Sep 192017
 

For those not in the kpop loop, Taeyang is one of the members of Bigbang, inarguably one of the biggest kpop groups of all time (this is pure numerical fact, you guys). And like a lot of kpop idols, Taeyang occasionally strays from his group and does the solo thing. With an impending military enlistment in his very near future and Bigbang currently on a hiatus, Taeyang churned out a beautiful solo album called White Night late August and set off on his first ever solo tour of North America.

G-Dragon is my ultimate bias but I do love Taeyang a lot as well. If I had to compare him to an American artist, I’d have to go with Ne-Yo — he’s got the smooth R&B sensibilities — mixed with the sick dancing of Chris Brown. I might actually enjoy Taeyang’s dancing even more than his vocals, and watching live Bigbang performances imakes it hard to ignore how joyful he looks.

The Chicago date for the White Night Tour was conveniently set for Labor Day weekend, almost like Taeyang was handing me an invitation in one perfectly white-gloved hand. Henry of course was like FML because I had recently decided that I didn’t want to go to Riot Fest this year because the line-up wasn’t tickling me, so he basically got rid of one Chicago road trip and then almost immediately replaced it with another. And full disclosure, one basic (i.e. no soundcheck, send-off, etc) ticket was pretty close to the same amount as my three-day Riot Fest pass. Totally fucking worth it. (Thankfully, I was able to sell my Riot Fest pass though!)

Henry and Chooch came to Chicago with me but since we don’t own our house and couldn’t take out a second mortgage, three Taeyang tickets were slightly out of reach, so I went to the show alone. They were total baes though and at least rode the L with me to the Aragon Ballroom so I wouldn’t have a panic attack. Hey, isn’t it enough that I at least go to concerts alone?

Since I was just a basic old P2 ticket holder, I didn’t bother getting there super early since I knew I was already going to be at least two sections away from the stage, so instead I rolled up right when doors opened at 6. I don’t know what I expected, that I could just waltz right into the venue straight from the L station? Because nope. So many nopes. A Wacky Worm full of nopes. There was a huge line that wrapped around the theater and into the empty lot alongside of it. These were all P2 people. I couldn’t believe it.

There were two long lines parallel with the building, and then numerous smaller lines facing the theater, which you can kind of see in that picture up there. A security guard put me at the end of the last line, and then a girl eventually made her way down my line, checking our tickets and wristbanding us.

Taeyang White Night, P2 baby!

Two guys capped off the end of my line, and I listened with slight amusement as they people-watched and checked out the girls in line. Within the first fifteen minutes, though, they noticed me in spite of my natural invisibility, and the one with curly hair asked, “Excuse me, are you here by yourself?”

Forty alarms went off in my head, but this was a Taeyang show—-what was the worst that could happen?

After I admitted that I was, he said, “OK, well, you’re now a part of our conversation” and just like that, I became concert line pals with John and Paco. Paco was also attending the show alone, having driven there from St. Louis, but John was waiting out the line-standing with him out of solidarity. THAT IS A GOOD FRIEND, unlike Henry and Chooch who watched from a distance as I got in line and then mouthed “KBYE” as they ran back to the L.

Paco kept making up The Weeknd-esque songs about standing in line, and I couldn’t stop laughing. This was so much better than standing alone!

 

“Haha, this was when I was trying to get a picture of the Aragon marquee and Paco threw his hand in front of my phone,” I giddily told Henry later, whose response was, “You’re so dumb.”

After about an hour of people-watching, the line started to move and we eventually got to move over to the line that got to enter the venue next. The staff had this line-formation down to a science, and it moved flawlessly. Props to those people for keeping shit organized and efficient unlike those LiveNation motherfuckers in Toronto. I’m not sure if these people were Aragon staff, KPOP ME staff, or what, but they are fucking good at their job and I wanted to tell them that when I saw them after the show, but I was caught up in a current of happy Taeyang fans high on Hanguel.

I lost Paco inside the doors when girls had to get in different lines for the dreaded pat down / bag check, so that was Sad Times. However, this just meant that I got to get lost in my own little world during the show, which is the best thing about going to shows alone, in my opinion. I don’t have to be Erin for a few hours and it’s a goddamn relief.

You know how it is.

I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry to get to the stage area, because the lobby of the Aragon was stunning and I would have liked to take more pictures. At the end of the hallway, there were steps that went up and then split to the left and to the right, which then spilled out into the ballroom. It was so big! It had a vintage carnival feel to it, and the ceiling was painted like a galaxy.

Image result for aragon ballroom

This is 100% NOT MY PICTURE. I can’t find anyone to credit though, but I wanted to post it here to show how fantastic this venue is. I hope I can make it back there for more shows!

The way the venue was set up, the platinum VIPs were in the very first sliver of the floor, the behind that barricade were the P1 richies, and then behind the next and final barricade were us poor P2 peasants. However, by some stroke of fate, I was able to get second row behind the P2 barricade, off to the right (off to the right is my bread n’ butter concert spot, you guys; it’s the sweet spot for me). As it was with the G-Dragon show, the concert attendees were primarily Asian, and now that I have two kpop concerts under my belt, I feel that I can honestly say that these crowds were so much better than the crowds at most other concerts I go to. No pushing or shoving, just kindness all around.

I took this picture just to give Henry some perspective on where I was in the crowd.

Literally, I loved everyone around me! Especially the adorable girl to my left who took a phonecall before the show started and said something about being there alone, super shy and awkward, but then when the lights went down she was ALL LUNGS, my friends. That girl never stopped screaming and shouting the lyrics through the whole night and it was inspirational. I screamed right along with her because MOTHERFUCKING YOUNG BAE!!!!

Taeyang came out to the “White Night” intro and the frantic screaming around me nearly knocked me off balance. It was legit hysteria in the Aragon. I mean, have you seen Taeyang? He’s the total package. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

I lost track of the set list and couldn’t find one specifically from the Chicago show, but it seemed like it was pretty much the same for all US concerts, so here’s the one from San Jose:

  1. “White Night”
  2. “Ringa Linga”
  3. “Body”
  4. “Super Star”
  5. “Wake Me Up”
  6. “Only Look at Me”
  7. “Wedding Dress”
  8. “Amazin'”
  9. “1AM”
  10. “Naked”
  11. “So Good”
  12. “I Need A Girl”
  13. “Empty Road”
  14. “Ride”
  15. “Tonight”
  16. “Love You to Death”
  17. “Last Dance”
  18. “Darling”
Encore
  1. “Break Down”
  2. “Good Boy”
  3. “Stay With Me”
  4. “Bang Bang Bang”
  5. “Fantastic Baby”
  6. “Eyes, Nose, Lips”

He fell toward the end of “Ringa Linga” but bounced back right away because he’s a true entertainer. If that had been me, I would have lost my shit, tried to fire someone, and then stormed off stage.

Basically the same thing I do to Henry on a daily basis but instead of storming off a stage, I’m storming up the steps and slamming my bedroom door.

🛎🛎🛎

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"Wake Me Up"

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^^My favorite song from White Night <3.

What I like about Taeyang is that it’s so obvious just by watching a few interviews or variety shows that he’s a nice guy. A genuinely nice guy. There is a reality show about the making of BIGBANG from 2005 (I think?), where YG Entertainment was auditioning boys to be in the band. Taeyang and G-Dragon were pretty much guaranteed to make it because they had been YG trainees for like, ever, and BIGBANG was essentially being built around them. Anyway, the one thing about Taeyang that has always stuck out to me is that whenever G-Dragon would get really tough on the other guys (because he’s such a perfectionist and came off as super bossy in that series), he would sometimes make them cry, and then it would be Taeyang who would come over to comfort them after GD had left the room.

I don’t think his caring nature is an act. He just comes across as very down to earth and I really wish I could have attended the send-off after the show because he apparently has been taking time to greet and talk to every single fan there, I can’t even believe it, how is he so wonderful!?

Henry was like "Did Taeyang sing Good Boy?" and my response was to make him watch this video 87 times.

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^^^OMFG TAEYANG, JUST STOP. NO I’M KIDDING, DON’T EVER STOP!!

If only G-Dragon had surprise-sauntered on stage for this though.

At one point, Taeyang sat down behind a piano. I started to clench, because I was pretty sure I knew what was coming, and it was freaking “Last Dance.” This is the ONLY BIGBANG song that I skip over when it comes on, beautiful as it is, because it makes me so sad and I honestly can’t handle it. However, there was no “skip” button at this show so I had to stand there and endure it, but luckily everyone else was crying too.

🔫🔫🔫 I sold my Riot Fest ticket so I could see Taeyang instead and I would 100% do it again every time.

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OMG OK so I know it’s not the same with the rest of BIGBANG there, but when Taeyang busted out “Bang Bang Bang” and “Fantastic Baby” during the encore, I thought we were all going to collectively begin squirting blood out of our mouths on account of the major throat-shredding this inspired! There is a really good chance I will never get to see BIGBANG live, so to be able to see Taeyang sing his parts and do the choreo that I have memorized from the millions of MV views, it was just so incredible and I WAS SO FUCKING PUMPED!!!!

I really thought the roof was going to crashing down around us, everyone was just going fucking nuts. How can anyone be immune to that?! I thought I was going to blow out blood vessels in my head!

The whole night had a very distinct, surreal veil draped over it. I was there, in the same room as Taeyang, an idol from across the world that I have watched in so many videos, wishing for the chance to be in the audience of one of this shows.  It was hard to believe that in the span of a little more than a month, I got to see two members of BIGBANG on their solo tours. To say I felt blessed is a huge understatement. I felt incredibly grateful, so much that it’s hard to even express without getting all cheesy and borderline Jesusy. Life is still so very far from perfect (sooooooo very), but this whole scene has really changed my attitude in some ways (not all, though — sorry Henry) and definitely added a ton of fun to my days. And it has taken me to Newark, Toronto, and Chicago just this summer alone! It has been so worth it and beyond memorable.

I will never forget this night.

Sep 162017
 

OK man, I’m really trying to blow through these Chicago posts because I want to write about the Taeyang concert, but my penchant for chronology won’t let me skip ahead. So let’s whiz through the second half of our Sunday in Chicago, because really it can be summarized by: lots of walking, more Chooch injuries, me pouting at lunch which was really projecting because I had pre-show nerves big time. It’s hard enough going to shows by myself in my own city, let alone some giant metropolis like Chicago. My nerves were shook, yo.

