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Uncategorized – Oh Honestly, Erin
Sep 132019
 

We had such a wonderful day at Holiday World and here is a big-ass photo dump to prove it!

You already know we were there for the VOYAHHHHHHGE, but the truth is, Holiday World as a whole is so much fun. Yes, there are lots of bad tattoos there, but the people are friendly and the employees are so happy to see you! I was having such a grand old time that I was only mad for a two seconds that Henry wore his dumb Creepy Uncle sunglasses and ruined our family picture.

Still hasn’t outgrown that mascot-love. Actually, later on in the day, he ran off to go to the bathroom but saw this mascot and another one (the Halloween cat) and got some employee to take a picture for him. I can never get him to post pictures of our family trips on Instagram, but he posted THAT one all on his own. And I wasn’t even in it! I CAN NEVER GET HIM TO POST PICTURES OF US ON INSTAGRAM!

HE’S ASHAMED OF ME.

Holiday World might be relatively unknown to the general population, but it’s pretty legendary in the coaster circle, and it’s racked up numerous awards over the years. In fact, the 2019 Golden Ticket winners were just announced last weekend, and it won Best Water Park Ride for Wildebeast and  2nd place for Best Wooden Coaster (The VOYAHHHHHGE, obviduh)!

Last year, Henry skipped out on the Raven but this year we dragged him on. I think he’s trying harder to keep up with Chooch and me because he rode EVERY ROLLER COASTER on this weekend trip except for T3 at Kentucky Kindgom.

And the kiddie coasters. He’s not cool enough to be That Guy on the kiddie coaster.

We had to st and in line for about 30 minutes and it was like the world was going to end for Chooch but Henry and I entertained ourselves by ogling the questionable tattoos. For instance, when we were in line for Thunderbird, a guy in front of us had “Volkswagen” tattooed on his forearm. Like, the actual word.

And it was BIG, too.

He seemed like a pretty normal guy, otherwise.

There was a young couple in line for the Raven playing Heads Up and the clues the guy was giving her for “bobcat” were “name of a machine company” and “wild animals found in Utah.”

He asked the guy in front of us if he had any better clues for her and the guy was all, “no, your clues were pretty darn good” and I was like, “NO THEY WEREN’T. IF THEY WERE PRETTY DARN GOOD, SHE WOULD HAVE GUESSED IT.” I would have said “wild feline with a popular man’s name.”

Or, you know, “Goldthwait.”

Stupid asses.

I was obsessed with the idea of eating at the Plymouth Rock Cafe because it’s…wait for it…THANKSGIVING STAPLES! And they have a vegetarian plate too which is a choice of THREE SIDES and A ROLL OR CORNBREAD.

Um, hello, cornbread.

Well, this was the only time we were disappointed with Holiday World. It was the only time we encountered ambivalent employees, they were out of half of the sides (it was only 1pm!) so instead of getting corn and broccoli salad, I had to get some kind of stewed cinnamon apples and macaroni and cheese in addition to the sweet potato casserole that I had my eyes on, and it was just…a lot. Like, it didn’t LOOK like a lot, but I honestly thought I was going to have to be part-time bulimic at one point afterward, just to get some relief.

But then sweet potato casserole WAS SO GOOD. I can’t even lie, it was really good. The corn bread was a big (actually small) dry wad of disappointment, but we also got pumpkin pie and it was way better than I expected! I thought it was going to be the firm, gelatinous kind but it was the smooth and creamy consistency that I love!

So, mixed bag for Plymouth Cafe.

Henry had some kind of meat and he liked it.

It was about $50 for three meals and three pies, plus Henry and Chooch both got drinks which seemed dumb since Holiday World has free drink stations all over the park just like Kentucky Kingdom. I think this was a pretty reasonable deal? I mean, we were all so full that no one wanted to eat dinner later on and we basically had to talk ourselves into getting ice cream before we left.

Oh, the challenges of being us.

Here we are getting that coaster cred! When we were in line, there was one mom in front of us and I was confused because why was she alone? I thought maybe her husband and children were already on and there was no room left for her, because before the operator closed the gate, the lady asked, “Would it be OK if I sat in the back seat?” and the operator asked the little boy in the back seat if he minded, and he very chivalrously said, “Not at all!” and so the lady dumped her purse in a bin and boarded the train and that is when I realized that she wasn’t with any of those people, she just wanted to ride the Howler with all of her fucks abandoned in a bin with her handbag.

That’s my kind of mom.

Also, we were relieved that she got to go on that train because that put us first in line and we wanted the back seat, haha.

I think it’s funny that Henry stands off to the side with all the other non-riding parents and takes pictures of his kids.

Not the worst kiddie coaster in the world!

I love our carousel selfies! I think it really captures our true family essence lol.

I called this a lion approx. 5x before the word “tiger” came to me and I felt like Barb mixing up zebras and giraffes.

Santa! He waved to me!! While we were having out nearby, another old man walked by in jeans and a white T-shirt and Henry, “Look there’s Santa!” And I said, “No dipshit, Santa is right over there with his elven handler.” But Henry said, “No, it’s the Santa from last year!” AND IT WAS! AN OFF-DUTY SANTA! I was devastated to learn that there were two different Santas! I really thought it was the same one.

We went inside the Christmas candy shop and Henry let Chooch make his own bags of taffy, a task that Chooch took extremely seriously. We were in there for a good long while too and it was kind of ridiculous and I was starting to get annoyed because it was the one place that was actually pretty crowded and no matter where I went, I was in someone’s way. Then after we paid for the damn bag, we started to leave when Chooch was like, “Oh shit, I didn’t even see all the taffy over on the other side” and one of the flavors was egg nog so I was mad because that sounded fun and he ruined my life basically by not including this so I grabbed an empty bag and said, “GET TO WORK” and this time henry and I helped him because apparently you can’t trust a kid to get the good taffy.

The Legend is such a rough ride, but it’s so much fun! A werewolf howls right before you go down the first drop and for some reason, this just tickles me.

One of the times we rode it, the ride attendant was going around checking our seats (he ended up groping me and then said something that sounded like, “Nice to see you again” which I’m sure wasn’t right but I was still stuck on the fact that he groped me) when a young couple appeared at the exit and told the ride operator that they left their bag in the shelf and described it as a “black crossbody that says Supreme on it” and I laughed to myself and was NOT surprised when The Groper was unable to locate such a bag. He kept holding up other bags and the ride operator was getting so pissed and reiterating that it was black and said Supreme.

When he held up some other thing, the ride operator screamed IT SAYS SU-PREME ON IT!!!! I was dying. Maybe he was describing boobs that Groper had brushed against during the day, it would be an easier game for him to win.

Anyway, I couldn’t believe they were holding our train back for this bullshit.

The one bad thing about coming here so late in the season is that they close at 7 during Labor Day weekend. Can you believe that?! Now, there’s still plenty of time to ride everything, but with the park closing before sunset, there is absolutely no possibility of night rides, and the VOYAHHHHHGE is best experienced at night. It just really is, sorry. It forcibly takes you back into the pitch black woods and I know this sounds like a set-up for horror porn but…ok it’s kind of like that. And you wake up the next day with the bruises to show for it.

With about an hour remaining, we decided it was now-or-never for some Udderly Blue ice cream. We were still full from lunch but I wasn’t passing this up.

While we were in line, we briefly lost Chooch (lol) but then I found him on the nearby carousel, riding alone peacefully.

There was a family sitting at a table near where we’re standing and when the husband brought the ice cream over, the wife said, “oh. I would have thought it would be blue” and the husband was like, “they do have blue ice cream but the kids just wanted vanilla, so” and she was like, “well I would have liked to try the blue” and then it started to get these because the line was really long and the kids were being ungrateful pricks to begin with and now Wife is being passive aggressive and Husband words were starting to sound strangulated like he was projecting his desire to throttle her in her sleep. I looked at Henry said “Wow that could be us.”

I made Henry share this with me and he was angry because he wanted to get his own and I said “then just get your own” but now he was moping and said JUST FORGET IT and I wondered if now we were the ones being watched by another couple saying to themselves “Wow, they’re just like us.”

Another, Udderly Blue over Dole Whip any damn day!

