Dec 152017
 

I’m off work today and yet here I am, writing about work. Here are a few Reporting From Work moments that I want to remember, because these things always help remind me that at the end of the day, office life is alright. Except for…

The Great, Horrible G-Dragon Kidnapping

Late Wednesday afternoon, Wendy and Sue were talking to me at my desk, probably about how fantastic I am, or maybe that’s what was talking about, when Sue noticed my BIGBANG coffee cup. Wendy said, “Yeah, show Sue that other G-Dragon thing you have on your desk,” referring to the vinyl thingie that I bought at H-Mart and once adorned the G-Dragon Countdown calendar that Lori made:

I used to have him taped to the side of my computer monitor, but then he kept falling so now I just leave him to the left of my keyboard. I instinctively reached for him to show Sue, but my hand GRASPED NOTHING BUT EMPTY DESK-TOP. That was weird, I thought. I never move him from that spot. So I started shuffling things around, yanking drawers open, moving bottles of fake blood out of the way, tossing fake fingers over my shoulder…I even checked in my Fiji Mermaid’s fishbowl.

I immediately accused Wendy of this because she thinks G-Dragon is dumb and was it just a coincidence that she brought up that G-Dragon keepsake? I THINK NOT.

Sue backed away slowly, clearly not wanting to implicate herself in whatever Great American Crime Story I was writing up in my head. Wendy profusely swore that it wasn’t her, and by now word was spreading that G-Dragon was missing mostly because my voice was getting louder and more hysterical by the minute. Todd walked past to go to the refrigerator and I cried, “TODD DO YOU KNOW WHERE MY G-DRAGON IS!?” and he was all, “What G-Dragon?” because now people were conveniently playing dumb and acting like they had NO IDEA what G-Dragon relic I was talking about.

“IT’S THAT VINYL THINGIE OF HIM! FROM WHEN HE WAS AT THE CHANEL FASHION SHOW LAST YEAR!” I kept using this as the clue that was really going to drive it home, jog that person’s memory. Like someone was going to exclaim, “Oh yes! The one of him in that confusing not-quite-beret!” But every single person I said that to just looked at me like I was a crazy person.

Naturally, my next guess was Glenn. I didn’t see it on his desk and I didn’t want to go through his stuff EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE APPARENTLY HAVE NO PROBLEM GOING THROUGH MINE so I started searching in shared areas, like the supply closet, expecting to see GD’s beautiful, shining face peering down at me but NOTHING.

This continued on when I got back to work yesterday. I immediately confronted Glenn and he was actually scared a little, I think. I think he knows better than to ever, EVER, move any G-Dragon artifact from my desk. He swore profusely that it wasn’t him and the fear in his eyes made me believe him. Lauren suggested that maybe it was Aaron, and I started to consider this and then without any evidence at all, I had him pegged as the perp. When I came back from getting water in the kitchen, I noticed that the supply cabinet door was left ajar – a notorious indicator that Aaron had been creeping around. He never shuts that door all the way! So I flung it open and started digging through things again, thinking that maybe I had actually overlooked GD when I was searching that cabinet the day before, and Aaron had come over to see if his work was still in play.

I still didn’t see anything, but I did find some soft Cars-themed balls on the bottom shelf, and Lauren excitedly asked me to throw her one. I thought we were going to have an impromptu game of Monkey in the Middle since this happened near Glenn’s desk, but then she never threw it back to me. I think she wanted it for her dog.

ANYWAY. I went back to my desk and moments later, I could feel Aaron’s presence nearby, so I spun around and hysterically asked, “AARON DID YOU TAKE SOMETHING OF MINE.” He seemed shocked at first but then coyly said, “Maybe…” but he was just playing along and actually had no idea what I was talking about so then I had to describe the missing GD and once again the Chanel fashion show did nothing to help.

“What did it look like again?” Lauren asked me a few minutes later, and I cried, “WHY ARE YOU GOING TO SEND OUT AN EMAIL!?” and she was like, “Um, no, I was just going to ask anyone who walks by….”

Anyway, I never did find him and I’m honestly beginning to think that I probably accidentally moved him somewhere, threw him out (Lord help me) or maybe he was stuck to my purse or something one day when I was leaving and I dropped him outside I AM THE WORST KEEPER OF G-DRAGON. But! At least I can just easily get another one (all the Kpop shops sell those things) and I’m thankful that it wasn’t the GD doll my mom got me, or the GD keychain Maya made me! Those ones are not replaceable.

“Erin’s Not Going to Know.”

Wednesday, while I was running around with my hands in my hair, interrogating people about the whereabouts of G-Dragon, I overheard Wendy say to Jeannie, “Maybe Erin Kelly knows” and Jeannie responded with, “Erin is NOT going to know!” This stopped me in my tracks. Challenge accepted! I called out, “Wait — I might know!” and immediately prayed it wasn’t something work-related that was going to illuminate my dumbness.

So Wendy started with, “Do you know that toy with the ring that goes around your ankle—-”

“SKIP IT!” I cried.

“Yeah! That’s what it is!” Wendy laughed, and I guess Jeannie was looking for one for her niece for Xmas but couldn’t remember what it was called, so then Jeannie and I looked at all of the options on Amazon and I was feeling so sad because I loved my Skip-It unconditionally, and even had one in my early-20s, but it wasn’t as good as the original one from the 80s.

“If it’s something an 11-year-old girl would like, of course Erin would know what it is,” Wendy said and then everyone within earshot got a great laugh out of that WOW SO SOON AFTER G-DRAGON WENT MISSING, EVEN.

Anyway, I kept going on and on about how much I loved Skip-It and how great I was at it, and finally Jeannie was like, “Oh my god, do you want me to buy you one, too?!” and I immediately said yes so I hope she wasn’t joking because I’m going to be waiting for this to appear on my desk every day from now until Christmas.

Secret Santa Reveal

We did our Secret Santa Reveal event yesterday and I am now safe to scream from the hilltops that I was Amber’s Secret Santa! And Wendy was mine! What a perfect scenario!

Of course as luck would have it, neither Amber nor Wendy were in the office yesterday, so Carrie gave me my gift from Wendy and then someone Facetimed Amber and made me open her gift while she watched through the phone and it was pretty awkward like being on a stage except we were standing in an empty hallway.

Amber had coffee/tea, Qdoba, and plants written on her idea list, and I decided to go the tea route because my childhood friend Chris (not of Chronica fame) is a beekeeper and I have been meaning to buy some of his sweet honey (literally!) for some time now. So one of the gifts I put together was tea-themed, with some type of loose-leaf tea blend from India because she likes Indian things, a tall tea cup thing and these little cuties:

Honestly, we got to do a honey sampling and I was like, “Can I move in here? I’ll help you bottle this stuff all day long.”

And then for the last gift, I wanted to combine all three things on her list into one, at which point Chooch suggested getting a tortilla and filling it with dead plant parts and tea bags. I went with my own idea though, sorry Chooch. Maybe if I was BARB’S Secret Santa, I would have used his idea, though.

I topped it off with some of the TOPSHELF, $8.99 a pound mystery candy from the weird international market by my house.

Eastern European Candy PSA

Speaking of weird mystery candy, I also filled up a bag from the $4.99 shelf for the rest of my co-workers to “enjoy” out of the Plastic Pumpkin of International Horrors. I got several that were large and had some generic Disney prince and princess on the wrapper. For some reason, I want to believe that the bigger the better, not sure where I could possibly be getting that from, so I had high expectations for these ones. I treated myself to one yesterday afternoon and immediately turned to Glenn, making the HAVE I BEEN POISONED??? face.

“This might be the WORST candy out of the whole bunch!” I cried. And Lauren just brought back durian toffee from Thailand, so this is a huge statement on my part. Let me try to describe it:

The base looks like a peppermint patty. Just a chocolate circle thing. The top has four small mounds of what I later learned was “cookie biscuit” when Lori read the wrapper out loud. An interesting structure that I was excited to bite into! But inside the chocolate, which by the way was one of the worst attempts at chocolate I’ve ever had, was that awful firm jelly shit that masochistic confectioners like to slip inside candy sometimes. I don’t even know what flavor the jelly was supposed to be. Raspberry perfume? But when shit really got deep was when the notes of the “cookie biscuit” swam to the forefront of my palate. I couldn’t imagine what I was tasting, but it was familiar. And not a flavor you want in your mouth when you’re eating something sweet. I was standing up at this point, unsure if I should spit it out, google the Poison Control number, write a letter to the President of the Ukraine and demand that the inventor of this candy be incarcerated.

And that’s when I realized that the taste in my mouth WAS BLEU CHEESE.

Chocolate candy with a bleu cheese aftertaste!!! NO, UKRAINE. GO FUCK YOURSELF.

***

Well, that was going to be the end of my work update, but then I was getting ready to leave the house to walk to the post office, I put my hand in my coat pocket and wondered what the strangely-shaped object was that my hand had grazed, and this is what I pulled out:

BUT HOW!? Either I did this by accident (but I honestly don’t remember and there was nothing else in that pocket that could have potentially been next to it on my desk that I would have intentionally grabbed while accidentally grabbing G-Dragon at the same time) or SOMEONE IS SABOTAGING MY SANITY. I’m off work today but you can believe that this investigation is far from over.

(Also thank god he turned up because I couldn’t remember what these figures are called when I was trying to find one online to buy.)

Nov 192017
 

Sometime in September, Chooch came home with an order form for some dumb Southern Living cookie dough that the school was pushing the kids to peddle, and I was like, “LOL you can just throw that in the trash because I’m not taking it to work!” Honestly, I hate fundraising bullshit, and I especially hate asking co-workers to buy things when most of them have their own children who are selling magazines and hoagies and slingshots and fidget spinners, I dunno what kids sell these days.

Flash-forward a week or two later. Chooch said he was going over his friend Wesley’s house and we were like, “Look both ways before you cross the street, don’t take candy from strangers, don’t talk to my Mexican taco cart boyfriend without me.”

He came home a few hours later and it turns out, that sonuva took the order form with him and actually made like 8 sales to random people in Brookline!? Of course, his Corgi buddy Bob bought two containers of dough, but I didn’t recognize a single other name on that form! “Oh, that’s the lady who lives next to Bob, she has a dog too. And that’s her mom, who lives across the street. Oh, and that’s Ed’s* girlfriend” because Chooch gets around, man. He fucking gets around.

*(Ed is the guy who owns the gaming place on Brookline Boulevard, and Chooch of course has befriended him because most of Chooch’s friends are adults so why not add another.)

Meanwhile, the order form is all ATTENTION PARENTS, PLEASE SUPERVISE YOUR CHILDREN. DO  NOT LET THEM GO DOOR-TO-DOOR, because the world sucks these days. If this was the 80s, cold-calling would be encouraged! HERE’S THE MILKMAN, SON, ASK HIM IF HE WANTS TO BUY SOME FUNDRAISER FRUITCAKE! He’d have come home with 348 sales!