After Navy Pier, we decided to check out Lincoln Park (I type “Linkin” every single time, ugh) because of the free zoo. I have some mixed feelings about zoos, which is pretty obvious, but Henry and Chooch like them and anything that was going to eat up a few hours without also eating up our bank account was pretty desirable.

Henry thought he knew for sure how to get there via bus, but he done fucked up twice and we wound up standing in front of some church somewhere, waiting for a Lyft. (Chooch and I went into the church to snoop around because something was going on, no not mass, thanks for suggesting the obvious though, but then we were afraid of getting usurped by the holy spirit so we split.)

Eventually, we made it, and the road into the park where the Lyft dude dropped us off was blocked off to traffic. Henry decided he wanted to cross over, so we followed him and somehow it ended up looking like we were just casually strolling in the middle of the road instead of crossing because Henry kept changing his mind and Chooch and I (aka the Lemmings) kept blindly following him, so some lady cop YELLED AT US not to walk in the street even though it was closed to traffic, and if there is one thing I hate, it’s being YELLED AT by AUTHORITY FIGURES, so I was straight RUFFLED at this point and snottily yelled, “THANKS FOR GETTING US YELLED AT, ASSHOLE” and the cop was all, ‘I just don’t want y’all to get hit,” and I was like, “HUH, THE ROAD IS CLOSED THOUGH?!” and then SUDDENLY this beautiful car came zooming past us, followed closely by a car with like a hundred cameras hanging off it.

“WHAT IS GOING ON?!” I asked the cop, and she acted like she wasn’t sure if she should tell me, but then she stuttered, “Cadillac commercial.”

OH.

That’s boring.

I was really mad about getting yelled at for like the next 45 minutes though and I kept replaying it over and over again in my thick head.

But enough about COPS. Lincoln Park was so wonderful, like being in the country while still having good cell service and not getting suspicious stares from the locals for being CITY FOLK.

The zoo was full-fledged, too, and I can’t believe it was free. I had plans to look up how that’s sustainable, but then I remembered that I am a half-assed blogger who only delivers partial facts so why start being accurate now.

Some girls asked me to take their picture in front of this statue and then when they saw me getting ready to take Chooch’s picture, the one was all, “Do you want me to  take a picture of you guys too?” and in my head I was like SO MANY NOs, A GIANT BUSHEL OF NOPES but she was so nice for offering so I relinquished my phone and posed stiffly next to Chooch.

It turned out OK and Henry was like, “Yeah, because a stranger took it and not me.” I HATE EVERY PICTURE HENRY HAS EVER TAKEN OF ME. It’s like he purposely aims for the worst angles and timing in case anyone on the Internet ever decides to woo me, Henry can be like BRO THIS IS WHAT SHE REALLY LOOKS LIKE OK.

Also, I’m excited that Chooch’s hair has grown out some since these pictures were taken. His latest cut was WAY TOO SHORT and did nothing to complement his cute BABY CHEEKS.

Then some old man sidled up next to us at the puma exhibit and schooled us on how the government wants us to believe that pumas are endangered but he’s from Florida and they’re more prevalent there than deer, and etc etc., please stop talking to us, human interaction is uncomfortable, stop looking at me, I feel ya, pumas.

I have no idea what that was all about or how much of it was even true, like maybe he’s a disgruntled former zoo employee trying to start rumors?

In any case, we only stayed at the zoo for about 90 minutes before it was time for an afternoon feeding. Henry thought he found a vegetarian place within walking distance, but we just kept walking and walking and walking and I was getting so irritated, partially from hunger but also a lot of it was pre-show nerves, so we ended up going to Del Seoul which wasn’t originally an option because Chooch hates everything with flavor, but we were like BOY YOU BEST DEAL WITH THIS SHIT and he ended up really liking his tofu taco, and I liked mine too but I only ordered one instead of two and then got unreasonably upset about this when really it was just PROJECTION because MAJOR INTERNAL STRESS was happening. This show was a big deal for me and I was so worried it was going to be awful since I was going alone.

I was also mad because Henry got kimchi fries but there was way too much pork belly crap to eat around and I was like, dying for kimchi because I eat it every day, yet when Henry was like, “Just go back up and order a side of kimchi” I acted like this was the most offensive and ludicrous suggestion ever and refused.

At least I can admit that I’m a fucking spoiled brat? Even if it takes two weeks. And I will never say it out loud to Henry’s face.

By this point, it was late afternoon and I needed to go back to the hotel to “rest” (LOL yeah right, this never happens) and change for the concert, so we got back on the L and made it back to our beloved Chinatown without issue. I liked the L! It wasn’t as cool as the subway in Toronto, but it got us where we needed to be fairly easily and we never had to use our car once the whole weekend.

We were going to stop at Ice Max in Chinatown for ice cream but the line was out the door. The rolled ice cream place across the street was even worse. So we stopped there on the way home from the Taeyang concert around 11pm that night.

[The Taeyang concert will be its own separate post, because there’s just so much to say and this post has gone on long enough.]

Pittsburgh just recently jumped on the rolled ice cream trend too but I’m glad that our first foray into this world was in Chinatown. It felt way more legit and authentic, and it was like a fucking party up in that bitch.

Even at 11pm on a Sunday, that place was packed, but since we had nowhere to be, the wait didn’t bother us at all. Besides, the energy and atmosphere of Ice Max was so entertaining! It was like leaving the concert and going to an after party. (OMG WHAT IF TAEYANG HAD ROLLED IN.)

If cereal is a flavor, I will choose it every time. Fruity Pebbles ice cream, topped with strawberries and more Fruity Pebbles, and fucking Pocky man.  I don’t even care what Henry and Chooch got.

What a way to end the night.

Sep 132017
 

…when you’ve been blogging since 2001, coming up with titles eventually lands itself on the RAT’S ASS list.

I don’t know what that means, other than I’m all tapped out these days with stringing words together cleverly, like some fucking McSweeney’s Christmas tree garland.

Today’s Chicago weekend installment will mostly consist of photos of Navy Pier because, judging by my camera roll, I found that spot to be especially inspiring I guess.

As usual, I was the first one out of bed Sunday morning. I’m always rearin’ to go when we’re out of town, when Henry could happily lounge around the hotel room until noon. I guess he wants to get his money’s worth.

This view was super familiar by the time the weekend was over.

The plan for Saturday was to take the L downtown, have a cheap breakfast (LOLOLOL at cheap), and then head over to Navy Pier.

This little spot was so pretty and mysterious!

We decided to grab a donut a Do-Rite, because the Firecake donut from the night before had awoken some latent doughnut craving in me that has honestly never been active before. Very rarely do I ever seek out donuts, but that pistachio old-fashioned inspired me.

And of all the options at Do-Rite, I honed right in on their pistachio option, which was different than Firecakes. Theirs also had a meyer lemon glaze — two of my favorite flavors on one donut!

We also each got a breakfast sandwich, and I’m so happy we did because they were a million times better than I expected. I thought it was going to be some lazily slopped-together egg thing on a generic english muffin or something, but nope—they were served to us on warm, buttery brioche buns. Holy shit they were so good. Mine had avocado and some other shit on it, I can’t remember. I’m so glad that Chooch and I only ate half of our donuts, because these sandwiches needed to be devoured, entirely, at once.

Here’s my donut. I ate my sandwich too fast to get a picture.

These birds wanted us to feed them so bad but Henry was all DO NOT FEED THEM LOOK HOW FAT THEY ARE THAT ONE CAN BARELY FLY.

The highlight of breakfast, which we ate at a table outside of the shop, was when some blond bitch came over and squeezed herself into a table, slamming her chair into the back of some lady’s chair in the process. Said lady had been sitting peacefully at her table until this happened, and it made her snap out. She gathered up her belongings, turned to the chair-slammer and said, “YOU COULD HAVE SAID EXCUSE ME” and then stomped away. It was epic. So dramatic. The blond bitch never turned around, just acted like nothing happened and pretended she wasn’t some rude-ass bitch.

I GUESS YOU HAD TO BE THERE.

Coming up: so many pictures of whatever lake that is. You know, one of those great ones.

Henry said, “Pretend like you like each other” because we had been bickering so badly prior to this, you have no idea, except if you know us, yes you do have an idea. Probably several.

Pretending we like each other. “Oh, pu-hahahaha, such good times.” Chooch was mad because HE WANTED TO DO ALL OF THE THINGS and we kept saying no because I’m fucking sorry, but I didn’t go to Chicago to spend a beautiful day inside the Children’s Museum. I came to see fucking TAEYANG. GODDAMN PRINCE YOUNG-BAE. Everything else was secondary.

Furthermore, my kid never even wants to go to the Children’s Museum in our own damn city.

We did go on the ferris wheel thing though. Well, Chooch and I did. Henry is too much of a tight-wad*, so he stayed on terra firma.

*(Frugal or scared, you be the judge!)

We got to the Navy Pier right after it opened at 10 so we only stood in line for the wheel for about 5 minutes, if even that. It was a miracle.

We shared a car with a family of four and some rando guy who is probably some YouTuber based on his creepy camera but everyone was super chill and I was thankful for that because we were stuck in that thing for like 15 minutes and I had THE SWEATS big time because I forgot how much I hate these things.

The wheel went around for three whole revolutions and we didn’t fight during a single one! Henry has a theory that he’s the catalyst and I think that’s accurate.

🎡

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CAN YOU FIND HENRY?!

Henry texted and said that a G-Dragon song was playing on the swings and I was like, “LOL OK YEAH RIGHT SURE NICE TRY HANK” but he swore up and down that this was Truth. Conveniently, he couldn’t think of the name of the song, how it goes, or if it’s old or new.

I feel like Chooch and I hanged up on Henry at some point while toiling around on the pier and found some dumb reasons to be mad at him and to start so many fights. I wonder what we look like to passers-by.

While we were strolling about, I made some comment on how diverse and indie the music was that was playing over the loud speakers, for instance, The Decemberists was playing and I was briefly transported back to the early ’00s when I was a little music snob and loved all that pretentious Portland muzak. About one minute later, the song switched and I was all HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE because it was motherfucking “Coup d’etat” by G-DRAGON. Henry wasn’t lying to me!

Navy Pier is playing G-Dragon—Chicago rules.

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Henry said that this wasn’t even the song he heard earlier, so that’s at least two different G-Dragon songs that Navy Pier has on tap. Chicago, you are LEGIT.

