOG CABIN vibe I was yearning for and just didn’t know it.

On the way there, that fucking G&G motherfucker had the audacity to call me to tell me our table was ready. Cool fucking story! I was mad that they called and not texted (you know, with their restaurant landline) so I refused to answer out of principal. They called right back! Jesus, why are you sweatin’ me, G&G?? Get a life!

Anyway, we rolled up to BONFIRE and I was like, “OK, this is nothing to look at from the outside” and then immediately upon entering, we were cock-slapped in the face by a wall of stale cigarette stench because the steps to the basement LOUNGE was right next to the entrance. I was tempted to go down there and check in on the sad sacks crying into their beers, but there’s always next time.

The front room was empty aside from a table of OLD MEN REGULARS who told us to just go ahead and sit down. I had lowkey Blue Flame-circa-1984 vibes,  to be honest, and even though I still was MEH about the DEER HEADS everywhere, I was really feeling like this was the place that I was meant to me, fuck you G&G. (And you too Henry for suggesting that dump.)

Henry immediately headed straight for the bathroom while I chose the one booth that was situated right next to a beam on one side – Henry’s side, lol.

The waitress came to get our drink orders and she was so adorable in a cowgirl flannel and Princess Leia buns. She said she loved my sweater and I sang, “I THINK I’M GONNA LIKE IT HERE” in my best Annie impersonation while Daddy Warbucks was pissing in the john.

“How was the bathroom?? Was it cool??” I cried after Henry returned and finally managed to get situated in the booth without having to slice off part of his gut first. (And yes, I was a good orphan and ordered a stupid unsweetened ice tea for him in his absence.)

“Not really, it was just a regular bathroom,” he said. “Nothing special.”

“OK well I’m taking my phone anyway just in case,” I cried as I rolled out of the booth toward the restrooms. Henry never thinks anything is special so I’d be the judge of that.

It was OK! Kept up the dead animal theme.

Back in the LODGE, Henry ordered cole slaw and something called Texas Toenails or something from the appetizer section of the menu – he was really flexing that Faygo salary. Meanwhile, someone sitting at the Old Man table had a ringtone that sounded like the horn of one of those mini-big rigs that the SHRINER’S drive down my road during the Memorial Day Parade.

Hold please, while I find an example.

LOL I just caught Henry looking all around for the sound.

Every time that notification went off, I pictured one of the old guys paying the check and then peeling out of the Bonfire lot in his bitchin’ Shriner mini-car, honk-honk motherfuckers. Why was this so stupidly funny to me??

I finished the word search in like 5 minutes or less because I am actually a prodigy at word searches in case you never read about me in the local Pennysaver or whatever. Also, Henry thought our server’s name was Audible and definitely not Autumn.

Dude, this grilled cheese was just what I needed. And I stole some of Henry’s fries which were JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT. Yeah, I could handle the whole HUNTER’S LODGE vibe a lot better if all the dead animals were fake. I felt like a hypocrite gushing over how JUST MY STYLE that place is! But it’s true! I love dark/dim restaurants. Sigh.

Meanwhile, there was a steady stream of old country classics playing, as expected. I don’t like country at all but if I’m going to be stuck somewhere enduring it, I would definitely prefer the stuff from the 70s and early 80s, like Kenny Rogers or Dolly Parton shit you know? So I wasn’t mouthing off about the Bonfire soundtrack at all. However, at one point, this one song came on that made me straight up drop my grilled cheese.

“OMG I HAVEN’T HEARD THIS SONG SINCE I WAS LITTLE AND IT’S BRINGING BACK HIDDEN MEMORIES, MAYBE OF MY BIO-DAD???” I hissed across the table because god forbid any of the deer heads heard me baring my soul. There was literally no one else around us but them. :(

It was that I WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED IT FOR THE WORLD jam and I was like on the verge of spurting out tears.

Henry couldn’t remember who sang it, and I’m certain I probably new knew, so a quick Shazaam learned him  that it was Ronnie Milsap.

“Oh, I never would have guessed that,” I scoffed. “I don’t even know who he is, just his name.”

“RONNIE MILSAP?!” Henry repeated, like OK I already said I know the name, just not really who he is but cook on with your irritating reiterations, Chef Dick. And then, “THE BLIND COUNTRY SINGER!!!??”