Unfortunately, Chooch collected checks from two of the houses, and the separate instruction sheet that was sent home from the school says that no checks are accepted, even though the order form states otherwise. So while one of the checks was made out to Chooch’s school, the other one was made out to “Central Middle School” and we were like, “Wtf is this school?” and it turns out it was what the sample check on the order form had written on it, for fuck’s sake. So Henry had to take Chooch back to these two houses to exchange their checks for cash, which is how we realized that one of the lady’s lives in the house behind us, the same house with the garage window that Chooch busted a few yeas ago which turned into a summer-long odyssey of the husband repeatedly showing up at our door to remind Henry that he still had not replaced the window, because Henry is the king of procrastination, which is one of the things that his mom and I argued about last spring when she blamed me for him not doing all the things he promised her he would do and I was like DO YOU THINK HE DOES EVERYTHING I WANT HIM TO DO THE FIRST TIME I ASK HIM TO DO IT, LADY?! My god, guys like Henry are the reason why women have to nag in the first place.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Anyway, the point of this story is that as soon as I saw that he made some sales on his own, I suddenly morphed into Captain Competition and decided that I would take the order form to work and try to outsell him. Normally, people will bring this shit in and leave it on the table by the kitchen and let it sell itself. Not me. I kept the order form right where I could see it, on the counter behind Lauren, and flat-out accosted everyone who walked past with this super-aggressive opening line, “BUY SOME COOKIE DOUGH.” You’d be surprised how many times it worked! I even got Todd to buy a gluten-free tub, and Mitch too who almost definitely has never baked cookies in his whole entire life, good thing he has a wife now.

You guys, I became consumed by selling. I even told people that I would accept Paypal, so I was able to strong-arm Chris and Monica as well, by sending them pictures of their options. This went on for a week until it was time to return the order form to school, which is when we discovered that whoever NANCY is didn’t pay Chooch. “She said that she will pay when the cookie dough is delivered,” Chooch shrugged. “This ain’t no C.O.D!” Henry barked, prepared to scratch her name off the list, but Chooch was all, “WE CAN’T DO THAT! SHE’S SARAH’S MOTHER!” and we were like WHO THE EFF IS SARAH and apparently she is the lady who lives across the street from Nancy and also ordered a tub. Chooch was so certain that Nancy was good for her word, that he SPOTTED HER THE MONEY.

I am so glad there were no cameras on us the evening before the order form was due, because it was like we were all using math for the first time in our lives. It took all three of us to count the money and add the sales, twice, before we finally arrived at the same number. It was beyond stressful.

I know what you’re wondering: “But Erin, did you sell more than your son?” PFFT FUCK YEAH, YOUR GIRL DID. Chooch sold enough to get some janky prizes worth about $7 but more importantly, since he sold more than 20 tubs, he got to go to Pizza Hut in a limo, so even though he didn’t reach his lofty goal of 125 tubs which would have scored him a Playstation or whatever, he was very pleased.

And then I remembered that I was going to have to bring all this shit to work and distribute it, and I immediately regretted the choices I had made.

Aug 152017
 

My favorite Pittsburgh ice cream shop, Millie’s, recently opened a second location minutes away from where I work downtown. I thought it would be an awesome idea to skip out on one of our Monday meetings and get some Millie’s instead. I broached this idea to Boss Amber,  paired with the gentile insinuation that it could be a TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE. But Amber was like, “Um it’s ice cream, you don’t need to justify it” and an ice cream outing was officially scheduled!

This has been a rough year for our little group. We lost* two people – Amber1 and Gayle – and plus everyone has had to endure all my DAILY KOREA FACTS all year, so some fancy locally-sourced ice cream was just what we need to boost morale. 

*(I mean, they’re still alive, but still! We miss them.)

Guys, I got SZECHUAN ROASTED PEACH and it was to die for. The only way it could have been better would be it was, I don’t know, gochugaru roasted peach. 

Lauren got coconut lime, Todd & Amber both got Vietnamese coffee, and dumb Glenn probably got a scoop of Plain. Who knows, who cares. 

I took a group picture for our department’s Wiki page—I’m one of two people in our department with editing rights so every once in awhile, random Kpop pictures find their way into the limelight and everyone is all, “Ugh Erin Kelly.” 

On th way back to the office, some deranged street person sidled up to Glenn and started screaming about if Glenn took him to the ATM and gave him $100,000, he’d be his best friend. 

“I come out here every day, and no one bothers me. I come out here with Erin and all her friends come out to attack me,” Glenn mumbled as we crossed the street, leaving his new friend behind on the sidewalk.

****

Back at work, I was all hunched over, giddily editing our group photo, getting it primed for its public debut. 

After I posted it on our group’s page, I announced, “Ok our picture’s up!” No one said anything. I craned my neck to see if Lauren was going to our wiki page. 

She was not. 

Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer so I flat out told Todd to go and look at it. 

“I already saw it,” he said. “You showed us on your phone.”

“Yeah but….just go and look,” I urged, standing behind him to make sure he did it. It took him FOREVER TO GET THERE because he doesn’t have it saved as a favorite. Ugh. 

When he saw it, it took him awhile to register, but then he laughed. 

“Wow,” he said in a total #smh tone. 


Lauren, upon hearing us laughing about it, decided she better go and check it out too. I’m sure she was low-key worried because god only knows with me, you know? But then she started giggling too. 

I had to wait for Amber to come back from her lunch break, but when she did, I practically crashed into her desk and sat on her lap in my excitement to have her look at the picture. 

She doesn’t have our wiki page saved as a favorite either so I had to stand there doing the pee-jig while she clicked through 18 pages to get there. 

She didn’t catch it at first, but when she finally saw G-Dragon’s perfect face, she started laughing and cried, “You’re….so special.”

The best part is fielding questions from the people in our department who have somehow avoided the Kpop-mania on our side of the floor, after they go to our page for actual work-related reasons and see our picture. That’s just the new intern, you guys. Kwon Jiyong. <3

Jun 072017
 

I can’t believe how good this oatmeal tastes,” I said enthusiastically yesterday at work. 

“Ooh, what did you put in it?” Lauren asked. 

“Nothing,” I shrugged. “I just followed the directions on the box for the first time.”

****

OK, let’s back up.

Typically I eat cream of wheat or oatmeal everyday for lunch at work because it’s instant gratification and I can barely handle much else, other than slopping some fruit salad (pre-made by Henry) into a tupperware thing and praying that it doesn’t leak in my bag on the way to work.

If I’m feeling particularly whimsical, I will add some sprinkles to it. If Gayle has honey at work, I might add that too. Usually I have a bruised banana that will find its way into the hot slop, too.

I always tell Henry when it’s time to buy me more instant cereal for work, but sometimes — this is going to be hard to fathom for some so make sure you swallow first if you’re eating or drinking — I will go to CVS during my lunch break and buy it myself.

I KNOW.

ME!

I CAN DO THAT!

Recently, something crazy was going on with me and I tagged along with Henry to the boring grocery store (as opposed to the magical Asian markets, which I happily visit every weekend). I knew that I needed to restock on my work lunch stash, so I bought kids oatmeal (complete with dinosaur eggs, thank you) and some healthy oatmeal thing that had flax seed and whatever in it.

Turns out, that healthy oatmeal is a kind that I’ve bought before and I HATE IT! It turns out so watery, basically just warm cloudy water with grain things floating in it. Disgusting! Two days in a row I suffered through this sad-sack lunch, complaining about it at length to Glenn who had the Don’t Care glaze over his eyes, until something occurred to me yesterday.

“Maybe I should try to make it the way the box says to make it,” I said mostly to myself, reading the directions at my desk.

“Well, how have you been making it?” Glenn asked hesitantly, probably wishing he could recall his question.

NO TAKE-BACKS.

“Well, I dump it into my mug and then fill it up with the hot water from the spout on the coffee maker,” I said. “But then it just stays watery! Nothing happens!”

“Oh my god,” Glenn mumbled, and I couldn’t tell if that meant he was shocked my method didn’t work, or if he had just looked at a really great picture of G-Dragon.

So in the kitchen, I followed directions. I dumped the oatmeal into my cup. I filled the now-empty paper oatmeal pouch up to the line with water (not from the hot water thingie though – I’m not that dumb, you guys! Plus there is a warning sticker on it). Then I poured it over top the oatmeal and baked it in the microwave for two minutes.

And it exploded like a fucking 5th grader’s volcano science project. I had to take the glass thingie out of the microwave and clean it, ugh! Aaron walked by when this was happening and I sheepishly said, “I made a mess…”

“Is that your banana tea?” he asked, because one time he saw me cutting up a banana in the kitchen (with a plastic knife, don’t worry) and putting it in my coffee cup and then for the next year, he secretly thought I was literally adding bananas to my tea and expressed his concern (and disgust, probably) to Jeannie, who later told me about it and we had a great laugh.

Ugh, yes it’s my banana tea.

After I cleaned up the mess (burning my hand in the process), I took the remnants back to my desk and was amazed at how wonderful it tasted!

Glenn said I should have taken it out of the microwave every 30 seconds to stir it.

“Well, how would I know to do that if it doesn’t say on the box?” I cried, and he went back to trolling comment sections on fake news sites.

Later, I struggled to get the burnt oatmeal off my Goonies mug and considered just throwing it out and getting a new one, but then Gayle was like, “Just soak it….?” and hello, I know about that dish-washing secret, but the oatmeal was caked to the OUTSIDE of the cup too. I ended up just scrubbing it really hard and now my wrist hurts and I need to blame someone for this but I haven’t decided who yet. Probably Henry for not training me to be a grown-up, which by the way, he threatened to do over the weekend “in case something happens.” Something happens? Like he grows a pair and leaves?! Monica said she always just assumed Chooch and I would just move into Chez Chronica if that happens, kind of like she and Chris are our godparents.

I still should just get a new mug though. A G-Dragon one!

****

Today, I remembered Glenn’s sage cooking advice and stalked the microwave, stopping it every thirty seconds and giving the oatmeal a good stir.

With 45 seconds to go, I had a bad feeling. I could sense something wasn’t right, so I stopped it before the timer got to 30 and IT HAD OVERFLOWN AGAIN!!!!

Another day of cleaning the microwave! UGH. Where is Barb when I need her?!

Still though, it’s amazing how wonderful food tastes when you follow directions.

“Did the instructions give you options based on the microwave wattage?” Henry asked me on the way home from work, as we sat in traffic for an hour and he tried to resign from being my chauffeur.

“Huh?” I asked, scrolling through my Spotify kpop playlist.

“Never mind,” Henry sighed.  But then he had the audacity to ask me if I was trying to microwave the oatmeal IN THE POUCH, like I’m so dumb that I didn’t know to dump everything into a cup or bowl first, I AM SO INSULTED.

“It was so weird, it looked like it expanded somehow!” I gushed, as though I was telling the Story of Oatmeal for the very first time, to a bunch of pioneer people sitting on logs around a cauldron.

“That’s because it literally did expand. It absorbed the water, you idiot,” Henry sighed.

WOW. No need for name-calling!

“Anyway, who knew oatmeal needed to be baked. I guess I’m a baker now.”

“You’re not a baker. You cooked it in a microwave.

I’m going to try and bake other things in the microwave this weekend. Baked beans, probably.

Dec 132016
 

The asshole neighbors are still next door, and while things have (mostly) simmered down (knock on the wood of their severely damaged and beaten front door), there have been some new developments.

Since Henry talked to the landlord, it’s been mostly quiet over there. In fact, we started to think that Boots is living there alone now, like maybe the landlord was all, “Yo, I never said your strung out sex doll can shack up with you, get her out of there.” While Boots drives me nuts with the slamming and the stomping, it’s admittedly Phyllis’s gross smoker’s voice and hearing her scream lazily at him that really makes me feel psychotic.

So Tuesday through Thursday, we heard very minimal noise. An occasional opening and shutting of the front door, but NO SLAMMING. To the point where I was sure it was another person who was there, not Boots. Regular footsteps replaced the cinderblock-stomping on the stairs. I was able to sleep through the night! It was a fucking dream!