From here, we decided to go to Lincoln Park. BUT THAT IS A POST FOR ANOTHER DAY.

Sep 122017
 

One trend on Instagram that kind of gets on my nerves is hashtags to commemorate vacations. Like #TheSmithsInSaskatoon or #RandomLifestyleBloggerInPalmSprings. I was thinking about what hashtag I would use if I was some Instagram try-hard and the only thing I could think of was #TheFuckSticksDoChicagoOnABlueCollarBudget

Seemed a bit long and clunky though.

It was somewhere in between lunch & dinner when we were toiling around Milennium Park. None of us were particularly starving yet but I made the executive decision that we should find somewhere to eat ASAP before any fuses got blown.

Some of us go from zero to KILLKILLKILL when it comes to feeding schedules. The ‘some of us’ that don’t have beards.

Henry determined that one of the famous (aren’t they all) deep dish joints was within walking distance so we set off into the unknowns of Chicago. Chooch and I were particularly fascinated/horrified every time we had to walk underneath a train thingie.

You know.

Those thingies.

Here in Pittsburgh, we have a fuck load of bridges. Honestly. If you take any tour here in the ‘Burgh, you will learn that Pittsburgh has the second most bridges of any city in the world but I can’t imagine this is true.

We do have a ton though, as well as tunnels, both of which I hate and have no choice but to travserse every single day in order to get to and from work.

That being said, I really enjoyed walking across this bridge in Chicago! And the river below didn’t make me clench as much as our gross rivers do.

I’m not sure what transpired internally from one side of the river to the next, but Chooch was a hornet after we crossed. So then I started to feed off that and shouted things like WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT YOU AT HOME WITH YOUR GRANDMOTHER THIS IS THE WORST TRIP I HATE EVERYTHING.

And then Henry accidentally hit him in the mouth (I swear—Chooch is supposed to be guest-blogging about this) when he was trying get something out of his pocket, and then Chooch started to cry out of shock and there were people walking toward us and all I could think was THIS IS 2017 NOW WE WILL HAVE OUR SON TAKEN AWAY AND WE’LL HAVE TO MOVE TO CHICAGO TO BE CLOSE TO THE ORPHANAGE.

But then everything was OK because we saw the restaurant up ahead—-and all of the hundreds of people waiting outside of it.

Even at 3pm there was a 90 minute wait. Nope.

So we found another “famous” deep dish place right up the street and the wait there was only 30 minutes but they sat us after about 5 – I think they were just trying to look cool, I dunno.

You guys, this place was so unmemorable to me that I had to Google “deep dish Chicago” and hope that the one we ate at looked familiar to me. Apparently, it was Gino’s.

Look, there was nothing bad about this place AT ALL. We had a great waitress who was very attentive (such as when Chooch banged his elbow off the table while ordering, she asked him if he was OK, which was more than Henry and I did because we didn’t even know anything happened), the beer selection was good (I think?), and the pizza was fine! But the thing is, we’re just not that wild about deep dish. Is that weird? I think it’s good, but I’m very picky with pizza and if we had deep dish in Pittsburgh I would probably skip it every time in favor of Giovanni’s and Fiori’s because I love that greasy thin crust/sweet sauce combo, yeah boi.

I liked that nearly every surface of the place was covered in customer graffiti. It made it feel wonderfully late-80s and that appealed to me. To be honest, I was still kind of annoyed even after we were seated, but then Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen” came on and all was right in my world again. And then Henry made it wrong when he said he was looking at my painting of Billy Ocean the other night when he was sitting at the computer and couldn’t for the life of him remember who it was supposed to be BECAUSE I’M A SHITTY ARTIST, SAY IT HENRY. SAY THE FUCKING WORDS.

We were originally sitting at a table but then a booth opened up right after we ordered so Henry asked if we could move and the waitress was like IDGAF and then lovingly called Chooch “Bub” or something—she only liked communicating with him and just gave Henry and me the dregs of her personality allotment. Which was fine! I WASN’T IN THE MOOD FOR SMALL TALK ANYWAY.

Seriously though, she was a good waitress.

I did like this pizza. The crust had a sweetness to it that reminded me of something from my childhood. One piece was enough for me though, jesus christ! That pizza sits like a brick in your stomach.

Mostly, we only ordered a small because we wanted to get ice cream or something afterward, because that’s what we do, OK? Some people go to a new city to see war memorials or art, we go for the ice cream. But then I realized that Firecakes was super close to where we just ate, and even though I’m not a big donut fanatic, I thought that maybe Chicago donuts could change my mind.

Yep, they did. 

We had a lot of Chicago calories to walk off, so we roamed around.  Chooch counted all the dogs he saw, imprinted on a bunch of geese, and fell down several steps at Trump Tower (more reason to hope that guest post comes to fruition). But the important thing to note is that since we were properly fed and sugared, we all got along wonderfully for the rest of the evening!

We went back to Millennium Park, pretended to be interested in the jazz festival for a few minutes only because Chooch had to use the bathroom, and then accidentally walked to Buckingham Fountain.

They were standing sort of like this on accident but then I made them do it more pronounced and then Chooch started crying because Henry stepped on his foot.

After this, we walked to get coffee at Goddess and the Baker (which I wrote about in the Firecakes link up above, because god forbid I should ever keep everything together in one nice, organized blog post), and almost immediately after that, the skies opened up and huge, fat rain drops fell out of nowhere. There wasn’t any rain in the forecast, so we  were like, “Is this a Chicago thing, or…?” Instead of taking the L back to Chinatown and having to walk another 4 blocks back to the hotel in the rain, we took a Lyft. Chooch was so excited about this. I don’t know why he gets so excited about Lyfts and Ubers. Our driver was an older man who took a phone call from his friend Joe. They talked about taking the helicopter out the next morning and if someone was still in Mexico, I don’t know the details because I stopped paying attention when my mom texted me about a TOP doll she found on eBay and asked me if I wanted it and I was like, “Please if it’s BIGBANG or just kpop-related in general, do not ask. Just buy.”

Our driver’s phone kept going off during the whole ride back  though, and it was that signature T-Mobile chime, so I kept thinking it was TJ from the MTV, texting us with the next challenge. (REAL WORLD/ROAD RULES CHALLENGE JOKE, YOU GUYS.)

Anyway, that concludes day 1 in Chicago. We walked 35,000 steps, not as much as Toronto, but enough to make Chooch complain. Get on our level, chump.

Sep 112017
 

Hi Guys! Chooch here and I am going to be telling all about my Injuries all over Chicago!

So this one is very much important and I am flipping off Trump Tower because long story short I fell down the steps on the back and twisted my ankle, but not that bad.  :P Trump should leave America alone and worry about making his steps great again.

Next, this pho was taken directly after I had been slammed in the trolley door. So we were getting off at this stop and all of a sudden Daddy stops and I am tapped in between the doors and I can’t go anywhere. Then all of a sudden, the doors closed and I was stuck for a split second. But thankfully daddy started moving and I got out!

Another injury happened when we were walking to some pizza place and daddy stuck his hand down my pants “Accidently” and so I did it to him, and he put his elbow back to push me away but he ended up hitting me right in the mouth. So it looked like daddy abused me.

 

The last injuries that happened both in the span in 30 seconds, was at Rite-Aid and I got medicine because I was sick. But I also went into the bathroom because I had to, and I hit my elbow off the door, and I was like “Ow!” and then when I went into the stall I slammed my finger in the door on accident and it hurt for like 10 minutes.

So there you guys go, those are the 4… Oh hey! I missed one!

So the pizza place we were headed to, when I got hit in the mouth (See Sentence 3), we ended up not going to because it was crowded and I was kind of crying soooooo we didn’t go there, we went to another pizza place really close by. And I stopped crying so it was fine until we got a table and we were ordering and I banged my elbow of the edge of the table, I was fine but it stung for a second.

So there you go, that was the 5 injuries I had in Chicago, I hope you enjoyed! Make sure you SMASH that like button, and also Subscribe to Ohhonestlyerin and leave a comment telling what you liked and what you maybe thought was dumb that I added! PEACE!

 

Sep 102017
 

On Saturday, we had donuts and coffee at some point while in Chicago. I’m not a big donut connoisseur by any stretch, but that might be because Pittsburgh doesn’t really have much to offer in that vein. (Although I still haven’t tried Duck Donuts and that place seems appealing to me.)

(And please don’t say BUT PEACE, LOVE, LITTLE DONUTS because I fucking refuse to support an establishment owned by a homophobic bigot piece of shit. It saddens me how many pieces have seemed to either overlook that or have forgotten. But I never forget!)

I wanted to try Firecakes though because they’re reknown for their donut ice cream sandwiches. Unforch, we stopped here right after eating pizza and I did not have it in me to find room in my stomach next to all that cheese. Ugh. I always have big plans of visiting a city and eating all their trendy food and then end up only eating two meals. 

(Honestly, aside from breakfast in Indiana that morning, the late lunch pizza was only sit-down meal for the day in Chicago.)

If there is anything pistachio on the menu, I will snatch that shit up without a secondary glance. This Sicilian pistachio old-fashioned was a DELIGHT. My donut preference is light and non-messy. Nothing filled. I hate filled donuts! And I’m not big into chocolate-y ones either. I like ones that get most of the flavor from the actual donut dough, and that’s how this one was. Not too sweet, with a gentle, light-handed pistachio nuance. #doucheyYelpreview

I didn’t want to share, but I did because I wanted to try Henry’s which was good but messy and filled. :( It was butterscotch praising, which I almost ordered but now I’m glad I didn’t because that pistachio was everything I wanted in that moment. 

(I just stared dreaming at the photo of it for a couple seconds into the Inappropriate Zone.)

Chooch got a red velvet but I didn’t try his because, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, I think I’m over red velvet. We had a long, good run together though! 

Later that evening, we hit up Goddess and the Baker because it was the only non-Starbucks cafe open at that hour within walking distance. Henry hated  it immediately because he hates coffee and everything about that scene. Chooch was down though because he’s a hot chocolate aficionado. 

I got a pourover and later had major order-remorse when I noticed the specialty drink menu — so many interesting flavored lattes that appealed to me! I’m really into honey, floral, and maple—not all in one latte, but you know…if I wander into a coffee joint that has those options beyond your standard pumpkin spice and caramel, I will happily overlook the pretentious third wave coffee klatch I’m inevitably walking in on. 