Chooch and I got one final ride on the VOYAHHHHHHGE before the line closed and we fought back tears on the way out. This park, man. It’s so good. Get yourself there.

*****

The next day, we were an hour outside of Cincinnati on the way home when I asked where the taffy was.

“Goddammit, I left it in the hotel fridge!” Henry cried. I was way angrier about this than I imagined I would be and I don’t even really like taffy all that much. So yeah, our fight-free weekend was definitely over by then.

Sep 092019
 

I was sincerely pleased with this past weekend and wish to document it here for posterity.

HOWEVER, THERE WAS ONE TRAGIC OCCURRENCE.

I started my Saturday morning by walking to the post office to drop off some card orders. On the way there, I passed Parker’s and did a record scratch with my legs.

Backed up and got a closer look at the sign next to the door, which said THIS WAS THEIR LAST GODDAMN WEEKEND.

I actually felt panicked, wondering if we would have time to eat there at all this past weekend. I called Henry on my way home (after standing for a solid minute with some family, who I thought were waiting to cross behind the fire truck which had pulled out of the station; finally I asked “Are we not allowed to go?” and the mom was like “Oh you can! My kids are just watching.” Ughhhh. One whole minute, wasted!!) and wailed, “IM SO SADDDDDD PARKERS IS CLOSINGGGGGG.”

Luckily, he got home from work early enough (hate when he has to work on Saturdays) and we were able to grace Parker’s with our dumb faces for the last time.

They had a very limited Last Weekend menu, so I got the Wakey Wakey with no meat, and pasta salad. Chooch had to copy me, and Henry got something meat-y. While we waited for our food, “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” was playing and even though the place was full and upbeat conversation was being tossed about all around us, I still felt SO SOMBER. Then, when our food was served, the theme from St. Elmo’s Fire was playing and Parker’s Mom might as well have just taken that plastic sword out of the bagel and stabbed me in the heart with it before asking if we needed any ketchup.

OUCH. MY FEELINGS.

Luke came over to talk to us and explained that it was just too hard for them to keep Parker’s running while trying to get the new bar open. They will be serving food at the new place once it opens and it will be family-friendly during the day, so it’s not the end of the road—-but I just really loved this space and honest to god, I know it’s just sandwiches, but it was so much of an experience every time we ate there. Luke made us feel like we were regulars, and for as long as I have lived in Brookline (too long) I have never felt like I have fit in before. But Parker’s was SO CHILL and friendly without being fake.

It was like the closest Brookline could ever get to Stars Hollow.

Right before we left, “We Built This City” came on and I was like, “IS THIS AN ACTUAL HOUSE PLAYLIST? ARE THEY TRYING TO FUCKING MURDER MY EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW?” God fucking dammit!!!!

Anyway, the one hopeful thing that Luke told us was that they’ll be still running their catering business from the basement of Parker’s so that means they’re not actually getting rid of that place and maybe someday in the future they’ll make a comeback!

THAT IS MY HOPE.

Later that evening, Janna came over for Kpop Cardio Dance Night and it was a good one! I appreciate that she indulges me and has never once laughed off my obsessions. She even says things like, “This one is my favorite” and “I liked that last one” and doesn’t make fun of it at all! Afterward, Henry prepared a snack platter and I was like, “IS THIS CHRISTMAS OR HALLOWEEN” but who cares because cheese.

For the next three hours, I made Janna watch roller coaster and kpop videos and talked her ears off about the upcoming super group Super M and made her choose an NCT bias and then explained the concept of Produce 101 to her and she endured it ALL.

Janna is a real one.

Hey guys, here’s a shocker. The next day we were leaving the house to take Chooch to his piano lesson when there was a huge bang and when we opened the front door, lo and behold, a wrecked car was idling in the road in front of our house.

HOW MANY TIMES DOES THIS NEED TO HAPPEN?! We live on a straight road! There are no obstacles or harzards! The last two times this happened, it’s been an elderly driver in broad daylight. When it happens at night, it’s almost always a drunk driver. Scary stuff.

Anyway, Henry the First Responder leapt into action. I felt really bad because the driver was this super old lady with big-ass hair and she was so shaken. She used Henry’s phone to call her husband and Henry was talking to her in his creepy fake-nice weird uncle voice and it was so cringey.

Chooch and I just stood on the sidewalk, me holding my huge jug of water and Chooch antagonizing his nephew Calvin who was watching from his front window. We stood there uselessly for a long time, but at least Chooch was the one who called 911 so he contributed more than me.

So the lady hit one of the neighbor’s cars, and unfortunately, his car was also one of the ones that got damaged last summer when some broad forgot that she was on Pioneer Avenue and not the Demolition Derby and sideswiped like four cars along the sidewalk. When he came out of his house and realized what happened, he started screaming angrily like this was such a shock, and then caught himself and asked, “IS EVERYONE OK THOUGH!?” Nice save, bud!

The worst part was that traffic didn’t even slow down even though there was clearly a car stalled out in the middle of the road. I was getting mad that Henry kept standing there because I felt like he was RISKING HIS LIFE which was unfair to me because I have things I need him to do around the house for God’s sake!!!

We were standing out there for like 20 minutes and the dumb ass cops still hadn’t arrived, so I made Henry call 911 again because I guess maybe they didn’t believe Chooch when he called, and the broad started to emerge from her car and Chooch and I were like, “OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD” because we didn’t want her to die from vehicular manslaughter but obviously not enough to actually voice our concerns, so we just stood there and watched as she slowly made her way to the other side of the car, where she saw the damage for the first time and started dramatically moaning like some rich Falcon’s Crest matriarch and I felt very uncomfy.

Cops still hadn’t arrived, but the tow truck was like “BEEP BEEP MOTHERFUCKER$$$$$$$$$$$$” so we were like, “OK, let this dude deal with it” and after we crossed the street to our car which we keep parked in a parking lot because the first rule of living on Pioneer Avenue is not to park on Pioneer Avenue, Hot Naybor Chris came out of his house with an orange traffic cone and placed it in the road next to the broad’s crashed Cadillac, like that was going to slow anyone down. Literally, some bitch sped past the scene, shaking her fist at Henry and the crashed car, which was hilarious to me. Like, what are YOU so mad about, you dumb bitch?

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, the broad’s husband had arrived and he was equally as frail, so that was cool. I’m glad these two are still getting behind the wheel.

Henry said that while he was standing at the lady’s car trying to keep her calm, she asked him what he thought about Antonio Brown. Wow, even in a car crash this city so fucking football-obsessed.

I bought peach mint KitKats at the asian market during Chooch’s lesson and Henry was being such a tightwad about it. YES, NOVELTY KITKATS ARE EXPENSIVE BECAUSE THEY ARE, YOU KNOW, A NOVELTY IN AMERICA. Christ!

Then we came home and hung out with Calvin, who is currently OBSESSED with coming over to our house because Henry brought up a big container of Chooch’s old toy cars so he acts like he wants to see us but it’s just a ruse. He’s a little user! When Blake or Haley come over to get him, he starts crying and says, “Leave!” and tries to push them out of the front door. And I’m just like, “Buddy, it’s not that exciting here.”

Anyway, we walked to Scoops for some ice cream and Calvin got his Spiderman popcicle all over himself because he’s a kid and I was dry-heaving. Ugh kids are so gross! Chooch still, at 13, can barely eat ice cream without becoming as sticky as a flystrip.

I dunno why that was the first sticky thing that came to mind.

He’s cute though!

Then Henry made me kimchi jjigae for dinner and I was like PRAISE BE because it was finally cool enough outside to enjoy that cauldron of bubbling Korean flava.

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Cooler temperatures mean 김치찌개 time!

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

In other weekend news, I accidentally started watching Pose and stayed for the poppin’ 1980s urban soundtrack and we bought Platinum passes for the Cedar Fair parks and even though they’re for the 2020 season, we can start using them now! I had to upload a picture of each of us for the cards, so Chooch and I took each other’s headshot but Henry was like JUST USE A PICTURE YOU ALREADY HAVE OF ME and I was like AYE AYE CAPTAIN so this will be on the card that Henry will be using for the next year and it’s probably not funny to anyone else but when I chose it, I actually started crying because I was laughing so hard and Henry just muttered, “I TRULY DON’T CARE.”

