Dec 212015

We tried so hard to keep it a secret, but Robbie pretty much figured out right away that me, Henry and Nikki were taking him to Cleveland last Wednesday for the Craig Owens show. Henry and I weren’t sure if it was going to work out at all, since it was in the middle of the week, but Nikki super slickly went behind Robbie’s back and asked his boss to give him the day off. Once that happened, Henry bought the tickets and then we tried to come up with a plausible explanation as to why we were going to Cleveland on a random Wednesday, but stupid Bandsintown alerted Robbie that Craig Owens was playing that night, so he knew. It’s a lot easier to pull one over on our gullible 9-year-old, so I sometimes forget that everyone else wouldn’t just go along with a mysterious road trip without doing some serious investigating on their end.

Robbie loves Craig Owens even more than I do, so we thought it would be the perfect birthday/Christmas gift for him. Especially when our friend Jason mentioned that he could possibly get us access to the video session that was going to filmed earlier that day in the Alternative Press office. That meant we had to leave early on Wednesday, which really set off the alarms in Robbie’s head. Nikki said he was practically bullying her into telling him what was going on.

Surprises are so delightful!

We left an hour later than originally planned because Henry is the worst. Do you know how hard it was to sit in my house waiting for Henry to come home, when there were all these awkward vibes because everything was so suspicious?

< insert boring drive to Cleveland here. >

We arrived in Cleveland sometime after 1 and Nikki woke up from a nap.

“I had a dream that I asked Craig Owens how tall he is and he said he’s 5’10”,” she said. We all agreed that we felt like he was taller than that, so Robbie quickly googled and announced that Craig is, indeed, 6’2″. I wonder if Craig ever thinks about all the rando conversations his fans probably have about him on a daily basis. I mean, even Henry has talked about Craig’s hair A LOT over the years. He’s kind of obsessed with it and will always be the first one to notice if it’s changed since the last time. His only takeaway from the D.R.U.G.S. show we saw in 2011 was that “Craig’s hair is darker.”

We had just enough time to grab coffee and a quick poke through my favorite store of all time, Flower Child:

I had just ended a conversation with the owner about how much I love her shop and how I cried real tears when I was there a month ago and it was closed, when Henry got a text from Jason that said, “Get here NOW.” Henry barked, “Let’s go!” and whisked us out of the shop, which probably looked like we were the clumsiest shoplifters EVER. I can only imagine how suspicious we looked, tearing out of a shop that we had just entered a minute before, but I was too excited to be embarrassed.

“Where are we going?” Robbie asked nervously.

“We have to meet our friend Jason real quick. I have a case of root beer for him,” Henry stuttered.

I mean, that was partially true! Jason is a true root beer connoisseur and especially likes it bottled. So Henry brought a case of root beer from the Faygo Factory for him. This is why Jason likes Henry better than me. Well, that and because Henry doesn’t bring up Jonny Craig every single time we hang out with Jason.

And Robbie knew something was about to happen. He met Jason last year when we were in town for a Chiodos show at House of Blues; Jason met us at Melt for a quick hello and Robbie remembered that he was affiliated with Alternative Press, so even though there is no signage outside of the building that houses the office, it didn’t matter.

The jig was up!

“Don’t freak out,” I whispered over my shoulder as Jason keyed us through the AP door and led us into a back room where cameras were set up and Craig Owens was sitting on a stool, strumming his guitar and warming up.

Robbie’s face looked like this pretty much the whole time: somewhere frozen between a smile and a stroke.

Jason got chairs for us and basically bent over backward to make sure we were comfortable—he is such a stand-up guy! As if he hadn’t already done enough for us, now he was trying to give us more things. We promised him that we were fine, and after reminding us to turn off our phones, he retreated back to his office, because deadlines.

I accidentally took this blurry photo as I was tucking my phone away:

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 preset

Jason warned me that the chair he gave me was kind of broken, which didn’t stop me from leaning back in it, and further and further back until I realized I was falling. I caught myself before anyone noticed and made sure to lean forward for the rest of the afternoon because I didn’t want to be That Person who disrupted filming.

Ugh, that would be so typical of me!

Craig performed two songs with his friend Pete: one was a song that was so brand new, Pete was having difficulties because they literally had just written the music for it the night before. Craig said it will be released sometime in 2016 as part of his new, top secret project. TOTALLY PIQUED.

The second song was off the new Before Their Eyes album which he produced. Both song were fantastic, but that first one was a stunner. Those two songs were being filmed for Periscope, but we got to hear the first one several more times when he was asked to play it again but with a more detailed introduction other than just, “This is…a song” which is how he had originally introduced it, ha! I love Craig.

When he finished performing the songs, he walked back over to where we were sitting so that he could join his friend (NICOLE RORK who is an exceptional photographer and I was low-key fangirling when I saw her there) and come up with some facts for the 10 Things You Didn’t Know segment that he had also agreed to film.

“Did it sound OK, guys?” he asked us, and we were all like, “HHHHHHHNNNNNNNGGGGGGHHHHH YES.”

OK, Henry was way calmer than that.

I don’t want to give anything else away since these video segments haven’t been posted on Alternative Press’s website yet, but I just have to say that Craig is ridiculously interesting, multi-faceted, and extremely intelligent. Listening to him answer questions was riveting. All the behind-the-scenes minutiae was actually fascinating and I’m so humbled that we got to take it all in.

After about an hour of filming, he walked over to us and held out his hand.

“Hi, I’m Craig,” he said with a friendly smile and not the forced kind that Henry always adopts.

I’m sure internally, we were all like, “WE KNOWWW OMG!” but I feel like we kept it together and somehow managed to introduce ourselves without causing a nose bleed or biting off our tongues. He asked us how the drive from Pittsburgh was and Henry gave his stock answer, “Fine. Fine” while I blurted out, “BORING” and I think Robbie was just giggling at this point. Thankfully, Nikki was there to break the ice by telling Craig about her recent dream about him and his height.

“Yeah, I’m pretty tall!” he laughed. “Actually, all of the Chiodos guys are like, over 6 feet tall,” he added, and we were all like, “Oh wow,” with batted eyelashes and flirty giggles because CRAIG OWENS.

Somehow I was able to muster the courage and enough of my voice to thank Craig for allowing us to sit in on that. Thank you, Craig Owens, for being a true gentleman and so gracious to your fans.

(I love that there’s a Cure issue two above Robbie’s head in this picture!)

Before walking out to the parking lot with us to get the root beer, Jason asked again if we needed anything. “Any magazines? Anything at all? No, you’re good?” he asked, and we assured him that he had already done so much for us. Seriously, thank you Santa Pettigrew!

We were about to leave when Craig passed us in the parking lot. Thank god Nikki had the good sense to ask him if we could take his picture with Robbie. He very jovially agreed, at which point we all just stood there.

“Erin, take the picture,” Henry hissed. SORRY! I was in a Craig Owens daydream bubble. Henry’s burly tone snapped me out of it and I was somehow able to take the picture without fumbling for my phone.

We told him we’d see him later that night, and with a big smile, he said, “I hope you’re wearing your singalong pants!” I laughed along with everyone else, but I couldn’t help but feel a tiny pull of paranoia.

“Do you think he said that on purpose?!” Nikki whispered on the way back to the car, knowing that Craig and I had a…disagreement on Twitter four years ago because I wrote a bitchy blog post about how I went to his solo show and he let the audience sing most of his songs while he just stood there and held out his microphone. Look, my cat had just died and I was really emotionally fragile OK?! Nothing could have made me happy on that night.

But this particular night was about to be so much better. And we determined later that he probably didn’t mean anything by his singalong pants remark, thank god!

Afterward, we had about 90 minutes to kill before the actual show. We drove to Coventry in search of food, since none of us had eaten anything since breakfast, not like it mattered, because it probably would have gotten puked up anyway. (I mean, except Henry’s. Nothing fazes Henry.)

Big Fun is next to Tommy’s, so we popped over at dinner, hoping to find some toys to buy for the show. Anyone who brought a new toy or stuffed animal to the show got a meet and greet wristband. Even though we already had our time with him that afternoon, we wanted to do our part in helping out underprivileged children. Except Henry. He was like, “I don’t need no meet n greet bracelet, fuck off!”


Saul Berenson is big fun.


We wound up just going to a nearby Target, where I bought Candy Land, and Nikki bought a Mr. Potato Head and an exorbitantly-priced stuffed pony, which Robbie picked out with complete disregard to the price tag.

“Oh wow, that sucks,” I said when she told us how much it ended up costing her. “Mine was on sale for $4.”

Mine was on sale for $4!” Nikki mimicked, and we all laughed. But then we all agreed that it was nice to do something charitable but Henry wouldn’t know what that’s like.

Doors to the Grog Shop weren’t open, so we stood in line where I thought about all the things I should have said to Craig.


Things I Wish I Had Said To Craig:

  • OMG I’m super stoked for the new Hotel Books that you produced!
  • I love Lomo Prieta too! I saw them open for Pianos Become the Teeth last spring and they blew my mind!
  • Do you like Artifex Pereo????
  • What is your stance on the whole Blue Swan music movement and would you ever consider working with any of the bands in that genre?????
  • And in response to his ironic Juggalo tattoo inside his lip: HENRY WORKS IN A FAYGO FACTORY!
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Dec 162015

Today, we’re going to Cleveland with Henry’s son Robbie and his girlfriend Nikki for the Craig Owens solo show at the Grog Shop. It’s been a minute since I’ve seen Craig solo and I’m excited but super nervous because he’s always been one of The Big Ones in my life, you know? Some of his words are tattooed on my arm, so to say that I think highly of him is kind of an understatement:


My all-time favorite Craig Owens experience was back in 2009 when Alisha and I went to see him, also at the Grog Shop. That was such a fun day and one of my favorite memories of Alisha, so today is making me miss her tons!

I love his solo work, but I will always love him in Chiodos the best. Chiodos was like the gateway drug into me becoming a scene kid back in 2006, so I’m sure Henry has mixed feelings about Craig too, haha. I just pointed this out to him and he did that laugh-without-mirth thing that he does when he wants everyone to know that he hates his life and nothing is amusing.

This is what I live for.

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Oct 232015

Let’s take another stumble around my city. This time we’ll walk out of my building and go right then change our minds and go left because why not.

When the distinct stench of boiling piss coils its way up into your nostrils, you will know without even looking up that you are about to pass Mike & Tony’s Gyros and then, if you’re anything like me, you will say the word “gyro” to yourself and then relish the fact that SO MANY PEOPLE would be angry with you for not pronouncing it YEAR-o. Say it again! GY-RO GY-RO GY-RO! Oh, just like it’s spelled!

Now that we’re cloaked under a steel curtain of rebellion, let’s proceed.