The way he said this, totally blurted it out across the table in this serious, frenzied way like he was the friend I phoned and he was telling me the winning answer.

We locked eyes for a moment just as the SHRINER NOTIFICATION went off 4 times in succession at the Elder Table and I just lost it, mid-chew, about to spit out a glob of grilled cheese cud onto Henry’s glasses. It was the most hilarious 3 seconds I’ve experienced in quite some time, Henry’s dire Milsap description followed by clown horns. I was choking at that point, tears streaming down my scrunched up fat face, and even Henry started laughing but I don’t think he knew why.

OMG I will never forget RONNIE MILSAP ever again except for when I started to write this portion of the blog post and had to google “Who sings….” because I totally forgot.

THE BLIND COUNTRY SINGER.

JOHN WAYNE SHIT.

SAW SHIT.

OK somehow I ended up feasting on coconut (WHY DO I ALWAYS TYPE COCOCUNT AT FIRST???) cream pie three weekends in a row, and I have no regertz. This one was so good and totally my style!! I knew as soon as AUDIBLE was walking over playing a sample of THE LAST BUCKAROO* with my slice of pie in her hand, that this was going to be a winner. For starters, it had WHIPPED TOPPING. And the actual coconut cream was fresh and homemade-tasting and not snot-textured and vanilla pudding-y which is my least favorite kind and sadly the kind that Janna and I had two weeks ago at that other place I was obsessed with but already forgot the name of.

*(I literally just googled “What are names of classic western books” lol)

This is where all the CIG STENCH was emanating from.

Oh shit, I should have checked the menu to see if they have SHIRLEY TEMPLES because this totally seemed like the type of establishment that would.

Anyway, I am smitten with this place. I want to go back soon-ish and check out the BACK ROOM which seems to overlook A GORGE. Or maybe just a slight hill.

I might have my birthday dinner here so stay tuned for an invitation. The Watering Hole area would probably be a great place for an AFTER PARTY. If I send you an invitation, you better show up and say I WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED IT FOR THE WORLD.

 

 

First round of Shirley Temples on Chooch!

Feb 192022
 

That feeling when you wait all week for the weekend and then it’s just a freezing cold snowy day so why bother doing anything, you know? Ugh my spring anticipation is off the charts. I keep seeing these big fat ass robins around my porch and they are bringing me hope. We were also teased with two mild days earlier in the week which was like walking out into a dopamine wonderland.

We were going to get Korean food for lunch today but I am so unmotivated. Maybe?

In other It’s My Life So That’s What I Write About news, a Verizon salesman came to our house last week. Of course, henry was upstairs when dude knocked and I have a firm Anti-Door-Opening Policy, so I fled with the cats upstairs and panted, “Henry! Someone! Door! Knocking!” I then proceeded to eat my dinner (oatmeal, my winter smoothie bowl transition) on the steps with Penelope, both of us cowering in fear.

But yeah, just a Verizon guy, trying to get us to switch from Xfinity. I knew that Henry wanted to do this anyway at some point but I still figured he’d be like “go away.” Except that he talked to the dude for like a solid 15 minutes.

“That guy was really cool,” Henry said later. “He used to be a journalist in Afghanistan!” Henry was fixated on this. So much so that he told the guy to come back the next day and he’d sign up. Why he didn’t just do it then, I have no idea.

Of course, the dude didn’t come back the next day at the designated time. Henry paced back and forth by the window like a fisherman’s wife watching for the ship, until 7:00pm came and went. “I guess he’s not coming,” Henry sighed, and then left to go to Lowe’s.

OF COURSE thee came a knock upon the door (shout out to Janna who was helping me film a video in English class and couldn’t remember her line of “someone is knocking” and blurted out “there came a knock upon the door” instead like some Dickensian savant) thirty minutes after Henry left. It was his Verizon Buddy’s partner, making good on the promise to return. Now I was saddled with this responsibility of signing up for Verizon!!! FML. I shouldn’t have answered but the guy was knocking so jovially and I knew, presumably, that it wasn’t going to be a villain, so I put my Big Girl Pants on and dealt with it.