OK, toodles my noodles.

Aug 312019
 

Hello, good morning, or good evening, please adjust as necessary. It’s 6:06am and we have departed our shanty in Brookline after a solid 30 minutes of bickering because what else is new.

We were still on our street when Henry announced that he forgot his hat and now he’s threatening to buy a MAGA hat at a truck stop kill me.

He just turned on the GPS and Cookie Monster’s voice filled the car at full volume and now my heart is racing. “Put it back to the Korean lady!” I cried but he said he doesn’t know where he’s going with her. :(

Also, I’m wearing my Kpop Fitness shirt and Chooch, without knowing that, put on his KCON 2017 shirt so now we look like Koreaboos.

6:26am: Some light just came on in the car to tell us that the tire pressure is low and Henry that cocky motherfucker said, “No shit.” That’s news to me, but OK.

7:18am: UGH we just left Sheetz in West Virginia. We had the unfortunate timing of being there with an entire orange-vested road crew and it took forever to get our stuff and then while we were waiting I happened to glance at my receipt and noticed that HAM was listed as an ingredient on my breakfast flatbread and I threw a fit and Henry was like “Sweetheart* just pick it off” and I was like I HAVE SPENT 3/4 OF MY LIFE JUST PICKING IT OFF (wow gross) and so he went over to the counter and caught them right as they were starting to make mine after the conveyor belt of MEAT SUPREMES EXTRA MEAT PLUS A SIDE OF MEAT that were being assembled for the hick road crew and asked them not to put ham on mine and when he came back he said, “See? I take care of you” so ALL HAIL THE HERO I guess.

*(Lol yeah right.)

Obligatory Sheetz Road Trip Selfie. I’m fucking tired.

The car radio defaulted to Country when Henry turned it on and even just five seconds of it before my Spotify kicked in was enough to make me angry.

“HOW DO PPL LISTEN TO THIS” I angrily spat and Henry told me to go back in Sheetz and ask them.

Then Chooch and Henry were arguing and Henry yelled, “Last time I checked, I can do whatever I want!”

He must check a lot.

Also, do the police know this?

8:30am: Chooch recently discovered a love for 80s new wave so I put on a Spotify playlist for him as soon as we left the house but he’s had headphones on the entire time so far, watching his dumb YouTube videos so I put Taemin back on, fuck that.

Speaking of Taemin, Baekhyun from EXO did an InstaLive with SuperM and they were all eating BBQ and I was like THEY R SO LUCKY TO WATCH TAEMIN EAT IN PERSON and Henry scowled at me.

9:30am: So glad Chooch brought his shitty crossword puzzle book on this trip. 94 miles to Cincinnati. SOS.

“Is Sammy Lee Jones an actor?” – Chooch from the backseat. Ughhhhhh. I turned up SHINee and I can still hear him asking for help.

10:16am: We stopped at a gas station and before leaving, Henry got back out of the car to throw out a banana peel and the sound effects Chooch is making for this action is soooo grotesque and hilarious. Now Chooch is fat-shaming Henry for purchasing a 470 calorie Nutty Buddy.

10:34am: An hour ago, i made what some might consider a stretch of a comparison between Taemin and Anita Baker, then I was perusing Spotify playlists and Anita Baker’s “Angel” was the third song in one of them so of course we’re listening to Anita Baker now.

“I went through a heavy Anita Baker phase when I was in 10th grade,” I said to Henry who muttered that he wasn’t surprised because my music phases were all over the place. Anyway, anytime I would mention Anita Baker back then, my dad would ask, “What? You need a baker?”

EVERY.TIME.

11:07am: We just crossed over into Kentucky. Hello Kentucky, sorry you have to hear us all yelling at Henry because our phones haven’t been charging this whole time.

11:25am: UGH I JUST LOOKED AT HENRY AND HE HAS HIS CREEPY UNCLE SUNGLASSES ON.

12:32pm: We made it to Louisville! We have like 9 minutes until we’re at Kentucky Kingdom and we’re all fighting over the playlist.

I’m going to publish this worthless post now but I will probably add it to you after we leave the park and head to Santa Claus, Indiana!

8:14pm: Wow we just left the park and I am pleasantly surprised! What a great park – I’m excited to do a review sometime soon after I get home but right now we’re looking for some place to eat on the way to Indiana.

Here’s a sunset!

8:26pm: Ok we found an eating establishment with minimal bloodshed!

Jerry’s J Boy! And they’re hiring so I got to submit it to Job Spotter! And Mary J Blige was playing when we were seated and our waitress is nice!

BEEN AWHILE SINCE I SNAGGED A LIVE-ACTION COLE SLAW MASTICATION SHOT!

8:46pm: Guys. They just played KC & Jojo, Phil Collins, the Folk Implosion, and Oasis back to back.

Jerry’s J-Boy, you were super hospitable to us, thank you, we will come again.

9:29 (10:29EST): We’re all settled in our actually halfway decent Motel 6 room, same place we stayed last year when we came to Holiday World. I’m exhausted and annoyed with both of my travel companions and snapped out after we left Jerry’s because that fucking Cookie Monster GPS was on my last nerve and Chooch was being shitty because he was tired and I almost just rhetorically asked when that will end but I’m 40 and still act like a roiling nest of hornets when I’m exhausted. So.

Anyway, goodnight before I punch Henry in the face.

Aug 262019
 

Hi guys, I’m not stoked about this at all and not just because OMG MY LITTLE BABY WABY IS GROWING UP but obviously because the first day of school is like the kiss of death for summer, like why do we even bother pretending it goes on into mid-September, come on now, today is Fall.

I’m even wearing a hoodie.

(No hate on fall AT ALL, love that season, but I hate its bastard brother Winter and I’m sorry, we were having the best summer and I’m just not ready to let go.)

Oh right, back to Chooch.

That little weirdo packed and repacked his backpack like 7 times yesterday, excitedly told me on a walk on Saturday how happy he is to be having homework again, and for the first time ever actually wanted to go shopping for a First Day outfit.

What a monster.

He’s just really happy to finally be at the top of the school, an 8th grade king, plus he has algebra 1 this year and dude loves him some math.

I worked from home today so I got to make him breakfast (would you believe me if I told you that I actually make really good scrambled eggs? Chooch hates all other scrambled eggs and it like, blows Henry’s mind) and then I made him give me a public hug goodbye in the front yard haha.

Oh well. Time flies, they grow up so fast, blah blah blah.

Aug 232019
 

One of the most-asked questions I got when I came back from vacation was WHAT DID YOU BUY and my answers always disappoint people because I’m not a huge shopper. Last year, I got a pair of Gentle Monsters sunglasses as my “big” purchase, but this time around, I just picked up some little things that I liked. So, here are five of those little things which will probably be super disappointing but I LIKE THESE THINGS OK. (Don’t worry, I won’t make you look at all the kpop merch I brought back, lol.)

  1. This mask from Harajuku, Japan

I collect masks, all sorts of masks, whether they’re cheapo vintage Kmart Halloween masks, masks that my kid made in school, or traditional/historical masks. I saw this one from several stalls away in Harajuku and needed it for my collection. The tag on it says “designed and sold in Japan” so that was good enough for my authenticity check!

Chooch came downstairs the other night in his “movie-watching” robe and I was inspired to do a brief photoshoot with the new mask.

HNC had his porch light on and I was like GO STAND ON HNC’S PORCH because I thought it would be cool but Chooch was like WHAT IF HE SHOOTS ME but I feel like HNC is always just buzzed enough that he would probably be like, “Oh hey stranger in a weird mask and robe standing on my porch at 10:30 at night, want a brewski?”

Chooch also peeked into Blake’s front window in hopes of scaring him but Blake just looked over and nodded. Tough crowd.

2. Holika Holika Milky Cushion

Everyone knows that k-beauty is the best beauty, and I had been putting off buying this latest Holika Holika /Peko collab online since I knew I would eventually be in Korea. The nicest salesgirl helped me find the right shade for me and even talked me into buying the same lip color she was wearing (I never thought I would be a coral-type of person until I started using Korean brand cosmetics!).

Anyway, look how cute the packaging is! A little milk carton! I almost hated to open it.

