Sep 212017

Way back when I was live-blogging our boring-ass drive home from Chicago, I mentioned that we stopped at a religious-y place and that it would get its own blog post…and then of course it got put on the back-burner. But tonight I finally sorted through the pictures and I AM READY TO GET THIS CHURCHY BLOG POST PARTY STARTED, BOI.

Let’s start with a quick backstory: the first time Henry and I went to Chicago in 2014, I stumbled upon this place on Roadside America unofficially dubbed “Ultraviolet Apocalypse” in Munster, Indiana. I begged Henry to take me here on the way home, but then I saw that it’s only open on SUNDAYS. Ugh, leave it to a church to only be open on Sundays.

What it actually is: the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery founded by Polish friars who emigrated to the US in 1950. But the big ticket item is the man-made grotto on the grounds, which is three-stories tall and fashioned from 250 tons of sponge rock–I had to look this up because I actually thought it was made from geodes. From what I read online, parts of the grotto are illuminated by black light and the photos I saw looked like the holy version of black light posters sold at Spencer’s.

This place was MADE FOR ME. Religious AND tacky? Take me there.

I looked it up again during this last trip and noticed that it said you could call ahead to schedule a tour. So while we were in the Lincoln Park Zoo that Sunday, I made Henry call (begrudgingly so) and he confirmed that the broad in the office said that the grotto would be open, especially since Monday was a holiday (Labor Day).


I couldn’t wait to finish breakfast the next morning and set off to Munster, Indiana, which thankfully wasn’t very far out of the way. We rolled up into the mostly empty lot but I did notice the occasional parishioner moving to and fro.

I wanted to save the grotto for last, obv., so we casually strode around the grounds, looking at the Stations of the Cross like we were knew what we doing, and oohing and awing at the statues. I know the general consensus is that I must be a fucking asshole at places like this, but actually, I’m very respectful and truly enjoy being around these things, even though I don’t have a lick of faith left in my Hell-charred bones.

And surprisingly, Chooch is also very interested in these types of places too, and we get a lot of joy out of reading plaques and running our fingers across the cold marble faces of saints we’ve never heard of.

The grounds were so lovely, and it was still early enough in the morning that it felt like fall, so Chooch and I happily wore hoodies.

I love the woodwork of this shrine!


Except that those steps were so hard and cold, covered in puddles and razor-edged pine needles. I was in pain (which was the point, I guess, because Jesus died on the cross, etc.) and at one point took my hoodie off and tried to use it as knee pads but that proved futile and I only ended up sopping up the puddles with it.

Meanwhile, Chooch scrambled up to the top like he was being chased by Jason Voorhees and then gloated for the next hour because it took me an extra five minutes to pull my fat body up to the top.

But I did it.

For Christ.

Henry, on the other hand, was like, “Nope” and walked around tp the other side where reverence wasn’t required.

My fucked-up knees.

The steps Henry took didn’t go all the way to the top, so he asked us what was up there.

“Um, I don’t know. Jesus on the cross, I guess,” I mumbled, pulling pine needles out of my busted knees.

Beneath this was an underground level which featured Jesus’s tomb, but the door to it was locked. I was half-expecting that though from reading the tips on Roadside America. And it was time to check out the Grotto anyway, so I wasn’t crying too much about it.



Helpless, we walked back to the parking lot. “Maybe we should look for someone,” I said, and we walked over to the church, which had a few old people inside praying.

“That one guy looks like a priest or something but I AM NOT INTERRUPTING HIM WHILE HE’S PRAYING,” Henry rushed to finish before I could even ask. And the office had a “closed” sign on it.


So we hung around in our car like total fucking creeps for the next 30 minutes, deliberating. I didn’t want to leave, not after coming this close after three years of attempts. At some point, an older broad rolled up with a young kid, and we watched them waltz right on into the closed office! So then I got it in my head that she worked there and she became my new target.

So we went into the office too and it was completely dark. We noticed the lady and the boy went into the chapel, which was connected. They were just chilling on a pew and again, Henry was like, “I AM NOT INTERRUPTING PRAYING PEOPLE.”