(Speaking of, there is a place here in Bloomfield that has an impressive list of housemade floral syrups and maybe I’ll stop there today—YOU DONT KNOW MY SCHEDULE!)

That pourover was delicious though. However, while I was waiting for it, some suspicious guy walked in, came right up to me because why wouldn’t he, and said something like, “Excuse me, miss” and then a bunch of words in a tone entirely too low for me or most normal-eared humans to possibly hear. I panicked because he had a very questionable aura to him so I blurted, “I DONT HAVE ANYTHING IM SORRY” because I assumed that he was asking for money or my pledge to Christ. 

There was a moment of uncertainty where I was braced for a knife in the gut, but then he nodded and walked slowly back out onto the street. 

I kee expecting this sign to say “eat now caffeinate later” and that would just be so fucking wrong. 

Overall, I would go back to both of these places in Chicago (they each have multiple locations, too) and probably would try to save room for a donut ice cream sandwich next time because I have The Regrets. 

Thank you. This has been a coffee and donut intermission. 

Sep 092017
 

Technically, this was my fourth time in Chicago, but I have never actually gotten to see anything or explore because we are always there for Riot Fest, and that’s a three day music festival which doesn’t really allow for tourism time. I’ve never even had a chance to see the Bean in person!

So I was really happy when Henry agreed to leave a day earlier for the Taeyang concert so that we would have a full day on Saturday to actually walk around downtown Chicago like fuckin’ tourists, man.

First, we explored the Bahá’í Temple, and then we checked into our hotel, the Chicago Loop Hotel, which was…downtown but not downtown? I don’t know. I don’t feel like looking at a map right. I can tell you that it was about a 10 minute ride on the L to get to the main attractions in downtown Chicago, though.

The hotel was way nicer than I expected though, after three straight years of staying in the grodiest “hotel” for Riot Fest, so shady that it had a different name all three times. It was definitely one of the nicer rooms Frugal Father has put us up in, and Chooch and I were both impressed. I do this thing where I’m like, “I don’t care if we have to stay in a freaking hostel, I just need to get to [x city] for [x concert]!” but really I’m like, “Please god at least let it be three stars.”

We chilled in the room long enough for me to have a wardrobe change and just chill out for 30 minutes or so. Chooch turned on the TV just in time for me to cry my fucking face off at the tail end of “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Chooch asked me what the movie was even about and as soon as I tried to give him a synopsis, my throat got all closed up and I started sobbing.

It’s just emotion that’s taken me over
Tied up in sorrow, lost in my soul

Sorry. Bee Gees breakdown.

And guess what we had to walk through to get to the L station?!

Fucking Chinatown, man! What luck!

Ah, the wonderful smells and sights of Chinatown! One of the ice cream places on my list was actually in Chinatown, and I had just spotted it across the street when suddenly Chooch started screaming, “MOMMY! KPOP!” and I was like….

“WHAT OMG LET’S GO!!” and Henry was all, “….um, that looks closed. Come on, keep walkin—-” but I was already jay-walking across the street and wrenching the door open.

SORRY HENRY THIS JOINT IS OPEN.

It did kind of look closed though. And not just “closed for the day” but “closed for life.” Why were the windows so dark, like a sex shop!?

This place wasn’t as friendly as the store we visited in Toronto, but it was still like walking into a life-sized diorama of my heart. Glorious kpop was floating out of the store’s speakers while a TV mounted to the wall played the accompanying MVs. Teenaged fangirls were running amok, scooping up every item that featured their biases: pillows, socks, piggybanks. I found a Running Man pillow that I really wanted but it was $25 and kind of small, so I decided that Henry will just have to get a sewing machine and make his own k-pillows.

Ugh, I hate how expensive kpop merch is! We did stop back the next day though and I bought a BIGBANG coffee cup. Chooch got some dumb cat change purse, which was entirely unrelated to kpop but OK.

There have already been threats to hold my new coffee cup hostage.

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A few blocks later, we arrived at the Cermak/Chinatown L station. I got all clenched up and nervous because public transportation is so confusing to me. Luckily, Henry can read a map with colored lines on it and use common sense to figure out which line to get on and where to get off, while Chooch and I just stood there and stared at people like Amish kids out on Rumspringa.

After Henry purchased our tickets, Chooch and I made asses of ourselves trying to get through the gate thing and one of the CTA workers had to come over and help. Chicago is hard!

The ride into town was relatively painless though. It wasn’t too crowded for a Saturday afternoon and no one was particularly shifty.

Then when we got off the L, Chooch fell when he was trying to race Henry up the station steps. This would be the first of many Chicago injuries for your boy Chooch.

Anyway, we made it downtown and emerged from the underground which Chooch got all giggly about because THIS IS WHAT A REAL CITY FEELS LIKE SON. None of that quaint Pittsburgh shit. I can basically walk the perimeter of downtown Pittsburgh on my lunch break, and nothing makes it feel more small than coming back to it after a weekend in a city like Chicago or Toronto. Sigh. I still love you, Pittsburgh. The Tiny Tim of US cities.

What happened next was that we walked to Millenium Park to see the Bean…

…but first we stopped to admire these kooky water fountains first which I actually loved way more than the Bean…

So creepy and beautiful all at once. 

There was a jazz festival happening in the park so that added to the crowd. Typically I balk at large crowds of humans but the people there weren’t being pushy and it didn’t make me feel like I was suffocating, so we forged on, closer to the Bean. 

This was when we started experience inter-familiar breakdown though, mostly between me and Chooch, because he wasn’t cooperating with me and he was making the act of snapping a family Bean reflection selfie excruciatingly frustrating, and then accused of us trying to LOSE HIM at one point so I threw a tantrum and yelled about just going back to the hotel and that everyone could kindly fuck off into the sun. 

But then I thrusted my phone into Henry’s chest and told him to deal with it, so he took a picture of the three of us like it was the simplest act in the world, and then we agreed that it was time for Chooch and me to feed our demons before they caused our heads to rotate…

Sep 072017
 

That Hunts, though. 

After checking out of our last minute hotel, we stopped to have breakfast at Savory Family Restaurant before leaving Sturgis, Indiana. Chooch and I had massive egg&cheese croissants which neither of us could finish And yes, I chose to eat at this place just because it was called Savory. I love that word.

In the parking lot afterward, there was that brief moment of uncertainty if Henry was going to unlock the doors for us.

One of these days…

The only thing I remember about our Saturday morning drive was that I had a major hypochondriac breakdown and started screaming about how it feels like my whole body is full of cancer and then Henry was all, “THEN GO TO A FUCKING DOCTOR!” and I was all, “NO I WILL NOT!”

And so on and so forth.

This is what it’s like dating a girl who grew up with the Merck Manual on her bedside table.

Um, anyway. The whole reason we were en route to Chicago was so I could see Taeyang perform at the Aragon Theater, but since that wasn’t until Sunday night, we had the whole day Saturday to do as we pleased with no time restraints! Of course my logical decision was to drive past Chicago and visit the Bahá’í House of Worship because you know how much this atheist dick loves religious exploration.

I had only recently heard of this place: it’s one of only eight temples in the world dedicated to the Bahá’í faith, and allegedly the oldest one at that. From what I can tell, it’s a place to worship, open to all religions. Just some totally beautiful temple in Illinois, you guys. I immediately wanted to check it out because I am obsessed with looking at religious stuff—that’s when I turn into the ultimate tourist. It was always my favorite part of the European tours my family went on when I was a kid, too. (I wept in Assisi. I also had a really bad ear ache, but still. I straight-sobbed in front of a fucking monk.)

When I suggested this to Chooch, he was like, “That sounds dumb,” but then I showed him a picture and he was like, “YES, SIGN ME UP.” So Henry was officially out-numbered. But he didn’t put up much of a fight, maybe because he thought it could be a peaceful place to take a nap.

It took quite some time to get to Wilmette, thanks to the traffic outside of Chicago, but when we turned a corner and saw the temple looming ahead, we all agreed it was worth it already.

Unlike the Palace of Gold, there were a good bit of people there, people of all races and ages. I was worried for a second that perhaps Chooch was going to act a fool, but it was like the holy Bahá’í ghosts took over his body and he became restrained, filtered, and even a tad bit reverent.

I mean, how can you visit a place like this and not have your breath taken away, even just from an architectural aspect? Ugh, it was a sight to behold. I have absolutely nothing disparaging or shitty to say about anything or anyone we saw while there. So just enjoy these pictures of this magical spot in Wilmette, Illinois, because it was really something, you guys. God, is this what it feels like to be religious?!

The surrounding gardens made me feel like Alice in Wonderland. It was manicured to perfection.

There was no photography allowed inside the temple, so I made sure to turn my phone and shove it into my purse immediately because I am so afraid of getting yelled at by anyone in even the slightest authoritative role. And there were definitely temple people skulking around with their hands clasped behind their backs, ready to narc on someone for Snapchatting the temple’s guts or taking a church pew selfie. Chooch and I sat together in and gave ourselves neck-kinks from all the staring we did at the ceiling. Henry chose a seat at a safe distance away from us, probably because he didn’t want to be associated with us if one of us were to, say, spontaneously exorcise.

The grounds really inspired Chooch to get photographical, soccer mom-style with his tablet. He was pissed at one point because I supposedly “copied” one of his pictures.

LOL I totally did too.

Fucking Henry photobombed nearly every single one of the pictures, I hate him.

We out here, bitches.

These boats were right across the street from the temple. The whole area was so fucking quaint!

Back on the grounds, we checked out the information center, which had all kinds of…information. Also, a book store which I had hoped I could buy a magnet or a temple-shaped bottle opener, I don’t know.

“It’s probably just books,” Henry said, always the souvenir deterrent.

“No, I bet they at least have postcards and collectors spoons, BRB,” I said, barging into the bookstore.

It was just books. :(

And then we set off for Chicago (again) so we could check into our hotel. TO BE CONTINUED, OMG.

Sep 062017
 

Let me tell you something about our road trips: they are woefully on-the-fly and stressful to the max. This wasn’t some last minute trip by any means, yet it still seemed like I was the only one packed and ready to go.

Because I was.

I took the day off work and everything, thinking we would leave as soon as Chooch was done with school, probably we would even swing by and throw him in the car on the way to Chicago rather than wait for him to walk the whole theee blocks home.

