Feb 012018
 

Here are some things that I’m currently super into, aside from photobombing 75% of my own pictures with my dumb hand.

  1. Trying to poison my work friends

I bought these “brown sugar flavor” rice crackers at the Asian market last weekend because that box is cute AF. I tried to tempt Lori with one, but she was all, “EW THESE ARE OUT OF DATE!” and I was like, “Oh shit, you’re right” and then I blamed Henry because he’s the one who usually checks for that shit at the store. I was going to throw them away but Glenn was like, “DON’T THROW THEM AWAY. THEY’RE FINE” and Lauren was like, “maybe just put a disclaimer on  them like you did with the [red bean White Rabbits].” I was going to do that but I forgot and then people started taking them on their own and by that point I felt like I was in too deep in my web of lies, so I just LET IT HAPPEN. No one has died yet. I did tell Lloyd that they were out of date and he said, “Well in that case, I’m taking two.” So then it turned into this weird carnival of people who wanted to eat the expired rice crackers, like it was a dare or something. And Glenn even admitted that he liked them. Not that they were “ok” or “not bad,” but that he genuinely liked them! It was still really funny though when Lori pointed out because I got all defensive and yelled, “NOVEMBER WAS NOT THAT LONG AGO!” and “I mean, it’s not like it’s MILK!” Oh, Asian snacks. You make the workplace so much fun!

P.S. Don’t let those bars of chocolate on the box fool you — there is no chocolate in these rice crackers.

2. Etude House Dear Darling Tint

So I kept putting this off and putting this off, but then I got an Amazon gift card from work for Christmas so I decided to finally buy some of this lip gloss I’d been wanting to try for awhile. It came from Korea so of course it took for-fucking-ever and I only just got it yesterday. Worth it. It’s so light and has a subtle grape taste! I love it and am going to buy so many more when I’m there next month. Here I am wearing it. I do not know how to model lipgloss.

3. Sharing old diaries and blog posts with Chooch

I was cleaning out my closet (LOL not really but sort of) and found my very first DIARY, which I have probably already shared on here before but it fucking cracks me up every time I read it (there are only three pages so it’s not like I have to carve out much time for that) because I am still basically eight years old. I let Chooch read it and he was obsessed and then was like, “THAT’S IT!? WHY DIDN’T YOU WRITE MORE?!” Now that he’s older, I’m having fun showing him some of my blog posts about him too, like this one I stumbled upon the other day from when he was sick in 2011. And then he’s all, “OMG was I really like that?” and then we get to have a real bonding moment all because I plastered his entire childhood all over the Internet.

4. Turning Henry into a fan boy

For Christmas, Henry got me a gift certificate for Choice Music (it’s all kpop). In a highly unusual and selfless move, I bought him something as well — the above standing Jimin doll so that we can be matching because I have the G-Dragon set. Jimin if you remember is the BTS bias I chose for Henry and he gets really flustered about it probably because it’s true. I couldn’t wait to show him this little gift, but when I gave it to him, he was like, “Are you fucking serious” and I was like, “You have to take it to work and keep Jimin on your desk!” but he said, “NO.” Ugh! Of course Chooch was like, “i’ll have it” though. Also, I should note that I only bought this because I was almost to my gift certificate limit and was trying to find something cheap.

I’ll tell you what though, Henry is totally a K-Drama whore though. I think Park Bo Young is his drama bias. I can’t start anything new without him appearing out of nowhere and asking, “WHICH ONE ARE YOU WATCHING NOW.” Sigh.

Just kidding it’s awesome and I love it.

5. Slangin’ my greeting cards!

You guys this has been the Valentine season we’ve ever had, to the point where we almost can’t keep up with sales. We keep our inventory low because it’s time-consuming to print and assemble the cards only to have them sit on a shelf for a year because no one buys it – even when we’ve analyzed our sales and determined what are heavy-hitters are, printing those in advance is a sure-fire to jinx sales. What this means is that most of our cards are made to order — it’s just more price-efficient for us that way. But those little sets that I made this year have been a hot commodity! So I think that once V-Day is over, we will try to slowly build up some inventory for those at least. I have been loving this though – these cards are my babies, and it just makes me so happy that there are people out there who like them, and a lot of them are repeat customers too!

This has also been keeping me busy and distracted so that I’m not flipping out or succumbing to depression or having a fit about the wind blowing the wrong way — you just don’t know with me. I’ve been pretty difficult to be around lately. Anyway, what this means is that my brain has just wanted to create create create so I’m also working on a Golden Girls line of Valentines! I’ll do a full post on those this weekend, but I’m pretty excited about them.

6. My K-Kountdown Kalendar!

After some of my coworkers found out about my upcoming trip, they started to question if there was going to be a countdown calendar like the one Lori made me for the G-Dragon concert. When my SHINee Season’s Greeting set came a few weeks ago, I realized that the poster-sized monthly calendars could be perfect for this cause. February 1st seemed like a good time to start, so I brought in the February (Onew!) and March (Jonghyun, RIP) posters, taped them up  to the side of my cubical wall thing, and then made an airplane.

Chris is really blessed that his office door is right in front of this so he gets to see these beautiful faces every time he emerges.

LOL my dumb face. Amber was like, “Aren’t you going to put Henry and Chooch on it too” and I was like THIS IS NOT ABOUT THEM THIS IS ABOUT ME, a la 1988 Diary-Writing Erin.

The only downside to this is that there are some people here who didn’t previously know about this so the calendar unlocked Pandora’s Box and people had questions. Which is great but I have been trying to not be super-annoying about this for the sake of those who sit near me, but it’s hard for me to not be like, “OMG OMG OMG” especially when people are asking me about it! I had hoped to get through the whole day without hearing this, but eventually there was that one HILARIOUS “hopefully it’s still by then” comment. It’s whatever though. Traveling anywhere is a risk. Walking out the front door is a risk.

7. Poet/Artist

My Jonghyun preorder arrived today. I am obsessed with this album, especially the song “Take the Dive.” It’s so bittersweet that he didn’t stay with us long enough to enjoy the success of this release because it really feels like a masterpiece. :(

OK well, I had leftover kimchi bokkeumbap for dinner and now I need to put my head down or go for a walk, I haven’t decided which.

Dec 242017
 

“The holidays” are very scary and vulnerable times for me & I often think back to when I lived alone and realize that it’s a miracle I made it through. Not being dramatic here, but painfully real and honest because the last few months have stirred something in me and I’m just done with being a pretender. I used to be so open on here and with everyone who knew me, and all that caused was me losing friend after friend because no one can handle it. (Can someone give Janna an award for sticking around since we were in 6th grade? This girl has seen me at my fucking worst, has been in the hospital with me, and has watched sadly as I made jokes about the bite marks I gave myself in a fit of hysteria.) Honestly, I am so fucking fake and I am just exhausted with living every single day like I’m in some never-ending poorly-scripted high school play. My social anxiety is sky-high and this is always the time of year when people want to put me in rooms with strangers. And not even strangers — at work last week, we had a little holiday cocktail thing, just for our department. A small department full of people who I get along well with, some of them I’ve known for 7 years at this point, but the thought of being in an open corridor with all of them at once made my heart race. I ran in and grabbed a drink before it got crowded and then motherfucking ghosted. I probably look like a huge stuck-up bitch, but I just can’t handle it like a normal person. I literally do not know how to mingle anymore so please don’t put me in a crowded room, I beg you.

The holidays still are hard for me to get through but now I have A HenryTM to babysit me. I had another very ugly cry and rant session with him last night and the one thing that I took away from it, that I said over and over to Henry, is “I don’t WANT to feel like this.” So today I am going to try to fixate on the good things, because I can’t change who I am, at least not at the moment, and I can’t go back in time and stop tragedies from happening. And I’m going to tell myself what I know Henry has been biting his tongue to prevent from saying, but I have GOT to move past this. And no one is going to make that happen but me, which is 100% something I’ve learned after living with this for 30+ years.

“This.”

I’m not blind to why Jonghyun’s death has triggered me so much. It’s because this could have been me hundreds of different times over my life. It has stopped me cold in my tracks, made me reevaluate my life, what I want from my future, what I have learned from my past. Yes, it’s fucking fall-to-your-knees sad and tragic and I have cried an embarrassing amount of times over it, because it has affected me in some way that only I can understand. So please fuck right off with that “you didn’t even know him” bullshit line. How many times did he tell himself, “Just hang on for one more day, stay here for your family, think of your friends” before that pep talk just didn’t cut it anymore? How much worse than this does it need to get before you’re not scared to let go anymore? I think about this and feel so frantic.

The irony of this all is not lost on me, how something that was able to lift me up after a traumatic 2016 has managed to do a complete 180 and make me feel so sad and despondent a year later. Life is SO FUCKING FUNNY like that.

I’m going to try to be more open, even if it means possibly losing friends, because that is what always happens. It’s just hard when I’m crying at work and someone is like, “What’s wrong?” and it’s just literally me feeling sad for no reason that makes sense to anyone so then I’m just like, “I don’t know. I don’t know what’s wrong. Everything in my life is wonderful but I’m just sad.” And truly, everything in my life is wonderful. I have a great, supportive family; I have a good job working with people I genuinely like; I’m physically well; I have amazing friends who check in with me and are so much to be around; and I do a lot of really fun things. But then these feelings come back and overshadow all the good and all I can see is the bad, the negative, the morbid. I used to be so honest about these issues on here, and I would get messages from strangers telling me that it helped them to know they weren’t alone, that they could relate. I want to do that again, instead of hiding who I am out of embarrassment or fear because this blog is less anonymous now than it was then. If me laying out my demented mind and putting my fragile guts on display can stop just one person from succumbing to utter despair and hopelessness, then the pain it took for me to write this is worth it.

To try to give myself closure in order to work toward getting myself better, I went full-blown Girl Scout craft-mode last night, because sometimes I just need to be a kid gluing stuff to a thing in order to nudge the grieving process along. So I made this flower frame, which is now hanging in my room, as a reminder to keep getting out of bed and to keep living with the belief that the next day will be better.

It gets better. And if it doesn’t, I guess I will have to try harder to make it.

Apr 062016
 

Lately I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve changed since I was in my 20s. Back then, any little thing that went wrong in my life felt like the fucking sky was falling on me. Don’t get me wrong though: lately my answer to “How are you?” is a very succinct SHITTY.