If the bouquet of piping hot urine didn’t make you hurl, you’ll have another shot at jogging ye ol’ gag reflex a few feet later when we approach the Planned Parenthood protestors. Mmmm, abortion dioramas! If they try to hand you some of their literature, take it and then throw it away in the garbage while they’re looking. That’s what I do. BECAUSE: REBEL.


Let’s turn on to another street where we can marvel and ogle the luxurious facade of this…printing company.

What a waste of a great slab of architecture.

If you’re one of those freaks (like me) who dislike Starbucks, might you consider buying your whatever-is-trendy-now latte at Crazy Mocha? It’s OK there but sometimes the broads working at this particular location are the exact reason why hipsters get a bad rap. SORRY THAT I’M MAKING YOU DO YOUR STUPID JOB BY ORDERING COFFEE.

Now we’re walking on the same block we started on because your tour guide got confused and turned the wrong way. But hey, let’s re-pass this new artsy theater thing called Bricolage and see if that lady is still sitting in the window in the middle of a pile of papers. Yep, she is. I think it might be some kind of living art exhibit but who has time to talk to a person and ask, you know?

This place closed sometime shortly after I started working downtown and I honestly thought Barb was going to throw a funeral for it, she was that upset. I never ate there, so I didn’t care one way or another. It’s still just sitting there, all vacant and asking to be vandalized.

I hope one of Barb’s enemies buys it and turns it into a BILL PAXTON MUSEUM. I’d visit it every day just so I could send her mean photos to remind her of how much I MISS HER.

And then right across the street is the library, which I knew existed somewhere downtown after 5+ years of overhearing co-workers say things like, “I am going to walk to the library to return my book” or “There was a crime scene over by the library.” However, I had never actually seen the library. Turns out, I’ve walked past the library approximately 87,000 times and somehow never, not once, picked up on the GIANT letters spelling out “library” on the windows or the fact that it’s filled with books.



If you’re not into the glorious musk of books, cross the street and dunk your nose into the wares of the sidewalk perfume peddler. Also, this elderbroad with pink hair and skull scarf is way cooler than you and me. I wonder which scent she will buy. Hopefully none because I don’t trust the perfume peddler. I saw him doing push-ups once in the middle of a plaza FOR NO REASON.


This is a building that tourists like to photograph. Every time I see it, I think back to the time in elementary school when I went downtown with my BFF Christy’s family to see the Christmas shit that is traditionally on display down there, and I was being so uncharacteristically obnoxious that Christy’s mom yelled at me, and Christy’s mom is like THE NICEST LADY EVER, so that should tell you a little something about how I was acting.

Also, that’s a lie because I see this building EVERYDAY and I do not actually think about getting yelled at by Mrs. McBride EVERYDAY.  But I did think about it after I took this picture because I walked by a sign for the Wintergarden and had a flashback of getting scolded.

And then I noticed I was walking with my bottom lip jutting out.

Henry often yells at me for the same reason, so I guess I haven’t really grown up very much. (Welcome to Oh Honestly, Erin, where the realizations are groundbreaking.)

Now we’re walking alongside the big tall glass castle building because I like the way the ground looks fit for Alice and her Wonderland friends to have a scene.


There are these dinosaur things on the other side. Also, Heinz is like a big thing around here. You wouldn’t understand.

I don’t think they mind having their picture taken. They’re probably used to it.

I know this is weird because my name is Erin, but this is not actually my deli. If it were, the only “hot special” would be what you’re dumping down the commode afterward.

There. That was another 60 minute stumble* around downtown. And now you’ve seen more Pittsburgh parts than you probably ever cared to. In the next installment, I will try to capture the Dunkin’ Donuts protestor and possibly the scary lady on Smithfield who is always having a very loud argument with who I can only assume is Drop Dead Fred.

*(Not even lying, I really did lose my balance and stumble into a wall while walking through an alley and I basically fit right in.)

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Sep 232015

As much as it sucked to part ways with Terri and Christian after breakfast at Panera (where Henry’s confident stride was in full effect thanks to Panera Worker Nikki, who was brusque and disgruntled to Chooch & me but apparently very sweet and accommodating to Henry), I was anxious to get on the road because it meant it was almost DUTCH HAVEN TIME.

It’s impossible to be anywhere in the eastern part of Pennsylvania without stopping for my favorite Dutch delicacy: motherfucking shoofly pie.

What? That’s what they call it. At night, after the bonnets come off. Motherfucking shoo-fly pie.

OK, you’re right, Google Translate. It’s probably moederfucking shoo-fly pie.

Actually, I wasn’t even going to ask if we could stop, because I had a feeling Henry was going to grunt something in a fatherly-fashion about how “it’s either shoo-fly pie or the shoe house; pick one!” and if I had to choose….it was going to be the shoe house, you guys. I know! What kind of fair-weathered shoo-fly pie eater am I? (Actually, I’ve eaten the shoo-fly in various types of weather.) So I kept my mouth shut and was rewarded when Henry suggested, all on his own, that we stop!

Some man working behind the pie counter asked us if we wanted a sample and we were like, “Pshhh, fuck that molasses-y noise, we want a SLICE.”

“Oh, you’ve been here before,” he said, but did not seem very excited about it. That’s OK. I wasn’t looking for enthusiasm to put in my mouth. Just some shoo-fly pie. Put it in there.


(Do you guys remember the great shoo-fly pie tragedy of last fall? I’m #soblessed to have had the opportunity to eat the fuck out of it twice since then.)

Chooch has become obsessed with pumpkin pie somehow, behind my back, so that’s what he had. We were all very quiet and still while enjoying our pie outside of Dutch Haven.

Applauding the autumnal offerings.

Before we left, we stopped at the neighboring building, which used to be this creepy BBQ joint and is now a creepy popcorn joint. A young employee was outside on the porch, working hard at a popcorn machine. “Please, help yourself to the samples on the table inside,” he said in a strange robot-trying-to-act-human staccato. I think he was probably recently estranged from Amishdom, so not quite a shitty human being yet.

There were two elderly women in there, and the one was determined to make sure Chooch tried all of her favorite flavors, and then when that was done, she started pressing him for information on his favorite flavor profiles and he kept tossing me furtive glances, like I was even thinking about saving his annoying ass. HOW DOES IT FEEL, SUCKER? ANSWER THE QUESTIONS! The lady’s companion finally pulled her off of us and we were able to enjoy samples at our own leisure and without her staring at us expectantly.

We each chose a small container to buy and the other woman cried, “Well, what did you choose?!” It’s like they’re reporters for the Popcorn Times.

Or, you know, “just friendly,” according to Henry.

The only other notable moment of our drive home was when we stopped to eat the the Summit Diner in Somerset, and Chooch decided to reenact the time last December when Henry asked the waitress for a napkin, not knowing that there was an entire napkin dispenser on the table. So Chooch asked our waitress for our napkin, and then shot us giggling glances as the waitress said, “There’s some right there on the table, hon.” It was incredibly awkward because it looked like he was laughing at the waitress and she totally picked up on that; and since I was the one sitting next to the dispenser,  I had to go through the motions of getting him a napkin that he didn’t even need.

“Thanks for making me play a part in your stupid reenactment,” I mumbled, crumbling the napkin and chucking it at his face.

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Sep 222015

A few years ago, we were going to Lancaster, PA for a Pierce the Veil show and I thought it would be incredibly fun to stop at this storied house that’s shaped like a shoe in Hallam — a true road tripper’s wet dream. I had seen it on some local roadside attractions show and started obsessing. Like I do. Since it was off-season, I emailed them two months in advance to see if we could stop by for a tour. The reply I got was curt and also kind of rude. I don’t remember what they said exactly, other than it made me rage vocally at my desk. I mean, don’t live in a shoe  if you don’t want people to email you about it!!

Fast forward to several weeks ago. My anger had subsided a bit over the years and I decided to look the house up again since we were going to be in the area in a few weeks. The website announced that not only was this still peak season, but the house had new owners! I asked Henry if we could stop for a tour on our way home from Philly this past weekend, and he said yes, which leads tme  to believe that he is either cheating on me or dying.

I excitedly told Glenn  that not only did I get my way about going to Philly, but Henry was also taking me to the shoe house!

“He really needs to stop rewarding behavior,” Glenn sighed. He was really happy when Henry initially said no to Philly because I came back from my break crying. But you know, THINGS CHANGE. It’s harder for Henry to say no to me in person, anyway.

The Haines Shoe House is really close to Rt. 30, so Henry couldn’t bitch about it being out of the way, like he did about every single place we stopped at on the way home from vacation last month. The man who built it in the 40s put it close to the highway so it cold be seen because it was essentially advertising his shoe company.

The tour is $5 a person, what a steal.

“Nope, I’m good,” Henry said as he handed me $10. Chooch wasn’t too excited about this either, but I was like, “DO NOT MAKE ME TAKE THIS TOUR ALONE, PLEASE, I BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD.” And he was like, “Yeah, a world full of stupid novelty houses to tour.” He and Henry just don’t get excited about these things.

After I paid the lady in the gift shop, she asked Chooch for his hand so she could stamp it. I stuck mine out too and she said, “Oh, no. We just do this for the kids.” She laughed a little and then realized my hand was still there. “But I mean, that’s fine, if you want a stamp too.”

“I mean, she basically is a kid, so…” Chooch said with a roll of his mean eyes. Shut up, Chooch.

She stamped my hand but didn’t even bother to re-ink the stamp first so it looks STUPID.

It’s supposed to be a shoe! You can’t even tell! Chooch’s was so much nicer than mine.

So then our tour guide came in and retrieved us. Immediately, she made a passive aggressive comment about not sitting on the furniture, because of course as soon as we entered the house, Chooch’s ass helped itself to an armchair cushion. But you guys, his leggggs. They were so tireddddd. He was so exhausteddddd. His life is so roughhhhh.

We learned some boring ass facts about Mahlon Haines and his shoe company. He was really into pimping out his company and even ran for Congress at one point just so he could essentially advertise his company with promotional compact mirrors. I didn’t know what else to say, every time the guide stopped talking and looked at me expectantly, so I just kept saying, “Wow, he was like, really smart.”

Chooch just looked really bored and annoyed the whole time, but I swear to god it was really cool to walk around and see that even the windowsills were curved. The guide kept encouraging me to take photos, and I’m so used to being told to not take photos so that I have to take clandestine spy-cam shots the whole time that I actually felt too nervous to take more photos than I did.

In the early days of the shoe house, Mahlon held contests for newlyweds to honeymoon in the shoe. In the honeymoon suite, there’s a laminated letter of marital advice he typed up for his guests. “YEAH, TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT!” the guide said when she saw me awkwardly taking out my phone. I felt so on the spot through the whole tour!

He really thought highly of himself.

