Sep 252016
 

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Since the shitty “hotel” we’ve stayed at for all three Riot Fests switched brands, they no longer offered breakfast. Not like we were missing much because it was below basic breakfast fare, we were still disappointed because it was convenient and free. Going to Riot Fest is not cheap, you guys, and I’d rather spend my money on merch than food, ugh. All of this is to say we went down the street to some joint called Victoria’s, where I had crepes that were OK and Henry had meats.

Then Meghan Trainor came on (the worst M.T. song of all time, All About That Bass) and I believe this was the first time where I had found myself in a position where there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t change the station! I couldn’t leave because I was still eating. I HAD TO SIT THERE AND ENDURE IT.

Oh, the horror! The pain! But I reminded my ears that soon they would be in Douglas Park, surrounded on all sides by the most beautiful blend of pop punk, punk rock, emo revival, hip hop — it was all going to be there. Some of my most favorite genres, and most favorite bands.

It was going to be OK, ears. It was going to be OK.

After breakfast, we went back to the “hotel” and ordered the first Uber of the weekend, an older man named Woody, who, in spite of having his GPS up on his dash, asked Henry unlimited questions regarding the route. Henry was happy to answer because he is a PROFESSIONAL DRIVER and I can guarantee that Woody’s lack of directional savvy gave Henry his own woody.

Luckily, through numerous detours and train crossings, we made it to Douglas Park with a good 45 minutes to spare before the gates opened. This year, it was set up a bit differently with only one entrance, but I was happy to see that it wasn’t yet a cluster fuck.

Only bad part about standing in line was this uber-annoying Minnesota broad who talked extra-loudly to her friend about how EVERYONE KNOWS HER and HOW MANY TATTOOS SHE HAS and HOW SHE IS SO FUCKING COOL HOW ARE WE NOT MELTING BENEATH HER RADIATING BRILLIANCE. Henry knew right away that she was annoying me so we communicated through eye-expressions alone, and then when she mentioned in her grating Midwest lilt that she COULDN’T WAIT TO SEE BALANCE AND COMPOSURE the next day, Henry started to crack up because I had literally said that same thing about 37403720580 times that morning.

Ughhhhhhh.

Gates opened late as usual and we ran, I mean I ran and Henry slowly lumbered behind me, to the Riot Fest merch tent to snag a set of the limited edition Riot Fest Garbage Pail Kids and then Papa Drunk skipped off to get his 21+ wristband and guess who couldn’t get her own because she left her whole entire wallet in Pittsburgh? My preparedness is a non-factor in my game of life. Do not ever choose me for your zombie apocalypse team.

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Ugh. First beer at like 11:30. Get it, Hank.

We had some time to kill before noon so we stomped around the food vendors looking for Dark Matter because I desperately needed coffee. Couldn’t find it right away, so I settled for a water and while Henry was paying for it, some guy at the next food booth asked, “Hey! Why’s my name on your shirt?” I looked around and when I realized he was talking to me, I had to glance down to refresh my memory with what shirt I was even wearing that day, and it was my beautiful Howard Jones shirt!

So I walked closer and engaged in a rare conversation, because I hate talking to people but Riot Fest is an exception because it makes me remember who I used to be, how alive I once was, and it reminds me that hey, I’m surrounded by a ton of my people right now, so it’s not really stranger danger, right? Anyway, the guy’s name ended up being Howard Johnson (like the hotel, I guess), not Jones, but he had never heard of Howard Jones before so I encourage him to check that shit out.

Henry was like, “OK REMEMBER WHOSE PROPERTY YOU ARE LET’S GO.” He is like, so possessive of me. It’s almost sickening.

(Lol, sike. He was like TAKE HER, SHE’S YOURS.)

(This just brought up a horrible memory of when I was briefly dating this guy Erik in 1998 and we were hanging out at my apartment with some guy named Kevin who I recently met at a Sunoco — hey, I made friends everywhere I went back then when I still had self-esteem — and Kevin, who was totally blitzed off a 40 of Miller’s High Life, asked Erik if he could steal me and Erik said, ugh do you know what he said? He said BE MY GUEST. I have that heart-breaking moment on 8mm, even.)

(Well, fuck you Erik Grove, because now I’m with Henry and here we are at Riot Fest and some cute guy name Howard is talking to me so suck it.)

First band up was Tigers Jaw at noon on the Riot Fest (main) stage.

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These guys are on Run For Cover Records, one of my fave labels, but this was the first time I ever saw them live. If you know me, you know that I’m horribly fickle with female singers, but I love the boy-girl sharing of vocal duties going on in this band. It’s fun, feel-good indie rock, you guys and there is no reason why Henry should have said, “Nope, they did nothing for me” other than the fact that he wasn’t paying attention because OMG WHAT ARE HIS 57 FACEBOOK FRIENDS DOING, GOTTA CHECK!

During their set, an older gentleman strolled by and said, “GREAT ALBUM!” while pointing to my Howard Jones “Human Lib” shirt. I agree, guy!

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Ahhh, Citizen was next on the Rise stage. I can’t say enough wonderful superlatives about this band. They get me right in the feels, as all the kids and ironic bloggers say these days.

It started to rain during their set and I hated almost everyone around me, but I didn’t let that sully my third live dose of Citizen for 2016. Also, Mat basically dresses like Henry, proving he just doesn’t give a fuck.

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oh, Citizen. ❤️

A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

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Here’s Henry, secretly enjoying Citizen and his style-twin, Mat.

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Right after this was Touche Amore on the Rock Stage and I was ready to burst — they’re part of this trifecta for me which also includes La Dispute and The Saddest Landscape, but I’ve never seen Touche Amore before; it was a long time coming.

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Some of the finest post-hardcore I’ve ever heard comes courtesy of this beautiful man. I play their records so loud in the house and Henry and Chooch are always like, full-body eye rolls and grimaces, but GUESS WHAT? Guess who finally jumped aboard the Touche Amore-wagon? Mr. Henry J. Robbins.

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“They weren’t that bad,” he mumbled, and then, “I didn’t hate it,” which in regular people’s terms translates to, “Say, I think I actually enjoyed that.”

Touché Amore 💗

A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

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After Touche Amore, I had penciled in a small window for getting food. I can’t remember what Henry got, but I enjoyed a wonderful BBQ jackfruit with slaw on top of a slice of Texas toast. It was delicious, except that the slaw was more just a wad of pickled vegetables, which found me for the second time in less than a week explaining to no one in particular that the only pickled things I like are pickles.

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Oh, I think Henry had vegetable paella and I accused him of being a vegetarian but he defensively said he wasn’t turning his back on meat, he just simply “didn’t feel like eating meat right then.”

HMM THAT SEEMS WEIRD.

Anyway, thanks to Henry having to also get food, I missed Dillinger Escape Plan so thanks Henry, like you couldn’t have waited until later to eat.

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After missing DEP, we wandered over to the outskirts of Douglas Park, where the two smallest stages live. Jule Vera was going to be playing soon on the Storyheart Stage, so we figured we’d just hang out in the grass and take selfies, right Henry? Because that’s totally a thing that Henry does. My hair looked shittier than usual that weekend because remember our shitty “hotel”? Well, they don’t supply their rooms with hair dryers and Henry even tried for a hail mary by inquiring at the front desk if they had any available and the answer was NO THEY DID NOT, YOUR RATTY-HAIRED GIRLFRIEND IS FUCKED, BOIIIII.

So frizzy, air-dried hair it is, then!

We had to suffer through the tail-end of the Far East’s set and I absolutely hated them, like if a person could vomit out of their ears, this would have triggered my aural gag reflex, for sure. Let me just describe it as Reggae No Doubt. I was like GOOD RIDDANCE when they finally ended.

Then it was Tancred, which I kept confusing for Tantric — like, totalllly different band. Fun Fact for anyone who cares: the singer is also the guitarist from Now, Now and the singer from Now, Now is dating Lynn Gunn’s (PVRIS) ex-girlfriend Alexa San Roman, OMG there more you know. Anyway, Tancred is a good example of why I’m picky with girl-fronted bands — they usually tend to have that 90s sound to them and I know this is putting my head on the chopping block, but I really didn’t like a lot of rock or alternative from the 90s, until later on in the decade. SORRY BUT I’M JUST BEING HONEST. In my defense, I was heavily into hiphop, gangsta rap, and R&B back then though.

Also, around this time, Henry started complaining about a “foot cramp” but I was like, “Hmm, that doesn’t sound like the name of any band that I like so I’m officially exiting this conversation, bye now.”

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OK, then it was finally time for Jule Vera and I missed Chooch so desperately. (He’s annoying me so much today though, a week later, so I already forget what that felt like.) Chooch has loved Jule Vera since we saw them last winter at the Never Shout Never and blushed the whole time he was posing for a picture with Ansley, their singer:

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Not even gonna front here, I got totally misty-eyed during their set because it made me miss Chooch so much. We were sending him pictures of Ansley on Facebook during soundtrack and he was getting so mad at us but then he said “SEND ME VIDEOS.” Originally he wanted us to record their whole set, but contrary to popular belief, I actually don’t like being That Person holding their phone up at concerts. I tend to grab a few Instavids (like 30 seconds in length at a time) just for my own posterity and to have something to post on the blog as a memory of the night.

SO FUCKING SUE ME.

But for Chooch, I broke that rule and recorded 30-60 seconds of every song the performed, but I didn’t feel too asshole-y doing so because I was right against the barrier so I didn’t have to hold my phone up high, which means no one behind me was bothered, and if they were, it was probably because of Henry.

Henry’s mere existence is very bothersome to some.

Is it wrong to say that I think a band is adorable? I also think they’re really talented, but there is something really charming about watching such a young band play their hearts out on stage. I didn’t think I was going to care much for them when I saw them last winter, but I fell for them alongside Chooch. He’s got good taste.

Jule Vera killing it.

A video posted by Erin (@ohhonestlyconcerts) on

Some old dude, like even older than Henry, yelled, “Hey what high school do you go to?!?” to Ansley and OK, I get where he’s coming from, but damn dude, that sounded totally creepy, go away. Save that for when you’re role-playing with your old ass wife.

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Their finale had to have made new fans out of the unbiased people lounging under nearby trees. Even one of the security guys came over to get a better look and then to me and Henry said, “This shit is crazy!”

Jule Vera killing it.

A video posted by Erin (@ohhonestlyconcerts) on

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Set Your Goals was up next on the Rise Stage and I was so excited to see them again! They recently reunited and I didn’t even realize how much I missed them. This is the band that Henry always pauses and then asks, “Is this the big guy and little guy?” Ugh, yes Henry. Sure. SYG has the dual-vocals thing going on, and I credit them into getting me into pop-punk, after swearing it off for years. They were my gateway, if you will. I always liked emo and post-hardcore but really never cared much for pop-punk, until I heard one of their songs that Vinnie Cuarana was on, and then Hayley Williams rapping (literally!!) on one of their songs in 2009 really helped the medicine go down.

I made Alisha go see them with me that summer at Mr. Small’s and it was just such an awesome show and I kind of wanted to get punched in the face but it didn’t happen.

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Henry was not into it.

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This guy stood right by us while sucking on his CHRONIC CANDY lollipop and I wanted him so badly to turn to Henry and offer him a lick, which prompted Henry to later go on a tangent about how Chronic Candy “isn’t actually a drug, Erin!” and like yeah OK but it’s still part of DRUG CULTURE and we all know Henry has the D.A.R.E. insignia tattooed on his left ass cheek.

Oh you didn’t know? WELL NOW YOU DO.

He also has “just say no” on his inner lip.

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Anyway, go listen to Set Your Goals.