The only way I survive is to constantly remind myself that in the midst of all the muck and mess, there are still things to be happy about. We can’t always be in a great mood, or dodge drama, but we can always try to have some things on the periphery that help keep us afloat. You know? Should I write that self-book help or naw?

Anyway, here are my current life rafts, if you will.

  1. ICE CREAM DATES WITH GOOD PEOPLE

We met up with Chris and Monica last week for some Sarris sundaes. That was my dinner, and I was OK with it. Of course, Chooch and I didn’t even close to finishing our sundaes, so Henry had to eat them. Monica said, “I don’t even know why you bother ordering anything for yourself, Henry” and he just sighed. This is your life, Henry; just accept it. Some of Chris’s family was also there; Chronica said they were shocked at how well-behaved they were being and then Monica deduced it must have been because they hate Henry. I agreed! Henry looks so mean when you don’t know him.

Chooch’s favorite part was when he “finally” got to have his picture taken with this stuffed bear.

MORE ICE CREAM SOON, YOU GUYS!

2. NEW THREADS FOR TRUDY

Some broad was selling this vintage clown vest on Instagram and I was so sad when she described it as being perfect for a child, because I was hoping to wear this to work and just slowly walk back and forth past Wendy’s office because she loves clowns so much. But then I was like, “Duh, this would probably fit Trudy. Her boobs aren’t that big!” And that is how Trudy went from nude to dude nice clown vest.

3. CAT COUCH

Every single time Henry sits down…

4. GIGGLING OVER REPUBLICAN MEETINGS AT ITALIAN RESTAURANTS

Henry was all, “It’s really not that funny” but I was crying into my rigatoni, that’s how hard I was laughing.

5. GETTING STOKED ON WARPED TOUR!

The line-up was announced two weeks ago and I AM READY FOR JULY. Here’s a picture of Chooch checking out the line-up, and can I just say I love that I have a kid who “checks out line-ups”?! (Emarosa FTW, though. So glad they’re back again!)

6. BRINGING HOME PIECES OF THE BELOVED CLOWN ROOM

One day, I will have my own space to keep alive the spirit of my grandma’s clown room. There is such a big chunk of my heart ground into that room. Instead of being sad, I am pretending that this Red Skelton painting is something of a portal to my childhood, back when I used to sit on the floor of the clown room, listening to Frank Zappa records. Is it any wonder I am the way I am?

And also this beauty that my grandma promised me I could have, and now here it is, and I don’t know how to feel really, but in the spirit of this HAPPY BLOG POST, we’ll go with HAPPY:

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Henry has to re-wire it before we can hang it in our bedroom.

7. INSPO FOR MY NEXT PARTY, LOL

Get stoked, Henry. Also, get some joint cream, because you’ve got lots of food-carving to do.

8. NEW COFFEE FLAVORS

In an effort to be normal, I went to Nicholas on my break to restock my coffee supply. The orange is way orangier than I imagined and I love it so hard. The Rainforest Crunch is OK.  Someone is getting an Erin’s Lunch Break post card about this. (Also, whoever sent me the postcard with the Pee Wee/Texas reference, THANK YOU! Totally made my day!)

Other than that, I’m wearing my tunnel vision glasses, relying on humor, exploring the past, and doing LOTS of emphatic screaming while watching Pens games. We’re going on vacation at the end of the month and lord knows I need it.

 

Mar 172016
 

Chooch gave me back my blog for a second so here’s a quick post before he takes over again with his STORY THAT HAS NO END IN SIGHT. Just kidding, Chooch. Keep writing, bro. I mean, son.

  • HENRY’S SALAD DRESSING: Don’t be gross, this isn’t a euphemism for Henry’s sperm bank donation. Literally, he makes the best dressing for my basic white girl kale that I have ever had. It’s probably best that I don’t know all of the details, but he definitely uses balsamic vinegar, stone ground mustard (the BEST kind of ground, in my opinion), and I think a tiny bit of PURE MAPLE SYRUP which gives it the most subtle sweetness and oh my god, why am I at work right now when I could be at home licking that salad semen off my fingertips, ugh.
  • PEOPLE GIVING ME CHEEZITS: I helped Todd with a support-type question today and he gave me the rest of his box of Cheezits as a thank you and my response was a very Shirley Temple-ish, “REALLY? For ME?” I can’t believe I used to hate Cheezits when I was a kid. Maybe they weren’t made with “100% Real Cheese” back then.
    • And then Glenn dropped a pack of fruit snacks on my desk as he was leaving – I FEEL SO RICH.
  • PEOPLE BEING NICE TO ME: I went to The Exchange on my lunch break yesterday and all the neo-hipster kids working there were very nice to me, so for a few minutes, I was able to coexist peacefully with those whom I do not understand.
    • Probably only nice to me because aw, look at this old broad coming in here to probably look for Carpenters 8-tracks.
      • Actually, I was there to finally buy the latest CHVRCHES record.
        • On vinyl, not 8-track.
    • Then I went to the Pittsburgh Welcome Center to get postcards and the lady there was nice to me too, and the lucky recipient of my very first GREETINGS FROM ERIN’S LUNCH BREAK post card will get to read all about that.
  • A BAND FINALLY ISSUING AN ACCEPTABLE AND APPLAUDABLE STATEMENT REGARDING SEXUAL ASSAULT: Ricky from Foxing came forward and cleared the air regarding an incident that occurred several years ago when he was 17 and nowhere in his statement did he make excuses for himself or victim blame, and the band is donating part of their tour earnings to RAINN and expressed an interest in opening up a healthy and respectful discussion about these issues. This came right on the heels of the singer of Better Off doing the complete opposite and completely letting down the scene and likely ruining his career on top of that.
    • Bled Fest has removed Better Off from the lineup. They were one of the bands I was most looking forward to see but certainly not anymore.
  • REALIZING MY PURPOSE IN LIFE: So for years I thought this was either manure packaging or starting my own record label but it is now clear to me that I need to start a DIY venue for the small, real small, small-small bands that book their shows basically in the basements of college rape sheds. So I suggested to Henry that we find a small building to soundproof, just has to be in a not-too-horrible area, and then we can be all, “Hey little sad boy emo bands, fuck that basement noise, come play at our venue, it’ll be ready once we evict the squatters” and then Kaitlin can set up a table of her immaculate desserts and all the kids will be like “OMG AND A BAKE SALE TOO?? THIS IS SO DIY!” Henry actually considered this and said, “We just need money to buy a building” which is basically his way of saying “This will never work because we never have money” BUT he didn’t exactly dismiss my passionate idea either. Then Chooch came downstairs and was all “this sounds dumb.” I tried to get him excited by including him. “You can pass out flyers at school and be all come to this show at my mom’s venue, yo” and Chooch said, “No. It’s my venue.”
  • NEW SAOSIN SONG!: For the first time in seven years, Saosin has recorded a new song, and not only that, but Anthony Green is back as their singer! Christina and I loved this band back in the day, and they were my gateway into many years of loving and obsessing over Circa Survive. (Anthony was the original singer of Saosin and left to start Circa Survive in…2004 I think; too lazy to fact check.) This is great because when they reunited in 2014, Anthony mentioned at Riot Fest that they were going to work on new songs, but then it seemed to kind of fizzle out. BUT WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT WRITING SONGS.

And here’s a quick Law Firm news recap:

–GAYLE moved into a dark hallway so then MEAN AMBER took GAYLE’S old desk which means she’s like really far away from me now so I’ve been pouting about that all week. Now she sits behind Amber1 so this is super confusing. TWO AMBERS IN A ROW. Currently, they’re back there chatting about BLAKE SHELTON and I’m just like, “Whatever, AMBER2 THE BETRAYER. One day you’ll miss our chats about DANCE GAVIN DANCE and JONNY CRAIG.”

–Amber1 made me tell the infamous Henry at the Ted Nugent Show story on Tuesday, and Todd was like, “Who the hell is Ted Nugent?” so then he started to listen to Cat Scratch Fever and we all had a good laugh. I came home and told Henry and he was just like, “Oh, you told that fake story again? That’s great, Erin.”

–The second issue of the ‘zine was dead in the water for a few weeks (more like OVER A MONTH) but I finally rounded up most of the key pieces I was waiting on so hopefully that will be printed and distributed sometime before the end of the month. This is hard work! And I’ve had some real pressure put on me about it too. Jeez. And then Gayle was giving me all of these suggestions and it was like, you know what Gayle? START YOUR OWN ‘ZINE!

–I sent Todd a video of Citizen playing at Bled Fest and then he started watching other videos and accidentally became obsessed with some hardcore band. Every day, he’s like, “What was the name of that band again?” and I’m like, “I don’t know…” and he’ll say, “Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to watch that video again so I can see their name.” Like, what a flimsy excuse!

–Just now, Glenn got all embarrassed and/or furious that I told Michele he likes Meghan Trainor. “Oh yeah, I just love her” he said sarcastically, and I was like, “Then why did you always listen to ‘All About That Bass’?!” and he was like, “ALWAYS. Oh, OK! I ALWAYS listened to it” and I was like, “OMG yes you did, like every day at the same time, Amber2 and I could always hear it! It was like your Getting Ready to Go Home anthem” and he was muttered something about me being crazy and then left for lunch. It’s 100% true though. And now I can’t stop laughing and I just started choking on a Cheezit.

–Lauren sits in front of me now, in Amber the Abandoner’s old desk, and I wonder how annoyed she is having to hear all of my dumb stories being recited sporadically throughout the day.

Oh boy and here’s a bonus photo of me wearing a Bailey’s hat one time way too long ago, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, even though I don’t CELEBRATE ST. PATRICK’S DAY.

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UPDATE!!! Glenn just came back from lunch and I asked him how the weather is on a scale from 1 to Meghan Trainor. His answer was that I’m smoking crack. And then a few minutes later he called me a psycho.  God, today rules!

Jan 072016
 

Hi guys I’m into things. Here are some of those things.

1.Not giving blood. Amber2 gave blood today at work and then tried to thrust her vamp-wound in my face and I thought I was going to pass out. Then I made the mistake of telling her, Glenn and Todd that I donated blood ONCE in high school and honestly did pass out. “Someone had to help me walk to the nurse’s room. It was like a big scene,” I said. “Wow, that’s hard to believe,” Todd said and I think he was being sarcastic. Glenn tried to get me to donate blood by saying, “They brought their best leeches.” That was the second time in two days I almost puked at work. The other time was the day before because it was the first day I was wearing my new, non-trial pair of contacts and I had such a headache from my eyes struggling to adjust,  that I had to bury my head in my arms for a few minutes in the afternoon because I really thought I was in for an unfortunate lunch reunion at my desk.