The compact is absolutely precious and the product is so wonderful and long-lasting! I only apply a very light layer to my skin because otherwise it makes me look absolutely ghostly. I also bought a bunch of Peripera lip color and that is my absolute favorite lip product ever. CVS even sells it now but it’s like double the price because America.

Anyway, also pictured is the crucifix I bought in Jeonju!

3. SNACKS

Come on, you don’t go to Korea and Japan and come home without snacks stashed in your suitcase. We brought back all kinds but my personal favorites were:

A boxed set of authentic choco pies from PNB in Jeonju. I will write more about that in my Jeonju recap but these choco pies were legit and now I’m sad that I have to settle for the Lotte choco pies we buy at the Asian markets here. NOT THE SAME.

We also brought back these banana milk Kit Kats from Japan and I’m sad that they’re all gone now. However, my favorite Kit Kats were strawberry tiramisu, which we found outside of Seoul in the small town of Ildong. They were so delicious!

I think my runner-up in the snacks category would be the yogurt almonds – no, not yogurt-coated like raisins or cranberries, but these are almonds that actually flavored after the Korean yogurt drinks. Sweet and tangy! Henry and Chooch were like, “eh…” More for me!

4. BABY HANOK!

There was a ceramics boutique in Insadong called Gallery Dan and they were selling these adorable little Hanok; I had to snatch one up. It has a little hole in the back to stick a flower too. I love it.

The woman who sold it to me was so precious, too. Even the bag it came in was beautiful.

I love collecting little pieces like this. I still have this small vase that I bought in Pompeii when I was little that was supposedly made from volcano ash. It has a chunk taken out of it but I’ve had it since the early 90s so it’s a miracle that’s all that’s wrong with it.

(Now that I wrote that, Drew will probably knock it off the fireplace mantel this weekend.)

5. LIQUOR

Ok so we brought back a nice collection of flavored soju and magkeolli but also wine from Jeonju that comes with this cool ceramic face that I think doubles as a glass (???) and a bottle of North Korean wine!

Haven’t cracked these open yet. Maybe tonight. I always feel the urge to drink after I finish up a Friday late shift.

*****

I also got some jewelry (nothing super expensive or glitzy – just cute stuff that suits my cheap style lol) and clothes, and some other assorted souvenirs like a bunch of coffee cups from various places, but these are just some of my faves and also this was my excuse to take a break from vacation recapping because as much as I love reliving every day spent over there, it is tedious to put it into words! I haven’t even bothered editing the pictures we took with the SLR so crappy iPhone pictures will have to suffice. Wow, I’d make a GREAT travel blogger, wouldn’t I?

Except my Jeonju/Day 4 recaps at some point this weekend, though!

Aug 192019
 

I got to some quality weekending and it was just what I needed to come back to earth a bit, or…come back to Pittsburgh, I guess.

Sigh. Pittsburgh. #ugh

Janna came over Friday night and endured FOUR HOURS of looking at our vacation pictures projected onto the TV while Chooch and I argued over minor details and Henry served us pizza and Korean booze.

Janna is a super good sport! I know I’ve been slowly blogging about the trip but it was really fun to sit down and actually tell stories for real and not just plunk out words and wonder if anyone is reading.

I know Janna was paying attention too because she asked lots of really good questions and I felt like a PROFESSOR giving a LECTURE that people actually SIGNED UP FOR.

The next day, I met up with Jiyong for the first time since before I left! We went to Bureau Coffee in E. liberty and I gotta give them a shoutout for not charging extra for milk alternatives. They’re the real MVP. However, their seating is mostly in shared space format and that’s really uncomfortable when you’re there to actually chat with a pal and not stare silently at a laptop.

Anyway, it was fun to talk to Jiyong about the trip and she seemed surprise at how many different places we managed to cram in, and also we gossiped about Korean news and gushed about the possibility that Heechul and Momo are dating and talked about how much we like Jinu’s solo debut.

I’ve never been the type of person who needs to have friends that are exactly like me but it’s really been nice having a pal here in the Burgh who I can talk to about my niche Korean interests! Usually after we hang out, I spend the next two days excitedly saying, “Oh yeah and Jiyong said…” to Henry.

Later that night, Henry and I drank some of our souvenirs while planning our next (hypothetical but hopeful) trip which is shockingly not to Korea this time but don’t worry I WILL RETURN TO THE MOTHER HANGUK the year after!

You know there was some Taemin action in there at some point too.

Sunday the 18th was G-Dragon’s birthday! So I busted out the GD socks I bought in Myeongdong on this past trip. MY KING!!

After Chooch’s piano lesson on Sunday, we headed on up to Butler where we met Tommy & Jessy for lunch at Reichholds.

Henry thought this book said “Born to Be White” and I mean, we were in the right (white?) area for that to be accurate. #yikes

Oh man, the service was sooooo slow and there seemed to be turmoil left and right but I had the roasted tomato omelette special and it was one of the best omelettes I’ve ever had, possibly because of that pesto smear on top.

Turns out that Tommy & Jessy are regulars here and the entire waitstaff knows them which made for a wildly entertaining experience and I felt like I was sitting with the In Crowd in the middle school cafeteria, you know?

Our waitress asked Jessy what my name was—twice–because Jessy mentioned at the beginning of the meal that this was my bday lunch, so the next thing I knew, everything got quiet and someone turned on some creepy old-fashioned recording of the Happy Birthday Song and then a birthday pancake was placed before me.

It was so sweet! I mean, the pancake was sweet but the sentiment too!

But of course Tommy couldn’t let Chooch and me have a peaceful meal. He antagonized Chooch from across the table the entire afternoon until Chooch was like THATS IT and made Henry switch seats so that he could sit across from Tommy and kick him. Meanwhile, Tommy overheard me telling Jessy that I met G-Dragon’s dad so he kept telling all the waitresses SHE HUNG OUT WITH GFUNK’S DAD and I was like ITS GDRAGON, STFU!

Ugh!!

We were the last people to leave after the joint closed at 2pm and even though the service was a hot mess, the waitresses were so freaking cool and obviously the company was the best (the Tommy-half of said company is questionable though) and the food was legit. (Chooch ate his strawberry crepes with the verve of a child who’s only fed lima beans at home.)

Tommy and Chooch had a parking lot brawl and then Chooch proposed that Tommy have his picture taken standing underneath the giant roof rooster.

“A dick standing under a cock,” he blurted out and then ran away before Tommy could retaliate with violence. It was an impeccable burn on Chooch’s part!

What a satisfying weekend!

Aug 172019
 

The most cliche, basic thing to say in summer is WHERE HAS THE SUMMER GONE but like, maybe if summer would slow it’s fucking roll we wouldn’t have to be so damn trite.

August is halfway over, school starts in a little over a week, LIKE SAND THRU THE HOURGLASS…ETC ETC.

There are many pros and cons to working from home, but in the summertime, I am so thankful for the privilege to work from home on my late shift days because I get to enjoy being outside in the mornings, walking around the neighborhood, having my weekly breakfast seshes with Chooch…I really, really love these summer days!

And August in particular, for some reason, really makes me happy. There’s something about the way the air feels in August that reminds me of swimming at my Pappap’s pool and lazing around with no worries and nowhere to be. So I’m walking home from the post office the other day, appreciating this summer month, when tears started springing from my eyeballs?! That’s where I am in life right now. Just all emotional and grateful and hyper-aware of it all, man.

For this week’s Summer Breakfast Club, we went to the Dor-Stop ONLY because we’ve hit the bottom of the barrel for local AM eateries.

The Dor-Stop is like, ultra popular around these parts because fucking Guy Fieri ate there for his dumpster dives show, or whatever it was called, and gave it his greasy seal of approval and they’ve been riding that wave of C-list celebrity fame ever since.

I have lived within walking distance of this joint since 1999 and have only eaten there less than 8 times so that should tell you something. Every experience I’ve had there has been either SHITTY (hair in my food, abysmal service) or just completely unforgettable at best.

This time, we had an OK waitress and OK food but the people seated behind us were SO FUCKING DISGUSTING. The lady was sitting on the other side of my booth and kept body-slamming herself into the back of it to the point where I thought I was mistaken and there were actually children sitting behind me. Then her man-thing told her a joke and she was straight up bucking in her seat and stamping her feet on the floor and then he started blowing his nose in a fashion that would make a trucker disgusted and then he BURPED IN BETWEEN.

So gross.

But Chooch liked his raspberry French toast (one of their specialities and I will admit that it’s good but the bread is pretty puny) and we had good talks so I guess that’s all that matters, right.

In other Chooch news, he decided to start a book club at the teen center and the lady in charge gave him the green light so he made this flyer and I didn’t even hover and try to add Erin-flourishes, I AM SO PROUD OF ME!

Also in Chooch/Teen Center news, he was made an administrator which basically means he gets to NARC on other kids so this right up his alley.

Ok well I’m going to go now because Chooch and Henry are outside in a thunderstorm fixing Chooch’s bike which means they’re having some pass-the-popcorn levels of bickering and I need to pull my seat closer. Byeeeee.

Aug 132019
 

Incheon is a city about an hour west of Seoul, and also the location of the international airport. But it’s also home to Korea’s largest (and only official) Chinatown. Why would you want to go to a Chinatown in Korea, you may be asking if you’re even reading this but you probably aren’t whoever YOU ARE.

Anyway, I wanted to go specifically because I heard through the grapevine also known as YouTube that this is like the premiere place to get ye a bowl of that good-good jjajangmyeon.

WHAT IS JJAJANGMYEON you might be asking and look maybe it’s time that you utilize that Siri or Google bullshit. And this is where Henry reminds me that I have chased all my blog readers away with  my poor attitude, so fine I’ll tell you what jjajangmyeon is….in another post. Because this post is about killing time before the jjajangmyeon.

It took about 2 hours to reach Incheon’s Chinatown by subway (several transfers were necessary and then there was that whole bit where Henry left me on a train platform) but overall, it was relatively easy to figure out how to get there (and by that I mean I let Henry and Chooch look at the maps and I followed them blindly with outstretched hands while wobbling to and fro with big dumb glasses on my big dumb face).

The gate is pretty much right outside the station (which I also believe was the last stop): so um, you really can’t miss it. Even I could see it!

The downside to this excursion was that it was raining off and on. Plus, we had arrived just a bit too early so nothing was really open yet, but we did find a nice little garden area to take refuge and get our bearings.

You can tell even from far away that my eye was jacked!

A tour group arrived as we were chilling here and at the same time, it stopped raining. Suddenly, everything came to life in Chinatown!

It was so gloomy all day, but I liked the vibe. It matched my eye-pain-inducing CLOUD ABOVE MY HEAD.

We did some lunch pre-gaming by swiping some Hwadok Mandu. The vendor seemed impressed when I ordered mine and said “hobak” instead of “pumpkin.” I KNOW MY FOOD WORDS, OK. Henry got red bean and I already forget which one Chooch got. Apparently, the lines for this vendor get quite long so I was no longer that mad about that rain. I expect things to be crowded when I’m traveling, but we had this whole little town almost entirely to ourselves and it was bizarre yet wonderful. Especially when we got to Fairytale Village!

If there is one thing Korea loves, it’s murals and cartoon kitsch. There was no rhyme or reason for this section of Chinatown, and it actually felt pretty out of place, but goddamn if we didn’t peruse every last street and alley and take those photo spots up on their offers!

At first, Chooch was kind of like, “This is dumb…” but then he kept finding random dog murals.

The freshly wetted paths and gray skies added an extra layer of creepiness! Like some unsettling Slovakian horror fantasy. At times, you could almost forget that you were even in Korea. I

Just, you know, straddling a giant Pinocchio in Chinatown, nothing to see here.

Now I kind of wish this was in my living room. I’ve been looking for years for an adequate couch-substitute and this might actually replace my strong desire for a vintage bumper car TV-watching vessel. Just put some throw pillows down on his legs and get cozy, friends!

I’m not sure Henry was very enchanted by this.

Brookline needs to jazz up the town with some whimsical fiberglass tree things. I’ll mention it at the next town hall.

Well, then Chooch found this Bambi thing and freaked out. I don’t know what it is with him and Bambi, but Korea is the perfect place for him because Bambi just happens to pop up everywhere?!

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I wish a truck selling soondubu stopped on MY street.

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All over Korea, you will see trucks peddling food (like eggs and produce) while announcing their wares in a trance-like cadence over a megaphone. This particular guy was vending tofu.

All those lifestyle Instagrammers would have a field day here with ALL THE WALLS OMG. SUCH CONTENT.

I allowed photos even though I was wearing my hideous glasses.

Even Korea’s sewer grate things are excelsior.

More Bambi, inexplicably.

동화마을 = Fairytale Village (Dong-hwa maeul)

I guess I can’t hate on Chooch’s Bambi fascination too hard because I am definitely into Alice in Wonderland. I was excited when we came across this but it turns out it was just a trick eye museum and we did one of those last year in Insadong.

And you know what they say about trick eye museums: if you’ve been to one…why? you’ve been to ’em all.

ANOTHER FUCKING BAMBI.

So many possible captions here.

Anyway, that was the first part of our visit to Incheon’s Chinatown. Oh! We also went to a little sock shop because Chooch and I are obsessed with Korean socks (THEY ARE FUCKING CUTE AND CHEAP AND ACTUALLY GOOD QUALITY). When Henry was paying, he noticed some old-ass cellphone on the counter and thought it belonged to the lady who had been in line in front of him so he grabbed it and called after her but the cashier was like “yo bro that’s a pop-socket display, put it down!” except he said that in Korean and Chooch and I were like, to each other, “omg he is so embarrassing.” That was the catchphrase of this trip, definitely.

Anyway, the next part will be about how we finally got our jjajangmyeon which will include an explanation of said jjajangmyeon in case you haven’t already googled that shit.

Aug 122019
 

I’m sad to be home, but the transition back to reality has been less painful this time around. Maybe because it’s still summer so life still feels vacation-y in a way? All I know is that we left the house moderately clean when we left and my mom kept it in great condition for us so we got to come home to a clean house but that lasted less than a day….so, things are definitely on the regular up here in the Pioneer Ave Shanty!

I worked from home on my first day back, but the next day when I went into the office, my group had my desk all decorated for my birthday and they passed out party hats – it was super adorable and made coming back to work way less painful – especially since I had been awake since 4:00am. I even let Margie hug me! She told me I’m not allowed to be gone this long again and you know what it felt nice to be missed, OK?!

And then there was a double-stabbing right down the street from my office.

(Plus what it was it, three??? mass shootings just in the two weeks I was gone? But yeah, South Korea is the scary place to travel to. Come on, America. We can do better.)

Meanwhile, Chooch got kicked out of the library on his first day home so things were REALLY back to normal for him. (It wasn’t his fault though, you guys. He didn’t do it. The librarians are bitches.)

Friday was my work-from-home late shift so Chooch and I happily resumed our Summer Breakfast Club! I’m sure one day Future Chooch is going to look back on this blog and be so fucking thrilled at all the unflattering chewing shots I have of him. On this day, we walked to Mt Lebanon and gave Simone’s a try. I guess it’s relatively new and the reviews were hit or miss, but we had a lovely experience there and our waitress was super laid back and made us feel like we weren’t n00bs and then she called me by my name when she came back with my credit card and I thought to myself, “Hey, Liza, that was a nice touch and right before I calculated your tip, no less. SMARTIE.”

Anyway, Chooch got the Yo Yo Burrito and I had ordering remorse big time when he let me have a bite because it was everything I want in a breakfast burrito – eggs, black beans and lotsa sour cream. I got an omelette which was good but I opted for grits as my side because I can never remember if I like them or not and they were just ok. Are they supposed to be watery? I added some butter to them and then didn’t know what came next so I dumped in some sugar and it was fine but the bowl was HUGE so I didn’t finish it all.

Henry the Grits Enthusiast wasn’t with us so I didn’t know what to do!

Chooch and I both agreed later that this was one of the few times we had a breakfast filling enough to tide us over until lunch. I’m usually hungry again by the time we get back home!

(Unless I have pancakes, then I’m done for the day.)