But here’s what happened: Henry came home from work around 1pm and took a billion hour nap (even though I never let him sleep according to some people who apparently camp out in our bedroom closet and count his zzzzzz’s), and then Chooch came home from school and we just sat here wondering if we were ever going to leave or if we should just take an Uber to the airport and wing it.

Wing it, oh haha.

Henry eventually woke up and we left the house sometime around 4:30 (sigh) and then got swept up in some intense Labor Day traffic and it took us TWO HOURS just to get out of the dumb state. I was so fucking pissed.

But I was listening to Korean radio and that kept me from flipping my lid. And Chooch was reading some lame book for school so he was all nice and quiet too.

But then came the part of the trip that we all loathe: Food Foraging.

It shouldn’t be this hard! There are so many idiotic apps to help keep couples from splitting up/murdering each other over hunger wars. But every time Henry is like, “Find somewhere for us to eat” and I give him a dozen options, he’s always like, “WE’RE ON A TOLL ROAD! I CAN’T JUST TURN OFF ANYWHERE! THERE IS NO EXIT FOR ME TO TAKE!” and I’m like, “HELLO WHEN YOU TELL ME TO LOOK FOR A RESTAURANT, THAT IS LITERALLY JUST ONE THING TO CONSIDER: LOOKING FOR A PLACE THAT SERVES FOOD.” Now I’m supposed to read his mind (and a map!?) and find the most convenient grub shack for him to drive to? This is a lot of pressure. So then we had a huge fight about how demanding he is and how I need to learn to read a map and Chooch was like, “Oh, get over yourselves” and then we were going to just eat at a travel plaza but I threw a silent hissy fit inside and Henry was like, “LET’S ALL JUST STARVE! FUCKING STARVE!”

Luckily, I found some joint in some Trump-lovin’ town in Ohio, where a potato festival was going on and everyone was dressed for a rodeo, but Henry was all, “WE ARE NOT EATING HERE” because just a quick drive-by determined that it was some shady dive bar with an obligatory cigarette-smoking farmhand-looking son of a bitch slinking in the doorway. But just around the block was option #2: Jake’s.

Everyone inside knew each other of course, but I didn’t give a fuck because of all things for this rural shit-town in Ohio to have, there was a veggie burger on the menu. And not just any pre-packaged Boca Burger bullshit, but a HOMEMADE VEGGIE BURGER. Chooch and I both ordered that and the waitress was shocked because I guess it’s weird for someone to order something and then the next person to say, “Same”? Whatevs.

“You having the same thing too?” she asked Henry, tone slightly elevated.

But then Henry bucked the trend by ordering a plate of meat.

Anyway, the veggie burger was SO GOOD AND HOMEMADE-Y, but Chooch and I deducted points when we saw it was served on a fucking sandwich thin, like who does that? Henry’s burger was all snug inside a cushiony dough cloud and we were like, “WOW, THAT’S NICE. FUCKING VEGETARIAN PREJUDISTS!”

I might be inclined to stop back at Jake’s sometime to try their HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER PIE on for size.

After dinner I took some cliché pictures of the sunset because there was nothing else to do aside from talking to Henry and that’s just ew. I also played with filters on Snow, because I’m 15.

I wish my eyeballs were really that big, but I am already told occasionally that I look like a cartoon so why gild the lily, I guess.

Here is where shit gets really exciting: the sky was getting darker and darker and Henry STILL DID NOT HAVE A PLACE FOR US TO STAY. The plan was to drive to Indiana and get a hotel and then continue on to Chicago the next morning, but I guess Henry didn’t think to follow through with that plan by booking a hotel, so that’s cool, because you know—LABOR DAY WEEKEND. Finally, it was nearly midnight when Henry booked a “hotel” called the American Inn or something generic like that, right along the border of Indiana and Michigan. I don’t think I ever knew the name of the town but now Henry is saying, “Oh you know….um…uh, and the biker thing is always there…”

Sturgis.

Nope, I don’t know that, Henry.

Anyway, we get to the dumpy American Inn and Henry is told that they have NO VACANCY and that they “told booking.com as such” so they don’t know why we were able to book a room there. Henry came back out and called Booking.com, who looked up the information and laughed because they had NO RECORD of this asshole innkeeper ever calling them or logging into the account to mark it as sold out. So that’s great. But the lady on the phone was so nice and said that she was going to try and get permission from her manager to comp us a stay at another hotel in the area. She wanted to put us up at some nearly-$200/a night Best Western but Henry was hesitant to take her up on that because she wanted him to p at up front and then email them the receipt, at which point we’d be credited. Henry was like, “Fuck that” and found a Super 8 down the street with one room left, and it was only like $79, and bitch please, we don’t want to be spending a ton of money at a place that’s literally a pit-stop. Even I, Erin Rachelle Kelly, am capable of sucking it up for one night. However, the Super 8 ended up being very clean and pleasant! I was very impressed. We had two “doubles” though, which were more like twins, and that was not great, but whatever.

It’s a good thing that Henry didn’t take that booking bitch up on her Best Western offer because he woke up the next to an email from her saying that she was able to “comp the difference” if he emailed the receipt, so we still would have had to pay about $150!

I was so irritated about that. And at Henry for not planning ahead.

But here is where he would say something patronizing, such as, “YOU’RE WELCOME TO HANDLE IT ALL NEXT TIME!” And ew, I only handle the Roadside America portion of our road trips, thanks.

And this concludes a very boring post about our Friday Night Forever Drive.

Aug 102017
 

Keep reading for the not-anticipated conclusion to the cliffhanger from the previous post! So exciting!

….we were halfway back to Leslieville. Henry suggested that we keep walking and just jump on a streetcar when we got tired, but I was having so much fun! The sun was setting, lights were coming on, and the streets were bustling. I loved it—it reminded me of being in Europe as a kid! I asked Henry if just walking the whole way back to Leslieville was do-able, and he muttered, “I mean, I guess.”

I took that as CHALLENGE ACCEPTED so we continued our leisurely stroll through Chinatown where we stopped to get tea at Ichi Tea House, and checked out some street art.

I excitedly hypothesized, “What if G-Dragon was getting ice cream from that ice cream truck right now!?” and Henry just scrunched up his weathered skull-mask in a “don’t be stupid” expression which is basically just his everyday face these days.

Shit started to get fancier by the block and we realized we were in the fashion district, so G-Dragon could have definitely been nearby! I made Henry to see if there was a Gentle Monster in Toronto because maybe he would be there, but there was not  Gentle Monster in Toronto.

Sigh.

Henry and I might have held hands a little. You’ll never know.

We rolled up on this by accident and I was so happy! It was really the only touristy thing we did. (I had a small desire to go in the CN Tower but I also was worried about how much time it would take. So maybe next time when we have Chooch with us!)

There was some dance competition happening on a stage in this plaza but it wasn’t Kpop dancing so what did I care. Just a bunch of dumb little girls in their stupid leotards.

I had to pee really bad when we were downtown still so we popped into a Tim Horton’s, where I accidentally let the door close behind me on some really old homeless guy. A cop was coming out of Tim Horton’s as I was going in and hurriedly held the door open for him and it was like, a really big To Do.

Dumb Probably Pro-Trump American Broad Lets Door Slam on Homeless Man.

Seriously though the cop acted like a fucking hero and I’m surprised he didn’t arrest me to really drive it home, you know? I even said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there!” but the old man didn’t even acknowledge me so maybe he didn’t even realize that his face was nearly smashed by the door that I so recklessly failed to hold.

MAYBE I’M BLOWING IT OUT OF PROPORTION.

Henry owned this block. 

After I peed and Henry bought a bag of Timbits, we continue our trek until suddenly, almost without notice, we went from the flashy fashion district to DARK, EMPTY STREETS and SHAMBLING UNSAVORIES.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god,” I whispered through clenched teeth, clutching Henry’s hand.

“Good one, Erin. Yeah, let’s walk back. This is great,” Henry sighed.

We walked past an ominous park where we could detect the shapes of people having some kind of suspicious interaction.

“Yeah, that doesn’t look bad at all,” Henry said, keeping his focus straight ahead, pretending like he saw nothing.

We walked past some winos hanging on the front stoop of an apartment; one of them screamed to me, “SHE JUST DID HER LAUNDRY!” and I just wanted to cry.

Also, my feet were really starting to feel the effects of the EIGHTEEN MILES we had walked that day.

But soon we were at the bridge to Leslieville, the homestretch! And because this was Canada, the beautiful land that birthed Degrassi and Drake, nothing happened to us. Even their hoodlums & hooligans are nice! 

When we turned on the street of our airbnb, there were several girls sitting on the road in just their bras and pants, so that was interesting. The house behind them was on the market for $998,000, but I guess even rich neighborhoods get trash on the streets every once in awhile.

By the end of the night, my Fitbit said I had walked 42,0000 steps — a new record for me! (That I know of, anyway.)

What a memorable day. Even with all the walking we did, I had a hard time falling asleep because it was G-Dragon Eve!

Aug 092017
 


After a morning & afternoon of ambling about Koreatown<3, we rested at our Airbnb for approximately 20 minutes (lol sorry Henry) before I declared it was coffeetime. Henry consulted a map, because that’s what big strong men do, and determined that we could just walk to the cafe I chose (Hailed Coffee, read more a few posts back if you’re so inclined) and then walk a few blocks to a subway station to set off for Hogtown Vegan, where we unanimously decided to eat dinner.

Neither of us were particularly hungry yet after stuffing ourselves at Korea House, but we figured with all the walking we were about to do, we’d arrive at Hogtown Vegan right before my hunger turned me into a claw-bearing, hissing hothead.


Our walk to the subway took us through Greektown! It was really tempting to hang out there and get some falafel. Toronto, you have too many options!


By now, I was feeling fine with the subway. If we had relied on our own car or Uber, we never would have had the chance to experience Toronto this way. I’m glad Henry listened to me when I suggested it.

(Lol jk – this was all his plan and my initial reaction was YOU WANNA WHAT?! WHY?? because you know me and that public transportation battle.)

This time when we exited the subway at the Christie stop, we went right on Bloor instead of left, where my beloved Koreatown <3 is. (Don’t worry, babe—we’ll be back.) 

I was just wondering out loud if there was also a Little India when we crossed over to another block and the beautiful stench of curry filled our nostrils. I don’t know it was an official India section of town, but there were definitely a lot of Indian restaurants! So again, I was tempted to trade in Hogtown Vegan for some paneer and samosas.

