Apr 152014
 

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Henry hates it when Chooch & I walk to the bakery and buy him a donut because he knows there is absolutely nothing altruistic about it. We just want to take pictures of pretty pink frosting grazing his bristling moustache so that we can endlessly mock him later. It’s one of my favorite past times.

So now Henry tries to act like he doesn’t want the donut. In fact, he was only pretending to eat it just so I would take a picture and leave him alone.

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Henry’s dumb lunch.

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He kept trying to sneak bites without me noticing so I wouldn’t take any pictures but I’m too fucking good. Get real, Henry.

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It never gets old.

And this concludes my Law Firm Fitness Challenge Cop Out Blog Post. I feel guilty if I waste too much time sitting and typing when I could be pacing and lurking. (I lost two pounds since it started yesterday morning! My body fucking hates me today!)

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Apr 032014
 

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I briefly mentioned last week that my friends Kevin and Lizzy sent me a box of fruit from Miami and I went into fruitiac arrest right there at my dining room table. It was actually the first time I used #blessed without an iota of facetiousness.

Literally every single fruit in that box was something that had never once graced my filthy lips. And I knew this because I didn’t recognize anything. Thank god they packed along a brochure from the fruit stand Robert Is Here, which is now my favorite place ever and I can’t wait to go to Florida.

Of course, Henry was in a “rush” to get back to work (I just like to put random words in quotes, OK? It makes my finger tattoos tingle) so he claimed he didn’t have time to cut anything for me. Luckily, one of those small beige balls was slightly ajar, so I swept it away into the kitchen and started ripping it open with my bare hands, until Henry finally sighed and confiscated it. He cut the rest with a knife and packed it away into one of my plastic fruitainers (a container for fruit, duh) like a good father getting his child’s school lunch ready.

According to my brochure, what I had so savagely opened in the style of caveperson was a sapodilla and I rejoiced because Kevin is always BRAGGING on Facebook about how he’s sucking back sapodilla MILKSHAKES, no big deal, and I get all jealous because what is a sapodilla, I have no idea but I want it.

The description in the brochure says that a sapodilla tastes like a pear with brown sugar. I am here to confirm that it tastes like a pear with brown sugar, how is that possible?! It was also a little bit reminiscent of root beer candy, HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!? The texture itself is a little bit grainy, definitely pear-like. I wish I had some in my mouth right now. (I wouldn’t share this with anyone, FYI.)

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In my haste to devour all of the sapodillas, I never got around to ramming my phone up into their grills, so please enjoy a stock photo that I procured from the Internet. I can’t wait until Henry plants sapodilla seeds in our tropical climate backyard biodome that he doesn’t know I’ve enrolled him in college to learn to build. And then he can peruse his beloved Pinterest for candied sapodilla and Kevin & Lizzy’s sapodilla milk shakes and sapodilla-on-the-cob and sapodilla lampshades. Sapodilla moustache rides?

Sapodilla chevron mason jars suspended from sapodilla pallets! Don’t forget to put a motherfucking bird on it.

Get on that, Henry.

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When I came home from work that night, I made Henry cut another fruit for me, the lone yellow guy up there. At first, I was confusing it for the mamey sapote because I am apparently dumb at matching. (Never mind the other day when I bragged about being excelsior at it; just call me Mary.)

(Because I’m contrary. God, go read a fucking nursery rhyme once in awhile.)

OK, so how can I describe this fruit to you without grossing you out….it’s like sticking a spoon in a yeasty vagi—OK WRONG, WRONG. Let me try again. The texture is custard-like and squash-y, not your typical pulp-y fruit innards. Do not be afraid of it. There is no squirting of juices to ruin your clothes (I know I’m not the only one that winds up walking around with fruit-jizz splotches on my shirts after wrestling with an orange). It’s soft and velvety, and even though it stinks of raw pumpkin, once you move past that, it is the most gentle sensation upon your buds, and I liked to imagine that when Robert Smith wrote the line “the strangest twist upon your lips” it was while watching some broad slowly masticate the shit out of a canistel, which is what this fruit is, and not a mamey sapote. Now that I’ve made you read 18 sentences wondering WTF fruit this is. I write good, y’all.

The flavor of the canistel isn’t in-your-face sweet like fruits that you average Americans are accustomed to, but it’s more of an egg custard. So there were times that I was spooning it into my maw where I would get a little skeeved out, remembering that I wasn’t eating some kind of exotic cheesecake, but the actual entrails of a fruit right out of its skin. It kind of made me feel like a savage. AND I KIND OF LIKED IT.

It had a very interesting moist:dry ratio and made me think fondly of Thanksgiving because now I want this shit in a pie shell.

Texture Freaks: This one might just tickle your gag reflex.

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Next up was the weird eggplant ball and the oblong cactus-thing. I determined these to be a star apple and guanabana, respectively. Coincidentally, my friend Eve had just recommended the guanabana to me a few weeks ago! I like having fruit friends. I mean, literal humans that also enjoy the sweet spoils of nature, not actually friends that are made of fruit.

(Although in 9th grade, I did have a friend that was an orange. His name was Marcus Aurelius and my asshole mom threw him away because he was starting to rot.)

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Henry blew out a harried sigh when I shouted, “WAIT! I need to take a picture” right as he was about to start hacking away at the star apple with that big knife in the background. (Don’t tell Henry, but sometimes, even though I’m not supposed to be handling sharp objects, I carry that knife with me around the house because I watch way too much shows like The Following and read too many home invasion news reports and yeah, I’ll probably wind up accidentally slicing through my femoral artery and then Henry will come home to find Marcy lapping up the pooling blood around my dead body. And then she probably will live forever after that.)

(Don’t be a bitch, Marcy.)

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I know, this inside of the guanabana is pretty gross; all glazed-over and white like the inside of an earthworm. (I think? It’s been awhile since that day I vomited in high school Biology.) It’s impossible to do anything with either of the above two fruit other than just spoon it into a bowl and go for it. Nicer boyfriends may have picked the seeds out first, but Henry told me to just spit them out. :(

He put both fruits together in a container, and by the time I was ready to eat it at work, they had kind of melded together into one gross lump of mash. Visually unappetizing (if I posted a photo of what it looks like right now on my desk at work, it would be the worst promotion ever), but each was delicious in its own right. Let’s talk about that.

The description of the guanabana says it tastes like pineapple cotton candy. How can this be possible, I do not know, but it’s pretty accurate. The pulp was firmer and wetter than the canistel, and reminded me of the cherimoya. Perhaps they are cousins. The guanabana had a mild tropical bite to it, not unlike that of the pineapple, but much less tangy and juicy. And it’s true: the lingering flavor at the back of my throat reminded me of cotton candy! (However, I can’t say that I would have naturally picked up on that on my own. Reading the description beforehand might have swayed my opinion—-like when Henry watches Fox News.)

I really expected this white piece of mangled flesh to be the winner here, but the star apple (or caimito, if you’re trying to be fancy) blew me away.

My favorite cake at Bethel Bakery is this almond majesty full of the softest raspberry buttercream frosting that I have ever suckled. It’s so regal-tasting that I always upgrade regular old birthday cakes so that they’re inseminated with raspberry splendor. The star apple—somehow, someway—reminds me of that fucking buttercream. The texture is thick and mostly smooth with a slightly grainy consistency that mocks sugar granules. It has subtle raspberry notes and a gentle saccharine tongue-hug that makes you remember that nature has its own sweetener. And I’m not talking about God’s ejaculate. (OR AM I.)

However, eating either of these fruits probably looks hideous to innocent bystanders. Especially when I’m orally chucking seeds into a spitoon. Today, I mixed in blueberries in an attempt to offset the general visage of eyeball paste and mashed-up road kill kidney. It didn’t work.

20140402-160918.jpg Babe. <3

Aaaaand, typing that while I’m still sitting here eating it was really dumb. This would have been fine a month ago when I was a casual bulimic for a few days.

Yesterday, I attempted to wield my knife-guardian and began hacking into the remaining beige ball in the box. I thought it was another sapodilla, which are soft and Erin-friendly as far as cutting goes. But instead, I made it less than an inch before the knife encountered the hugest pit I’ve ever seen in a fruit. So I had to wait for Henry to come home and finish the job.

In the meantime, I was unable to locate this big-pitted bastard on the brochure so I had the genius idea to EMAIL ROBERT IS HERE. I attached the below picture and made sure to also tell them that sapodillas are the best fruit in the whole universe.

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Within a few minutes, Employee Tracey emailed me back!!

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OMG ME AND ROBERT ARE FRUIT BROS!!! I started screaming and fanning myself, totally fruit fan-girling, while Henry sat there and glared at me in his typical Henry fashion. Sorry you find joy in nothing, old man.