Back at home, we sorted through more of our luggage. I hate unpacking. Like, who doesn’t though. Actually, I think my luggage is the only one that still needs unpacked and now it’s like a silent standoff to see if Henry will finally cave and do it for me. Anyway, it was fun pulling out the souvenirs and gifts though, like this shirt that Chooch spotted from a mile away in Harajuku, thanks to his strong Corgi-radar. I made him try it on so I could take a picture because I think it’s the cutest, most Chooch-centric shirt ever, perfect for school picture day!

Henry had to work on Saturday and I had been up since like 5am again, so I didn’t do much of anything aside from sorting through pictures, catching up on coaster vlogs on YouTube, and I finally started watching “Dark” on Netflix.

Saw this on my Saturday stroll around Dormont – definitely back in Pittsburgh!

The next day, Henry and I were walking around Brookline when I said, out of nowhere, that my new way of living life is to do everything I want to do instead of just whining about not being able to do the things I want to do. Now, I just say, “I’m going to do this,” and then do it!

Henry just sighed, because he knows what this entails and it’s less of me making things happen and more of me snapping my fingers and cracking the whip until Henry makes the things happen.

“I’ve been so much happier since I started living this way!” I said gleefully, and I think Henry wiped away a tear, I’m not sure.

Later, we went to Sugar Spell Scoops for some after-lunch vegan dessert and my friend Kara happened to also be there with her family, so that was a nice surprise! I still felt like a zombie though so I was not much of a conversationalist.

Anyway, I splurged and had a scoop of blueberry lavender and coffee cake – look, on any other day, that blueberry lavender would have had be doing cartwheels down the street (in my head, anyway) but that coffee cake scoop was THAT GOOD that it overshadowed my beloved lavender.

Seriously, this place is wonderful and creative, and the people running it are just plain old NICE.

And they have cool coloring pages!

Anyway, I pulled the trigger and finally unfollowed Millie’s on social media. The love affair is officially dead, you guys. No longer my favorite scoop shop in the city.

So yeah, that’s the…scoop (OH! I WENT THERE! I’M OFFICIALLY A CORNY 40-YEAR-OLD MOM!) on what I’ve been up to since I’ve been back from the best vacation of my whole entire life! I’m a little less depressed about being home now because Henry is finally on board with going back to Holiday World (and Kentucky Kingdom!) over Labor Day so I have things to look forward to! Turning 40 has not me any more of an adult!

Aug 082019
 

The performance video for Taemin’s Japanese single “Famous” just came out a few minutes ago and for once I am thankful that jet lag has me awake for this. I could watch him dance all the live-long day, folks.

I would never say folks in real life. I don’t know why I wrote that.

Anyway in other Taemin news, a few weeks ago there was a rumor that his agency, SM, was putting together a supergroup consisting of members of various boy groups like EXO and NCT. Taemin’s name was dropped in that rumor mill as well so my ears perked for real. I guess he was spotted with 6 others leaving one of SM’s practice rooms but some people pointed out that maybe there was going to be a one-time collaboration stage at the upcoming SMTown event in Japan.

But yesterday, SM announced that the rumors were truth–they are debuting a supergroup consisting of Taemin (OMG why am I crying while I’m writing this let’s just chalk it up to exhaustion) from SHINee, Kai and Baekhyun from EXO (crying again lol), Mark and Taeyong from NCT, and TEN (!!!!!!!) and Lucas from WayV, the NCT Chinese subunit.

All of these artists are fucking gold but you’re telling me that I’m getting a chance to see Taemin and Ten perform together in the same unit?!

I can’t even handle this.

Their name is SuperM (not stoked on that name though) and they’re expected to have a US debut (!!!!!) in October.

If this means there will potentially be a tour…no, I can’t even get my hopes up.

Photo cred: SM Entertainment.

This is the teaser that was shown at a Capitol Records event yesterday and I am actually shaking.

The talent in this group is sickening.

That’s all I have for now. It’s finally late enough in the morning for me to start getting ready for work and I’m gonna roll in to the office on an imaginary people-mover made up of my current kpop high.

Aug 072019
 

We came home last night around 10 and must have stood by this clown for a solid five minutes going through the mail before I noticed that it was new – so that tells you:

  • How many clown things we have in the house that this was like ET sitting in a pile of Bertie’s stuffed animals,
  • How desensitized we are as a household to clowns,
  • How fucking exhausted we were

It was probably the worst travel day I ever had but in hindsight, it could have been a lot worse and we were still fortunate enough to at least get home on the same day. Having a mood-swingy teenager doesn’t help things though and he was actually angrier about it all than we were! He was like That Person in a long line who loves to state the obvious. “This is line is ridiculous!” “I just want to GET HOME.” And it’s like YES, EVERYONE DOES, YOU CRANKY WALLSTREET BUSINESSMAN. Jesus, Chooch!

On the express train to Incheon Intl :( Chooch got a new Apeach plushie (his favorite Kakao character that he calls Peachy Boi); he calls this one Bumble Boi.

Mostly he was fine though and we were giddy because on our Korean Air flight home, Henry had to sit in the first row of our cabin and we were in the last. It was actually the last row of the whole plane and was glorious because the bathroom area was so spacious and I took ample leg-stretching breaks back there.

Everyone in our entire row was awesome–Chooch has a Korean girl (about 9 or 10) and her dad next to him. I was on the aisle but the guy across from me was so quiet and inoffensive and I felt blessed. However, there was a family in front of us with three very young girls, I would say 6, 4, and 3 if I had to guess. Look, I’m not one of those people who shoots parents scowls and whatever when their baby is crying because that’s what babies do and I had a baby once and understand that it is not always easy to get a baby to shut it down. But these kids were fucking out of control, jumping off the arms rests, scream-talking to each other, watching videos on a tablet with the volume on and no headphones, putting their feet on the backs of the seats in front of them (god be with those people), dropping their shit constantly (I picked up pillows for them more times than I care to admit) while their parents slept and watched movies. It was so out of control that one of the flight attendants came over and shushed then because BOTH PARENTS WERE SLEEPING and they were using their playground voices x10. Korean Air, you guys are way nicer than I would have been if I was working on that flight. It was an absolute mess.

Also, Chooch bought one of those long fucking non-retractable umbrellas in Seoul because it was rainy while we were there and it didn’t fit in any of our luggage so GUESS WHO INHERITATED IT FOR THE 24+ HOURS OF TRAVEL BACK HOME? CHOOCH AINT IT YALL.

Also x2, I was mad because we saw them when we were boarding and two of the girls were fighting so I said, “LOL I hope they sit behind you, Henry.” He came back to visit us at one point (we told him not to because we didn’t want to be associated with him) and he was like “haha I see you guys got the kids” then he was in the flight attendant’s way and we were like GO AWAY YOU ARE SO EMBARRASSING!

He tried to make a joke when we were checking in because the seat he was assigned was one of the designated baby seats. “I’m not taking the seat from a baby, am I?” he dad-laughed and the Korean Air lady said “no” with no signs of getting his lame humor.

Our catchphrase on this trip was DEFINITELY “Oh my god, he is so embarrassing.”

Anyway, once we landed at shitty JFK (what a shock to the system after being in beautiful Incheon), we were told our flight back to Pittsburgh was delayed by three hours. That wasn’t great but whatever. We had just sit down at some Irish pub thing to eat and before we had a chance to order, we found out that flight was outright canceled. If I was a kid, I would have been like YAY MORE VACATION TIME GUYS! but I’m not a kid and both Henry and I had to work the next day because we’re crazy people who are like “fuck you, lol” to the face of jet lag and our only options were get a flight in the morning or go to an entirely different airport and fly out at 5:25. It was already after 2:00 but the Delta lady said it was an option and that we would “probably” have time which sounded super reassuring, let me tell you. I wasn’t about to sleep in shitty JFK airport or pour more money into a hotel in fucking NYC, so…we took that option. Of course, Delta couldn’t be expected to find our luggage fast enough so the guy at the baggage counter was like “Just go, don’t miss your flight over this. We’ll get the luggage to you” which hopefully doesn’t turn out to be Famous Last Words but we took his advice and got a Lyft to LaGuardia where we had to go through another security check in but at least this one only took 15 minutes as opposed to the nearly 90 minutes at JFK. (They’re going to be hearing from Chooch the airport critic.)

Anyway, in the bathroom at LaGuardia, two woman came not even that close to walking into me and both were like OMG EXCUSE ME SORRY! and I was actually startled because after two weeks in Korea and Japan, I had grown accustomed to being plowed over unapologetically.

Then that flight was delayed to the point where we took off at the time it was supposed to be landing – at 7:20pm. But…it was a short, safe flight and a lot of the people on there were in the same situation as us where they transferred from JFK, so the flight was like a college mixer – it was the chattiest flight! There was a total love connection blossoming behind me (good luck, Stephen and Kendra!) and it was kind of nice to be on a flight with so many people going home to Pittsburgh, Yinzer accents and all.

According to Delta, our luggage is supposed to be delivered to our house today (just checked the tracking and it’s in PIT customs as of 4AM so there’s that at least) which is great but then Chooch and I decided to walk to Dunkin’ Donuts because we obviously have very limited foodstuffs in the house right now and I wanted coffee and he wanted a breakfast sandwich but then I realized that I packed the little purse that has my credit cards in it because I didn’t think I would need it at the airports since I had my passport in my backpack and Henry had all his cash and credit cards on him. So we had to scrounge up all the cash and change we could find all around the house (I had $3 in my eyeglasses case for some unknown reason and Chooch found quarters in his room) so we had like $5 but somehow our total was over $6 because of bad math on our part so we had to redo our order like sad orphans with a line of people behind us and then slide over our crumpled monies and mound of change and it was so depressing. So depressing.

So now it’s 7am and I’m properly caffeinated (got to drink out of one of my new coffee mugs from Korea which somehow ended up in a carry-on, yay) and I’m just soaking it all in now, all the things we did and experienced and how much I appreciate it all! And how happy I am that I got to give Chooch this chance to see some of the coolest places and how we have so many new inside jokes and how Henry didn’t murder us in Tokyo and how the first order of business for Chooch today was to find Perks of Being a Wallflower on Roku after reading it in Korea and falling in love with it. (He’s watching it right now and is so happy lol.)

I have so many pictures and thoughts to organize but I’m excited to start recapping the trip on here because it’s like reliving it all over again and it was the best vacation of my life!

(Also, my mom spoiled the cats so much that they couldn’t care less about our return home. But they had no problems chowing down on the Korean cat treats we brought back for them!)

Aug 052019
 

“I’m so sad that this is our last day,” I said to Chooch this morning. He considered this and said, “Yeah….me too but I’m also kind of excited to go home too.”

WRONG ANSWER.

I know a lot of people feel that way during the tail end of vacation and I definitely had these guys running for two solid weeks. But I am definitely not ready to leave. I burst into tears about it at one point today ughhh.

We got back to Seoul after our G-Dragon pension adventure around 1pm today and then booked it all over Seoul in an effort to get in all of the last minute gift-buying, food-eating, subway-riding as humanly possible. We were all over Jongno, Dongdaemun, Myeongdong, Seoul Station, and our homebase of Hongdae.

Chooch, after previously being in Korea and eating in numerous Korean restaurants at home, suddenly realized on this trip that he likes bibimbap, so this is what he chose for his last lunch.

I got sujebi which is a soup of hand-torn noodles – so satisfying!

Then we went to Gwangjang Market even though we already ate because we wanted to get some snacks to take home.

Those ajummas selling snacks are smart because they kept feeding Chooch samples and then he’d be all, “We have to get this stuff” and then we would get it and the ajummas were probably calling us suckers in Korean as we walked away.

There were countless times on this trip where Henry lamented the fact that our hotel last year was right across from this market and we only went there twice. I AM SORRY BUT THERE ARE MANY THINGS TO DO IN SEOUL, HANK, AND WE CANNOT STAY IN ONE PLACE.

Had to get a traditional twisted donut before leaving!

Wouldn’t be the same if Henry didn’t get us lost at one point which is what happened when we left Gwangjang with the intention of going to Myeongdong and practically walked the whole way there until he finally found a correct subway station.

But then when we got to the subway, Henry’s card wouldn’t let him in but Chooch and I were already through so Henry was motioning for us to get a subway worker but we just stood there and laughed. Finally, a yellow-vested lady noticed Henry-in-Distress and went over to save him.

(This just in: we just realized that Henry completely repacked our suitcases after Chooch and I worked really hard on it just kidding we did a pretty half-ass job that took about 10 minutes tops.)

(OMG Chooch is acting like he chugged some soju when no one was looking and is being so slaphappy and Henry wants to leave us here FINE BY ME.)

OMG we found another Taemin billboard in the subway station!

Myeongdong! It’s the best place to go for makeup and kpop merch.

Grabbed some makeup and last minute kpop gifts (this is the only place that has these certain kpop keychains that I love) then continued on to Seoul Station specifically to buy some foods at Lotte Mart.

Can you believe we never went to Lotte Mart last year?! I made sure we went this time though and Henry was in grocery paradise. “Why did we wait until the LAST DAY to come here,” he cried.

I have two favorite parts: Chooch freaking out over all the samples (he made friends with a lot of the sample-givers) and Henry irritably standing aside when Chooch assured him that he could tape up the box on his own (you don’t get bags there – you grab a box, unflatten it, and tape it up with the packing tape they provide).

Finally, Henry was like,”Yeah that’s great, and when you pick it up, I can’t wait for everything to fall out,” and then shoved him out of the way and took over, mumbling about how he “does this for a living.”

Seoul Station is amazing. Last trip, it seemed like we were there everyday but this time we were only there twice, and once was when we were getting the train to Jeonju (it’s not just a subway station but also a train and bus terminal as well).

Chooch noticed that the BaskinRobbins there had kakao friends stuff, and then when we took the escalator down to the next level, there was another BR so we figured it was fate and he got a scoop of ice cream (some crazy Simpsons-themed banana ice cream with pop rocks) in an Apeach cup but as you know, he calls her “Peachy Boi.”

No one will be surprised by this but BR in Korea is a billion times better than the ones in America.

We went back to Hongdae after this because I was carrying approx 5 bags of makeup and kpop stuff and Henry was lugging around a box of non-perishable Korean groceries and booze and we needed to drop that shit off!

One last evening view from the 12th floor of JYP House before going back out.

Hongdae is freaking magical.

You can buy flowers from a vending machine. Couples are SUPER into giving flowers around here so Henry would not thrive here at all.

It’s going to be an adjustment being back in Pittsburgh and not having the ultra-convenience of Seoul.

And not having a Gentle Monster! I almost bought a second pair of their sunglasses. I was so close but there were two pairs that I couldn’t choose between so I had a freak out and left but let’s be real, the true cause of my freak out was that we’re leaving tomorrow. :(

We went to Ediya Coffee for one last bingsu (this one was black sugar which is the latest craze and every bubble tea place has it. It was good but only made the pain of leaving EVEN STRONGER).

And when we went to 7/11 afterward and when Henry the American Oaf dropped stuff on the counter not once but twice causing the TOTALLY ADORABLE CASHIER to cry out “Oooh!” and girls in line behind us to chuckle, I was too sad to giddily fall into pee-squat position.

So now I’m sitting here, eating my last Inkigayo idol sandwich with a glass of makgeolli while Henry struggles to pack all our shit (we had to buy an extra suitcase).

I hope I will be able to come back again someday. Coming here so soon after our first time was a real struggle because we are not rich motherfuckers but I’m so grateful that we were able to make it happen and managed to do pretty much everything on my list. I am utterly exhausted but still ready to do more, if only we had the time. This was the best trip of my whole entire life! I think Henry and Chooch had a decent too haha.

Aug 032019
 

I haven’t been able to keep up with micro-blogging on here like I had hoped to. Last time I was able to do it because I had jet lag so bad that I was up everyday at like 3 or 4am, so….plenty of time for blogging! This time around, my jet lag blessedly only lasted two days so I haven’t had time to kill.

But today, we’re going to G-Dragon’s pension in Pocheon (!!!!!!) which is like a two hour bus ride so here I am with a Korea Update!

We’re just standing here waiting to get on our bus and Henry is obsessing over how korean girls walk around with giant curlers on their bangs and the girl standing near us is “wearing hers differently” according to Hair Expert Henry. Speaking of hair, my flat iron wasn’t compatible with the voltage in our room (or some other blahblahblahage that wafted from Henry’s mouth) so my hair has been Status: Miss Frizz for basically this whole trip. Wish he cared about my hair as much as he cares about Korean bangs!!!