2. KpopX. Yes, I’m still kpopping. I kpopped so fucking hard tonight too, you have no idea, and my goddamn gums are tingling somehow. I kpopped something in my neck the other day so that wasn’t good. Here is my current favorite KpopX routine, because hello, apples:

3. Making a Murderer. Yes, I’m basic. I’m obsessed just like everyone else. I mean, I’m already done watching it but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend every free minute reading Reddit and hounding my co-workers to watch it. (I heard that Lou has watched it but I try not to speak to Lou, so…)

4. The Law Firm Zine. I think I already mentioned this but I’m making a zine for the department at work and I am really pouring my heart into it. For literally no reason whatsover. I have two pages done so far with three more in the works. It’s going to be a real fucking stunner when it’s finished. I CAN’T WAIT TO SHOW EVERYONE.

5. Anticipating the new Basement album. They were on hiatus for some time and now they’re back and I’m excited. Did I say enough? You should watch this video and let the sounds enter you in whichever way you see fit.

6. Making plans to stay alive this winter. New year, same drill: keep busy so the winter depression doesn’t kill me. So far, there are several shows on tap, Corey and I have a pb&j and Mattress Factory trip planned for next month (and Kara too if she’s interested—KARA??), and some lame YouTuber has taught Chooch about geocaching so I’m apparently doing that with him this weekend while Henry hangs back and reupholsters the bar stools with fun fur, because I’ve projects for days, you guys. PROJECTS.FOR.DAYS. (That’s inaccurate. Projects for years.) Last night, I could hear Chooch in his room, cracking the fuck up, so I assumed he was watching one of his idiot YouTubers, but later I found out he was reading the blog post I sent him about the time we went geocaching (LETTERBOXING—I’m a purist; get that GPS jizz out of my face) when he was three. FLATTERED.

Um, other than all of that, I’m just sitting here, making Henry watch music videos with me on YouTube because I’m 16.

I guess that’s all. I’m always the lamest version of myself in January.

Fuck you, January.

Feb 032015
 

Here is where I start to blog about how there aren’t enough hours in the day and then stop myself because am I really that cliché. But for real. I come home from work and I have all of these things I want to write about, but instead I dutifully eat my dinner and then exercise (Paul Eugene has a Funky Standing Abs workout that is equally funky and stand-y!) and then paint. And then it’s 11:30PM and I’m staring at the computer screen with glazed eyes, wishing there were more hours in the day. And then my fingers start typing that exact sentiment, and well, here we are. Back to that again.

Painting commissions are keeping me busy and I will never not be grateful for that, but something always must suffer and right now, that’s the blog.  So, I am going to post some pictures from my phone that I want to be remembering forever and always, even though they’re backed up to about 17 different social media sources and also that ominous cloud thing. It’s hard to believe that I was able to have a fucking baby pre-Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (Don’t worry, I at least blogged the subject to death.) Literally only 8 years ago, I had a Motorola Razr and had to beg Henry to let me send the occasional text, which would send him into mustachioed rant about exorbitant data charges. This almost makes me want to have a do-over with another baby. I’m rambling; it’s late.

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On  the last Wednesday of January, I went to Tana with Corey and Christy for an Ethiopian feeding-frenzy (oxymoron?) and some smooth jazz, which Corey will never let me live down for saying. IT WAS SMOOTH THOUGH, ALRIGHT? While we were there, Janna texted me because there was a shooting/standoff one street down from her parents house! It made me think about how suburbs are just as fucked up in their own right as the more urban areas. That town has seen a lot of domestic violence over the years and it’s pretty traumatic, really. I mean, for a town called Pleasant Hills.

Anyway, aside from that, it was nice evening of eating with our hands and reminiscing. A+, super fast shipping. (And by that I mean, Christy got me home in one piece.)

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The ghost of this idiot kid is now walking around your house. Hey, you looked.

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Chooch is still going strong with piano lessons! Cheryl has been teaching him some pop songs along with the traditional lessons, and I can hear him at night, practicing “Say Something” while quietly singing along. Also, it’s nice that Henry and I get an hour to tool around the east end of town while lessons are happening, but the last few times we’ve mostly just argued because WHY DOESN’T HE JUST KNOW WHAT I WANT?!!?

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This made sense to me at the time.

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SO MUCH ALASKA! ALL OVER MY TV! ET TU, MTV?!?!?! (Not shown in this picture but seriously MTV has a reality show called SLEDNECKS and it makes me want to walk into the Viacom headquarters and poop on their floors.

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Trying on Henry’s glasses while wearing my contacts and then trying to take a selfie, that was fun.

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Thanks for the heads up on a blog post from two years ago, modeljoanie! #smittyisstillacunttho

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The surprise pictures I find on my phone.

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I have the best customers! Even when Henry fucks up an order (seriously, probably less than 3 times since 20007…so, not flog-worthy, I guess), people still come back. I’m so proud of these babies.

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Oh god, we ate dinner at Mendoza Express on Saturday and Chooch was all, “EXCUSE ME” every five minutes because he LOVES ASKING WAITERS QUESTIONS. One of his questions was, “Excuse me? I think the bathroom door is locked?” BECAUSE CHOOCH LOCKED IT ON HIS WAY OUT. Idiot. Then the waiter (see also: owner) tried to teach Chooch how to roll his r’s. It was not a success.

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Back in the day, my friends would send me ridiculous photos and then I would write ridiculous flash fiction to go along with it, and I am dying to do that again, but then that brings us back, once again, to the whole hours/day quandary. Life is such a fucking Catch 22, which my friend Lisa had to write a paper on in high school and I think of her every time I say Catch 22, which is a lot, because life is one.

I can’t make you listen to the new Title Fight record that came out today, but I wish you would. #trust

Jan 082015
 

Right before Christmas, Henry had a bunch of my old 8mm tapes transferred to DVDs. It was pretty much the greatest/worst thing he could have done, because I am a sucker for nostalgia. And once it baits me, I’m tough to reel back in. He picked ten tapes at random, because he had a Groupon. One of those tapes happened to be the oldest one in the box, and it started with one of the Christmases from when I was in middle school. So, maybe 1991? 1992? Henry was dying because even with my back to the camera, my body language was a neon sign for This Girl is Pouting. “Oh good lord, were you kids spoiled,” he muttered while I smiled sweetly at the memories of these past Christmases. But then the video switched from my family’s house to my grandparent’s house, and for the first time in 15 years, I heard my Pappap’s voice and tears simultaneously sprung forth. Just seeing my parents, Susie and her then-husband Mark, my grandparents and my great-grandma sitting around the table, while Sharon supervised us kids opening more presents, and hearing everyone laugh at whatever hilarious joke my Pappap had made….it started out like a kick to the gut, but then, surprisingly, I was able to watch it without tears in my eyes, while making fun of my pre-teen self. For years and years, I clung to the past in a really unhealthy way, wishing that my Pappap hadn’t died (OK, I obviously still wish that; that hasn’t changed) and that our family hadn’t broken apart like Pangea, that we still all got together for holidays and I hadn’t been basically banned from my grandparent’s house.

So we’re watching these videos and Chooch is getting super pissed.

“I bet your Pappap gave you like, a lot of money for your birthday, didn’t he?” he asked angrily.

“Not really,” I answered casually. “But, we were usually in Europe for my birthday….”

“Oh my god, I hate you,” Chooch cried. “Like, really hate you.”

I’m not going to lie. While there was certainly dysfunction under my own roof, and my relationship with my grandma was strained at best, my Pappap did everything in his power to make sure that I had a charmed childhood. And I love him so much for that. He’s the reason why I try to give Chooch interesting/weird/cool experiences. I might not have a lot of money, and I certainly can’t take him to Europe every year for his birthday, but I will still do whatever I can to give him good memories.  My Pappap kept me from turning into a spoiled brat (OK, I have my snobby moments even as a poor person) by being a kind, humble man.

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This was taken one of the last times I was over there, in 2010.

*****

Once my grandma’s health began to decline about 10 years ago, so did the house. It was just her and my aunt Sharon living there, in this house that could comfortably shelter multiple families, and they just couldn’t keep up. Occasionally, they would call Henry over to make minor repairs, but there were larger issues that weren’t being addressed, landscaping that had been overlooked for years, a pool that hadn’t been maintained since the late 90s. You get the picture. Just like our family, it was falling apart.

When my grandma died in 2011, we thought for sure the house was going to be taken. My mom and Sharon have been in a world of financial struggle for more than a decade, and I couldn’t imagine how they were going to afford to keep the house. But Sharon continued living there, alone, and it just seemed like they kept dodging bullet after bullet that the bank was firing at them. And even though I am so removed from them and the situation these days, I was secretly glad that they were somehow stealing more time. Because this house was all we had left of my grandparents and the memories of The Good Days. The BBQs and pool parties and sleepovers and Christmases on the porch where there was usually one person mad at another person, but it was still so much better than this, how it is now, this nothingness, where we’re no longer a family but basically just a bunch of strangers with chunks of matching DNA.

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*****

Two days ago, I was at work when Corey texted me a Realtor.com listing.

Sharon finally did it. She put the house on the market.

I could taste the bile rising as I scrolled through the pictures of peeling wallpaper and dust-coated glass tables. I sat at my desk, willing myself not to cry. I will never be able to put into words how much this house means to me, how all of the best memories of my childhood were born under that roof, in that pool, among the woods in the backyard. It was my happy place. It was where I sought refuge in my teen years when my dad and I hated each other. It was where I would stop on my way home from school to sit at the kitchen counter and help my grandma with her puzzle while the Guiding Light theme song bleated out of the small kitchen television set. It was where my friends and I would hang out in high school, watching the hockey game and horror movies on that huge wraparound couch in the game room. Sometimes I think, if my memories of that house are this beautiful, it must be like looking at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for my mom and aunts.

I know. It’s a house. It’s just a house. No one died.

But…the memories. The nostalgia. The scents and the feels and the sights of that crazy velvet wallpaper and the gaudy opulence of the clown room — it’s not just a time capsule of my childhood, but also a veritable set design for the strange aesthetics of the 60s and 70s, like if you could walk into the word “Groovy” and pop a squat. Their interior decorator (yes, they had one; his name was Herbie) definitely went for Liberace Lite.