I was off on Friday. I heard movement next door, what sounded like the opening and shutting of cabinets in the kitchen, quiet sane-sounding voices. Maybe the landlord was there inspecting? Who could tell without x-ray glasses. But then I heard a dog barking. I looked outside and saw Boots on the porch with a Jack Russell and thought, “OH GOD IF HE HAS A DOG NOW, THEN SHIT’S GETTING REAL” and then I noticed, parked across the street, A U-HAUL. Nooooooo! My greatest fear realized! Boots was legit moving in! That dog probably had the house address engraved on its tag!

Thankfully, from my Concerned Neighbor Watch Post at my bedroom window, I determined that Boots was actually helping Chooch’s nemesis Larry move junk out of Larry’s house. The one thing I saw looked like an old furnace. I’m not sure how this matters to the story, but there it is. Larry eventually drove off in the U-Haul, and then a few minutes later, I saw Boots running down the street with the dog under his arm!?

I heard the dog barking again later, don’t worry. He brought it back.

I think it was actually Larry’s dog. Chooch knows everything about the neighborhood, most of all what kinds of dogs each house holds, and he verified that my description of the dog sounded like Larry’s. So I think Boots was just keeping Larry’s dog in his house so it wouldn’t run away while they had Larry’s door open? I DON’T KNOW, YOU GUYS, BUT THIS IS HOW I SPENT AN ENTIRE DAY OFF WORK. I HATE MYSELF.

Saturday, we heard Boots shuffling around, and still no sign of Phyllis. I was getting to the point where I felt that, if this was how things would stay, I could possibly accept Boots being my neighbor. Without Phyllis there provoking his temper, I wasn’t so on edge.

Still though, I worried about how things would go that night, when I had some friends over for a holiday party. Oh god, please don’t embarrass me Boots!

If anything was unraveling over there that night, I couldn’t hear over the noise in my own house. I hoped that it was annoying Boots! Sandy said that when she left my house, Boots was also leaving his house in a “creepy huff” and she was afraid he was going to abduct her and her girls, but she was at work today, so I guess Boots resisted the urge. I stayed up late that night, hanging out with Janna after my party ended, and Boots had visitors. It sounded like several men, and they were walking around and talking loudly for most of the night. One of the guys was driving a pick-up and he came and went numerous times. I turned up my radio super loud and put it against Boots’ bedroom wall and then I finally fell asleep around 2:30am. God only knows when that asshole went to bed.

Sunday afternoon, we realized that the window in Boots’ front door is busted out and he has a piece of cardboard taped over it. GEE I WONDER HOW THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED HE TAKES SUCH GREAT CARE OF THAT DOOR.

Later, all was bone-chillingly quiet next door, when suddenly, Boots started murdering his front door and bellowing, “MELISSA OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!! MELISSSSSSSSAAAAAAA!!!!!” and then he would kick the door so hard it would shudder our side of the house. Henry looked at me and said, “I honestly don’t think anyone else is over there?!” And so then I started to imagine that Phyllis (Melissa) was dead in the bedroom and he was so delusional that he thought she was going to come downstairs and open the door for him.

So now I wonder if he just has a habit of keeping the front door unlocked?

Anyway, I stood up and said, “OH FUCK NO, I’VE HAD IT” and Henry was all, “OMG PLEASE DON’T DO SOMETHING STUPID” but I was already whipping open my front door angrily. This man is not going to be satisfied until he splits his door in half.

Boots stopped pounding on his door and drug-drawled, “It’s just me, babe, sorry. Don’t tell [the landlord].” I gave him a death glare and made a disgusted noise, then came back in the house with a succinct slam of my door to punctuate the encounter.

HE CALLED ME BABE. Where’s the sewing kit, my vagina’s getting stitched up.

Henry heard him say “don’t tell [the landlord]” and we started cracking up, because clearly the landlord did talk to him and must have given him a warning. While we were laughing, Boots had entered the house through the basement and had begun his rage-stomp through the house, screaming his face off for Phyllis, who never answered him because she’s dead or something.

Later that evening, some man came to his house twice in search of him. He was knocking like a normal person, though he was calling Boots’ name relatively loudly. He left and came back later in search of Boots and I was like, “HE IS CLEARLY NOT HOME GO FUCK YOURSELF ASSHOLE” and Henry was all, “He’s not even doing anything — GET BACK IN THE HOUSE!” because by that point, I was throwing open my door like a wild woman looking for a fight. BOOTS IS RUINING MY LIFE.

I was home again from work om Monday but nothing much went on. I don’t think Boots even woke up until around 11 because I didn’t start hearing his footsteps until then. This is my life now. I am so fucking tuned in to every tiny movement on the other side of the wall.

I got home last night from seeing Citizen (<3) around 10:00 and while Henry was taking out the garbage, I saw a tall man walking through the yard to meet Boots, who was standing on his porch in shorts. The man seemed normal, and I think it was possibly the same man who was looking for him Sunday night. They went inside and had normal-volume conversations, which I could hear only because I muted everything SO I COULD HEAR. Now Henry thinks that maybe it’s his parole officer, because this is what we do in our spare time, sit around in our mismatched PJs, passing judgment and making crude character assessments of those on lower social rungs. (There are not many rungs lower than ours, so let us have our moment to feel better about ourselves, OK??)

Anyway, I know you were al worried but Phyllis apparently isn’t dead because I heard her fucking gross voice last night when I was trying to go to bed. I decided that I hate Phyllis more than Boots. I think I want to fight her.

The best part of my update is that while I was at work today, Henry said he was walking down the street to get Chooch who was at his friend Jaden’s house. He walked past Larry, who stopped him and said, “Hey, please don’t associate me with him,” and pointed to Boots’ house. “I’m trying to get rid of him.” If anyone knows Boots, it’s Larry, because they used to work together. So…sorry Chooch, but Larry is now our BFF and we must join forces to rid our street of Boots. I wish I had been there when this happened because I would have started asking Larry questions about Boots but dumb Henry was just like “Oh OK” and kept walking.

I need a new partner in my neighbor-spying game. Henry sucks.

Dec 062016
 

More things we know about our neighbors:

  • We are not the only people who hate them!

Monday evening was wonderful. Henry saw the neighbors leave in a blue car shortly after we came home from work, because now they have a car, I guess. This is a new development. It was around 8:30-9:00 that night, and as I mentioned in an earlier post this week, I was just trying to enjoy an episode of The Affair, motherfuckers. Suddenly, someone started banging and kicking on the neighbors’ front door.

I heard a man scream, “I see your light on, you cunt! Come out here!” So I thought, “Great, Boots is locked out again and is rearin’ to start another domestic battle with Phyllis.” But the more he banged, pounded, and kicked, the more it sounded less like he was irritated about being locked out, and more like he was literally ready to beat someone’s ass.

Then he started screaming again. This is when I began to realize that it wasn’t Boots after all. This was some other male. It sounded at one point like he said, “I saw what you did” — did he know someone in the house watched a person drown?! WAS PHIL COLLINS OUTSIDE MY HOUSE?

WHAT DID HE KNOW!?

The way this man was bellowing though, it chilled me to the bone; he was 100% raging in front of our house. He called the empty house everything from punk, prick, cunt, and faggot. And he was kicking the door with such force that it was making things in my side of the house shake.  I wanted to teleport back to m y childhood bedroom, lock the door, and crawl under the bed. But instead I just stood in the middle of the living room, in a frozen crouch, trembling. Henry ran upstairs to  try and get a look at the guy through our bedroom window, while I called 911. Hello, what if that guy comes to my door next, looking for those derelicts!? I don’t want to get caught in that crossfire!

While I talked to the dispatcher, I started to shake really bad. I mean, not that many like violence, but I really truly hate it. I know I’m into murder TV and all that, but when I see violence in real life, I want to throw up. I always think back to the time I was with Janna, my boyfriend Psycho Mike, and our friend Jon on Thanksgiving Eve in 1999. We were driving near the old Sun TV in West Mifflin (you care) when we came upon a man kicking the fuck out of another man’s head in the middle of the road. I got really upset and wanted Mike to stop the car and make the man stop, but he was like FUCK NO and sped away. I don’t think any of us had a cell phone then, either. A few minutes later, we were pulled over because apparently Mike’s mom’s car was similar to the car that the assailant was driving. I started crying and frantically tried to tell the cop what we had seen, but Mike and Jon were like STOP TALKING, LET US MEN TELL THE STORY, WOMAN. Ugh. Anyway, that was a long time ago (I don’t want to do math right now) and I still have random flashes of that night.

So I was pretty happy that the neighbors weren’t home because I don’t want to live next to a crime scene, you know?

Anyway, while I was on the phone with 911, the man finally gave up and stormed off up the street. Henry described him as being in his 40s, white, stocky, bald and wearing a dark sweatsuit. The dispatcher asked which direction he was walking, and then assured us that they would send a squad car but that if the man came back before then, to please call 911 again.

Um, YOU KNOW IT.

Then I got really nervous and started running around the house panicking because I really dislike cops and I go out of my way to make sure I never have to speak with them. “Will you do the talking?” I begged Henry, and come on, of course Henry will do the talking because he was born to be a hero. That fucking popo sycophant. Never forget the time he got to bro down with a cop the night there was a hit and run in front of our house.

“What if they come in here and mistake Trudy for a black man and shoot her?” I asked, and I promise I wasn’t even making jokes. I AM THAT LEARY OF COPS. Everything scares me these days.

“Why the hell are cops coming into our house with guns drawn and then shooting at a green mannequin!?” Henry asked incredulously.

“Because they think it’s a trap?? And they’re color blind!?” God Henry, try to consider all scenarios — that’s how you win wars!!

Guess who never showed up? THE COLORBLIND COPS.

But the neighbors did. They rolled up a bit after 10 and after a quick conference amongst ourselves, we decided that they should be given a heads up that some angry man was trying to break into their house and kill them.  So I sent Henry to do the dirty deed. I stood just inside the door so I could hear.

“What was he driving?” the daughter asked in her rough-ass hillbilly voice.

“Nothing, he was walking,” Henry answered. “He was bald—”

“Was he FAT?” Boots spat in his warbled mumble.

“I guess. He was pretty stocky,” Henry said.

“Yeah, I know who that is,” Boots said dismissively and then they went into their crack house and slammed the door with vigor. Literally no big deal, you guys. Some guy wants to kill them but they don’t give a fuck! Probably because they’re used to this kind of thing!

If I came home one night and Hot Naybor Chris was all, “Yo someone was trying to break into your house t murder you” I’d be driving to the nearest Amish town, put me in the fucking Witness Protection Program, here Chooch, don this fucking bonnet, your name is Ezekiel now.

So then I was just pissed! Fuck those motherfuckers!

“Wow, you want to talk about a group of strung-out people, holy shit, Erin,” Henry said as he closed the door and double-locked it. “They could barely even stand up straight! And the daughter looked a lot better when she had her hood up the other day,” he said, so I guess that means he hopefully won’t cheat on me with her now. (Season three of The Affair, you guys. I’ll be in a paranoid fugue state for the next few weeks.)

“You made contact! Now he thinks you guys are friends,” I said solemnly.

The rest of the evening was calm.

Until 4am. I woke abruptly to the sound of the front door being repeatedly slammed shut. Then Boots was running up and down the steps. Then the daughter started SCREAMING, “Mom! Help me!” in a deep, drawn-out tone.

Phyllis screamed, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT, GEORGIA?!?!” So hooray, now we know Daughter’s name is presumably Georgia!