I guess I will tell you about yesterday since I’m on the bus now and have some time!

We spent the whole first half of the day on a tour of the DMZ (demilitarized zone) and the JSA (joint security area) which I wanted to do last year too but was too nervous. I will do a proper post on that when I get home because there is so much to share that it will probably be a multi-post series!

We got back to Seoul around 6 and spent the evening in Hongdae, which is where we’ve been staying this time.

But first we had to take the subway back. This is what the City Hall station currently looks like. Probably construction but maybe art installation because…Seoul.

This is how beautiful the evening sky was from our room when we popped in to change!

I promised Chooch earlier on that we would go to an animal cafe if he didn’t act like a dick, and he chose Thanks Nature Cafe, which is the home to two soft and beautiful sheep named Tom & Jerry.

We went to a raccoon cafe last year and that was a lot of fun but the staff was kind of meh and I don’t remember it having that great of a menu. The raccoons were awesome though!

This cafe was a lot better in my opinion because the guy running it was super congenial and their dessert menu was A+++. They had bingsu which is what I had wanted to get after our DMZ day but the place I wanted to go to wasn’t conveniently accessible and I didnt want to be on a bus anymore that day. So this worked out perfectly because Chooch got to “bum bum pat” sheep and I got to inhale some sweet melon bingsu.

Presentation is everything!

Little known fact about me is that we had sheep as pets when I was growing up so I love me some sheep. The best one we had was named Squirt and she would always try to sneak into the house. She would put her front hooves on my brother Ryan’s back and they’d run around the yard together. It was the cutest thing ever! When I go to my mom’s house, I can’t even look at the area where the pen used to be because it makes me miss Squirt!

Chooch was satisfied after that. Good job, Thanks Nature Cafe!

Afterward, we went up the street to Isaac Toast because I have been craving it! They’re basically just breakfast sandwiches but they have this sweet mustard/mayo-ish sauce on them that elevates it to the next level.

You can get all kinds of meat-stuffed varieties but I went with egg and potato. Ugh it’s so good. I kept saying that Henry would probably have to eat half since we just ate bingsu and I was full but then I scarfed the whole thing like how Trump sucks down Kellyanne Conway’s soul before bed every night.

Update to show you beautiful Korean mountains from the bus:

After Isaac Toast we just walked around Hongdae and shopped.

Hongdae is my favorite area of Seoul. It’s where Hongik University is located and it’s just so full of creative energy and Fun Times.

We always make fun of Henry when he orders street food and then he storms off.

We also promised Chooch that he could go back to the stupid claw machine arcade and I swear to god this place is HELL ON EARTH for people like me who do not enjoy seeing perfectly good money getting sucked away into machines with nothing in return.

Chooch gets SO STRESSED OUT HERE. Especially when people all around him are like YAY I WON and he’s like WTF HOW?! There was this one super tall guy in glasses who was winning so much shit that his gf was following him around carrying BAGS OF HIS BOUNTY.

Busride snack time, BRB!

OK, I’m back.

We have seen so much more of Korea this time around and I’m so happy about it. I hope this doesn’t make me sound bratty, but being in Japan for two days, while great and exciting, made me realize just how much I love Korea. I was so happy to be back when we landed in Incheon Friday night! I would move here in a heartbeat if I was single, I swear to god.

My busmates *eyeroll*

Henry is obsessed with this drink. I tried it yesterday and was struck with nostalgia.

“That tastes just like a Squeez-It!” I cried enthusiastically but Henry couldn’t relate because when I was drinking Squeez-Its in elementary school, he was out drinking BEERS.

Anyway, I guess we will be arriving in about 20 minutes so I’m gonna peace out here and maybe try to update again later on once we get to the pension! BLOG, I MISS YOU!

Jul 312019
 

I never thought I would have the privilege to say this, but being in Japan has made me realize that Korea no longer really feels foreign to me. It’s a weird observation!

There are many other observations too but because I’m a weirdo who cares about stupid things, the big one for me is the comparison of banana milks. I’m not trying to make this a Korea vs Japan thing but I must admit that Korea’s 바나나 우유 is the superior beverage, although whatever that Japanese banana milk is up there has a more colorful packaging which appeals to me.

But in the end, is any banana milk really not good?!

Jul 302019
 

Monday was an action-packed day. Most of it was spent at Lotte World, which is the world’s largest indoor amusement park (a portion is also outdoors) and known as Korea’s Disneyland. It was so much fun and very exhausting!

But that’s not why I’m posting.

We ventured back out around 8:30 and things got super giddy right from the start when the elevator doors opened and people were already inside – Chooch started to have a laughing fit and was hiding in the corner while Henry glowered. He HATES our giddiness. By the time the elevator left us off in the lobby, I was laughing too and Henry stormed off. We caught up to him but he purposely slowed down so he was behind us because he didn’t want to be seen with us or something, who knows.

Henry being pissed going down into the Hongdae subway station.

Chooch is going to make a great travel partner for someone someday because he masters public transportation in a scary-quick way. I’m all stumbling around, getting turned around, tripping on nothing but solid ground, and he knows exactly which line and exit to use every time.

(To Be Fair, Ive been operating with ONE EYE on this trip although last night I said eff it and put both contacts in so Henry said that when my right eye falls out, don’t go one-eye-crying to him.)

It was so good to see the DDP again! I love this place so much, especially at night! It’s like being on a spaceship.

Seeing this gate was so significant because we walked to it on our first night in Korea last year, when we were fresh from the plane and super delirious. It’s crazy now to be back and have things look and feel familiar to us.

Chooch and Henry were hungry so we walked through nearby Gwangjang Market, which is the one they always feature on street food shows so if you’ve ever watched anything about South Korea, you have probably seen this. Chooch got bindaedduk which is a mung bean pancake, to take back to the room and then we were urgently summoned over to another stall by this adorable grandma who, in a series of hand motions, basically told us, “I’m going to put this food on a tray and you’re going to eat it, give me 10,000₩.”

Henry and I had makgeolli with our snacks and I barely drank any but REALLY FELT IT so the next portion of the night was awesome as Chooch (naturally drunk) and I (also naturally drunk but now actually drunk too) were totally slaphappy, especially because we were plied with sugary hotteok before leaving the market, but also because we decided to walk to the area we stayed at last time, in Jongno. Oh for god’s sake, being there again made us fucking die with laughter, just straight up choke on giggles, and Henry was whatever emotion comes on the Rage Totem Pole three pegs after “agitated hemorrhoids” but one before “caught the wife cheating.”

He stormed off ahead of us and muttered something about us being embarrassments and the disappeared into the subway station, completely ignoring Chooch’s cries of “Please reenact the subway scene!” referring to last year when he lost us and we have a video of him popping into the frame of that same subway station, with his arms out and making the “WHAT THE HELL” motion with his dumb head.

There is something about Henry’s general presence that KILLS Chooch and me. Like, we oscillate between being totally disgusted by him (“I hate him so much” is like our whispered catchphrase) to being absolutely entertained by everything he does but not in a way that’s flattering to him. Chooch mocks him so perfectly (he does this weird Paul Eugene-esque grunt to symbolize Henry’s voice) and I lose it every time and have to do the trying-not-to-pee squat.

Then when we got back to the hotel, THE SAME PPL FROM THE ELEVATOR were coming back at the same time and I had to make Chooch wait outside with me because I knew I would piss my pants if I got back on the elevator with those people.

If Chooch and I had forgotten which room was ours, we could have just followed the trail of steam that Henry left behind from his ears and nose; his patience was straight BLISTERING when we found him.

I dunno what it is about being in Korea but it’s like Chooch and I are mainlining laughing gas which is a HUGE problem for Henry but a blessing for the rest of us!

Bonus picture from yesterday morning, waiting for the elevator, a/k/a our Chuckle Chamber.

Anyway, we just got back to the room after a fun time day on the Chungyecheon Stream and Insadong, and now we’re resting for an hour before heading out to Digital Media City for a live taping of SBS MTV’s The Show!