My favorite thing about the house’s interior was the eccentric color scheme. The upstairs bedroom was mint and lavender, for fuck’s sake. I commented on this and the tour guide said that the new owners are actually in the process of repainting all of the walls neutral colors. “They’re trying to get the house back to the way it originally was, since the people who owned this for the last 15 years had it painted this way,” the guide continued, practically turning her nose up at the glorious hues. Apparently, they’re using old black and white photos as their reference. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. You own a house shaped like a shoe! Why try to downplay that with a neutral interior of beige and egg white? Go big or go home!

In the maid’s quarters, the guide said, “I bet you’ve never seen one of those before!” pointing at an old sweeper leaning against the wall.

“It’s a vacuum. Mu grandma has one of those in her house,” Chooch said, spitting chunks of ennui onto the floor for the invisible maid to sweep up. He was just not impressed by a single thing in this giant shoe, but at least he was being quiet about it.

And then the guide instructed us to sit at the kitchen  table so she could take our picture, because that is apparently what all of the other tourists like to do. I got really nervous and stressed out because I hate having my photo taken and what if one of my furry-lovers sexted me while she was holding my phone!?

(Just kidding. I don’t have any furry-lovers. Yet. #Anthrocon2016)

But would you look at my happy face!? And Chooch’s pained expression.

Our guide said something about the arch at the top of the steps, so I took that as my cue to take a picture of it.

The tour was over after a soft 10 minutes. We found Henry in the parking lot, leaning against the car, and looking at boring Henry-things on his phone. Probably pallet DIYs and computer part auctions.  I made him go back into the gift shop with me because I didn’t have my wallet and I wanted a post card and a magnet to add to my growing tourist trap desk-shrine at work.

It’s actually pretty nightmarish, now that I really look at it. I found out later that Henry had checked in to the Haine’s Shoe House on Facebook, like he was actually so stoked to be there. He didn’t even go inside of it! What a shoe house poser fan.

There’s even a shoe-shaped doghouse in the yard. And Chooch wants everyone to know that he was “as calm as [he] was at the stroller place.” I asked him if he learned anything at the shoe house and he said no.

After we left, Henry kept asking me questions about the Haines shoe company and my response to every question was a solid, “I don’t know.” So, I guess I didn’t learn much either. Except that I need to do a better job advertising all of my crappy wares. Maybe Henry could build me a Jeffrey Dahmer-shaped house?


Today after work, I asked Chooch if he told any of his friends about the shoe house.

“Nah,” he shrugged. “I told them we went to Panera, though.”

OK that was cool too because it was when we had breakfast with Christian and Terri, but the Panera was not SHAPED LIKE A SHOE.

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Sep 212015

Saturday morning, Henry, Chooch and I woke up early and drove to Philly to hang out with our friends Terri and Christian, but more importantly, so Terri and I could go to the Armor For Sleep show later that night. I still can’t believe I convinced Henry to do this, right on the heels of Riot Fest. I think he’s just worn down at this point in our relationship.

(I probably would have just gone by myself if it came down to it, but I really like traveling with both of my fam-bots. We’re kind of like a really annoying package, like a box of kazoos.)

The day started off annoyingly with two back-to-back botched coffee orders at Sheetz (I mean, my standards for gas station coffee are low to begin with, but the teenage girl working that morning took the liberty of burying them for me). About an hour later, we stopped at a rest area on the turnpike so I could get better coffee (Starbucks — not much of an improvement) and Henry made this huge production of “finally” getting something for himself to eat, since Chooch and I ordered breakfast sandwiches at Sheetz and he chose not to (NOT OUR FAULT—he is our keeper, we are not his). He stormed off to buy himself some Auntie Anne’s pretzel bites, which is his favorite turnpike treat because his blue-collar taste buds crave the snack of coal miners and junkyard proprietors.

(I wrote my senior thesis on the dietary habits of coal miners and junkyard proprietors, so don’t even try to question me on this one.)

While Henry was in line for his roadside brunch, Chooch and I pretended to be interested in a cabinet full of Pennsylvania Turnpike curios. (It really did make me long for the days of Howard Johnsons, though.) Suddenly, Henry breezed past us, popping a piping hot pretzel bite into his idiot mouth, and tossed us a smug glance over his shoulder.

“LOOK AT THAT CONFIDENT STRIDE!” I screamed to Chooch, who immediately set off to imitate him. We were laughing so hard by the time we reached our car that Henry was threatening to lock us out. Oh god, the fodder that Henry unwittingly provides.

The rest of the drive was relatively uneventful. I just made Henry mad with my schizophrenic fan-girling and Chooch played stupid games on Henry’s phone. Nothing really happened because we were just trying to get to Philly as quickly as possible so that we would have time to spend with our friends before we became burnt out on each others’ company.


We got to Christian and Terri’s place around 2:00 and after hanging out and eating their candy for a bit, Christian drove us into the city, where Henry was having quiet fits in the backseat because Philly’s jaywalking epidemic is much worse than Pittsburgh’s and if there’s one thing he hates, it’s a fucking jaywalker.

One of the jaywalkers was missing an arm, so we were nice to that one. BUT STILL. Way to be entitled.

We had a late lunch at Su Xing House, an entirely vegetarian Chinese restaurant. Sometimes, it’s the little things like this that remind me there is a god up there somewhere after all. But then Chooch acted like a spoiled brat because HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT HE WANTED AND HE DIDN’T  KNOW WHAT ANYTHING WAS PLEASE SEND HELP so I was like, “Yep, and there’s a Satan, too.” Henry and I were giving him suggestions so that turned into STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO and this had all of the potential to turn really ugly, but then he ended up ordering a tofu appetizer and also a bowl of unpeeled, steamed edamame; that kept him busy. Especially when he was trying to cut the tofu and Henry was like HELP HIM and I was like I CAN’T DO IT EITHER HELP. Terri said watching Chooch devise new food-cutting tactics was entertaining but I was too busy bracing myself for disaster to be entertained.

It’s moments like these when I’m reminded that Chooch is definitely still a kid.

For Christ’s sake, this restaurant is delightful. As a vegetarian, I’m not used to walking into a restaurant and struggling to order because there is too much to choose from. So much tofu and seitan, I couldn’t decide! Henry got the General Tso’s seitan (predictable) and Terri got some amazing sesame thing. I’m not sure what Christian got but it looked fantastic too. I ended up getting Under the Sea, which was a faux, crispy fish in a sweet and sour sauce. It was DELICIOUS, but the presentation was extremely creepy because it was in the shape of a whole fish and it looked so realistic. I struggled with that for a second. Not going to post the picture here because it might trigger some sensitive gag reflexes out there.

I also got a taro tapioca and was not sad about that at all. Taro is so goddamn underrated!

Henry should make a taro pie for the pie party…

We honestly spent the whole time talking about music and I took a second to silently thank Jason Pettigrew for bringing us together in 2011. I remember parting ways with them that night after the AP show at the House of Blues in Cleveland and saying to Henry, “I really, really hope that we see them again.” And there we were, almost four years later, sitting together and eating excellent vegetarian food at Su Xing House.

I mean, ahem. It was a cool time. And I’m totally not getting all misty as I write this because that would be so unlike me. Black heart. Thick skin.


After we ate, it was finally time for Big Gay Ice Cream. I have been so excited about this ever since I found out Philly was getting a location! Who can resist flamboyant ice cream?! It wasn’t open yet when we were there last December, but I knew we would back soon enough to experience its gay goodness. Terri said that she actually had  been waiting for us to visit again before trying it — she is so sweet!

Christian went back to the car because he was going to try to park closer to Big Gay Ice Cream while the rest of us walked there. It wasn’t a terribly long walk and the weather was seriously perfect that afternoon. I was really happy to be walking because we were in a part of the city that I hadn’t been to yet and I love looking at things, like all of the riff raff and stores that are so much better than what we have in Pittsburgh. Downtown Pittsburgh is not very bustling. And it’s definitely not where people go just to shop. But if you’re looking for a CVS or check cashing place, you’re in luck.

“Yeah, this is the theater district,” Terri explained as we skirted around a pack of ridiculously-dressed rich older persons. One of the women, who looked like a younger Stacey from What Not To Wear, was blabbing about something and she sounded so vapid, it was almost a parody. All I could think was, “God, you sound so idiotic, yet you’re still better than me in so many ways.” The world is super unfair, guys. I just found out.

Henry walked ahead of us the whole time because he knows everything. LOOK AT THAT CONFIDENT STRIDE! Chooch and I kept mocking him, which is what we do best. It’s our specialty. Like, if we had to do a talent show, we’d probably just do that. Terri was laughing after the 6th “confident stride” mention, but then quickly stifled it and said, “I shouldn’t laugh, I’m just encouraging you guys!”


Did you know the Pope is coming to Philly!? I actually didn’t until Friday night when Terri texted me to see where we were staying. I told her that Henry was having a hard time finding anything close to them without spending over $200, presumably because there was a football game scheduled, and she replied, “Good thing the Pope isn’t visiting this weekend!”

I just said “Inorite?” or “haha” or something, because I thought she was just being facetious, equating a home football game to a visit from the Pope.

Nope, the Pope is really visiting Philly.

I wish I had known, because I would have worn my Pope Francis shirt!


(Except mine is green, yo.)

I’d actually really like to see the Pope. I saw Pope John Paul II when I was younger and it was amaze, but Francis is the best damn Pope of all time. I don’t give a fuck what your Gram says.

AND THEN BIG GAY ICE CREAM HAPPENED! Oh, it was overwhelming. The choices! The toppings! The paletas (whatever the fuck that means)! I was originally going to get the Bea Arthur because I felt like that was the obvious choice for a Big Gay Virgin, but at the last second, I freaked out and ordered the Mermaid, which is a sundae with KEY LIME CURD and pie crust crumbs. I had ordering remorse right away, but then I tried it and felt really satisfied with my decision.

The Golden Girls décor made me unbelievably happy. REMEMBER WHEN SOPHIA STOLE THE POPE’S RING!?


Ultimate bae.

All those fabulous, flamboyant flavor combinations and Henry goes for his good ol’ standby: the twist. Plain, nondescript, and dependable. JUST LIKE HENRY.

I was ragging on him about this again today and Chooch shrugged and said, “He can’t help it. That’s just who he is.”

The Mermaid was like a giant key lime nipple, It was delicious. And honestly, underneath all the disco dance floor ceiling lights and fig & blood orange balsamic syrup, that plain vanilla soft serve was really fucking great. It was dense and rich and the perfect base for all of those gay fixins.

Terri got a Monday Sundae and when I saw that her cone was being lined with Nutella, I was like, “Stahhhhp!” Ugh, why didn’t I order that!? I need to go back there right this second and try everything. And then buy a magnet, since they were out of stock. :(

I love how annoyed Henry and Chooch look in this picture. “Oh wow. What a shocker. Mommy is taking pictures of us eating ice cream. Again. Like the Internet doesn’t already know what we look like when holding ice cream cones in our angry-fists by now.” At least Terri was happy!