When I show people pictures of the house now, they’re like, “Are you fucking kidding?” But this was normal to me. This was real life. This was what I grew up in. I thought every house had hidden rooms under the steps where Pappaps kept a collection of Cameos brought back from the War, a house-wide intercom system, a master bathroom with Roman-esque pillars, a basement with three separate game rooms: one with a bar, one with a pool table and arcade games, one with a poker table and furniture made from barrels.

Corey said that he spoke with Sharon that day and that she seemed OK, like she had finally come back down  to earth and understood that this is what she needs to do, that it’s time. And even though it hurts so bad, like an entire limb is being taken from me, I know it’s the right thing, too. And I hope that once Sharon is out of there, she can finally let go and start living life again. Maybe this is what she needs to do to finally start healing. Because she hasn’t been the Sharon I used to know, not since that traumatic night in 1996.

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******

Corey and I are trying to gently convince Sharon to let us come over for one last time. We just want to look around, run our fingers over the curios and crystals, take some pictures. I just want to breathe it in one last time before some asshole buys it and completely remodels it.

A few years ago, I posted the only pictures here I could find, taken from 2007-2008. It’s mind-blowing to me how a house that was once so open and inviting (it was surprisingly warm and cozy in there, like a sanctuary) turned into a bolted-up, secretive fortress. I haven’t been inside there since 2010, and that was for about 30 minutes before Sharon was shooing me out.

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This painting was supposed to be mine. This was all I wanted, plus all the old photo albums. I don’t care about the money. I would rather continue living in pseudo-squalor than taking their handouts.

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Chooch in the Clown Room, standing near a sharp-edged glass table, wooo parenting!

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Master bathroom, one of my favorite rooms as a kid.

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Someday I hope to have a house to cover in strange wallpaper.

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Sharon wasn’t home one day so my grandma let us take pictures of Chooch in the gameroom. Sharon is real weird about me being in the house, like she expects me to start pocketing the Lalique and Lladro. (Not gonna lie, I wouldn’t mind giving all of those clowns a new home.)

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His shoes were on the wrong feet—parental duties on lock.

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My friend Evan always liked to play chess at this table back when we were in high school.

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My grandma let Corey and I have a photoshoot in there one day until Sharon caught wind and made us feel so tense and nervous that we eventually just left.

Someday, before the house is gone, I want to break in and take more pictures and just get one good, long look at what seemed so normal to me as a kid. I spent some of the best days of my life at that house, watching “Golden Girls”, “Empty Nest” and “Hunter” during Saturday night sleepovers, eating grilled cheese, and playing PacMan in the game room while “She Bop” blared out of the jukebox. Until I convince Sharon to let me in, I’m going to tear through every last photo album I have for more pictures. I feel absolutely panicked about this.

Spending so much of my youth in that house stimulated my imagination and cultivated my eclectic tastes.  I owe so much of who I am today to that strange, magical place on Gillcrest. It was my refuge.

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

I came home from work the Day the House Was Put on the Market and was looking through an old tin of mixtapes, in hopes of finding the one I had just written about the other day. It’s been a good 10 years since I had rooted around through this tin, and  the first thing I saw when I removed the lid was this picture of my grandparents from 1991 and my heart split in two:

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Sometimes I believe in signs, and this was one of those times. I feel like this was their way of saying it’s OK. That we don’t have to keep that house in the family to keep their memory alive.

Nov 182014
 

Last night, right as I was falling asleep, “Jackie Blue” came on the radio. Do you know this song? It’s old, like from the SEVENTIES OMG, and it’s by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. I have been obsessed with this song since high school so as soon as it started playing, I cried, “JACKIE BLUE FUCK YEAH!” and started dancing in bed which is something that Henry totally LOVES when he’s already sleeping, but who cares.

“This song makes me think of when I was 17 and went through a phase where I wore shoelaces as headbands!” I laughed, but Henry just mumbled some sleep-stifled sentiment into his pillow, so since he didn’t care to listen to my stories, I am ready to shoot them from my fingertips like smoking words from a phalanges-cannon. His loss is your gain, Blog a/k/a My One True Friend.

  • Back when I was 17 and wearing shoelaces in my hair, Lisa and I used to frequent a pool hall called Cue and Cushion. I’m really not sure how this all began, and for as much time as we spent there, we never really got good. Every time I would ever get a ball in the pocket, I would make an obnoxious gesture toward the pocket and say, “Skilllllllls” while every one else would groan, “Shit shot.” There was this one guy we befriended and I can’t remember his name but I can see him very clearly in my mind, especially how his face went from friendly to “You are dead to me” when he expressed interest and I was like, “I am dating a psychopathic fire-starter whom I love very much and will never betray!” Which was actually true. I never cheated on Mike once, yet he would constantly accuse me of. Also, I remember him being in his 20s and I was saving my cradle for Henry to rob at a later date, obviously. BUT I DIGRESS. I would ask Lisa if she remembers his name, but I’m lucky that she even remembers being friends with me back then, let alone some random pool shark’s name.
    • I have a photo of myself with this guy and I’m wearing a striped velour shirt that I bought from Contempo after it changed from Contempo Casuals but before it became Wet Seal. I’m wearing that shirt under overalls because that’s how I did it back in 1997, holla.
      • Speaking of photos, Lisa and I hung out at Cue and Cushion so often (and were probably the youngest people there on most nights), that we became friends with the proprietor, Lou, who hung our senior pictures up on her bulletin board.
  • Thinking of Lou got me remembering all of the other mom-types that loved me and Lisa back in the day, like Maryann from Denny’s, who kept a picture of me on her key chain (Henry rolled his eyes at this) and then there was a broad who worked at a diner that we called Home Cookin’ because that’s the generic name that was on the outside of it (it was in a shopping center) but really it was called Russitano’s. We NEVER called it that but then when I met Henry, it turned out his mom knew a bunch of the waitresses there and he would correct me every time I called it Home Cookin’. Probably because he couldn’t stand that he wasn’t included in my antics back then and hearing me calling it Home Cookin’ forced him to think about me having a life that GOD FORBID didn’t include him. Anyway, I can’t remember that lady’s name, but she used to let us go behind the counter and get our own drink refills. God, I miss that. I think it eventually changed to the Plaza Cafe, back when I was 19 and getting grilled blueberry muffins and coleslaw with the aforementioned Psycho Mike and then it moved down the street and now it’s something else but it seems to rarely be open so why bother.
    • And then all of this made me think of the disgusting amount of time my friends and I spent at various diners but mostly Denny’s and how the hell did they never kick us out when all we were ordering was coffee and essentially loitering.
      • One of my favorite Denny’s memories was going there for dinner with Brian, Chooch’s godfather, when we were…20? 21? He saw someone he knew sitting at a booth across the restaurant, so he told our waitress to send that table the sampler platter and to put it on Brian’s check. Because that’s the Denny’s equivalent of sending over a bottle of champagne at a classy restaurant, I guess. Brian spent the rest of our time there waiting and waiting for some acknowledgement from his friend, but then later, some kid that we knew from high school stopped by on his way out and thanked Brian for the nice gesture. The waitress had delivered it to the wrong table and Brian was SO PISSED but I was dying. Then, when we were walking through the parking lot of my apartment complex afterward, Brian tripped over a speed bump and I cried, “THIS IS THE BEST NIGHT OF ALL TIME!” Probably we went inside and sent Janna fake emails from a fictional man named Tyree, because that’s what we did for funtimes back then. I mean, I would never anything like that now.
      • Speaking of coffee, it’s funny to think about how we would go to actual diners and restaurants (like Denny’s and Eat n Park) when we wanted to hang out and have coffee with friends. There were no Starbucks or really any other coffee houses in the suburbs where I grew up that I can think of, aside from Gloria Jean’s in the mall. Which leads me to my next topic…
  • Ever since I had Dark Matter coffee at Riot Fest, I have been straight feenin’ for it. I finally buckled and bought a bag of the Mastodon-collaborated coffee, Black Blood. It’s a limited release and aged in Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Whiskey barrels. I’ve been in a Keurig rut for YEARS so this inspired me (Henry) to get off my (his) ass and buy a french press. My first cup of that steaming Black Blood reminded me that Keurig’s K-Cups are essentially the mp3s of the coffee scene, and I’ve gone back to vinyl, you guys. I’m just sorry that I was led astray for so long. Convenience, etc.
  • Long-time readers might remember Eleanore, an older broad I used to work with at another job. I found her on Facebook about a year ago, but then I forget all about it until over the weekend, when I fell down the Old Job rabbit hole on Facebook. You know what I’m talking about: you find one person on FB that you used to work and then suddenly you’re scouring their friend list for other co-workers and then you accidentally send friend requests and it’s a whole big thing. Anyhow, I was reminded of Eleanore’s Facebook presence so I was scrolling through her shit and hearing her voice in my head reading all of her status updates out loud and then DYING at the amount of times TINA (OMG TINA HAHAHAHAHA) has posted to her wall saying “Hello dear friend, I miss” but in Tina-type, it’s more like “Hekjllo Dar friend i mis u.” Anyway…it turns out, and this is not funny at all, that Eleanore had a stroke two years and is no longer working. She seems to have bounced back, but that is still really sad and scary. I ended up having a dream last night that I went to visit her under the pretense of caring about her but in reality, I knew that she had three wheelchairs in her house and I wanted to buy one from her. OK, fine, I’ll tell you the truth: at first in my dream, my intent was to STEAL ONE. I have only stolen something once in my life and it was magnet made out of peanut shells that I took from Lechter’s, a home goods store that used to be in the mall. I was around 4 or 5 and I fucking swear to god, I was so racked with guilt after that, that I don’t even take pennies from Take a Penny trays at gas stations, even if I need one. OK, back to my dream. So I was going to steal one of these beautiful wheelchairs similar to the blue one I already have, but then I woke up in real life and forced myself to go back to sleep so that I could finish the dream by offering to buy one. I don’t know if I was successful, because then I was eating an ice cream cone that I didn’t like so my friend Jeannie let me have her ice cream cone, which was PEACH MELBA, so when I woke up this morning, my first thought was, “Wow, I forgot how much I used to love peach melba ice cream when I was a kid.”

And I will end this with a picture of me and Lisa at Denny’s (of which I have many).