Back to the car we went. We were just about to leave when another car pulled in and a lady in a pink shirt got out. She also had a small kid with her. The other lady came out of the chapel and was talking to her, so then we deduced that it was actually Pink Shirt who was in charge around there. She was pulling bins out of the back of her minivan, which made us feel like she worked there. Like maybe they were filled with Bible Study props or something.

It became clear that Henry wasn’t going to be proactive about this situation, so Chooch and I got out of the car and approached Pink Shirt.

“Let me guess, you’re here for the Polish school, too!” she asked happily. Immediately, something about her reminded me of Clea Duvall and I felt instantly at ease.

“No, the Grotto actually!” and I dove right into my sob story about how we came from Pittsburgh—-

“—Not just for this, I hope!” she interrupted with a laugh. “I mean, it’s great, but….”

I explained that we were coming home from Chicago, that I had been trying to see this place for years, and that someone in the office told us that it would be open that day but it wasn’t.

“Hmm, you’ll need to see Father [John*]. He’ll be able to help you,” she said.

*(I can’t remember his name, one of the perils in waiting a million weeks to blog about these things. #amateur)

I asked her what he looked like, and she laughed and said, “Polish!” but then she set down her huge plastic bin of Polish school supplies (maybe??) and brought Chooch and me into the office just as Father was emerging from the chapel. 

He was a robust older man in shorts and a tshirt and I 100% never would have thought he was the guy I was looking for. 

Pink Shirt explained to him our predicament and in a thick, beautiful Polish accent, he exclaimed, “Oh I don’t know who would have told you the grotto was open today!”

I shrugged and said, “My….husband spoke to a woman when he called the office yesterday.” Chooch shot me a sneer when I said ‘husband’ and later I explained that I didn’t to say BOYFRIEND. Husband sounded more legit since we were in a church, and not “Hi we are a couple of heathens and this here is our child born out of wedlock. Toss us them there keys to the grotto.”

“SO YOU LIED,” Chooch pointed out. 


Father was super harried. Turns out he was the only one there that day, which meant he was getting pulled in a million directions. “Oh boy, let me see,” he sighed, blowing frustrated air up into his face. “Give me five minutes. Uh, go look at the church or something,” and he spun around to see about getting the key. 

I LOVED THIS MAN. I loved his earthy accent, I loved his utter refusal to hide the fact that he was seriously annoyed by me and my ill-timed request, I loved that even though he was busy he was willing to pause his actual church work to help some dumb broad from Pittsburgh see a roadside attraction.

Long story still long, Father John found a dude to open the grotto for us! Which was fortuitous to the handful of people who had arrived in the interim and now got to reap the rewards of my relentless puppy dog-eying the Polish father. (He was a friar maybe? I’m not sure.)

No pictures, no words, can do this place justice. Walking into the grotto, I expected to be disappointed. Ok, not disappointed….but maybe the sense that this wasn’t worth the trouble. 

Nope. Did not feel this way at all. It was an operatic “ahhhhhhhhhhh!” moment and I immediately began to touch EVERYTHING (later Chooch would point out a sign that said “do not touch the walls.” Oops. 

This grandfather/grandson power duo happened to be there as the doors were unlocked, so Chooch and I went in with them and let the little boy be our tour guide. He kept yelling, “GUYS, COME ON!” and his grandfather would just chuckle and say, “Let them go at their own pace.” But we humored the kid and let him tug us through all three levels of the beautiful grotto. 

Yessssssssss.  I need my basement to look like this. 

There were various pieces of quartz and crystal* encrusted in some spots of the walls, which was why I originally thought the walls were made from split open geodes. 

* (?? I’m not up on my geology—I did so terribly in my geology class at Pitt because it was during the last trimester of my pregnancy and I didn’t fit in the desk because it had an attached chair so a janitor had to find me another desk and I was having hot flashes constantly so that’s what I think of when I see things like this) 

Henry wasn’t with us, and it turns out he was stopped by another guy from the church who didn’t speak English, and that guy went into the closed gift shop and brought out a guide for Henry to borrow. So Henry got to walk through on his own with a book of info. Like he even cared!

After being mesmerized by the grotto, we walked back over to the holy steps to see if the tomb was opened now too and it was! 

It was bigger than I imagined, with several alcoves, one of which had the next ultraviolet spot of the whole joint:

It was breathtaking, honestly. Even Henry said he was glad we stopped and things worked out, because it was worth seeing. It made my heart feel so big and swollen for a little bit (probably until around noon when I started to get hungry).

If you ever in the Chicago area, I highly recommend taking the detour to Munster, Indiana. Just make sure if it’s not a Sunday, you’re prepared to hunt down some Polish Fathers for assistance. 

Sep 182017

I’m glad this dropped on my last day of staycation so that I can watch it all day long, sorry Henry. 

Speaking of DNA, that lovely son of mine had an All About Me project due today so of course we (WE!!!) were working on it at 10:30 last night. Surprisingly, we are not now known as the Brookline Axe Murder House, but tensions were definitely running high. 

The boiling point was when Chooch started writing the word for “R” and left off the h in Rhymical. I told him he was spelling it wrong and YOU CANT TELL HIM ANYTHING BC HE KNOWS EVERYTHING (see also: his word for “E”) so he shouted, “The website I got it from had it spelled this way!” And I was like “What website was it, the Trump-approved Betsy DeVos Dictionary?!” Luckily he was able to squeeze that “h” in there. 

We couldn’t find any good “y” words (he wouldn’t use “yucky” even though its accurate) so I was like “My great-grandma was from Yugoslavia so just use that” and I know his teacher is going to be all YUGOSLAVIA ISNT A COUNTRY ANYMORE so we had to have a quick geography briefing in case she tries to call him out on that, he’ll be prepared. Bring it!!

There are other things about this poster board that make my OCD twerk, such as the placement of the photos which no one consulted me on, but whatever. Not my project. (THE FUN FUR BORDER WAS TOTES MY IDEA THO YR WELCOME 6TH GRADE CLASSROOM THAT WILL BE COUGHING UP FUR CHUNKS FOR THE NEXT SEMESTER.)

(Speaking of fun fur, when henry was diligently hot-gluing strips of it around the borders and motherfucking it up and down, he paused and asked, “Where did this come from, anyway?!” He must have blocked out the fun fur blazer DIY out of his mind I guess.)

Sep 142017

When I woke up Saturday morning, Henry was GONE. “Oh great, probably out with a hooker or something,” I thought, but it turns out he was cleaning out my car! (Probably after the hooker stuff though.) I was so happy, and also a little paranoid because the night before that, I was sitting on a bench in South Park with Chris, drinking a PSL and bitching about how dirty Henry and Chooch have made my car.

The weekend started out great and stayed that way the whole time, praise god, praise the lord.

Saturday afternoon, I drove my freshly vacuumed car out to Wexford, where I met Gayle for a pierogie lunch at Forgotten Taste. I haven’t seen her since the end of July because she left the Law Firm, so it was nice to catch up! AND SHE HAD BELATED BIRTHDAY PRESENTS FOR ME! One of them was the Descendants of the Sun series on DVD and I legit squealed SONG JOONG-KI when I unwrapped it because I love him so much!

“I was watching BigBang videos one day on YouTube, so then later when I went to Amazon, Korean stuff came up as recommended for me, and this was the first thing I saw,” Gayle said, and explained that she bought it in hopes that it would help me with my Korean. It was so freaking thoughtful!

She also bought me a big, fluffy plaid blanket because I’m perpetually cold, and sure enough Chooch has claimed it as his own, ugh.

Then I came home to this!!!!!

Remember last year when all I wanted for my birthday was for my friends to draw me a picture of a clown? My friend Michelle painted this for me! She was so sorry that it took a year for her to make it but if you ask me, it was more than worth the wait. It’s perfect because I love Jack-in-the-Boxes too! This sexy beast is already hanging in my bedroom, right by the door so anyone walking by to use the bathroom will see it, which brings me such glee.

Thank you again, Michelle! I love clowns to much, and this one really speaks to my twisted carnival soul.

Drew’s Saturday afternoon nap spot was pretty dangerous. My fat ass came so close to crushing the life out of her.

Later that night, Janna came over and we moved the coffee table and couch out of the living room and had a KPOPX PARTY! Henry conveniently chose this time to take about 87 loads of laundry to the laundromat, but Chooch stayed behind and Kpopped with us. I had a YouTube playlist all ready to go, which I sent to Janna earlier in the week so she could familiarize herself with the routines. She said she watched them all and in her head thought they would be easy, but was surprised at how hard they actually were. I was proud of her (and Chooch) for sticking with me through the whole entire hour though! Kpop workouts are no joke.

Then Henry came home and served us this bitchin’ bevy of healthy snaxxxxx:


Janna ended up staying pretty late and I brainwashed her with Korean variety shows. By the end, she was asking all kinds of questions and I was so happy because HENRY ANSWERED SOME OF THEM. This might be the first time in 16 years that Henry and I have found a mutual interest. I laugh when my friends are like, “poor Henry” when I’m going on and on about kpop stuff, because he’s into it too! (OK, maybe not as much as I am, since he still doesn’t have a bias. I just asked him again, real time, and he smirked and said “No one” which I think means Rap Monster from BTS.)

The next day was SUNDAY and I know this because that is the day that generally comes after Saturday. We did the whole PARKER’S thing for breakfast (friendly reminder to eat at Parker’s if you’re in Pgh). Later, we took Chooch to his piano lesson and then went to Constellation Coffee where I had a so-so iced soy latte (the girl working there was very pleasant, but I felt EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE from the moment we walked in, like I was clearly not cool enough to be there), but then we walked down the street to Gluten Free Goat for some sugary shit. It was like a date, but not. Then I tricked Henry into posing in front of a mural by yelling HENRY! and then quickly snapping this picture when he turned back to look. It’s the only way nowadays, especially after I made him pose so much in Toronto.

After we picked up Chooch, we went to H&M and I bought a pair of overalls, which I have been pining for, so now I’m a third of a way to my old seventeen-year-old self. Now I just need a fuzzy cropped sweater and Pumas.

Later, I ate pancake & waffles Halo Top and I feel strongly that it was a good way to end the weekend. Wee woo!

Sep 102017

Chooch let me do the stupid wavy eyebrow challenge thing in him because we’re bored and Henry isn’t paying attention to us. But then I had to let him do it on me too & it was horrifying, having his grubby hand so close to my eyes with a pencil. 

Henry didn’t even notice at first. He was too busy looking at computer auctions or mold rants on Reddit, or whatever it is he does on his phone. 

Now I feel like we should do this at work tomorrow in our weekly meeting, kind of like TRUST FALLS. 

Sep 102017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 092017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry. Bee Gees breakdown.

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

Fucking Chinatown, man! What luck!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So creepy and beautiful all at once. 

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

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

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

Sep 042017

So we’ve been in Chicago all weekend. I didn’t liveblog our drive here because it was boring, but now we’re leaving and I think I will keep my blog abreast of all actions because what else do I have to do other than talk Henry’s ear off about S.Korea. 

It’s 8:06am (Central time or whatever). We just checked out of the Chicago Loop Hotel (it was a decent headrest) and are now on the prowl for breakfast (for me: COFFEE). This trip was rife with highs and lows but mostly I’m sad to be leaving because there just isn’t ever enough time (read:money) to do everything we want to do in any city we visit. 

8:52am: We’re at Harvey’s in Hammond, IN and it is overflowing with local flavor. Two old guys are sitting at the counter, jawing each other’s ears off about the cost of eggs and toast, and the one guys doesn’t really like Chinese food that much and only eats it about once a month. I do like Chinese food and only eat it about 5 times a year, so…he’s all fired up about some Sheriff now and if CHOOCH KICKS ME UNDER THE TABLE ONE MORE TIME IM LEAVING HIM HERE TO BE HARVEYS NEW BUSBOY. 

Omg the one guy’s name is Chester. This rules. 

9:16am: This was the best (and cheapest) breakfast we’ve had on this trip yet. I had a veggie skillet and it was perfect and filling. And our waitress was so friendly! Hammond, Indiana is cool. 

Then Chooch and I started fighting because I took a picture of the front of the restaurant and he was all, “it’s just a regular restaurant!” in that belittling sneer-voice of his, so I yelled, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO CRITICIZE ME” and henry was like, “Peace out, new residents of Hammond, Indiana” as he locked the car door on us and sped away into the horizon without us. 

10:58am: Wow long time no typey-type, blog-thang. We made a pit stop at the Carmelite Shrine in Hammond, IN after wanting to visit for the last three years when we’ve been out this way for Riot Fest but they’re only open on Sundays. This time Henry called ahead and was assured it would be open but it WASNT and long story short (this means I’ll regurgitate about 2900 words about it in a later blog post), I batted my eyes and got a friar to open it for us and it was better than I ever could have dreamt. 

So much more on this later. My heart is like swollen with religion right now. 

Right after, we stopped at a gas station and the car next to us was blasting old-school Chiodos and basically our Indiana experience has been pretty solid this morning. 

12:53pm: Switched back over to EST a bit ago apparently. Every time henry drives over the ripple strip (I call them ripple strips, not rumble strips, LAY OFF ME) I get that sped up THE END IS NIGH heartbeat and I’m not a fan. 

Meanwhile we’ve been listening to Hot Beat on Arirang Radio (Korean — this is what we did during the whole drive here on Friday) and the two DJs were doing this Korean-English skit and I feel like I know Korean so much more now. Sike. I only picked up on the words you, please, I’ll have, cafe, no, what, hello. 

That feeling when you need to learn how to learn. 


2:20pm: We’ve been listening to BIGBANG for like the last hour because it always cycles back to BIGBANG in my household, which always leads to me asking Henry what his favorite BiGBANG song is to which he faithfully replies “I’m not sure” and then my follow-up question is always “Is it Cafe?” and he says no and then I ask him if he even likes that song at all and he shrugs and mumbles “It’s OK.” Ugh!!

Seeing them perform this song live is on my bucket list, please don’t let BIGBANG be done, dear Lord. I should have lit a fucking candle at that Carmelite Shrine place but HENRY didn’t have $3 on him, fuck. 

2:35pm: I’m trying to get Chooch to guest blog about all the injuries he sustained on this trip, from getting accidentally* smacked in the maw by Henry to falling down the steps at Trump Tower (oh, there’s so much to be said for that).

*Honestly with the way he backtalks us, we actually owed him that one. 

Henry tortures us by making us keep the windows down instead of “wasting gas” by using the A/C and I real like a slowly roasting turkey. It’s fucking hot today. 

3:13pm: Well here we are in Wauseon(???), Ohio at Ryan’s Restaurant which boasts a parking lot sparklin’ with motorcycles and that indescribable but recognizable stench of filthy food grease. Mm. Henry is obsessed with the fact that “there is a lot of traffic for such a small town.”

They also cater though in case you have a quilting bee that needs food. 

As a coleslaw connoisseur, I can say with confidence and authority that this is one of the most flavorless globs of cabbage I’ve ever tasted which was directly unproportional with the toe-curling bouquet of fermented farts when the waitress sent the cups clattering down on our table. 

Final review of Ryan’s: food was as expected and the service was superior – our waitress was so accommodating without us even asking for anything! I really liked her. She asked us if we went to the fair and we just blankly said no because ugh small talk. 

“Maybe that’s why there’s so much traffic…” Henry mused when she walked away. Omg get over it, Henry. 

4:03pm: We just drove past a house with a Confederate flag flapping grotesquely from the porch. “You can tell exactly where we are,” Henry said.

4:24pm: Henry is droning on about how you can get a $200 fine for passing a cop that’s pulled over on the side of the road and I was interested for a millisecond but then blocked him out because I’d rather hear “Island” by Winner and we’re not even to Toledo yet, please someone send a plane for me. 

4:56pm: Interesting rest stop. I asked for soy milk at Gloria Jeans and the girl cut me off to say, “We don’t have non-dairy here.” Like wow it’s 2017 but ok cool. Then when my banana bread latte was done, she put it on the counter without a single word and gave me this intensely hateful stare. Meanwhile, Henry was washing his hands in the bathroom next to a guy who blurted out STARBUCKS and Chooch wasted more money. 

Ugh so in case we’re ever meeting at a cafe and I’m not there yet and you decide to be a dear and order my drink for me, 90% of the time, I get a soy latte, no flavor, no sugar, etc. Just in case you needed to know. However, I decided to try this banana nut bread latte at Gloria Jeans because it said it was a new menu item and holy shit it was like drinking straight syrup and I feel like I actually might puke out the car window right now. Thank god I only got a small. 