Long story short, I was entertained for nearly 20 minutes by the tweedle dee and tweedle dum of Verizon. It was like amateur mic night and my front porch was the little known comedy club The Brookline Bellylaugher. Super nice guys though! And they were like desperately trying to edge closer into my house to get a better look, it was hilarious. Every time one of them would finish giving me some VERIZON IS BETTER THAN XFINITY factoid, they’d interrupt themselves to say, “OMG that thing is so cool!!” and then I’d have to turn around and try to figure out what they were pointing at. They both really loved the Mouse Attack sign.

If I wasn’t home alone in the middle of a pandemic, I would have certainly invited them in. But also, it was 8pm in February in the middle of COVID uncertainty, so I stayed inside the house and they stood back on the porch, and this is how we conducted our business. I signed up and completely screwed up the deal Henry was going to get, but it’s fine! These are things you have to expect when you leave the most helpless member of the household in charge of decision-making.

Luckily, Henry came home while they were still sitting in their car so he stopped them, like, “ho ho ho! Here I am, you promised me a $200 gift thingie, let’s talk about this.”

Anyway, everything is all ironed out I guess. The Verizon tech dude came to my house on Tuesday to do the installation and he too was like *POPPING EYEBALLS* as he walked through the house to the computer. The thing he liked the best was the Seoul subway sign, in case you were wondering.

Poor Taemin got bumped around a lot, but we are now Verizon internet customers, after more than a decade of Henry desperately wanting to switch but being unable to because I was in BAD STANDING with Verizon from a bunch of years ago when I had a landline through them and racked up a HUGE phone bill when I was in Australia and never paid it because I switched some fly-by-night service and that’s a whole other story that I barely remember now because what’s a landline, wow.

The installation also conveniently happened right smack in the middle of a training call I was on, so I had to keep saying, “Dawn? Hey, Dawn? The Verizon guy is here again, can you give me a few minutes?” and I truthfully don’t think she gave a shit either way lol.

I forgot that I took this picture last Saturday when Henry and I were in Brownsville (which apparently was a big deal and numerous people on Instagram were like WHY WERE YOU IN BROWNSVILLE because I guess Pittsburghers aren’t allowed to be there who knows). There was an abandoned church that I wanted to have my picture taken in front of because I liked the door (you never know with me) and one of the windows was broken so we could see this creepy basement scene.

I also forgot to post this from last weekend! It’s my new necklace from The Idol Collective. I love her jewelry and pins sooo much. I found her years ago when I was looking for BIGBANG enamel pins because at the time, she specialized in Kpop pieces but has since branched out to other things and I just love it all.

Look at this boo babe!! He’s OOAK. I set a reminder on my phone so when her most recent shop update went live, I could swoop in and snag him. I love being A WINNER.

What else happened this week….

We were watching some kid do an unboxing of NCT albums while talking about her biases.

Henry: Wow. Who *isn’t* her bias?” Me: I mean it’s really hard to not have like 10 NCT biases. Henry: I don’t have any. So it’s really easy, actually.

Shut up Henry. Everyone knows his bias is Jungwoo.

Henry: He’s not my bias, though! You just assigned him to me because that’s your way of getting to have an extra bias! Through me!

This might be partially true. Here are my NCT biases even though you didn’t ask:

  • NCT127: Jaehyun. It used to be Haechan and Jaehyun was my bias wrecker, but then I decided to make Jaehyun my official NCT127 bias, and you’ll see why in a second. (Because you care.)

Compilation of #JAEHYUN Magazine Interview Translation ♡ / Twitter

  • NCT Dream: Renjun. Bias wrecker: Jaemin

Watch: NCT DREAM&#39;s Renjun Wows With Gorgeous Cover Of Troye Sivan&#39;s “Fools”  | Soompi

maybe it&#39;s a kind of day — hufflepuff love — n. jaemin

  • WAYV: Xiaojun

230 XIAOJUN ideas | nct, nct 127, nct dream

  • Overall NCT Universe bias: Haechan and Ten

160 Nct ─ haechan. ideas | nct, nct dream, nct 127

Haechan was the first person in the NCT Universe who I really really really liked and latched on to. He has the most unique voice out of any of them. Honestly, he is so underrated as a vocalist in general.

Imagines and Stuffs — WayV Reaction to you doing a strip tease

Ten is a fucking dancing beast, and he is one of my most charismatic and fun to watch of all the members! Since he’s also a member of Super M, I got to see him in person back in 2019, where he also performed two solo songs and it was so fucking dreamy. He is one of the most mesmerizing dancers in the whole damn world. Also, he hates fruit to the point of being actually afraid of them which is hilarious to me.