Anyway, the mamey apple tasted like an apricot, indeed. Just more exotic, and more like a dried apricot, even though it didn’t have a dehydrated texture. I let Wendy try a piece and now she’s mad at me for making her like fruit that she won’t be able to get at the grocery store here. Welcome to my world, Wendy. :(

There was one last fruit that Henry cut for me yesterday, and he RUINED IT because it wasn’t ready. (It’s that football-looking thing in the first picture.) The insides were really tough and it kind of looked like a cantolope, and it had the most amazing stench. I kept shoving a piece up Henry’s nose.

“I KNOW! OK! IT SMELLS GOOD!” he kept screaming at me while swatting away my hand. I’m just trying to make moments with him, you know? Memories to include in our never-to-be-written vows.

But he was supposed to wait until the fruit was much softer and the skin was wrinkled, and after that it was supposed to taste like STRAWBERRY PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE because it’s a mamey sapote you guys! It’s what I originally thought the canistel was! Henry’s lucky I didn’t take the knife from him and [withheld so it cannot be used as future evidence].

But don’t worry. I’m now a registered user over at the Robert Was Here website, so: one mamey sapote coming right up!

[A million thank yous to Kevin & Lizzy for broadening my fruit horizons. When we visit—and we will!—, please take me to Robert Is Here so I can get him to autograph my brochure!)

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Apr 022014
 

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The new Chiodos album, “Devil”, was released yesterday, in perfect tandem with the stress volcano that was waiting to erupt from within my head. Henry was a good boy and bought it for me while I was at dumb work yesterday and not only did I fall asleep with it playing in the bedroom, but I have been listening to loudly all morning and you know what? COME AT ME, BRO. Ugh, I feel so much better, and I didn’t even have to punch more holes in my house.

You might know that Chiodos is one of my favorite bands. Top 5 for sure. I have Chiodos lyrics on my arm, a framed picture of Craig Owens on my wall, and about 87 paintings that were inspired by their songs. At one point in my life, I was writing about them so much that I had to give them their own category on this dumb blog.

Things got weird for awhile there when Craig was basically fired and replaced with Brandon Bolmer, and then Craig went on to start his own band. I loved the album that Chiodos released without him, and I also loved the album that Craig released with his new band, D.R.U.G.S., but it made me feel so sad, guilty and uncomfortable at the same time, like trying to assure both parents that I still loved them equally after a divorce. (I mean, hypothetically. I didn’t give a shit at all when my parents divorced.) It didn’t help that Twitter allowed the fans to witness in real time the thinly-veiled barbs that were being flung between the two camps.

But in 2012, they reconciled. And now they’re CHIODOS again. And this album, their first with Craig since 2007, was worth the wait. It is everything: brutal, hard, melodic, soft, pop, post-hardcore, raw, beautiful. It has their signature sound, but it so much more well-rounded and mature, the proper transition from Bone Palace, which is one of my favorite albums of all time. I listened to Bone Palace on Sunday in the car, after having purposely not played it in quite some time, and it felt like having a little piece of me mended when I didn’t even realize it was broken to begin with.

And with “Devil,” it’s like being home again. I can’t wait to see them next month in Cleveland! (WITH EMAROSA AND HANDS LIKE HOUSES, I might die.)

You know what the best part is? I asked Henry a few days to please be serious and admit that there is at least one band that he enjoys seeing live (excluding Ted Nugent–”OMG I ONLY SAW HIM ONCE, GET OVER IT!”) and without even hesitating, he said Chiodos. So I of course translated this to mean that he won’t be mad if I buy him a pair of Chiodos booty shorts for real.

To conclude, my favorite thing about Chiodos is that they can go from this:

to that:

…like it’s no big thang. When the screaming starts at the 56 second mark, I feel like my neuroses are being enveloped in the most tender bear hug ever. I can think of several people I’d like to send this song to, if you know what I mean.

But so far this one is my favorite:

I have a feeling we’re going to be listening to this album in the car for a long while. Good thing Henry and Chooch like Chiodos, too. (LOL, like I would actually care otherwise.)

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Mar 272014
 

Henry and I checked out of the airport Sheraton early Saturday morning; as soon as we walked out into the parking lot, Henry inhaled deeply and said, “Mmmm, the smell of jet fuel in the morning. Reminds me of THE SERVICE.” I lost another one of my lives laughing so hard at him. God, I love it when he slips up and mentions his SERVICE days.

Our plans for the morning were to finally get to see our friends Terri and Christian after two failed attempts the previous two years. It’s funny, because in this day and age, most of the new friends I meet are online; but in this case, we actually met Terri and Christian in person first, back in the fall of 2011 when we were all in Cleveland for the AP Tour (and to eat at Melt, obviously). And since then, we have gotten to know each other better through Facebook and Twitter and I have been dying to hang out with them again!

Henry and I don’t need to be entertained, so when Terri suggested that we just eat breakfast at their place and hang out, I was all for it and Henry seemed relieved because he’s always tired and doesn’t like walking around looking at things. Terri even made three different kinds of breakfast casseroles! One had fake bacon in it and I was so happy! (They’re vegetarians too! I can call myself that again because I have re-eradicated seafood from my diet, so come at me bro.)

I was a little nervous on the way there because we had only ever spent that one day together three years ago and what if it was going to be totally awkward? Well, it wasn’t, so you can stop holding your breath. I mean, I was still at my usual level of awkward, of course, but at least Henry was there to ease my food-cutting anxiety. We hung out for three hours, talking about music, music, music and more music and I can’t tell you how fucking awesome that was! And we learned that Terri and Christian met while working at Tower Records, how apropros! We even had civil hockey discussions, even though our teams are huge rivals! And I found out that Christian was at the aforementioned Type O Negative show in 1998 that I couldn’t attend because some bitch named Your Druidess didn’t show up with the tickets! It’s funny how many times that memory was recalled last weekend.

I wish we could have spent more time with them, but Henry and I had plans to attend the Hollywood Theater’s “Twin Peaks” party that night, so we had to hit the road around noon. As soon as their door shut behind us, I said to Henry, “If we lived closer, I would hang out with them so much, they would get so sick of me.” (So basically, two times.) And Henry said, “Yes, I like them. They’re nice people.” THAT IS A BIG DEAL FOR HENRY TO HAVE AN OPINION! He is usually so neutral about everything. But I think what he was really thinking was, “I wish we did live closer because then Erin can just go to shows with them while I sit at home watcing NCIS in my underwear.” Seriously though, thank you for opening up your home to us and stuffing us with delicious breakfast foods! We owe you one next time you’re in our city! (Don’t worry, Henry will do the cooking.)

“I hate you,” I sighed as Henry drove around looking for a gas station.

“Why?” he mumbled with very little emotion.

“Because you weren’t working at a record store when we met!” I cried.

“Either were you!” he shot back. THAT’S NOT THE POINT, HENRY.

***

OMG, the ride home was so boring. There was a hockey game on, so that entertained us for a little while. We stopped at a rest area so Henry could finally get his stupid Auntie Em pretzel bites, but I threw a fit because he didn’t get mustard so I stormed out into the parking lot, because this is how you get what you want when you’re 34. (And also 3 and 4.)

Henry went back and got mustard.

Later, we stopped at another rest area for a late lunch/dinner situation, and he accidentally pulled into the “Trucks/RV” side of the parking lot which caused me to scream, “OMG YOU FUCKED UP NOW, HENRY ROBBINS!” while making all kinds of dramatic gasps. Naturally, he was annoyed. Especially when every hour after that, I would casually say, “Hey remember when you broke the law by USING THE TRUCKS AND RV ENTRANCE? God, you’re such a moron. You could have gotten us killed.”

“We would NOT have gotten killed,” he sighed.

***

We made it home with about 45 minutes to spare before we had to leave again. While I was upstairs changing clothes, I found out that Henry never told his mom about our Saturday night plans so she thought she was done babysitting Chooch as soon as we got home. Oh sorry, Judy, didn’t your son tell you? You’re stuck here for three more hours. Possibly even forever.

God Henry, you’re such an asshole.

Luckily, she’s a good grandma and didn’t give a shit about a few more hours with Chooch. (Who, by the way, didn’t even miss us.)

***

The Hollywood Theater is only a few blocks away from our house, but Henry has never been there because he is so lame. I’m actually surprised I was even able to get him to go Saturday night, but we do both equally love Twin Peaks, so there’s that. He refused to dress up, though. I tried to get him to go as Mike, the One-Armed Man, because literally all he would have to do was wear a black t-shirt and not put his stupid left arm through the sleeve, but even THAT was too costume-y for him. So he went as Henry.

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The theater was playing a marathon of all the episodes starting that Thursday, culminating in a party Saturday night, which entailed a costume contest, raffles and the big draw: a live performance by Silencio, a local Pittsburgh band that plays music from Twin Peaks and other David Lynch movies. I can’t tell you how much I love that music, especially the music from Twin Peaks.

Also, we were promised damn good cherry pie, and if I told you I wasn’t thinking about it all last week, I would be lying. Cherry pie is actually my favorite kind of pie and it pisses me off that restaurants around here usually have every other kind of fucking fruit pie but cherry. Maybe it looks too menstrual?

Anyway, I’m a lousy dresser-upper. It’s very hard for me to commit to a costume and I usually wind up half-assing it in the end because I’m lazy and unmotivated. (See: Fatal Attraction.) I didn’t want to go the obvious plactic-wrapped-Laura Palmer route, so I opted instead for one of my favorite characters, the Sheriff’s secretary Lucy Moran. I picked her because she’s awesome, but also because all I had to do was get a 90s’ish sweater from Goodwill, pair it with a skirt and tights, and put my hair in a half-pony. Henry kept trying to cut my bangs to make it look more authentic but, no. I’m not ready to rejoin the bangs-having society*. (However, I did order a pair of clip-on bangs from eBay for $5 but they sent me a bleached blond pair instead of the ones that would actually match my shitty hair color, so thanks for ruining my already-destined-to-fail costume, stupid Taiwanese seller.)

*However, if and when I’m ready, Henry could probably give me good bangs. (BANGS, NOT BANG.) When I did have bangs, he was always super good at trimming them and my hair stylist would always be so impressed that his meat-hands could pull off such precise scissor-y. (SCISSOR-Y NOT SCISSORING.) Of course he could. Henry excels at girly things.

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So 90s. So sweater-y. So wow.

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When I looked at this picture of myself last weekend, I thought, “Hmm, I look familiar….” and then after awhile it occurred to me that I looked like 15-year-old Erin. So, what I learned from this is that I spent my entire 10th grade year accidentally emulating the Lucy Moran hairstyle. Also, I still have the same dopey smile.

We got to the Hollywood right around 7 and proceeded to stand around like social pariahs because god forbid we should make new friends, ever. Henry bought a can of PBR (lol) and I got some coffee from the place I made Janna walk to last October, because they had a table set up and the two guys behind it kept wanting to talk to me but I think I was in the middle of one of those social strokes I sometimes succumb to? Honestly, I just stood there and kept saying, “Oh, really?” I HATE MYSELF.

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We grabbed seats near the front of the theater and I got comfortable with my damn fine cup of coffee and cherry pie, and yes, it was damn fine. (Homemade!)

Silencio came on around 8:00 and Henry promptly fell alseep. Not because they were boring, but their music is so smooth and those seats are really comfortble. (Not to mention Professional Driver had been driving for 6+ hours that day, and the day before.)

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Scenes from various David Lynch works played on the screen behind them, complementing the sounds with a bit of creepiness.

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In between sets, the Hollywood Theater people came out to do the raffle drawing and I REALLY wanted to win the log. Yes, it was just a log, but I wanted it. There was also a set of these amazing David Lynch movie posters that an artist donated, but I didn’t win those either. I HATE NOT WINNING.

I went through a brief stint senior year of high school where I was obsessed with Angelo Badalamenti because of the Lost Highway soundtrack. I keep telling Chooch that he was only 8 when he started piano lessons, but Chooch as usual does not give a fuck. BE THE NEXT BADALAMENTI, SON.

Anyway, if you have never seen Twin Peaks, both seasons are on Netflix and you should go and do that. Go get mono or something and then lay there and watch it all. It’s worth it.

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On our way out, we snagged a “The Owls Are Not What They Seem” cupcake for Chooch as a consolation for leaving him parentless for two days. Again though, he honestly didn’t give a shit that we were gone. He’s at that age, I guess.

Silencio was pretty fantastic and even though I hated being in a rush all day, I was glad that we were able to work this into our itinerary. It was a fun way to cap off three nights of three very different bands. That should tide me over for awhile. (It won’t. But at least there’s Eisley on April 10th!)

P.S. That sweater is totally now a part of my regular wardrobe.

 

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Mar 262014
 

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The closest I’d ever been to the Trocadero in Philadelphia was October of 1999, when my friend Cinn and I were stood up by some goth bitch who had our tickets for the Type O Negative show. Fourteen years later, I finally got to go inside.

****

When I saw in December that The Sound of Animals Fighting were reuniting for a very small, intimate tour and had added an extra Philly date (the first one had sold out lightning quick), I was stoked. But first I had to beg Henry. “It can be my Christmas present!” I pleaded. “You don’t have to get me anything else!” (Of course he got me other shit too because he knows better.) The thing with this band is that they’re a sort of supergroup, so touring is hard for them to pull off, logistically. They played like 4 shows I think, in 2006. 4 shows, ever. And they were in California and Las Vegas, so…while I played the FUCK out of the live DVD they released, I never got to see them live.

Until now!!

I remember when I first heard about them, and it was all still a mystery then. OMG who are these guys wearing animal masks?! But then it was pretty obvious, once I heard it, that one of the “Skunk” was definitely Anthony Green, because oh dear lord, do I love that man. Circa Survive pretty much got me through one extremely suicidal summer, and to be honest, it’s a miracle that Henry and I are even still together. I often wonder how much worse off I would have been through times like those if I didn’t have music to stave off a portion of the mania. I know that sometimes people will hear “screamo” (we’ll just call it that, even though it’s not what TSOAF is), they don’t understand the appeal. “How can you listen to something when you can’t understand the words?” Or “this music doesn’t make sense to me.” Right? I can’t speak for everyone who likes this sort of music, but for me, it’s always been about the way it makes me feel emotionally and mentally. The screaming mimics what I sometimes feel in my head, like a mental gang-banging, and it is extremely cathartic and exhilarating for me. And then the music itself is so chaotic and janky, it’s like it understands me. And I understand it. And really, that’s the best way I can explain it.

But then with a band like TSOAF, you get the beautiful, clean vocals as well, from Matthew Kelly, Rich Balling and Matt Embree, and it just ties the whole thing together into a pretty bi-polar package.

BUT I DIGRESS. You probably aren’t here from some boring post-hardcore lesson, so I will save the rest for my Dear Diary and just tell you about how miserable Henry was all night. Yay!

***

The drive there was very uneventful. It started snowing literally the moment we pulled out of our driveway, so the first hour or so of the trip was terrible.

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I made Henry listen to all kinds of music that he hates, like Gem Club. He kept being totally dramatic about it, pretending to nod off. “Please make me more depressed than I already am,” he mumbled, so I tweeted all of this and then Gem Club favorited it. This is how I make connections on Twitter, you guys.

We ate lunch at a shitty rest area where Henry bitched about having to buy me Starbucks and the fact that Auntie Em’s was out of pretzel bites.

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We were one of the first 10 people in line before the doors opened because I was in A Mad Hurry. Equal Vision announced on Instagram last week that each TSOAF show was going to get its own t-shirt design, but only 100 each would be printed. My TSOAF hoodie is one of my favorite pieces of merch ever, so I was determined to get one of these fucking shirts. So we stood in line with all the other die-hards, and I realized that I hadn’t been that close to the front of a concert line since 2001 when my friend Shawn and I got to Nick’s Fat City 3 hours early for a Cold show. When I told Henry this, he just rolled his eyes. Because he’s too old to give a fuck about these things. Don’t ever get old, you guys.

“There’s Anthony,” Henry said, elbowing me as Anthony Green and his wife Meredith walked down the sidewalk. HE IS SUCH A GOOD WINGMAN! Also, LOL forever at Henry unwittingly knowing so much about the scene.

The doors eventually opened a little after 7 and I made a beeline for the merch booth, where, for the first time in pretty much ever, I got to tell the merch girl that I needed a size small. (Only because it was boy sizes, though; don’t worry–I’m still semi-chubby.) Anyway, thank you Henry for not ruining my night by being a total tightwad! I love this shirt so much!

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I’m learning how to smile naturally.

Perhaps at this time I should talk about how, in Henry’s eyes, I fucked up. In my haste to get the hell out of the house Friday morning and embark on our road trip, I left my wallet on the coffee table. I knew that I had the tickets, and that’s all that mattered to me. Forgot the hairbrush? Pfft, I’ll just send Henry out to buy a new one in the morning. Forgot the gift I was planning to give our Philly friends Terri and Christian the next day? That sucks, but I can just mail it when we get back. Forgot my wallet? NO OVER-21 ENTRY FOR ME.

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This isn’t something that I give a shit about, but the thing is, that’s the trade-off for Henry going to these shows with me: I (sometimes) will abandon all of the action in an effort to make Mister Miserable a little more comfortable in the grown-up area. Like the one time we went to see Pierce the Veil at Mr. Small’s and Henry’s stupid stomach hurt him so I was like FINE WE CAN GO TO THE BALCONY and literally it was me and a bunch of motherfucking PARENTS. So lame.

The Trocadero has a beautiful balcony, but it’s off limits without an ID. I told Henry he was welcome to go up there once the show started, but he was all, “NO JUST FORGET IT” which tells me he was secretly having a nice time. Or just wanted something to bitch about later.

The opening band was Unwed Sailor. Henry hated them because god forbid, there is no singer, OMG. I thought they were nice and soothing, an appropriate precursor for what was to come.

We were standing near the door to the backstage area, so Anthony walked by us a few times and THEN HE AND HENRY EXCHANGED PLEASANTRIES AND I COULDN’T STOP LAUGHING. It is endlessly funny to me when Henry makes contact with people in bands that I like, because:

  1. it’s Henry
  2. it’s Henry saying hello to people way cooler than Henry
  3. it’s Henry

And then he gets all embarrassed when I make a big deal about it and that just fuels the laughter.

After Unwed Sailor played, I said to Henry, “You know, I’m not saying I’m going to be one of those pushy moms, but if Chooch ever decided to be in a band, holy shit I would be the proudest mom of all time.” I paused for a second, mulling it over, and then added, “But just to spite me, he’ll probably be something dumb. Like a doctor.”

“I would be happy if he became a car mechanic,” Henry weighed in. “Something that’s useful to me.” Seriously? By the time Chooch is an adult, Henry’s not going to be driving anything but a Hoveround.

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Around 9:30, the lights went out and the intro started playing while silhouettes of orange and yellow people were ushered onto the stage and place in various positions of worship around Matthew Kelly, who then sang one of my favorite TSOAF songs of all time, The Heretic. And here is where I began to openly weep. And I didn’t give a single fuck either because I knew every single person standing near me understood.

(I AM STARTING TO CRY ALL OVER AGAIN AS I TYPE THIS IN MY OFFICE-THING.)

So here is a video that some guy took from the sold-out show the night before. He recorded the entire intro, so it doesn’t really start until about the 3:30 mark, IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN WATCHING IT. (I do highly recommend that you do though, because it’s beautiful. However, be warned that it fades right into the next song which is scream-y. This was the point in the night where the crowd fucking EXPLODED and Henry was probably like, “Oh, how I love these shows.”)

Thank you for recording this, Guy at the March 20th Show.

After the final note of The Heretic, the rest of the band came out and Anthony Green vomited screams all over our faces and I wept even harder, because ANTHONY GREEN. I have a framed picture of him on my fucking wall, for Christ’s sake.

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Please excuse my terrible pictures. I am not a concert photographer and was way too busy freaking the fuck out to worry about getting the perfect shot.

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I didn’t get a chance to look at Henry’s melting face at all because we weren’t standing near each other by the time TSOAF came out. Some tall douchebag had planted himself right in front of me so I moved up some. I don’t think Henry gave a shit; for all I know, he had gone up to the balcony. THAT’S COOL, BRO.

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It felt so good to hear Anthony scream, made me feel warm and safe like being hugged by a fat grandma. His stage presence is incredible. When I asked Henry later on if he agreed, he reluctantly said yes.

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I’ll tell you one thing, there was some mad respect radiating from the crowd that night in the Trocadero. We all knew we were seeing something special.

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The older I get, the more grateful I feel after I get to experience things, and this was definitely one for the “grateful” column. I appreciate so many bands on such a grand level that it is awe-inspiring at times to be so close to them. It means so much, but I will never be able to put it in words, not even if I made up my own language. I think I stopped making sense a long time ago.

****

Afterward, Professional Driver Henry didn’t know how to get out of the parking garage and a security guard had to come to his rescue. Listen to him hyuk’ing it up it this video, totally playing the “dumb blonde card” so a security guard can feel all strong and manly.

While Henry blindly navigated around downtown Philly and swore at the GPS, I cheerfully cried out things like, “THE REAL WORLD PEOPLE USED TO GO THERE!” to which he would spit, “I don’t give a FUCK about the Real World people!” Lost Driver Henry is mean.

We (eventually) checked into the Sheraton Four Points and crashed after a good hour of me relentlessly asking Henry what his favorite part of the show was. (No answer.) I can’t believe I got to see them, The Sound of Animals Fighting, right there in front of me. Oh my god, oh my god. What a great fucking night!

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Mar 202014
 

I’m working 11:00am-6:30pm today instead of my usual 1:30pm-9:00pm (ugh, that shift) because Henry and I are going to see Gary Numan tonight at the Altar Bar and I am practically scratching my skin off in anticipation. I’ve been at work for about 30 minutes and have had about 17 variations of this conversation because my co-workers get freaked out when they see me in the AM:

Them: WHY ARE YOU HERE.

Me: Because I’m leaving at 6:30 today.

Them: WHY.

Me: Because Henry and I are going to see Gary Numan.

Them: WHO.

Me: Sigh. The guy who sang that 80s song “Cars.”

Some of them: OH THAT GUY.

Others: WHO.

But it’s pretty major that for once, most people here actually know who I’m going to see! Unless they’re just doing the smile and nod thing.

Anyway, the Gary Numan I like most is the stuff that came later, and the Exile album is my favorite of all time, so if he plays at least one song from that, I will be 100% content and might even put my head on Henry’s shoulder, who really does not want to go tonight and I almost ended up buying just one ticket, but then a song from Gary Numan’s new album was on an episode of Pretty Little Liars a few weeks ago and suddenly Henry was all in.

In other work news, I took a few minutes away from writing this blog post to visit my office-neighbor Patrick and fawn over a picture of him and his girlfriend, when suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nate wheel up to the door of Patrick’s office-thing and I jumped back because I thought he was in a wheelchair, but it was only just a wheeled chair.

I was all at once frightened and excited, and Nate said he wouldn’t be adverse to me pushing him around the office. This is really turning out to be quite an excellent day.

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Mar 182014
 

Marcy March 2014

I know, a thousand trillion pictures of Marcy, nothing new. But she’s my babe and I wanted to share.

****

I’m listening to Black Lab on Spotify and suddenly it’s 1998, Marcy is a kitten and I’m sun-tanning on my porch with Crisco because I can’t find my tanning oil. But the important question here is: why did I even have Crisco in my apartment to begin with? I only used the stove once and it was to make Spaghetti-O’s with Janna and then we left my apartment for an hour while it was cooking because it’s easy to forget you’re cooking food in a pot in a townhouse with literally one giant open room.

Oh, to be 18 again, not caring about skin cancer or turning townhomes into tinder.

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Mar 132014
 

It was all because Tonic’s one wonderful hit “If You Could Only See” came on the radio last night as Henry and I were getting ready for bed.

“This song reminds me of when I went to get my GED,” I sighed nostalgically. (Which I originally spelled “nostalgicly.” Surprisingly, “Is ‘nostalgicly’ a word?” was not one of the questions on the test.) And even though Henry has heard my stories ten-fold by this point, he laid there silently while I told him about the boy I met at the McKeesport YWCA, and how we spent our GED testing breaks together in an alcove. (TALKING! We were just talking.) His name was Adam, this beautiful Mulatto boy who enjoyed building computers, which my 18-year-old self thought was pretty nerdy but his face made up for it.

The GED testing was split up into two sessions, so I got to see Adam once more, and this time, as we sat in the alcove after we finished the test (first ones to finish, whaddup), he asked me for my phone number. Right after I gave it to him, Psycho Mike arrived to pick me up.

“Is that your boyfriend?” Adam asked, as we watched from above as Mike entered the building.

“Yes,” I sighed sadly. (Mike and I had a really awful relationship that thankfully would expire a few months later.)

“Damn,” Adam said. “I was hoping you were going to say he was your brother.”

***

“And then he never called me!” I cried to Henry. “He could have been The One!”

“Maybe he didn’t call because you had A BOYFRIEND,” Henry spat.

Yeah, let’s go with that. But I seriously think about him every time I hear that fucking Tonic song. Even though I don’t remember his last name. (And I honestly only remembered his first name this morning.)

Taking the GED test was really an experience. And by “experience,” I mean CULTURE SHOCK. Before testing started on the first night, people were bitching to each other about how they needed to get home to feed their kids and take care of other Real Life things, when my only priority was going to the Plaza Café for grilled blueberry muffins and coleslaw with Psycho Mike and then renting an Argento movie next door at Firehouse Videos. And I remember slowly slouching down in my seat at the realization that these people likely dropped out of high school for actual, uncontrollable circumstances (I didn’t have to be a seasoned stereotyper to deduce that I was basically the only spoiled suburban bitch in that joint) while my reason was “because I felt like it and I wanted to see if my family would give a shit.”

Spoiler alert: They did not.

“Yeah, but would it have really changed anything if you had graduated high school?” Henry asked. And that was a good point, because graduating high school wouldn’t change the fact that my grandfather died when I was 16, and believe me, things would have been a lot different if he had still been alive. For instance, I definitely would have finished school and I 100% would have gone off to college right away, got swept up in the wrong crowd and likely wound up becoming a raging fan of Dave Matthews and OAR. (This is what I associate with college, apparently.)

And that’s something I think about a lot, not how dull my music preferences might be, but would I have still met Henry? If I had gone to college, I probably wouldn’t have been an office manager for a meat company when I was 20, so where would I have met him? The Army Navy Store? And then what about Chooch?!

This was all too much to think about before bed, so I changed the subject to having another baby, because THAT’S not a heavy conversation or anything. But before Henry could answer, I said, “But what if it wasn’t yours? Would you still stay with me and raise it as your own?”

Henry made a YOU’RE FUCKING JOKING scowl, but I elaborated. “No! I was beaten and raped by a ghost, and that’s how I got pregnant!” Henry started to roll over, a sign that he was peacing out of the conversation, but I kept pressing the issue, until he finally said, “THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN!”

“TELL THAT TO THE WOMAN BARBARA HERSHEY PORTRAYED IN THE ENTITY!” I yelled back, nearly in tears from laughing. Then, trying to reel him back in with affection, I put my hands on his chest and screamed, “OMG IS THAT YOUR REAL NIPPLE?”

“No, it’s my fake one,” Henry said dourly. It felt like it was in the middle of his chest! It was dark and I couldn’t see! I just wanted to make sure he wasn’t growing things I was unaware of.

We were quiet for a few minutes. Henry was actually probably already asleep, because he’s like a magician when it comes to sleep. I tried to stop it, but I could feel the giggles convalescing inside me, deep within the pit of my belly, so I silently shook for awhile, taking the entire bed along for the ride to Giddyville. Henry’s one eye opened slowly. “What?” he sighed.

“Nothing,” I squealed as a mouthful of laughs tried to launch themselves out of my face-cannon. And then it was all over. I sprayed Henry in the face with my uncorked vim & vigor, my stomach aching from the exertion. And I laughed and laughed and laughed, tears streaming down my face, while Henry just stared at me and asked me again, in his Papa H tone, what was so funny. (He gets paranoid.)

“I’m just thinking about getting impregnated by a ghost!” I cried, curling up into a fetal position to keep from peeing my pants.

This inspired Henry to expound once more on the physical improbabilities of this situation ever occurring, because he’s a mirth-murderer.

I forget what I said, but he thought I said something about “boozing,” so then I started scream-laughing all over again.

“It wasn’t that funny,” Henry mumbled.

“Yeah, but now I’m picturing myself at the bar with your fake nipple!” I wheezed.

If everything happens for a reason, then dropping out of high school was the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

And after all that, I still dreamt of Jonny Craig.

)

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Mar 042014
 

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Marcy was supposed to go to the vet tonight—she goes once every other month to get an antibiotic shot for her tumor-thing :(—but Henry said that she was hiding under our bed so he had to reschedule so she wouldn’t get stressed out. He said she was hanging out downstairs all night and he hadn’t even brought out her carrier yet. HOW DOES SHE KNOW THESE THINGS. When I used to make her grooming appointments, she would GLARE at me while I was on the phone and then stalk off to stew somewhere alone. I mean, glaring at me is not unusual for her, but still. Cats are fucking smart.

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Here she is sun-bathing. (Can you imagine if I had a legit projector and made everyone come over to watch slides of Marcy licking herself and sleeping? That would be fantastic.)

It’s weird only having one cat. Marcy is totally up our asses now which never would have happened before. She follows me around everywhere in the mornings and even shows an inkling of interest in Chooch. Again, never would have happened before.

Granted, she’s not exactly rubbing against my ankles in a purring fit. But she’s not ignoring me like she typically would, either! I think she’s just trying to make me even more attached to her so when she dies, it’ll hurt me even more. She always has an agenda. ALWAYS. God, why do I keep falling for it.

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Meanwhile, one of the choices Chooch had for his science project was to survey his family members  regarding their music preferences, whcih of course filled me with glee. Chooch, always contrary, was all, “I don’t want to do that one,” because god forbid Mommy is ever fucking happy. But I just kept whining until he yelled FINE and was just going to put down “rock” for both Henry and me; actually, he wanted to put country for Henry and Henry was all, “I don’t know why you two are laughing like that; it’s not THAT funny when people like country music.”

(Newsflash: Henry went through a country music phase and LOOOOVED Martina McBride, apparently. Thank god that was before my time.)

I think Chooch should have listed “nu-metal & Ted Nugent” for Henry, but whatever. I’m not the stupid surveyor.

Chooch was royally irritated when I kept rattling off one genre after another sub-genre. He wrote down the first five I spat at him, but I WASN’T EVEN FINISHED! Ugh, I like talking about music and I nearly choked on my saliva at the opportunity. Thanks for kicking my soapbox out from under me, Chooch.

And then of course, Marcy: silence.

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Feb 272014
 

This is kind of a weird Throwback Thursday for me because I’m not actually reposting anything, but finally posting something for the first time that has been mildewing in my drafts folder for almost a year.

Last April 15th, I went to a vegetarian dinner thingie with Janna, Kara and Chris. Usually, I would get around to writing about it within a week. But that happened to be the same day as the Boston Marathon bombing. And it just didn’t feel right to be all, “Yay, this is what I did several hours after a devastating situation rocked the nation!” I was so caught up in reading and watching everything I could about it for the next several weeks, obsessing over the whole boat situation (SERIOUSLY THAT WAS ALL SO FISHY TO ME) that I just quit caring about this dumb blog entry.

Does that make sense?

And then so much time passed that I started to forget a lot of what I wanted to say, and I lost the menu so then I was forgetting what I had even eaten. But I don’t like leaving things unfinished, so I went back and tried to fill in the blanks to the best of my ability.

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It’s not that I’m some sort of epicurious, wannabe gourmand or even some pretentious food blogger who uses the words “epicurious” and “gourmand” (too many sex analogies), but ever since I attended one of Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa’s vegetarian dinners at Alchemy in 2007, that tattooed food whisperer has been on my radar.

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Chef Kevin’s newest venture, Harvard and Highland, presents a vegetarian table once a month and seats only eight people.

At the same table.

JUST LIKE THE AMISH.

I really liked the intimacy of this, though I still chose a seat on the end, forcing Janna to sit next to a strange lady. However, I wasn’t interested in what the other two couples were talking about (running, running, running, marathons, running). That is, not until I overheard an older woman at the opposite end of the table talking about dragonfruit and it was all DUMBO EARS: ACTIVATE. Usually my skin burns at the mere idea of small talk, but I had to interject. I just had to, because that very day, do you know what I ate? FIRE DRAGON. You guys, it’s dragonfruit that is bright fuschia and utterly amazing. It’s like art fruit. So I had to tell the rest of the table this and they were like, “Ok” followed by a silent but implied “who cares?” and then the token Pan Asian at our table started bragging about all the exotic fruit he grew up on since his parents are from Thailand or somewhere else that I can’t locate on a map, and he went on to talk about durian while I quietly vomited in my mouth at the thought of that horrid fruit, and he was all, “But you can’t find that anywhere in the States” and I was like, “OMG you ignorant fruit fan, yes you can” and automatically counted off at least three places in Pittsburgh alone.

Except this part of the conversation happened inside my head because I hated that guy and didn’t want to waste my breath on him.

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This was my least favorite. It was too salty. But it came with a flower, so I ate that.

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To my delight, our plates were paired with craft cocktails instead of disgusting beer like the last vegetarian thing I went to. Every single cocktail was amazing and because of them, I forgot everything I wanted to write by the time I staggered back to Janna’s car. If I were a real food blogger, I’d have brought my dichtophone and notepad (and inflated sense of entitlement) with me.

Since Kara is pregnant, she only allowed herself petite sips of each cocktail and then Chris got to chug the rest of hers on top of his own. Lucky son of a bitch.

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Men — find a way to make your semen taste like this creamy puddle of molten feta and you will have to knock people off your jocks all day long.

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OMG I think this was the breakfast plate? It had fake egg things (nettle scramble, whatever the fuck) and some kind of French toast impersonator and more foam stuff because that must be really fun for Kevin to make so he just puts flavorful foam on everything. (Kind of like how I put wonky eyes on all of my paintings.) We all basically ate this in the fashion of having our wrists tied behind our backs.

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Halfway through the night, I realized that the Durian Dick was friends (or maybe just in his own mind) with Chef Sousa and kept hinting around about wanting to go pick mushrooms with him or something and I wished I had a durian or two and the sock of a giant. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

(If you don’t, I mean that I wanted to fill the giant’s sock with the durians and beat the smugness out of him. But now you ruined it.)

And Kevin himself served every goddamn plate to Mrs. Durian Dick. Every single time! I kept hoping that the waitstaff would switch it up and maybe we would each get our turn with Kevin, but no. He catered specifically to her every time and that is how I know they’re having an affair.

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A pond of molten Christ on wood, with mushrooms and stuff on top. It was such a religious experience that my tongue was involuntarily spelling out the rosary. Janna didn’t eat all of hers because it didn’t come with preservatives.

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I was trying to get a photo of my chef crush but JANNA moved her stupid head. GOD, JANNA.

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Ahhhhhh desssssert! It was stuff that tasted amazing in a truncated Mason jar! And there were more flowers to eat! It was paired with some creamy (the theme of the night, obvi) sarsparilla drink that I will be requesting by the jugfull if I ever go back.

The loud lady at the end of the table (next to Durian Dick) had a vegan version of the dessert and asked EVERYONE BUT ME AND CHRIS if they wanted a taste. Everyone said no and I actually really did want to taste it but I’m too proud to beg. (Sorry, TLC.)

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Beverage aftermath.

After dinner, we all kind of sat around waiting for the go-ahead to leave and everyone seemed OK with continuing the strange act of Conversing with Strangers, but I wasn’t interested. I was becoming increasingly annoyed and anxious, because I lack the social wherewithal to successfully survive an evening of eating food and, as my friend Alyson would say, “expelling air” with people I do not know.

However, we didn’t eat until 9PM and I had gone there straight from dumb work, plus I’m on a diet and subsisting on leaves and carrots for the most part, so I was pretty irritable and ready to masticate the FU-HAHAHAHA-UCK out of some meatless spreads.

Or I’m just a people-hating asshole. Take your pick.

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My favorite part of the night was how they filled us up with liquor and then made us walk down a dangerously steep staircase afterward. Surprisingly, there were no casualities.

What is an acceptable way to show a chef that you are in total appreciation and awe of the edible gifts he bestowed upon you that evening? Because I’m not above asking him to autograph my tongue.

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Feb 252014
 

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Henry and Chooch both went to bed right after “The Walking Dead” on Sunday, leaving me alone with my boredom. Since I had just finished a custom painting for my friend Alisa, I was still in my fake art state of mind. So I decided to just paint a bunch of Henry’s faces, because how much would he love/hate that?! I got as far as the first photo before finally getting tired; I tried showing Henry the picture on my phone, which involved me having to awaken him first, which always goes over super well. Much like earlier that night when I woke him up to show him that the new singer of Emarosa had favorited one of my tweets, he rolled over and went back to sleep without saying a word.

Chooch, however, was still awake and gave me validation on the picture I posted of it on Instagram. Thanks, son.

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I finished it yesterday, just in time for Henry to come home and take me to work. I call it “Faces of Henry (Frowning, Yelling At Us, Frowning, Sleeping, Frowning, Frowning)”. I laughed so hard the whole time I made this that it’s actually amazing it didn’t turn out more fucked up than it did.

Henry of course sighed when he saw it.

“DO YOU LOVE IT?!” I cried.

“Yeah, it’s great Erin,” he mumbled as he threw together a sandwich, shrugging my hyper, bouncing self away as he went along.

“Where should we hang it?”

“The closet,” he said around a mouthful of his meat sandwich. (Literally just a sandwich filled with deli meat, not multiple blow jobs performed in tandem.)

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Wendy has big plans for Henry’s face.

“You know who would LOVE this? TOKYO. Henry could be the next Hello Kitty!” she cried in her office yesterday. “You’ll have to make shirts and toothbrushes with his face on it! AND HATS! HATS LIKE HE WEARS!”

Hello Henrys? He would would fucking kill me. (All the more reason to do it!)

UPDATE: Henry came home from work and insinuated that I don’t like him, so I threw wild gesticulations toward the painting on the wall, at which point he made a series of “Yeah, exactly” noises.

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Feb 192014
 

Considering that Emarosa is done recording their new album and have already announced tour dates, it’s safe to say that I won’t be jinxing anything by posting this video of their new singer’s old band, Squid the Whale. When it first leaked that Bradley Walden was going to FINALLY fill the spot that Jonny Craig left in…2011—has it really been that long since Emarosa was royally fucked?—I was so fucking excited but also incredibly wary because rumors are always flying when it comes to this shit. But ironically, it was Jonny Craig himself who let it slip that Bradley was taking the reins as the new Emarosa frontman.

You guys. Bradley is an incredible vocalist and my mind has been spinning out with a million ideas of how he is going to sound with Emarosa behind him. I LOVE EMAROSA SO MUCH IT HURTS, so I have so much faith in them, and the fact that this upcoming album (which Rise Records keeps teasing us about on Facebook, those fuckers) is going to be magnificent, a fucking diamond in the post-hardcore rough.

Bradley’s tone reminds me a little of Lorene Drive-era Daniel Murillo and Matt Geise of Lower Definition, so I’m on board. I am so much on the fucking board. I MIGHT actually have a heart attack when I get to hear it for the first time. Be prepared to send a medic to my house.

In related news, Chiodos released another new song yesterday and I sat at my desk crying and then texted Henry about it, begging him to care. His response? “Lol.”

It’s not easy being a 34-year-old scene kid.

ETA: Henry just told me he doesn’t like Bradley Walden. Probably because he feels threatened already.

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Jan 112014
 

For most people, it would have been, “Try this ice cream that I think is bomb” and that would have been the end of it. But not if my dad was the one bestowing ice cream with explosive superlatives. Janna and I had stopped by my parent’s house one night in 2000, probably because I needed to panhandle, and we got stuck in my dad’s garage while he told us his saga regarding Reinhold’s Caramel Caribou, some goddamn ice cream that he was inexplicably obsessed with, wanted to marry, was ordered to stay within 500 feet of, is currently getting its name lasered off his bicep.

I refer to it as solely my dad’s garage because this story is set during the awkward time between my parent’s separation and subsequent divorce, so my dad was essentially living in the detached garage. Don’t worry—he was fine. He had a jukebox, a TV, a couch and a vintage Pepsi machine full of bottled beer. He was just fine.

So this ice cream, Janna and I had never heard of it because we were going through that stage where all we did was basically drink and eat food that could be ordered via telephone, and as far as we knew, there was no Mike’s Hard Ice Cream and the local pizza joints seemed like they were sticking with “just cannoli” as their takeout dessert option. This just made my dad even more excited to tell us about his newfound freezer aisle romance. We were all prepared for him to just give us a goddamn bowl of it, but first we had to listen to A Story.

I guess my dad had fallen in love with Caramel Caribou at first spoonful, and this is the part where we assume it was made from the milk of a crack-addled cow. Too bad for my dad, but going back for seconds was about to get challenging. He told us about all the time he spent looking at the grocery stores, but there was nary a carton of Caribou to be found. God only knows where he ate his first bowl of it. Some black market creamery in Chinatown? What the fuck.

“And then one day a Reinhold’s delivery truck drove past me,” my dad said, getting all excited and I think probably losing sight of how grand of an audience he actually had. I mean, come on, Guy. Janna and I were in a hurry. “So I pulled a U-ey and followed him.”

Like you do when you’re feenin’.

He followed him a few miles down the road until the truck pulled into a school parking lot, at which my point my dad waited for the driver to exit the truck before veritably accosting him for a hookup. (Trust me, I know my dad. I can only imagine the fervor he laid out during this encounter. I equal-parts wish I had been there & am grateful for not being there.)

Now I wasn’t there for the verbatim exchange, but I’ve always believed it for sure went something like this: “Hey palsie, ya gots any of that sweet ass Caramel Caribou back there?” In hushed tones. With my dad shaking him by the collar of his work shirt. Like it’s some kind of new marijuana blend that is eventually going to be the subject of a future Degrassi episode.

Reinhold’s Driver indulges him, but he does not in fact have any on his truck, or on his person, but offers to check the warehouse when he gets back. So they exchange numbers, like you do when you’re stalking someone for ice cream.

And a little while later, the guy actually fucking called my dad. He sounds like a really great guy, but I’m wondering if there was any sort of cash handoff.

I guess the guy’s boss was all, “You can’t sell products from our warehouse to a street-person, fuck off.” So the driver instead gave my dad a list of where he could MAYBE find certain ice creams named after reindeer by total ACCIDENT and not because some Reinhold delivery driver SNITCHED.

Eventually, my dad bought some multi-gallon jug reserved for ice cream parlors and single broads on Valentine’s Day and was finally able to celebrate his Caribou love in the privacy of his own home (garage).

After enduring his story, he served Janna and me each a bowl of what was essentially just vanilla ice cream with Rolos. It was OK.

I thought of my dad’s heroic efforts last week though when I ate my first Sonya apple.

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We almost didn’t stop at Shop n Save that day because Henry is a heartless bastard who thought it would be just fine to visit Speck and Don’s graves at the pet cemetery without bringing a floral offering. Who does that? Fucking asshole Henry, that’s who. He also kicks albino puppies and wants to eat seals, not save them.

Anyway, I got all huffy so Henry turned the car around and drove to a grocery store about 10 minutes away from the cemetery because he’s afraid of The Huff. That’s when I saw the glistening bushel of Sonya apples. (Not when he turned the car around, but when we went inside Shop n Save. Don’t be stupid. I don’t eat fruit off the side of the road. Anymore.)

When I saw the Sonyas, I’m not going to front and pretend like some dubstep Hallelujah chorus kicked into effect, because as of that moment, it was just an apple I had never had.

You know how I am with apples. Ever since Barb duped me into falling in love with them all the way back in 2011 (I was a late bloomer), I’ve since been on a mission to try every single “brand” of apple I can get my decorated paws on. Lately, though Henry has only been bringing home the ubiquitous Jonagolds and Galas, sometimes a Honeycrisp if I’ve been good, because apparently it’s slim pickins in January.

But this Sonya apple. My god, it tasted like fucking candy. Like no other apple I have ever had. Literally, this motherfucker was a natural candy apple. I couldn’t believe it. Pornography on my tongue. Can’t type in full sentences.

All I knew was that I needed to eat these gems like, every day. The problem was that Henry, the official grocery shopper of the household, said that he had never seen these apples anywhere in his pantry raids. (Or panty raids.) And the Shop n Save we bought them from (just two because Henry “refuses” to buy a metric shit ton of something he’s not sure I’m going to love or reject) is approximately 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh and Henry just doesn’t love me enough to be making weekly Sonja pilgrimages.

And thus the burgeoning obsession was born. No, I didn’t stalk a farmer a la Erin’s Dad, but I did take to the Internet, where I found the official website of the Sonja apple, which presented me with the opportunity to leave customer feedback. SO I DID.

AND THEN A SONYA APPLE REPRESENTATIVE EMAILED ME!

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I was so stoked about this that I of course wanted to shout about it to everyone at work. The blanket response was: “I mean….OK. Good job.” And that’s when it hit me. He might not be my biological father, but holy fucking shit, I am just like my goddamn dad. Casing creepy Asian markets for persimmons, having my BFF mail me cherimoya from California, ingratiating myself with Sonya apple breeders–what is my life??

Fruit is my Caramel Caribou.

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Don’t worry about me. The local Shop n Save is also selling Sonyas, so I’m stocked up for now.

For now….:(

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Jan 092014
 

Originally posted February 8, 2008

I don’t know why I was so intent on finding contacts for my Blackberry messenger. I mean, I never even use AIM. I sign on once a month, maybe three times for the hell of it, but then I walk away and people send me messages saying things like “omg ur on??!?!!?!?!!” and “hi” with no punctuation and when something doesn’t have punctuation, I’m unsure how to read it. At least cap it off with an emoticon so I know what I’m dealing with.

If I sign on, my mom sends me YouTube links and spells lots of words wrong.

People have already taken me off their Blackberry contact list. For being a bad contact, I guess. A fair-weathered contact. I had this one guy, Brackett. He asked for a pic. “Got a pic?” he asked. I sent him one. He said I was hottt. Three t’s is flattering. That means he’s hoping I’ll ask about his cock-size. Or that he’s fifteen. I know these things lead to cybering, so I choose my words wisely. My cybering verve is rusty. He said he would send me a picture when he got home. He didn’t, not ever. We chatted semi-consistently for a week. Maybe two. The morning after game night, he hit me up and said, “Hey, how was the party?” A nice personal touch, I felt.

He has a friend who lives a few towns over from me. Said he felt like he should visit her sometime soon, she just had a baby. Maybe he could visit me too. I giggled and sent him a smiley, then laughed about it with my co-workers.

But then the week I was sick, I didn’t meet his needs, I suppose. Didn’t respond to his salutations with suitable speed and before I knew it, I was off his list. Blacklisted. Defriended. Banned.

Another one of my contacts goes by Renegade. He sends me daily jokes. I LOL so he knows I read them. They’re not funny though. I mean, I don’t even smile when I read them. Lately, Renegade has been trying to converse with me. “Mornin’ beautiful” he’ll say and I snicker because he doesn’t know what I look like. Mostly it takes me a day to reply.

Today he told me he’s a trucker and my thoughts on Renegade changed. He went from being That Lame Joke Guy to Awww, A Trucker. I like truckers. (Real ones, not posers like Henry.) Maybe it’s because my biological father was one. Maybe I like their hats and their rugged flannels flanked by padded vests. Maybe I like that whole sleazy stereotype of truckers with pork rind crumbs in their beards getting sucked off in the shadows of highway rest stops. They’re like warriors. Wheeled warriors trekking through an American wasteland, bandanna flapping in their wake, pile of Slim-Jims on the dash.

My grandparents had this Cadillac when I was a kid. It came attached with a CB. Mostly, none of the truckers would ever respond to me on it, but this one night, this one promising night on the way home from dinner at Blue Flame, I sat in the passenger seat, bogged down with frustration. I repeated all the things my Pappap told me to say that supposedly bait truckers, things that would make them think I was one of them. Lots of things like “10-4″ and “I got your back door” and “plain wrapper up ahead” and other things I don’t remember because I was only five so back the fuck off. But on that night, someone finally took my bait. He was an old trucker named Sloppy Joe. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I bragged about it for days. OK, years.

When I’m on the road, on big scary highways, I panic when tractor trailers sandwich me. I panic when their large bulk forces my tiny car to sway and rock. But as I pass them, I look up into their window and with skilled determination I pull down on m invisible chain and then smile and squeal when they reward me with an air horn symphony.

I like flirting with them when I’m in the passenger seat. It’s the creamy center of road trips. You know who doesn’t like it when I flirt with truckers? Henry. Oh Lord, it pisses him off. He wised up after our first road trip and now tries to maintain a constant spot in the far right lane, so the only thing for me to flash my boobs at is the guard rail. Not that I partake in much flashing now that I have that kid. That might be kind of sick. Maybe in France it would be OK.

My friend Sergio once told me that if you treat truckers with respect, maybe you might let them slide on over into your lane when all the other four-wheelers are pointedly ignoring the turn signal, then that trucker will have your back and he might radio ahead to his other trucker friends sharing your stretch of the big road. They might just sandwich you when the bears are around. This has happened to me before, I’ve been taken under the wings of a convoy and it’s a proud feeling. Me, my Eagle Talon, and a fleet of 18-wheelers. Almost makes me want to bite off a hunk of jerky just thinking about it.

When we’re on our way to Columbus tomorrow, I’ll wave to all of the truckers, maybe offer them warm compresses at the Pickle Park[1], and then I’ll salute my friend Renegade, who just now told me that it’s OK that I don’t reply him to him right away, to take my time and that he’ll be there. Just like a true trucker.

[1]: Pickle Park: – an interstate rest area frequented by prostitutes, for those not up with the trucker lexicon.

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Dec 132013
 

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I never in a million years would have thought that one day I would be taking my seven-year-old son to a show at the motherfucking Grog Shop. Yet, there we were, 7:30 on a Wednesday night, with our kid at the Grog Shop.

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I guess it must seem weird, or maybe even like shitty parenting, to some people. But you have to understand, he doesn’t have a mild affection for this band’s music. He has devoured every last song by Never Shout Never that he has gotten his hands on ever since this obsession started. He knows song names, what album they’re on, every last word in the lyrics. So I didn’t really have a problem with the occassional double-take we’d get from other fans at the venue. Are we letting him do shots of Jack at the bar? No. So STFU.

However, he still is only 7, after all, and his attention span reflects that quite clearly. So for the two openers (Front Porch Step and Nick Santino—both were wonderful, btw), Chooch was super ornery and whiny until Henry scouted an area by the merch tables where Chooch could sit. There was kind of like this long black wooden booth up against the window, and Chooch laid on his stomach back there and read his Simpsons book until Never Shout Never came on. It was kind of nice, because I was able to enjoy the first two singers in peace.

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Around 8:30, manic outburts of “CHRIS, I LOVE YOU!!!” reverberated around the Grog Shop and Chooch snapped to attention. (He gets so annoyed at those girls though, and kept yelling, “NO YOU DON’T!!!”) They played until around 10:00, I guess, this intimate acoustic set full of quick banter and I realized that I really do like these guys. Thanks, Chooch! They’re entertaining as fuck.

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Our friend Jason was at the show as well, and in lieu of a polite “hello,” Chooch opted to march up to him and demand, “I WANT TO MEET CHRISTOFER DREW!” He knows that Jason is the editor of a certain Cleveland-based music magazine, so for a second there, I was left wondering when I became the mom of Veruca Salt. Chooch is usually pretty good about not being a spoiled brat. USUALLY.

“Yeah, well I want to meet Christina Hendricks, but that’s not going to happen,” Jason countered. I was so embarrassed. I don’t like asking people for favors, ever, because it makes me feel like a user. So I gave Chooch a good rap on the head for that one.

So Chooch went back to standing on his seat (it was the only way he could see the stage) and trying to guess what each song was going to be based on the background stories Christofer would preface them with. He was so smug when he guessed “Piggy Bank” and I guessed “Sell Out” but he was right. So for the next 15,000 days, it’s going to be, “Remember when you guessed ‘Sell Out’ and were WRONG?!” Ugh.

At the time, I thought the highlight of the night for me was going to be when Chooch sang along loudly to Lost At Sea. I love listening to Chooch sing, and I wish I had recorded him that night, but I was too in the moment.

We cheered when they played “On the Brightside” and “California,” and Chooch got big ideas when Christofer hung upside from the rafters. (And I instinctively slapped my hand over my chest and panicked, because I’m a mom now and that is what moms do.)

And then Chooch kept screaming, “PLAY ‘TRAMPOLINE‘!!!!” and everyone in front of us would turn around to see who was screaming but Chooch would promptly duck and I’d be the only asshole left standing, so after the fourth time, these kids were probably thinking, “Dang, that old lady REALLY wants to hear ‘Trampoline’!”

(They never did play it. And this old lady really did want them to!)

“If I ever meet them, I’m going to ask them how to buy Sunflower!” Chooch spat, because he is very angry that their last album was released as a digital download. He likes to buys CDs and have the full, tangible experience of pulling out the liner notes and poring over the lyrics. In other words, he is certainly my kid.

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Anyway, after the show, we milled about and chatted with Jason for a little while, and the guy behind the Front Porch Step moniker gave Chooch a free poster, which was totally sweet. I really wanted his album but asshole Henry didn’t have any cash left on him, SO HE SAYS.

Meanwhile, Jason excused himself, saying he would be right back. Because I’m super naive, I didn’t think much of it. Chooch wasn’t in any  hurry to leave anyway, because once the crowd cleared out, the floor of the Grog Shop opened up into a gymnastic paradise, so he ran around doing round-offs and other scary parkour-y things, and we became Those Parents who bring their kid into a bar and let him do gymnastics. (In my defense, no one seemed to fucking care!)

So then Jason came back and asked me how old Chooch was. Still, my naivete prevailed. Until Henry was like, “He’s trying to get Chooch back there to meet the band, dummy.” So then I got all sweaty-palmed and panicky.

“Well, we’re going to have to try and get past all these girls,” Jason sighed, nodding toward the throng of salivating Christofer Drew groupies congregating in the tiny hallway outside of the backstage room door. This also happens to be the way to get to the restrooms, which Chooch had already visited once that night, so he was like, “Why are we following Jason to the bathroom?” I told him to just keep walking, and his mouth was going non-stop as usual. Seven-year-olds, right? They never fucking shut up!

So all these girls are like “WTF!?” when the guy guarding the door steps to the side to let us through, and Chooch is still clueless. Jason knocks on the door, and Chooch is still rambling away as we all walk into this small room. I stepped out of the way to give Chooch an unobstructed view, and that was when he realized that he was about 3 feet away from Christofer Drew. He looked like he was going to melt into the floor.

We all moved aside so that Chooch could step into the middle of the room and everyone stood up to greet him and shake his hand. Aside from Christofer, there are just two other guys in the band, Taylor and Hayden, and they were all so kind and sweet to us. But when Christofer was standing in front of Chooch, shaking his hand and asking him questions, Chooch absolutely clammed up. I think he literally lost the ability to speak, you guys, and I have never, not once, seen my kid that speechless. Not in 7 years. And then he started doing this thing with his hands, placing them on his face and pulling them in opposite directions, like he was actually trying to rip his skin open and step out of it.

There was a moment when he quickly turned his head away from Christofer and closed his eyes shut real tight and his face became flushed. I could tell he was fighting tears, and my heart broke in a million shards. This kid was in some fucking state of agony, and suddenly I began to recount all the times I got to meet bands that meant so much to me and lost my voice while standing in their presence. It’s beautiful torture. And somehow, my son is experiencing this at a very young age. I don’t know if I should be happy about this or pity him.

So with Chooch being speechless, I had to do the talking but I was nervous as fuck too! I could hear my voice shaking but I powered on for Chooch, and told them all how much of an inspiration they’ve been to him, how I have never seen him with such a vested interest in music before them. I mean, he likes other bands, sure. He likes Pierce the Veil and Chiodos, the Summer Set and We Came As Romans, but not anything that even comes close to matching this. Their music makes him thoughtful. We talk to each other about the lyrics and what they mean. They’ve opened up this emotional outlet in him that most kids probably don’t discover until they’re teenagers, I’m sure.

But he’s seven, and he doesn’t know how to tell them that. So he stood there in stunned silence. And then he held his wolf hat out to Christofer who took it from him and said, “This is a good style” before swapping out his own hat with it, and then placing his mini-top hat on Chooch’s head.

I’m pretty sure Chooch might have pissed himself. Just a little. Christofer pulled two guitar picks out of his pocket and gave them to Chooch, and definitely he pissed himself then.

Then Taylor said he likes his shoes Christofer said his Never Shout Never shirt was trippy, and Chooch was so overwhelmed by this that he had squeezed himself into a corner in between my back and the door. Taylor set out a folding chair for him in case he changed his mind and wanted to come out of hiding. And then he offered him a bottle of water, which Chooch was surprisingly able to activate enough of his motor skills to take from him.

“I’ve literally never seen him so quiet,” I told everyone.

“Oh, I know!” Jason remarked. “He was talking non-stop out there!”

Chooch kept whispering to me, “Mommy, I’m so shy. I’M.SO.SHY.” But he’s not shy. He was starstruck. I think the closest I ever came to that feeling as a kid was when I wrote a letter to Melissa Brennan, who played Jenn Horton on Days of Our Lives (I have been referencing this damn show so much lately, what the fuck) and she sent me back an autographed headshot with a hand-written letter thanking me for my support. I thought she was the fucking Queen of England after that. But I can tell you for a fact that my awe back in 1988 was nothing in comparison to what Chooch was feeling in that precise moment on 12/11/13.

I wonder what would have happened if I had told him beforehand that he was going to get to meet them. Henry thinks Chooch wouldn’t have been able to go through with it.  I kind of think it was fun to go the sneak-attack approach.

We got to hang out with them for about 20 minutes and I can’t stress enough how incredibly generous they were to make time to meet with Chooch. Between them and Jason, they gave Chooch such a great gift and I will never be able to thank them enough. Jason didn’t have to go out on a limb like this for us, and those guys certainly didn’t have to say yes. This may have been the best moment for me as a parent, to date, and I just want to start sending everyone fruit baskets or something. What the fuck is wrong with me!?

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This is what matters. This is the shit I want to give my kid. Not Xbox and whatever the “in” toy is this year. I want to give him memories and experiences, things that he’ll look back on as an adult, things that will shape who he becomes. I promise you that nothing he could unwrap on Christmas morning could take his words away like that.

***

After promising them all that we would be careful driving back to Pittsburgh, they all shook our hands again (mine was SO HOT OMG, I’m sorry Never Shout Never) and we had to re-brave the hoard of girls outside the door.

We parted ways with Jason outside the Grog Shop after thanking him profusely for literally making our kid’s dream come true. After we walked about a block away, Chooch totally lost it and started SOBBING.

Kid, I know the feeling.

In the car, I jokingly said to Henry, “We should have told Christofer about how Chooch screams that he wishes he was his dad every time he gets mad at you.”

“Yeah,” Henry laughed. “That wouldn’t have been awkward.”

 

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