(Pictures. Not Denny’s.)

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Oct 312014
 

COLD SHOWERS

In the beginning of October, we had no gas for an entire week and for once it wasn’t because we’re poor people who don’t pay bills. It’s a complicated (and boring) explanation, but we share a gas line with the neighbors and a contractor came out to turn their gas back on but had to check our meter too and somehow came to the conclusion that our pipe was leaking gas and red-tagged us. This was on a Friday afternoon, right before I was leaving to go to work (late shift on Fridays). Henry happened to be home too because he was taking me to work that day, and he was the dumb ass who let the contractor in the house to begin with. If I had been there alone, no fucking way. No one enters this house. I’m too paranoid. Henry ended up having to come back home instead of going back to work because now he had to deal with gas company woes. The gas company was like “Haha, we’re not coming out. You need to call a plumber.” I was really confused because this shit is boring and weird to me. Like, just come back and make sure our house isn’t going to blow up and then give us gas, you know? But these things aren’t that easy, and then the landlord had to get involved since we needed a plumber, and he couldn’t get a plumber to come until THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY!!! Which meant that we had no hot water for that long. At first, I was being stubborn and was going to just take cold showers, but that only happened once because  it turns out cold showers are kind of painful. So we had to go and take showers at Faygo Central because they have a shower there in case Henry or any of the other guys he works with need to shower before leaving work and meeting up with their mistresses DON’T DENY IT HENRY.

So that Wednesday came and the landlord brought over some plumbers who immediately were like, “Oh no, we can’t do this.” So then he had to get new plumbers! The new plumbers came over the next day and Henry had to stay home from work to, I don’t know, supervise I guess, and it’s a good thing because they totally fucked up. After digging up half of our yard, they determined there was no gas leak but before they called the gas company to give them the all-clear, THEY CUT THE GAS LINE which I just learned is apparently a huge no-no. So Henry is giving me a play-by-play via text and he’s all, “The gas company won’t touch the line now since it’s been cut and I know the plumbers did this on purpose” because it turned it from a something like a $1000 job to a $4000 job and guess what, our landlord apparently isn’t a moron and he saw right through this charade and THINGS GOT PHYSICAL AND HENRY THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO CALL THE POLICE! The landlord got the plumber’s boss on the phone and started screaming, “DID YOU KNOW YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO CUT THE LINE?! ANSWER ME!” and the gas company people, who had arrived at the scene by this point, were like, “Oh, these plumbers totally knew that” so the landlord was going ballistic and meanwhile, the plumbers’ boss  told them to fill the hole and leave the work site and the landlord was all, “YOU AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE UNTIL YOU FIX THIS MESS!” and Henry said there was A STRUGGLE OVER THE SHOVEL AND THEN OUR LANDLORD THREW A PALLET INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE YARD AT THEM! And here I was, sitting at work missing all of this action. Henry has a video of the landlord standing on the pallet after he threw it, and screaming, “I SAID STOP, GODDAMMIT!” while the plumbers are totally ignoring him and filling the hole back up. I begged Henry  to give me the video but he said, “NO BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO PUT IT ON YOUR BLOG!” and I tried to say that was a ridiculous assumption but I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to get the words out.

Anyway, I guess the landlord threatened to sue because the same guys came back the next morning and luckily I was home since it was  my late shift, so I got to watch some of the action and one of the plumbers was totally hot and I kept trying to take his picture but then idiot Henry came home and ruined my fun. We had gas again by that evening, thank god. Henry said he overheard the gas company guys talking and they actually called the contractor a retard and told Henry that he shouldn’t have let him in the house. So the moral of this story is don’t let shady gas company contractors into your house.

CONVERSATIONS ABOUT MY BACK

I used to play tennis like a fucking beast when I was in middle school and high school. It was the only thing that I have ever been good at, and I loved it so much that I actually quit eating when, god forbid, I was told that I was going to Spain for two weeks the summer of 1992 with my aunt, because I didn’t want to miss my tennis lessons. Honestly, spoiled white girl problems. (Aren’t you glad I’m a basic poor white bitch nowadays? I’m slightly less annoying now.) But when I was 16, I started to get really bad back pains, so bad that I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoes without crying out in pain. For awhile, I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to miss practice. But eventually it got so painful that I spoke up. Of course, my mom laughed at me because everything about me was a joke, but the coaches at the tennis club noticed something was going on and had me meet with one of the trainers, who stretched me out but it didn’t help. I kept saying it didn’t feel like a muscle, and my pappap was the only one who listened. So he took me to a real doctor where I had all kinds of x-rays or whatever done and it was determined that I have the spurs and discs of an elder. Nothing super serious, but surgery was an option that was tossed around. I said no because that seemed intense. So basically, I eventually had to quit playing tennis competitively because it hurt too much.

Through the years, I’ve thrown my back out here and there, but it always stops hurting after a few days. But recently, it has REALLY BEEN HURTING. Hurting so much that I haven’t been exercising as much as I normally would simply because it’s so painful. I can’t even sneeze. Literally, I have to stifle them or my back will feel like Jonny Craig’s ego was just dumped on it. This happened when I was in Wendy’s office once and she was like, “OMG what a pussy sneeze” while I was essentially weeping internally.

Henry has been all, “How’s that doctor visit sounding?” and I’m just like, “YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH!” because I’m stubborn and rarely go to the doctor. Then over the weekend, I gained 1.4 pounds and had a complete mental breakdown over it and spent an hour crying in my bed and wailing about being forever fat, and Henry was like, “It’s because your period is coming” and I was like, “STFU YOU DON’T KNOW ME!” But then the next day. my period came. I hate that he’s all up in my menstrual business, but thank god he is or else I would never have tampons in stock.

I’m off work today and decided that I really needed to exercise because I clearly have no sense. Henry called me later on and asked how my day was going.

“It was OK but then I did a kettelbell workout—”

“With your back hurting?! You’re a goddamn idiot.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to be fat!” I cried.

“Well, when you’re a cripple, I’m not pushing you in your wheelchair,” he sighed.

CLASSICS IV

And now I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs that always reminded me of Halloween when I was a kid, listening to Lite FM in my pappap’s kitchen.

Oct 302014
 

A few weeks ago, Janna and I were in the car, talking about dementia and memory-loss in general, and I mentioned that one of the main reasons why I blog is because I am so goddamn scared of forgetting. I jokingly tweeted not too long ago that my #1 blogging tip is to blog like no one is reading, because probably no one is. But all joking aside, it’s true: I don’t blog because I want to be some creepy Internet celebrity and I certainly don’t expect anyone to give a shit about my life or what bands I’m currently into or what weird fruit I just ate. But some people do and I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made through my sloppily-typed words!

The point is that this is like a time capsule for me. So I do get stressed out occasionally when there is something that I want to blog about but haven’t found time and then before I know it, a month has passed and I find myself questioning if it’s even still worth it. The answer is yes. Memories are always worth it! Blah blah blah, you’ve read all of this before.

But the memory-aspect makes me think about Chooch. I know he might not see it this way right now, but someday, when he’s a grown-up, he might be happy that he guest-blogged on here about haunted houses or losing a raffle at the Hollywood Theater.

So lately, I have been trying to gently nudge him toward blogging here and there. I think in addition to helping him retain his memory, it also provides an outlet for him to constructively vent and express his opinion (which is what he did last night and then said he felt better after!), all while also being a valuable education tool. (Hello, spelling & stuff.) Chooch gets all huffy about it, and I don’t want to nag him like Henry nags me (oh god, even I couldn’t type that with a straight face), so I have found that a good way to go about this is promising to play Call of Duty: Ghosts with him.

He loves that game and I think it’s stupid.

I love blogging and he thinks it’s stupid.

So this is the trade-off: him asking me how to spell certain words and me asking him how to aim my fucking gun. Me playing Call of Duty is apparently so pathetic and hilarious, that Henry sometimes likes to sit there and watch as I murder the FUCK out of brick walls and the sky. Chooch likes to play “gun game,” which took me a long time to figure out means that you start with a shitty gun and then upgrade to better guns as you kill people. Except that it’s virtually impossible for me to get any kills with this gun because you have to get all up on your target and I can’t do that without getting a cap in my ass. So I sit there and bitch about it and then Henry will sometimes defend me by telling Chooch he’s being mean for making “making your mother play ‘gun game’l when everyone knows I suck too much to get a better gun.

Chooch thinks this is fucking hilarious and will laugh to the point of pants-pissing. And then he’ll say shit like, “I saw someone standing there and I got scared….then I realized it was just Mommy, HAHAHA” because I’m the furthest thing from a threat in this dumbass game. And then Chooch’s favorite part is the end where it shows everyone’s score and I’m always ranked last with zero kills and 618182 deaths (sometimes less if I can find a place to camp).

“It’s not my fault!” I cry. “What the fuck do you expect when I’m playing with Fisher Price: My First Gun?! It’s like goddamn Santa left it under the Xmas tree for me!” And then Chooch dies laughing but I’m really mad! He fucking cheats!

And then Henry yelled at me for saying I shot some guy in the dick and I was like “BUT I DID!” And he calmly said, “No. Another guy shot him. And then shot you.”

I am so awful at this game.

But then yesterday I was at work and I found myself THINKING ABOUT CALL OF DUTY. I really like the Mexican map with the pretty cemetery!

And then, the other night, Chooch asked me if he can just have his own blog.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US.

Oct 182014
 

When my brother Corey was texting me pictures of the Amish guys working on our dad’s roof, it brought back fond memories of the time my other brother Ryan and I stalked the man who was building our back porch when we were kids. I knew I had written about it at some point, so I searched my LiveJournal archives and now I am sharing it here, because I think it’s kind of funny how I am still basically the same person as I was when I was a kid.

I have a different dad than Corey and Ryan, so clearly our penchant for stalking comes from our mom.

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What was the best summer ever? Could it be the summer of ’92 when we hosted a French exchange student (that deserves it’s own entry)? The summer of my nineteenth birthday party marathon? No, my friends. It’s the summer of 1994 that wins this title.

My parents were in the process of having a back porch built onto our house. This was a big deal for my brother Ryan and me, because stalking one of the workers became the sole reason we got out of bed each day. I mean really, who wants to swim and lay out in the sun when you can be violating someone’s privacy?