There, now you know my NCT biases. I mean, there are 23 members overall! How can you have just one!?!?

In non-Kpop news, we finally got confirmation yesterday from the study abroad program that Chooch received *almost* a full academic scholarship for the summer program in Yucatan this July so what we actually to pay is minimal, thank god. We would have tried to make it work regardless because this will be a great experience for him and something that he can include on his college applications (do not want to think about this at all right now).

I asked Henry today if he thinks Chooch will be OK without us for 4 weeks.

“I mean, he’s never been away from us for that long! What if he can’t sleep at night because he misses us so much?” and the response I received from Henry was a silent “COME THE FUCK ON NOW” smirk. OK fine. Maybe it’s me who won’t be able to sleep hahaha ughhh.

Anyway, it’s amazing that he qualified for anything because this is the thing I mentioned a few mths ago where one of his essays sounded like it was written by a sociopath.

More Chooch news: he showed me a slideshow presentation he did for school wherein he eschewed capitalization and used comic sans. “It was an ironic stylization choice,” he shrugged. And the other day when everyone was ballistic because the Wordle word was so fucking aggravating? He got it on THE SECOND TRY. I know this because I was sitting right next to him before we left for school and I was so fucking pissed.

I started having sporadic electrocutions in one of my knees last week and I am totally fixated and wigging out, much to Henry’s chagrin because I always pull him into the WebMD abyss with me. Me: Feel my knees! Do I need more fat in them? Should I be doing cartilage stuff?

Henry: Yeah. Let me know how that goes, doing ‘cartilage stuff.’

Ugh, I hope it’s OK. It only happens sometimes, like I’m not in constant pain but I’m also super babying both knees now to the point where I am afraid to kneel, squat, etc.

Me: What if I have to get a cast?? I can’t use crutches!!! I’ve tried!!!

Henry: WTF, now your leg is suddenly broken? Why would a doctor put you in a cast??

Too late, I’m spinning out. It’s bone cancer. My knee cap is popping off. I have water on the knee. (Fun fact, when I was 10, I was convinced that I had this affliction after reading about it in the Merck medical journal that I kept on my night stand and then I went on vacation with my grandparents right after and proceeded to write about it ad nauseum in my vacation journal and it was not meant to be taken lightly but when my grandma read it, she was like, “OH HONESTLY ERIN” and then laughed herself to tears.

OK but 30(ish) years later, here I am! With a knee ailment! A veritable swimming pool atop my knee! Probably! Who’s laughing now, Grandma?!

I was going to end this with an NCT Dream video but you guy(s) are probably sick of that so I’ll give you a break. (For now!)

Feb 082022
 

I had every intention of posting about this yesterday because this news has rocked my pathetic, lonely world but then I was actually TOO STRESSED/HYPER/EXCITED/NERVOUS about it that I did a bunch of YouTube workouts instead to blow off steam. Somehow, I was able to work and I even sent Carrie a message that said HOW WILL I BE ABLE TO WORK and she was like, “Well, their song doesn’t come out until spring so you might be okay today.” LOL.

Obviously I’m happy but it’s so bittersweet because of Seungri (actually I thought that Seungri had recently appealed and had his sentence reduced to a year and a half but what do I know  – nothing except that he WAS THE FALL GUY). Did you know that some of the Korean TV channels actually blur his face out whenever old BIGBANG footage is shown? It’s depressing.

And I just want TOP to be happy. He had said after he was discharged from the military that he had no desire to be a performer anymore. He has always been interested in art and I’m glad that he’s been given the freedom to pursue these other interests and ventures (it’s the least YG could do) and I hope that he only joins BIGBANG for future schedules if his heart is in it.

Also, I’m paranoid because YG has hinted around about this before. VIPs have been given nothing since 2018 when one single was released. They haven’t performed together as a five-piece since the beginning of 2017. I have never had the chance to see BIGBANG live, and will never, at this point, have a chance to see them as OT5.

Oh, the trials and tribs of a Kpop stan! I’m telling you, when I got into this, I had no idea how much heartache it would bring – but, more joy than anything else, so we’ll stay on this path.