But really, Georgia, what the fuck do you want at 4am?!

Then Boots’ garbled bark interrupted, and at this point, I was out of bed and standing in the hallway next to the wall because I’M UP NOW, ASSHOLES, MIGHT AS WELL SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.

As usual,  I couldn’t decipher what Boots was screaming about, but then Phyllis yelled, “I DIDN’T LOCK YOU OUT, YOU FUCKING WEIRDO!” and then it was 30 minutes of Phyllis calling him a fucking weirdo over and over and hollering about not having cigarettes, with random slams of the front door punctuating her nicotine demands.

They eventually stopped, but I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. They make my heart race, and not in some teeny-bopper Katy Perry song kind of way.

The next morning, I called Henry, who had already left for work before this went down. He said that when he was leaving, he saw Boots come out of the house and proceed to sit inside his mystery car. Maybe he was sitting in there and smoking Phyllis’s cigarettes!?

By mid-morning, I was falling asleep at my desk. And then that just made me really angry. So I texted Henry and he said he was going to try and get ahold of the landlord again. AND THIS TIME HE ANSWERED! And HNC was correct, the landlord has been traveling and admitted that he hadn’t been in touch with those dildos. He also confirmed that he has Boots set up with some type of “fix up to live” arrangement, where he’s supposed to literally be renovating the house in exchange for reduced rent, I guess.

“Well, FYI, there hasn’t been any work happening there in about a month,” Henry told him, and then ran down the laundry list of domestic disputes, house calls from the cops, screaming and slamming doors at 2-4am….

The landlord asked if we think there are drugs involved and Henry was like, “Probably most likely yes.” The landlord said that sometime last month, he sent a plumber over there to do work, and the plumber apparently found the daughter unconscious on the bathroom floor?! The landlord told Henry that he was told she has seizures and Henry was just like, “Mmmmm……ok.”

Anyway, the landlord is super pissed and said that this arrangement is obviously not going to work out and that he’ll take care of it. BUT WHEN, LANDLORD?! DO IT NOW. I was so upset yesterday that I didn’t want to come home after work.

Last night, we went over Hot Naybor Chris’s house to fill in him and his Wife-Thing about the recent events because HNC kind of knows Boots from whenever the landlord sent over the (legit) contracting company to do work on HNC’s house. Boots was working for them at that time and was apparently kind of OK?

Here is what we learned from HNC:

  • Boots’ name is George.
  • That is HIS daughter, so I guess it makes sense that her name could be Georgia for sure.
  • The “older woman” staying there is just Boots’s “friend” who is going through a rough time because her husband recently died. But I heard Georgia call her “mom”?! Ugh I’m so confused.
  • He used to work with Chooch’s nemesis Larry*, who lives two houses down, and recently told HNC that he went over there and that “There is no way George is clean” so we know that George has definitely had a drug problem, and most likely still does currently.
  • Wife-Thing said that sometimes when she comes home during the day, Boots comes out of the house and gets all up in her face and she doesn’t like that ONE BIT.
  • HNC said one night he looked out his window and saw Boots dancing in his front yard. They have a blue porch light, so HNC said he thought to himself, “What, is my blue light turning him on?” DEAD.
  • When we started to tell them about Bald Guy (which Wife-Thing heard as it was happening, btw because probably most of the block heard it), HNC interrupted and said, “Was it Dave?” and then described TOURETTE’S TO US! It took everything in me not to blurt out, “OMG now I know Tourette’s name!!”
  • Wife-Thing confirmed that something not right is going on over there and that they will also talk to the landlord about it. HNC wanted to just go straight to Boots and “talk to him” but Wife-Thing was all, “DO NOT GET INVOLVED CHRIS!!!” I agree.

They never came home last night so I was hopeful that maybe the landlord acted faster that I thought he would.

“Maybe they went on vacation,” Henry suggested.

“To where? A tenement across the city?” I spat.

But don’t worry. They’re home again.

Octavia said these assholes are lucky it’s not her husband living next to them because he would have been outside with guns drawn by now and now I wish they lived here. Have you met Henry?? He is the most non-confrontational person ever! He’d be out there not with a gun but with…a wooden spoon, like “Guys, don’t be mad at us. I made you spaghetti! Taste the sauce! Let’s be friends!”

Ugh, maybe Bald Guy will come back and take care of this for us.

*(I have a Larry-centric blog post coming later this week.)

Dec 062016
 

Let’s go over what we already know about the mystery neighbors in the other half of my duplex:

  • they’re technically supposed to be “working” on the house for our landlord.
  • they could maybe be squatting, though??
  • they’re probably illiterate.
  • definitely smoke too much because I CAN SMELL IT IN MY BEDROOM?!
  • the main players are a man and woman in their 40s/50s.
  • the woman’s name is allegedly “Melissa,” as we learned last week when Man left the house, made it halfway down the street, and then turned around and started screaming, “MELISSA!” At which point she came to the window and yelled “WHATTTTT????” in her patented Yinzer trash throat scrape.

Where we last left off, Henry reported that the cops had made a visit next door one night last week, around 2am. He said they were fighting so bad that he was getting ready to call the police himself, but someone beat him to it. We’re speculating that it was her.

After this happened, I went to work and was ranting about how trashy and psychotic these people are, and how the cops were there, etc etc. And then I had a vision of the cops over there, breaking up a domestic dispute while Henry and I are next door, churning out serial killer greeting cards under the warm glow of our Christmas mannequin. And then I started cracking up because psycho pot calling the psycho kettle black.

WE’RE NOT TRASHY THOUGH.

Well…not as much as them.

Hot Naybor Chris confirmed that the guy truly does work for a contracting company, because he was one of the guys doing work on HNC’s house a while back. Apparently, HNC was there the day that the landlord brought this guy over to do work, because HNC got to go inside the house and said that our old neighbors really did a lot of damage. Which is crazy because we RARELY HEARD THEM.

The last day I heard them do any work over there whatsoever was when I was home on Veteran’s Day. I heard drilling, hammering, your basic construction noises. Now that I’ve gotten more acquainted with these idiots, I find it hard to believe that they’re capable of hammering a nail into the wall to hang a picture of an egg in a frying pan, let alone operate actual power tools. #concern

Why haven’t we called the landlord, one might ask. Landlord has been out-of-town, apparently, possibly even out-of-country. (His wife is from Japan or something, I don’t care enough about him to keep up.) Also, anytime the landlord has any work done to his properties, he is constantly over there, pacing back and forth in his cowboy hat. This guy is no-nonsense—Henry has a video of him wrestling a shovel off a guy from the gas company who dug up our front yard and then was going to leave without solving our issue. I’m not a big fan of our landlord, but I for sure was that day.

Anyway, ever since the domestic incident, I clench up every time I hear the door slam and then the STOMP STOMP STOMPing of his boots on the steps. Actually, let’s just call him Boots from herein. I know we’ve established her name is Melissa but let’s call her…Phyllis. Because that throaty smoker’s voice, man.

I hear Boots clomping his way through the house and my brain starts screaming to me, “HIDE UNDER THE BED, DRUNK DAD’S HOME AND HIS BREATH STINKS OF JACK AND PUKE!” Something like that.

Late Wednesday night, I heard the door slam and the house shake, and then I heard the stomping of boots up the steps. A short scuffle then BAM – the door slammed again. I looked out the bedroom window and announced in a hoarse whisper to Henry, “He’s leaving again!” I watched him walk down t he street, then stop and get into the backseat of a car that rolled to a stop right in the middle of our street.

The car continued to sit there and I was getting mad. YOU CAN’T STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR ROAD, IT’S A BUSY STREET! But then BAM — the door slammed again and out scurried Phyllis. She got in the passenger seat and the car sped away.

“Maybe it was their Uber,” Henry mumbled, already falling back asleep.

But then! The boots again! His muffled voice slammed up against our bedroom wall, and PHYLLIS started Yinzering back! THEN WHO WERE THE MAN AND WOMAN WHO LEFT THE HOUSE OMFG  THERE ARE FOUR OF THEM!?

Phyllis started screaming, “GO AWAY! GO TO YOUR OWN ROOM! LEAVE ME ALONE!” I was prepared to call 911 because I don’t fuck with this shit, but then it got very quiet. And then nothing for the rest of the night. Either they passed out or died.

****

On Thursday, while I was at work, Chooch was in the house alone. Henry was across the street in the parking lot probably having an affair, like he does, when he said he noticed that a guy was walking past our house and stopped. The man looked up at our neighbor’s open bedroom window, at which point Boot poked his head out, so the man kept walking. WELL APPARENTLY HE WAS STOPPING BECAUSE UNEARTHLY SEX MOANS WERE EMANATING FROM THE WINDOW, as Chooch proved by RECORDING THE SOUNDS WITH HIS PHONE.

“Um, it sounds like maybe she was hurt or something,” Henry said when they were telling me about it after I came home from work.

“No, I’m pretty sure they were doing it. Now my childhood is ruined,” Chooch sighed dramatically.

I listened to it later and congratulates on recording the audio of your first sex tape, son.

Totally doing it.

OMG I FEEL SO VIOLATED. I WANT TO VOMIT JUST TYPING THIS. NOW MY CHILDHOOD IS RUINED TOO.

The worst part though is that Chooch said it started with her saying “Help, help.”

Was this not consensual? Is he her captor?! Is the prequel to The Room playing out on the other side of my bedroom wall?

****

Friday was blissfully neighbor-free. Maybe they were dead? We kind of didn’t care.

But then Saturday morning rolled around. Henry was leaving to “go to the store” (i.e. cheat on me behind a pile of empty milk crates in the back of Giant Eagle) and he texted me excitedly because he saw Phyllis on his way out and she nervously said “Morning” to him. GREAT NOW HE’S GOING TO CHEAT ON ME WITH HER, TOO. Anyway, he said she looked young, like in her 20s and I said for sure that couldn’t be Phyllis then because I saw Phyllis once a few weeks ago when she and Boots were scurrying down the sidewalk with their gas station coffee. So now it was really starting to sound like Phyllis’s daughter is squatting there as well, and that’s who I saw leaving the house late Thursday night.

After Henry sent that text, I heard the basement door slam and Boots’ signature stomp began to shake the house.

“Don’t you think it’s weird how Boots always comes in through the basement?” I later said to Henry.

“Yeah, because he doesn’t have a key. The keys are in our house!” And then Henry reminded me that Chooch found keys in the front yard a few weeks ago, and how shortly after that, we heard what sounded like the basement door being kicked in. Because it sounds like Phyllis and Daughter keep Boots locked out, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

Meanwhile, I was sitting at the desk in my bedroom, painting. My desk butts up against our shared wall, so I had a prime seat for when the Real Phyllis woke up and started screaming because “YOU CAME IN MY ROOM LAST NIGHT AND TOOK MY BLANKET OFF MY BED!”

So now we know there’s at least a bed over there! And we think it was left there by the family who lived there before them because this merry band of misfits never actually moved anything in. So ew, gross.

Boots was all, “MWWAAAAHMWWAAAAHHHH” because I can never understand anything when it’s his turn to talk, he sounds like a fucking throatless hobo with three pairs of balls in his mouth. The next thing I knew, he was out on the front porch screaming at her, but she must have been standing in the doorway, because I could only see him from my bedroom window, pelvis a’thrust, arms flapping limply at his side. They were fighting over money at this point. I was barely able to discern the words, “OH YEAH OK, YOU BOUGHT IT, MMMHMMM” and if I were Phyllis, I’d have punched that Coke bottle eyeball’d motherfucker in the face. Ugh. Of course I didn’t have my phone, and by the time I ran downstairs to get it, they had retreated back to home base—the bedroom—where a fight over CEREAL ensued:

My phone shouldn’t be able to pick that up through a WALL. I’ve had plenty of neighbors living over there through the years, and we rarely could hear voices, only occasional bass from TV/radios. It takes some heavy-duty shouting to be heard through those walls.