We would run from window to window, snapping pictures of him. One day, Ryan even chased his truck up the street. Those pictures turned out fabulously. I’ll never forget the day we discovered his name was Gary. We ran into the house, erupting into shrieks and giggles.

After a week of wasting film on this fine craftsman, we decided to incorporate a little more extremity to our game. More thrill, if you will. We needed a bigger adrenaline rush. The next obvious step was to collect Gary’s cigarette butts and beer cans. When you’re young, you want souvenirs for everything you do.

We would wait until he would go to his truck, then sprint out in the backyard like scavengers, picking through the grass in search of a butt or two. Once we accumulated enough to satiate our pursuant appetite, we brought our treasures in the house and stowed it underneath the couch in the family room.

Stalking Gary consumed so much of our summer. How much, you ask? So much that it infiltrated the summer of my friends, as well. Christy was in Atlanta (I believe) for some sort of academic camp. I wrote her a letter and enclosed one of Gary’s cigarettes butts for her to cherish as well. I just wanted her summer to be as rich as ours had become, thanks due to Gary. I wrote letters to every one of my pen pals, detailing Gary’s every action and movement. Everyone clung to the Summer of Gary with bated breath.

Unfortunately, the fun and games ended when my dad unearthed our stash of memorabilia under the couch. Now, any other dad would have rightfully accused us of smoking and drinking. Not my dad. Luckily for us, my dad recognized the extent of our weirdness long before this incident, so he believed our tale and we escaped punishment. The downside was that he forbade us to continue our game. Something about we were embarrassing him or something.

I often wonder what Gary is doing these days, and if he knew he was being stalked. Was he flattered? My mom says ‘nay.’

Aug 272014
 

Today I’m going to tell you about some things I’m currently obsessed with, because don’t you all give so many shits about what I like? Obviously.

1. This version of PVRIS’s “St. Patrick” makes me feel like I’m being emotionally cuddled. (There’s no screaming in it, if that usually deters you from clicking “play” when I post YouTube videos, haha.

2. Cantaloupe! I know, such a small thing to obsess over, but usually cantaloupe is that one fruit I pick out of fruit salads because it’s always so over-ripe (under-ripe?) and tasteless. But Henry has won the cantaloupe (and watermelon!) lottery this summer and has been bringing home some of the sweetest, juiciest melons this side of 1990s porn.

3. Emarosa. Big surprise. But I can’t remember the last time I felt this much anticipation brewing inside my gut for a new album. I thought this band was never coming back, and now here they are, with a singer who is a million times better than Jonny Craig, and every single song and snippet I’ve heard thus far has felt like dynamite in my heart. I get to see them again in 2 weeks at Riot Fest and I’m so excited that I could just fucking SCREAM. They just released another single yesterday, and this is the one I’ve been craving ever since they played an acoustic version of it last May when I saw them on the Devils Dance tour. It is amazing. It is brilliant. It is so Emarosa and I must have listened to it 87 times last night after we came home from an ice cream date with Chris and Monica (or, Chronica). Here is Henry’s face during the Emarosa marathon:

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Here’s the album version of “People Like Me…” even though I posted the live version last week. YOU SHOULD STILL LISTEN TO THIS ONE BECAUSE IT’S BOMB AND WHEN BRADLEY INTERRUPTS HIMSELF AND SAYS, “NAH, FUCK IT” I GET SO STOKED.

I fucking love you, Bradley Scott Walden. I’m ready for this fresh start, in so many fucking ways. #Goodbye2008

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 4. Halloween Desk Planning! I came up with this year’s theme a few weeks ago and have already started collecting some key elements. I’m pretty excited for it, but also worried that it will be a huge failure because taking last year off kind of makes me feel like I’m off my game. Barb even said that I’ll never be able to out-do my Murder Desk from 2011 and believe me, don’t I know it. This year’s theme will be subtle (kind of) but also requires a lot of work and searching for things. (Luckily, these are all things that I have been wanting to add to my collection anyway, so acquiring them won’t be superfluous.) I can’t wait to tell you what I’m doing! Secrets are not  my strong-suit.

5. Painting faces. Actually, just painting in general. These last several months have not been the greatest for me (just inside my head; not anything serious, like job-related or with my home life). I feel like slowly, things are starting to come back to me, even after years of not practicing, even though some people still call my art “paint-by-numbers” and kind of roll their eyes when I try to show them things I’m working on, because they’d like me better if my “talents” were more of the culinary variety, I guess. So sorry. Juvenile art is the best you’ll get!

(ALERT! Jeannie was just over here and she said that she likes my art and that I have a very distinct style, so suck it, haters. Jeannie is hard to please!)

(OMG you guys, my family gave me such a complex, I apologize, lol.)

Anyway, I painted this one of Jesus yesterday, because why not:

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Also, this beast that’s still in progress:

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6. Henry In a Suit. OK, I haven’t written about Kaitlin’s wedding yet because I need to do that at home and not sporadically at work like most of my blog posts come into fruition, but can I just post this picture of Henry here and chirp about how much of a crush I have on him when he wears a suit? Heart-eyes for days.

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A quick list of things I’m currently NOT obsessed with:

  • CHRIS LEAVING THE LAW FIRM, BOOOO.
  • Summer basically being over.
  • Volatile mornings (a/k/a “Getting The Kid Ready For School”).
  • Being strung along; luckily, strings can be cut.
  • The neighbors.
  • Not having all of the time in the world.
Jul 132014
 

On July 12th, 2005, I was in the car with Henry on the way home from Cleveland, crying because I had just met Anthony Green of Circa Survive. I didn’t know how to tell him how much his band meant to me, and how it had helped to calm down the madness in my head, so instead I mumbled, “You guys were great tonight, will you sign my CD.” So goddamn lame.

I still remember that I was wearing my brother Ryan’s old blue soccer t-shirt that had the name of my Pappap’s drywall company on it. It’s weird what we remember during moments of emotional agony. Oh, haha.

I met a guy at that night at the Grog Shop who told me that Anthony actually gave him his phone number after the guy told him he was suicidal. “I called him one night and he talked me through it,” he told me. “He saved my life.” And if it weren’t for that guy taking me over to meet Anthony after the show that night, I probably would be telling you the story about how I’ve loved Circa Survive since 2005 but have never met Anthony Green.

2005 was a shit year for me: mentally, emotionally, and financially. That May, I experienced what I still to this day believe was a nervous breakdown. Things were just bad. I had nagging thoughts of driving my car off the road. I would go so psycho on Henry that I wouldn’t be surprised if he considered calling in a priest at some point. I actually called a church at one point to seek help, because I didn’t have health insurance and had no idea where else to turn. Janna even had to come and babysit one day after I bit myself, so be thankful if we weren’t friends in 2005, I guess.

But one of the shining points for me, as always, was music. Circa Survive’s debut album, Juturna, came out that June. I had been eagerly awaiting it, after having already been a fan of Saosin, the band that Anthony left to start Circa Survive.

Something about Anthony’s unconventional voice over top the most beautiful music that I had heard in quite some time just really did it for me. It sounded different from everything else that I was listening to back then. It was obsession, and I drove Henry crazy with it, making mix CDs of every single bootleg demo, live recording, B-side I could find of Saosin, Circa Survive, and Anthony’s solo work. It was the Year of Anthony Green and Henry wanted to slit his throat.

That music calmed me down. It helped me think straight. I would take it to the cemetery with me and cry, but they were good tears. And, after three months of not writing due to my nervous breakdown thing, I decided to start writing again.

Juturna reminds me of the beginning of my pregnancy. (Because, yes, let’s cap off one of the most tumultuous, bipolar summers of my life by having a planned pregnancy. Good old inpulsives.) Being so excited to have this child and play “Great Golden Baby” for him. That was my favorite Circa song for a really long time. There are still times when, out of the blue, I hear the line “This changes everything” in my head. If I’ve ever made you a mix CD anytime after 2005, there is a really good chance that there is at least one Circa Survive song on it. I wanted everyone to know them and to love them.

I know, I seem so melodramatic when it comes to this stuff, but this is Truth. This is honestly how I experience music. And I cry every time I write these blog posts, haha!

When Henry and I went to see The Sound of Animals Fighting last March in Philly, that was the first time I had seen Anthony since 2008. I still liked Circa Survive, and I kept up with all their subsequent releases, but if I’m being honest, none of their other albums ever fisted my heart the way Juturna had. But when I saw they were coming to Pittsburgh in July, something inside me said, “You need to go see them again.” So I bought a ticket without hesitating. This show was announced back when I still had my old evening shift at work, and normally I would always ask to work half-day or just take the whole day off before even buying the ticket, but this time, I was like, “I don’t care, I’ll deal with that part later.” Because this was important to me. I’ve been trying to find ways to let go of my 20s, because that was a really bad decade for me, for the most part. And I thought, maybe seeing them again after all this time will help me heal.

It just felt like more than just going to a show. It was something I needed.

Originally, I was going to go alone, but then Henry ended up going with me too because I panicked and didn’t want to be alone. I knew that I was going to cry and I didn’t want to be That Person standing alone and sobbing. So Henry went too and held my hand through most of it. And thank god for that because I felt like my heart was exploding from the moment Circa walked on stage all the way up to when we were in the car leaving.

The opening band was Ume, by the way, and if you love female-fronted bands that are actually fantastic, I suggest that you check them out. It was like the 90s all over again, in a good way. And then while we were waiting for Circa, I noticed a guy standing in front of me, and because I’m obsessed with the Dupree family (please see: Eisley), I thought to myself, “That looks like the back of Garron Dupree’s head.” And then I looked to the left and thought, “Huh. That looks like Reed Murray. And that looks like Fred Maraschino.” And it turned out it WAS all of them, because they’re all currently in the band Say Anything, who was actually in town the night before, playing at the same venue. So I had a total fangirl moment and thank god Henry was there because he actually knows all of these names by default so I was able to squeal about it and have him understand what was going on.

Interestingly, Say Anything was supposed to be the headliner when I saw Circa Survive for the first time in 2005, but they dropped off the tour after their singer Max Bemis had a mental breakdown. (I can relate.) So it was kind of like this surreal full circle moment for me, knowing that Say Anything was there at Mr. Small’s that night, watching. It’s so awesome when bands support each other.

Then Henry pointed out that Anthony Green had walked right past me during Ume’s set but as usual, I had no idea. This happened like 57 times in Philly too. It’s hilarious to me that Henry, Mr. I Don’t Give a Shit About These Bands, is always the first one to spot band members.