I’m about to go jump on a napping Henry because I’m ready for my dinner-oatmeal, so I will leave you with the last song BIGBANG ever released with all five members, omg my dumb kpoppin’ heart.

Feb 062022
 

Maybe you* can relate, but I have been caught in this frustrating cycle where I am home almost constantly and desperate for social interaction, but then when I think about scheduling any type of plans with anyone, I immediately feel exhausted and just resort to my shut-in tendencies. And then an hour I will complain about being bored and having no friends.

*(You know. You.)

I can’t tell if this the new COVID new, depression, winter, laziness, or all of the above, but last week I was determined to make plans and keep them. So I Kakao’d Janna and said, “let’s go to lunch this weekend” and she was like, “yes” and then I was like, “shit now we have to choose a place” and somehow, my random Yelp map travels lured me to the town of NEW EAGLE where a family restaurant by the name of HILLS RESTAURANT resides.

We’re not on this side all that often, but we do go out that way during haunted house season, and Chooch and I were just in that area last spring for GEOCACHING ugh. All I’m trying to say is that I have somehow never noticed this place in all the times I’ve driven on this road but of course HENRY knew what it was immediately and has even eaten there like 50 years ago which sounds like I’m exaggerating until you remember that Henry is, you know, many years my senior.

I don’t even know what made me click on it when I saw it on the Yelp map, but as soon as I saw pictures of the interior, I imprinted on this bitch immediately. So I sent it to Janna with prayer hands and she was like “yes let’s go here” and that is how normal people make plans, or so I hear.

The only downside was that it’s like 40 minutes away which is kind of weird to drive that far for just a basic lunch but sometimes you gotta just make a meal into an adventure, amirite?

We met there at 12:30 and I was lowkey acting like I was about to meet a blind date inside, that’s how anxious and giddy I was. “You go first,” I said to Janna who was probably just like *EYE ROLL* but I couldn’t see because I was behind her since I made her go first, remember.

Look at that cool tile!! I felt like I was in a subway station and I loved it. Also, we were the youngest diners, so that felt good, too.

LOOK AT HOW CHEERFUL THIS IS! I blurted out the same to the waitress as she was filling the cups. “I try to make sure they never match,” she said with a smile, and my heart was bursting.

Of course, I had to send photographical evidence of my coleslaw to Henry, who was back at home slagging away at projects lol. #PoorHenry says the studio audience in unison. 

Grilled Cheese check: look, I knew I wasn’t going to get a gourmet TOASTIE (that’s what they’re called in ENGLAND, isn’t it??) and am more often than not haunted by lousy diner grilled cheeses (um, the last time I went to Hyde’s in Cincinnati, it was literally two slices of baby-sized bread FOLDED OVER and the one half only had like a corner of a cheese slice on it –  you can kindly CLICK HERE to see a true life photo of that monstrosity. But I have been to Hyde’s enough at this point in my life to know that you don’t go to Hyde’s for a grilled cheese,  you go for the MOTHERFUCKING PIE, PEOPLE).

But the grilled cheese I received on my plate today straight from the HILLS KITCHEN was exactly the kind of grilled cheese I expect to get at an establishment like this. I know it’s going to be basic, but basic doesn’t mean skimpy, you know? And this grilled cheese was just right! The menu said it came on Texas toast and IT DID! I have ordered many falsely advertised grilled cheeses! And it had more than one slice of cheese, which was evenly melted under the bread. (The points  sticking out from the bread weren’t melted, but I didn’t mind.) And the tomato I requested as an add-on was a beefy boy! Yeah, I was please with this.

(Only downside was that the waitress didn’t bring us ketchup since neither of us ordered fries and I typically require a giant pool of the stuff on my plate so that I can dunk my grilled cheese into it before each bite, but I didn’t feel like calling the waitress over to ask for it. If my Pappap were still alive, he’d have dinged a knife against his water glass repeatedly to get her attention, just kidding, he only did that shit at Blue Flame because he was pals with all the waitresses and loved to eff with them lol.)

While we were still eating, the waitress came over and asked if we’d be having anything else, so I blurted out, “do you have coconut cream pie???” because the menu and website SAID THAT THEY DO and Janna and I both love CCP. (I have never called it that before but didn’t feel like spelling it out so instead I used an acronym and then spent all these letters forming words explaining the obvious. I am a Writer.)