Seriously, this picture makes me laugh so hard.


Later on, Terri and I went to the Trocadero for the show, while the guys hung out and I’m sure Chooch drove them nuts. (More on the show in another post!)


Where we stay really doesn’t matter too much to us since we’re barely there when we road trip like this, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the Motel 6 we stayed at. I always thought those places were dumps, but this one had been recently renovated and was pretty mod. AND CLEAN. The place we stayed outside of Chicago was reallllly questionable. But, all I cared about was being close to Riot Fest, and that shitty Econo Lodge did the trick.

There was a lot of orange in this joint, but I got over it.

I miss Terri, Christian, and Philly already. I know Pittsburgh and Philly are supposed to be enemies or whatever, but I just love that damn city. Next time, I’d like to visit when there isn’t a show to attend so that we’ll have more time to do stuff and drive Henry and Christian nuts!

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Sep 172015

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[disclaimer: my blog keeps smashing words together after I hit publish; that’s not actually me trying to form post hardcore band names out of everyday sentences.]

We were duped by Riot Fest again. They said “Gates open at 11, guys!” and we fell for it. Our Lyft driver, Bobby (he asked us to tell him things about Pittsburgh and he definitely doesn’t want a Primanti’s sandwich, guys), got us there promptly at 11, only for us to stand in line for 90 MINUTES. Why you do this, Riot Fest? Why so mean? Aside from having a musical know-it-all standing behind us (talking about Gwar like he didn’t know Oderus died, though) and then being rained on for 30 minutes, it wasn’t the worst line I’ve ever stood in.

But then the lines started moving and we were one of the first 50 to be let in. It’s so strange being there that early, before any of the stages are bumpin’, none of the food vendors are ready, and people are just roaming around aimlessly in an attempt to familiarize themselves with the grounds.

This was the first year for Douglas Park to host the festival. When Riot Fest started 10+ years ago, it was actually just a bunch of shows split up around different venues of Chicago. It was only within the last 4 or so years that it became the sizable festival that it is today. Since 2012, it was held in Humboldt Park, but after last year, Humboldt Park was like, “Hell to the no,” so the organizers were forced to move it to nearby Douglas Park. Douglas is smaller than Humboldt, so the layout had the stages closer together. A lot of people were complaining about this, but I kind of liked that it was easier to run from stage to stage — last year, two of the stages were so far apart from each other, god help you if you were trying to split your time between the two of them. Henry and I practically walked the soles off our boots last year. It was a lot more hectic and the I’M GONNA BE LATE sensation that I’m so susceptible to really put a damper on my fun at times.

I’m tightly wound. And I have found that I describe myself this way so often, that it’s got to be a future tattoo.

First thing we did once we got through the gates was sign up to be bone marrow donors, which involved having the inside of our cheeks swabbed, so that was an unusual way to start things off, but you know me, such philanthropy.

“Does it hurt, donating bone marrow?” I asked Henry after we walked away with our BONE MARROW DONOR cards.

Henry just smirked at me. “Uh, yeah.”


In an effort to dial back the amount of information I’m tempted to cram down the Internet’s throat, I am going to now make a list of the bands that we saw on Day One, even if it was just a partial set, and then briefly (LOL, what’s that word mean?) talk about the highlights. EVERYSINGLETHING! It was all a highlight! OK, but really. I’m going to try to do this. Henry’s comments/thoughts/reviews are indented.

Bands We Saw On Friday

  • Coathangers –  I really am not a fan of girl bands. Luckily, we were just strolling past while they were christening the main stage.
  • Into It. Over It. – I’ve wanted to see them for quiet some time so I was excited that this would be the first band of the day for us. Henry was not impressed. My favorite part was when Evan stopped playing a few notes into a song and said, “No. Fuck that. You people paid a lot of money to be here and I’m not playing this song out of fucking tune” before starting over. Respect.
    • I don’t remember.

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  • Real Friends – I missed them at Warped Tour in July, but was like, “It’s fine, they’ll be at Riot Fest, so…” but then their set overlapped with Mariachi El Bronx, so I only got to stick around for two songs before running to the Roots stage for a Mexican dance party.
    • We’re not real friends. At all.
  • Mariachi El Bronx!! – God, I love this band! It’s literally the mariachi side project of the Bronx, a band that I used to really love but admittedly haven’t listened to in a while. I saw Mariachi El Bronx once at Warped Tour years ago and they stole my gringo heart. Even Henry smiled a little bit. Go listen to them if you’re having a bad day or so hungry that you’re not sure what you want to eat. 
    • Nope.

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  • Bayside – I don’t care how many times I have seen them, I can never miss an opportunity to hear my heart breaker jam “Don’t Call Me Peanut.” Chooch used to love that song when he was younger and would sing it quietly from the backseat, so I got all sad-eyed and missed him a ton during their set. I was a late-comer to the Bayside scene and never really bothered with them until 2009 when I saw Anthony Ranieri on the Where’s the Band? tour, which also featured Chris Conley, Matt Pryor, and Dustin Kensrue. What a fucking lineup of heart-eye emojis before heart-eye emojis existed. That’s one show I would love to relive. Anyway, Anthony ended up winning my idiot heart that day and I have been a Bayside fan ever since, but I still feel likean00b every time I’m in that crowd.  Anyway, go listen to Bayside. It’s like being hugged by someone you don’t mind touching.
    • It’s a band.

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  • Every Time I Die: I always, always, always miss this damn band every time they play Warped. But not on this day,motherfuckers. We got a good spot near the side and Henry was like, “Who are these guys again?” and seemed pretty relaxed during the intro where they played the theme to Perfect Strangers, like it wasgoingto be a bunchofBalkiBartokomouses andCousinLarrys playing chill 1980s sitcom scores on mandolins. But then Keith Buckley and crew came storming out andHenrysighed. I really liked what I heard/saw butmyactual highlight of their set has nothing to do with the music — we were standing right next to the press gate so after a few songs, a throng of photographers came filing out. I happened to glance at one of them and realized that she looked super familiar. “I think that’s Ashley Olson!” I shouted into Henry’s face. “WHO?!” he asked. I just rolled my eyes because he is so old and dumb and this just proves that he clearly never listens to me when I talk about my interests. Anyway, Ashley is one of the best up-and-coming music photographers I have seen lately. I started noticing her last year when she was on tour with Chiodos, because Craig Owens would always regram her photos and they were stunning. And I never use the word “stunning.”I’ve been following her on Instagram ever since, and her Warped Tour photos this summer just blew my mind. Plus, she has good taste in bands, so. She ended up walking away and I regretted notsayinghi to her. (I even double-checked on Instagram to make sure it was her, and her most recent post was from Riot Fest, so I figured that was a pretty good sign, haha.) Halfway through ETID’s set, she came back! She was standing in front of me for a minute, getting in some more shots, and then she retreated. The guy she was with was still standing in front of me, talking to someone, so she was just hanging back, waiting for him. I really dislike approaching people because I get so awkward and creepy, but I said to Henry, “Ok, I’m going in…” and dove right the fuck into Small Talk Ocean. And it went, well, swimmingly! (God, my writing skills just slay.) I thought it was going to be a “hi/bye” type of transaction, but we ended up having a nice, meaningful chat for several minutes, during which she hugged me TWICE, and said that she had noticed me earlier because I was wearing my (ugh, Chooch’s) Emarosa “For Fox Sake” shirt. So we chatted about how wonderful those guys are and I said, “My 9-year-old son met Bradley this summer at Warped—” Ashley cut me off to say, “You do NOT have a 9-year-old son.” I laughed and said, “I do! I’m 36!” and she was genuinely surprised and kept saying, “NO YOU’RE NOT!” I enjoyed the moment because I know my extended youth is fleeting and these days are slipping through my fingers. I’m reminded of this every time I look in the mirror and see more gray hairs and deeper bags under my eyes. Ashley gave me a sticker and we tookaselfie. “That’s really cute!” she said when I showed her, and asked me to tag her in it so she could save it. I think I’m getting better at talking to strangers! I’ll be kidnapped any day now. 
    • It all runs together after awhile.

Henry was like, “You and all your weird Instagram crushes” when I excitedly showed him the picture. I was happy that he didn’t come with me when I was talking to her because who brings their dad to Riot Fest, you know?

  • Coheed & Cambria: Heard part of their set while roaming around. I used to really like them when they first came onto the scene but then I stopped for no real reason. Their drummer is a douchebag on Twitter, that much I know; tweeting shitty things to Jonny Craig’s ex-fiancee and it’s like, “Why do you care? Don’t you have some lame hip hop rhymes to lay down?”

  • THRICE: You know how your elderly Uncle Milton is always telling the same stale-ass war story every time you sit down at the kids table to eat fucking figgy pudding, supposing you live inside a Christmas carol? Well, just call me Uncle Milt because DID YOU KNOW THAT MY KID IS NAMED AFTER THE DRUMMER IN THRICE? Well he is. It’s true. (His real name is Riley,btw.) And I am contractually obligated to mention that every single time I write on my blog about Thrice, or text someone about Thrice, or hear the song Three Times a Lady by Lionel Richie. CHOOCH WILL LOSE HIS NAME IF I DON’T. And then that fucker Bastion from Never-ending Story will have to give him a new one and it’ll be something stupid. Like Chooch.Ok Ok Ok, let’s reel it back in here for a second. Thrice is one of my all-time favorite bands and I won’t get too whiny about it because there are definitely more than one lengthy post in the archives about my love for them, so I will give you the truncated version: The last time I saw them was in 2009 and then they went on hiatus and everyone was like WILL THRICE EVER COME BACK!? They played a show (one show) a few months ago and I knew, I just fucking knew, that they were going to be announced for this year’s Riot Fest and I was fucking right because I spend way too much time analyzing this shit. There were three bands that were announced last May for Riot Fest that made me fall to my knees and beg Henry, and Thrice was one. I was fucking giddy all day, but then right before their set, my stomach got all knotted and my eyes got all moist and sting-y, and I knew I was in for it. Yep, I cried for most of their set—which was SO FUCKING GOOD and it alone was worth the drive to Chicago. Crowd was great and really into it and it felt sogoodto be there in the middle of it all. My connection with Thrice is on another level. Like some spiritual shit. This Riot Fest moment was brought to you by some strong 2003 feels.
    • They’re ok.



Those clouds, tho. Thrice was literally bringing Heaven down to earth. OH YEAH, I WENT THERE.