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I don’t really know what words can do justice to the show itself, other than saying it was like a religious experience for me. Anthony Green is one of the great voices of my generation, and it always feels like an honor to be in his presence. And unlike Jonny Craig, he is a NICE GUY. Here’s a singer who kicked an addition, married a great girl and made two beautiful sons. He’s an inspiration, and an example that some singers can be charismatic without also having God complexes.

(Ahem, Craig Owens.)

All Anthony has to do is whisper “Come” into the mic while making a beckoning motion with his hands, and the room literally lurches toward the stage like a horde of Palestinians throwing themselves at Jesus’s feet.

I used to try to hold back tears at concerts, but then I finally realized that it feels so much better to just let it go. So…my face was pretty wet that night.

^^^This song. Me = gutted. The “Don’t stop talking to me, I haven’t been listening” part used to be what I used for my mom’s ringtone. You know, back when I had her number in my phone. When they played that part last week, my legs turned to Jello.

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They played for about 2 hours and totally satisfied my Juturna cravings. It was the perfect set list, the perfect night, and the perfect way to say goodbye to the ghosts of 2005.

I love this fucking band so much.

Jul 022014
 

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It might seem weird since I’m a vegetarian and all, but what I was most looking forward to in Frankenmuth was eating at one of their famous Bavarian chicken joints. There are two to choose from: Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s, and they supposedly HATE each other. My friend Michelle told me that the two families basically built Frankenmuth so no matter which place we picked, it would be a big deal.

I mean, if you’re like me and give a shit about these things.

Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn really are right across from the street from each other, but there were no picketers or chicken dinner sabotage that I could see. No one was egging each other’s windows or passing out derogatory flyers. But since Roadside America mentions their rivalry, I know it must be true. I just wish it was more blatant and spectator sporty.

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I personally wanted to eat at Bavarian Inn, because it just had more of a Black Forest aesthetic to me, but Bill kept piping up with the merits of Zehnder’s, which just looked like some dumb colonial slab and not at all lederhosen-y. Turns out Bill might have eaten there once sometime in his liftetime and I think he forgot to tell us the part about how a Zehnder’s busboy saved him from choking on their world famous chicken dinner so now he feel indebted to them.

But then Jessi mentioned that she has eaten at the Bavarian Inn before and liked it, so PRAISE JESSI, we settled on the Bavarian Inn because girls rule! There was no blantant anti-Zehnder’s propaganda inside the doors of the BavInn (my new, sweet pet name for it), but I should have at least wrote “for loose bowels, call Zehnder’s” in one of the bathroom stalls. Ah, hindsight.

Fuck you, Zehnder’s.

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I want shutters like that on my imaginary never-house. 

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I anticipated a long wait, since this  seemed like the type of place that was like the Disneyworld of Old Country Buffets* for elderly tourists, but we had a table within 15 minutes!  And even had a scantily-clad Bavarian beefcake entertaining us with an accordion. (I mean, he was showing a lot of thigh and calf, but not a lot of below-knee, because that was covered with a modest swath of wool.)

*BavInn isn’t even a buffet so I have no idea why I wrote that, other than the fact that it’s 150 degrees in my house.

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I told Chooch that this place was going to be like the Hooter’s of Frankenmuth, with Bavarian boobs spilling out of corseted beer garden dresses. Partially because I was trying to get him stoked on eating there (he’s at that age, guys; boobs are everything), and also because that’s what it looked like in my hopes and dreams. Turns out the waitresses’ costumes were way more modest than the accordion player and his scandalous leg-skin.

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There was no cleavage to be had. Not even of the accidental variety.

Back to being a vegetarian: I was pleasantly surprised that the Bavarian Inn had an entire vegetarian menu! Bill said he only asked for it because he overheard someone in front of him asking for it. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to ask because places like that usually don’t cater to my kind and I was fully prepared to just get some side dishes but instead I got to have vegan chili and BY GEORGE it was fucking great. It had quinoa and perfect little cubes of sweet potatoes and was just a true delight my tongue even though I can’t imagine a real Bavarian eating that on their lunch break at the cuckoo clock factory.

It didn’t matter, because I still ordered a side of SPAETZEL. You guys, spaetzel. That is my ultimate comfort food because my Pappap, whose family was from Austria, made a huge pot of these buttery Alpine dumplings every Christmas and they were just spectacular. After he died, my mom tried to carry the torch but they just never tasted quite right. And then I asked Henry to make them one year for Thanksgiving but his came out really small and pathetic because he doesn’t have any of the good European regions in his genes, I guess. I  mean, I still ate them of course because anything coated in that much butter is still going to taste rad. But I just haven’t had any as good as my Pappap’s, not since 1995.

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And these noodleturds were by no means bad! Bavarian Inn has their shit together but these were just seasoned in a way that deviated from my Pappap’s spaetzel perfection. I still ate the ever-loving fuck out of them though. Why wouldn’t I?

Can we talk about our amazing waitress Kristi for a minute? Chooch spilled his lemonade all over the table so she swooped in and moved us to a clean table right next to us, all without making Chooch feel like a heel for being a normal 8-year-old who spills things in restaurants. And she brought us copious amounts of this delicious sweet bread (bread that’s sweet, not sweetbreads) which we enjoyed with ridiculously magical homemade strawberry jam. And our lunches were delayed so Kristi also brought us out bowls of German potato salad, coleslaw and something else that I forget now, but it was all perfect and made me want to book a Globus tour ASAP.

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Chooch was really anxious to sayeth Prayers from the Psalms before he ateth his chickeneth. (Everyone at the table got chicken, because duh—Bavarian Inn is world famous for that shit. Maybe one day they’ll be renown for their faux-chicken too. Now I wish I had ordered the fake chicken patty on pretzel bun. Oh well, there’s always next summer when we go back and stay at the Bavarian Inn, because yes, they have a huge resort-y hotel too. WITH WATERSLIDES.)

My second favorite part of the experience (hello: Spaetzel #1) was when I mused out loud about the comfort of the waitresses’ dresses and then a few minutes later, upon Kristi’s return to our table with more iced tea for Henry, Bill asked her what might have been the creepiest thing she had been asked by a man all day:

“Excuse me, but is your dress comfortable?” he asked casually, like he works for Cotton and it’s his job to determine a woman’s comfort as research for the next commercial featuring some random blond actress who can also kind of sing alright.

The Fabric of Our Lives: Dirndl Edition.

“You know,” she said after thinking about it for a few seconds, “it really isn’t too bad. It’s the nylons that drive me nuts, though. I can never wait to get home and peel them off, you know?” And Bill nodded knowingly.

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PSHHHHH. You wish, Zehnder’s. In your dreams.

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This is the back of the glorious Bavarian Inn. Surely there’s a nook or cranny somewhere in which I can live undetected.

You know I must have been stuffed full of spaetzel when I declined dessert, and they obviously had streudel, you guys. Motherfuck, do I love streudel. My grandma’s side of the family always made some sick streudel.

Streudel and spaetzel. These will be served at my pretend wedding. By Bavarian beer maidens, all named Gretchen.

Jesus, is it any wonder I’m a slut for Bavarian things? My childhood memories practically reek of edelweiss.

Jun 192014
 

When people ask me about why I became a vegetarian, I’m sure they’re braced for some PETA-scripted canned response about choosing not to eat anything with a face, or some granola manifesto about health benefits. But my vegetarianism story was born from sheer stubbornness.

My mom wasn’t a bad cook, but I hated her pork chops. Naturally, this was the meal she seemed to make the most when I was growing up. They were just so dry and worthless, and always laying on my plate in some hideous, mocking, splayed-out fashion; all the apple sauce in the world couldn’t make them go down any easier.

Finally, at age 16, I snapped. Maybe a regular kid would have faked a pork chop allergy, but I chose a different route to get out of choking down those hunks of dry rot: I just wasn’t going to eat meat at all. Ever. Not even Slim Jims or bacon bits.

My parents saw this as a huge joke, something new to heckle me about, to place bets upon. “Oh look, Erin wants attention from us again!” They were used to this behavior from me. Once, I vowed to eat nothing but Welch’s grape popsicles because I was trying to get a hospital admittance to avoid going on vacation with my Aunt Sharon (who is crazier than me). But I stopped after a few days because no one was paying attention, and I ran out of Welch’s grape popsicles.

My vegetarianism was basically just another Welch’s Grape Popsicle episode as far as my parents were concerned, and they egged me on in all of the worst possible ways. They gave me three days tops before I succumbed to meatloaf. (My mom really did make a fantastic meatloaf. So moist. So meaty. So topped with Ketchup.)

This is why, 18 years later, when people ask me how I became a vegetarian, my answer is a simple “I hated my mom’s pork chops.”

***

In 1996, getting into a vegetarian lifestyle was pretty rough. I lived in Pittsburgh, not Los Angeles. Denny’s didn’t have Gardenburgers on their menus yet, Giant Eagle’s frozen food aisle wasn’t exactly a Garden of Eden, and my mom refused to make separate dinners for me. So while my family gnawed on BBQ ribs in front of me, I would eat cheese sandwiches and cereal and act like it was a meal fit for Valhalla, because: STUBBORN. At school, I would pair a peanut butter cookie with a carton of iced tea and call that lunch. I was terrible at this, but determined.

Finally, I started buying Vegetarian Times magazine from the bookstore and kind of started learning about what it was I was doing exactly. I began collecting recipes but my mom was like, “Tofu? What the hell is that? Fuck you.” So one weekend when my family was out of town, I hosted my own vegetarian dinner for some friends, which was no small feat because there was no Internet, no Whole Foods that I had ever heard of way over here in my South Hills suburban wonderland. I had to use the YELLOW PAGES to find some weird health food store in Mt. Lebanon that sold kelp and tempeh and a package of tofu that I would wind up having a staring contest with later because what the hell do you do with tofu? I had to beg my friend Lisa to begrudgingly drive me out there so I could buy ingredients for a dinner that no one but me was going to enjoy. Because “Sea”sar salad doesn’t sound appetizing to meat-eaters, I guess.
That was my first and last attempt at “cooking,” by the way. Sorry to all of the boyfriends who came later, expecting a home cooked meal. Not on my watch.