“We have one slice left,” she said, not realizing that she was basically uttering the words that could end Janna’s and my friendship.

Janna and I looked at each across the table. “I’ll fight you for it,” I said, while Janna The Mature asked, “What else do you have?”

The waitress ran down the list and some of the other ones sounded good too so I brilliantly suggested that we order the coconut and another one, and then split each. 12 YEARS WORKING IN THE CONFLICTS DEPARTMENT, LADIES AND GENTS AND OTHERS.

“I’ll let you two decide and come back in a few,” the waitress said, realizing that she didn’t have time to stand there for this heavy discussion.

“OK, but save the coconut for us please!” I called after her, wondering if she could detect the coating of panic & desperation hanging on my voice.

A few minutes later, the waitress came back and asked if we decided. I asked Janna if she knew which other pie she wanted to get and Janna was like, “Should we just get the coconut and that’s it?” and I was like, “Oh. Ok. Sure,” but deep down I was like, “NO I AM A PIE PIG AND REQUIRE TWO SLICES IF WE ARE SHARING.” So we let the waitress walk away and then Janna IMMEDIATELY said, “Dammit, that raspberry cream one sounded good—-” and I was already crying out, “EXCUSE ME!” to the waitress so we could tack on the raspberry slice too. Crisis averted!!

Good thing too because the raspberry cream ended up being better than the coconut! Look, the coconut was fine, but it was not my favorite kind of coconut cream pie. I prefer the inside to be more of a whipped coconut filling and less pudding-y, and I definitely prefer my slice to be topped with a whipped wig, not a meringue mountain. To this day, I don’t think I have had a better coconut (literally have type cococunt every single time) cream pie than the ones served up at Grant’s in Millvale. That pie deserves its own TV show.

BUT CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE BATHROOM AND ITS GOLD GLITTER SINK??

LOL.

Hills was decently busy when we arrived, but we stayed all the way up until they closed at 2 (two other old ladies did too!) like total rude asses. I blame Janna, who had to go to the bathroom. I had actually paid a few minutes prior to 2 but then had to STAND THERE AND WAIT FOR HER while the waitresses were like, “Cool thanks for finally leaving the table so we can clean up your mess now” but don’t worry I left a nice tip because what a great place with even better service.

We’re almost counter-sitting age! I bet a lot of old men have bitched to each other about their nagging wives while sitting on those stools and slurping down cups of black coffee.

Chooch would have been so stoked about the WIFI sign because that’s always the first thing he checks when we go to a restaurant.

Well, I think was a great lunch spot! I haven’t been to a restaurant since December (I’m still leery!) so I’m glad I broke my “eating out” strike for this place. Then, as I was about to get in my car to leave, Janna asked me some innocent question about NCT127 and it was like getting a POWER UP in Super Mario Bros. My brain, now flipping over to its Korean side, completely disregarded the original plan of “Lunch is over / get in car / drive home” and told my legs to walk back over to the sidewalk where Janna was standing.

“OK LET ME EXPLAIN HOW NCT WORKS” I said all breathily because talking about Kpop makes me get into HEAVY PANT MODE. So we were still having NCT class while all of the waitresses started to come out and leave. Then we were the only ones left in the parking lot and I’m sure Janna was like, “I WISH I HADN’T ASKED.” Lol.

OH FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, I just realized that I failed to check at the register for Hills merch!!!

P.S. You know what else is good on grilled cheese? HOT SAUCE.

Jan 102022
 

As previously mentioned, Henry and I have been going through the tedious and boring chore of cleaning out the attic. Not surprisingly, some historic gems have been unearthed, like this shirt I bought in 1998, perhaps from Hot Topic back when Hot Topic was just regular old mall goth as opposed to whatever den of commercial crap it’s become over the years (don’t they literally seel Spongebob merch there?? 1990s Hot Topic would have never…). Or it might have been from Slacker, which was (is? I think it still exists) a shop on the Southside where you could get cloves and BDSM accouterment, lol. I definitely bought clothes from there on several occasions during my Fake Goth phase but I mostly bought novelty cigarettes to smoke with my purple cigarette holder.

I was really into smoking back then.

What a brag.