And then they went quiet for most of the day. Later in the evening, they were gathered in The Room again, but they seemed to be coexisting peacefully so the sound of my radio was enough to drone out their slurred, cigarette-ravaged voices. They could film This Is Your Brain on Drugs commercials over there.

Pretty sure we witnessed Daughter buying drugs in front of the house that night, though.

Sunday: FULL DAY OF QUIET. We decided they must have fired up the caravan and visited some other crack den for the day.

TO BE CONTINUED because I’m still stressed out from living Part 2 last night.

 

Oct 252016
 

30260071100_d9b23fdb1e_b

I wish I could properly explain the wrath I dealt with back in May when Chooch realized he was going to miss a headlining Summer Set show in Pittsburgh because we were in Michigan for Bledfest (something that only I wanted to do and Henry and Chooch got stuck going along for the ride and hated every second of it). “But it’s cool because you’ll get to see them at Warped Tour!” I reasoned, and Chooch seemed pacified by this.

And then there was more, even greater wrath in July when we realized that The Summer Set was only going to be on the second leg of Warped Tour, so Chooch would have to miss them again. 

And then there was no Pittsburgh date for their fall tour, but there was a Columbus show that fell on a Saturday so Henry and I felt it was worth it. Look, The Summer Set is not necessarily a band I would go out of my way for, but Chooch is really taken by them, for whatever reason. And who am I to deny my kid the pleasure of seeing one of his favorite bands? I mean, look at how bent out of shape I get when I have to miss seeing one of my favorite bands!

If you read my lame-o live blog post, some of this you already know. Like, the fact that Henry booted us out onto the curb and then went carousin’ around Columbus for….litter boxes and ginger tea. Henry knows how to live it up.

The venue was the A&R Music Bar. I’ve never been there before and I get really nervous about taking my kid to venues I know nothing about. But…the show was all ages, so I figured we’d be fine. Here in Pittsburgh, most of the venues won’t let you bring drinks out of the bar area, so I assumed it would be like that here too.

But no! It was a fucking free-for-all. The bar wasn’t separate all, and while I imagined the crowd would mostly consist of underaged girls, there actually seemed to be more adults there.

Drunk adults.

All over.

Being rude.

Standing in front of Chooch.

Talking over all of the bands.

I was just really rubbed the wrong way almost immediately and had this dire urge to have Henry come and get us and then we could just go do something touristy or…I don’t know…go home. I hate when I get those bad feelings! And I just couldn’t shake this one at all.

img_8695

Chooch and I were so hateful of the crowd that we opted to go out on the patio and hang out with the all of the smokers, even though it was about 40 degrees out. We could actually see the stage better from out there and the sound wasn’t muted much at all.

That dude up there in the white shirt was the opener. I think his name was Chase? No. It’s Hudson Thames. I pretended for a second to be committed to the art of blogging and actually researched that shit.

Um…Hudson had a great voice! But I wasn’t entranced.  And then after his set, he took off his shirt and threw it into the crowd, like OK Tacky.

William Beckett was next. I had no idea he was on this tour, and when he walked past us when we were standing in line, I was like, “That guy looks familiar” but then figured it was just because he reminded me of someone who would have been in a Sid & Marty Kroft television show, and didn’t think about it again until we were inside and I was buying Chooch his 374872389465th Summer Set shirt, when I looked over and saw the guy again, and then my eyes drifted to the side of his head and I noticed all of the William Beckett merch on the wall and realized that oh shit, that’s William Beckett from The Academy Is… what the fuck is he doing opening for the Summer Set?!

We only stuck around for two of his songs because, ask Chooch, we were surrounded by drunk broads with really annoying voices. I will never understand why people pay money to go to a show and then stand with their back to the stage scream-talking to their friends. Like, just go to a regular bar for that, or have a fucking house party. I guess I just don’t get it. MAYBE BECAUSE I’M TOO SQUARE. I’M SO SQUARE THAT I USED THE TERM “SQUARE.”

After William Beckett, Chooch and I went back inside, on a quest to find somewhere decent to stand where he could see and we wouldn’t be inadvertently wrapped up in a Snuggie of drunk douchebags. We ventured further and further up toward the front of the venue until we were next to the side of the stage. There were several other people standing there, and Chooch was happy enough with the unobstructed view that he didn’t care if he was just going to see the Summer Set’s profiles.

Eventually though, one of the staff ladies came over and said that we were going to have to move back more into the main area when the band came out, and we were like, “Ugh fine.” However, two girls came into the venue with one of the Summer Set guys (Josh, according to Chooch) and stood next to Chooch and the staff lady was just like, “Fine I give up. Stand there. Create a fire hazard. Oh well.”

I mean, probably that’s what she was thinking, and not, “Gotta catch ’em all.”

HERE IS A REALLY DETAILED, ARCHITECTURALLY ACCURATE BLUEPRINT OF THE LAYOUT:

You can see how we were keeping an open area so that traffic could freely flow to and from the exit.

I was so pleased with how this night had panned out! Chooch was in a comfortable spot, I had a thing to lean my old ass body against, the band was playing pleasant pop music that I generally wouldn’t care about but have learned to semi-like thanks to Chooch (I REALLY LIKE THEIR NEW SONG “JEAN JACKET” AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT)….Some old broad had migrated to our area with her niece who was around the same age as Chooch, and she and I were exchanging pleasantries, and that’s when I made the mistake.

I said words.

I jinxed myself.

“This is the perfect spot,” I yelled into my new friend’s hair.

“Yeah it really is!” she said, and we leaned back against the bar, smiling as our young companions danced and clapped to The Summer Set.

29925345763_d38c3c295d_c 29925346273_7aa2cd0584_c

Then that lady left. I don’t know where she went, to the back of the room with her niece, I guess. And then suddenly, a group of 6 totally trashed bitches came barreling up from the back of the room and stuffed themselves into the area area between those of us leaning against the bar and the few people in front of us at the barricade.

They were flailing around, screaming like infants, holding their cans of Coors Light like torches over their perfect heads of hair, sloshing beer around like a stinky sprinkler system, and being generally REALLY FUCKING INTRUSIVE.

Luckily, the staff lady swooped in from her station at the door and yelled, “You guys have to move! We have to keep this area open!”

Of course, they wouldn’t move. Why would they move? They were fucking entitled little bitches who owned the place.

All I knew was that they were potentially going to ruin things for Chooch. I had a feeling that if they didn’t move, that broad was going to come back and make us ALL move. So I kind of nudged one of them so she’d move, instead of pancaking me against the edge of bar like she was currently doing. I mean, they brought major pandemonium to our nice little area of the venue, and everything was happening so fast…

But I didn’t think this prissy little girl was actually going to flip out from being subtly nudged.

“That bitch PUSHED ME!” she shrieked to the staff lady, who was just like, “Oh OK” and then walked away. When she didn’t get the attention she craved, she continued to scream her face off about me pushing her, and I was so confused…was she actually talking about me? Because I used like three finger tips to give her a tiny prod in the direction that the lady wanted her to move, and also it was to get her fucking gross Aztec sweater out of my face.

So then she ran over to the lone guy in their crew and hysterically cried, “THAT BITCH PUSHED ME!” but as I would find out later, she wasn’t the one in the group he was fucking, so he just looked at me and then looked at her and shrugged.

Two of her other friends were oblivious to her plight, and instead continued performing their bizarre, primitive vagina dance which involved them leaning back in their best Limbo pose while facing each other, and making sensual “offering” motions with their hands above their crotches. So I’m like completely mesmerized by this weird menstrual witch jig when I suddenly feel a sharp blow to my ribcage because Aztec Sweater finally found a friend who cared, and that friend—a frumpy bitch in a plum sweater—wedged herself in between me and the nice, normal girl who was originally standing to my left, and proceeded to passive aggressively assault me with her basic bitch elbow while the THAT BITCH PUSHED ME dialogue continued.

Like, really. You’re going to stand there and play these middle school games, like you’re trying to bully me in the back of the classroom while the teacher has her back turned? Because that’s what that shit felt like.

So I dug my feet into the floor and started to push back into her because bitch, you picked the wrong girl. I wasn’t going to move.

But I also wasn’t going to ruin Chooch’s night. Because by this point, my whole body felt like a whistling tea kettle. I could hear the blood rushing into my head, like sheet metal crashing in my ears. I was starting to shake, because what I really wanted to do WAS GRAB THIS BITCH BY THE HAIR. Not even the girl I supposedly pushed! But this fucking plum tunic hag. I wanted to actually fight her and it has been a long time since I felt this out of control in public, and I had literally zero sips of alcohol in me. No, this bitch alone was bringing out pure, unadulterated, primal rage.

Then I looked up and saw Chooch, applauding in between songs, and got myself in check real quick.

CONSEQUENCES, BLAH BLAH BLAH.

This isn’t to say I was going to stand there and be steam-rolled by this fucker. So I turned and tapped her on the arm.

“Excuse me, but I didn’t PUSH your friend,” I yelled into her ear.

“WELL THAT LADY YELLED AT US AND TOLD US TO MOVE AND THERE’S NOWHERE FOR US TO GO SO YOU HAVE TO MOVE TOO!” she yelled back, sounding like an actual brat. I mean, that staff lady didn’t YELL at them, she was just trying to do her job.

“I’ve been standing here since before The Summer Set went on, and my kid is right up there, so no, I’m not moving,” I said, and I was so surprised at how RATIONAL AND NON-HYSTERICAL I SOUNDED. I realllly didn’t want Chooch to turn around and see his mom acting like white trash. 

“OK, well then we’re good here!” she yelled, like suddenly everything had changed now that she knew I’M A MOM and not just another basic OSU bitch? I mean, she said it in a totally asshole-y way without a DROP of sincerity, but she moved out of my personal bubble and her fucking elbow never touched me again, and then in a strange twist of events, the weird vagina dancers actually became pretty amusing to me and we had several moments throughout the night where we laughed at things together and I know that infuriated the other two girls WHO I WILL NEVER BE COOL WITH IN REAL LIFE, NOT IN A MILLION YEARS, I don’t care how much Aztec Sweater looked like Missy Franklin and I LOVE MISSY FRANKLIN.

I can’t even put into words how much it ruined my night, my weekend, my joy of being at a concert, my faith in humanity (not that I had much to begin with but still). Shows are safe zones for me. It’s where I feel at home and comfortable in my skin, where I can leave my stress and tension at the door, and I want Chooch to feel that way too. But all this shit was playing out right behind him and even though he never turned around and saw it all, he was still annoyed by these people for his own reasons. It made me feel like I put him in a potentially unsafe situation and that’s a really terrible feeling for a parent.

But he still said he had a great time, and the guitar tech gave him a pick (you can see that in the end of the below video!).

View this post on Instagram

THE THINGS I DO FOR MY BELOVED SON.

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

I pretty much raged about this to Henry during the entire three hour drive back home to Pittsburgh and he was like, “OK what do you want me to do” because he’s so SUPPORTIVE, so then I texted Chris and Monica who TOTALLY UNDERSTOOD AND WERE ON MY SIDE SO THERE HENRY. And I’m not going to lie, I kind of half-expected them to follow us outside after the show and start shit with me again, so I spent the rest of the show trying to put together some kind of game plan in my head, which was basically just COMING IN LIKE A WRECKING BALL.

And then running.

There were like six of them!

Well, four. Those vagina dancers were way too drunk to fight.

All I know is that I haven’t felt this way in a long time. Because I don’t know about you, but I try to live my life without getting stabbed or thrown in the slammer. 

*****

I was down about it all day yesterday at work. I only told Glenn, Todd, and Wendy because even just talking about it made me feel so shitty all over again. I’m so glad that these things happen so rarely, because I would probably never go to a show again.

When I saw Chooch after work, I asked him if he told his friends about going to see The Summer Set.

“No, not really,” he said, because his school friends just don’t relate to these things. “Well, I did tell them about how that one girl spilled her beer on my leg.”

UGH GREAT. MOTHER OF THE FUCKING YEAR.

Sep 132016
 

29429492136_c8986d328f_c

It was after 2pm by the time we were done being dummies at Vent Haven, which means we were precariously close to The Witching Bitching Hour, otherwise known as the hunger twilight, where Chooch and I morph from adorably angelic sweethearts into Regan and Damian in Warped Tour shirts.

Henry had approximately 37 minutes to find us a place to eat before the transformation was complete.

Back when Christina and I were friends, I used to visit her pretty frequently in Hamilton, OH, which is a few miles outside of Cincinnati. Since it was kind of on our way home, I suggested that we eat at Hyde’s, a family restaurant she took me to several times. I remembered liking the aesthetic and the pie, and was prepared to throw a fit if Henry said no, but then something miraculous happened:

Henry’s old SERVICE roommate Tim contacted him because he saw on Facebook that we were in the area! This put Henry in a great mood and he said YES to Hyde’s because now we needed to kill time in order for Tim to come out to meet us from wherever he lived in Indiana which is apparently close to Hamilton, who knew? (People who look at maps, I guess.)

Tim called Henry shortly after we arrived at a Hyde’s. Henry jumped out of the booth and went outside to answer it; I’ve never seen Henry run out of a restaurant that fast in my life, not even the time he dined and dashed at HOOTERS in 1992.

(Probably true?)

So then Mr. WE GOTTA GET HOME, NO MORE STOPPING! decided that after lunch, we would be meeting TIM at Jungle Jim’s!

29429494446_1b03e4e259_c

Holy shit, I was so so excited, I could barely eat. Just kidding, I almost accidentally ate my hand while shoving my grilled cheese into my gnashing maw.

We had a really colorful waitress too who made sure she told us how busy she was every time she swung by our table, and I really liked that Real Talk aspect. I want to believe that we were the only table she confided in. I kept hoping she would talk shit on her other tables to us but she never did.

She probably made fun of me to her other tables though after I was a total tourist and asked WTF “sarasotas” are.

Turns out they’re just homemade potato chips served with BBQ sauce.

“That Yinzer bitch over there asked what them sarasotas is, can you imagine,” she probably said to the table of old bitches who came in for pie.

Chooch of course substituted a basket of sarasotas for his fries and Henry was very perplexed by this.

“Why don’t they just call them homemade chips with BBQ sauce, I don’t undertand,” he said.

SO GIDDY.

One thing to note is that I honestly don’t recogize any of the scenery in Hamilton, for as many times as I have been there. Like, if you set me loose and said, “Find Christina’s old house or die” well I guess I’m dead. I don’t even remember the name of the street, and I used to mail her shit all of the time!

I think this is my mind’s way of protecting me, lol.

On the way there, Henry and Chooch argued over the fact that meth and methane aren’t the same.

So nothing about Jungle Jim’s was familiar to me but who cares because a REAL LIFE PIECE OF HENRY’S SERVICE PAST WAS THERE.

OMG you guys. My mind almost melted.

Chooch took these pictures because he’s my little spy in training.

Unfortunately, Tim and Henry talked about kind of boring things, mostly just catching each other up on their current lives. So Chooch and I were like, “Eh, screw this” and walked ahead of them, looking for the Romania aisle.

I never grocery shop, but Jungle Jim’s is huge and full of weird international goods and animatronics. It’s like Chuck E. Cheese for grocery shoppers. This is where I bought my first and only durian in 2004!

NEVER AGAIN!

The last time I was here was August of 2005, when I was about 65% sure I might be pregnant. There was a fortune teller thing there, so I inserted my quarter and asked, “Hey, am I pregnant? Because I mean, I just turned down ice cream in favor of mustard, so….”

I don’t remember when her prediction was, which shot out of a slot at me, but GUESS WHAT I was definitely pregnant. Technically, this was Chooch’s second time at Jungle Jim’s, I guess.

My favorite thing about Tim is that he chided Henry about not marrying me so TIM, YOU CAN STAY.

****

Here’s a quick Henry Interview!

What did you & Tim used to talk about at night when you were roommates? GIRL STUFF?

Henry: I don’t remember. It was 30 years ago. Literally, 30 years ago.

So, you and Tim lived together in that place in Indiana?

Henry: In the trailer? Yeah.

Did he know you were the town Eunuch?

Henry, sarcastically I think: Hahaha, oh my god, you’re hilarious.

Did he know you were obsessed with being Erik Estrada back then?

Henry: Just answer it yourself. I’m not answering that. You’re making shit up as always.

henryestrada

Hmm, I don’t know Henry. That picture tells a different story. Speaking of stories, I heard you and Tim talking about the time you drove some guy’s car into a ditch. Talk about that.

Henry: It was 1986 maybe? We had just gotten off work at 7:30 that morning and went to the bar. We (guys I worked with, there was maybe 4 or 5 of us) pretty much drank all day. I had to run home to get something* so I borrowed Joe’s car and when I got close to my house I turned the corner too sharp and went into a small ditch on the side of the road. I blew out the tire and bent the rim and then I parked it at my house, took my car back to the bar without telling him I did anything to his. He didn’t find out until the next day when he came to pick it up and he found out it was damaged so I had to pay for it.

*(Probz porn to trade.)

Good, that’s what happens WHEN YOU DRIVE DRUNK, ASSHOLE. Anyway, that was a boring story. Did you ever take a bullet for Tim?!

Henry, in an annoyed/laughing tone: No. Psh, take a bullet for Tim….

What is your most vivid memory of Tim? Was he in Panama with you?

Henry: He was always working on his car because it seemed to always be broken. I don’t remember, I don’t think so but I can’t be sure. It’s possible.

(WOW. SOME FRIENDSHIP.)

Was Tim with you when you went to see CHEAP TRICK in Texas?!

Henry, appalled at this question for some reason: No! That was when I was in training, when I just got out of basic. Tim didn’t come in until my last year maybe…

(So, right before he went AWOL.)

Henry just said he’s not going to divulge the contents of their Jungle Jim’s convo, so basically this was a huge waste of time.

****

Somewhere outside of Columbus, I was imitating Henry so intensely, that Chooch laughed so hard he pissed his pants, which just made Henry even angrier because now he was going to have to stop somewhere so Chooch could change.

“We’re never going to fucking get home. Thanks a lot, assholes,” Henry barked, which just made Chooch and me bust out our sides from all the laughter.

****

When Henry set the GPS that morning as we left our hotel in Louisville, it told us we’d be getting home sometime around 4.

We got home just shy of midnight.

Good god, that was a fun whirlwind trip to Kentucky.

 

Aug 232016
 

Bun had been haunting Gillcrest for the last 10 decades,

No one had bothered him, not even the wool-clad Mormon mission-maids.

But then one Tuesday a stranger arrived with a bag—

The new resident of Gillcrest, it was a horned stag!

Bun watched this scene unfold from a darkened upstairs window,

and wondered, “How in the hell can I chase off this bimbo?”

The new resident brought with him nine pounds of lunch meat in a chest,

three truckfuls of IKEA and paint swatches tucked near his breast.

His name was Bart and he was quick to make himself at home,

Tucking into bed with a trashy airport tome.

Bun waited for Bart to close his eyes for the night

Before pulling out a nightmarish delight.

A mannequin, green like slime and with nary an arm

Out from the closet to cause all sorts of harm.

When Bart arose the next morn’ with a stretch and a spit,

His heart skipped a beat at the sight of the broad’s plastic tit.

29062428162_f0d35fa91f_b

“I swear this tart wasn’t here when I turned off the light,”

He swiped at the beads of sweat along his lip, butt clenching in fright.

Bart fled from his room and sank down into a corner,

Wondering if he was dealing with the supernatural or a burglar.

28522040834_09e714dc05_c

Bart thought he heard some blips, some gurgles, and a bleet,

Coming from the basement far under his feet.

“That’s probably just the house groaning, or feral cats under the foundation, boning,”

Bart laughed nervously, thinking he might call his Mother for some chaperoning.

Oh, but it was Bun, partaking in his daily routine:

A rousing game of Pacman and a few swigs of hooch at 10:14.

Bun floated back upstairs just in time to hear Bart on the phone,

Talking to his mommy who made him feel a little less alone.

She said to vacate the spooks behind the peregrine doors,

“You need to redecorate, and make this house yours!”

Bart assessed his new home from a red corner chair,

and thought, “How can I change things up around here?

I’ll knock down this wall and tear up that shag carpet,

and turn that grand bathtub into a germ-filled ball pit.”

It was like reliving his midlife crisis of 1994,

Which came with a Porsche and an affair with a Gabor.

(Not Zsa Zsa.)

“He wants to put a ball pit right here in my loo?

I gotta get rid of him with something stronger than ‘boo.'”

Bun needed to sit down and have a good thought.

So he went and did just that on the master pot.

28525202373_bbbb503b6c_c

29066342421_1029a60921_b (1)

Bun considered going the poltergeist route,

Tossing around dishes, chucking an old rubber boot.

Not wanting to break his things, he went with something more malleable,

And summoned an army of one of each stuffed animal.

Teddy bears and puppies and some weird doll-thing,

Surged upon Bart, pinning him to the wall like one big butterfly wing.

 

“It was probably just a fluke, something-something about gravity,”

Bart’s mom sighed over top of her daytime TV.

“You know what you need, a good healthy lay.

Go call up Bernice from 1-900-PONYPLAY.”

hipstamaticphoto-493515343.005815

Bart knew she was right, some company would do him good,

So he tried to fix himself up, he did what he could.

He lubed up his horn and filled his satchel with smelling salts,

Then when downstairs to wait for Bernice and all of her faults.

(Daddy issues.)

After waiting in his chair for more than an hour,

Bart thought he saw something, a figure the trees tried to devour.

“Is that Bernice?” Bart thought, bringing his binoculars  up to his eyes,

(He always kept them handy in case a neighbor bared their thighs.)

But what he saw didn’t resemble a hag rode hard and put away wet,

No, this looked more like…somebody’s Easter pet.

29143889055_180617e7d9_b (1)

29110876606_ec5181610a_c

And what was that, just behind the bunny and to the left?

A head in a ditch, the chin had a cleft.

Was that Bernice, beheaded by this cuniculus killer

But Bart rubbed his eyes, and the bunny was gone, nothing out there but filler.

29110896966_689a0ec286_b

Bun came back into the house and changed his clothes,

Killing that stripper bitch left him bloody and anxious for her to decompose.

Bun knew that if he played his cards just right,

He’d have his estate back by the end of third night.

Just a few more moves left in this game by his pawn

Before Bart would be shitting his pants on the front lawn.

 

Bun spent time in the game room with his clown crew

While elsewhere in the house, Bart’s paranoia grew.

Was this some real life Amityville Horror ghost attack,

Or just another Vietnam acid flashback?

The bedside phone rang on Bart’s third night,

Not once but thrice, the trill giving his  faint heart a bite.

The first two calls were white noise, static silence,

Not even the slightest semblance of a sentence.

28546480414_6f6d035742_c

But the third call exploded with the angry bellow of Bun:

“Bitch you’re in my house, best run motherfucker, run!”
29062218372_668bdd79f2_c

 

That was enough to get Bart to peace the fuck out, see,

So he called up a ride from the Teenage Hooker taxi company.

He waited and waited by the window, so harried and eager,

His hooves percussing the floor to the beat of Bob Seger.

“A real man would have lasted more than one day times three,”

He could already hear his mother say in between sips of her tea.

But mother can suck a dick, Bart thought as he ran out of the door,

To jump in the back of the cab driven by a whore.

(Out of Uber territory.)

Bun rejoiced on the deck beneath the sun’s bright rays.

“I got my house back and I have lunch meat for days!”

*****************************************************************

Aug 192016
 

I’m so mad about this that now I can’t sleep so I woke Henry up to yell at him about it and he’s like “ok wow” & is sleeping again already while my eyelids are being propped open by STICKS OF RAGE. I’M GOING TO WRITE A LETTER.

What makes me feel even more sad for humanity is that if you replaced the Victorian aspect with  “for arriving with their same-sex partner” or “for looking Muslim,” it would seem almost less shocking because we’re “used” to hearing about that type of discrimination and that’s just fucked up that this is where we are as a society. (This is not to say that being “used” to those types of headlines evokes any less anger because BELIEVE ME BROTHER, it doesn’t.) Life is too short to make people feel like shit for being themselves. I hate that it’s 2016 and this is a real thing that happened. Seems so dumb. Everything is so dumb. 

These people are beautiful and they can come to my garden any day, but just please call first so I can make a garden real quick out of paper plates, construction paper, and Henry’s underwear.   

Sorry for THREE POSTS IN A DAY, what is this–LiveJournal? No, this is mania. 

Mar 152016
 

 Alternately titled: Another Dumb Idea!
Last week when I was meandering about town during my lunch break, I kept pausing to either tweet or text Henry about all the perils in my path. You know, like Planned Parenthood protestors, city school kids, an errant paper bag skipping across the pavement. (I COULD TRIP!)

And it made me think about how much more fun it would be to SEND A POSTCARD instead of these electronic means of communication. Like my lunch break is a vacation and oh motherfucker, do I wish you were here. 

Perks: 

-snail mail is never a bad thing and gives the mailman something to read other than Pennysavers and campaign mailings. 

-I love handwriting things and it will give me something other than my name to scribble over and over again at my desk. And let’s be real, I don’t have the time/attention span to write full blown letters. 

-I’ll have something to give Last Mail!

-WHAT A PERSONAL WAY TO STAY IN TOUCH!

If I have your address, don’t be surprised if you get some weird sketch of the Stalker of the Day (I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE SOMEBODY’S WATCHING MEEEE) or a poem about the trash in the river. 

And if I don’t have your address and you want to get a random post card, email me! Butgavincantdance@gmail.com

I’ll probably also send them to random addresses as well because that’s not creepy it’s sweet. 

I’d like to send one a day and I’ll start as soon as Henrh buys me stamps, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. #HenryProblems

And if you wanna send one back from your own lunch break, PLEASE DO! Postcard frenzy!!

Feb 052016
 

You already know that I’m a horrible mom. I mean, psychologically horrible. I can’t help it! I live and breathe to punk people and no one is easier and more fulfilling to punk than my own kid. And believe me, he gives it back to me! It’s like our thing. We love to fuck with each other.

Off and on over the years, I’ve made loose comments about the man who lives in the attic. The steps to the attic can only be accessed from Chooch’s room, so it’s my way of nudging him down Night Terrors Alley. He’s always just like, “YEAH OK MOMMY” and then we all laugh and go about our day. But lately, it’s been heating up. My response to almost everything has been “manintheattic” and Henry gives me a disappointed look. Like when Chooch had a fever last week and woke up in the middle of night and dressed himself. He was horrified when he woke up because he never goes to bed with a shirt on.

“And now I have on TWO t-shirts?!” he cried, like call up Scully and Mulder, quick.

“Manintheattic,” I half-coughed. “Sometimes he dresses you during the night. You’re like his living baby doll.”

“YEAH RIGHT!” Chooch scoffed, but I could see that there was a tiny glimmer of doubt in his eyes.

The next night, as we all in our respective bedrooms for the night, Chooch made a fake phone number using one of those free text apps and started prank-calling me. I stupidly fell for it too, and I got so nervous when I saw a call coming in from someone with our area code BECAUSE WHO COULD IT BE, WHAT DID I DO NOW!? Then I realized it was the idiot in the next room over. So I made one too and said, “Be quiet down there, I’m trying to sleep.” And then “Good night.”

“You’re a dick,” Henry mumbled into his pillow when I giddily showed him my work.

The other day at work, I decided to create an Instagram account for The Man In the Attic.

Because these are things normal moms do.

img_1593-2

Step 1: Find a good snap of Gary Busey’s mug to use as my user pic.

Step 2: Follow Chooch.

Step 3: Comment on Chooch’s most recent video of the kittens.

“You need to put them in the basement while you’re at school. They’re very disruptive during the day.”

Step 4: Post pictures.

img_1574-2

img_1577-2

I was crying at my desk over this while several of my co-workers clucked their tongues and made various remarks about Chooch’s future therapy bill.

“He does it to me, too!” I yelled in defense.

Glenn just shook his head at me and Todd struggled to wrap his head around how anyone thought it would be a good idea to have a child with me.

“My mom used to do this shit to me all the time when I was kid,” I explained during one of our daily “Dissecting Erin’s Childhood” conversations at work.

“Oh,” Todd said, attempting to understand how this was normal.

“I don’t talk  to her anymore, though,” I added as an after thought, and then we all started to laugh, because: family.

“I’m going to pay someone to hide in the attic one night,” I said, and everyone groaned.

***

After work, Henry dropped Chooch off downtown because he and I were going to the Pens game. First, we went to get dinner. Over pizza, Chooch learned of the Man In the Attic’s Instagram account.

At first he was like, “Wait. What. How.” But then his brain kicked on and he said, “Yeah OK, I know this is you.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Let me see that. Oh my god, this is so creepy!” I exclaimed, scrolling through Instagram on Chooch’s phone.

“Whatever, I know it’s you.”

I kept denying it over and over, and then we went to the game, where me made jokes about how Henry was home alone with the Man In the Attic. I thought everything was good. He knew I made the Instagram account and was able to find some humor in it, life goes on, Pens win, etc etc.

But later that night, after we came home from the game and Henry retired to bed after a long night of staying home doing nothing while Chooch and I screamed our faces off at Consol, Chooch brought up the Instagram account.

“Honestly, this is you, right?”

I couldn’t believe this was coming up again because I was certain he knew it was me. I mean, Chooch is a pretty bright kid!

But the sinister side of me saw this as an opportunity to continue the fun, so I denied it. Over and over and over.

“Chooch, like I have time to do shit like that at work, really!” I said with faux-annoyance.

(LOL, this was the biggest lie I’ve ever told.)

Suddenly, we had a replay of the Doll Episode. He was pissed, and he was also tired: A deadly combination.

He got so angry because I wouldn’t admit to it, that he started sobbing. Like, hands covering his face, body-convulsing sobs.

Since he’s my son, I initially couldn’t tell if he was faking it or not.

Turns out, nope. Thems some real optic-wets right there.

So of course I dropped the gag and hugged him, swearing it was me and apologizing profusely, but he shrugged away from me and shut himself in the kitchen.

When he came out, he spat, “DELETE IT. DELETE THE ACCOUNT.”

I promised I would, and then he retreated up the steps to his bedroom, sniffling and wiping tears with the back of his hand.

I felt like a complete asshole.

“Good for you!” Henry spat with disappointment when I went up to bed later and filled him in. “I’m glad we spent all that money on his new bed, because you’re the one who’s going to be sleeping in it!”

***

The next morning, Chooch was still bitter, but by the time I came home from a day of being scolded for being a terrible mom by my co-workers, Chooch had cooled down. I honestly think that the biggest issue here is that he hates it when I prank him better than he pranks me. But I’m happy to report that Chooch has now accept The Man In the Attic as a part of this household and has even added my newly-created phone number to his contacts as Manin Theattic. One day, we will laugh heartily about this over Christmas picnic in the cemetery with his children. I just can’t help it—I was born with a very dominant Prankster gene. (Or as some might argue—a Bully gene.)

The funniest part about all of this is that I’m the one who’s actually terrified of the attic.

Jan 172016
 

Chooch and I went geocaching last weekend and we are now, together, co-blogging about it. I’m not writing this with my hyperbolic plume either. This experience was particularly blood-boiling, and I have an extremely low boiling point to begin with.

Short-fused. 

Tightly-wound.

Hot-headed.

I’m all of these things. 

Hey its yo boy Chooch, I’m gonna tell you a little things about Geocaching. K, First things first, I learned about Geocaching in school in a book. Geocaching is basically a High-Tech Treasure Hunt Game where you get the app or go on a computer and look for a Gray, Blue, Orange, Light Green, or Dark Green dot and you click on it. It will tell you what the coords are and you just go look for it.

Erin here: I thought he learned about it from YouTube, so I am currently pleasantly surprised.

So I thought there wasn’t much to do, I thought me and mommy could go Geocaching. Daddy didn’t think it would go well, but I did. He said we would kill each other cause’ we’re so competitive. So we went on a Saturday and went to South Park. Because usually there is a lot of Geocaches in the park. As soon as we got there mommy flipped out. Two minutes in she just wanted to go home. I was in the wrong area the whole time.

Erin here: Geocaching with Chooch is terrible because he thinks he knows but HE DOES NOT KNOW. He took us to some area that had an older man like, DIGGING something or someone in the woods and we had to walk near him. That was incredibly unpleasant. Chooch was putzing around with the app and I kept screaming, “AREN’T THERE COORDINATES?! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHERE TO LOOK?!?!” and we were literally just standing there, walking in tiny circles, staring at the ground and toeing rocks. Chooch isn’t wrong — two minutes in, I completely flipped my lid and screamed (and I mean BELLOWED), “This is fucking ridiculous! I am going THE FUCK HOME!” Volaries of birds burst out of a nearby tree. The man with the shovel was like “…the fuck is that lady’s problem?” and according to Chooch, everybody hated me when this happened.

“Everybody.”

We were in the fucking park in January! There were not many people around!

Except for a biker who said hello to me RIGHT AFTER MY OUTBURST and because I’m a fucking psychopath, I switched on Sweet Erin and jovially bid him a fine afternoon in the fakest fucking baby voice I could muster.

OH, SUCH DEMURE.

Back to Unicorn Chooch: After looking for like… 7 mins or so I was just looking through rocks, and I saw some weird looking rock. I felt the bottom and it was flat. I turned it over and it was a sliding rock cache. I found the cache. We put some inappropriate mommy cards* in there. I mean like the cards she makes. I was so happy. But… I forgot to bring a pen to sign it. So I made mummy go check the car for a pen. No luck.