We tried to catch some of the Citizen acoustic set in the StubHub Tent, which was packed, so we were standing near the entrance when some dumbass rolled up with her friends and proceeded to shriek, totally unrelated to the music, like she had been proposed to and this really set me off so I flipped out and stormed away (I was also suffering through some major coffee-withdrawals, thanks for not having my back this year, Dark Matter!), and had a mini-meltdown, but then Henry calmed me down after some guy stared at me with a scared smile because I think he thought I was yelling at him. Not you, bro. Not you.

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Once Henry verbally massaged my frontal lobe, we were able to catch a little bit of Somos on the Storyheart stage. The best way I can explain this band is that they would be perfectly at home on a soundtrack for any 1980s John Hughes movie. This is a good thing! But Henry doesn’t get it, which is why I had to see them alone at Bled Fest last May.

This was the harried, frenzied block of time on Friday where there were three bands playing all around the same time and I wanted to see them all, so after two Somos songs, we had to do a brisk walk to the Rise stage where Glassjaw was playing and can you believe I have never seen Glassjaw in my whole entire life?? Henry thinks this is incorrect, but that’s because we saw Daryl Palumbo’s other band, Head Automatica at the Cure’s Curiosa festival in 2004. So I got to have major chills hearing Daryl’s screams cutting through the early evening Chicago air. No one sounds quite like Daryl Palumbo!

(LOL, a commercial for Motel 6 just played while I’m writing this and our Motel 6 did NOT look like the one on TV at all. Nice try, Tom Bodett.)

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FUN FACT: I sold a custom serial killer card to G.G. Allin’s brother last year and it was pretty much the highlight of my card-making career thus far.

Oh man, young emo Erin was READY to see Jimmy Eat World again. I kept trying to remember when the last time was that I saw them, and Henry swore that it wasn’t him because Jimmy Eat World is evidently a band that he would remember seeing. I stressed about this for the whole weekend because I was sure that I saw them at one of the Edgefests in Buffalo but I couldn’t find them listed on any lineups, so then I searched for their all their 2001 tour dates and said, “Well, I just don’t know then because this says they only did Warped Tour in 2001….oh wait I was at that Warped Tour, never mind LOL forever.”

Mystery solved! I saw them at Warped Tour with my pal Wonka.

When I first got into emo, it was through Instant Messenger (good ol’ AIM) and I was chatting with some random, and I remember asking him what his screen name meant. I don’t remember the name anymore, but it had something to do with the band Christie Front Drive, and that’s how I fell down the emo rabbit hole and, 20 years later, still haven’t clawed my way back out. Once he suggested that I listen to the Emo Diaries compilations, I knew it was for me.

(Full disclosure, I was still heavy into nu-metal back then too, hahahah, but emo clearly won the war over my heart.)

The crowd wasn’t too bad. My strategy was to stand behind a lady in a wheelchair because no one wanted to stand right in front of her, which meant the view was pretty clear for me. I’m really picky about how far up I’ll travel into the crowds — I base it on how much I love the band and how big/small the stage is. I do not like being close to the main stage because people scare me and I hate feeling trapped.

Anyway, they played my favorite song, Lucky Denver Mint (mixtape staple!)  Enjoy my finger cameo! I’m good at this!

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A video posted by Erin (@ohhonestlyconcerts) on

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It was time for Second Riot Fest Feeding after Jimmy Eat World and I went with a vegan sloppy joe. I think Henry got salt and vinegar fries. Who cares. I kept stealing swigs of his beer and he was getting so angry because “if you had really wanted to drink, you wouldn’t have your left your fucking license at home!!” He kept saying, “I hope you get busted!” because I didn’t have a wristband on, but come on, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m over 21. Maybe it’s debatable in a dark club, but when the sun is shining down on me, the grays are all a’shimmer and the bags under my eyes are looking ready and willing to hold your car keys and Altoids.

So gimme your fucking beer, Henry.

That sloppy joe was wonderful. Riot Fest has the best food! This is what I wish Warped Tour would do — but I guess because it’s at an actual venue and not a park, outside food vendors aren’t allowed in so we have to stick with the standard $10 soft pretzels and nachos or whatever that First Niagara whips up. This is why I just stuff my bag with granola bars!

 

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On the way back to the Storyheart Stage in preparation for BASEMENT!!!, we watched a few minutes of All Time Low at the Rise Stage. I never really got into them that much, so after a song or two, we began to walk away, but then they started the next song and I screamed, “I KNEW IT!!” and ran back to the stage because Vic from Pierce the Veil came out to sing “A Love Like War” with them. Henry was like, “Wha—-what’s happening!?” and had to follow me back. He’s so dumb sometimes. But then he saw Vic and understood.

Vic 💗

A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

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For real though, after that song ended, we had to run to the Storyheart Stage because I wanted to be up front for Basement and now, as I type this, I feel like I’m going to start crying because this was the first time that weekend, other than crying about missing Chooch or just being my typical whiny self, that I dropped real tears.

This is the same band that threw a wrench in Henry’s “driving to Disneyworld” plans last April — he wanted to leave on a Saturday morning but then I quietly, while slowly back away, reminded him that I had a ticket to see Basement that night, so we had to wait until 11:30pm that night to embark on our Orlando road trip, lolololololol all the way to the market.

I am obsessed with Al specifically, the guitarist, because he was the man behind the camera in all of the Tuesdays with Tay videos that Henry and I love (well, that I love), and I’m just a huge groupie for Run For Cover Records. Huge. I make Chooch wear their shirt to school in an effort to get those basic Brookline brats interested in good music.

(Hasn’t happened yet, although Chooch played some Emarosa for his friend Dimajio and said that he liked it, so fingers crossed. Chooch is a lot like me in many ways but he hasn’t yet honed the SHOVE YOUR INTERESTS DOWN YOUR FRIENDS’ THROATS skill yet I guess. I’ll work on that with him some more, don’t worry.)

When we were waiting for Jule Vera to play earlier, Henry elbowed me and pointed to the fenced-off area behind the stage, at a white van that had just rolled up. “Isn’t that Basement?” he asked casually. AND IT WAS. Henry is so great at recognizing bands that he hates!

Some of my friends were disappointed in me because I chose Basement over some other band, but bitch please, I’m not going to skip a band that I genuinely love in favor of a band that I don’t like but feel like I’m supposed to watch just to say that I saw them. That’s not me! I like what I like. And Basement pumped me full of life. I love how James has Robert Smith-esque dance moves and I love their energy and their fans aren’t assholes and they’re just adorable Brits who make emotional, heart-felt, energetic rock.

I’m used to disappointing people with my music preferences though. It’s my thang. Bang bang.

Plus, they have a song called Bad Apple and I have a rotten apple tattoo, so I’m kind of obligated to be a fan. <3

Ready to see @basementuk again like right now. One of many high points from the weekend. 😍

A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

I’m going to listen to them all weekend now because they’re such an autumn band for me. And I finally got Henry to admit that he likes them so it was a big moment in our relationship. This band is just so good, and they are HILARIOUS on social media (their Snapchat stories are entertaining) and I have to say, when a band plays super emotional music but then act like complete clowns on the Internet, I love them even more.

Just do yourself a favor and listen to their latest album. It’s the first release since they came out of hiatus. I mean, I’m no Lou Pappan, but I think “you gonna like it.” (SHOUT OUT TO MY PITTSBURGH READERS LOL.)

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Sep 222016
 

Henry: There’s Notre Dame.

Me: ….that big dirt pile?

Henry: Well….no. On the other side of that.

***

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I woke up Monday morning with a dire need to get the hell home. We had driven straight to South Bend, Indiana after saying goodbye to Riot Fest on Sunday, and I was so happy to be staying in a decent hotel after four nights in the worst Motel 6 — hey, we do what we need to do to be able to go to Riot Fest, and it may be just be one step up from sleeping in a car, but at least there was hot (almost pressure-less) water…? I tried not to complain too much because #SOBLESSED to be there, blah blah blah. Trying on a pair of grateful-pants. They don’t fit very well.

You know that I missed Chooch a lot when I didn’t consult my Roadside America app ONCE on the way home to Pittsburgh on Monday.  The struggle was real, man, and I barely even wanted to stop for breakfast. But we missed breakfast at the hotel because prissy Henry was too busy lollygagging, blowing out his hair, pomading his beard — I don’t know what Henry does. I never watch him get ready because it’s boring.

Anyway, since Henry fucked up, I found a placed called JEANNIE’S HOUSE which was somewhere that required us to drive around like 8 “traffic circles.”

Traffic circles are cunts. And second of all, they’re roundabouts.

Jeannie’s ended up being… the bomb dot com? All that and a bag of chip? Why were these things ever acceptable to say? Jeannie’s was great. We got to hang with the locals at the counter! And our waitress loved me because I have an awesome phone case; she even made another waitress come over and said, “Show her your phone case!”

I have better accessories than most high school girls.

MAYBE EVEN MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS.

Honestly, that part of me has never changed. I’m literally still the same 10th grader who brought an argyle knapsack to study hall everyday, stuffed with travel games and Floam. People called it the Barney bag, which seemed accurate at the time but now I’m like, Mary Poppins bag would have been better.

But yeah, that’s still me: wearing giant plastic rings and carrying holographic eyeball purses.

Henry just rolled his eyes and proceeded to zone out during this whole exchange.

Anyway, the breakfast fare was standard, but what drew me there was the promise of homemade jams.

I made sure to get a grilled biscuit with my swiss omelet and then proceeded to ask, with urgency, “DO YOU HAVE THE HOMEMADE JAMS?” Our waitress was like “….Yes?” And  then she told me the flavors. I picked peach, which is what Henry tried to also choose until I sternly said, “You have to get a different one so we can share!” and then I coughed, “Idiot” under my breath.

Breakfast was delightful and those jams really did make a big difference.

And then it was back in the car, where Henry was confused by how roads work in Indiana.

Henry: So I can only go left or right? Not straight?

Me: Who cares.

Henry: Well…I care. I don’t want to get a ticket…?

Didn’t Henry LIVE IN INDIANA? I guess he was too busy driving other people’s cars into ditches.

I should have peed before we left Jeannie’s but then we wouldn’t have seen some large, shirtless man yelling at someone sitting in their car in a McDonald’s parking lot after utilizing a surprisingly nice and updated bathroom in a gas station in Smalltown, Indiana where we then got a ton of beverages (including a gross iced coffee), a bag of chip and a (gross) Snickerdoodle for under $5! I think that’s cheap, right?

We also saw not one but THREE cars pulled off to the side of the road where people were picking grapes growing along a median. Wow.

Indiana, you’re flavorful.

That iced coffee was so disgusting though, no surprise. It was this terribly thick concoction and whether it actually had coffee in it is debatable. Also, I was having a hard time getting it to come out of the spout so Henry went and got a gas station employee to assist me before I pushed the whole thing out of a window, and the lady  took the top of which is how I know that the “coffee” lives inside a foiled pouch thing, like ew, and the lady was all, “Sometimes if I squeeze it, it’ll get it started again” and it was just so wrong.

So, so wrong.

Anyway, Henry thinks that she didn’t charge me for it, which was why it seemed so cheap.

“You know like at a bar, when they give you the shot for free if it’s the end of the bottle?” Henry said, and is that what happened the day he drove “Joe’s” car into the ditch!? Too many free “bottom of the bottle” shots?!

Whatever. It didn’t help that shitty iced coffee taste any better.

By the time we reached the first travel plaza in Ohio, I was on the prowl for an iced coffee do-over. Unforch, it was a Starbucks, which I usually tend to avoid, but anything was better than that gas station swill!

I ordered my SMALL NOT TALL coffee and then loudly to Henry I said, “I make a point of ordering either a SM, MED or LG whenever I come here. Fuck a venti.”

“Wow, you’re a real rebel,” Henry mumbled, and then when I asked him if he was getting anything, he scoffed, “No!” Because Henry is hugely against coffee (see also: Henry is a terrorist) and claims that even the cookies at Starbucks tastes like coffee. AND HE HATES THEIR ICED TEA!

Who’s the rebel now?

While at the travel plaza, Henry decided he wanted to get some Hershey’s ice cream and he’s a grown-up so he can have ice cream in the middle of the day if he wants. But there were these two old broads who were lollygagging, changing their orders, musing over which flavor would best complement their daily prunes. Henry quickly grew impatient and, ice cream dreams shattered, moved over to the next kiosk to get some iced tea instead.

But by the time he had finished paying and was handed his empty plastic cup, some man came over for a refill, stepping right in front of Henry and proceeded to pour the slowest cup of iced tea this side of shitty Indiana gas station iced coffee dispenser.

And the whole time, the old broads, now placated with their cups of Hershey chill, hovered behind Henry. They were closer to him than I was and we all know that Chooch and I walk so close to Henry that if he stops abruptly, there’s a people pile-up. Oh shit, Henry hates that about us but I bet if we ever suddenly gave him personal space, he would miss the sound of our adorable shuffling feet.

So now, he’s got this dude tea-blocking him and these broads taunting him with the ice cream he was too impatient to stand in line for, not to mention me standing there laughing at him, and he just looked so defeated and slumped over.

It was amazing.

He was so angry.

Once he finally filled up his cup with Burger King’s iced tea, the old broads walked away. Just like that. We exited the travel plaza the opposite direction as them so Henry could have time to cool off.

“And I thought that guy getting iced tea was the husband of one of those broads!” Henry chirped. “But no, they were just standing there for no reason!” Untrue, Henry – they were standing there to further ruin your experience at the shitty Ohio travel plaza.

In between rehashing every waking moment of Riot Fest, I got Henry to open up a bit about the SERVICE. “Did they ever scream in your face?” I asked him. My only real insight into the SERVICE world is Full Metal Jacket and M.A.S.H.

“I mean, they screamed at us, but not like what you see in  the movies,” he causally answered, temporarily forgetting that he put a ban on answering SERVICE questions.

He said he wasn’t scared when they would scream at him because “eventually they have to stop.” Why did this make me crack up so bad!? How is Henry constantly so even-keeled and level-headed?! Not being screamed at while in the SERVICE fazed him.

I call shenanigans on this, though. I feel like he probably made a lot of tearful calls home to his mommy.

“What was your first day like? Did you cry a lot? Were you worried about not making friends?” I asked, on the edge of my seat but not really because we were in  the car and if I get too close to the edge, my knees are squished against the glove compartment and that’s annoying.

Also, I recently realized that it’s called a glove compartment because its original use was probably to literally put gloves in it!? It was just one of those things where I kept saying the words over and over in my head until it fragmented and I said, real slow, “Glove……compartment. A compartment….for gloves!”

You just gotta let me figure these things out on my own sometimes. Like the time I realized that the logo for the old department store Hornes was actually…A HORN.

Anyway, where were we. Oh! I was asking Henry about his first day at the SERVICE.

“I don’t know…the plane landed at like, 1 in the morning. Then we woke up and got our hair cut.”

Oh for god’s sake, I was squealing with laughter at this point.

“You got your hair cut!” I wheezed.

“Well, yeah,” Henry said, flashing me a concerned look, the kinds that doctors give their patients after they ask if they’ve gone off their meds. “Shaved, actually.”

By this time, I was laughing so hard that nothing at all was coming out but strangulated gasps and Henry was officially done answering questions.

And then we were home, reunited with Chooch and two cats who I’m not certain remembered us. Ob-la-di, motherfuckers.

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Sep 202016
 

Someday, I’ll make it a point of visiting Chicago for no other reason but to be a tourist. But so far, anytime I’ve been there, it’s either been a layover at O’Hare, driving through on the way to somewhere else, or to attend Riot Fest. Riot Fest starts at noon all three days and by the time we get up, eat breakfast, and take a Lyft to Douglas Park (which is on the outskirts of Chicago), there just isn’t any time to like, go stare at our reflections in the Bean or whatever.

This year though, Riot Fest announced that they had scored a lot for festival goers, and Henry said it “seemed like it was in an OK area.” But Henry was like, “I REFUSE TO KEEP PAYING ALL THIS MONEY TO UBER OR LYFT!” so for the second day, we left the “hotel” ridiculously early (like before 9:30) and prayed that we would get a spot.

We were the second car there.

But the upside to this was that we had a ton of free time to explore for once. Maybe it wasn’t the actual city, but it was still a neighborhood of Chicago and I was excited to gawk and ogle the locals. I’m really good at looking like a tourist.

Even here in Pittsburgh.

I have that wide-eyed, lost, looking-for-the-Alamo’s-basement look going on strong.

Henry had us walking for quite some time through a Mexican neighborhood, and I was dying because I love Mexican things but none of the shops were open yet. We passed several men loading up vans with POPSICLE CARTS and I wanted one in the worst way because the flavors were exotic, like guava and tres leches. But they weren’t selling them yet. :(

At first we were just blindly looking for a place to eat breakfast, but then Henry consulted my enemy Yelp and found a place but he was being all weird about it and just kept saying things like “It’s a place with food” and “Just shut your fat face and walk.”

All I knew was that we were walking to “Little Village,” whatever the fuck that is. We just kept walking and walking…

(I seriously just looked at a map of Chicago because I really have no idea where we are in relation to anything every time we go there. Hurray, now I know where Douglas Park is!)

And then we came upon this place, which made me scream, “LET’S GO THERE! UNISEX!”

“The barber shop?” Henry asked in a confused voice.

“How do you know it’s a barber shop?” I cried, my visions of a purple velvet swingers den abruptly dashed.

“Well…because it has pictures of scissors and razors on it…?” Henry answered in that tone he adopts when he thinks my questions are stupid. Sorry, but all of my coddling teachers throughout the years taught me that there are no stupid questions so there. Let’s go get Purped at Unisex.

But then I found a mural and forgot about Purpura Unisex in my delightful and aggressive staging of another Henry photo op.

It’s like reverse instagram husband, you guys.

A MEXICAN PLANT STORE. Ughhhhhh, I wanted to go in so badly but what’s the point—we weren’t going back to the car afterward and I don’t think A Beautiful Mess has posted a DIY for a succulent wig or cacti fannypack yet so how would I carry plants around with me all day?

 Besides, as soon as Henry saw all the religious shit in the window, he quickly steered me across the street.

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Luckily, we had arrived at the place with food! And it was legit. None of that Americanized Mexican food bullshit. The waitress had to keep stopping herself from speaking to us in Spanish, that’s how real it was. I love real Mexican culture.

That Jesus aesthetic makes my heart do flip flops.

“I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been around so many Mexicans lately, but I had intense dreams about Christina last night,” I casually told Henry in between sips of the best Mexican coffee in the world.

“Well, she’s not really Mexican, so….” Henry mumbled.

I had rancheros and it was so wonderful. Henry had some type of breakfast staple. I didn’t ask. It probably consisted of eggs and some type of meat.

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It was such a fantastic start to Riot Fest:Day 2. And by the time we got back to Douglas Park, the gates were open so we walked right in without having to wait in a dumb line, and we still had 30 minutes to spare before any bands started.

I think Saturday might have been my favorite day.

However! I just realized that I lied when I told Twitter that Henry and I made it all the way to Sunday night before finally fighting, because we fought after we got back to the car Saturday night when I had the audacity to suggest that we go get ice cream. Usually, we get a ride back to the “hotel” (you guys, this place was a dump), and by that time, it’s so late that we don’t feel like doing anything else. But now we had our car and I wanted to go out and get some fancy Chicago ice cream!

Henry’s initial response was to snap at me because he probably wanted to go back to the room and air out his jock, who knows what that weirdo does. So then I snapped back and said something like, “I WAS HAVING SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND NOW I’M GOING TO CRY. YOU’RE MAKING ME CRYYYYYY” and he yelled, “FIND A FUCKING ICE CREAM PLACE, ASSHOLE!” and I was all, “JUST FORGET IT!” and waited until he was already on some highway thing before saying, “Ooh, let’s go to this Black Dog place for gelato!” and of course Henry had to turn around in some unsavory area and go almost all the way back to Douglas Park.

“It would have been awesome if you told me to go here while we were still in the PARKING LOT,” he muttered.

“I would have if you hadn’t MADE ME CRY!” I yelled.

And then he had to drive around the equivalent of our Shadyside* for approximately 20 minutes until he finally found a place to park.

*(A trendy/fancy neighborhood of Pittsburgh that Henry hates because he’s a Blue Collared.)

We passed this art gallery on the way to Black Dog and I asked, “What is this?” to which Henry mumbled, “Stupid.”

You’re right Henry, that was a stupid question because I clearly knew it was an art gallery so STFU.

Anyway, this goddamn place was so worth it. I had a scoop of cassata and brown butter praline and right now, I’m closing my eyes and begging my taste buds to excrete a memory of its flavor.

OK I didn’t actually close my eyes.  I have a hard enough time typing correctly with my eyes OPEN, for fuck’s sake.

Henry had something with goat cheese…and salted cashew caramel? I can’t remember. It wasn’t as good as mine.

“This was totally worth it, right Henry?” I cooed, in the throes of that temporary, short-lived ice cream euphoria.

“It was OK,” he mumbled, trying to get the feeling back in his weener after eating dainty gelato with a pink spoon.

Overall, it was a nice change of pace from the go-go-go environment of Riot Fest, which I can’t wait to recap here for no one but I feel so exhausted every time I try to collect my thoughts. Because I have a lot of those things*.

*(Thoughts, I mean. I have lots of other things too. Like…issues. Neuroses. Pounds.)

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Sep 132016
 

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

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

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

Henry’s old SERVICE roommate Tim contacted him because he saw on Facebook that we were in the area! As his phone was ringing, he jumped out of the booth and went outside to aswer it; I’ve never seen Henry run out of a restaurant that fast in my life, not even the time he dined and dashed at HOOTERS in 1992.

(Probably true?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO GIDDY.

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

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

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

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

OMG you guys. My mind almost melted.

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

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

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

NEVER AGAIN!

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

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

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

****

Here’s a quick Henry Interview!

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

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

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

Henry: In the trailer? Yeah.

Did he know you were the town Eunuch?

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

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

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

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

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

*(Probz porn to trade.)

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

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

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

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

(WOW. SOME FRIENDSHIP.)

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

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

(So, right before he went AWOL.)

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

****

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

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

****

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

We got home just shy of midnight.

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

 

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Sep 102016
 

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If you ask Henry, our drive home from Louisville last Sunday was: long, annoying, awful, terrible, headache-inducing, frustrating, expensive.

If you ask me, it was: SO MUCH FUN OMG WE DID ALL THE THINGS!

Before saying goodbye to Louisville, we stopped for breakfast at For Goodness Crepes. Chooch had been craving crepes recently, god only knows why, so we figured we would be nice parents and find a creperie since we usually force him to eat at places that make him miserable.

LOL j/k I wanted crepes too and thought this place had a cute name and that’s all that matters.

As soon as we walked in, I knew I was going to love it because it wasn’t stuffed with people. Crowded breakfast spots make me so anxious – the AM is way too early for me to voluntarily deal with crowds. No breakfast is worth that, sorry not even Pamela’s and I LOVE PAMELA’S.

(Seriously though, come visit me in Pittsburgh and we will go to Pamela’s during an off-hour and you can have the greatest pancakes of your life. AND LYONAISSE POTATOES.)

But anyway, this is about Louisville, not Pittsburgh. I’m not sure what the “best place” for breakfast is considered because I never research those things beforehand, but I was extremely pleased with our experience at this crepe place. I ordered from the savory menu, something called I Dream of Veggies; it was Asian-inspired and had this glorious ginger mayo-type sauce that I would honestly do a shot of right now if placed in front of me, no fucks given. OMG and edamame. I love edamame. This crepe was the limit.

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Chooch got the cinnamon roll crepe and of course I stole several bites — it was like a carnival on my tongue. An actual cinnamon roll was deconstructed inside there, I think, and the cream cheese sauce was so sweet and tangy….take me back. Take me back right now.

Who cares what Henry got. Meat crepe.

Oh also! After we ordered at the counter, I got to pick my own coffee cup! I chose one shaped like a vintage Santa Claus and was stupdily excited about it.

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We played Hangman while we waited for our crepes and it was Big Fun – I love when restaurants provide games. I literally only looked at my phone when I was using it to take pictures, and that’s how it should be when you’re eating with your family!

(I’m sorry, I know a lot of people lump in “taking pictures” as well, but I honetsly take pictures constantly. I love taking pictures, and I love having picture mementos of each day. It’s important to me, as a chronic memory hoarder. I love collecting snaps!)

During Hangman, one of my words was “hyperbole.”

“What even is that?” Chooch asked after no one guessed it.

“Um,” I started, trying to think of the best way to explaing it. “…my blog.”

“Your mom’s whole life,” Henry muttered.

Chooch’s message to Louisville.

At first, I thought Chooch made this one up too and I was like, “OMG MY SON IS A PRODIGY! WHAT A GODDAMN GENIUS! THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN POET!” But then he was like, “No it was already there, I was just showing it to you.”

Great. Back to having a basic 5th grader.

It was sad leaving Louisville without really getting a chance to see it (although we did accidentally go over the same bridge to Indiana like 8x during our stage, so that’s one thing we became pretty acquainted with) so now I want to go back again for a full weekend, when there isn’t a show to go to, because on our way out I saw A LOT of antique stores. In spite of Henry’s valiant efforts to distract me.

Originally, we were going to go to some cavern (Lost Caves, I think? Too lazy to look it up, thorough and informative blogger that I am) but Henry was like, ‘THIS IS IN THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF WHERE WE NEED TO GO. WHY CAN’T YOU LEARN TO READ A MAP, I DON’T UNDERSTAND.” God, sorry to be such a navigational piece of shit, Henry. Go fuck a compass.

I had a back-up plan though, but I was sure he wasn’t going to go for it.

My back-up plan was a VENTRILOQUIST MUSEUM in Fort Mitchell, KY, right outside of Cincinnati.

I kind of just mumbled it.

Henry got real tense behind the wheel and sighed.

“Never mind. You won’t want to go there,” I said in my soft, sad voice, just one whimper shy of reaching full-blown Sally Struthers level.

“It’s probably not even open on Sundays,” Henry said in a tone that sounded to me like he was trying to will it not to be open.

I checked Roadside America.

“It says it’s open on Sundays from May through September!” I squealed. And then, “Oh. ‘By appointment only.'”

So Henry was all, “Yeah sure whatever, go on and call.” Probably because he thought there was no way in hell that someone was going to answer.

But someone did! A woman! I asked her how far in advance appointments needed to be made and she said usually 2 days, but then she paused and said, “Although….how many do you have in your party? I might be able to squeeze you in with my 1:00pm group.”

I told her three and she said that would be no problem! And she took my name! And said she would see me at 1!!

I was so stoked! But then I hung up and noticed that Henry was staring at me in the way that he does when he’s ready to burst into Flames of Madness and wants to take me down into the ashes with him. 

“So….we have an appointment for today! But….it’s not until 1…..”

It was only a little after 11:00am and we were mere minutes away from Fort Mitchell. Henry had plans on us being home that day by 4 and now this was definitely not going to happen if we were still going to be in Kentucky until at least 2pm at this point. 

So I started doing that thing I do where I get real pouty and repeatedly wail, “JUST FORGET IT!” and make him feel like he’s the worst person in the world when he hasn’t even said no yet.

“DO YOU WANT TO GO THERE OR NOT?!” he yelled, yanking the steering wheel and driving the car onto the exit for Fort Mitchell without even waiting for me to answer because after 15 years, he knows how these games end: with probably some crocodile tears and definitely me getting my way.

So now we had an hour + to kill in some small town in Kentucky.

Obviously, we went to a cemetery, where at first I was still being a baby and said I was just “GOING TO SIT IN THE CAR AND DIE” while they were like, “K have fun” and left me there with the windows up.

And then when I finally got out of the car, I set the car alarm off because our car is dumb so then Henry and Chooch knew that I wasn’t wallowing anymore, ugh.

OUR LITTLE ANGEL.

Oh, I just remembered why I was pouting in the car! I wanted to take a picture of Chooch holding the Artifex Pereo screenprint that he had signed at the show, but his posing and posture wasn’t up to my standards so I shrieked, “JUST FORGET IT!” and if I die first, is that what Henry will use for my epitaph?

DEEP THOUGHTS.

Henry found one of those things he used to smoke when he was a kid and I tried to act like I didn’t care because I was still in Miserable Bitch mode, but then I broke down and took a picture.

Sometimes you just gotta let my mood swings play out, guys. I’ll come back around eventually.

(And then I wonder why barely anyone is close to me, lol.)

We still had time to kill, plus Chooch and I had to pee, so we went to Krogers across the street and walked around like we have never been to a grocery store before and then I flipped out because some girl was handing out samples of cheese TOOTHPICKED ONTO MEAT so of course I gave her a huffy “No!” when she offered one to me. 

“Maybe it’s because it’s the meat they’re trying to get you to buy,” Henry suggested around a mouthful of THE ENEMY’S CHEESE SAMPLE, always the Devil’s advocate.

“NO, IT WAS THE CHEESE. SHE CLEARLY SAID DO YOU WANT TO TRY BLAHBLAH CHEESE?!” I barked, so mad that my rage had erased the memory of what kind of cheese was causing me to launch missiles of protest in the first place. 

“Well, you could ask for a sample of just the cheese,” Henry said. Like, oh OK, let me do this broad’s job for her.

“She should have samples of JUST CHEESE already available, because guess what, NOT EVERYONE LIKES MEAT, god forbid!” I cried, deep in the throes of my scheduled Sunday Shit Fit. There was no turning back now. I hated Kroger’s.

I then proceeded to spend the next twenty minutes bitching about it in a passive aggressive manner, as I’m prone to do, hoping that the right Kroger employee would hear me and publicly flog the cheese-sample meater-upper.

Instead, I just loudly said, “I GUESS I WILL JUST HAVE TO WRITE A LETTER!”

“Literally no one is going to care,” Henry sighed. “And also, that girl wasn’t even a Kroger employee, probably.”

This could be true. Janna had a short-lived job handing out samples of peppers or condoms or pepper condoms at Giant Eagle, and it was some temp agency that got her the gig.

Then Kroger’s can just forward my complaint on to her true employer!

Dumb bitch!

OK, that’s enough for this installment. Tune in later to read all about the most amazing museum, Vent Haven. That place still feels like a dream to me.

Dreamy sighs and eyelash bats,

Erin Rachelle, Dummy Lover.

 

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Sep 082016
 

Maybe some people think roadside attractions (a/k/a TOURIST TRAPS) are super tacky, but I just think that road trips would be remiss without stopping to see at least one giant rubberband ball. Henry is one of those people who finds limited, if any, joy in anything off the beaten path, so our travel days are usually full of lots of yelling, pouting, tires squealing, and hands punching the steering wheel.

I almost always get my way, though! And Henry will usually admit later that it “wasn’t bad.” Except for the cuckoo clock cluster. He was 100% not a fan of that side trip.

Loveland Castle has been on my radar for some time now and our travel day on Saturday was actually planned around a stop at its hallowed grounds.  This joint is nearly in the middle of nowhere, right outside of Cincinnati, down a concerning road that seems like it’s going to drop you straight into a river, until it suddenly turns and THERE IS THE CASTLE.

It’s much smaller than I anticipated, though I’m not sure what I was actually expecting — Neuschwanstein Castle? I mean, it’s just Ohio, after all. It was at least bigger than White Castle, so there’s that.

[Though, speaking of Germany — I kept seeing this shit called goetta on menus while we were in the area and it turns out it’s some kind of gross German breakfast meat product that’s a Cincinnati staple and  I’m like, how did I have a best friend from that area for like 6 years and she never mentioned goetta (not that I’d be interested in it because meat, but still) or took me to Loveland Castle?! Probably because she was too busy keeping me hidden in her bedroom like a DEAD BUTTERFLY NAILED TO A BOARD. You know what I mean. If not, just skip ahead.]


My initial thought was: this place is a clusterfuck. There was no order whatsoever! You walk in to some glorified gift shop and bump into people and then when the young guy at the counter fails to acknowledge you, you stand there with money in your hand until he finally asks, “How many adults and kids?” No ticket was administered, no hands were stamped — we could have probably just walked in and not even paid.

He didn’t even tell us where to start!! People were literally stumbling about like drunk lemmings.

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The tour is self-guided. I hate self-guided tours. I need someone beating information into me. I can’t be trusted to stop and read plaques on walls, although at one point, we were passing back through the gift shop when some man in Loveland t-shirt stood up and gave those of us in the room a brief, yet wildly entertaining, history of the Castle. His name was Sir Dave and he had a great local flavor about him, if you know what I mean (do you know what I mean) and I wished so badly that he would just escort us through the whole damn Castle – it wasn’t that big!

He even managed to charm Henry, but I might just be mixing it up with the fact that he mentioned the SERVICE, at which point Henry adopted an “I’m listening” visage.

Sir Dave told us about the Castle’s builder, Sir Harry Delos Andrews, and how he became enamored with architecture when he was in Europe DURING THE WAR (he was a MEDIC). And so in the 1950-something, he started to build his own damn castle on the banks of the Little Miami River, using milk cartons filled with clay or something that I can’t be expected to remember, to make bricks. There are like over a million of them that make up the Castle. I think that’s what I heard somewhere.

Or dreamt.

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Sir Harry was like a Boy Scout leader too or something and they helped him build the Castle. He called them the Knights of the Golden Trail.

I literally can’t imagine Chooch being a Boy Scout.

I almost fell down a stone staircase at one point and Chooch thought this was the funniest thing ever and then wanted me to reenact it later and I was like, “Who taught you to be such an assho—-oh. Never mind.”

YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT KOGT STANDS FOR SINCE I WRITE SUCH INFORMATIVE TRAVEL GUIDES.

A bedroom cell.

There is something on this wall that I HATE. Bonus points if you can find it.

You can’t expect me to read all of these artifacts. I paid $5 and I wanted someone to tell me The Facts!


Queens of Roadside Attractions.

 

Chooch’s review: I thought Loveland Castle was cool and scary (not really) but it was scary that 2 drunk men came in and attacked Sir Harry and stole some weapons. Also I saw a white box with a Bee’s Nest inside so, YAY!!!

 

I want that lantern.

Sir Harry had an IQ of 189!

Here’s a picture of Henry learning how to build me a castle.

Sir Dave gave us a riddle, something about Sir Harry being pronounced dead in 1918 (I think?) and then died in 1981, and said we would have to watch the short documentary playing upstairs in one of the towers. So we watched it and it wasn’t really a riddle, but like….something that seriously happened? They thought he had died of spinal meningitis when he was IN THE SERVICE and declared him dead but then realized three days later that he wasn’t dead and had to give a shot of adrenaline to the heart, at which point he awoke and it turned out he had some kind of rare antibody in him or something, I quit paying attention once we got the answer.

These two assholes I travel with always act like every roadside attraction we stop at is the worst thing since I introduced Jonny Craig into their lives, but they later admitted that Loveland Castle was “pretty cool.”

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Patriotic party hat!

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Overall, I was glad that we made the detour. It only took about an hour to see it all (and that’s because we looped around it twice and then watched that 20 minute documentary too) and the history was juicy enough to make it worthwhile.  Anyway, if you’re into Boy Scouts; medieval things; and the possibility of tumbling down narrow, uneven, spiral stone staircases, then you should visit Loveland Castle.

(If you collect magnets like I do, prepare to be disappointed though. Their souvenir selection is sparse.)

(I think Henry secretly joined the KOGT when I wasn’t looking.)

(Also, I think I have a crush on Sir Dave?!)

****

Afterward, we ate lunch at Sugar & Spice, another place my ex-BFF never took me!

“Maybe it wasn’t around when you were friends,” Henry said, ALWAYS DEFENDING HER.

“It was established in 1942!” I cried, jabbing my finger at my Sugar & Spice coffee cup that said “EST. 1942.”

Ugh.

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Sep 042016
 

I mentioned in the Liveblog yesterday that we visited some Roadside America sight called Jerry’s Junk before the show last night. 

At a quick glance, it’s basically some dude’s private collection of lawn jockeys and old bikes, you know the type of junk. And while it seems like it’s all strewn about in arbitrary assortment, you start to notice that everything is in its place, and Jerry probably for sure knows where to find every last horseshoe.

We peeked in some of the windows and each room was stuffed with old shit. Mannequins. Disco balls. Yard flamingos. A suit of armor. From the various accounts I’ve read online, Jery also owns four other houses in the neighborhood, and they’re all stuffed to the gills with more rusted oddities. 

Henry was annoyed that I made him take us here, but I noticed he was strolling about at a leisurely pace, one hand behind his back like he does when he’s feeing peaceful, stopping here and there to get a closer look at things. (Probably airplane shit.)

Chooch loved it because he got to play I Spy. 

And then I explained to him about how those lawn jockey statues are racist so then he became angrily obsessed with them. 

An educational experience!


Jerry didn’t appear to be home. Various Roadside America tips said that speaking to him makes the experience even better, and I don’t doubt it. I love eccentrics! And if we’re being honest with each other here, I kind of saw my future in this place. 

I LOVE COLLECTIONS. 


Later that night, we were at the Artifex Pereo, talking to the drummer Cory. He asked if we had gotten a chance to see much of Louisville and I excitedly blurted out, “Just Jerry’s Junk!”

He waited a few beats and then said, “Oh…is that the guy who lives on Frankfort? With all the shit in his yard?”

God yes! That’s the one!

And on the way back to the hotel after he show, our Lyft driver Nicholas asked us the same question, at which point I enthusiastically shot forward from the backseat (well Henry internally groaned) to tell him “WE SAW JERRY’S JUNK!!!” 

Again, this was met with a few seconds of silence as he processed this information. Once it dawned on him what Jerry’s Junk is (maybe the locals call it something different? That Jerkoff Who’s Distracting from the Trendy Gentrification of the Neighborhood With All His Rusty Relics?

“Oh that guy! My girlfriend and I were there once and he came out to show us an Indian doll he had just got, that still had all its bits–he pulled down its pants to show us!”

Ugh, why couldn’t that have happened to me?!

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Jun 292016
 

For a brief period of time, way back in the day, I was talking to some guy I used to work with. You know. “Talking.” He was supposed to come over one night, and I had recently scored a new Cure bootleg video (literally on VHS, this was a while ago), so I suggested that we could watch this damn thing together. He made a slew of disparaging comments about the Cure, about how he would rather watch dogs eat their own shit, about how much that band sucked, about how “faggy” they were, and I could actually hear my heart breaking in my ears.

Followed quickly by the sound of the door slamming on this asshole’s opportunity. I just couldn’t imagine being with someone who didn’t like The Cure, or who could at least respect my staunch devotion to them. (Not to mention someone who calls things “faggy”? Ew no.)

And thank god I didn’t give that guy a second chance, because then I met Henry (at the same job! I was such an office ho!) and do you know what the first thing is that Henry ever did for me, way before we even started dating? He made me a screensaver of all of the Cure’s album covers.

That is a fucking good man.

Back then I probably said he was wife material, too, but clearly that material is full of holes.

What is: Cheese cloth.

What is: A handkerchief in some person’s pocket in a coffin underground.

All of this is to say that when The Cure announced their hugely anticipated North American tour last fall, Henry didn’t even question it when I said, “Well, there’s no Pittsburgh date as usual, but we could go to the Columbia, Maryland one…?”

“Buy the tickets when they go on sale,” he said with NO HESITATION.

BECAUSE IT’S THE CURE. And Henry loves me, you guys. Duh.

I sat at the computer and waited for the clock to tick down and then I bought two tickets on the ASAP. Of course with all the presales and ticket reselling schemes out there, every last spot under the pavilion was taken, so I had to be satisfied with lawn seats. And honestly, this being my 6th Cure show, I was content that we were even going at all. Traveling for shows is expensive and we are not rich people. SHOCKER. Plus, we were pretty close to the front two years ago when they headlined Riot Fest so it was fine.

We left Chooch at home with Judy and set off for Maryland around 9:30am. I was acutely aware that my left contact was jacked up, but you have to understand the tolerance I have built over the years to eye woes.  I figured the discomfort would eventually just fade into the background, and then I proceeded to just up my blinking quota during the car ride.

The drive down there was pretty uneventful and quick, by the way. I didn’t even live blog because I was too busy listening to the same Pierce the Veil song over and over, psychoanalyzing it, and feeling depressed. That’s just what I do. Also, I bought a ticket to see PVRIS the moment they went on sale, which was a lot less stressful since it’s just general admission at the Altar Bar. And then we ate at some shitty country cookin’ diner thing on the side of the road, because I was off my game and let Henry choose the lunch spot.

I went in the bathroom there and jiggled my contact around a bit, because sometimes that helps. In this case though, it still felt like someone was applying slight pressure to my eyeball with the tip of the long-nailed finger.  So, normal.

We arrived at our Extended Stay hotel thing around 4 and I got angry because GPS said something about taking the third right at the traffic circle. “IT’S A ROUNDABOUT!” I cried petulantly. “EVERYONE IN AUSTRALIA KNOWS THAT!”

Henry muttered something about this being America and in America, “we” call them traffic circles and I’m like, how about not lumping me in there with all you “we”s, thanks. And then I loudly counted down the rights so that Henry would know which one to turn off on, thereby fulfilling my co-pilot duties.

If I had liveblogged that day, it would be a lot of “AND THEN”s because I was pretty fucking happy.

After sufficiently complaining about our hotel room (because that’s my other duty – reminding Henry that nothing he does is good enough for me), Henry fed me a candy bar (Hershey with almonds if you need this for the case study), and then it was finally time to leave for the Merriweather Ampitheater.

One good thing about Henry is that he booked our room months and months in advance. It was the closest hotel to the venue and completely sold out. The lady at the desk even asked if we were there for the Cure concert, because duh. This happened right before Henry denied ogling some yuppie bitch who was walking two Pomeranian dogs.

It didn’t take us long to get to the venue at all, maybe 15 minutes tops. I was too busy hyperventilating and saying, “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod” incessantly to properly keep an eye on the time. Sorry for the inaccurate journalism!

Henry and I had a brief feud before getting out of the car because he didn’t bring a blanket from home and had to buy a blanket from a Target near our hotel and it was sooooo ugly (brown plaid and fuzzy, ew) so first I was like, “I WILL NOT BE SEEN WITH THAT ATROCITY, LEAVE IT IN THE CAR!” I mean, plus it stunk of plastic because he had just unzipped it from the stupid vinyl package it was all cubed-up in.

Not surprising, Henry didn’t bother to fight with me. He knows not to fuck with me when I’m in an emotional fragile Cure-related state. So we left the blanket in the backseat and wove our way through the gravel parking lot to the end of the line. We got there about 45 minutes before the gates open, I would say, and in no time, the line behind us had grown so long that we could no longer see the end.

I spotted someone in line nearby carrying a blanket in the same bracket of ugliness as the one that Henry had purchased. So I succumbed to the Ugly Blanket Squad and told him he could go back to the car and get the motherfucking poop-colored blanket. Whatever. This isn’t the blanket prom, is what my dad would have said if he had been there.

Ugh.

I could only see the first 30 or so people in front of us, because then the line snaked down and around into a forested area. It was making me nervous not knowing how far back we were.

People-watching was splendid and helped pass the time. There were OG Goths, neo-goths, yuppies, hippies, hipsters, Henrys — people of all walks of life had converged upon Merriweather all for the same reason: to bow down before the Cure. Two guys behind me did nothing but quote from Pitchfork the whole time, while the two dads and their respective young-teen sons talked dryly about sports.

Hockey came up.

I inched in closer.

“Yeah, his mom is a huge hockey fan,” the one dad said to the other. “Her favorite team is the Flyers, and then the Penguins.”

I was bouncing on my toes by this point while Henry was giving me the “KEEP IT ZIPPED” look.

“Oh, well she must be happy. The Penguins won the whole thing,” the other dad said and I was SQUEALING now, about to raise my hand and do the whole, “OOOH! OOOOH!” thing that I do when I’m desperate to add to a conversation that does not belong to me.

Henry, that motherfucker, actually grabbed me by the elbow and pulled me back!

I hate small talk EXCEPT when it’s about music or hockey, or if I overhear incorrect information and feel like I could die if I don’t set the universe straight with my infinite wisdom.

But apparently this is “annoying” and Henry doesn’t like to be a witness…or an associate.

The opening of the gates was pretty prompt and we were inside in no time at all. There are several entrances and parking lots and there were less people in front of us than I guessed. We were able to snag a prime piece of real estate very close to where the pavilion seats ended and the lawn started, and I let go of all my high expectations of having the perfect, unobstructed view and instead just enjoyed being there. Sometimes you really gotta just let go.

Henry bought me some kind of beer that he figured I would be able to drink without wasting — Shocktop maybe? I’m still trying to become a beer person but I’m just unapologetically picky. Don’t fuck with my palate. I managed to drink two whole beers! Each one cost less than my $10 pizza, which was actually pretty good but NOT ENOUGH.

“For $10, it’s gonna have to be,” Henry frowned before going off to buy some gross sausage in a bun atrocity for himself.

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The fact that you can barely see my left eye in this photo is FORESHADOWING.

The lawn was really starting to fill up and so far, I didn’t find a single person I hated. I wasn’t too startled by this revelation though because Cure crowds have historically been some of the kindest and most fun I’ve ever been in the middle of.

EXCEPT: Coachella 2004. Worst crowd ever. A bunch of rich frat boys screaming “FAT BOB!” and booing when anything other than a radio single was performed. Welcome to America, Robert. Welcome to America, indeed.

Just then, two middle-aged men tossed down two seat cushions in the small section of lawn available between the two couples in front of me.

“And DOWN!” the one announced loudly and jovially as he plopped himself onto the cushion, beer sloshing all around. He looked at us and laughed, but I gave Henry the “I hate this guy” look. When the two women whose blanket they sat down next to came back from getting beer, I thought for sure they were going to be all, “OH HELL NO” but instead, the one lady was like, “LET’S BE FRIENDS” and then everything was happening so fast before my eyes.

Henry went to get more beer, leaving me alone to stew in my depressing solitude while everyone around me was carrying on with each other and making friends with new people, and ugh just ugh.  Never was there a more apropos moment for Robert to come on stage and sing, “Why Can’t I Be You.”

(He didn’t.)

(But he should have.)

So now the people in front of me were introducing themselves. The one who had yelled, “DOWN!” told the two ladies that they were from Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH? I’M FROM PITTSBURGH!

I tapped him on the back and was all, “Hey guy, I couldn’t help but overhear you say you’re from Pittsburgh. We’re from Pittsburgh too,” I said in that weird 1920s radio DJ syncopated voice I get when I’m no longer Erin but some weird caricature of a person with a sturdy societal footing.

And that’s when Henry returned to his ugly blanket and found that his girlfriend had made new friends with the boisterous men in front of them. (I never talked to the broads though. Once I heard the one lady say that she was heartbroken that the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, I knew I had nothing left to say to her, except for SUCK IT.)

(J/K, she and her sister seemed like fine ladies.)