But yeah, as mentioned off and on in this garbage dump of words over the years, I went through a solid goth phase from probably 1998 to 2001, except that it was mostly just the music that I liked to enjoy in the privacy of my own home while chatting with Internet friends on Darkchat who probably were actual legit goths with an Ann Rice and Poppy Z. Brite library, and not a POSEUR like me lol.

I don’t think I ever wore this shirt more than twice. Once was definitely post-Dracula’s Ball. I had been wearing a corseted dress all night and this was my CASUAL GOTH LOUNGE WEAR that I changed into apparently. Probably made sense at the time? I have a vague recollection of changing into it in a parked car at like 1AM.

Anyway, Henry was like WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THIS. For a split second, I nearly put it in the donate pile. But then I reconsidered. There might be opportunities to use it for costumes or photo shoots, see also: it’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

Of course, I couldn’t resist temptation and had to try it on. You know, just to see if I would feel inspired to dust off my Black Bible goth CD compilation (and then also search the house for something on which to play said CDs…)

I still have the choker that I was wearing in the OG picture and knew exactly where it was too, so recreating this photo was a breeze except that as usual, I was being the Queen of Not Fully Understanding the Assignment and therefore had my hands facing out instead of up.

Wow you guys, I’m happy to report that this shirt is FUCKING COZY. I had no idea! Probably because I was drunk any time I wore it in the past so why would I remember a shirt’s comfort level.

Please enjoy this picture of me with GOTH MICHAEL BOLTON, after me and this broad I was friends with at the time (actually, I had only just met her IRL after sort of knowing her from Darkchat and decided, “Yes, Stranger Lady, I shall get into your free candymobile and attend a goth dance party in Philly and then you will promptly meet some old man who you become convinced is a real life vampire and proceed to sloppily make out with him leaving me to wander around alone and stumble into a veritable DRUG DUNGEON.”

Anyway, Goth Michael Bolton was the sidekick of Real-Life Vampire (but probably actually IT Guy) so I got stuck with him while that broad (with whom I actually stayed friends for several years but she is actually one of the most toxic, habitually-lying people I have ever met) giggled and acted amazed while Real-Life Vampire added HTML to his WebTV email address.

(I actually wrote about this night for a writing assignment when I was taking a creative non-fiction class at Pitt and I got an A but the last time I re-read it, my whole body cringed. I can’t believe I was actually in college for writing lol. )

Speaking of that broad, here she is on another night when we went to this guy SHADOE‘s apartment for dinner and she was like “OMG please let me borrow that shirt, I like this guy so much” and then we got there and she was like, “OMG I DO NOT LIKE THIS GUY” after meeting him in person, yet proceeded to let him tie her up and cut with a huge knife??? IN FRONT OF ME???

Anyway, blood-letting aside, I thought this guy was lovely and we actually stayed friends for quite some time after he found out that she was married and a pathological liar.

It’s also super surprising I even still have this shirt in my possession considering I let her borrow it and she was the most untrustworthy person in the whole world. (Although she did help me get rid of this guy I thought I was in love with from the aforementioned goth chatroom Darkchat and thought that yes, it would be a great idea for him to use his mother’s miles and fly here from Vancouver only for me to immediately feel smothered and creeped out by his constant need to serenade me with Joy Division songs while crying.

My life was very different pre-Henry.

Clearly.

Also, I can tell you that in that picture up there, she was either pouring a glass of Tequila Rose or Manischewitz wine, because those were our go-to alcohols back then, I guess??

Also x2, I was really into cropped rug-like sweaters during those days. I had one that was yellow and my friends Jon and Justin loved calling it the Big Bird shirt. I saw that these were back in style again recently, maybe two or three winters ago, and I almost bought one from the junior’s section of JC Penney’s lol.

Also x3, Shadoe if you’re out there, I miss you. Hit me up. You were a real one. :(

And here’s a close-up of The Choker, which I actually bought from a vendor at the Dracula’s Ball. It’s hilarious to me how much of an impact that one night had on me, evidently. I mean, I have a scar because of it, and if you read the linked post up there, YOU WILL KNOW WHY. #ClickBait

Well, we barely made a dent in the attic cleaning project, so who knows what else I will find? CHECK BACK SOON – lol.

Edited to add this outtake, which cracks me up because you can see my VERY GOTH FitBit: