May 232023
 

I don’t know what the fuck I inhaled the other week but I was a goddamn whirling dervish. Knee jerk reactions. Irrational responses. I try to be a kind person every day but sometimes, like the other week, I have no energy left in my mind to hold up the anger dam any longer and I…snap.

Look for me on a Netflix documentary one day, fam.

Anyway, on this one particular day, we’ll say it was a Wednesday, I was minding my own business, working from home, feeding the squirrels, sending extremely reasonable demands to Henry via text, when suddenly, a cleanup crew arrived on my street to remove the leftover shit in the vacant side of my duplex. I dunno what Blake was doing over there, but he and his family clearly left so much shit behind when they moved in March that it warranted my landlord to send an actual garbage truck and crew to clean it out.

I was fine with this until suddenly, MUSIC BEGAN TO BLAST. They must have set up a radio right on the other side of the wall near where my desk is set up, because it sounded like it was coming from my side of the house. You need to know this about me: I FUCKING HATE HATE HATE HATE HEARING SOMEONE ELSE’S BASS THUMPING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF MY WALL. I mentioned this to Janna and she was like, “Oh yes, I know this about you.” It’s not a secret, sweetie, OK?! I hate it. I will literally Hulk out and start smashing shit against the wall in retaliation. You think I’m playing for the blog but I am telling the truth.

I allowed this to play for all of 3 seconds before I FLEW OUT  THE FRONT DOOR, leapt off my porch and yelled, “CAN YOU PLEASE TURN THAT MUSIC OFF I AM TRYING TO WORK IN THERE.”

I can only IMAGINE how I appeared to this crew of young guys who were just trying to make the most of a day spent cleaning trash out of some slob’s vacated house. There were three of them in the yard at this moment, one had JUST walked out of the house and was in the middle of crossing the yard, but he stopped DEAD IN HIS TRACKS. Another guy, who I determined to be the leader, immediately said, “Of course, I am so sorry!” and snapped his fingers at the man who was now frozen in the yard staring at this fucking asshole frenzied Karen with her arms akimbo in a sloppy hoodie and leggings looking more like she was busy changing diapers all day and not reviewing engagement letters while getting pulled in 17 different directions by people in her department.

I looked rough is all I’m saying. I know my face was beet red too because I could feel the flames fanning on the other side of my flesh.

“THANK YOU!” I said in a huff and slammed the door on my way back in.

About 30 minutes later, there was a tentative knock on my door. It was Leader Guy, looking nervous.

“I’m so sorry to bother you, but is it OK if we back this truck down the driveway?” he asked, wringing his hands. I noticed several of his minions were looking on, bracing for fall-out.

I said it was fine and then he said, “We’re going to be pretty noisy for a bit but we’ll try to make it fast.”

And then it was at this point where I was reminded that these guys were human JUST LIKE ME, just trying to do their jobs JUST LIKE ME, so I softened and said, “Hey look, sorry for being such a Karen earlier—” and he cut me off to say, “No no no, I totally get it! Thank you for being so cool about this!”

Um, OK but I was literally being the OPPOSITE of cool when I came out of my house in a red HOT rage earlier, but whatever. Truce!

Then! That following Friday, it happened again. Did I tell you, old blog frendo, that the guy ROB who had moved into the other side of HNC’s house last fall was also moving out right after Blake? OK well now I told you. Anyway, ROB hadn’t really bothered me much while he was living over there, but for some reason, he waited until the very last days of living there to start parking his large kidnapper van in our driveway. So now we had THREE kidnapper vans down there: his, and TWO of HNC’s (one of which is broken down and hasn’t moved since like 2015, I don’t even know anymore). Basically, our parking sitch in the back down there goes like this: Henry’s car, HNC van, HNC van in a row. Then I would park my car in front of one of HNC’s vans (the broken one) and HNC’s wife would park her car in front of HNC’s other van (which sometimes works). It’s…a whole thing. But then ROB was like, “No, I am going to park my gigantic tank in front of HNC’s broken van” so I have just been parking in the church lot like old times because the YOU WILL BE TOWED sign lost it’s power after a few mths and people started parking there overnight again.

I don’t really give a shit that much about the parking situation, but the thing that was pissing me off was that Rob didn’t even live there anymore when he started parking his van down back. Like, he and his girlfriend would come here in some shitty minivan and sort of move stuff around in the garage, and then he would pull the van up closer to the garage to, I guess, put stuff in it, but every single time, he would park it right in front of HNC’s van and then LEAVE.

FOR DAYS. SOMETIMES OVER A WEEK. Bro. You don’t live here anymore! This is not your long-term parking lot!

It just really started to grate on me, you know? I kept asking Henry to text HNC to see if he had any intel on when Rob was going to come back and take the van but also HELLO HNC CAN YOU PLEASE GET RID OF YOUR VANS TOO??

I can’t even explain how insane it is on this block with white men thinking they can fix broken cars. It’s like the Pioneer Ave Junkyard Collective. Come visit me sometime and I will give you a tour. And if your brakes are squealing or something….DON’T TELL LARRY OR HNC OR THEY WILL WANT TO FIX IT AND THEN SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR CAR BECAUSE IT LIVES HERE NOW.

Anyway, it was two Fridays ago and I was so excited because ROB was back and it looked like he was finally leaving with the van! He had pulled it up the driveway a bit so it was next to not-his garage while he was presumably moving more stuff. I saw him get in the van and it looked like he was pulling it forward, like he was going to leave, but then he BACKED IT UP INTO HENRY’S SPOT JUST AS HENRY WAS COMING HOME FROM WORK. So now Henry had to park his car across the street because not only did ROB steal his spot, but his idiot minivan was farther up, blocking up the entire driveway to begin with.

You guys, I don’t know what came over me, stress in general, my body begging for a release, but for the second time that week you could find your girl BALLET-LEAPING over the porch steps, only this time I kept going, rounding the corner and storming down the driveway. THE MINIVAN was the first thing I came upon and Rob’s girlfriend was sitting in the drivers seat. I must have really come up on her like a wildwoman because she gasped, clutched her chest, and exclaimed, “What? What? Did I back into something??” and I fucking roared a string of obscenities about Rob and his fucking van etc etc and she goes, “Ok! Ok! Geez, I’ll tell him! Geez!”

(Honestly though, imagine you’re just calming sitting in your car playing Wordle or doom-scrolling thru Twitter and suddenly I pop up at your window, shrieking like a mad lady with absolutely no build up or provocation. Here I am, 갑자기!)

I stormed back up the driveway just as Henry was walking across the street looking nervous AF because he said he could tell something was HAPPENING and that I had just flipped out. IS MY MANIA THAT OBVIOUS?? COOL.

So now Henry and I are both in the house and my heart is racing because I honestly can’t explain what possessed me to do that. Like, it’s a van, yo. In a fucking driveway. It’s not bothering anyone. It’s not worth yelling about?? Potentially getting SHOT OVER?? People get shot for far less!

I guess the girlfriend relayed my message because I could hear ROB getting BACK into his van to move it out of Henry’s spot and back in front of HNC’s broken van, all the while shouting, “FUCK YOU!” at my house. So now I’m shouting passive aggressive shit back out the window, like, “OK YOU FUCKING WEIRDO” and Henry is nervously laughing with absolute fear in his eyes because is this going to turn into his moment to decide if he’s man enough to protect me?!

Especially when THERE WAS A KNOCK ON THE FRONT DOOR and he was just about to say, “Don’t—” but it was too late because by this point I was chomping at the bit for a fight so I marched over to the door and flung it open to see a totally strung out and shaking Rob pacing on my sidewalk. “WHAT???” I yelled and he was like, “I’M ALLOWED TO PARK BACK UNTIL THE 19TH JUST SO YOU KNOW” and I was like “I DON’T CARE, IT SHOULDN’T BE BACK  THERE AT ALL, YOU DON’T LIVE THERE” and he was stomping furiously through the yard, into the minivan that whisked him away from THE HORRORS OF PIONEER. I literally heard his girlfriend telling some guy who had pulled in front of their house probably for a drug deal while blasting a religious sermon on his radio that “yeah, we’re moving, Rob is sick of the bullshit on this street.”

WELL MAYBE DON’T MOVE BACK (TWICE!!!) TO THE SAME STREET YOUR EX-WIFE WHO HAS A PFA AGAINST YOU LIVES ON? AND ALSO MAYBE DON’T OWE MONEY TO YOUR NEIGHBORS?? (He apparently owes LARRY money, from what HNC says. HNC is the TMZ of Pioneer.)

So, that happened. And then I couldn’t calm down. Like, he pulled away and I instantly felt like SHIT. The adrenaline wore off and I sat at my desk with my head in my hands and regretted every single moment of that interaction. Yes, it’s annoying that he’s parking there, but that didn’t give me the right to fly off the handle when there had literally been NO OTHER CONVERSATION between us about this van. It’s not like, “Well, I asked him nicely 6 times so now I guess it’s time to threaten to shove shit up his ass” oh wait, that’s HNC’s wife’s go-to.

I just didn’t feel good about this, and it honestly ruined my whole weekend because I don’t like being a bitch anymore. It does nothing for me. I don’t feel “cool,” I don’t feel “tough.” I just felt like an asshole. I felt small and embarrassed. I don’t know this guy! I don’t know his life, I don’t know if he’s going through rough times, I don’t know if he’s the type of guy to come back with a fucking shotgun.

So yeah, I was awash in a sea of regertz. Not only is it just shitty to treat people that way, but it’s also, frankly, unsafe.

People.

Get.

Shot.

For.

Far.

Less.

You know? I wasn’t being smart and I’m truly lucky that it didn’t end in tragedy.

And then the 19th came and went and his van was still fucking back there so I got mad all over again. LOL.

Just kidding. I mean, not really, but it was more like, “OK I’m now officially validated,” you know what I mean? Was I going to fucking call and have it towed? Yeah, no. Because again, at the end of the end, who fucking cares.

Earlier this evening, Henry said, “Look, Rob’s back and he moved his van!” I looked outside and saw that he had pulled it across the street in the church parking lot and was standing over there talking to his girlfriend, who was sitting in her parked minivan.

“Do you think I should go over there and apologize?” I asked Henry, but before he could answer, I had already abandoned my dinner and was crossing the street.

You guys, being a bigger person sucks. It felt like I was walking the fucking plank or something, but I did it – I went over there and I said, “Hey, I just wanted to apologize for the way I acted the other day. I was being an asshole and it wasn’t cool, you didn’t deserve that.” Of course, talking to Rob is an exercise in futility and there was not much emotion coming from him, and frankly, I’m not even sure if he remembered what happened, but his girlfriend did, because I also apologized to her face too and she said, “That really means a lot – god bless you, sweetie” which you know, kind of ruined the moment, but still.

And then I got stuck over there for a solid 15 minutes listening to Rob talk about how he used to work for the OG landlord since he was 13 (current landlord is that guy’s son and he is not great, Patty) and other Pioneer sundry, until a tow truck arrived because apparently the transmission on Rob’s van is bad and that is why he was keeping it in the driveway, because he was waiting to have the money to get it towed. HOO BOY, KICK ME IN THE ASS AND CALL ME AN ASSHOLE.

The moral of this story is that I lost control, but I got it back. These last few weeks were really emotionally draining and made me remember that madness is the most life-sucking out of all the emotions and I will happily go back to working on my anger management skills. Admitting that you’re wrong really sucks, especially when it involves an explosive situation, but owning it really made me a great wave of relief. I am ready to move on. How did I used to be like this all of the time?? Being a bitch is not a good look on me, I know that. I felt so fucking ugly after both of those screaming episodes.

Oh, one final thing – the guy I yelled at about the radio? Didn’t know it then but EVIDENTLY!!! he is the landlord’s son and he’s moving into Rob’s vacated side of HNC’s house. GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION HE HAS OF ME. Very fucking excited about that.

Wait, one more final thing – today also happens to be 143 Day in Pennsylvania, a day to commemorate Mister Rogers by spreading kindness. Mister Rogers used the code 143 to mean “I love you,” and it ALSO just so happens that Stray Kids have a song called Case 143 so let’s end this tense and uncomfy blog post on a high note! I already posted the official MV for this song when it came out, but here’s the performance video!

 

 

Mar 122023
 

My liveblog was so janky from the day we were in Toronto and some of the stuff I had written didn’t post because of service issues and I truthfully was so annoyed that I didn’t feel like even attempting to retype what I had lost. But basically what happened was that we were supposed to have a decent chunk of time Tuesday afternoon to visit at least 2 places on my TO DO LIST (a cafe and a bakery – v. important places). I even made sure to pick two that were in the same area so that we could easily to hit up both. But then we ended up getting in a bit later than I anticipated, and the hotel that Henry had booked was actually a little bit PAST Toronto proper, so that took even more time away. Then we had to check-in, Henry had to answer WORK TEXTS which is my LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT HENRY’S JOB, like he is not a fucking hedge fund guy, you know? There is no reason he should be getting work texts on his day off, ESPECIALLY WHEN HE IS EVEN OUT OF THE COUNTRY.

So immediately, my mood soured. It flipped a switch in my brain and I went from being rearin’ to go to itchin’ for a fight. So I became super disagreeable. Literally kept flinging myself facedown on the bed and screaming JUST FORGET IT. So this was about an hour of that. What it also boiled down to is that I needed caffeine and sugar. Bigly.

Finally, Henry got me to put my coat on and we set off for the Danforth Music Hall, because Henry’s plan was to park there and take the subway to the cafe/bakery destination. So we did this with little conflict, but then I panicked because it was only 4:00 and there was already a line of people outside of the theater. Our tickets were general admission / floor but I am really just all out endurance when it comes to camping out to get a good spot, so I basically at that point had resigned to the idea of being way in the back, unable to see.

Anyway! The lot we parked in was right next to the subway station so that was nice. Except that Henry parked in a spot that had a HUGE puddle on my side so I couldn’t get out, which caused me to have ANOTHER emotional breakdown and start crying, “I JUST WANT TO GO HOME” and he calmly said, “Let me just pull up and you can get out” and after a bunch of resistance, I finally let him do this so that I could get out of the car without stepping in the puddle.

Then we got on the subway, which was fine. I am OK with the subways in Toronto. But  what Henry didn’t tell me was that we would then have to get on the STREETCAR and after we had a weird experience the first time we used one of those (the driver yelled at us because we didn’t pay correctly or something, I can’t remember but it was embarrassing and I felt like I was in school getting yelled at by a teacher in front of the class and it was humiliating and clearly something that has squatted in my mind ever since). So we got on one that was still idling outside the station, waiting for the departure time, and some guy was sitting in the back loudly screaming about people looking at him or something and then he was calling someone the f-word and it was soooo uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the whole time I was like, “WERE WE SUPPOSE DTO PAY FOR THIS FIRST??” and Henry was like, “No one else did” but then I saw a guy come on and tap his card and I started to SWEAT.

“Maybe we’re supposed to pay when we get off,” Henry said, clearly not worried about this at all, while I sat there scrutinizing every single person that walked on. And then once we started moving, I paid close attention  to everyone who was getting off and still couldn’t tell if we were supposed to tap our card somewhere and also how did we request a stop!?!? I was DYING. Legit wringing my hands. Suffocating on my anxiety. Pubtrans seriously makes me so nervous (EXCEPT FOR THE SEOUL SUBWAY).

Oh, and then!! I realized that at this point, it was 4:50 and BOTH PLACES I WANTED TO GO TO CLOSED AT 5.

“Let’s just get off here, there are plenty of other places around that we could go to,” Henry said at one point when the street car slammed to a stop at a red light and the doors opened. I cannot compute such impromptu instructions so my head was SPINNING as Henry leapt out of his seat and practically swan-dove out the door, and then JUMPED OVER A SNOW BANK to the sidewalk. I ran after him, looking like a thief probably, like, “HEY THAT GIRL JUST SKIPPED OUT ON THE FARE!” literally I was waiting for the driver to come running out looking like Chris Farley in Billy Madison, hollering about calling the Mounties on me.

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None of these things happened, but the street car was still sitting there because of the redlight and I just felt EVERYONE WAS STARING AT US so I FREAKED OUT AND LEFT HENRY. I just turned and started powerwalking in the opposite direction, away from the sreetcar and where we apparently needed to cross the street, and proceeded to WALK ALL THE BACK  TO THE SUBWAY STATION WHERE WE GOT ON THE STREET CAR.

It really wasn’t that far. Maybe a 25-minute walk. Henry trailed behind me the entire way, I refused to let him catch up with me. He kept trying to ask me what was wrong and I cried, “THE WAY YOU JUMPED OUT OF THE STREET CAR LIKE A PETTY CRIMINAL WAS SO EMBARRASSING” and he was like, “The fuck are you talking about?” and OK, now that we’re a week away from the INCIDENT, I am rational enough to admit that perhaps my mind, reeling from lack of essential nutrients (yes, caffeine and sugarssss) perhaps was replaying this scene to me in blown-up proportions best reserved for balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I can be honest with you about that. Perhaps it was me, sabotaging this entire day because I am being eating alive by stress in all other areas of my life and God forbid I should allow myself to calm down, relax, enjoy myself.

Anyway. We took the subway BACK to the street where the Danforth is located, and I had SORT OF calmed down a little bit by then but was still craving things. I had really just wanted a coffee and baked good, but then we started to walk past a vegan chain called Fresh which I knew a bit about, and I saw CAKES in the window, so I said, “Let’s just go here.”

For some reason, I didn’t realize this was a sit-down and order type of place. I thought it was more of a Panera, but no – as soon as we walked in, we had to wait to be seated and I fought the urge to turn around and leave because Henry HATES it when I do that even though I point out that people do it all the time and just because I walk inside somewhere, doesn’t mean I’m stripped of my right to change my mind!?!??! (Granted, I have also down this after being seated and ordering drinks, so I can see how he would be feeling some type of way every time we enter a restaurant lol.)

I basically willed my mind to just shut down and allowed myself to go with the flow. That’s sad right? That I have to use mind-control on myself to just follow a host to a table? Oh, to be a normal functioning human. What does that feel like!? I guess I could just ask Henry.

RIGHT AWAY, I had to fight another urge to flee because Henry, and I can’t believe he did this, took the seat at the table that was on the banquette side, leaving me to sit in the regular chair with my back exposed to the foot traffic of the restaurant.

I NEVER SIT IN THIS SPOT!!! I ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE MY BACK TO THE WALL! IT IS THE INNER FBI AGENT IN ME!!!

Oh, I was furious. I think our server could tell too, and I was trying so hard to make friendly eye contact and smile naturally every time I interacted with them.

Now, instead of just getting a dessert, I felt obliged to order actual food. I suggested that we just get an appetizer to share and Henry, knowing he was on THIN ICE, LIKE WE’RE TALKING COMMUNION WAFER-THIN HERE, quickly sputtered, “Whatever you want!”

We agreed on the dumplings, but when the server came back, I said to them with the most confidence I have spoken with in months probably, “We’ll have the ONION RINGS” and then I shot Henry a tight-lipped smile across the table. His expression was priceless. He let out a silent “You bitch” laugh and then said, “Oh, OK. And I guess I will also order the dumplings.

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Can I just say that those were the best fucking onion rings I have ever had in my life? They had QUINOA in the batter and were sooo crispy and totally perfect. We are both still talking about them!

The dumplings were fine.

Food aside, it was one of the most awkward dining experiences I have had in a while. First of all, the staff was CHAOTIC. So many different people were flitting about but there weren’t that many diners, and then everyone seemed like they kept distracted. It was like being in a restaurant run by Sims. Every time our server would come to check on us, they would ask us something and then start looking all around the restaurant, over their shoulder, anywhere but at us, while we were talking and it felt like every since interaction ended on a cliffhanger. I felt I had whiplash. The food came out super fast, but the service was sooo strange and disjointed. Couldn’t be more impersonal unless I, Erin Rachelle Kelly, was every server.

Secondly, some guy was dining alone right next to us and I had to face him since Henry took the seat I wanted. I think he might have been waiting for someone and then ended up ordering for himself once he realized he had been stood up, because he was already seated when he got there and didn’t order until much after we did, because he was looking at his phone the whole time. He ordered this big nacho plate which looked and smelled amazing, and then afterward, he got a huge hunk of chocolate cake which also looked like something I could easily demolish on my own, probably while crying.

I wanted to also get a slice of cake, but was starting to panic about getting in line for the concert so we opted on getting a chocolate chip cookie to go. Henry didn’t like it but I thought it was fine.

Those onion rings really saved the day, though. That and the candied ginger that came speared on a toothpick with Henry’s housemade ginger ale, which I immediately plucked from his glass and popped straight into my mouth while he watched with mouth agape. I was such a fucking bitch on this day, moreso than I typically am.

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(I know, I know, so many people who know me IRL think I AM SO NICE, SO SWEET but Henry knows the real Erin, the one who grew up being called Sybil by her family. SMILEY FACE.)

I would like to go back to Fresh for a full meal COMPLETE WITH CAKE but probably in a different location where it hopefully won’t feel like the entire kitchen staff is going to self-implode around me. My chai tea and onion rings helped right the wrongs of the day, rewire my sizzling brain, and get me in READY MODE for the Kang Daniel show. Who knew adding quinoa to onion rings could be such a game changer?!?!?

Feb 282023
 

(Lol clickbait.)

Henry and I were working on the Gameboy project Saturday night, being the wild and crazy kids that we are (I at least sipped on a glass of wine during the art sesh, lol ugh this lame life). The firetruck came by for a visit, which is not unusual given the crazy street I live on. From what we deduced, our neighbor a few houses down had smelled gas, so after the firetruck came, so did the gas company. This is like the third time of late that the gas company has come in for this – the last time, both local gas companies were here all day, doing their gas company things, and I guess the result was “no leak”?? I have no idea, but I really hope that if something is going on over there, someone fixes it soon. I want to move, but I’d like that to be into a new house and not a burial plot, you know? IS THAT TOO DARK FOR MONDAY.

Anyway, this was all just my usual preamble to set the scene, I guess.

Around 10:30, I decided I was done playing with clay and retreated to the couch. Right after I sat down, I heard a horn blaring and saw a blue light flash outside of the window. It was an ambulance, and they were beeping at the DRUNK WOMAN SHAMBLING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE.

“Well, there’s a drunk person walking past our house,” I reported to Henry, who had asked for a Pioneer Ave update from the dining room.

Usually, I do not care much for people, but this broad was making me capital N nervous. She was D R U N K, and just like, “Tee hee, I had three Fuzzy Navels with my gal pals” giddy drunk. First of all, why was she ALONE? I opened the front door just in time to see her nearly get hit by a pick-up truck, stagger even farther into the road, where she came close to being clipped by a car passing on the other side.

Might I remind you at this time that I do not live on a quiet residential road. This ain’t Maple Street, my guy.

(As I write this, the gas company is back on my block.)

“Don’t get involved,” Henry warned, now in Dad Mode. “Someone probably already called 911. Let them deal with it.”

WOW look who doesn’t want someone else to steal the hero thunder. Mmm.

Yes, there is always the risk that the person in question is psychotic or belligerent; and yes, it’s true that, at my core, I truly do not care much for people because all of my love is for animals, but if anything happened to this broad, I’d carry that to my grave. My capacity for carrying guilt is huge. You could fill quarries with the guilt I got loafing on my conscience at all times.

I went outside. Prayed to the Kpop idols that this wasn’t going to backfire. Gently called out, “Hello, are you OK?”

She looked up at me with glassy, unfocused eyes, and this was the first time I really gained a sense of what I was dealing with: a classic White Yinzer of approx. late 40s to late 50s, possibly even younger if we’re going the “rode hard and put away wet” assumption.

What came next was a deluge of slurred words, something about trying to get somewhere, no one answering, where’s the road, etc. “I’m drunk,” she tacked on, a disclaimer that I did not need.

“OK, well, let’s stand here on the sidewalk while we figure this out,” I said, blocking her from drifting back out onto the street.

“Why are you being nice to me?” she asked, and OK I dislike people, we know this, but wow, that one made me feel something in the ice box.  I explained that I saw her in the street from my window and didn’t want her to get hurt.

She said she was trying to get to Liberty, and I was thinking she needed to go downtown and I’m sorry, I wasn’t committed enough to offer this broad a ride. If she needed an Uber, I was happy to wait there with her until one arrived, but then she finally got ahold of her friend, Lorraine. She put Lorraine on speaker and started yelling at her for not picking up, and then she goes, “THIS GIRL IS HELPING ME, HERE TELL HER WHERE YOU LIVE” and then she screamed, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!” to Lorraine when I was trying to tell Lorraine where we were standing. Henry was watching this from the front door and asked me later, “Did she tell her friend to shut the fuck up?” with a laugh. Yes, yes she did.

Turns out, LORRAINE only lives one block away from me, on the same street. This drunkard had actually shambled past Lorraine’s house and good thing I found her when I did or she may actually have ended up downtown at some point. Who could be sure.

So now I’m trying to get the broad to turn around so that we can start our walk to Lorraine’s.  Again, she asked me why I was being so nice. And maybe I was even asking myself this too, but dude…girls gotta look out for each other, no matter what. ESPECIALLY ON PIONEER. The residents around here are like a jar of mixed nuts, literally. Imagine ROB or LARRY intercepting. No, on second thought, do not imagine.

Rob, coincidentally, did come out of his front door during this but it wasn’t to help, it was because he waiting for his….customer.

By now, I had asked the lush for her name.

“Fred,” she spat her alleged name into the air, and if this were a graphic novel, imagine the letters F R E D  coalescing in the space before us in glittering liquor droplets, like a dive bar’s marquee.

OK. Fred.

You know, it just occurred to me that she sort of resembled Jennifer Coolidge but like, a rough blue-collared Yinzer edition, like if J.Cool was born, raised, and possibly perms hair in DA BURGH.

In front of my neighbor George’s house, Fred drew in a harsh sniff. “I smell gas!” Here is where I remind you that the gas company is still present, parked in the lot across the street waiting for more crew to arrive. Pioneer had multiple story lines playing out on this night. I explained to her that my neighbor had already called 911 about it and pointed to the parked gas company car.

“YOU’RE GON’ SPLODE!” she frantically slurred. “BUBBY, THEY’RE GON’ SPLODE YOU!”

Did I mention that she called me Bubby during this guided tour of Pioneer? But with her level of inebriation, it was coming out more like a burped “buhhhhhby.”

Now we’re about four houses away from my house, still on the same block, when we passed a parked car with people inside. PRETTY SURE they live in one of the houses on my block, so, you know, technically my neighbors. Fred, apropos of NOTHING, lurched toward the passenger window and fucking barks, “FUCK YOU! FUCK! YOU!” into the rolled-up window.

“OK, no, let’s not…no,” I said, giving her a tug to keep her moving.

“I like to FIGHT!” she cried. “I just really love FIGHTING, Bubby!!”

“Gotta stay on your good side!” I laughed nervously, while in my head I’m like “GOTTA STAY ON HER GOOD SIDE” sans laughter.

Did I tell you that we were holding hands the whole time? Yeah, we were holding hands. Looking back on this has me feeling very uncomfy now.

Fred, forgetting about the random people in a parked car that she wanted to fuck up, asked me with so much gravity to her warbled voice, “Bubby. Does your husband hit you?” (She may have said “hate” instead, I couldn’t tell, but either option is depressing.)

I said no and the ERIN IN ME wanted to use this opening as yet another platform to whine about my unmarried status, but THIS NIGHT WAS ABOUT HELPING FRED, NOT MAKING IT ALL ABOUT ME AS USUAL.

We had finally reached the next block (I could have walked here in about 30 seconds if I didn’t have a drunk lady leaning against me, nearly breaking her ankles in the wedges she was wearing.

I asked her where she had been coming from, and she said Slapshots. You guys, Slapshots is a bar on a very busy main road. It’s a very doable walk…BUT NOT WHEN YOU’RE DRUNK IN WEDGES?! I was telling my friend Nate about this at work today and he was like, “Erin. She walked to your street from SLAPSHOTS? HOW DID SHE NOT GET KILLED.”

You cannot just stumble into West Liberty Avenue in a drunken stupor and expect to live. That road is fucking busy, always. Fred must have had a goddamn angel gliding above her this night.

Slapshots

Lorraine’s house 

MY HOUSE WHERE I FOUND FRED IN THE STREET

Trying to make small talk as I led her across the street like a school crossing guard with my arm out to stop oncoming traffic, I asked Fred if Lorraine was her friend, or sister, or…

“SHE’S MY BEST FRIEND!” Fred shouted. “I had another really good friend too but she hanged herself last year. It’s been a really bad year.” And then, a quiet burp pushed out the rest: “I’m so depressed.”

Honestly, same, but I was also relieved that we had successfully crossed over Pioneer while she was spilling these dark truths.

Before I had a chance to really unpack what Fred was saying, A COP ROLLED TO A STOP NEXT TO US. because of course, this was bound to happen. I had seen him earlier when I first went outside to get her out of the street so I’m sure he was just circling the block LIKE THOSE MOTHERFUCKING HAWKS, hoping to have a reason to cuff some chicks, let’s goooooo.

“Everything OK here?” he called out of his passenger-side window. My natural instinct is to sneer in the faces of cops, but I just wanted this expedition to end without escalation. GET FRED TO LORRAINE’S. IGNORE BOOBYTRAPS. DODGE DISTRACTIONS. DON’T LET FRED FALL. DON’T LET FRED ENGAGE IN FISTICUFFS. UNLOCK LEVEL LORRAINE’S HOUSE.

“Yes, we’re fine. I’m just getting her to her friend’s house right down there.”

He gave us a douchey invisible hat-tip, before setting off to look for other ways to meet his ARREST quota.

“YOU’RE AWESOME!” Fred screamed at his patrol car, and then as he drove away, she tacked on, “YOU FUCKING PIG.”

Classic Fred.

You guys, we made it to Lorraine’s. I knew this because Lorraine had said it was the only house with a tree in the yard after I asked her to repeat her house number for the third time back when we were on the phone, because I was too distracted by Fred’s precarious swaying to retain the 4 digits she kept giving me.

And then Fred recognized her car parked on the street so that was the clincher.

“Let me drive you home, Bubby! You have to let me drive you home!”

Um…no way was this broad getting behind any wheel. I told her that I was fine to walk back (literally took me a minute) and that the only thing she should be doing was going into Lorraine’s house, hydrated, and getting some sleep.

And now Fred had half-crashed into me, half-pulled me into a hug. “I can’t let you leave!” she cried into my shoulder.

Oh my god. Get it together Fred.

Of course, Lorraine had a steep set of steps leading up to her house, so that was a treat. I was walking behind Fred, I don’t know what I thought that was going to do – she’d have taken us both out if she fell.

Once we made it to Lorraine’s porch,  Fred just opened the door and walked right in. My heart started racing, hoping that this was the right house and we weren’t about to get our faces shot off. Fred ran/stumbled straight ahead and faceplanted HARD into a black leather couch. Lorraine was sitting in a recliner next to the door, with her back facing me. She looked over her shoulder and said “Thanks.”

That’s all. Just thanks.

I mean, I wasn’t looking for cash (although Fred was trying hard to give me money) but the way this bitch was just like BIG SHRUG really pissed me off. OK, maybe this is Typical Fred Antics but c’mon you dumb bitch, this is your friend and she was literally out in the wild of Brookline, where she could have been picked up by a rapist, taken to the drunk tank by that smarmy cop, GOTTEN FLATTENED BY A TRUCK…Fred’s night could have ended up in so many worse ways. The fact that Lorraine didn’t even at least stand on her porch to look for us? That really pissed me off. Fred deserves better.

I’m sure Fred forgot all about this immediately upon hitting the couch, but I think I will remember Fred forever.

***

My entire body wasn’t even in the house yet before Henry’s rang.

Hot Naybor Chris: “What is going on out there??”

Ah, Pioneer Avenue’s tagline.

Jan 132023
 

I’m stupidly excited because there is a little work gathering after work tonight since we didn’t do an office holiday party and about 3/4 of the Doug Fan Club will be in attendance, so I made commemorative Doug / Goodfellas pins for the occasion.

But first, I wanted to share some snips from last Friday’s group chat when Doug came up again, apropos of NOTHING. My former boss (but still current friend) Amber had missed the original Doug chat and, as such, had no idea what was happening.

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So, I tried to surmise the Doug sitch for her as best as possible, and her response was just, “LOL.

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I guess she had to be there.

Even though none of the other chat friends were….

It started with an innocent question about Trudy:

At this point, I need to cut in* because I was trying desperately to think of the word “vivisect.” My mind was el blanko so I turned to trusty Google and before I knew it, I was searching “cutting a body in half” at work and of course the most terrible shit popped up on my screen. I was like, “Oh, haha, j/k. Research for a conflict check. Totally work-related.” *clears history*

Anyway!!!! The book I was reading a few days later had the word VIVISECTION in it so now it’s seared into my brain and I will hopefully never forget it again.

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This has been FUN ASIDES with Erin.

*heh heh CUT IN.

Earlier that day, we were discussing the POPE ROOM at Buca di Beppo, so…full circle, as group chats oft’ are.

OK, that’s all.

And now here are the pins!

I can’t wait to pass these out!

Nov 252022
 

(Hello, I recommend reading this post first because I will be referencing people and incidents from that!)

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, around 9:30 and we were doing fuck all. In fact, I had just curled up on the couch with a book while Henry was working on something at the computer in the other room. Chooch was in his room playing dumb games with his friends.

I hadn’t even had a chance to open my book yet, when suddenly…

The front door opens.

I had about .25 seconds to run through the probability of this being either Henry or Chooch. Did one of them go outside through the basement, perhaps? And now they were coming back in?

But now there was a stranger standing in the doorway. He quietly closed the door behind him, then turned back into the room.

We locked eyes.

My mental People Rolodex is flipping at warped speed: WHO IS THIS MAN. DO I KNOW THIS MAN.

Now the man’s eyes are flicking around my house. “Oh…shit. I walked into the wrong house.”

“Yes,” I managed to whisper, half-paralyzed, not quite with fear but surprise. Shock.

This happened so quietly and calmly, that even Henry had a delayed reaction at the computer, not quite sure what is happening.

“Wow, this house is….I should go,” the man said, and turned to leave. Now I could hear Chooch creeping on the steps. He apparently thought it was Blake dropping off Starbucks for him after work and was shocked to see that, no this was not Blake.

“Yes, you should go,” I agreed, and now it clicked where I had seen this face before: he is one of the people moving in with Rob (please refer to previous post!) and he had also come over to Ruth’s on Monday to make sure was OK. Plus, I had seen him several times over the weekend moving stuff into the house.

So a stranger, but also a neighbor. But still a stranger.

“Do you mind if I just stand here and look around for a minute?” he asked.

Now here is the point where my constant need for praise and attention drop-kicked any remaining supply of rationality out of my cranial trap door. Since the pandemic, we have barely had anyone over here aside from family, Verizon guys, and plumbers. So I was kind of like, “YES, YOU MAY” which I know pissed Henry off, but hello I would like to note for the log that Henry was the last one in the house and didn’t shut the door all the way, so this is a very BLAME HENRY situation we have on our hands here. Also, passive Henry never once attempted to intervene.

Also, this guy was fucking high. Imagine walking into my house for the first time, incapacitated. This was around the time he finally introduced himself as Robert, the boyfriend of the girl also moving in with Rob who Rob said was his daughter but GET THIS: she is actually the ex-gf of Rob’s son, Brandon!? That is…weird? Right? That she’s living with her ex-bf’s dad and her new bf?

“Do you get high?” he asked, to which I immediately said no. “Oh, well do you mind if we smoke pot over there?” he asked, and I said that I didn’t care what he did as long as it wasn’t in my house (??) and he goes, “No, I mean, you can’t smell it through the walls, right?” I had to explain to him that he didn’t just walk into the wrong SIDE of his new house, he walked into the wrong house entirely.

“Well, we don’t share any walls since you’re all the way over there, so no, we can’t smell it,” I explained and then in my head, thought, “LOL that’s Ruth’s problem.”

Man, this guy (who was born in 1988, a fact I will never forget because he told me like 1,988 times and I wanted to be like, “THAT’S WHEN G-DRAGON WAS BORN!” but you know, we just met) had questions about everything. First, he asked if everything in here was for sale, like he thought this was a lighting store or something?

He’s still standing at this point, and I’m sitting on the couch wondering how much longer this was going to last before I had to tell him to leave. He was very quiet, calm, polite, totally high though. Henry wanted no part of this at all and LET ME DEAL WITH IT?! He told me later, “Oh, you seemed to have it under control. I assessed the situation and he didn’t appear to be a threat.” WOW, way to be the man of the house. Not to white Knight Henry, but imagine a petite Seth Rogen and that’s basically what walked into our house.

But then Robert started talking about the drama that happened the other day. “What the hell was up with that??” he asked, and I was like, “Buckle up, Robert, I’m an expert at Pioneer Ave information.” So now Robert is sitting on the couch and we’re chatting like old broads at tea time. I forgot that I used to be good at conversationing and peopling! Anyway, the irony was not lost on him that he essentially did the same thing as Johnny Cash, just in a much less sinister context.

You guys, he LET ME TALK ABOUT KOREA and that is all I ever want, truly.

I would also like to memorialize the fact that prior to this, I had put on a YouTube video about various things to do in the Smoky Mountains, nature-wise, and another extremely boring video had started playing with a super old man narrating in in a dry voice, like something you’d have watched in school on a day when you have a sub and they have nothing else to give you, work-wise. I desperately wanted to change it but the remote was on the other side of Robert. So I let the boring ass video play on like in some old bitch living in a wood-paneled RV.

I mean, that seems like the type of TV someone like that would watch.

About 30 minutes in, he mentioned that he was born in Romania and I almost lunged at him in excitement.

“I AM OBSESSED WITH ROMANIA,” I said in a very serious fashion, and he was caught off guard by this.

I will say it was frustrating though because he couldn’t remember anything and asked me numerous times what my name is and how long I’ve been living here. Henry said he texted Chooch at one point and said, “It’s like a revolving convo.” I demanded a screenshot of these texts for journalistic purposes:

Typical Chooch, only cares about his drink, zero concern for Mum’s safety.

Apparently during other parts, Chooch was hovering on the steps listening in and he and Henry were communicating through facial expressions. I wish I could have seen their faces when ROMANIA came up because I’m sure Henry closed his eyes in defeat and Chooch gave his fists a “NOW SHE WILL NEVER LET HIM LEAVE” shake.

So yeah, Robert moved to the States with his parents from Romania when he was 7 but he still speaks Romanian fluently and was just there this year to visit family! HE TAUGHT  ME HOW TO SAY HELLO HOW ARE YOU IN ROMANIAN BUT I ALREADY FORGOT.

Anyway, he stayed for an hour and then we wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving, he apologized again, and that was that. I got up and immediately locked the door behind him.

I immediately texted my brother, Corey, because he is so invested in the Pioneer drama.

Truly! That was not how I saw the night going. Look, I am clearly starved for conversation! I knew this was filling a void when I abandoned all of my filters and started giddily telling Robert about the squirrels. “And they love grapes, but they call them by the Korean word, podo!” (Henry texted Chooch at this point like, “great, now she’s talking about the squirrels.”)

Anyway, Corey and I are now exclusively referring to Robert as Vlad so as not to confuse him with Rob.

Chooch cautiously came downstairs a few minutes later. “OMG did he finally leave?” he asked, and then gave me a very disappointed head shake. Turns out he wasn’t worried that this guy was going to murder me, he was just annoyed because Blake had left his Starbucks in a bag on the porch and Chooch didn’t want to have to walk past Robert. He apparently texted Blake said he couldn’t get it right away because some guy was in the house.

Blake goes, “Who, dad’s new boyfriend?” (When Henry heard about this he mockingly laughed and said, “wow you guys are all so funny.”)

Chooch said, “No, some guy living with Rob. He just walked into our house.”

And Blake said, “Oh cool.”

OH COOL????

“I just can’t believe this happened two nights after you were telling me about the other time someone walked into the house,” Chooch said, and my mind is also a little blown about that too. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! (Aside from us needing to triple-check that the door is locked.)

***

“Wow, you wanna talk about someone who can talk…” Henry sighed, after Robert left.

“Oh I know right, I didn’t think he was ever going to leave!” I said.

“I was talking about you,” Henry frowned.

:(

I bet Vlad doesn’t even remember being here.

May 242022
 

Guys, we went to Cedar Point last weekend as a belated birthday “party” for Chooch which I think I probably mentioned in some scattered blog post or another at some point. He brought his friend Zakk. It was one of the best times I’ve had at Cedar Point to date, which is a huge feat considering how finicky this place can be.

Back when our friend Jason still lived in Cleveland, we used to meet up with him at Melt for some pre-show grilled cheese action. This was when Melt was still new and novel and didn’t have a ton of locations spread across Ohio. So when Cedar Point got their own special Melt location, it wasn’t that exciting to us.

However! Jason no longer lives in Cleveland and we no longer road-trip there constantly for concerts, so it’s been A MINUTE since I burnt my mouth by scarfing a Melt original too zealously. Normally we don’t do sit-down meals at parks but I thought it would be nice to pencil it in this time since it was kind of a special occasion and Chooch had a friend with him.

I checked in with Chooch around 2 and he said that they were both ready to eat too, but they were in line for Magnum. Henry and I had just gotten off Steel Vengeance (<3) so I told him we’d just walk to Magnum and wait for them there. He texted me again right as we got to Magnum and said they were in the station about to get on.

Oh, good! We were just in time to see their train leave the station and then promptly get stuck on the lift hill, lol.

At first, we thought that someone got busted with their phone out because one of the Magnum crew people left the station and walked up the track to them. She was going back and forth, stopping at certain rows, so we weren’t sure what was going on at that point. Then she left and a few minutes later, another crew person went down under the lift hill and pushed a button as a recording came on that said ATTN THIS RIDE WILL NOW RESTART so that was fun to watch.

Magnum’s manual literally says, “Turn it off and then turn it back on.”

This ride is soooo janky but iconic and incredibly photogenic.

LOL Chooch.

Finally, we were reunited as a QUAD and walked together (sort of) to Melt. I was happy that it wasn’t crowded AT ALL and a little surprised when the hostess said it would be a 20 minute wait. I looked around at all the empty tables and said, “OK. We’ll wait.” The place was literally at like, less than 25% capacity, but OK.

We had JUST sat down in the waiting area, and the hostess was calling my name, cradling a stack of menus in her arms. Literally less than a minute after she told us it would be 20 minutes?? Did she mean 20 seconds??

I loved that Melt’s decor was a marriage of the traditional Melt aesthetic (vintage plastic holiday yard statues, old school arcade vibes, etc) with historical Cedar Point memorabilia.

Anyway, it quickly became clear that when the hostess said “20 minutes,” she meant 20 minutes for the waiter to take our order which was whatever, but it became progressively longer between returns to our table. He was really personable at first but then gave us less attention every time he got a new table and I was super butt hurt over this.

Meanwhile, Chooch ordered some type of “wet” chicken sandwich but refused to say the “wet” part and just sort of pointed at it instead. He got the vegetarian version of his and I got the vegan version of the BIG PARMA (a whole one so Henry and I could share). Henry got an order of tofu wings, and Zakk just got chicken strips – lame!

It took so long for our food to come out. It’s frustrating when you see tables that were seated way after you get their food first. People were coming and going and we were all just sitting there, idly sipping our drinks and looking at our phones….

…well, the guys at my table were looking at their phones. I was looking at everyone else’s food around me and eye-stalking the young food runner who kept coming out of the kitchen with NOT OUR food.

And then when our food did come, they only brought me a half of my sandwich like they were TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING (“It’s called smaller portions, HONEY”). This was an issue because I knew we were going to get charged for a whole, and also because half of this was supposed to be Henry’s. But the way I said, “I ordered a whole,” came off sooo bitch-babyish. It was like I had floated over myself and just in time to witness the stampy-foot whine come out of my mouth, like I was complaining that Santa brought me a brown pony when I ASKED FOR A BLACK ONE WITH A WHITE DIAMOND ON HER NOSE.

Whatever. Some people find this side of me endearing, like Veruca Salt Lite.

Meanwhile, Henry was mumbling, “Don’t worry about it” but I was like BABE I GOT THIS. (LOL I would never call him that, FYI.) Anyway, I got the other half of my sandwich in less than 5 but then it seemed like our waiter liked us less after this so I was sad because I really liked him but it was clear that he was only interested in playing with all his SHINY NEW TABLES.

We cut Chooch and Zakk loose after they were finished eating because it became clear that we weren’t going to get our check anytime soon. So now with those two gone, we had an open window to the table in front of us: a mom and dad with a daughter who was about 4, a boy who was like 3, and then a super little baby. The girl spilled her chocolate milk ALL OVER HERSELF and started crying, which brought me so much joy. So the mom dumped the baby on the dad was took the crying girl into the bathroom to mop her off.

“Wow, she actually got all the stains out,” Henry marveled when they returned. Laundry-related things excite Henry greatly.

Still waiting for our check, and now these two older women were standing right next to our table, like so close that I actually thought maybe we had been there that long that Chooch and Zakk had grown up into middle-aged women? Turns out they were looking for the chocolate milk bitch. They finally spotted her (I mean, she was literally at the next table, put your fucking glasses on maybe) and handed her a bag from the gift shop with a NEW FUCKING T-SHIRT IN IT (well, obviously new – I assume it wasn’t off the back of some other child-bitch). I can’t remember what the damn thing said now but it was purple and had like a cupcake on it that said best day ever, or something, like why wouldn’t you get a Cedar Point-specific t-shirt, but OK.

So now the dumb girl was happy again and I really needed to pay the damn check and get away from this Church of the Latter Day Saints commercial.

First of all, how do those women even know that this kid deserves a non-milky, dry t-shirt? She could be a terrible kid!! She could have a record at pre-school!! What if she’s a kindercare bully?? There could be a row of mutilated, naked babydolls in her closet!

I felt very conflicted over this good Samaritan spectacle.

“I would never do something like that for a kid,” I murmured around my straw (paper even, go Melt!) as I took a sip of water, and Henry said, “Yeah I know.”

But then! Her little brother fell out of his chair – not even all the way. It was a super slow descent where he lazily ping-ponged between his chair and his dad’s chair, and didn’t even hit the ground, but still somehow hurt himself enough that he started wailing, so now the mom had to take the baby from the dad so that the dad could hold the screaming toddler in his lap.

IT WAS ALL TOO MUCH.

I wasn’t ruling out the possibility that he did this on purpose so that someone would buy him a shirt too. We made eye contact while he was crying and I hope that I was able to convey in my returned glare that it wasn’t going to be me, buddy.

Finally, we got to pay the damn bill and get the FUCK out of there. Great food but easily one of the most frustrating Melt experiences of my life, lol ugh.

Jan 142022
 

You guys. It has been two whole days since the thing I’m about to tell you has happened but I still have not calmed down. I wanted to write about it that very same day but I couldn’t sit still long enough!!

OK, OK, remember how to tell a story, Erin. Back up. Start at the beginning. Give the people some background. If you are a long time reader, you might remember me mentioning from time to time an older gentleman in my neighborhood with a proclivity toward public profanity. In the past, I have (cruelly, I know) referred to him as Tourette’s but in my older years, trying to be the best version of myself, I have been trying to refer to him as Angry Guy but…you know, old habits. So if you happen to go back and read any of my older posts about him just remember me: I KNOW I’M AN ASSHOLE AND I AM TRYING TO BE BEST (lol).

I see this dude everywhere in Brookline and I even know where he lives because I was on a walk one time and saw him up ahead and took a detour just so I could follow him. Hey, I had nothing else going on that day! Or…any day. Ever.

Sometimes he’s in a fine mood, like when I saw him while I was standing outside of CVS and we had a discussion about FACE MASKS. Sometimes he is…not in such a fine mood, like several weeks ago when he walked by my house yelling at someone (or no one) on the phone:

The best part of this was when I originally went to start recording, he was still walking toward my house and MY FUCKING FLASH CAME ON. Henry was like, “Oh my god” and slithered further into the house, lol.

One time, he appeared on the scene of a hit & run that happened in front of my house and it was honestly the most exciting part of the whole incident for me.

Let’s just say that this guy has been a big enough part of my life that when I say to my friends, “Hey, you know that one guy…” and they are like, “Yes, the one who you videotaped wrestling with a lawnmower that one time?” And I am like, “Yes, him.”

So, now the story can begin for real.

It was Wednesday morning,  still pretty early, like around 6:30AM. I had to walk to the post office on Brookline Blvd to drop off some Etsy stuff. I was really pissed off about it too because Henry was supposed to take it and mail it, but WHATEVER.  I was about a block away from my house on my return walk, still steaming and fuming over Henry’s laziness, when I noticed that several cars had stopped, including a small school bus. That’s when I realized that there was a man in the middle of the road, just standing there.

IT WAS HIM. THE GUY.

I started to walk faster because I needed to be a part of this action, and how. By the time I arrived on the scene, the school bus driver had gotten out and was leading THE GUY back to the sidewalk. He kept saying he was fine and she was like “Ok but you can’t stand in the road, someone will hit you” (it was still dark out!) and he was like, “I just need to get to Dormont.” She said asked if he needed a ride and after he said yes, she goes, “I can’t drive you, sir, I have kids on the bus.”

WELL, WHY DID YOU ASK THEN?

SO I SAID: “I can drive you! My car is parked just a block away.” I’m like, panting as I’m saying this, so excited to make additional contact with THIS FAMOUS GUY.

He said, “Oh really young lady, thank you! I just need to go to Eat n Park” and in my head, I’m like, “Yeah I know” because sometimes on my morning walks, I see him sitting in Eat n Park with OTHER (PROBABLY) WEIRD PEOPLE!! So I know that when I see him walking by my house in the mornings, that is where he’s going. ONE TIME CHOOCH AND I WERE THERE AT THE SAME TIME AS HIM! And it was like a week after Chooch rode past him on his bike, and the guy got scared, jumped dramatically and screamed, “YOU CRAZY GUY, WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU!” and Chooch was so excited to have gotten yelled at by him. (It’s a Brookline thing.)

So the bus driver and I got him to stand safely on the corner and I ran, and I mean I RAN, all the way down the block to get my car, and the whole  time I’m going “OMG OMG OMG.” And the sitch was still fresh enough that a bit of traffic had built up so people in their cars were watching and I was like “YES! LOOK AT ME! NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES, BUT SUPER ADORABLE FLUFFY BLUE COATS!” and I could feel their eyes on me, wondering what the root of the conflict was but knowing without a shadow of a doubt that THIS YOUNG LADY was the literal LIFE SAVER!

AND THEN HE WAS IN MY CAR!!!!!!!!!!!! (Well, not right away. First, I pulled up to the curb and rolled down the window and said, “OK here I am!” and he just stood there, and now cars were getting angry and having to pass me, and he’s still looking at me like, “WHY ARE YOU STOPPED HERE” and I’m like, “Are you ready?” and he’s like, “OH, ARE YOU THE GIRL” and four years of being called THE GIRL at dreaded Weiss Meats poured over my head like a bucket of icy PTSD, but that’s neither here nor there.)

HIS NAME IS DAVID!!!!!!!

While I was navigating the back streets of Brookline to get back onto the main drag, we made casual small talk about the weather. I told him I had almost slipped on ice on my way to the post office. “DID YOU?” he gasped, and he seemed genuinely very concerned about this. He thanked me again for doing this and I brushed it off. “It’s no problem, I only live right there across the church so I’m not going out of my way,” and then I said to him, casually, “Say*, I think you used to live a few houses up from me, didn’t you?” because he totally lived next door to Hot Naybor Chris a long time ago, and he said, “No. Never. I never lived on Pioneer.” Wow, OK, DAVID.

*(Also, LOL I have never started a sentence that way in real life and wanted to see how it felt to act as though I did. It felt a little like Leave It To Beaver.)

Anyway, it literally only took me like 2 minutes to get him to Eat n Park and when he was getting out of my car, he said, “Thank you again, young lady. I hope you become a millionaire someday.”

!!!!!

And the fact that he kept calling me Young Lady made me start imagining him as the white rabbit AND I AM ALICE.

Alice with White Rabbit | Area Arts

OK IS THIS WEIRD? THIS IS WEIRD. EVEN FOR ME. Not the mood I was going for.

Hang on.

Alice In Wonderland Rabbit High Resolution Stock Photography and Images -  Alamy

We’ll go with this one. (You guys, I think this image is from ALAMY.)

(ALSO THIS WAS THE BEST VERSION OF ALICE & WONDERLAND, FIGHT ME. I was obsessed with Carol Channing.)

I kept trying to call Henry right after and he wasn’t answering so I was texting him 911 and when he finally called back, I blurted out: YOU WILL NEVER GUESS WHO WAS IN OUR CAR and he was like “are you effing kidding, this was the emergency?”

I’d like to point out that Henry and Chooch both had a first guess of “Buddy” (the squirrel), which speaks volumes to how rich my life has been lately.

Well, that’s my story about how I got to be a hero for once, suck it, Henry. Sorry it was so harried, I have residual adrenaline and needed to just type it out without any care or thought. Oh wait, that’s my procedure for ALL blog posts.

(On a serious note though: he did seem coherent like he knew his name & was able to talk normally, and I kept asking him if he was OK. He said yes, so I’m hoping that maybe he just needed to get some food, and because I’m a creep, I know that other people would be joining him so if he needed medical attention, they would be able to do something??  But I have seen him since and he seems fine!)

(On another serious note, I hope this hasn’t reignited my penchant for picking up hitchhikers. Probably not. At least not until we’re on the other side of this pandemic.)

Oct 162021
 

I decided to sign up for this year’s Global Day of Service at work because it’s been several years since I last participated, one of the options was helping to set up for the Boy Scouts annual Halloween event, and I need to get the FUCK out of this house. Working from home definitely has its perks but the burnout is real. I wanted to see familiar faces and just, you know,  not be strapped in front of my computer all day.

I convinced my work pal Megan to also sign up for this particular event. “It’ll be fun!” I said. The activities listed decorating and helping out with the pumpkin patch. Sounds like good old-fashioned October fun to me, and for a good cause to boot!

Then there was a whole lot of confusion just during the sign-up period: incorrect dates, miscommunication regarding t-shirt pick-up, instructions on where to park etc not emailed out until the eleventh hour. I was so stressed out about this because I like having a clear and concise plan in place when something involves me going to a place I’ve never been before, and the fact that no one was responding to our emails (I think I gave Megan second-hand stress and she was also emailing the global service people for answers lol) had this whole situation INFILTRATING MY DREAMS. Yes, I fucking had low-key stress dreams about this stupid volunteer opportunity, why can’t I be a normal person even in my slumber. Seriously, it’s exhausting being this tightly wound 24:7.

But finally Thursday aka Volunteering Day came and I was prepared. Got Chooch to school, came home and ate breakfast, was at Megan’s house promptly at 8am, made it to the Boy Scout camp in Sugar Spell Scoops Town (aka the town where our favorite ice cream shop lives lol) with a good 15 minutes to spare. And it’s a good thing too because finding the camp was tricky and we kept thinking we were going the wrong way or that we passed it, and then we finally found the street and saw the main building, we proceeded to drive past it to find the gravel parking lot as the instructions told us. It said it was “on the other side of the road past the education center” and we did see a lot there but it wasn’t gravel. And someone named “RANGER MIKE” was supposed to be there to help.

There was no such man there.

So we drove around again and still could not find any semblance to a “gravel lot” so we went back to the first one and parked. Another Law Firm person rolled up and was like “IS THIS RIGHT” and we were like “SHRUG” and that in unison we all said, “IT’S NOT GRAVEL” but then a man came barreling down the road in a golf cart-type thing and we were like THIS MUST BE RANGER MIKE and it was. Law firm people are just smart like that, you know? RANGER MIKE was like “Follow me to the correct parking lot” and he took us further up the road to another parking lot that was also NOT GRAVEL!?!?

Did they just pave the lot after sending out that email?! We were all fixated on GRAVEL. You cannot throw down super descriptive words such as GRAVEL without following through. I am going to dwell on this forever, watch.

OK, on to the actual volunteering. It was just Megan and me from our department, but two other ladies from a different department on our floor were also there so that was really nice to see some familiar faces! Then there were four dudes, none of whom I knew or recognized, from various departments. I think one was an Associate, and the rest of us were all non-lawyers. There were 3 different tasks that needed done that day, and we were split up into groups. The four of us broads quickly raised our hands for pumpkin patch consideration, two guys were on painting duty, and the other two went with RANGER MIKE to do something with life jackets and then set up some sort of game for the Halloween event, I honestly don’t know because I quit listening to the options after “pumpkin patch.”

We went off with another camp person, Kim, down the road to a little area of land next to a picnic shelf and a creek. Basically, we just had to tear apart bales of hay and scatter it so that the area for the patch was completely covered. You’d think this would be fairly self-explanatory but I had to keep sneaking peeks over my shoulder at Kim to make sure I was doing it like she was, I’m so fucking Type A. Once that was done, it was time to place the pumpkins. They still had stickers on them and I was about to ask Kim if she wanted us to remove them, but I saw that she was leaving them on all of hers. I thought, OK, maybe this is like a brand deal or something, and whatever farm supplied the pumpkins asked for the stickers to be left on for marketing purposes. I don’t know the beside-the-scenes shit that goes on at pumpkin patches. OK Randy?

This went on for quite some time, and I was surprised at how mildly worked-out I felt, I wasn’t sweating or anything, but the process of plucking pumpkins from the boxes was full-body, you know? I was grabbing three or four at a time and pretending they were tiny medicine balls.

When we were nearly done, a cart full of three Camp elders scooted on up to us. They dropped one lady off, and she immediately began inspecting our work and mumbling under her breath about the stickers.

“I didn’t really think it mattered,” Kim said defensively. “It’s fine,” she said to the rest of us, now frozen with stickered pumpkins in our hands. But the Camp elder began stooping down and removing stickers.

Kim caught me peeling a sticker from a pumpkin I had just grabbed from one of the boxes.

“No, don’t!” she said. “If she wants to go around and take off all the stickers, she can be my guest. But we are not doing that.” My eyes must have widened or something because she tacked on, “She’s my mother-in-law, so I can say that.” And then we laughed heartily. So then it became this Thing with Camp elder, walking around peeling off stickers and us dumping down more stickered pumpkins. I will admit that every time Kim wasn’t looking, I peeled the stickers off the ones I was putting down because it was honestly bothering me a little bit too. I mean, look how dumb all the white spots look in those pictures! But then I kept reminding myself that the patch was just for the kids and kids could give a shit about the cosmetics and one of the ladies from my floor said, “The stickers will probably make the little kids happy, anyway.” And that’s true, probably.

After getting all the pumpkins down, we helped Kim put up a red plastic fence around part of the perimeter and Camp elder was trying to hijack this part of the process too by changing the border of the patch. Kim kept saying, “No, we don’t need a fence over there. No, the kids aren’t going to fall over, it’s not a cliff.” It was actually hilarious and the looks Kim kept giving us behind Camp elder’s back made me feel like we were all camerapeople at Dunder Mifflin.

It wasn’t even 11AM yet so one of the other ladies asked me if I knew what else we would be doing, but as far as I knew, it was just the pumpkin patch. RANGER MIKE didn’t say anything else. So we sat for a bit under the pavilion, drinking water and telling horror stories about past Global Days of Service.

“This one was actually really nice,” I said. “It was mild labor and felt very rewarding, plus it was also kind of fun.”

Everyone agreed and one of the ladies was saying that she did a landscaping one in the past and it was hard labor. “I’ll never sign up for anything like that again,” she said, and I had flashbacks of my last volunteering experience with Tree Pittsburgh and how terrible it was. 

No, seriously, I just re-read that right now and I’m having phantom callous pain.

“Do yinz think you’ll come back next year?” Camp elder asked, and we all enthusiastically said yes. Then Kim talked to us about what the Boy Scout event is like and encouraged us all to come out to that Saturday. It’s $20 a person, but for a good cause, so I was considering it.

“Are there chainsaws?” one of the other law firm ladies asked. “I hate chainsaws!”

Kim said she wasn’t sure, because the Boy Scouts plan the haunted trail themselves and she didn’t know what they were going to be doing yet.

Right when I was thinking that maybe they’d set us loose early, Kim got off the phone with who I assume was RANGER MIKE and said, “OK, we’re going to the log splitter.”

We all laughed, like, “Haha very funny, the log splitter, lol-le-lol-de-dee.”

But then she wasn’t smiling anymore. “No, seriously. You guys are going to join the other two guys who finished with Mike.” So we all looked at each other in fear and reluctantly followed her up a path, past THE ASYLUM where a life-sized Hannibal Lecter had been leering at us from a distance all morning. (One of the ladies spotted him earlier and thought he was a real person and started to get angry that someone was staring at us, lol.)

And then we got to the infamous log splitter. Two law firm guys, one from Finance and one from IT if I remember correctly, were already manning it and they did look like they were living their best lives, let me tell you. RANGER MIKE had rolled up in his stupid cart to bark off orders.

“Two people can be on the splitter while the rest of you stack the cut pieces and bring more logs to them to be cut,” he said and us FEMALES exchanged, “THE HELL WE ARE” looks with each other. I for one did not want to go anywhere near that horrifying device.

STORY TIME:

When I was 17, this was back in 1996 I believe, my dad was in the yard operating a log splitter, and then KAPCHUGGI (my favorite Korean word that means “suddenly” in case you haven’t learned that by now) he came running into the house, legit spurting blood all over the laundry room and into the kitchen. This happened to coincide with Halloween weekend, so my mom thought he was fucking with us, like “haha, great use of fake blood, impressive trajectory” but then he was like THIS IS REAL, VAL and he showed her his hand that was now missing one finger tip and we were all like OMG VOMIT. So she got him to the hospital and they were like, “Hello, did you bring the finger” and she was like, “Excuse me, the what now?” and they were like, “The finger. We need it” so she had to go back home and find his fingertip which was still inside the glove he was wearing, and they were able to reattach it.

But the part of this story that I remember the most vividly happened shortly after The Accident. My dad and I were having yet another knockdown drag-out fight because we fucking hated each other back then (we’re fine now!) and in the heat of the moment, I shrieked, “I wish it had been your head!!!!!!” and then slammed the front door behind me as I ran away.

My brother Corey must have been about 7 at the time and he was a witness to this. Not too long ago, he actually texted me “I WISH IT HAD BEEN YOUR HEAD *SLAM*” lol. Oh, the things that stick with us.

But yeah, me and a log splitter? No thank you. I texted Corey and he was like, “THIS IS A SENSITIVE TOPIC FOR THE KELLY SIBLINGS!”

So, I opted to roll the to-be-cut logs over to the MEN. You can see from this picture that there were several nice looking, clean, dry logs that were already chilling there, and just needed to be rolled over to the other side of the log splitter. This is not so bad, I thought. I mean, they were heavy so I was not pleased with that.

I sent the original picture to Corey and he was obsessed with the disgusted expression on my face and sent me this picture in return. I mean, even through the blur, you can tell that I was feeling pretty put-out at this point.

After Megan and I rolled the last log over to the guys, I looked at RANGER MIKE (who was busy texting on his phone, btw!!) and asked, “Is that it?”

“Oh no, those ones over there too,” he said, and pointed to a mound of haphazardly stacked logs on a small hillside AND THEN HE LEFT.

These logs were not nice and uniform like the other logs, but were actually huge chunks of tree, and looked like they had been loitering there for quite some time. That was apparent as soon as I flipped one over and unearthed a family of writhing worms, OMG hold please, the memory of this is making me dry heave. There were so many that they were basically KNOTTED, ugh. And the random bugs!!! Holy fuck, there were so many bugs I have never seen before, skittering all along the logs. The only nice buy I encountered was a fluffy black caterpillar which I transported to safety via a leaf because I didn’t want the poor thing to get the ax.

This was after we already removed a bunch, but you can see that the logs over to the left are basically just an extension of the ground, and that’s how the ones were that Megan and I were fucking with. Once we’d unearth them, literally, the underneath of each log was coated with cold, slimy mud and it smelled mildewy and rotten, the perfect combination to tickle ones gag relfex. Then there was some kind of disgusting mold on some of them and old-ass fungal growths that could have been poisoning us, but RANGER MIKE was not there to tell us. I kept slipping and sliding into the thick, sludgy crevices that were exposed after I’d lift a log and it was not PLEASURABLE.

The fact alone that they didn’t even give us gloves?! Are you kidding?? I had cuts on my hands!

“This is like Cross Fit,” I panted to Megan as I was squatting down to get enough leverage to push a giant log up the ramp to the log splitter. “It’s like Boy Scout Cross Fit.”

Like flipping tires but with the option of getting splinters.

I wanted to go off into the woods and scream, “FUCK!!!!!!!!” repeatedly until my throat was raw.

Did I mention that we were 100% unsupervised during this and were provided with NO safety equipment? No gloves, no goggles. Henry was actually horrified when I told him. I thought he would have laughed and made fun of me for having to do work but he was actually somewhat appalled that this was allowed to happen. I mean, there is a reason we all work in a law firm and not a forest, you know?

Look at that mother-whomping chunk of a tree! Megan and I were in beast-mode. Also, I witnessed several close calls with those guys and the log splitter.

And then Megan flipped over this guy’s house and that was pretty much her cue to throw in the towel.

With every log I flipped and heaved, I heard Camp elder’s last words in my head:

“Do yinz think you’ll come back next year?”

“Do yinz think you’ll come back next year?”

    “Do yinz think you’ll come back next year?”

                                                    “DO YINZ THINK YOU’LL COME BACK NEXT YEAR?”

                             “dO YInz THInk yOu’Ll ComE BaCK nEXt YeAr?????”

                                   "dO YInz THInk yOu'Ll ComE BaCK nEXt YeAr?????"
                                       
                                                                                                                         ,,¿¿¿¿¿ɹ∀ǝ⅄ ʇXƎu ʞƆɐq ƎɯoƆ l˥,nOʎ ʞuIH┴ zuI⅄ Op,, 
By the tenth log, it sounded like a Beatles record playing in reverse.

Finally, RANGER MIKE came back and said, “OK you guys can be done after these logs here are split” and pointed to the last two that Megan and I had heroically rolled up to the log splitter. I did a celebratory shimmy behind his back and spent my newly acquired logless time trying to work my wrist bones back into place. They were wrecked. Maybe even worse than my back. Then I started thinking about all the tiny bones that make up a person’s wrist and I getting nauseated. See also: I needed lunch in a big way. I’m a lumber jack now, after all.

The guys got to hitch a ride back to the parking lot on RANGER MIKE’s stupid Boy Scout mobile while us girls opted to walk. I don’t know about them, but I had some anger that needed processed and walking always helps with that.

“I was fine with the pumpkin thing,” one of the other 10th floor ladies said.

“Yeah and the pumpkin thing didn’t have bugs,” I said, and then we all did something that was supposed to be laughter but sounded more like the mewling of our collective broken spirits.

As we passed the pumpkin patch, someone mentioned that we probably finished too early and they put us on log duty because they didn’t have anything else. I said sadly, “Maybe we should have just gone back and taken off the stickers after all.”

This time our laughter sounded more like trying-not-to-cry-ter.

Back at the warehouse or whatever it was, we reunited with the other two guys who had the painting assignment. One of the ladies muttered, “We should have picked painting, instead” because they realllllly took their time with that job and dragged it out so they didn’t get stuck logging.  It just goes to show you that efficiency doesn’t always pay off in the end, you guys. Sometimes the slackers come out ahead!

RANGER MIKE took a group picture and then finally released us. I was so happy to sit down in my car until I got home and couldn’t get out of my car. Ugh, my aching back. I needed a Doans or something. Is Doans still a thing? Because they could have used footage of the day’s activities for their next commercial.

Well, that’s my story about being a do-gooder. I think I’ll go back on hiatus now.

Til next time: Jesus loves you, I don’t have to, fuck you.

Aug 052021
 

We knew that at some point on Monday, the sky was going to piss on us. What we didn’t know was just HOW LONG this storm was going to last! About an hour prior to the very first drop of rain, the park started playing an announcement over and over about how some park operations were going to temporarily stop until the inclement weather passed. Then it changed to ALL PARK OPERATIONS. And SEEK SHELTER.

I’m not going to lie, it was pretty exciting. We snagged a bench under some large alcove in the Irish area and it was surprising how few people took refuge here.

We chilled there (lol it was 95 degrees but cool on, Erin) for a good hour and all three of us even fell asleep for parts of that duration too. I mean, not surprising that Henry did. But wow that storm made me drowsy.

We were sitting right next to a door that opened to some SECRET EMPLOYEE room where Camp Busch Gardens kids were hanging out. Every time they opened the door, a glorious sheath of AC wafted over us like a scentless fart from an ice fairy. I dunno what they do at Camp Busch Gardens but everyone seemed to be having fun each time the door opened and I felt left out.

I’d like to also take this moment to PRAISE BE that no one fucking annoying or scream-y was in our shelter spot. It was actually a pleasant, but boring, experience.

After about an hour, the rain mostly stopped so we emerged from hiding and strolled around the nearly empty park. Everything was still shut down but all the shops and opened.

Even soggy and wet, this park is amazing.

I dunno why I took a picture of this. It holds no significance for me.

Listen Linda, I hate drop towers but even I can admit that this Mach Tower is GORGE.

Post-storm Verbolten is sizzlin’ – no really, look at that steam! It was SO HOT that day.

I was obsessed with this snappy German pop song but Chooch ruined the video by acknowledging the video.

OK. This is where things got depressing. We walked down by Loch Ness Monster and you guys, I can’t even remember if this coaster was that great or not, but I do have a vague recollection of liking it and I was sincerely looking forward to riding it on our highly anticipated return to the park. Earlier in the day, I attempted this TWICE but for some reason, the line was long both times and Chooch was being a big entitled bitch about it. OK cool, almost everything else was a walk-on, but I still wanted to ride this thing!!

#CoasterHistory

It’s actually super creepy down in this area. It’s right by the water and I don’t think many people use this as a thoroughfare because it requires you to walk up steps to get back to the main park area. God forbid. We were the only people there, so couple that with the post-storm dreariness and it felt extra desolate. I fucking loved it.

OK I will try not to be super-wordy about this next part but it was A BIG DEAL to me for some reason. It was around 6pm at this point and none of the rides had reopened yet. However, we noticed that there were small lines formed at some rides, so Chooch and I decided to see if anyone was waiting for Loch Ness.

Two guys ended up walking in with us and I said, “I’m not sure if it’s open,” and  the one guy said that some of the smaller rides were testing, so we decided to press our luck. There were a handful of people in the station! Chooch and I claimed the empty last row and we proceeded to eavesdrop on the conversation that some of the people in line were having with one of the (kinda nerdy but adorable) ride attendants. I wish I had gotten his name! Someone in line asked him how long far away the storm has to be before they’re allowed to restart the rides, and he said he wasn’t sure but that was what Dispatch was there for, to watch the storm. He basically kept giving vague answers, insinuating that the rides were not going to run again that night but that the park wasn’t going to officially call it because then they’d have to issue rain checks.

His partner was sitting over at the controls, looking thoroughly bored. Eventually, she said she was going to “take her 45.” I was confused because I thought that the park closed at 7 so why was she taking a 45 minute break after 6:30??

While she was gone, one of the ride operators from  the nearby Finnegan’s Flight came in and took Nerdy Guy’s place, who was now sitting at the control booth thing. New Guy was so awesome!! I think his name was Jhordan?? I can’t remember but it had a cool spelling and he was TOTALLY CUTE and chatty.

But then, THE PHONE RANG. Nerdy Guy answered and we all got so quiet.

He hung up and Jhordan was like, “WELL??” and Nerdy Guy was like, “They said to cycle it.”

It was about 7 at this point so I thought, “Oh, I guess the park is staying open longer to try and get the rides started” but apparently it was always open until 9 and I was just confused as usual!

I turned to the guys who followed us into line and gushed, “I feel like we were really a part of something there!” I LOVE FEELING LIKE THAT! I think because I don’t often feel like I’m part of a group or anything, so whenever I get to experience something that brings strangers close together, it’s exciting to me. (I mean, as long as it’s not a tragedy.)

Anyway, it turned out that Nerdy Guy didn’t actually know how to get the ride started so Jhordan had to call out directions to him from the other side of the platform, so now I was A BIT SCARED.

But they went through the process of pushing down all of the restraints and then Nerdy Guy shakily did his thing at the control desk and they both put their thumbs up. As the train left the station, the whole building erupted in cheers and applause. It felt SO SPECIAL.

While waiting for the train to do its cycle, Jhordan came over and stood by me.

“Did you see that?” he asked me. “I swear I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my eye.” We both turned and looked out of the station and over to where the Griffon and Alpengeist tracks were.

I did. I saw it. It was definitely lightning, I thought.

While this was happening, Griffon and Alpengeist were cycling test trains too and someone said that the flash of light must have been from the on-ride camera flash. Jhordan did NOT seem to accept this theory though, but still, when the train came back, the restraints came up and the gates opened. Once again, we all cheered as we boarded the train. They had JUST LOCKED OUR RESTRAINTS when the fucking phone rang again.

It was Dispatch reneging on their previous “all clear.”  MOTHERFUCKER. But Jhordan was so relieved. “I knew in my heart that was lightning!” he said. “It did not feel right sending this thing.”

So the restraints came up and we all had to get back on the platform – some people completely exited but at this point, I was invested. All in. Every last egg in this fucking Loch Ness basket. And hilariously, we had now been in line for an hour, so probably longer than we would have waited earlier in the day but noooo, Mr. Impatience wouldn’t do it.

Jhordan taught me about the various color codes that the park implements for storms.  Currently, they were back up to a CODE RED which means no rides can operate. One of the colors means that rides under a certain height can still operate (I think yellow?) and CODE BLACK is basically SHUT ‘ER DOWN AND TAKE COVER, NO ONE CAN LEAVE. He said that actually happened one time accidentally, when it was just drizzling, and it sent everyone into a panic.

Now I really felt like I was part of something special! And it was exciting to see them doing the X with their arms and saying “Cross” every time they had to climb across the track to get to the other side of the platform – even when the rides are down, they follow amusement park law!

Then the phone rang and we all held our breath. When Nerdy Guy hung up, we were like “WELL???” and he said, “Wha—oh, it was nothing important.” My favorite part was when someone squawked over a walkie talkie something that sounded like “code green” and we all froze. Jhordan mouthed, “the fuck???” so Nerdy Guy had to get back on the phone with Dispatch who confirmed that no, it was still very much Code Red. I mean, it wasn’t raining anymore but there was still thunder.

Girl Operator came back from her 45 and we were laughing at how much she missed while she was gone. With her being back, Nerdy Guy got to leave since his work day was technically done.

But all he did was leave and come back in a white t-shirt with headphones around his neck, role-playing as a member of the general public and asking if the rides were going to start back up at all. Jhordan was like, “Naw dude, I highly doubt it, you better just leave” and I felt like all three ride operators at this point where sending us signals so we’d stop wasting our time, because as Jhordan told me earlier, they’re not allowed to flat out tell us to leave the line. But I really felt that this was them taking pity on us.

Our friends in the queue next to us had already left and now hardly anyone was still waiting. Plus, Jhordan was now over at the control desk and Girl Operator was standing next to us but she wasn’t conversational like the other two so it just didn’t feel the same anymore.

At this point, we had been standing for AN HOUR AND A HALF I think. I looked at Chooch and said, “OK, I’m calling it.” So we dejectedly left the Loch Ness Monster station to the tune of sad trombones and thunder.

Meanwhile, Henry was hanging out under a small pavilion with some other people and was like, “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ALMOST LET YOU ON THAT WITH ALL THIS LIGHTNING” and then he showed me the following video he took which is actually less bad than the bout of lightning that happened prior to him filming:

This video is super small because Henry’s phone is dumb.

So, that was my Loch Ness odyssey. We walked around the park for a little bit and bought some souvenirs. I bought several postcards but decided to keep this one for myself as reminder of my supreme stubbornness and also the bonding time spent with strangers staring at a parked roller coaster train.

It was 8pm at this point and it seemed like none of the coasters were going to be cleared to run again so I sadly and with major POUTING LIPS said, “Fine let’s just leave.” And of course, as soon as we walked through the parking lot to our car, I turned around just in time to see fucking Griffon running.

Fuccccccckkkkk.

I comforted myself with  the reminder that this place isn’t THAT far away and we will be back again for Pantheon anyway, so I can ride Loch Ness Monster until I require a neck brace.

OMG wait I can’t believe I failed to mention this in my last post! But after the second time we attempted to ride Loch Ness, Chooch wandered over to the nearby lockers after we got out of line. I didn’t really pay much mind to this at first because I was busy bitching to Henry about how he wouldn’t wait in line. But then I was like, “The fuck is he doing?”

Here, one of his friends from a Discord chat group he’s in was at Busch Gardens a few days before us and left him a note hidden behind a wall in those lockers. So he was looking like a common criminal, retrieving drugs probably and not a note from an Internet friend inside a Ziploc bag. Don’t ask him who it’s from exactly, or what it says, hoooo boy, you’ll be sorry. #ChoochsSecretLife

Anyway, I’m coming back for you, Nessie.  You just wait.

Jul 022021
 

Ughhh I’m still so annoyed about this day but I will still take time out of my v. important life to write about it I GUESS.

On Sunday, Henry and I toyed with the idea of driving out to Waldameer Park because they have a new spinning kids coaster and they retracked their best coaster, Ravine Flyer II. But Chooch was all, “Jim-Jim wants to hang out and he doesn’t have a phone right now so I have to sit here all day like a lady-in-waiting and hope that he stops by like he said he would.” Henry still wanted to go but it felt WRONG to go without my coaster cred-collecting partner in crime, so instead Henry and I went to Moraine State Park for a hike(ish).

I should have known immediately that it was a bad idea when we parked and were met with all these WARNING signs about HUNTERS and DEERS and ARROWS.

ARROWS!!!

I was NOT trying to get impaled by Daryl-fucking-Dixon that day so I was straight panicking about this and Henry kept stammering on and on about how it wasn’t deer hunting season and I was like, “THEN WHY ARE THESE SIGNS HERE” and he was like “YOU WILL BE FINE” and then I cried, “BUT WHAT IF SOMEONE IS OUT HERE HUNTING ANYWAY HUNTERS ARE DUMB” and he was like, “Well the chances of you getting hit by an arrow aren’t very good because they’d have to be aiming for you” and I was like, “BUT I AM NOT WEARING BRIGHT ORANGE LIKE THE SIGN SUGGESTS” and finally Henry said, “Look, if you get shot with an arrow it’s because someone was actually aiming for you, OK” and then we heard voices over yonder and I fucking screamed, “ARE YOU HUNTERS?!!?!?”

“You’re an idiot,” Henry seethed.

They didn’t answer me though.

Anyway, the trail we were on was boring We went over a stupid bridge over top of algae-laden water.

There were people kayaking there and I said, “Ew gross” and Henry was mad at me again.

Then we saw a bunch of signs about ticks and Lyme disease so I forgot about Death by Arrows because now I was too busy obsessing over blood-sucking ticks.

Everything was fine until we veered off the main trail to visit some butterfly garden thing and I wanted Henry to take my picture sitting on this pergola thingie and he was taking really ugly pictures of me so I snapped because it was still June and the case study I performed on myself several years ago proved that June is the worst month for my temperament. *shrugs*

So you know what I did? While Henry was peering into a pond and smiling at tadpoles, I ran away. Originally, I was just going to walk back to the car…

…except I got legit lost.

I mean, I had a sneaking suspicion that something was wrong when I started passing shit that I didn’t recognize, like a field with tall bird houses strewn about, a really terribly-stenched pond, and then suddenly I was walking UNDERNEATH A HIGHWAY!? I was really getting scared. Meanwhile Henry was texting me and even though I was scared I was still in Psychological Game Playing Mode so I wouldn’t give him straight answers. Also to be fair, I had no idea how to answer his “where r u” inquiries. This went on for about 30 minutes until:

Henry said he figured I went back to the car so he started heading back that way (except that he was actually going the CORRECT direction) and then he got nervous when he passed two people who also passed us when we were heading the other direction and he thought, “Oh great, they saw me going into the woods with a woman and now I’m coming out alone” HAHAHA I wish they had called the police! Henry would have been SO HAPPY since he fucking stans the cops so hard.

When we were finally reunited, I started laughing hysterically while Henry was stepping into a full-body frown and that’s basically what it’s like to be in a relationship with me: A GAME THAT GOES TOO FAR.

Then we went to get ice cream which was honestly the only thing I definitely wanted to accomplish that day and Henry knew that because the night before I said, “I don’t care what we do tomorrow as long as it involves me deep-throating an ice cream at some point” and then I also reiterated the sentiment when I woke up the next morning. I needed a cold wet treat like some people need church.

Henry took me to this dumb place that had TOO MANY CHOICES when all I wanted was soft serve so then my brain started to short circuit while looking at the menu and then I panicked and ordered a twist but now it suddenly didn’t seem good enough after being presented with OPTIONS.

LOLOLOL that dumb face.

Anyway, we sat outside in the 95 degree sun and I was so angry because we were right next to the highway and the wind kept blowing my hair in my face and every time I would stop eating to move my hair back, so much of the ice cream would melt!! And you know what I did?? I blamed HENRY and I blamed that dumb ICE CREAM PLACE and then I THREW MY ICE CREAM IN THE GARBAGE and stormed off to the car!!!

Henry had that “oh boy here we go” far-away trauma stare in his eyes (actually, it looks pretty much like the picture above) and the drive back to Pittsburgh was super icy. He kept trying to make me still want ice cream though because if there is one thing he is so great at in this relationship, it’s sabotaging my diet.

So he stopped at this place called CUSTARDS and we were in line forever and then I lost my shit because another window opened and the girl was like I CAN TAKE WHOEVER’S NEXT and that was US except that the old bitch behind us was like YA BOI IT ME and Henry let it happen! So you know what I did? I said loudly, “LET’S JUST GO” and stormed back to the car for the third time that day. He was so mad! Haha—that’s all I was trying to achieve, I just wanted him to show his true anger instead of being like YOU ARE SO CUTE AND CUDDLY WHEN YOU ARE ANGRY TEE HEE because that shit is so lame, just fight back with me until I get the giggles and then we can move on with the day and go back to pretending that I don’t have numerous psychological disorders (both diagnosed and not lolol).

But then he went back to being determined to get ice cream into my system in an effort to cool off my boiling blood, so he went to some Tastee Freeze shack near his work where we have gone numerous times before and I got a small twist in a DISH because the only thing I want dripping down my wrists is diamonds (j/k I’m into cheap costume jewelry but I recently remembered the time that my grandparents bought me a tennis bracelet and where the fuck did THAT go, I wonder).

Then I ate my ice cream and was fine for the rest of the day. (I think. That was 5 days ago at this point.)

Oh and Jim Jim never showed up, apparently, so we COULD HAVE went to Waldameer after all 😩.

Apr 222021
 

Chooch and I were set free into the wild Sunday afternoon. I think Henry was concerned at first but then probably did the Risky Business sock-slide as many times as a 55-year-old can without getting winded.

One of the “coupons” we made for Chooch’s stupid Easter egg hunt was that I would take him geocaching. Henry actually created that coupon on my behalf BECAUSE HE IS SUCH A SWEETHEART, knowing how much I LOVE GEOCACHING.

Just a reminder*: I do not love geocaching.

*(I was perusing the pages of my very first vacation journal the other night and the amount of times I wrote JUST A REMINDER for things that weren’t actually reminders was hilarious and totally on brand for the idiotic, nonsensical style of writing that I would later grow into.)

I was really annoyed about this coupon on Easter, but then after we got a new car, the idea of driving Chooch to some random location in order to embark on a fruitless scavenger hunt was kind of appealing, I won’t lie. After scrutinizing the dumb geocache app for the entire morning, Chooch finally settled on a cluster of geocaches in some rando place called PALMER PARK in Donora, which is about a 30 minute drive from Pittsburgh, I guess, in a part of town next to the Monongahela River that I used to cruise through all the time back in the late 90s in my 1995 Eagle Talon, bitches. It’s also where I had a semi-tragic experience getting a new eyebrow ring put in, but that’s a story for another day, friendos.

So, we managed to find the dumb park with little to no effort, and thankfully it was a REGULAR park and not one of the gross industrial parks that dot the river along the way. We were screaming at those.

The first geocache was somewhere behind Pavilion #1, and Chooch found it before I even finishing trudging over to him. I guess this would be a fine time in this rickety blog post to explain geocaching to anyone who doesn’t know and doesn’t care enough to google: it’s this dumb fucking “treasure” hunting bullshit activity where you go to the geocache website or app and find coordinates and use the provided clues if needed. Then, if it’s a good geocache, you will find a plastic container in which there should be a paper log for you to record your name and date, and also a PRIZE to take, provided you brought something to replace it. We usually bring whatever junky little toys we find floating around a junk drawer.

For this geocache, Chooch took the little plastic toy duck that was inside and replaced it with this nude plastic baby, haha. I can’t remember why but I bought a whole bag of those babies one time.

The next geocache was within walking distance, so we left our car in the pavilion parking lot and walked farther into the park, where we discovered it was actually bumpin’ with people. There was a giant soccer field past where we parked, and a caravan of minivans was arriving in preparation for a Sunday game.

This meant that there were people around when we arrived at our next geocache: one of those dog poop bag dispensers at the edge of another parking lot.

Dog Waste Sanitation Stations | Pet Waste Disposal Systems

(Not the actual dispenser we were at, BUT JUST SO YOU KNOW WHAT WE WERE CONTENDING WITH.)

Based on the clue, it was 100% clear that this is where the stupid thing was supposed to be but we couldn’t find it. Surely they wouldn’t put it where the actual used bags go, but I also wasn’t comfortable sticking my hands into where the new bags were dispensed, because ew there could be spiders or needles in there!!

I lost my patience after approximately one minute and yelled, “ARE YOU SURE THIS IS RIGHT” and Chooch showed me the clue again and it seemed legit?!

“According to the log on the app, someone JUST found it today,” Chooch said. “Maybe they didn’t put it back?”

“WHAT AN ASSHOLE!” I shouted in my Big Mouth Screech, paired with wild gesticulations. I mean, I had absolutely nothing else to do that day but THIS WAS REALLY CUTTING INTO MY NON-PLANS!

Then Chooch started laughing.

“Look! The people who found it today posted a picture too! ‘Fun day geocaching wirth my hubby’,” Chooch mocked. And then, because we’re professional trolls, we started laughing at how “with” was spelled “wirth.” Then Chooch showed me the picture of the “hubby” and we started laughing even harder. “That’s who you called an asshole!” Chooch wheezed. “Way to go!” I mean I’ll be the first to admit that I would likely NOT call this guy an asshole to his face:

Sick Panera shirt.

Meanwhile, we’re still loitering around this dog poop stand looking SUPER suspish because we don’t even have a dog, like we’re indulging in some joint strange addiction of sniffing dog shit, who even knows. Anything probably seemed possible to the people observing us. Plus we were still giggling like dummies.

But then Chooch stopped laughing and murmured, “OMG look.” And there, across the parking lot, THE GEOCACHING ASSHOLE WAS STANDING A FEW YARDS AWAY “WIRTH” HIS WIFE.

And he was looking RIGHT AT US! Everyone else in the parking lot faded away and it was just the four of us, frozen in time, facing each other like the world’s most awkward showdown.

It was obvious to him that we were looking for the geocache, since he JUST FOUND IT. I didn’t know what to do so I panicked and waved to him.

“What are you doing?” Chooch hissed.

“HI! WE SAW YOUR PICTURE!” I hollered, holding up my phone, even though it was on Chooch’s phone.

“WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE THEM COME OVER HERE!” Chooch cried. And then, “ohmygod” as HUBBY and his wife meandered over to us. HUBBY was a large middle-aged metal head in a Pantera shirt, and his wife was, you know, a wife. I was being over-the-top friendly because I wasn’t sure if they knew we were totally talking shit on them minutes prior to this meet-up, and based on their unsmiling stone faces, I’m going to wager a guess that they might have?

Anyway, HUBBY said, “I take it you’re looking for this?” STRAIGHT OUT OF SOME LAME 1980s CAPER MOVIE, and presented Chooch with a tiny, thimble-sized magnetic capsule. I guess he took it back to his car to open it and write his name in the log, which was a narrow strip of tightly-wound paper that just barely fit inside the capsule. Then he showed us where he found it, which was on the metal stake of the dispenser, right above the compartment for the poop bags.

“It was really obvious where it was hidden, and I was going to actually hide it better, so if you wouldn’t mind doing that for me, I was going to hide it right here—” and then he pointed to an area on the dispenser that was literally right above the original hiding spot, and Chooch just shrugged his surly, disinterested teen shoulders and said, “Sure.”

Then the guy proceeded to tell us his name on the geocache site (which we already knew since we were making fun of it!!) and in order to bring peace upon the situation, I nudged Chooch and said, “What’s your name on there?” Chooch got RULL WEIRD and kept saying “ummm, ummm” while pretending to scroll through the app before whispering in the most defeated tone, “Choochie.”

(Later, he told me that he knew what his name was on there but just didn’t want to say it out loud because it was embarrassing and he was so mad at me for pressuring him, lol.)

Chooch and I awkwardly hung around the dog poop bag thing while the Couple Who Geocache Together Stays Together walked back to their car. “You called him an asshole,” Chooch reminded me. “I can’t believe you.” And then we started laughing our faces off because we are, of course, Forever Jerks. I had to sit down on a nearby bench while Chooch underwent the painstaking task of trying to write his name and date on the tiny paper scroll, because I honestly thought I was going to pee my pants. What are the odds of talking shit on another geochacher and then getting busted for it?

We eventually continued walking a bit farther into the park, and when the couple finally left the parking lot and drove past  us, they were both glaring out their windows.

So of course we started cracking up all over again. Thank god there were other people around or it would have been less funny, more scary, I think.

In other Palmer Park news, I spotted an actual metal slide, the kinds from my youth that have been replaced in pretty much every playground with  those dumber plastic ones. I was so excited to try it! Chooch went first and as he climbed the rickety ladder, he mumbled, “Wow, now I get why these slides are basically illegal.”

There was one other geocache in the park that Chooch wanted to get, but this one at the entrance. There was nowhere to park so I had to illegal park in some trucking company parking lot while Chooch crossed over the busy road.

“Don’t get hit by a car,” I called out, meeting my obligatory Mom Duty quota for the day.

There was a little man-made rock and mini waterfall feature around the sign for Palmer Park and the geocache was supposed to be there somewhere but Chooch eventually conceded defeat.
“I have no idea where it is and I looked like an idiot over there so I give up. Stupid [insert Pantera Guy’s geocache name here] found it earlier, I wish we had seen him so I would know where it was!”

YEAH, ASSUMING HE EVEN PUT IT BACK!!!

Jul 202020
 

It all started a few weeks ago when Chooch started an Instagram account for our cat Drew. It was incredibly annoying to witness as one would imagine, watching a teenager follow a cat around trying to get her to vogue, strike a pose, save a baby from a burning house so he could get a Boomerang for the ‘gram.

And then there was all the times we heard, “Great. You guys just ruined the video” when Henry and I would dare to talk to each other while a CF was being filmed in the next room.

Chooch, determined to get a brand deal (lol), took his excitement next door to his brother Blake’s house and filled him in on the scheme, at which point Blake decided that he was going to make one for his cat too. So Chooch overzealously decides to be Blake’s Instagram coach.

Which I thought was a terrible idea because Blake’s cat is a fluffy Maine Coon-esque tabby who looks a bit like my old BFF Marcy (RIP, girl, you’ll always be my #1) and people love cats who look like that. Chooch gave him all the hashtags he’s been using and then gave him shoutouts on Drew’s Instagram and then suddenly, Blake’s cat Ham got more popular.

“I told you that you shouldn’t have helped him!” I yelled, suddenly invested in this drama.

But at first, Chooch was trying to be the bigger person. “No, it’s OK because we made a deal that whoever gets a brand deal first would help the other person.”

OMFG.

And for the first week, all was sunshine and giggles in Catstagram City. Blake and Chooch (I mean, Ham and Drew) tagged each other in their stories and then hounded us to like their posts, etc. I saw Haley outside one day and she was like, “THEY ARE SO ANNOYING WITH THIS INSTAGRAM SHIT” and I was like “GIRL, RIGHT?” and she said that when Blake leaves for work, he gives her instructions to take pictures of Ham so that he can post them later.

But then one of Ham’s posts got more comments than any of Drew’s and when Chooch realized that it was a picture HE took of Ham, he actually started crying. “I quit!” he screamed. “I’m deleting Drew’s Instagram! This sucks!”

Then I started to get annoyed about it too because I’m super competitive by nature. So I came up with a plan for Chooch to hack into Ham’s account and make him say some “all lives matter” bullshit so that he would get canceled.

“No, I can’t do that,” Chooch said in a small voice.

“OK, BUT DON’T COME CRYING TO ME WHEN IT GETS WORSE.”

To be fair, Ham is very handsome but he’s also pretty boring and all his pictures look the same.

Finally, I was tired of being on the sidelines, so I made an Instagram for Penelope on Saturday, which initially annoyed Chooch, but then I told him, “LOOK, WE CAN TEAM UP. DREW AND PENELOPE CAN BE THE CUTE INSTAGRAM SISTERS AND OH BOO HOO, HAM’S AN ONLY CHILD, HE CAN’T SIT AT OUR TABLE.”

So, that’s what’s happening. And everything was pretty calm until about an hour ago when Chooch found out that Ham has been featured several times by various cat accounts and he is ready to torch Instagram headquarters.

Anyway, I don’t have a fantastic twist ending to this story, but if you want to help us and hinder Ham, here are Drew and Penelope’s Instagrams (LOL this might be one of the most immature things I’ve ever been involved in):

https://www.instagram.com/that_cat_bambi/

https://www.instagram.com/presenting_penelope

Yeah, fucking around with a kitchen and cat Instagrams is where I am right now in Pandemic Times.

[EDIT: OK I feel super guilty fake-trashing a cat, Ham is handsome devil and we love him! But yeah, follow our cats and not him, lol.)

Jul 092020
 

My original plan for 4th of July was to feast on food from other countries because once again I’m supremely annoyed and disgusted with America so…why celebrate it? I had a whole list of recipes for Henry to prepare but then we went and started a kitchen upheaval project and he was like, “Erin, how would you like me to do this without a functioning kitchen?” Oh, yeah. So, our unAmerican Feast has been postponed, but I’m sure I’ll still be hating my racist, pandemic-enabling country for quite some time so this celebration will be relevant no matter which day it gets moved to, I’m sure.

For years and years and years, we have hated our kitchen. The tile flooring was all cracked and coming up, it was ruined in one corner from when the ceiling was leaking a few years ago, and basically the whole room was just a dumpster fire because we let it get so out of control plus it’s small to begin with and we don’t own the house but we knew if we asked the landlord to make updates, he would raise our rent so we have been living with it. It sucks because our back porch is so nice but then you have to walk through the kitchen to get to it so we would never really open that up during parties because I was so embarrassed of the kitchen.

But then Covid happened and let me tell you something – the upside to quarantine is, well, having all the time in the world to fix shit. I was like, “Look, now is the perfect time to do something, ANYTHING, about this kitchen.” It made sense to buy new storage/counter thingies from IKEA because that’s something that we can always take with us if/when we move, and painting can always transform a room, but I was fixated on that floor. Finally, Henry found a reasonably-priced floor that he can install himself, and calculated that it would cost us less than $150 once it was all said and done.

SOLD.

So, as I said, that is how we ended up spending the long holiday weekend – with the kitchen floor ripped up and the rest of the kitchen spread out among the rest of the first floor. Basically, do not come knocking on our door right now because it is a fucking shit show up in here.

Friday and Saturday sounded like major construction was happening over here, with Henry using Big Shot Tools to rip out the old floor and then all the hammering required to lay down the plywood. I’m sure Blake & Haley were FUCKING THRILLED.

I asked Henry if doing all these measurements is annoying and he said that he enjoys it?! What a hammer-nerd! Also, note the chewed-up pencil. That’s either the work of our Son the Goat, or Henry desperate for sustenance because I wouldn’t let him take any breaks haha.

Anyway, since literally all that happened during the three-day weekend was kitchen stuff, all of the days blended together so I just realized, as I’m sitting here zoning out to Hwasa’s “Maria,” that I don’t think I’ll be able to do a very accurate weekend recap, so I guess we’ll just look at pictures and go from there?

Sometime on Saturday, I went with Henry to Home Depot to get the new flooring (gag, I know, but Lowe’s didn’t have the floor we wanted). I stayed in the car and listened to yacht rock (separate post on that forthcoming – I had a REAL TIME) because, no thanks. Anyway, I thought that since we got the floor that meant he was going to come home and immediately lay it down, but turns out that was false since it is now Thursday and our current floor situation is plywood, which is still an upgrade from what was there before, let me tell you.

After Home Depot, we went to pick up our pints at Sugar Spell, and saw this anti-masker dipshit on the way, although he is also holding an upside down flag, so I’m not sure what side exactly he’s on, unless he doesn’t know that it’s upside down? I mean, he doesn’t seem very bright. I actually made Henry drive past him twice so I could get a picture. Henry was thrilled to obliged, as usual.

Here are the pints we got! I didn’t know that Texas Sheet Cake was a thing, but oh mama, I know now. It was my favorite for a second, but as always, it’s so hard to choose a favorite out of their flavors! Each one of these has its own merits and how can I choose?! I will say though that the Strawberry Pretzel Salad was the first to be polished off.

Banana Graham!

Our big 4th of July dinner was…pizza. It was OK! I was irritated that Henry stopped working in order to eat, but whatever.

That night it was a firecracker battle in my neighborhood, and pretty much all neighborhoods from the sounds of it. There were some really classy ones being shot off somewhere behind the church across the street from us, so Chooch ran around looking for the source, and a good viewing spot. It actually ended up being one of the best fireworks experiences of my life, because of the excitement of it not being city-approved and us running all around in the dark looking for the best ones. I’m admittedly not too big of a fireworks person – I get bored pretty easily and I mean, they’re all pretty much the same, aren’t they? And I always hated trying to find somewhere to go that wasn’t going to be overwhelmingly crowded (I went downtown twice ever and will never fucking do it again, no thanks, I hate people way too much).

I always liked when my mom bought all the illegal ones back in the day and we’d go hard with them in her backyard because we lived on a private, dead-end street surrounded by woods so who cares?

We had to walk past this creepy church door on the way back and in the picture Chooch took, IT LOOKS LIKE THERE IS A GHOST ON THE STEPS INSIDE. But I’m too lazy to ask him for his picture to post here.

Sunday was another hot one. I think we were in the 90s pretty much all weekend, and into the week.

Porch hangouts were limited while the sun was up.

While Henry was toiling away in the kitchen, Chooch and I thought we would be nice and walk to Muddy Cup to get him (and us, obv., no altruism here) some refreshing cold brew.

Our favorite barista was working! It was nice to see a familiar face during this endless streak of months where we’ve really not been seeing anyone but the neighbors.

Meanwhile, Henry was at home, painting.

By the end of Sunday, we were left with a plywood floor, two painted walls, one partially-assembled counter-thingie, and the inability to eat a meal that requires any sort of cooking/preparation.

Henry explained to Chooch that he was going to have to put in some additional outlets, and Chooch cried, “You can do that??”

“I can do anything,” Henry muttered, and then under his breath, he added, “except plumbing.”

Wow, we got a real Bob Vila here! Get this guy his own show.

But seriously, it really is amazing how Henry knows how to do all this stuff! He ripped up the floor and then replaced it with plywood underlayment or something, but it looks like a pro did it! We have the new flooring ready to go but we have to finish painting first and also Henry wanted to build the new IKEA pieces while the plywood is on the floor so that he doesn’t damage the new floor. We are about 60% done, I guess? But it took literally ALL WEEKEND with Henry hardly taking any breaks plus with it being in the 90s, I had to keep checking on him to make sure he hadn’t passed out. See? I care.

So, overall, it wasn’t your traditional “Independence Day” weekend, but it sure felt good to get shit done (or in my case, watch shit get done). I will continue to post updates as we go, but it is a frustratingly slow process because of like, day jobs and whatever. So while he’s toiling away at the Big Stuff, I’m biding my time by looking for accoutrements that fit the theme of the 80s Dream Kitchen. So far, I’ve purchased an Arcade game-themed rug, fabric to make a curtain for the porch door which is so amazing I can’t even describe it so you’ll just have to wait to see it, and I designed a neon light that I have HIGH HOPES for as long as I don’t have to, I dunno, take out a loan for it.

I hate COVID, but I’m glad to have this time to really focus my attention on things around the house because unless the landlord decides to give us the boot for some reason, we’ve got at least another 4 years here while Chooch is in high school because if I move, I’m buying a house and it’s not going to be in the city! So, we might as well put the effort into making small and reasonable (ie. cheap, lol) improvements.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great weekend and if you have a pool, I hate you I’m totally jealous!

Feb 272020
 

I don’t even know if that title makes sense because I don’t really understand ARMY terms.

Remember a few weeks ago when we were chilling at my dining room table, sippin’ lukewarm tea from chipped cups, and I told you that our neighbor HNC hates his newish neighbor? He’s this single guy who moved in after that fucking loud ass-crack baring dumptruck-driving slob-boy and his mom moved out last year. At first, he seemed normal. Ex-bartender, probably in his late 30s, doesn’t seem trashy but he does seem to hover dangerously on that Ed Hardy line, so who can be sure.

He moved into the other side of HNC’s house, so we don’t have to share a wall with him and have to deal with him as intimately as the HNC clan, but as I have explained in the past, we have a shared driveway which separates both houses. All four units have their own garages, but they are your typical narrow city caves that you can potentially park your car in, but who wants to chance nicking up  their paint job, you know?

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But this guy doesn’t care, so he actually uses his garage. I have an issue with this only because he comes home after midnight every night, stereo BLASTING, and leaves his car idling in the driveway, which is right beneath my bedroom window, while he fucks with opening the garage door. So I am propelled out of sleep by his car’s bass. If there is one thing to know about me, it is THAT I FUCKING HATE THE SOUND OF BASS. Unless I’m at a concert or it’s coming from my own car, I absolutely cannot stand the sound of someone else’s bass seeping through my walls.

HNC has an an issue with the garage-usage because his kitchen is right above new guy’s garage, and new guy often leaves the garage door open while he’s out and since it’s winter, the cold air turns the cement walls of the garage into a veritable freezer, which affects HNC’s kitchen above.

So HNC will close the dude’s garage door when he leaves it open, which makes new guy get super passive aggressively belligerent. He wrote IN BALLPOINT PEN on the garage door “No trespassing” but spelled it “truespassing” so maybe HNC should counter with a dictionary page taped next to it.

In addition to my bass beef, I also had negative feelings toward the new guy because I had attempted numerous times to say hello to him and he ignored me each time and I HATE BEING IGNORED and also I am the Pioneer Ave OG Neighbor so better respect, bitch. But then my beef turned raw and murderous two weeks ago. It was FEBRUARY 12TH, NEVER FORGET. I had just come home from work, stepped inside my house long enough to grab the books I needed to return to the library, and then left again. As I was starting to walk along the sidewalk that crosses over our driveway, new guy came BARRELING up the driveway from his garage and NEVER EVEN STOPPED WHEN HE GOT TO THE TOP. He was going to just shoot right out onto the road, I guess, and then saw me at the last minute, but only after I had jumped back. Now that he was blocking the entire sidewalk with his car, I had to walk BEHIND HIM, through the driveway, to get to the other side of the sidewalk. I screamed, “YOU ASSHOLE!” at him, and I think he had turned around to say something shitty back to me, even though I couldn’t gear because all of his windows were up, and then in a flustered huff, he floored it and pulled out into oncoming traffic because he was too stupid to look, so a car blew their horn at him and he had to slam on his breaks and I just laughed and skipped away happily up the sidewalk, library books in my arm.

Apparently, HNC witnessed this but didn’t know it was me, because he was telling Henry about how the neighbor almost hit someone and Henry was like, “Was it Erin?” so he said maybe, unless new guy makes a habit of almost hitting pedestrians when he flies up and out of the driveway, and this could be possible!

Monday morning, I was walking to the trolley and HNC texted me! He said he was going to call the landlord that day and wanted to get an accurate account of what happened to me before he made the call. I was so excited! It was like giving a statement to the police, except I don’t hate HNC and I hate the police, so I was polite and didn’t use a shitty teenaged tone with him like I would have if it was A COPPER.

HNC asked me if I noticed if the garage door was open that morning, but I sadly did not, and the only thing I could offer was that when I was working from home last Thursday, new neighbor, who used to have a SLUT LIFE sticker on his car so let’s just call him SLUT LIFE from now on, came home in the afternoon blasting, and I mean blasting, Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” a song which I only know because ex-bff was obsessed with it when it came out because she likes shit music.

I felt really smug and satisfied that I got to be a big fat tattletale because we all know that is how I truly identify: BIG FAT PETTY WHISTLEBLOWER. Helping HNC made me feel like I was  part of a real gang, you know? Like I finally belong somewhere, my window-peering skills are being utilized after all these years.

However, after I hung up, I thought about HNC calling the landlord. That asshole didn’t do shit the whole time we had a heroin-ring kingpin living next door, or Boots who was over there Hulk-smashing the property and raping people. (Allegedly. But I really believe he was.) And the landlord was all, “Well, they’re paying rent, so. Call the police.”

And that’s what he told HNC about Slut Life, until HNC countered with, “HE WRECKED INTO THE GARAGE DOOR, FYI” and I guess that got the landlord’s attention because it’s a new garage door and he only cares about superficial shit like that.

I happened to have the day off on Tuesday when I heard a truck door slam and someone talking in  the driveway. I immediately locked the deadbolt (lol) and ran upstairs because I always have that underlying fear that someone has come to take me away. But when I got upstairs and spied out of Chooch’s bedroom window, I noted that it was some lady from a GARAGE DOOR COMPANY. She was assessing the damage (to me, it just looks like a little dent, but what do I know about garage doors) to someone on the phone, and I was frantically texting Henry pictures and as many of the fragments of conversation I could pick up over the steady traffic outside.

Henry was just like, “OK cool” because he has literally no investment in this drama at all.

THEN HNC CALLED HENRY AND RELAYED THE SAME INFORMATION BECAUSE AT THE SAME TIME I WAS SPYING FROM CHOOCH’S WINDOW, HE WAS SPYING FROM HIS BASEMENT DOOR!!! And then we both reported back to Henry, like he’s some Yinzer Charlie and we’re his bumbling amateur spy Angels. EXCEPT THAT HENRY NEVER ASKED TO BE IN THIS POSITION! But he has somehow found himself caught up in the middle, listening to reports from both me and HNC, and what he chooses to do with his information is beyond me but probably involves pouring it straight into the commode from the other side of his head, and flushing.

WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.

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WILL SLUT LIFE HAVE TO PAY FOR THE NEW GARAGE DOOR (the quote was 0!

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) OR WILL HE SAY HNC SABOTAGED HIM? Oooh, winter is really heating up here on Pioneer!

Feb 122020
 

WEIRD WAVES

Two weeks, on a Sunday, Janna and I were walking back to my house from the Hollywood Theater in Dormont, having just seen Jojo Rabbit. (Have you seen this yet? It’s brilliant, and I rarely use that word to describe movies.) We were a block away from my house when two people were about to walk past us. I moved over to the right to give them room and noticed in my periphery that one of the people was looking at me and waving.

I glanced long enough to see that it was a young girl, maybe in her early teens? But again–just a very quick glance.

I waved back and then kept trudging along.

“Did you know her? She was really waving at you,” Janna said once we were a safe distance away.

“I have no idea who that was,” I admitted, and Janna said, “Well, she sure seemed to know you!”

I brushed it off, thinking possibly she was someone who knows Chooch, maybe someone from the teen center, and she just recognized me as “Chooch’s Mom.” That used to happen to Henry all the time when Blake was a teenager, because he was so popular.

It wasn’t even worth mentioning to Henry and Chooch when I got home that day; besides, I was too busy gushing about Jojo Rabbit to even give the waver a second thought.

RIDE REQUEST

One night last week, Henry left the house to go to “the store,” his favorite place ever. “The store” could mean: Aldis, Giant Eagle, Kuhn’s, Fresh Thyme, Shop N Save—I’m pretty sure Henry has a frequent shopper card for all Pittsburgh-area supermarkets. Just as we was about to get into the car, which we always park across the street from our house in the church parking lot, he said that a young girl approached him and asked for a ride to the Potomac trolley station. Henry, who unlike me, is adverse to giving rides to strangers, so he told her that he wasn’t going that direction, which I guess was true but who knows with Henry; he’s a habitual liar.

(He isn’t. I don’t think Henry has the balls to lie, actually. Or the imagination.)

So Henry embarked on his journey to The Store, passenger seat remaining empty.

While Henry was out, Hot Naybor Chris called him and apologized.

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Turns out, the transportation beggar targeted HNC first, but he had just gotten home so he sent her over to ask Henry instead, having spotted him in the parking lot.

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After Henry said no, she went back over to HNC and said, “He said he’s not going that way” so for some reason HNC was like, “Fine, I’ll drive you to Potomac Station.”

But, like all people who ask for handouts on the street, she continued asking for things. First, it was $2 for coffee. HNC said he didn’t have any money.

Then it was, “Can I use your phone?”

HNC said he didn’t have it on him, and then prayed that his wife wouldn’t call him, wondering why he had pulled into the parking lot and then immediately left again.

Anyway, I guess he got her to Potomac Station without her shanking him and digging out his kidneys, so that’s good. He told Henry that when he asked her where she lived, she said, “With Phil and my mom” like we know who that is. Turns out, she lives in the house on our block where the girl just died of an overdose two weeks ago, and Phil is that dead girl’s boyfriend. WTF.

When Henry came home and told me all of this, he described the girl and I was like, “Wait a minute…” and then he said, “I’ve seen her several times walking down the street and actually mistook her for one of Chooch’s friends, but she’s probably between 18 and 20” and that was when I realized that he had perfectly described the girl who waved me last weekend. Ew! So she must recognize me as a neighbor, yet that was the first time I had ever seen her.

Henry said that he was telling Blake this because at this point, knowing what house she lives in and how she has a mooching tendency, Blake shared his OWN encounter with her, which was that she knocked on his door recently and asked him if he has his license. When he said no, she walked away.

FURTHERMORE: Potomac Station is only a five-minute walk! Use your legs, lazy ass!

Night Knocks

Sometime early Monday morning, I woke up to urgent knocking on my front door. I rolled over and noticed Henry had already left for work. It was 3:45am. Maybe he forgot his keys…and also his phone….and was trying to get my attention?

I texted him.

“Is that you knocking?”

“No…?” he answered immediately. He was already at work.

Another series of urgent knocks and now I’m sitting straight up in bed with the comforter around me like a shield.

More knocks, angrier now. I was straight-up shaking in bed.

Without turning on the lights, I scooted over to the foot of the bed and peeked out through the blinds just in time to see a man quickly retreating down my sidewalk and then continuing on down the street.

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It was a chilling sight, but at the same time, it also looked like MAYBE it could have been Blake. The build of the man checked out, he was wearing a backpack, a coat, and a beanie in the style of one Blake Robbins.

“Maybe Blake starts work at 4am today and was going to ask me for a ride,” Henry texted, but our car clearly wasn’t out there so it didn’t seem to fit. Henry texted him, but didn’t hear back for several hours, because, you know, Blake was home next door and asleep like most normal people at that hour.

I was fucking shook. I mean, I don’t need to be a seasoned horror aficionado to know NOT TO OPEN THAT DOOR. And even if it was in broad daylight, I still wouldn’t have answered it. For god’s sake, my friend Tommy still makes fun of me for the time he and Jessy were over our house 10 years ago and I screamed and hid on the steps when the pizza man knocked on the door, AND I KNEW IT WAS THE PIZZA MAN.

So imagine me at 4am, shaking in my flesh boots, definitely not wanting to go back to sleep.

I kept texting Henry.

“What if he comes back?!”

“Why would he come back?”

“I dunno, to bring back up!?”

Meanwhile, after Blake texted Henry back later that morning, he went on to that the weird girl up the street has come back to his house several times since the first time, and that she looks strung out and half-dead each time. The last time, he called the police and the cops told Blake to call them again immediately if she shows up again.

And now we’re wondering if the knocker was this supposed PHIL, boyfriend of the dead girl?! It checks out—these people obviously live in a drug house and think it’s OK to just go around knocking on random people’s doors at all hours of the night, because what’s 3:45am to a druggie!? So now I’m on high alert in case either of these weirdos come back. I HATE THE COPS BUT I WILL NOT HESITATE TO CALL THEM IF ANY STRANGE FISTS TOUCH MY GODDAMN DOOR AGAIN.