Randy was my favorite of the two guys. I can’t remember his friend’s name. He was nice too, but not as hilarious as Randy. I can’t explain it, you guys would have had to have been there.

You know how it is.

The Twilight Sad came out sometime around 7:00. I was already familiar with them and interested to hear them live for the first time. And I mean, they were wonderful, but it’s hard to give a shit about an opening band when you know, and they know, and everyone knows that The Cure is back there somewhere, pretending to jump rope, touching up that blood red lipstick, sipping a spot of tea.

So I can’t say anything other than, “The Twilight Sad seemed good.”

I ran to the bathroom afterward, while there was still a bit of sunshine left. I was immediately cold-cocked by the essence of patchouli and clove.

And it just felt right.

As I washed my hands, I inspected my eye in the mirror. There didn’t appear to be a dagger or any such spiny specimen jutting from it, contrary to how it felt. So I gave it one good, aggressive rub (What Not To Do To Your Eye 101) and stumbled my way back to our blanket, which was now one of many in a sea of throws.

Sold out show, y’all.

As soon as the opening notes of Tape wafted into the air, my face was wet with tears. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen this band, they make my heart feel so full and I even if I tried, I couldn’t hold back my emotions. I get all snively and trembly and the tears just flow freely – this who I am.

I LOVE EVERYONE AROUND ME.

A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

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A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

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A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

Aside from the three Instavids above and few Snaps that my brother requested, I didn’t fuck around with recording or taking pictures, because it’s the Cure and I needed to let every last second get into my pores, you know what I mean? Henry even gave me some “there-there” pats a few times.

He gets it.

He didn’t need to see my face to know it was slick with tears, mascara, and whatever poison was seeping out of my left eyeball.

You’d think that all the crying would have washed out whatever was in there, scraping my cornea, but instead it just started burning even more. The joy and amazement of standing before The Cure made it easier to shrug off, though. It was going to take a lot more than an eyeball malady to get me to leave this show early.

SET LIST:

Tape / Open, High, Pictures of You, Closedown, Kyoto Song, A Night Like This, The Walk, The End of the World, Lovesong, If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, All I Want, Push, In Between Days, Just Like Heaven, Bananafishbones, Never Enough, From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, End

1st encore: Sinking, It Can Never Be The Same

2nd encore: Shake Dog Shake, Burn, A Forest

3rd encore: Dressing Up, Lullaby, Fascination Street, Wrong Number

4th encore: Hot Hot Hot, Let’s Go To Bed, Close To Me, Why Can’t I Be You?, Boys Don’t Cry

I have never heard “Burn” live before so I was freaking the fuck out for sure. FREAKING THE FUCK OUT.

It’s unreal to me how solid this band sounds after all of these years. How they can get out there night after night, play for three hours with just as much if not more energy as bands 30 years younger. These guys are living legends, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can keep snubbing them all they want because there are millions of screaming fans who know just how brilliant and incomparable they are.

When you can get even someone unmoved and unaffected as Henry J. Robbins to stand for the entirety of your show and also APPLAUD after every song? That’s how you know you’re frizzled hair, shoegazing perfection.

Little Cure fan. <3

Robert seemed to be in very good spirits too, chattier than I have ever seen him, and still breaking out his adorable little goth moves during “Lullaby.” However, he did get choked up during a new song, “It Can Never Be the Same,” which rumor has it is about his mother who passed away last year. When the song ended, he said something along the lines of, “The last song is a new one…. haven’t quite… haven’t learned how to hold back….so…”

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He is a motherfucking god. No one will ever replace him in my heart.

NO ONE.

***

As soon as we got back to the hotel, I raced to the bathroom and plucked the contact off my eye, which exacerbated the pain. Now it was like my eyeball was in labor with a hatchet-coated fireball. A thicket of natty homeless person pubes. A briar patch of all the human bones found in Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment.

My eye was so red that it looked like it was bleeding, like it had been CHEESE GRATED. Tears were squirting out left and right, like some completely crude, X-rated, optic money shot.

“I CAN’T KEEP MY EYE OPEN!” I wailed, flapping my hands and hopping from one foot to the other.

I was panic-stricken, screaming about having to go to the hospital; but instead, Henry calmly went out and got me eye drops. I had cried myself to sleep while he was gone, but don’t worry! I woke up in the middle of the night and as soon as I realized that it wasn’t just a nightmare and that there were still flames licking the inside of my eyelid, I started screaming. Henry woke up and secretly pretended he was killing me when he held my head down against the pillow and put the drops in my eye.

In the morning, it still hurt and I felt like a vampire, screaming about the sunlight. As the day wore on, I was mostly OK again, though my eyelid was slightly puffy and I wasn’t even about to try to put my contact back in for the next two days. So I went about life squinting and walking with my arms outstretched. One-contact-wearin’ Erin.

But none of that was enough to tarnish the beautiful memories of the night before. Le sigh.

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Jun 242016
 

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On Wednesday, I ate a grilled cheese in a shitty diner in Maryland with Henry.

The diner was super sketch and the extent of its decor was cheap I Love Lucy memorabilia.

Coffee was weak.

Henry got a thimbleful of cole slaw with his burger. Man, what a tease.

It was just us and two ladies behind us, until a group of three men came in on their lunch break from digging ditches or whatever people do for work in rural Maryland, and the one guy said he didn’t like to sit with his back toward the door; at first I thought he said it was from all those years he was in prison and I thought maybe things were going to get interesting, but it turns out he used to WORK in a prison.


Grilled cheese tasted like I made it. (That means it tasted less than basic and probably was made in a toaster then microwaved.) I wonder if it was better or worse than prison grilled cheese. Shoulda asked that guy on my way out.

But I didn’t give a shit about any of this because I was with my one true love, Henry. LOL JK: because I was on my way to see The Cure.

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Jun 182016
 

 

My people and I had a really lovely pre-Pierce the Veil afternoon in Cleveland last Sunday. I just love that city so much, and it’s OK for me to love it because I have zero affinity to our lame football team so I don’t feel like I’m breaking any rules of loyalty or solidarity, like when you keep being friends with someone who treated your other friend like absolute horse shit.

I mean…

I like when we’re blessed with weekend shows because then we have all the time to tool around, stuff our faces, hang with local friends…it’s just PLEASANT. A very PLEASANT feeling all around.

It only takes around 2 hours or so to get there from Cleveland, but Chooch acts like it’s a cross country hike and then winds up sleeping for most of the drive which is fine because sometimes I just want to listen to music and not his psychotically motorized voice warbling incessantly from the backseat.

(He said we have high expectations if we want him to stop talking so much. He’s so strong-willed! God help us.)

Our go-to food place is usually Melt, but the last time we were in Cleveland, we went to Happy Dog and I fucking fell in lust so hard and I’ll tell you why: Froot Loops on a veggie dog and like 50 different condiments for my tater tots!? Is this real life?! I have been dreaming of this place since we were last there in November for the Dance Gavin Dance 10 Year Anniversary show.

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This was Chooch’s first time there and he was so overwhelmed with his options, 99.9% of which he didn’t agree with anyway so I’m not sure where the struggle even came from. He shocked us all though by actually sticking a toe out of his basic box and ordering Spaghetti-Os and a fried egg on his dog.

I just now asked him if he liked it and he shrugged while sadly smiling. This kid is the worst when it comes to eating. It’s cereal or GTFO with him. Too bad there are only two Cereality locations left in the world and none are anywhere near Pittsburgh.

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When I was pregnant, I went through a really intense condiment phase. I was a few weeks along, unbeknownst at the time, when Henry and I were visiting Christina in Cincinnati. I knew something was awry when we went to Jungle Jim’s and I bypassed the chocolate aisle in favor of MUSTARDS OF THE WORLD. (Don’t worry — there was a fortune teller machine at the store’s entrance so on the way out, I asked her if I was pregnant. I don’t remember specifically what she said, but it was probably something about how even mild-mannered men have a threshold.

Or: “He’s not going to marry you. Move on.”

Then we went to get ice cream and after making both Henry and Christina trade with me, I eventually pushed all of the dishes away and pouted. “I don’t want any of these,” I mumbled.

“Well, what DO you want?” Henry asked exasperatedly while Christina frantically prepared to book a flight to Iran to procure me some faloodeh.

“Horseradish,” I answered without even a second thought.

I even had two hermit crabs named after condiments: Tabasco and Dijon. If Happy Dog had been around then, Chooch likely would have come out of me weighing 15 pounds (as opposed to the 10lbs2oz he wound up being without the aid of Happy Dog’s fatty sauce enabling.)

Chooch at the bar getting change for pinball, knowing I was taking his picture because when am I not taking his dumb picture.

And then there was a weird menstrual interlude, where Henry had to go to Rite Aid to get me tampons because I’m the worst woman, as he always says. It makes him so mad that my purses are full of concert ticket stubs and lip gloss, and not things that a woman/mother should have. Like Kleenex and bandaids? Who knows.

“Get used to this, Chooch,” Henry sighed as he got out of the car to make his lady product transaction. “This will be your life someday.”

“What, buying TAMPAX PEARL? Chooch said from the backseat. And then that became the joke of the day, and he said it every time I took his picture.

(He knows I hate when he makes that stupid chipmunk face so he does it ALL THE TIME. I complain about it now, but he’s going to end up being the next motherfucking Jim Carey with all the idiotic face-pulling he does. His face is like rubber!!)

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After sufficiently putting a plug in the menstrual interlude, we met up with our pal Jason at Sweet Moses. Chooch brought his dumb Loom thing with him and was really insulted when Jason asked him if he was making a robot when it’s clearly a PANDA. Also, I only took this picture because Chooch was acutely aware of those girls behind him and he always shuts down when there are girls around.

  

Henry’s ice cream date.

It’s always nice getting to chat it up with Jason. And finally, over dark chocolate vegan ice cream, I was able to blab on and on about Bled Fest with someone who actually gave a shit and even asked, “What bands did you see?” and as I rattled them off I knew that Jason had heard of all of them and for once it didn’t feel like I was speaking a language no one else understands.

It’s really frustrating not getting to talk about your biggest passion!

Jason had work obligations to attend Taste of Chaos, so we parted ways with lots of hugs (hugging is OK sometimes) and then we went to see THE WATER. Chooch was just happy that we weren’t taking another boat tour.

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The whole time we sat by the lake, I kept screaming, “DON’T GET TOO CLOSE! OMG HENRY TELL HIM TO NOT GET TOO CLOSE!” I am way too tightly-wound and paranoid to be a mom sometimes. My mind automatically imagines 87 fatal outcomes for every scenario.

12 years ago, Henry and I sat in this very spot, and Chooch wasn’t even so much of a thought yet. It’s crazy to think about sometimes. But being there with these two idiots made me feel super lucky and content with life. It was a great day, and it was only about to get even better.

(And no—not because Henry proposed to me. Because he didn’t.)

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Jun 072016
 

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Getting to hang out with Bill & Jessi was like the cherry on top of a decadent Bled Fest sundae, you guys. We really missed them, as evidenced by the gusto Chooch put into his hug for Bill as soon as the front door opened. I’ve never seen Chooch hug with such feeling before!

I wanted to talk about Bled Fest forever but BILL kept interrupting and asking questions about our Disney trip like we were the first people to ever go to Disney World, UGH BILL.

(J/K — it was just as fun talking about that too!)

The original plan was to go to this place called Greenfield Village, which is a part of the Henry Ford museum. I saw “train” and “Carousel” on the website and was on board, but once we arrived, there was quite literally nowhere to park. It was probably a combination of it being a holiday weekend in addition to CIVIL WAR REENACTORS setting up shop. As soon as I heard “Civil War reenactors” I felt kind of sick to my stomach because I used to know a super huge asshole who did that shit with her husband and she was honestly one of the most sociopathic people I ever met.

So I wasn’t very broken up when we decided to fuck that idea and instead go to Dearborn Music. I could tell Henry did not approve of this idea, as evidenced by the sobbing I heard coming from the wallet in his pocket, plus he kept screaming things like:

  • “I THINK THAT RED CAR IS LEAVING!!
  • “JUST KEEP FOLLOWING THOSE PEOPLE AROUND UNTIL YOU SCARE THEM INTO GETTING INTO THEIR CAR!”
  • “YOU CAN TOTALLY SQUEEZE INTO THAT SPOT MADE FOR A MOTORCYCLE, FOR FUCK’S SAKE BILL!”
  •  “WHY DON’T YOU GUYS JUST GO AHEAD IN AND I’LL SIT OUT HERE IN THE CAR AND WAIT FOR A SPOT TO OPEN UP KTHXBYE.”
  • FUCK THE HANDICAPPED, JUST TAKE THIS SPOT AND I’LL PAY THE FINE BECAUSE IT WILL BE LESS THAN WHAT I SPEND AT A FUCKING RECORD SHOP, PROBABLY UGH.”

In the end, we decided we would visit Greenfield Village next time because they have a membership, and instead we went to the glorious, heavenly Babylon known as Dearborn Music and I died and was resurrected as a girl with a bunch of new records in her collection (would have been one more if my idiot son didn’t have to buy Panic! At the Disco).

Then we went to Taylor Town, an indoor flea market in a strip mall with surprisingly clean restrooms. Henry breathed a sigh of relief after we walked the whole perimeter and determined that there were no wheelchairs for sale. (There were birds though! I kind of wanted one.)

It’s funny how all places like that have the same stench. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s like a mothball and knockoff perfume marinade.

But then the best part happened! We went to the Red Apple! Jessi suggested this place the last time we were there and it was on my MUST DO list for this time around. It’s not even about the food — the atmosphere of this joint is SO GOOD. It’s the best kind of outdated — there’s so much character and good vibes, I can’t contain myself!

Look! I’m smiling! Henry is smiling! Because we’re with Bill & Jessi at the motherfucking Red Apple!! Jessi and I both got grilled cheese with cheese sticks inside, because when in Wayne, MI, you know what I’m saying? And coleslaw!!

HERE IS HENRY EATING COLESLAW.

Jessi told us that she has very high standards when it comes to coleslaw because she used to have to make it at one of her old high school jobs. So then we talked about coleslaw forever because it’s the best. The Red Apple has  pretty good coleslaw, in case you were wondering.

There was a very large party taking up an entire room of the Red Apple so it took a long time for us to get our food. I normally would have been storming the place with torches but when you’re with excellent company, long waits don’t suck as much. Even Chooch was fine.

Well, until he brought up the subject of our dead cat Speck and started bawling at the table for a good five minutes — it was so sad! I was like, “There there” in my very stiff, uncomfortable way, but Bill & Jessi were totally amazing and consoled him.

My kneejerk reaction is to say, “Aw don’t cry” but I know that telling someone not to cry is basically the shittiest thing you can do!

Then our food came and everyone stopped crying.

I ran into the bathroom real quick while Henry and Bill were at the register paying. When I came out, I had to side-step one of the cashiers, who was busy sweeping up a shit-ton of toothpicks on the floor.

“Pfft, that sucks,” I thought. “Some asshole probably knocked those over and ran.”

When I met everyone outside, Henry made some offhand remark about Chooch knocking over “some toothpicks.”

Some!

Hopefully that cashier didn’t know I was with Chooch!

Back at Jessi & Bill’s house, Bill taught us how to play ladder ball. I was really horrible at first, because I couldn’t get my depth perception in check. And Henry was like some secret ladder ball champion, like he’s been sneaking out early in the morning and playing at the old folks’ home down the street.

Jessi kept calling him a ringer. Henry just shrugged. “I used to play horseshoes a lot,” he said.

“LIKE COMPETITIVELY?!” I cried from my post across the lawn.

“I don’t know, I guess,” he mumbled. “I had it at my house.” And it was almost in a bragging tone he said this, like he was talking about a fucking tennis court and not a spike hammered into the dirt.

But you guys, something incredible happened. After a few rounds, Henry somehow got worse and I kept getting better and better until Bill was like, “Holy fuck, are you sure you haven’t played before? Like is this game actually called Erin Ball?” and maybe that’s just me visualizing the script from my upcoming docu-drama, but he probably said something along those lines in real life.

People were calling me She with the Golden Arm after that. All of the people. The whole crowd.

Just trust me.

Like, when do I ever lie on here? THE WORD “HONEST” IS IN THE TITLE.

PRACTICALLY.

Later, I quoted the Arrested Development song “Tennessee” (“A game of horseshoes? A game of HORSESHOES!”) and Henry was like “……” so then I had to play it on my face while reminding Jessi that this was probably during his hardcore country phase.

“Actually, I think that was during my blues phase,” he corrected me.

TOUCHE BIG GUY.

Did I mention that Henry and I were on the same ladder ball team? I’m still competitive with him even when he’s on my team. Our relationship is healthy, like being on a diet and only eating ketchup packets.

[ETA: Bill just cried on Facebook because I didn’t mention his and Chooch’s ladder ball team. Fine: Bill & Chooch had a ladder ball team. Henry and I beat them most of the time.]

Later, we went to Marv’s Dairy Dan because it’s not truly the weekend without ice cream.

Still smartin’ from being upstaged at ladder ball, I see.

The ice cream was soooo good (I had a strawberry shortcake because Jessi said that anything with strawberries was the way to go at Dairy Dan’s and she was not wrong!) but I think we all ended up getting ice cream stomach aches!

Bill & Jessi have the best games ever, which is good considering they own a comic book/gaming shop. This time we played some game that I forget and was really bad at, but I got to point a gun numerous times at Henry and that’s all that mattered.

Chooch and Bill were going to do a duet of C.R.E.A.M. on Musically, but Chooch wussed out at the last minute and by then it was around 11pm and time to let Bill & Jessi have some peace and quiet so we set off for our hotel in ROMULUS.

ROMULUS!

Next time I want to stay in Remus.

#ancientromehumor

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Jun 012016
 

We had some time to kill Sunday morning before we were due to arrive at Bill & Jessi’s but don’t cry for us, Michigan-a — Roadside America had our back.

Imagine my sheer delight and giddiness when I discovered that Howell (where we had stayed Saturday night) was only several miles away from Hell, MI! A tourist trap, to be sure, but one that even Henry was quietly on board with.

First though, we stopped at the Pinckney Diner in, omg, Pinckney. I was wearing my Bled Fest shirt in hopes that some of my Bled Fest peeps would be there, but no. Just basic breakfasting locals.

I ordered some type of “healthy” scrambled egg and fruit cup bullshit, and Chooch thought it was hilarious that it came with a small orange juice and I try not to let him bully me, but man did I feel self-conscious drinking it, like I needed to create a curtain with my napkin.

It was a nice place but nothing to write home about so don’t be expecting a post card.

After a slight directional snafu (in which Henry was reminded that I do not understand how to read a map even when Google is practically reading it for me), we whizzed past a short stretch of road that housed a Hell-themed diner called Hell in a Handbasket and a gift shop called Screams, and a bar called the Hell Hole.

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“Oh well, everything is closed,” Henry said in a sing-song voice because I had angered him enough on the way there that he was now ready to forgo the idea and find the nearest gorge to drive into.

But before he had a chance to get very far, I had the proprietor of Screams on the phone confirming that they were set to open in a few minutes, so downtrodden Hank had to turn the car around and head back to Hell, which probably just felt like Groundhog Day to him because when is he not heading back to Hell.

I appreciated that the man at Screams answered the phone with a robust, “How the hell are ya?” I was even more stoked at this point to make it rain in this kitschy souvenir shop.

And it was pretty much exactly as expected – a fun-loving, tongue-in-cheek tourist trap. It provided just enough of a time suck for us to arrive at Bill & Jessi’s right on time and didn’t stress out Henry too terribly much so we showed up in a collectively fine mood.

Without even faking it!

I bought a Hell, MI coffee cup to use as a future succulent vessel and hopefully my asshole cats don’t shatter it. And of course I also bought a magnet because that’s my thing. My closet-thingy at work is covered with magnetic tokens of all my Americana travels, I give it a once-over every morning and it fills me with early-morning joy!

(I mean, my morning coffee also helps with that joy-filling.)

We chatted for a bit for the elder manning the register and it turned out he’s the mayor of Hell! What a piping hot honor! I asked him how much these really cool postcards were that depicted a Hell homage by some local artist, and he was like, “Aw hell, you can just have it.”

HELL FUCKING RULES.

We said goodbye to Mayor of Hell and went outside to mill about the property. Mini golf was open yet, but there was a mini lock-covered bridge to stomp across, a DAM to look at, and a CHAPEL.

No joke, if the chapel had been open,  I totally would have come home to Pittsburgh a married woman. I’m not sure who my husband would be, but at least I could tell people I got married in Hell.

Henry doing his favorite thing: looking at nature and trying desperately to tune out our cries of “I WANT I WANT I WANT!!”

And then it was time to get back in the car and embark on our 45 minute drive to the Wayne-ish area of Michigan, while I yapped on and on about Bled Fest the entire way because I had the time of my life.

No, I never felt this way before.

Yes I swear.

Blah blah blah.

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May 302016
 

Today we head back home to Pittsburgh so you know what that means — live blogarama. Sadly, this one won’t have as many big asses in it.

10:25am: We’re with Bill & Jessi waiting to be seated at Scrambler Marie’s and Bill is ready to file a formal complaint because they told us the wait is 25 minutes when we can clearly see NUMEROUS open booths and tables?! ITS DISPROPORTIONATE.

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Henry’s mommy just called him to thank him for serving our country!!

10:35am: Now I’m standing inside and Bill just RECOUNTED the empty tables. Some waitress came over to see if our name was on the list and Jessi reiterated that we preferred to sit outside and that we saw there “SEVERAL EMPTY TABLES OUT THERE.” The waitress was like “OK let me check with the hostess because I don’t want to screw her up.” SHE IS ALREADY SCREWED UP.

10:41:


WE’VE ARRIVED.

11:00am: INTENSE KIDS MENU ACTIVITIES.

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Also, still talking about the wait time / empty table ratio.

12:02pm: Ugh we said goodbye which is the worst and now we’re back on the road. The breakfast was worth the wait, and also observing the bizarre manner in which Chooch says his pancakes: he scrapes some off with a knife and then scoops it up with the knife and fork and two-hands it into his mouth? Like who taught this kid how to eat? Also, Henry usually has to cut his food because he can’t stand watching him struggle with butterknives because apparently Chooch has inherited his inability to cut food from his mother. That’s what Henry says, but if you ask me, Chooch would just prefer someone else to do it for him, and that is something he definitely inherited from his mother.

So there.

12:10pm: Henry Appreciation Shout-Out. Homeboy hooked me up this weekend! He bought some of these without me knowing at Bled Fest, and the rest came from Dearborn Music where the guy at the register said, “These are actually some really good records” like he was surprised but then it was probably because he thought they were Henry’s since Henry was paying, and we all know Henry has I’M A TED NUGENT NUGGET practically branded across his furrowed forehead.


That P!ATD is Chooch’s but still. We’re already fighting about who gets to listen to what first, ugh. It’s really hard having a kid who’s exactly like me. I’m sure our bickering was beginning to wear on Bill & Jessi!

1:02pm: Absolutely nothing interesting has been happening since I last checked in. Just been annoying Henry with an emo revival Spotify playlist (I like to flail and flop around in the passenger seat to this stuff which adds to Henry’s annoyance) and now all of a sudden Chooch has decided to remove his nose from Goblet of Fire* in order to poke his head between the seats and bitch about something.

*We stopped at a Walmart (UGHHH) in Monaca, PA on our way to Michigan on Friday to buy Chooch the 4th Harry Potter book because Henry claims he couldn’t find my copy on the third floor (otherwise known as The Computer Burial Ground) which he was supposed to clean out weeks ago in order to turn it into a guest room. Anyway, I GOT LOST in Walmart because I hung back in the makeup section a tad too long and then BOOM. THEY WERE GONE. So I wondered around with my hand on my chest, trying to build a dam for the tears that were about to spring forth from my eyes, and then some way young Walmart worker boy flirtily said hello to me and I giddy for a split second until I remembered that HELLO IM LOST.

I had to ask some Walmart broad for directions to the book aisle but then I saw them walking by and I ran toward them and cried, “I’VE BEEN FOUND.” Chooch literally threw his arms around me because he knows how fragile I am. Henry just rolled his eyes though.

All that and they didn’t even have the dumb book so they had to go to Target which is where I said they should have gone to in the first place. This in addition to the really slow service at the Monaca King’s completed negated the fact that I left work an hour and a half early because we still arrived in Howell at the same time we would have had I left work at 5:30 so thanks for sucking, Monaca.

1:16pm: Chooch said he saw some guy wearing a La Dispute shirt at Bled Fest. I asked him if he said “cool shirt, bro” and Chooch said, “No, because I hate them.” UGH MY KID IS THE WORST.

1:24pm: Chooch just farted and I had to put down the windows to fumigate. So for that, here is a LA DISPUTE VIDEO, WOOOO.

1:49pm: AND NOW WE ALL HATE EACH OTHER AFTER A REST STOP WENT SOUTH DOWN THE TOILET. All I fucking want (nay, NEED) is coffee and schools started running his mouth because Henry wouldn’t give him money for some dumb arcade game and now they’re fighting and I was like FUCK EVERYONE and stormed off. Then I put on a SMOOTH JAZZ station in the car because I have a headache (see also: NEED COFFEE) and Henry had the audacity to try and change the station like this was an accident!? And apparently he stole money out of Chooch’s wallet for “tolls” so this is a brand new fight.

2:49pm: Well everything was fine, Chooch resumed his book-reading, I was happily dissecting my Bled Fest experience, but then HENRY made me look up the nearest Sheetz on google maps and now the car is full of angry snipes and raised voices again because FUCK YOUR MAP.

2:57: I CAN SEE SHEETZ AND I WANT IT.

3:18pm: Iced lattes must be super hard to make because I have had a shit ton of really fucking terrible ones, two in a row today. I guess Crazy Mocha just has me spoiled. Henry’s pissed because I apparently “wasted money” but he’s not a coffee drinker so he doesn’t understand the devastation and ensuing pout-session when one is served a poor excuse for a latte. Go drink a Faygo, Hank.

3:46pm: Henry stopped at a rest area to get me a latte from Starbucks (I dislike Starbucks but whatever – third latte’s a charm) and Chooch and I had a huge fight in the car because he nearly ruined my Bled Fest poster by being CARELESS and then he accused me of knowing where his dumb wallet is but not telling him?! So by the time Henry got back to the car, Chooch was in full-blown TAKE ME TO THE ORPHANAGE I DONT CARE mode. What a little jerkfuck, seriously. Now he’s back to breathing heavily while reading and I’m nursing my mediocre Starbucks iced latte and Henry is enjoying the silence after I gre tired of yelling about how I disagree with the Cincinatti Zoo’s decision to MURDER their gorilla, but whatever — I know enough people from that area to understand that it’s not exactly known for its high IQ.

This whole bit prompted Henry to say, “When I used to go to the zoo in the 70s” and then something about animals in cages but I quit paying attention when I realized that there wasn’t going to be a pregnancy scandal or TED NUGENT concert involved.

4:40pm: Henry just gave me a hard time for apparently listening to too much Cardboard Swords. “How many times are you going to listen to this?” he asked in a needling fashion. AS MANY TIMES AS I WANT, CUNT. Jesus. Nag much?!

Also, he made me count change for tolls at the last minute and then talked while I was trying to count?! I can’t stand him.

4:59pm:


YEAH BOIIIIIII THAT’S MY CITY. 10 minutes until we’re in good Ol’ Brookline. And Chooch just assaulted me with the sight of his bare feet.

6:02pm: Been home for an hour. Cleaned up succulent carnage (of which there was enough to require a plant cemetery, le sigh) and reminded the cats who I am. They seemed stressed out and then we realized that they had to endure their very first Memorial Day parade which oozes past our house every year and is chockful of sirens, muskets, and the screeching sound of children. Sorry, cats. :( Glad to be home but I’m already missing my Michigan friends and without the distractions, some pretty significant post-show depression is beginning to eke its way in. And then Chooch cut himself while playing with Marky and Henry’s not here so I started to panic but don’t worry, Chooch dressed his own wound while I was laying in the fetal position. Ugh. Back to dumb reality I guess.

But hoooooo boy, I’ll be back with a myriad of Bled Fest post for everyone to scroll past! Stay stoked.

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May 272016
 

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I promise this is it. The last post about Universal. I’ll stick a fork in it when I’m done. But man, this was the best vacation and it came at the perfect time, almost just fell into our lap and you have to know that shit like that never happens to us. It was like being rewarded for making it 36 years without committing homicide or heading a drug cartel.

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The third day was chill as fuck. We had already ridden everything by then so we just basically ran amok and re-rode all of our favorites like all of the Harry Potter stuff and that motherloving Mummy Returns ride — seriously, that joint was bomb.

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I would say the highlight of day 3 for me was definitely revisiting Seuss Landing even though Son of the Year started a fight with me right before we got there and then I got super sensitive about it and decided that we were just going to LEAVE so I stormed off in a huff and heard Henry hiss, “APOLOGIZE TO HER” because he didn’t want some ungodly scene to play out in the middle of the most adorable place in Universal, so then Chooch begrudgingly said he was sorry and I wasn’t satisfied with it but I also didn’t want to actually leave so then Henry rang the lunch bell and I snapped out of it because YAY IT WAS TIME TO EAT INSIDE THE SEUSSIAN CIRCUS TENT YOU GUYS!
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Henry was so annoyed because the train travels through and everyone waves and of course I too was waving as obnoxiously as possible just to piss off Henry even more. He is sooooo out of touch with Childlike Wonder. It baffles me.

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Here’s a pretty well-known fact about me: I hate SpongeBob. Always have, always will. I honestly just can’t with that piece of shit cartoon, so when Henry rudely pointed out to Chooch that there was a SpongeBob photo op, I wanted to Mexican Necktie him on the spot. Of course the line closed off as soon as we walked over but their liar of a handler said, “two minutes!”

Last time I checked, two minutes wasn’t a synonym for half an hour, but what do I know. #highschooldropout

HOPE IT WAS WORTH IT, SONNY BOY.

(Apparently it was because he got two key chains made with the stupid picture. So gross.)

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I was totally on board with Sideshow Bob & Krusty though.

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Guys this payphone rings every minute or so and if answer it, a random Springfield resident will be on the other line, yelling at you, and it’s awesome. Even Henry partook in some payphonage.

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In conclusion (I’ve been reading too many of Chooch’s school papers), Universal is made of pixie dust and literal win. It is my current favorite theme park of all time and I already decided that I’m going to get a job there. I think it kind of brought us closer as a family because Henry actually rode everything once. Also, I already mentioned this in my Liveblog from the drive home, but we rode the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (what a horrible name for a coaster though am I right?) and there’s an option to select a song to listen to from a  personal built-in stereo and of course it’s extremely mainstream and limited; Henry and I found out afterward that we both picked Finger Eleven without knowing the other chose it! (We weren’t even sitting together.) Tru luv, I guess.

Tru something.

This place was absolutely mesmerizing and exciting. I just wanted to lay down on the hot pavement and make melted-flesh Angels while giggling maniacally — it was just a crazy euphoria that I can’t wait to experience again.

I’m sure I could forcefully stuff another several paragraphs into this pointless piñata of words, but truth be told, I’m in the car on the way to Michigan and I really just want to dance like I have Tourette’s to my Bled Fest play list which clearly is what Henry wants too in lieu of me quietly blogging in the passenger seat.

I’m feeling really psychotic but in the totally feel-good kind of way.

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May 262016
 

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It’s officially been a month since our Orlando trip and I’m still not back to normal yet. Rather than stretch out my thoughts like taffy (because you know I can keep pulling that shit out of brain until someone makes me stop, usually Henry), I’m going to wrap up the Harry Potter portion of the vacation with some photos from the last two days.

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The character actors were amazing. They would hold lengthy conversations with anyone who made eye contact with them, and sometimes they would just blindside you with conversation, like one particular witch who crouched down and started talking to Chooch while he was sitting on the ground looking at his map. I mean, she asked him all sorts of questions, and she was kind of cute so his responses were mostly unintelligible. It really added to the experience.

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Henry, trying not to smile. Bitch loved him some Harry Potter World. By the second day, he had pretty much stopped riding things, and said that he was fine hanging out by himself “watching all the people run around making things happen with their wands.”

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🚉🛤

A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

There were a lot of things that made me squeal with happiness, but this mirror that made it look like everyone really was walking through the brick wall totally made me lose my mind.

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The last two times we rode Hogwarts Express, I had major coughing fits. Like the ones that come out of left field, everything is fine, and then suddenly you have A Tickle it feels like your throat is folding in on itself and there is no other option but to conjure up a magical knife to scratch that itch by COUGHING AS VIOLENTLY AS POSSIBLE so that everyone around you starts feeling paranoid about CONTAGION and PANDEMICS.

Twice this happened on two separate days!! I was so upset the second time because I had planned ahead by making sure that there was beverage available and then my asshole son drank it all while we were in line and had the audacity to get annoyed when I frantically pantomimed for him to give me a fucking ice cube while I was literally wretching in the train compartment and looking like I was Patient X in the zombie apocalypse.

Then I brought the cough home with me and drove my co-workers crazy for a week.

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Weird ice cream flavors in an amusement park—thank you, Lord Florean Fortescue. I had a scoop of clotted cream and Earl Grey lavender and might I tell you that it was DIVINE? I mean, I might if that was how I talked.

It was rull gud, guyz.

And the ice cream scooper guy was so awesome and pleasant to talk to and you know how much I hate small talk! Not with this guy!

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Chooch got one scoop of Plain and one of Safe.

Otherwise known as vanilla and strawberry. Probably. I can’t remember, but I know I was disappointed that he didn’t get anything I wanted to try,

(Henry got butter beer soft serve, which I already wrote about the other day so you should go back and read that if you want. Or don’t. Do what you want. I’m not your fucking mother.)

Can I just live here forever.

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I can’t remember if I already posted this video, but oh well! My blog, my rules! Lol(ing alone forever).

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Henry spent so much time waiting for me and Chooch to be done riding Escape from Gringott’s that he found himself on the same firebreathing schedule as Gringott’s Dragon.

(Seriously, watching the fire breath never got less exciting!)

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Do you know what the best part is? (Sorry, but this is about to turn into a Mommy Blog mo’ right here) For as much as my kid loves to read (his Dibels score thingie is like off the chain, or whatever) he has never really expressed much interest in Harry Potter. But being there was like opening up a whole new world to him and he has been obsessed ever since. He asked me lots of questions while we were there (I mean, he already knew the basics, but there were so many nuances that a casual fan could have missed), and then when I suggested that he just start reading the books, he agreed and there was a scary hunger to his voice. Even though I have the books at home, we bought him the first one on the day we left Florida and he immediately started reading it in the car. He’s currently nearly done with the third book and it’s literally all he talks about. He’s smug because the smartest girl in his class is only on the first book so now it’s like a race I guess, who knows where he gets that from.

See? I knew we could pull off the whole “educational vacation” guise.

Meanwhie: The Penguins won the Conference Finals and are going to the Stanley Cup Finals!!!! TODAY IS THE BEST DAY! I LOVE EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE!

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