  • Faith No More: Friends. This is the top reason I had to go to Riot Fest. Faith No More is one of the few bands that I never grew out; they’ve stuck with me through every musical phase I’ve gone through, from gangsta rap to synthpop. I was in middle school when I first heard Midlife Crisis (back when it was cool to discover new music on MTV!) and it was the first “heavy” band that appealed to me and I was like OMG someone take me to the mall right this instant so I can buy thatfuckingcassingle (which I still have!). I can’t say that they were a gateway band for me though, because they were literally the only metal-type band that I liked until junior year when I became a closet Marilyn Manson aficionado. Naturally,FNM would go on  to break-up before I ever had the chance to see them, so that sucked. (I did get to see Mike Patton’s sideprojectFantomas though, in 2000…or 2001?) As 7:45 approached, I started to freak the fuck out—I was so giddy and excited and probably super annoying forHenryto be around. (I mean,moreso.)FNM was headlining the second main stage, so there was a huge crowd there. We got a decent spot on the right side, andIwas relieved that there weren’t anydrunkdouchebags around us. Everyone was cool and excited, if not a little disappointed that they were only given an hour to play. But for someone who had never seen them before that night, an hour felt like a fucking gift. I thought it was fantastic — they sounded great, they played most everything I wanted to hear (unpopular opinion, but I REALLY like “Stripsearch” and would have maybe fainted if they played it), obviously MIDLIFE CRISIS. Just hearing Mike Patton’s otherworldly voice traveling across that park gave me chills. I have chills again just writing about it. Also, it wasreallychilly. This was definitely one of the Top 3 moments of the weekend for me, and I just kept murmuring, “That was so fucking amazing.” I need to invent some new adjectives to use when talking about music because “amazing” just doesn’t cut it anymore. The only downside was when Mike Patton told everyone to snap their fingers. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SNAP MY FINGERS,MIKEPATTON!
    • They were good.

Setlist, according to the Internet (it looks right to me):

  1. Motherfucker
  2. Be Aggressive
  3. Caffeine
  4. Evidence
  5. Epic
  6. Black Friday
  7. Midlife Crisis
  8. Gentle Art of Making Enemies
  9. Easy
  10. Separation Anxiety
  11. Ashes to Ashes
  12. Superhero
  13. Introduce Yourself

I still can’t believe No Doubt got to play longer than Faith No More. I mean, I can, because Americans have a knack for making mediocre bands rise above the good ones. But, THAT’S A POST FOR ANOTHER DAY, SMILY FACE.

  • Ice Cube: Immediately after FNM ended, the main stage to the left came to life and I couldn’t get out of that area fast enough because — No Doubt. Words cannot express how much I dislike that band and Gwen Stefani. And maybe I’m biased, but holy shit they sounded atrocious. Not just her cat-in-heat voice, but the whole band. I know, I’m full of the unpopular opinions tonight. That band just gets under my skin for some reason that I can’t explain; it’s not even like I associate them with bad memories or anything. They just have never sounded pleasant to my particular ears. I remember in high school when No Doubt was playing at Starlake and pretty much every fucking female I knew went to that show, regardless of how much they liked them, if at all. I was like “Lol, nope,” stayed home and listened to Spanish gangsta rap, probably. Anyway, back to 2015: Henry and I finally made it across the park to the Roots stage, where Ice Cube was about to headline. I had no fucking qualms with Bye Felicia’ing No Doubt in favor of Ice Cube. I was never even really a big Ice Cube fan, but my inner Yo Girl was definitely curious to see his set, which to be honest was mostly one long commercial for Straight Outta Compton, but it was high-energy, he sounded great, and the crowd was fucking going nuts. There were people climbing trees, trying to get a better view. His special guests were his son, MC Ren, and Yella. Some people were speculating that it was going to be Dr. Dre, and if I had been one of those people, I would have stayed for the whole set to find out. But I was pretty confident that Dre wasn’t going to show up to perform for an hour on a stage that wasn’t even the main one. So we left after I got to hear Check Yo Self, which I have to admit, was pretty fucking cool.

Douglas Park didn’t have any lights so if you weren’t close to a stage, good luck. There was lots of stumbling and stepping in invisible mud pits on the way to the exit, and then a long walk into the sketchier area of the neighborhood, looking for the designated Lyft pick-up area, which is one of the reasons I could never go to Riot Fest alone: there are too many things you have to know about! Too many logistics! Thank god Henry looks into all of this or I’d probably be sleeping on a bench in Douglas Park right now instead of blogging in my dining room.

So, impromptu props to Papa H for getting me there and back all three days with absolutely no incident.


We got back to our shitty hotel after a pleasant ride with a Lyft driver (“You were really talkative with tonight’s Lyft driver; you must be hammered,” Henry observed, to which I clarified that I was not hammered from the ONE Strongbow I drank eight hours earlier, but that it was because I thought the driver was cute, duh) and I collapsed onto the bed and cried, “TONIGHT WAS FUCKING AWESOME.”

Then we fell asleep to Jaws, which was also on when we left earlier that morning, too.


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Sep 012015

Last winter, after we decided where this summer’s vacation was going to take us—-and Henry started bleeding money from all blue-collared orifices—-I excitedly consulted Roadside America to find all the ways to drag our trek back to Pittsburgh into a poorly-written modern remake of Homer’s Odyssey, only with less blood weddings, spiritual growth, and Latin declensions.

One of the “attractions” I read about was this mysterious-sounding African village in Sheldon, SC called Kingdom of Oyotunji. I sent Henry the link and received no response. Shocker. During the beginning half of our trip, I kept bringing it up, and Henry just kept saying things like, “We’re not going that way” and “It recently burned to the ground” and “Katy Perry is performing there all week.”

But I would not be deterred.

It turns out, when we left Savannah that Friday in July, the village was on our exact route to Charlotte, NC. Henry either must have had his guard down or was just that fatigued from fielding my lofty requests all week, because he actually turned off the highway when we arrived at the Sheldon exit! I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

“Is this place is even open?” he sighed. “It better fucking be open.” But I could tell that what he really meant was, “I hope it’s not open because I don’t want to go but I am still going to be mad if it’s not open because either way this is a waste of time and I hate you.” Over the years, we have learned to communicate through a series of huffy sighs, glares, and fists slamming against steering wheels.

Actually, their website said that they were open until 7:00 (it wasn’t quite 6 yet so we had time in our favor, at least), but they recommend that you email them if you want to stop by for a tour. I mean, I did that, but we were already about 20 minutes away so we were going to stop by regardless. Also, it seemed weird to me that this mysterious US-seceded African village in the Gulleh Geeche South Carolina low-country (I got that from their website because I’m a journalist now) even has the Internet and didn’t require me to send notice via carrier pigeon.

Just kidding. I’m not that culturally ignorant. But on that note, the Oyotunji community is something that I definitely know nothing about and I was genuinely interested in learning about how they live. (And also genuinely interested in making Henry feel uncomfortable, because he HATES taking tours of places.)

Chooch was sleeping when we made it to the entrance of the kingdom, which required us to turn off the highway and continue on down a dirt road buffeted by forest. The whole time, Henry was murmuring, “I hate you. I fucking hate you. Fuck my life” through gritted teeth, while I cracked up next to him so hard that I was wheezing.

“It’s not fucking funny!” he said. BUT IT IS, HERNY.


At the end of the path, we could see the gate to the compound, and Henry started to rejoice because it was closed.

“Yeah but keep going, maybe there’s a doorbell,” I urged, because we had come so far!


Most of my pictures are blurry and out of focus because I guess I was just that excited about being there.


Henry kept trying to tell me in a dozen different ways that this joint was closed, but too bad I noticed the “Blow Your Horn” sign next to the gate before he had a chance to gouge my eyes out with his strong and masculine Service thumbs.

“Blow the horn,” I demanded.

“No, I’m not blowing the fucking horn,” Henry hissed in response.

But if you ask Henry to do something enough times while consistently raising your voice until it’s a crackling screech, he eventually gives up and does the thing! So he reluctantly pressed down on the car horn and then we waited.

“No one’s coming,” he sighed, ready to throw the car into drive.

“Just wait!” I begged, holding my gaze hard against the big red doors.


After about 30 seconds of nail-biting suspense, a man dressed in a white robe stepped out from behind a fence along the left-hand perimeter of the property.

“Oh great, Erin. Just great,” Henry huffed, lowering the window so the man could talk to us.

“Are you guys looking to do the tour?” he asked after we exchanged proper Southern salutations. (You know. “Hello”s were said.) Leaning across Henry, I emphatically nodded my head. You bet your white-robed ass I want a tour. I want to know all about the Oyotunji tribe! I was just getting ready to barrel-roll myself out of the car when he went on to explain that unfortunately, they’ve been mourning the death of their leader, in Africa, for the last three days and had closed the community off to the public for that.

“We open back up tomorrow though, if you’ll be in the area?”

Henry nodded and said something along the lines of, “Yeah, we might be.”

“I was actually just on my way out to take a shower when I heard you beep,” the man said, explaining that he’s not usually the one who gives the tours.

He then gave us a brief run-down of the community, told us how he’s originally from Florida but had shed his American citizenship 20+ years ago in favor of living a simple life in the woods of South Carolina. They’re a community of around 40 people, self-sustained, they home school their children, and basically live a life where no one has to give a shit about the things that Americans give a shit about that don’t even matter, like Donald Trump, the idiot Superbowl, and Miley Cyrus’s pasties.

I can only imagine how better behaved their kids are than Chooch.

This whole time, I was trying to maintain strong eye contact with him while chewing on the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing outright. Look, please understand that I don’t think anything about their community is funny, and I certainly don’t find humor in the fact that they were all in mourning, but it was the situation itself: the detour into the woods of Beaufort County, Henry’s reluctance, the Jonestown Massacre vibe of it all….it was all of these things, like sitting in church during the homily and feeling that itch to laugh out loud for no good reason, that had me writhing in giddy discomfort.


Some other tourist-sucker pulled in behind us about 10 minutes into our on-the-fly history lesson from our new robed friend. He quickly wrapped it up and then excused himself to go talk to the other visitor.

“Are we really going to come back tomorrow?!” I screamed as we slowly drove back out to the highway.

“Wha—-? No!” he said, his big bushy brows all furrowed.

“But when that guy asked if we were going to be in the area—”

“Yeah well, I didn’t mean it.” And he used his End of Story tone, so I sulked for awhile.

Oyotunji, I’ll be back for you someday.

But then we pulled over at the Carolina Cider Company! We had been on a mission to procure boiled peanuts the whole time we were in the south and finally, it was our time. On our last day, no less.


Chooch was still sleeping, how he managed to sleep through all of the Oyotunji excitement, I’ll never know. At first, Henry was like, “Just crack the window, he’ll be fine.” But then I was overcome with paranoia and something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on….the overwhelming need to PARENT, maybe? Nah. I think I have it confused with the desire to not have Child Protective Services called on my ass.