Ugh, choices!

It was around this time that I made Henry look up incoming flights from NYC, because I wanted to go to the airport and stalk greet G-Dragon.

“That’s what kids do!” Henry cried, but he still looked up the flights like a good boy. He claimed that all the flights had already landed and that there were no more NYC flights listed for the day, but he could have told me anything and I would have had no choice but to believe him since I couldn’t verify on my own phone, thanks Canada-less data plan.

Hogtown Vegan was roughly 7? 8? blocks from the subway station. Who knows. Hopefully no one comes here looking for accuracy. We’re all about the FAKE NEWS ’round here.

“We’re” — you know, me and my staff.

I just learned that Hogtown is a nickname for Toronto. I couldn’t figure out why else a vegan restaurant would be named Hogtown because typically, if I saw a restaurant with that name, my mind would go straight to bacon and I would think it was some mega-meat hut.

True to Toronto’s form, the staff in this joint was so great! I really liked our waitress — she was so fucking cute and when I started my order with my signature meek inquiry of, “Can I have….”, she answered, “Of course you can!”

I don’t know why I order food that way. Instead of being all assertive and STATING what I want, I always pose it as a shaky question. Maybe because I’m so used to the waiter coming back and saying, “OH I’M SORRY BUT WE’RE ALL OUT OF THAT” or “WE DON’T ACTUALLY OFFER THAT ANYMORE YOU HAVE AN OUTDATED MENU I GUESS TOO BAD SO SAD” so now I feel the need to question if I can have what I want.

Ugh, my life.

Henry got something. He liked it.

I ordered the Unchicken and Waffles, which came with a  dollop of sweet potato mash (it was terrific, better than Thanksgiving) and collard greens which I just can’t like, sorry Mother Earth for rejecting one of your babies. Anyway, my entrée is what Hogtown Vegan is known for and I’m not surprised — that was the best fake chicken I’ve ever had in my 21 year meat ban. Typically, when I eat things like this, I have to go into it with the mindset that I’m not eating something that is meant to replace the thing that I no longer eat, so that I can fully appreciate the thing for its own unique flavor.

DOES THAT MAKE SENSE OR NAH?

But this unchicken was fucking bomb. It tasted real! The texture was SICK! I have never had fake chicken with such realistic mouth-feel!

The food here was hearty as fuck. I couldn’t clean my plate so Henry had to help me (and he was happy to, believe me). When you eat at a place like this, it will quickly dispel the myth that all vegans are malnourished waifs.

Trust.

Meanwhile, there was family of three at the table next to us. Their little boy was probably about 3 and he made me miss Chooch SO MUCH that I actually started crying for a minute or two. Henry rolled his eyes and reminded me that if Chooch was there, we would probably be bickering because that’s our schtick.

We bicker. Quarrel. Nit-pick. Compete.

We’re ridiculous.

But being there with Henry made me realize that as much as I love being together as a family, sometimes it’s necessary for Henry and I to get away for a bit and be a couple. I think he was less stressed because he only had one person’s happiness to maintain all weekend, instead of contending with me and Chooch crying about being hungry and wanting him to buy us things and CARRY US HENRY, WE’RE TIRED. So in other words, this was almost like a real vacation for Henry!

There were moments of tension—because we’re a couple and we’re traveling, nerves are gonna be struck eventually—but this particular evening was WUNDERBAR.

We finished up dinner and continued to stroll around Bloor Street, stopping at a super new-age-y pet shop called EarthEchoes, the proprietor of which was strutting about the shop in bare feet and some really scary guy with face tattoos was feeding the reptiles.

“Jesus Christ, that guy looks like he just got out of prison for murder,” Henry said.

This place was nuts. There were snakes and chameleons and tropical birds EVERYWHERE. I totally fell in love with Bradly, the store’s pet Savannah Monitor.

“Are they mean?” I asked Henry while Bradly was flicking his tongue at me from between the cage bars.

“Um, yeah,” Henry said before I shoved my whole arm in the cage to caress Bradly.

Henry pulled me out of the store before I took off my shoes, got a face tattoo, and started luring in homeless people for Bradly to feed on.

I talked about how awesome that store was for like, three whole blocks until we dipped into a junk store.

Then Henry distracted me before I found a new wheelchair for the collection by suggesting that we get a beer, which is something that I can do now.

“Get a beer.”

Except that I have to ask questions like, “Do you have wheat beer? OK but if I like <x> and <y> then will I like <z>?” and then I order the opposite of what the bartender suggests and Henry is like, “You won’t like that” but then I like it….

…for the first two sips, until the after taste kicks in.

And that’s exactly what happened at Disgraceland!

I got something that I can’t remember. It was on tap and Henry said I wouldn’t like it but the bartender let me taste it and I was like, “Wow this isn’t bad” and it actually wasn’t bad except that at the end of the day, I just really don’t LIKE beer. I have just found a few that I can TOLERATE. I’m learning that this is a big difference. But at least I’m trying, unlike Henry and coffee!

I love a good basement bathroom!

The bartender was really great. He was very helpful, and also super apologetic that he didn’t really have much in the vein of wheat beers to offer me, so he started listing off suggestions in the area of bars that are well-known for their crazy beer collection and how this broad at this bar used to be the bartender at some other bar, and blah blah blah. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we were dumb Americans on vacation and had no idea what he was going on about.

I just appreciated that he was attentive but not overbearing. And I really enjoyed the ambiance of the bar. The music was grungy, the art on the wall featured spider people and I wanted to buy one but the one I wanted, one that reminded me of Robert Smith and Lydia Lunch, was already sold. :( Henry was happy though because they were all $200.

Disgraceland has a vegan comfort food menu! I wished we hadn’t just eaten dinner, but now at least I have somewhere else to add to the food list if and when we visit Toronto again.

Oh I just checked their menu and I believe I drank the Amsterdam 3-Speed and by that I mean that I nursed it forever and then made Henry drink the last third.

“I was just going to ask if you guys wanted another round, but considering she just gave you the rest of her beer….” the bartender laughed.

I felt like I had to justify the fact that this was actually good for me, that I basically considered it a win, because he was nice and I felt like I was offending him, like he hatched all the beer himself in his bedroom beer-incubator.

Also on Bloor, we went into Through Being Cool, which I had heard about via some Toronto vlogger, because why Google when you can just have pretentious local YouTubers tell you about all the cool shit to do in town. Through Being Cool is a vegan bakery but they also sell vegan goods from other local companies too. I’m not sure if they’re named after the Devo song or the Saves the Day album, but their name is definitely what drew me in.

I’m easily hooked.

I had no idea that this place was even on our route, so it was a happy accident.

Neither of us had any room in our bellies, but we wanted to get some donuts to take back to the room with us, save them for breakfast,  chuck them at orphans, use them to play ring toss with a nude Mounty on Viagra, it’s really none of your business.

However! While we were looking at the packaged food in the cooler (things like vegan chicken salad and homemade vegan cheese), a couple came in and ordered a bunch of donuts. Then another guy came in and got to the counter right before us and he ordered a dozen donuts which made Henry agitated because “Who orders a dozen donuts at 7:30pm?!”

But then he fucking took the DONUT I WANTED. Some raspberry thing and it was THE ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND.

JUST LIKE G-DRAGON.

IT WAS THE G-DRAGON OF DONUTS AND THAT MOTHERCANUCKER TOOK IT.

So I did my “JUST FORGET IT” song and dance and we left.

It could have ruined my night. In Pittsburgh, my night would have been shot to hell. I probably would have flipped a garbage can. But Toronto Erin was minding her temper, although she did bring it up at 37 sporadic moments during the night, but just in a casual, “Remember when that guy took my donut? I hope he chokes” kind of way.

And then we began our trek back to Leslieville, which was supposed to be via subway but it was a really beautiful night and we were enjoying the sights, and the next thing we knew…

Lol cliffhanger.

 

Aug 072017
 

Usually when Henry and I road trip for a concert, it’s a whirlwind of checking into some crap hotel, struggling to find somewhere to eat, going to the show, waking up early & coming home. Never anytime time to explore, sightsee, or immerse ourselves in a new place.

Originally we were going to leave Saturday morning and get to Toronto in the evening, but Chris talked us into leaving a day earlier so that we could have time to explore and see the city. I am so glad we did this. Thank you for the push, Chris!

We woke up early on Saturday because I was REARIN’ to go. Henry had made the unilateral decision to use public transportation and at first I was on board with this, but then when it came time to step on the streetcar on Queen St, I FUCKING PANICKED.

“I don’t think I can do it!” I cried around the fist I was biting.

It doesn’t matter whose fist.

Stop asking about the fist.

Henry was all GODDAMMIT but then remembered that this was my Special Weekend so he swallowed some Prozac and read another chapter from the Tucking Thee Penis Betwixt Thee Legs manual. He declared that it was fine, this was all just fine, not a problem, he understands how anxious public transportation makes me. We walked another block and caught a different street car.

Of course, it was one of the old dingy ones and not the pretty ones we kept seeing rumbling gently down the street. Ugh.

A VIEW FROM THE WINDOW.

We were only on the street car for a few blocks when Henry chirped, “OK, let’s go” and lead me off the street car right into a subway station, ughhhhh!! Henry didn’t disclose that there was a second leg of this pub-transporting odyssey.

We barely had to wait at all for a train to come. I was still pretty leery of this whole procedure (hi, my name is Erin R. Kelly and I’m scared of the mundane) but I blindly followed Henry through the whooshing doors and proceeded to stand alone and scowl at him from across the train because what’s life if it’s not dramatic.

But you know what? It turns out that Toronto’s subway system is pretty fucking amazing, fast, convenient, and it helped us get to Koreatown, so I can’t hate it. I just can’t.

Altogether, it took us about 17 minutes to get to Koreatown from Leslieville using the street car and subway (this doesn’t include the walk from the airbnb to where we caught the street car, but you get the point. This blog post is boring because Henry is feeding me dry information). I would highly recommend it! It ended up being kind of fun and made me feel like I was on vacation and not just killing time by driving around in a strange city before a show which is what typically happens.

We took the subway to Christie Street. When we emerged from the subway station and rounded the corner, I was nearly felled by all the glorious hangul everywhere!