Me again: When I went to the car, some dumb elderly couple cheerfully said hello to me, as they were getting their idiot bikes out of their minivan. I said, “HI-YEEEEE!” in return and they kind of stepped back a little because I guess I sounded like I was being an asshole. BECAUSE I WAS.

*And he’s talking about my Totally Awesome Blog Cards, thanks!

I just put a card in and went on the app and said I found it. I wrote “Took forever I thought me and my mom would kill each other! My god”

So then mommy wanted to go home but I told her there’s one 0.3 miles away. We walked down a muddy trail next to a golf course. There was a tree tipped over so it was like a tunnel. I wasn’t going off trail I was totes on trail. We got to some torn down outhouse because I thought it was right there but nope. Farther down by a log. I was getting stabbed in the leg by tons of thorns almost dying. Then I tried to climb over a log but fell. I could’ve died. Mummy couldn’t see because she was in some crack. Lol sounds weird.

Me, with anguish: Hello, it was a GORGE and I was trapped in it, OK?

Erin’s turn: Chooch had us going totally off-trail and it was getting late in the afternoon. I felt like I was on some Blair Witch expedition and bitch, I wasn’t dying for no fucking Tupperware container in the woods. And then we get to these decrepit outhouse ruins and I thought for sure we were going to perish. I kept having future visions of tumbling into that hole and getting dragged down into Hell. Because that would be my luck.

So Henry and I used to occasionally go letterboxing back in the day, which was like the pioneer version of geocaching in that it didn’t give you GPS coordinates and you had to rely on good old-fashioned directions to find your booty. Like, turn right by the crushed Michelobe Lite can. The problem with this though is that most of the time, that fucking beer can wasn’t there anymore, you know? However, with this particular cache we were looking for, it said that it was near “an old source of water.” For some reason, Chooch felt that this meant “look for an ancient outhouse and try not to get murdered.”

Spoiler alert: it was not anywhere near the outhouse. Chooch fucking left me there and started scaling some mountain to get back to the trail that we had long-since abandoned and here’s something to add to the Erin Fact Book: I tend to get crippled with fear anytime I’m faced with walking down a steep hill. So it took a good five minutes of me standing millions of yards away from Chooch, screaming, “I CAN’T DO IT! I’M SCARED! WHY ARE YOU LEAVING ME!?” before I finally ran at full speed down the hill and then let momentum carry me up the other side of the “crack” as Chooch effectively called it.

I was rewarded by finding the stupid cache literally as soon as I joined Chooch on the other side. I stubbornly spat, “The clue said that it’s by an old source of water and I don’t see AN OLD SOURCE OF WATER” and then a split second later, I said, “Oh, right there” and pointed to a rusty water pump a few feet away.

And let me tell you, all of my homicidal rage completely evaporated and I was suddenly a completely different broad, jumping up and down and screaming, “Yay geocaching!”

So Chooch, back from playing GTA-V: We opened up the cache and put a card in. I took tw bouncy balls and a picture of a cat. I replaced it with the card.

We saw there was a bridge on the way back to the car we completely missed. I walked up really easily but on the way back down mommy cried for help and I was so disappointed in her. I thought she could do it until I told just to jump and she whined even more. Eventually like 24hours later she jumped.

Erin, Terrified of Heights: I WAS HIGH UP THERE, OK!? And I didn’t jump down. I cautiously and slowly scooted down. Anyway, it’s amazing how much my attitude changed after winning at geocaching. I practically skipped the whole way back to the car with a crown of blue birds swirling around my dome. Also, I was completely shocked at how calm and patient Chooch was during our trying times. He never gave up! So there’s one quality he didn’t get from me: the endurance of a champion quitter.

Bootiful horse ass! So cute with the tail and riders! I was like neigh and they were like moo! Then I just started singing The Killers.

That was a fun day maybe we can do it again!

Me: Probably not. Except for right now, since this was how I got Chooch to write on here. Fuck.

Dec 242015
 

At the last minute Monday morning, I bought a ticket to see Polyphia that night at the Smiling Moose. I saw them last year when they opened for Dance Gavin Dance and my heart immediately opened for them. I was never a big fan of prog, but I guess people change. People usually tell me I’m way off base when I make musical comparisons, but maybe my mind is just DIFFERENT ok? So if you asked me, I would tell you that Polyphia reminds me of the grandchildren of Chuck Mangione and Eric Johnson. Do with that what you will.

I’m still picky with this genre though. For instance, we saw Chon—another instrumental band in the same vein and they are actually taking Polyphia on tour with them next year—and while they were audibly pleasant, I was kind of bored.

Polyphia, however, did not bore me when I saw them last year.

Henry likes neither Chon not Polyphia, so this was another solo show for your girl ERK.

When I got to the Smiling Moose after work that night, there were strange vibes from the get-go. I wasn’t drinking that night because I really don’t want to rely on alcohol to help me get past my social anxiety, so that made it even worse because instead of killing time at the bar, I went right on upstairs where Save Us From the Archon were setting up and several small clusters of people were hanging out. Everyone always stops and stares at the girl who walks in alone.

Every time.

And it will never stop being incredibly uncomfortable for me. But…it’s either deal with it or miss a lot of great bands.

It got easier once more people arrived. Like this super tall guy who definitely commanded everyone’s attention so that I could go back to being a wallflower.

I thought he was going to stand in front of me the whole time, but was pleasantly surprised that he had enough concert couth to reposition himself in this one wall pocket near the side of the stage. Hats off to you, guy.

Once SUFTA started playing, my nerves were effectively shushed. This was my third time seeing them, and since they’re a local band, they typically inspire a lot of enthusiasm from the audience. I was really into it until halfway through when these two motherfuckers arrived and stood right in front of me. Look, I get it — these things are bound to happen, but they stood so close in front of me that my breath was making the fuzz sway on the back on the one guy’s peacoat.

And there were plenty of other open areas they could have stood.

AND THEN THEY TALKED THROUGH THE WHOLE THING.

They moved all the way up to the front after SUFTA. They were apparently friends with them and probably thought they were so badass coming to a show straight from their accounting jobs. Fuck those guys.

Whatever, SUFTA was insane as always and made my brain move around like a Rubik’s cube so I can’t be too mad.

In between sets, more people showed up and the front of the stage began to get more crowded. I watched as two docile, unassuming types took stage and got behind their respective drums and guitar.

“Hi guys,” said the guitarist in a fumbly kind of tone. “Our singer couldn’t make it tonight so um, we’re just going to an instrumental set for you.”

To myself, I’m thinking that this makes sense, given SUFTA and Polyphia are both instrumental. So the two guys start playing and it’s admittedly pretty heavy. I mean, my face wasn’t being melted off, but it was definitely more metal than the other bands.

Things were progressing nicely, people were moving around a bit, and then the breakdowns started.

This “oh shit” feeling come over me as the air in the room became pregnant with palpable doom. Amid the rustling in the crowd, I watched as a guy at the front of the stage turned around and charged right at me. “Fuck,” I sighed, bracing myself. But right before impact, he switched directions as though ricocheting off something invisible, and slammed into some guy who was big enough to absorb it without breaking a bone. And thus, the hardcore dancing started.

Moshing doesn’t bother me, but hardcore dancing is fucking obnoxious and dangerous. The Smiling Moose is extremely small, capacity is maybe 150? I’m no capacity expert, so that’s probably way off, but it is approximately the size of my downstairs. The room is as wide as the stage, which isn’t very wide at all. I always stand in the same spot at these shows — right near the front and against a wall. There was a line of us against this wall with no body-buffer on the other side of us. It was the wall, us, and then a bit of an empty space which is where all of the violent dance-spasms were performed.

This is all to say that I had nowhere to go and no one to shield me from the flailing limbs and flying fists.

“I DON’T WANT TO DIE LIKE THIS!” I cried to myself, determined not to let them smell my fear. For the most part, these bros were doing an OK job of not body-slamming me, but there were quite a few sweaty backs I had to forcefully push back into the crowd, a couple of which knocked me off balance but  my friend Wall caught me every time. The kid behind me, bless his heart, protectively placed his hands on my arm a few time, like that was going to do anything to help. I probably would have been better off if Chooch had been behind me!

This went on in spurts. I watched as one of them grabbed the small, young guy in front of me and tossed him onto the floor and that poor guy had a very strong “ANTI-BRUTALITY” aura about him so I felt pretty bad for him. No actual fights broke out at least, even though there were some tense moments when I wasn’t sure. But it would always end with jovial back-slaps and smiles and I just don’t get it, guys.

To each their own, but trying to not break a bone is not my idea of enjoying myself at a show.

For the last song, they called up “Dave” who was going to “help out” on vocals for the set-closer. Dave hadn’t even grabbed the mic yet and I was already gulping. If I had done my due diligence, I would have known that this was a local hardcore metal band called Delusions of Grandeur and I would have known to get in the back, maybe even all the way back to the bathroom, in a stall, crouched down with my head covered.

As soon as Dave emitted his first caterwaul, the meatheads got all riled up again and my “protector” declared that he was about to go fullblown windmill on this one.

And so he did.

And I had nowhere to go.

So I stood my ground, dodging fists and shoving bodies off of me, and then I got punched pretty hard in the arm and thought, “DO NOT CRY! DO NOT CRY! DON’T YOU DARE CRY!” So then I turned my fear into anger and stood my ground, prepared to throw down (I HAVE A TEMPER AND HIDDEN MUSCLES, OK?) while thinking, “I AM TOO OLD FOR THIS!” just as some bald-headed aging hardcore kid came rushing toward the stage from the back and added his own brand of nosebleed-waiting-to-happen dance moved. And this guy was easily Henry’s age.

But I did it! I endured their set without getting slaughtered and no one pulled my hair, which probably actually would have made me cry.

I hate having my hair pulled.

Just don’t touch my hair ever.

I briefly exchanged words with the drummer afterward as he was trying to push all of their gear into one of the wall pockets and I just couldn’t get over how this fucking nerdy little guy was in a band that incited such terror and aggression.

And then, for whatever reason, Polyphia ended up playing next, swapping spots with the fourth band in the line up and I had no problem with this, because my night was essentially done after being pummeled by flying flesh bags.

But Polyphia’s set was peaceful, beautiful, and worth the danger. I was glad that I fought to keep my spot because they are majestic to watch.

This guy especially:

I can’t remember the last time I saw such a perfect human being in person, but his face literally took my breath my away and I AM NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL. He was like some kind of angel and I had to keep rolling my tongue back into my mouth.

Peril aside, I left there loving Polyphia even more. There set was really short, adding to the weird vibes theme of the night. Everything about this night was off! But there was peace for Polyphia’s set and my adrenaline had finally reached A Normal Day levels by the time I left The Smiling Moose. And by “left,” I mean “pushed people out of my way, tried not to fall down the steps, and then burst through the door to reach that place where I was no longer surrounded by assholes.”

“There goes one of my assailants,” I texted Henry while waiting on a side street for him to pick me up. When I got in the car, smudged mascara and hair askew, Henry and Chooch just rolled their eyes at me. I felt like a new person.

A person who had just been picked up FROM PRISON.

***

The next day, I was telling my work friends about the night’s events which had turned into “I had to push some people off me and I got punched” to “I ALMOST DIED YOU GUYS!” Then we all watched this video together and Amber2 delightfully read out loud a sampling of the lyrics.

“Maybe it’s time for you to hang it up,” Glenn mumbled.

“YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH!” I cried.

At first, I was like, “I like heavy shit but this just isn’t for me.” But the more I watch this video, the more I actually like it. Just next time, I’ll stand far away. Or outside. Someone can Periscope that shit for me.