What would the Oyotunji do, I thought hard to myself.  Aside from probably not giving a shit about boiled peanuts, I mean.

I went out to the car to wake up Chooch and proceeded to set off the car alarm. The proprietor of the cider establishment and the only two patrons there at that time stopped what they were doing in order to gawk at me from the open doors of the store.

“What are you doing!?” Henry yelled, marching over with the car keys to stop the alarm. SO SORRY THAT I WAS TRYING TO SAVE MY KID FROM ASPHYXIATION.


So then I was able to save Chooch and he groggily followed me into the store while I excitedly told him about what he had missed, but I don’t think he believed me.


Henry bought us stuff and boiled peanuts are weird as fuck, yet I couldn’t stop eating them.

Eventually, we made it to a shady Red Roof Inn, I mean shadier than the typical Red Roof Inn, in Charlotte. We had to pass Carowinds on the way, with its coasters all sexy and lit up against the night sky. I begged Henry to take us there but he was like, “IT’S NEARLY 10’O CLOCK AT NIGHT!” God, he always has an excuse.

Luckily, the Red Roof was only shady on the outside (i.e. the parking lot and the entire right section of the motel where I’m pretty sure people were living and since it was a Friday night, shit was popping off) and the inside was clean and recently remodeled. I realized that HENRY hadn’t fed us dinner, so he went to a vending machine and came back with snacks and a Snickers. THANKS, PA.

We live large on vacation.


Anyway, aside from some additional pictures from our travel day back to Pittsburgh, that pretty  much wraps up our whirlwind Southern road trip, which took me an entire month to recap. But holy shit, we did so much! I love these trips so much, and I know that they don’t really seem like “vacations” because we’re so go-go-go, but I couldn’t imagine sitting in one place for 7 days and “relaxing.” I honestly don’t know how to relax. I look forward to these trips so much because we get to see cool things, meet really awesome people, and make some pretty hilarious memories.

We hadn’t even crossed the Pennsylvania state line yet and I was already asking Henry where we’re going to go next. He just glared at me.

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Aug 272015

Our final day in Savannah was the best one. Octavia graciously invited us over for quite honestly the best meal we had on the entire trip – fruit salad, sweet potato hash with sausage (and a version with faux-sausage for me!), cheesy grits, eggs, and fried green tomatoes. And coffee in pretty cups!

All prepared by her husband, Dustin.

I’m drowning on my own drool (and not someone else’s, for once, you know, when I’m out whoring around) over here just thinking about it. I am always so terrible at hospitality issues. For example, if you were visiting Pittsburgh and came to my house for breakfast, I would hand you a Poptart, or guide you down the street to Eat n Park.

And that’s on a good day!

Octavia and Dustin’s kid, Tallulah, immediately glommed on to Chooch. I absolutely love when this happens. PAYBACK, CHOOCH.

Although, he only just pretends to be distressed by this. Deep down, he loves the attention. (But you guys, would you look at how freaking adorable she is? THOSE CURLS, THO.) They got along really well, if you don’t count the time Chooch was pushing her outside in a swing and accidentally slammed her into a tree, ugh.

Octavia’s house is stimulating in all of the best ways. They have two cats and a dog, and an entire room of instruments. It’s a musician’s wonderland and they told Chooch to have at it. He was like, “Seriously? You want me to make noise? YOU’RE TELLING ME I CAN MAKE NOISE?!” They very nearly acquired themselves a son that day.

OCTAVIA EVEN PLAYS THE ACCORDION. These people are swimming in talent and I kept hoping some of it would waft over my way.

And then she showed me some of her mixed media pieces and I was just like, “OK, when can we be sister wives already or nah?!”

As much as I was enjoying talking about art and music and our dislike for other mothers, it was getting later in the afternoon and we needed to hit the road. The plan was to spend the night in Charlotte, NC and continue on our way home the next day. Chooch gave Tallulah one of the birthday balloons that Octavia used to decorate our hotel room, and when that one was whisked away into the tree tops, he gave her another. Sometimes Chooch is not a dick!



As stoked as I was to gallivant around Savannah, this is what I was really hoping to do in Georgia. Casually talking all morning and into the afternoon was what exactly what I wanted and was honestly the zenith of the trip for me. I have a tricky temperament and there are a LOT of incompatible personalities out there for me. And I’m not saying that it’s not me, it’s everyone else — I am voluntarily admitting that I can be tough to get along with. (Just ask Janna. It takes a saint!) I start out fairly introverted and observant, until my comfort and trust levels go up. (Which doesn’t always happen.) But I knew within minutes of meeting Octavia that it was going to work, that conversation was going to be easy and two-sided, and that I was going to learn a lot from her.

Also?! SHE WAS BORN IN ROMANIA. We were bound to become friends at some point in our lives and I left her house that day feeling really good about things, and also determined to have some of my ribs removed so I can fold myself in half to better fit inside her luggage the next time she visits Romania.

Kismet! I’m so grateful that we met, and apparently, I can thank Barbara and her fucking denim jacket for that.


Just a few days ago, Octavia texted me a picture of the purple balloon, still branch-snagged. “Miss you,” she texted. I MISS HER, TOO. :(

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Aug 262015


Before we left Savannah the day after my birthday, we swung by Wormsloe Historic Site because god forbid I visit Savannah without snagging a picture of this iconic sight. We tried to go the day before with Octavia but it was closed and Henry’s suggestion of, “Just take the picture through the gate” wasn’t a winner.

Apparently, you have to pay to enter the park, but the part of the road I wanted a picture of is like RIGHT THERE. So we parked at the entrance and Henry hissed, “Take the damn picture!” I had to step around a sign that said a bunch of words about visiting the information center to pay before taking a picture.

Ugh, I hate breaking the law. Henry made me do it!

I took one picture and then fled back to the car. Chooch couldn’t believe that I actually took a picture without him in it.

“Yeah but it’s Wormsloe. I didn’t want you to ruin the picture,” I said, casually shrugging him off.

Shortly after this, we began our drive home. While stopped in Orangeburg, NC,  I made Henry pull over so I could take pictures of Chooch next to a corn field. Because these are things that I want to do while on vacation.


Chooch of the Corn.

This was actually when we were driving in circles, looking for a post office and Henry wanted to kill me and dump my fat body in that corn field over there. Imagine the creepy corn mutations my rotting corpse could potentially create!

Octavia talked about corn mutations when we were hanging out with her.

I will always think of her when corn mutations come up in conversation. :(



I’m almost finished writing about the trip, which I’m happy about, but it’s making me miss it even more! It was a good one, that’s for sure. Just not long enough.

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Aug 242015


See also: I need to give my fingers a break from typing so here’s a photo dump, Blog.

Words cannot describe how beautiful Savannah is. I’ve wanted to visit so badly, that I was kind of starstruck to the point of not taking as many photos as I should have. (Yay, just what you guys need—more fucking photos!)


Octavia wanted to take us in this church but some asshole had to go and die and have their idiot funeral that day. Way to ruin my birthday, dead person.

Henry was happy that this plan was foiled by the reaper, because he dislikes being in god’s house.


I was stupid-scared of these steps, but Octavia said this warning was mostly there for drunk people and hobos, both of which I walk like on a good day, so that didn’t help. NICE TRY, OCTAVIA.




Henry was considering walking straight off into the river and drowning himself. Chooch was starting to that thing that kids sometimes do called TESTING THEIR PARENTS’ PATIENCE.



We spent about 15 minutes scrutinizing Forrest Gump movie stills on Octavia’s phone until we settled on this being the site of Chippewa Square where Forrest’s bench was. There were people on Segways congregating there before us, so maybe?



We saw an antique shop and Chooch wanted to go in but all I could think about was how I really didn’t want a replay of the Chooch in a China Shop episode of our weekend in Philly last winter.


Yeah! Me too! Bandwagoner!


Lastly, here is Chooch with the succulent/weed he plucked out of the sidewalk for me.

We started to walk back to the parking garage around 4:30, because it was HOT and we were all pretty exhausted. Thank god we left when we did because by the time we got back to Bonaventure for Octavia to retrieve her car, THEY WERE BASICALLY CLOSED. There were some workers by the gate and they tried to stop us from driving in but Henry was like, “We’re just taking her back to her car!” and then all exchanged blue collar, uniform-wearing hyuks and we were allowed to pass by. Henry is so weird when it comes to interacting with those kinds of people.

After saying our temporary goodbyes, we headed back to the “hotel” so we could rest for a little bit before attempting to find somewhere to eat dinner.

“What’s Octavia’s real name?” Chooch said from the backseat.

Uhhh….Octavia?” I answered in my favorite condescending teenager tone.

This seemed to please him. He’s basically obsessed with her now.

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Aug 232015

After a few miles of listening to Chooch jaw off Octavia’s ear about video games and Henry suffering mild road rage, we found a place to park downtown. Octavia put her tour guide hat back on and we began our leisurely walking tour of Savannah. But first, Octavia needed to feed me because even though I had on my SWEET LITTLE ERIN facade, my hunger was quickly reaching Hulk levels.

Octavia suggested Kayak Kafe, knowing that there were vegetarian options. There were so many veg options, in fact, that it was difficult to choose! I eventually went for some sort of vegetable panini thing which came with LATIN SLAW!

On my birthday!

That whole cabbage challenge had me consumed for the entire month of July. There were times I ate coleslaw even when I didn’t even want to eat coleslaw just because it was endlessly funny to me.  I feel like my dumb self-appointed cabbage challenge consumed more than should have. You know how they say that it takes x-number of days to make something a habit? Usually when referring to exercise? Well, after 31 days of forcing myself to reference cabbage in some way, I find myself automatically doing that still, almost at the end of August. So dumb. I’m pretty sure I won my challenge, because no one told me otherwise.  Someone started to call me out on one of my posts and then realized that I dropped a Savoy bomb up in there. SAVOY IS A TYPE OF CABBAGE in case you’re a cabbage dodo. Now you know.

So step off.

(I actually didn’t know this until July, when I spent entirely too  much time Googling “cabbage” and now I know everything in the world there is to know about cabbage, including a recipe for Transylvanian cabbage pie and home remedies for hemorrhoids using raw cabbage leaves. Facts.)

Now that I have you thinking about inflamed anal buttons, here’s a picture of my food!

I ate way too fast, as usual. And Chooch was fancy and ordered lemonade with strawberry pulp in it, which I didn’t see on the menu, so I was jealous. He was so smug about it, too.

During lunch, Octavia brought up THE SERVICE, because she too was in the Air Force! This is important to note because it was the first time Henry smiled in Savannah, when she asked him earnest (as opposed to Erin-style, a/k/a dickheadish) questions about what he did there. He was a crew chief!

“Did I know that!?” I squealed through my laughter.

“Yes,” Henry mumbled.

“No I didn’t! You never told me that!” I was almost choking on this.