I kept making Henry stop so I could read signs. It was an excelsior learning experience! I know it seems trivial, but this was so exciting to me. I dream every night and every day of going to South Korea, and this was like a tiny little consolation.

However, it was only 9:30am and nothing was open yet. So we just strolled around and drooled over all of the menus posted outside of the restaurants. There were so many to choose from! So different from Pittsburgh.

Henry and I had a small spat because we were both hungry and I didn’t really think this part of the day through. So it was all, “YOU’RE THE ONE WHO HAD TO COME HERE SO GODDAMN EARLY!” and “WELL I DIDN’T SEE YOU SENDING AN ITINERARY TO THE PRINTING PRESS MOTHERFUCKER!” but then we walked to get ice cream and took the street car back to Koreatown for lunch, and everything was amazing after that because Ice Cream Saves.

But first—Kpop shopping!

There was an adorable card shop called Just You – Sarah & Tom that Henry was trying to keep me from seeing. He was rummaging in his cargo shorts for a BB gun to shoot my eyes out when my hands found the door handle and I was whisked away to Kpop Heaven.

A chorus of “Hello! Annyeong!” greeted us before the door had a close behind us. The most adorable Korean women were running the shop, demonstrating some of the knickknacks for us, fawning over my tattoos, talking to us about Kpop—-it was heavenly! Even Henry’s frown was no match for the joy brewing up in that bitch—it got its hooks into the corners of his mouth and tugged them right the fuck up.

ADMIT IT HENRY, YOU LOVED IT.

Especially when “TT” by Twice came on the store stereo and an impromptu dance party broke out.

I wanted to buy every Kpop album they had available but Henry was like DO YOU NOT WANT G-DRAGON MERCH THEN so I settled on two sticker packets for me and Chooch to share: BIGBANG and Twice.

Our favorites. <3

Today is awesome. ❤️💕

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

After such an amazing experience, we were ready to eat. We chose Korea House, and it was motherfucking magic. I love the ambiance!

Being able to read the menu and know what most everything is was so rewarding. Learning Korean is a struggle for me, but I haven’t give up. And when I’m able to use it in situations like this, it just motivates me even more.

I ordered the bibim naengmyeon. Henry has made me versions of it at home and the first time I tried it, I was like, “OH FUCK NO.” Even though I knew it was a cold noodle dish, it was still very alarming and jolting the first time it was placed in front of me. But then something just clicked and it became one of my favorite things that Henry makes me.

When I ordered, I said the actual name of the dish. I didn’t point and I didn’t rely on the number. And the ajummah knew what I ordered! She didn’t make me feel dumb like the time I was at a Mexican restaurant and tried to order rojo sauce on my enchilada and the waitress kept asking “What?” in escalating volumes until I finally just whispered, “Red sauce” with my head hung in defeat.

While we were waiting for our food, the younger guy working there turned on the TV. I figured he was going to put on the news or some sport thing, but instead, he turned on a Jay Park YouTube playlist!

“This is just like being at home,” I giddily squealed to Henry, who was just like, “OH BOY.”

But he loved it. Korean food and kpop videos are life, you guys. Such life.

GOD YES.

The only problem is that I am in a constant war with noodles. It doesn’t matter what the cuisine is. Have you seen me eat spaghetti? By the end, I look like I just went down on a can of slutty tomato sauce. Fork, spoon, chopsticks, my motherfucking phalanges — I AM A MESS WITH NOODLES.

When Henry makes me noodles at home, he cuts them for me (because I’m 5), and in the YouTube videos I watch of people eating food in S.Korea (my life is so full), I often see them using kitchen shears, which is a relief to know that the noodle experts need some help sometimes too.

But the waiter didn’t bring me any noodle scissors. I tried to use my chopsticks to cut them, but then I gave up for a while and just focused on eating the banchan—American restaurants really need to get on the ball with offering complimentary sides for the table. Holy shit, it was a veritable rainbow of pickled delights.

By the time I started working on the noodles, two Korean guys were seated next to us and my noodle-eating stage fright set in. Right before they walked in, I had felt a surge of bravery and started to shovel a huge mound of noodles into my waiting maw via chopsticks, and then immediately realized I hadn’t thought this through. I was frozen, a mile of noodle-drapes hanging out of my mouth, cheeks blown out like a chipmunk, sweat springing up along my hairline—I was seconds away from choking. I kept trying to inhale and suck back the strands of cold strangulation to no avail.

I was only making it worse.

Noodles were flipping and flapping around, splashing my eyeballs and Henry with gochujang,

“Oh my god, what are you doing!?” he hissed. I was in tears, noodles hanging in shame from my mouth like their mom had just caught them watching deep throat porn. I couldn’t breathe because every slight inhale was causing more noodle to slide down my gullet. I just wanted to enjoy my lunch without danger of asphyxiation.”Do you want me to ask for shears?” Henry asked.

I shook my head violently, and in a moment of panic, I reached up with my hands and began tugging the noodles out of my mouth with my fingers, LIKE A BARBARIAN.

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” Henry said, and walked over to the counter to ask the waiter to put me out of my misery.

He returned with shears, cut my fucking noodles like a good dad, and then life went on.

Meanwhile, one of the guys at the table next to us also ordered a noodle dish, and he was given shears with his meal without asking!

Speaking of asking, I heard him ask for more bap and I knew that he was asking for a side of rice!

I LOVE KNOWING THINGS.

After lunch, I celebrated not choking to death by buying some G-Dragon pins across the street at Mr. Pen. We also went to a large market but their candy aisle was kind of a letdown, surprisingly. Sorry, co-workers. I mean, I still bought candy, but not as much as I intended.

After a sufficient Korea immersion, we took the subway back to Leslieville because I promised Henry we could “rest” for awhile, but all that really meant was that I wanted to change clothes, send Chooch some messages since I had wifi at the airbnb, and get coffee before heading back out for dinner.

I’m not one of those people who take vacations to relax, clearly. MORE LATER!  TORONTO IS SPLOOGING CONTENT ALL UP ON THIS HO.

Aug 052017
 

One of the things that was recommended to us by Chronica before our Toronto trip was an ice cream joint called Sweet Jesus. They could have stopped right there and I would have been sold on the name alone. My Grandma Kelly was always saying “Sweet Jesus!” when I was a kid, so this place appealed to me on a personal level already!

But then they mentioned that Sweet Jesus has a butter tart soft serve, and I had to for sure check this out.

They had a small walk-up window shop right down the street from where we were staying in Leslieville, but if you don’t know this about me yet, I am hugely particular and wanted to go to the main location that I saw in all of the YouTube videos I had been watching on Toronto ice cream places, and this is why we got rid of cable because we’re basically YouTube (and DramaFever) exclusive now.

So basically we got rid of regular TV in favor of vloggers.

Hmm.

Anyway, Henry thought this was absurd because we walked past the Leslieville Sweet Jesus at least 78979 times that weekend, but he knows better than to try to silence my chaotic world in order for me to listen to reason.

On Saturday, we woke up early to go to Koreatown and by doing so, nothing was open yet. God, I’m so smart! So Henry started looking up other options, and he noted that the Sweet Jesus I wanted to go to opened at 11, so I decided that we could always just pregame our Korean lunch with a little softserve. I mean, that’s what vacation is for, right?

(Pfft fuck that noise, I’d do this on a regular day at home too because I’m an adult and no one controls my life BUT ME. And also the government, I guess.)

Henry started looking up streetcar info, but I suggested that we just walk because he said it was only 48 minutes away by foot and fuck, I walk so much more than that in a day, so why not? WHY NOT EARN THAT MOTHERFUCKING SINFUL SOFTSERVE.

Plus, this allowed us to walk through Little Italy (where I had my water/hobo piss splashing accident; see the coffee post) and Chinatown, which was really fun and made me feel like we were really making the most of our time there.

So when you ask me if I thought Sweet Jesus was worth a 48-minute walk, I will say yes, and that’s why.

As for the actual ice cream though, I thought it was fine! They sadly didn’t have the butter tart toppings though, so maybe it’s a seasonal thing. This threw me for a loop and I was having ordering panic. I wound up getting the red velvet option because I always snatch up that red velvet shizz.

The 90s yo-girl in me appreciated that the sizes came in Biggie and Smallz. We both got a Smallz, even though they came in plain white cups and not the pretty blue ones with the cool design. Of course I dwelled on this! But I was inspecting the orders of the people in front of us and there was no way I was going to be able to down a Biggie.

Not without some warm-up.

#ColdFellatio

Henry ordered the lemon / coconut cream pie variety.

Henry was “not impressed” by the experience at all, but I think it’s mostly because I made him walk for 48 minutes and the finish line didn’t include an orgasm. He was annoyed that all the good stuff was just a coating and once it was gone, all that was left was ice cream, but I pointed out that this is true of soft serve pretty much….everywhere. I mean, the sprinkles only go so far, Hank!

As for me, I appreciated that the soft serve was more of the rich custard variety. I thought it was fine all on its own, and the toppings were just gilding the lily, really. LOL, j/k — dump on those extra fucking calories, I’m on vacation!

I think it’s good that we went so early in the day because some of the YouTube videos I have seen have mentioned that this place gets packed. There were only three people ahead of us at 11:30am though! Soft serve brunch, how you doin’?

I liked mine though. I’m not sure this would be an old standby for me if I lived in Toronto, but the novelty of it was just good enough for tourist purposes. It was definitely Instagram-friendly, and isn’t that what everything is based on these days? And I for sure inhaled it, and you probably would too, maybe even AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST, OH SHIT KPOP SEGUE IN THE HOUSE:

Up next: KOREATOWN!!!!

Aug 042017
 

One of the biggest differences between Henry and me, perhaps even greater than the age difference, is my crippling dependence on coffee and his extreme dislike of that beautiful brown broth-babe in the buxom mugs and….and…SORRY WHO TURNED ON THE COFFEE PORN?

I mean, just look at his grimace up there!

While we were in Toronto, I wanted to try and hit up as many cafes as possible without going into cardiac arrest. I had a half-assed list that I had prepared from various vlogs I had peeped and also my nemesis Yelp, but some of them were off-the-cuff.

Of course there was the obligatory Tim Horton’s stop on Friday, right before we got into Toronto, when I was having major coffee-craves and starting to picture visualettes of me cracking open Henry’s jugular and gulping on that to tide me over.