***

As a kid constantly struggling with thunder thighs, weight loss was a perk I thought would go hand-in-hand cutting meat out of my life. Newsflash: replacing chicken and beef with cheese in 87 different forms is not conducive to losing weight. When I’d go out with friends in high school, I’d eat the shit out of grilled cheeses, dressing-drenched Caesar salads capped with veritable parmesan hats, fettuccine Alfredo, just give me all of the cheese. My friends and I would always go to this diner called Home Cookin’ and I went through a good long phase where all I would order was cole slaw and pie. One of the waitresses laughed as she scribbled down my order late one night and asked, “You pregnant?”

“No, I’m a vegetarian,” I replied somberly.

Once I moved out at 18, it got even worse. I had friends over constantly, so we would order out all of the time. Cheese pizza, cheese sticks, cheese-covered eggplant parmesan hoagies, cheese hoagies with extra cheese to replace the meat. It’s a wonder I didn’t spend most of my 20s in a state of perma-constipation.

The only vegetables I ever ate were breaded, fried and delivered to my house by a bored teenager driving an Omni. Not to mention all of the alcohol that was consumed. I was far from that “anemic vegetarian” that my grandma worried I was going to turn into.

But at least being a vegetarian would render fast food impossible, right? Four words: Taco Bell’s 7-layer burritos.

One time, a security guard at one of my jobs said he was surprised I was a vegetarian.

“Why?” I asked, wondering if my natural stench was eau de osso bucco and I just didn’t know it.

“You know,” he said, cutting an hour glass shape into the air with his hands.

Suffice it to say, I had gained some weight those first few years.

***

An important thing to know about me is that I am helpless; basically just a flailing flesh-sack in a scary meat-filled world.

When I started dating my current boyfriend Henry in 2001, he was horrified when he opened my refrigerator and found it full of alcohol, condiments and film. (Because photography was more important than nutrition.)

“Why don’t you have any food?” he asked incredulously.

So I showed him the box of rice and cans of Spaghetti O’s on the shelf, the only things that I could purchase from the gas station down the street that I actually could kind of cook OK on those off-nights when I wasn’t being fed by chain restaurants.

“How are you getting your protein?” he asked, and I swear this isn’t going in the sleazy direction you might have in mind.

I had no answer for him. I barely knew the food pyramid, and he was asking me about protein?

After that conversation, Henry started cooking real meals for me, dishes loaded with vegetables, chick peas and tofu, because he was man enough to not give a shit about cooking with tofu, and I slowly started learning things I had never known, like what a “root vegetable” was.

Henry was appalled that I was a vegetarian who didn’t eat vegetables. Or fruit, for that matter. He made me things like mock mashed potatoes (I never knew I liked cauliflower!) and rice-and-fake-meat stuffed peppers, taught me that I really liked melons, and even added COOKBOOKS to my library of horror novels and Alternative Press issues.

By this time, a lot of the chain restaurants in Pittsburgh started offering veggie burgers on their menus, but Henry took me to a lot of ethnic restaurants, where vegetable-laden dishes and meat-substitutions were prevalent; it was starting to feel like maybe I stood a chance at survival. I still didn’t understand tofu, but I sure liked to eat it. I was starting to see vegetarianism as something more than a bet with my parents. It had become a lifestyle, and I began to realize that somewhere along the way, I stopped missing meat. Now I was eating things that I never knew existed, like seitan and tempeh, and I loved it.

I guess my point here is, if you want to be a vegetarian but lack a lot of basic life skills such as “how to grocery shop”, “how to read a recipe” and “how to operate kitchen machinery”, get yourself a good girlfriend/boyfriend/butler. It could open up a whole new world that normal, self-sufficient people already know about.

I can only imagine how high my cholesterol was before Henry the Nutrionist came in and pumped me full of vegetables. (Not a sex analogy, unless you want it to be.)

***

A few months after I swore off meat, I was in the attic smoking pot out of a crushed can of Cherikee Red with my friend Melissa. Nothing to see here. The rest of my family had gone out without me as usual, and my mom had left out a pan of the Hamburger Helper she made all the “normals” for dinner that night.

Teenager + pot = me lying in a pan of Hamburger Helper like some pathetic human-Garfield.

I cried in my bed that night like I had just had shameful hobo sex, my flesh smelling like it had been rubbed down with raw meat.

Up until pretty much right now, Melissa was the only one who knew meat had touched my PETA-anointed tongue but she vowed to keep quiet. I felt terrible about it, like I was such a fraud. But slip-ups happen and I suspect it’s more normal than the staunchest vegetarians will admit, like it’s some dirty, bloody cow carcass of a secret. I still wonder if there’s some sort of code I should be following. Should self-flagellation happen the next time I accidentally eat chicken disguised as a biscuit at a Chinese buffet? What is my penance? Sneaking meat is the dark underbelly of vegetarianism, like nuns fapping to pictures of Justin Bieber. No one talks about it. But sometimes, meat happens, folks.

In 2006, I would occasionally eat fish while I was pregnant, but I was trying to grow a healthy baby then so it made me feel like I wasn’t really cheating. (Don’t worry, Henry and my doctor knew what kinds of fish were OK for preggos to eat; I wasn’t sitting around eating bonbons and mercury sandwiches.) I vowed to stop after the baby was born, and I was doing so well until a few months later on vacation and some “friends” tempted me with sushi. You guys. It was so amazing!

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone!” one of them said when I started crying at the table about feeling guilty. But that girl was such a snake, she probably went home and made a filtered LiveJournal post about it. (We are no longer friends, FYI.)

That was pretty much the gateway food for me. I resisted the urge for quite some time, but then I gave up and openly became a fish-eater and stopped calling myself a vegetarian because I ain’t no fraud.

Sushi, you guys. It is so good.

As of last week, I am back to eating “nothing that has a face.” I couldn’t take the guilt anymore, and the constant reminder that my mom would think she had won the war if she ever found out I was casually chewing sashimi like bubble gum. However, if you ask my son, he will tell you that Mommy eats meat when no one is home. Which could be true if I knew how to cook that shit. But I don’t. So, nice try, son.

***

I was a vegetarian for three years before someone asked me, “So are you ovo-lacto?”

“Ok,” I answered. Because I didn’t know there were different kinds of vegetarians! My three years of barely-passing Latin classes in high school at least helped me figure out that it meant I was a vegetarian who also ate dairy.

I was a vegetarian for six years before I found out that I wasn’t supposed to be eating food made from gelatin because it contains animal by-products. Two vegetarians actually had a shouting match about this at one of my game nights and I quietly shirked away because I didn’t want to get involved.

I was a vegetarian for ten years before I was finally able to accept that “vegetarianism” is not synonymous with “skinny.” We can still eat cake and cookies. And potato chips. And milk shakes . And Kit-Kats.

I’ve been a vegetarian for eighteen years and I still don’t know what to do with tofu. It just sits there in the package, looking all slimy and wet. And the “firm” and “extra firm” versions are just as jiggly, so whaddup, tofu? Explain yourself.

My friend Amber recently told me she wanted to add tofu to her diet and started asking me questions about it. Questions make me nervous because my response is usually “I don’t know.” Or just a shrug if I’m feeling like three words are just too much to muster. I’m conversationally ambivalent.

I had to text Henry and ask him what kind of tofu Amber should buy, because while I’ve come a long way in that I can now name more vegetables than peas and carrots, don’t ask me about tofu.

***

I worked in a butcher shop for 4 years. What kind of a vegetarian even looks at a butcher shop for a minute, let alone works inside one for 4 years?! Luckily, my office was upstairs from where all the disgusting shit was happening, but sometimes my boss thought it would be hilarious to send me downstairs to get the meat cutters’ lunch orders. I’d have to wear a USDA-approved hardhat, even.

Four years working in a butcher shop actually made it A LOT easier for me to stay true to my meatless lifestyle.

But then the Great American Bacon Explosion happened. Bacon sundaes. Bacon milkshakes. Maple bacon donuts. Maple bacon cupcakes. Chocolate-covered bacon. Candied bacon. Bacon-flavored condoms. Bacon breath mints. Bacon wigs. Bacon 4 President. Kitchen utensils to aid with the fashioning of bacon bowls to be filled with more bacon. I had no idea I even missed bacon that much until I was being tempted with bacon-wrapped apples in every garden. When I was a carnivore, bacon was just bacon. I mean, it was great, I loved it; but when did it become OMG BACON?

My tattoo guy is vegan. The last time I was at the shop, his consultation appointment brought him donuts, one of which was maple bacon. He quickly offered it to one of the other guys there. “Seriously, I might eat that if no one takes it. I think about bacon like, all of the time.”

“Me too!” I cried. And then I felt less alone in this small, meat-free community.

If I ever fall off the wagon for good, it will be because of bacon. Goddamn you, bacon.

***

***

There’s a stereotype for my kind: that obnoxious preachy person who sits across from you at dinner and judges you for ordering a steak. I was never that person. I don’t give a shit what you eat as long as you’re not dripping its blood on my plate. However, one time in 2003, I opened the refrigerator to see half of a Cryovac’d cow taking up an entire shelf. That might have been one of the most brutal fights Henry and I have ever had. He never brought shit like that into my house again.

It always bothered me though that I let people have their meat and eat it too, yet there were always those ones who just couldn’t wait to make fun of me for eating faux chicken nuggets and black bean burgers. Like the time my whole family erupted in exaggerated dry-heaves when Henry was nice enough to cook me a Tofurkey for Thanksgiving in 2004. I had to sit there while everyone pointed out how gross and disgusting I was, like I was hand-shoveling dog feces into my mouth. And then my mom would swear that she substituted cream of mushroom soup in her side dishes that called for cream of chicken, but then she would snicker, so God only knows what they were feeding me. I couldn’t eat anything my grandma made me because I was 95% convinced that she was pureeing beef into everything from soup to muffins so that I wouldn’t “catch anemia.”

Then there are the people who treat vegetarianism as a joke, refusing to order a plain pizza because they have zero respect for my dietary requirements. I got really good at picking pepperoni off pizza.

We can totally have a conversation without me thrusting a PETA petition at you (although I will sign the shit out of those at every single Warped Tour while Henry stands to the side, rolling his eyes up to the meat-filled heavens). I’m not going to tell you that you’re ruining your life by feasting on poor, defenseless animal flesh or hand you a pamphlet that illustrates what exactly is in that food court hot dog, because I don’t care what you do.

Moral: don’t judge me and my tofishy tacos and I won’t judge you and your KFC Double Down.

And don’t ask me about tofu.