“No, I did. A long time ago. You just didn’t care,” he mumbled.

I wonder if Henry ever feels bullied by me.

And then Octavia said, “So your name was on the plane then!” and Henry modestly nodded and I was practically flipping tables at this point.

HIS NAME WAS ON THE PLANE, HAHAHA! Oh my god. I just asked him if it was his full name, middle initial and all, and HE SAID YES. A plane with “Henry. J. Robbins” plastered on it! Oh god, thank you, Octavia, for uncovering this gem buried in Henry’s past!

After lunch, we went to a toy store that looked like my parent’s basement in the 80s. So much nostalgia, and so many “NO!”s to Chooch’s incessant toy-begging.

Finally, it was time for ice cream at Leopold’s, which was why it didn’t matter to me where we at lunch; I have been too fixated on Leopold’s even since Octavia first told me about Savannah’s ice cream parlor.

Here is a picture Octavia took of me not listening to Henry. <3

Octavia got lemon sorbet (or custard?); Henry got rum bisque because Octavia said that was her husband Dustin’s favorite and Henry is a follower; Chooch got something dumb probably; and since lavender wasn’t available, I felt an obligation to tutti frutti, since Leopold’s famously claims to have invented it. I’m not sure I’ve ever had tutti frutti before, and it’s not something I would typically order, but I really liked it! It was like a (good) fruit cake in ice cream form.

I liked Henry’s better though. :( DON’T I ALWAYS.

Here’s a picture of Chooch stealing another friend from me. Ugh. Anyway, Octavia is adorable!

One of the things I really appreciated about Octavia (and believe me, there are many!) was that she patiently listened to Chooch and I fight over who was going to tell the story of DONNA on the ghost tour, and then endured us racing to finish sentences before the other one tried to hijacked the story, because this is what happens when there is a story to tell and both of us want to be the one to tell it. And not only that, but she was totally on our side about it and started berated Donna along with us, so then “don’t be a Donna” became a thing and now I want to make t-shirts and Henry is like, “No, you mean, now you want ME to make t-shirts” and he hates the ghost tour even more now.

Chooch found a new Frederick. And also never shut up. OMG.

Meanwhile, I know that Henry must have been having an OK time because he was updating his Facebook and he never does that. He checked into Bonaventure and Leopold’s, you guys! I’m a Henry expert, so I know that these were good signs. Plus, we didn’t exchange any clandestine “I hope you fucking die” looks with each other at any point during the day, which is what we normally do when he’s having an awful time and I’m catching his bad vibes.

I guess Henry likes being in the south!

One of the last things we did during our afternoon stroll around Savannah was stop at the Coffee Fox for iced coffee, and Chooch excitedly borrowed my phone so he could take a picture of “boobs”:

I think it’s important to note that both Octavia and I like foxes (her photography business is named Two Fox!) so this somehow managed to make my iced horchata latte taste even better. Foxes are special. This whole day was special. I want to go back!

I took a bunch of pictures with my “real camera,” so I’ll post those separately. Don’t be a Donna.

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Aug 182015


A bunch of years ago, like 26 or 7, I met Octavia through Etsy. Specifically, it was my fauxtography Etsy shop, Appledale. No one ever paid attention to that shop of mine, full of lomography before iPhone apps made that shit cool (and so much easier and cheaper to achieve that vintage effect, bastards), accompanied by my signature idiotic short stories.

But Octavia noticed. And she sent me the greatest convo ever; a meaningful, deep virtual handshake from one person happy to meet another person of like-mind. I will never forget how excited I was to read it! We started writing back and forth; I was enchanted by her own art and deranged imagination. She is incredibly talented.

Thank god for the Internet! I feel like if the Internet didn’t exist, then Octavia and I probably would have met through the world of pen-palling. Somehow, someway, we’d have found a way to meet!

This meet-up has been in the pipes since we bought the Williamsburg vacation package thing at the 2013 Big Butler Fair. Because clearly, Williamsburg, VA and Savannah, GA are so close to each other! The first half our trip was fun, but this was the part that I was really looking forward to, so when I woke up the morning of my birthday, I was S-T-O-K-E-D!

We had plans to meet Octavia at the Bonaventure Cemetery at 11:00am that morning. I was so nervous on the way there! I love meeting people but I am beyond awkward about it and sometimes that awkwardness never goes away because that’s just who I am, you know? Be nice.

Luckily, Octavia was chill as FUCK, sang-froid in a green dress. She claims she is awkward too but I definitely didn’t sense that, thank god, because then I would have just fed off it and it would have unraveled into some socially depraved banquet of stutters, ticks, and twitches. Instead, I felt at ease. I mean, once we got the obligatory “now is where we hug as normal people do” act out of the way.

I didn’t take any pictures of Octavia at first because I was scared to, but those will come later!



There is one super huge difference between Octavia and me: she actually knows shit about where she lives. Out-of-towners visit me in Pittsburgh and ask me simple Yinzer 101 questions like, “What river is that?” or “How are the Steelers doing this year?” and I have to politely decline answering.

That’s accomplished by either shrugging, grunting “I dunno”, or a combination of the two. But Octavia taught us shit about the war and the Masons and Johnny Mercer, and then a ton of stuff about NATURE because she went to college for botany so immediately Henry’s ears perked. You know how he gets nature boners. Especially when she turned her nose up at the moss issue. HENRY HATES MOSS. Now he had someone to hate moss with him!


While we strolled around the cemetery grounds, we talked about Jonny Craig (I mean, duh; I’m sure Octavia couldn’t wait to have THAT conversation in person) and the nightmarish insects that live in Georgia, holy shit. We saw salamander things and skinks:


The skinks really freaked me out but Chooch was trying to figure out how to turn his t-shirt into a skink carrier. Then we walked under a tree with berries on it and I cried, “WHAT ARE THESE, OCTAVIA!?” while trying to get Henry to eat one. Now I can’t remember what she said they were. But I think the final verdict was that they were not poisonous. Don’t worry, she didn’t let me eat any of the mushrooms I saw, either.


I also learned that you can eat that ballsack thing in the middle of the palm thingie! “Like, right now!?” I asked.

“Well, I mean, you have to cook it first, probably,” Octavia patiently explained before I had the chance to whip a fork out of my bra and dig in. God, Octavia was determined to prevent the cemetery from becoming my test kitchen.

At some point during our aimless journey across Bonaventure, a butterfly popped out of a bush and Chooch groaned. I relished the chance to rat out Chooch’s wussy phobia and blurted out, “Chooch is afraid of butterflies!”

“Do you know what the German word is for butterflies?” Octavia asked Chooch. “Schmetterling!”she yelled like a witch in an uncensored fairy tale.

“SAY IT AGAIN!” I begged, and she did. It was glorious! I couldn’t wait to go back to school work and talk about my educational vacation!


There was some douchey guy there leading a walking tour and they were everywhere we wanted to be. Octavia hated him too for the same unsubstantiated reasons as me (he just looked like an asshole and I hated his blond swoop-y hair and monochromatic clothes) and that was when I knew for sure that was the real deal.


“Ow, my head.”

“Ow, my back.”


We got to see Little Gracie! This is one of the most popular graves in the joint, and Octavia said that it used to be more easily accessible but there has always gotta be those assholes who like to be destructive. So now you can’t get beyond the gate for a closer experience. I was just happy that we got to see her at all, and I wished we had brought something to leave behind for her.


I suggested leaving Chooch, but Henry said no. :(


Being in Bonaventure was surreal. Cemeteries are one of the few places on this earth that I feel at home (and also Warped Tour, duh) and Bonaventure has always been one of the cemeteries of my dreams. Finally getting to see it, on my birthday no less, was amaze. And the best part was that instead of getting sucked into some touristy walking tour, or blindly stumbling around on our own until we started fighting within 20 minutes, we got to meander about at our leisure with Octavia. Which was great because it was like 299 degrees and walking any faster than I already was probably would have set me alight.

And you know what else? Henry checked in here on Facebook, which means he was excited in his own weird, silent way and wanted his “friends” to know that he was living it up in a famous cemetery in Savannah. Sure, he probably would have chosen a nap over this in a heartbeat, but I think he at least recognized that it’s not the worst thing he could have been doing that day.

Until I forced him to pose for this, that is:


I took this with my phone that day because I needed to be able to plaster it all over social media ASAP, because: HENRY ON THE GRAVE OF HIS ROLE MODEL, NUGENT, what a great birthday! Of course this inspired Chooch to tell Octavia the story of Henry at the Ted Nugent show, which I was actually trying to tell her at the same time, but Chooch always has to steal the show…AND MY FRIENDS! He kept hijacking the conversation by bringing it back to video games and I was getting so jealous.


“Are there crocodiles in there?!” I asked Octavia as we looked down over a small hill at the water below.

“No,” she assured me. And then she added, in the most non-patronizing tone possible,”and they’re alligators, anyway.” Something about her delivery made me crack up. The people I need most in my life are the ones who will gently correct me when I’m wrong and also make sure I don’t eat poisonous berries. Octavia exceeds expectations in both departments.

I just asked Chooch what his favorite part of Bonaventure was and he said when Octavia told us that sometimes there are dolphins in the water there. He hasn’t learned Henry’s favorite response yet, which is: “When we left.”


We waited until it was time to leave to look at the map, because that’s smart.

From here, we continued on to downtown Savannah so that we could eat food that was cooked in a kitchen and not picked up off a boneyard floor, and Chooch was thrilled that Octavia got to sit in the back with him SO HE COULD CHEW HER EAR OFF SOME MORE. Ugh. I’d steal his friends to show him how it feels, but…kids and I don’t get along.

I must have said, “UGH!” in response to Chooch’s charm at least 87 times that day. Ugh!

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Aug 172015

My sole purpose on road trips is to assume the role of car DJ. Obviously. What else could I possibly be good for? I put on Loverboy to see if Henry would get that far-away look of nostalgia in his eyes.


So then I put on some good old Engelbert Humperdinck. Classic, you guys. Also, hair goals for Henry. Detached sideburns?! There’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to that. It looks like an accident. In other words: Henry could rock it.

While still in North Carolina, we began passing billboards for South of the Border, a TRUE TOURIST TRAP that I have only heard about, never visited. The first billboard I noticed said that it was 87 miles away.

“EIGHTY-SEVEN MILES AWAY? THAT’S SIDNEY CROSBY’S NUMBER. IT’S FATE. WE HAVE TO GO,” I squealed into the intercom of Wish Headquarters, also known as “Henry’s Ear.”

Then we passed another billboard that said South of the Border is 66 miles away! “THAT WAS MARIO LEMIEUX’S NUMBER! We’re going.”

See also:Letang’s number. Talbot’s number. Sutter’s number. And so on, and so forth.

I had a teacher in elementary school that said “and so on, and so forth” SO OFTEN. And then I never really heard it again.