Friday evening, we were walking around Leslieville when I realized it was time for my third serving (I’d usually be on my fourth by now but I had beer with dinner instead because Henry wants to have couples beer bellies and pressures me to drink).

This is all fascinating stuff, isn’t it? Like a super personal inspection of my pathetic life? Can you tell that I’m just stalling because I’m not ready to write about the G-Dragon concert?

Ugh, the agony that is my life. It’s not easy being a sixteen-year-old zipped up inside the flesh-bag of an adult working professional.

OK, so Friday evening we stopped at Tango Palace, which I already mentioned on Friday’s liveblog but my OCD nature demands that I mention it again because everything needs to be organized or I’ll lay awake at night with a fluttering heart rate.

Which will probably be more from caffeine intake than actual prescribed OCD symptoms.

So, back to Tango Palace. I just had a plain cup of coffee because I hadn’t had a PLAIN CUP OF COFFEE ALL DAY and it’s not all about frozen mochas and halfcaf skinny soy lattes or whatever it is that the cool kids order so confidently while I’m in the bathroom reciting my order out loud in front of a mirror even though I’m going to end up stuttering it anyway when it’s show time because PRESSURE.

Yeah, so…it felt great to just walk up to the counter and say, “JUST COFFEE.”

Henry got nothing and then proceeded to sit at the table and pout.

I mean, it was just a plain cup of coffee so there’s not much to report on but the ambiance of that joint was supreme. I also noted that in addition to the barista being friendly, everyone in the place seemed like regular people, and by regular I mean that no one was dangling bangles of pretension and coffee snobbery from handlebar moustaches. It was a nice, cozy vibe and I’m glad I got my coffee in a mug instead of to-go. Sometimes it’s nice to just take a break and talk your boyfriend’s face off about an upcoming concert that you’re super stoked for, you know? As opposed to talking off the side of his face while you’re walking around being obvious tourists.

I don’t have a picture of it, but in the back of the cafe, there were two mannequins laying on top of a ceiling-thing. I was happy they were there.

Saturday morning, I tried to use the Keurig in our airbnb and wound up practically flooding the kitchen. Henry came out of the bathroom and actually thought it was from his shower, but nope — just me struggling with a Keurig when all I know how to use these days is a French press. Needless to say, I didn’t drink much of my busted coffee, so the first thing I did when we got to Koreatown that morning was stop at a small cafe called Hodo Kwaja, where I ordered a beautiful, refreshing 얼음 커피.

God, that’s iced coffee, OK.

When the friendly ahjumma handed it to me, she said, “You try first and tell me if it’s OK,” and then she gestured to the row of sugar packets and creamers.

I tried it and said, “It’s perfect” BECAUSE IT WAS.

I felt like singing a Bruno Mars jam to it.

Maybe I was just punchdrunk from being in Koreatown, but it was a wonderful way to the start the morning. Plus, Henry got a bag of walnut cakes with pat (red bean) filling and they were just delightful. Love you, Korea.

About an hour later, we were in the midst of a longer-than-it-was-worth walk to Sweet Jesus. We walked through Little Italy on the way and passed Voodoo Child, which was on my list! However, this happened right after I stepped on a loose pavement tile thing, which resulted in the cold, dirty water which had been collecting underneath it to splash onto my leg, and my mind immediately went to: IS THIS WATER OR IS THIS HOBO PEE and in my mind I felt I looked like I had just been sneezed on by Morla, but if you ask Henry, he’ll tell you I looked like less like a filthy Atreyu and more like I had one tiny dirt fleck on my shin.

Needless to say, we didn’t go to Voodoo Child after that because I was too busy limping under the weight of the filth I was now carrying on my leg.

A bunch of other things happened, but that will be another post.

In the late afternoon, we pub-transported it back to our airbnb, changed clothes, didn’t rest like I promised Henry we would, and then hoofed it to Hailed Coffee, which was about a 15 minute walk from our pad in Leslieville.

This place was on my list because “hailed” is Arabic for cardamon, which is added to this joint’s signature coffees. My heart bleeds for cardamom, so we had to go. Plus, they sell an array of dates! Henry and I love dates! The kinds you eat, not go on.

God forbid.

I ordered the Hailed Cappucino and urged Henry to scoop up some dates, but he was being a big coffee-hating bitch baby and opted to stare sadly out the window instead.

[I just had to take a time out because Catherine was telling Lori about the time Jeannie let me cut her hair one night on late shift and Glenn was all, “Why would anyone let you near them with scissors” and then Lori said one time she had a Vietnamese lady dry cut her hair, and she pantomimed the motion of the blade sailing across a fistful of hair and I had SHIVERS. Like, the good kind. Because I am obsessed with the sound of dry hair being shorn. Oh when that sharp blade crunches down….BRING SOME HOME TO ERIN. And now Glenn and Todd are horrified.]

But um…back to the coffee! I think Hailed was my favorite of all the coffee I had in Toronto. There is just something special about cardamom and also, why don’t I order cappuccinos more often!? 90’s coffee culture is BACK.

I just wish we had gotten some dates to go with this bangin’ mug.

Much later in the evening, we were about to begin our walk back to the airbnb from somewhere stupidly far away. Henry had been complaining about having a headache all day and then suddenly realized he hadn’t had any iced tea. Because it’s OK for him to be addicted to tea but my coffee craze is a burden, OK cool. We were in Chinatown for the second time that day (we get around, guys), and decided to stop into Icha for some iced tea. I got classic milk tea because I’m more Asian than Henry. He got…something else, I don’t know. I quit paying attention to him once my bubble tea was placed in my mitts. I vaguely recall the tea blend being brewed in front of him in some weird mad scientist-looking orb thing.

They’re apparently known for their craft teas. I would highly recommend this joint if you’re looking for something non-coffee at some point, and the people working that night were so friendly and helpful! There is nothing worse than walking into a new place and making a rash decision because you’re so nervous about what you’re looking at.

OK, there are like a million things worse than that but it never feels like it when  you’re frozen in that moment!

He said he liked his tea, in case you were wondering. Hold on, I’m going to text him and find out what it was.

*crickets*

“I just got an iced oolong.” That’s his final answer.

The next morning, a/k/a Sunday, a/k/a my birthday, a/k/a G-DRAGON DAY, we left the airbnb first thing in the morning and walked the short distance to Boxcar Social.

The aesthetics of this place spoke to me in ways that lovers are just not capable.  However, I was nervous at first because the barista seemed like maybe he was going to be snobby, but he was fantastic and super helpful when Henry was perusing the tea menu (he finally found a way to enjoy cafes with me, or at least make it more tolerable for himself). I hate when you go to a coffee place and feel confident enough to ask, “Say, what’s good up in here?” and they just dump a bucket of shrugs on you.

A little guidance please!

I got a soy latte and it was divine.

Henry settled on whatever this fluffy pink thing is and I derived great pleasure from watching his thick, rough man-hands lift that delicate glass by the stem toward his bristling, tea-thirsty moustache, leaving behind a soft brushing of foam on the bristle-tips.

Who hit play on that coffee porn again?

I kept hoping one of these owls would transform into David Bowie. :(

I loved it here. They even do coffee flights! Just not when we were there. :(

This was the only cafe we stopped at on Sunday because the rest of the day mostly consisted of standing in one line after another inside the Air Canada Center. However, I did have an iced coffee that Henry fetched for me at some basic bakery down the street from our airbnb while I stayed back to have my obligatory “everything sucks on my birthday and no one loves me” tantrum even though the day was absolutely fine and I had no reason to feel this way but all y’all bipolars out there can feel me, I’m sure. Henry also came back with a butter tart which I made a point of not sharing with him because it was MY BIRTHDAY NOT HIS. And then suddenly I felt fine! Hey blood sugar, I see you.

I think my main take-away is that people in Canada just truly are nice. I never felt out-of-place anywhere we went, like I wasn’t vegan enough to eat at Hogtown Vegan, hipster enough to sit at the bar at Disgraceland, or trendy enough to order anything more than basic coffee at a pretty cafe. I don’t know where Pittsburgh gets off being so exclusionary, but that’s definitely how I feel in my own city — like I don’t fit in anywhere, and that deters me from going to a lot of places.  I didn’t get that feeling once in Toronto. Toronto, please adopt me.

So now you know where I got my coffee fixes at while we were in Toronto. I can’t wait to go back because we never made it to Strange Love and that was #1 on my dumb stupid no-good list.

Our next trip is a quick stop in Chicago over Labor Day weekend, so if any non-bot is reading this and feels like telling me where to go (AND DON’T SAY TO HELL), I welcome any recommendation!

Aug 012017
 

It’s amazing how much I have to say about two and a half days in Toronto. We saw some shit, eh. We ate some food, we rode some pub-tranz, we pounded some pavement. I was initially going to just start with Saturday and recount the day’s events, but there’s just too much for one measly blog post. 

So let’s break it down. We’ll start off light, with a collection of street art we saw during our time on Maple Leaf turf. The street art was top notch. And since Chooch wasn’t there, Henry had to be my mural stand-in. He was not very happy about it BUT GUESS WHOSE BIRTHDAY WEEKEND IT WAS THATS RIGHT NOT HENRY’S. 

This was somewhere on Bloor, and I was half-tanked on a beer that I forced down at a dive bar called Disgraceland which I liked a whole lot. (The bar, not the beer.)

This picture has a weird glow to it because it was across from some amazing home decor place that had the coolest illuminated facade. While I was making Henry pose for this, he said some girl was walking by the window of the store behind me, laughing at his discomfort. #InstagramHusband

Hey-o, this was somewhere in Dovercourt. I’m so good at knowing where everything is! Jk, my photos are geotagged. Thanks, Apple. 

This was a taco joint in Koreatown. I know right?!? Apparently it’s not just Korean things in Koreatown. :(

(I’ll write more about Koreatown later. I had my best/most awkward meal there.)

I wonder what the landlord would say if I let someone spray up the side of our dumb duplex….

I already posted these last two on my live blog but TOO BAD FOR YOUR EYEBALLS BC HERE THEY ARE AGAIN.

This is one of my favorite parts about being in a new city: finding art all around us. 

That the one thing I will say about Newark too–we didn’t get to spend much time in the city because KCON took up most of our time, but their street art was on point. 

I’m glad that we were on foot for so much of our time in Toronto because it made it easier to appreciate all the little nuances and personality of each section of town. 

I asked Henry if he has anything to say about the murals I forced him to stand in front of; he said no.