Probably because it’s really stupid.

Inside Henry’s head at this moment: The letters “FML” fucking each other and giving birth to baby Nancy Kerrigan “whhhhhhhhhy” sound bytes.

The gestation period for these types of mental burdens is very short.


Of course we stopped. And that place was dead. I don’t know what I was expected exactly but I thought it was going to be some sort of fannypacked madness. Tourists bustling about, darting to and fro, scooping up collector’s spoons and flurescent-brimmed visors.

But no. It was just us and a few other carfuls of weary travelers stopping for a bathroom & cold beverage.

I wanted to buy it all inside one of the large gift shops but Henry had that tight-lipped “DONT EVEN” expression on his idiot face, so instead I settled on a magnet and an ice cream dish in the shape of an ice cream cone that says South of the Border on it, which is already the new home to a succulent, THANKS FOR ASKING.

Chooch got nothing because he’s annoying.


At first I thought we were going to have to climb to the top of the sombrero, which is fine but it was 1000 degrees out and I can’t climb steps that are so exposed like those ones. NO FUCKING WAY. Turns out, all we had to do was pay some Mexican guy in the arcade $2 each and then another Mexican guy wordlessly ushered us into an elevator and hit the button. As soon as we began our ascent, I nervously laughed, “Haha, it’s a lot higher than I thought.” Our elevator chauffeur politely smiled but I’m sure his mental FMLs we’re currently embroiled in a steamy affair with Henry’s mental FMLs.



Yeah so then we arrived at the brim of ye ol’ sombrero and I proceeded to have an internal panic attack because I just can’t play the heights game anymore. I start hearing nuts and bolts popping in my head, and that slooooow squeak of bending metal, until whatever suspended platform I’m standing on snaps and I’m plummeting to my death along with whatever other idiot tourists are with me, and next thing you know there’s a new addition on Roadside America: “Former location of giant, roadside sombrero that hadn’t been inspected since 1984, where tragic tourist disaster occurred.”

Something like that. I’m writing this is in an un-air-conditioned house and occasionally black out.


Henry enjoys waiting until the last minute to book a hotel room. And for the rest of our vacation, “hotel” will be used loosely.

IMG_9429 IMG_9447 IMG_9430

Half past bustling traveler’s mecca, more toward cesspool of sadness.


“What’s that? Oh just the sound of all my time & money being punted off the brim of a giant sombrero.”


It doesn’t seem that high, but it felt like I was standing on the shoulders of Andre the Giant while he was standing on the shoulders of Lady Liberty. Oh god, I just had a flashback and my legs did the jello thing again.

Still trying to book us a “hotel.”

Before we left, we stopped in a convenience store across the street called The Pantry, where I was certain we were going to get shot by two suspicious young men who came creepin’ on ah come-up. I didn’t say anything though because Henry gets really annoyed when my “unfounded paranoia” rears its ugly head-in-the-crosshairs. I had the whole thing scripted in my head though, right down to the Erin RIP Glenn that hopefully someone would be uncouth and crass enough to create.

There’s some local ginger ale maker in the area and I wanted to tour the factory but Henry either said nein or “it’s closed” or “go to hell”, either way it was probably Henry’s fault. It’s called Blenheim and thank god, so blessed, the convenience store sold it in glass bottles which is my dad’s favorite way to drink carbonated beverage. He’s kind of an enthusiast. So I figured, golly I better knock one back in my dad’s honor.

I chose the “hot” variety, which was smirk-worthy for Henry.

“Do you even know what that means?” The words fell from his patronizing lips like crumbs from the testosterone sandwich he was eating at the Mans Rule World, Gurlz Dumm convention he’s perpetually attending in his head. “It means it’s extra ginger-y. You’re not going to like it.”

Yeah, well, guess who liked it, motherfucker? Ten kicks to man’s universal ballsack for all womankind.

Continuing on through South Carolina, I learned that Henry knows that #SPOBY means Spencer and Toby from Pretty Little Liars, which is sad and hilarious to me all at once. I was going to buy him a limited edition SPOBY shirt that Spencer (you know, the broad who plays Spencer) was selling on Instagram for charity but either my order didn’t go through or I’m about to have 6 of them delivered to my house in Henry’s name.

We stopped at Smith’s Exxon in Santee, a plain-named store that apparently boasts a wide array of local ciders, and Henry, suddenly a connoisseur of the jugged juices, was excited for maybe the second time of the whole trip. The southern gas station clerk behind the counter gave us samples of the peach cider and then taught us about muscadine, which is basically some kind of grape thing, I wasn’t listening. We sampled that too and Henry was making sex sounds so I knew he was going to buy a jug of each. (And he did. And just so you know, I never even got to drink any of it!)

How you know you’re not in Pittsburgh anymore. ^^

Chooch was so sick but I was like, “Son, I recognize that you are ill at the moment but please sit down and let me take your picture on this Cheerwine bench as proof that we are wherever we’re currently at.” Also, Cheerwine, nothing to Q-tip your dickhole over.  (But I don’t really like soda-type beverages to begin with, so.) Before we left, Henry cleaned out the car and threw out my ginger ale bottle which I was planning to save as a souvenir!

“Oh, we’ll get another,” he said.

“There will be plenty more places selling it,” he said.


More driving.

We made it to Savannah around 9 and realized that we hadn’t eaten since The Creamery in North Carolina, so we went to the Waffle House next to our “hotel,” which is lame to go to chains, I know, but it was either that or get frustrated with Yelp and then wind up going to bed with an empty stomach and a heart full of hate.

At least the southern Waffle Houses are way better than the ones in our area. We had a super nice waitress and I got to stuff a waffle in my maw, and Henry had his cherished grits (seriously, what’s the backstory with Henry and the Grits?), and Chooch actually ordered something and ate it all.

“Father, might I take a sip of my milk now?”

Afterward, Chooch made a cat friend in the parking lot, and then we found out there were like 6 more where that one came from so we quickly left before Chooch got too attached.

And then I willed myself fall asleep, totally hyper about finally meeting Octavia the next day!

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Aug 152015

And on the fourth day of vacation, Henry expressed a barely audible modicum of joy when he spotted F-15s in the air.


Wednesday morning, a/k/a The Day Before My Birthday, was our officially check-out day from King’s Creek. Chooch and I were sad, but then Henry held up our timeshare starter package as a silent reminder that we’ll be back.


And again.

And again and again.


Being a travel day, my plan was for us to be leisurely about it. We didn’t have plans with Octavia until the next day, so there technically wasn’t much rush to get to Savannah anytime soon on Wednesday.

Which is a good thing, considering that Savannah was twice as far away from Williamsburg as I originally thought! I was super pissed though because I thought we were going to be passing through Norfolk but Henry explained that we were taking a more dumb and Henry-esque route through the middle of all the states.

“We can’t get to Savannah by going that way,” he said as I whined about Norfolk and all of the things I found on Roadside America that now were not going to be anywhere near us.

“Yes we can!” I cried, showing him a map on my phone.

“THAT IS ALL WATER. THOSE ARE NOT ROADS,” he yelled, so by the time we arrived at a rest stop in North Carolina, we were all miserable and hating each other, which only got WORSE when Henry copped an attitude when we had the AUDACITY to ask for beverage from the vending machines! Oh, I’m sorry. Maybe give us an allowance then so we can purchase our own beverages!

“He hates us,” I hoarsely whispered to Chooch as we power-walked in anger out of the rest stop. But then I was all, “Ooh! A thing! Let me photograph you by that thing!”

Chooch leaning against a thing.

Turns out, that thing is a WHIRLIGIG and there was an entire PARK full of them somewhere “down the street” in Wilson, NC. I begged and begged Henry to take us there since he had previously ruined our day by being a tight-wad motherfucker.

I looked at my map on Roadside American and determined that the exit for Wilson, NC, home of the Whirligig Park, was straight up ahead. What I failed to mention was that the actual destination was another 20 miles or so from the exit ramp. Henry hates being lead astray and was unreasonably irritated about whirligigs. Who could be mad about these sharp metal sculptures of joy?!

Also, I failed to note that the park is not yet open. We rolled up and saw a dirt lot, a backhoe in action, and a small sprinkling of whirligigs. That was good enough for me! Henry slammed the car into park and mumbled something about “you two assholes can get out and look; I’m staying here. Fuck a whirligig.” Even Chooch was being ungrateful and uncaring about the whirligigs and I was pretty disappointed. Here we were, parked across from a national treasure (debatable, but still) and these two were trying to ruin it for me.

I pulled Chooch out of the car and into the blazing heat and made him be a good tourist with me.

The whirligigs are the creation of artist Vollis Wilson, and are currently in the process of being relocated from some museum to the park-in-process in Wilson, NC. Wilson is, how can I put this delicately, a real dump of a town, so the hope is that this park will help with the revitalization project that’s currently underway, and I can definitely get on board with that.

I might start creating whirligigs to decorate the Law Firm. The ceilings in the partnership center are tall enough to accommodate art of this stature. BYE BYE GENERIC ITALIAN ART, HELLO ERINGIGS.


Maybe it’s nuts, but I love these road trips that we take so much because I am fascinated more by small, unknown towns than actual big cities. This was why I tried in vain to get people to guest blog on here about their hometowns, because I want to know all the insider, townie scoop. (Still looking to feature people, just saying.)

This is why I decided that Wilson was where we were also going to eat lunch that day.

Just…not here though.


We stopped down the road at The Creamery, which has been serving Wilson since 1946.

That man sitting next to Chooch ordered two large jugs of sweet tea. NORTH CAROLINA FLAVOR!


I already mentioned this in my birthday post, but they had cabbage on the menu! I ended up ordering okra though because I love me some okra. It came deep-fried, and I am used to eating it steamed or boiled or whatever Henry does to it (maybe I don’t want to know), so that was different.

Another cheerful family lunch!

While we were there, Hot Naybor Chris called Henry. Henry took the call out in the parking lot, leaving me to sit at the table and panic because WHY WAS CHRIS CALLING WAS OUR HOUSE ON FIRE AT LEAST WE DON’T HAVE PETS ANYMORE TO WORRY ABOUT!? He knew we were on vacation so it must be something tragic and devastating! It reminded me of when we were on vacation in Ocracoke years ago and had some sort of gas situation at our house and my mom and Janna kept calling us about it and we thought it was OK but then it wasn’t, and we ended up leaving early because I was so freaked out that our house was going to explode and also I hated the people we were vacationing with, so win-win….?

Turns out, a package arrived for me, air mail, and Chris just wanted to let Henry know that he took it off our porch so it wouldn’t get stolen. After Henry came back in and told me this, I cried, “WHY DOESN’T HE EVER JUST TEXT YOU THESE THINGS!?” Jesus Christ, I was worried sick.

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