6:27pm: Still two more fucking hours to go and I want to cry. Chooch is being such a royal douche and Henry keeps sneezing so now I probably have SARS or whatever the current viral trend is. I have too much to keep up with! Like kpop comebacks and antique wheelchair auctions on eBay. 

But Chooch just saw a Lamborghini so now he’s happy. 

7:04pm: In case you care, Henry & I just discussed Trump overturning DACA (just in case there was anyone left who needed convinced that he’s the Greatest American Villain) and also Taylor Swift getting booed by her fans for not kissing their asses while she was trying to live a normal life long enough to be a bridesmaid in her friend’s wedding. We keep it balanced. 

7:26pm: Listening to Good Morning, Seoul analyze American coverage of North Korea’s nuclearization and then Henry and Chooch choose this moment to start talking about dumb shit and I’m like ARE U FUCKING KIDDING STFU. Guys you can just go ahead and say it: the US President is a fucking dipshit who is going to tweet us into a brand new world war. 

I hope that when that happens, the rest of the world remembers that Trump did not win the popular vote. 

8:02pm: hey guys we’re still driving but I am here to give an important message regarding liveblogs. Let me back up. We ate breakfast at some Greek joint on Saturday and I mentioned that it reminded me of another place we ate breakfast at in another city but I couldn’t remember where. I eventually whittled the memory down to a time that Chooch wasn’t with us, and from there I deduced that it must have been when we went to Maryland last year to see the Cure. “oh I’ll just check my blog then,” I said. But there is NOTHING on my blog, and then I remembered it was because I didn’t liveblog our drive home because this was the day after my eyeball almost fell out at the Cure show. Funnily though, I never even took a picture of my food (WHAT KIND OF ALIEN HAD TAKEN OVER MY BODY?!) so there’s no geo-tag anywhere and we can’t find anything on Yelp and the only other hope is reactivating Facebook to see if I checked in or looking through our bank statements but….we don’t really care that much. MORAL: sometimes liveblogging has worth, you guys. 

Lol, just kidding. No it doesn’t. 

In other news, Chooch’s favorite part of this trip was “hard to say, I don’t know” and Henry’s was “I don’t know I’ll have to think about it nothing really stands out.”

That’s fine because my favorite part doesn’t include either one of those of milquetoast duds (yes duds not dudes): it was the Taeyang concert! So so so good. 

8:44pm: Well we’re home now and I’ll tell you what’s really awesome is pulling onto the street and seeing a cop in front of our house and FUCKING PANICKING and then finding out that OUR NUTSO NEIGHBOR CALLED THE POLICE BECAUSE A CAR IS VERY MINUTELY BLOCKING THE DRIVEWAY. 

Now Henry is white knighting the neighbor who called the police because we should be happy that “someone is looking out” and I’m like SHE ISNT LOOKING OUT FOR ANYONE SHE JUST WANTS A REASON TO COMPLAIN. 

Welcome back to Brookline. 

Sep 012017

While everyone was eating, some Kennywood band started setting up near us and Haley said, “Yep, time to leave.” Thank god! I get so antsy when we sit for too long at amusement parks!

It was about 785 degrees out on this day, so hot and humid that Chooch and I were drenched in sweat just from sitting. Beads of perspiration rolled down my back in 5 second intervals and I internally cried to the gods, “WHY DID YOU MAKE MY SWEAT GLANDS SUCH OVERACHIEVERS?!” It’s just mean.

Our caravan began it’s slow stutter-walk toward Lost Kennywood. There was chatter about which ride we should go on, the Pirate Ship or the Phantom, and I personally didn’t want to go on the Phantom right that second because we had already ridden it, but the Phantom won out and I just had a feeling.

That sickening belly-nag.

The sky was starting to look straight-up foreboding, my friends. I half-expected that Kennywood guy sitting at the entrance of the line to say something about it, something like, “Yinz guys should go ride the Music Express or something because this bitch is getting shut down here rill soon n’ at.”

But nope, he just gave us blank looks and allowed us to pass.

The line was a lot longer than it was when Chooch and I rode it earlier with Henry, but we trudged along until we couldn’t go any further. This put us behind a young couple from one of the high school bands and at first I was like, “Aw, look at these band nerds in love” (I can say that because I was in band, too). Literally, they looked like they were normal people who were dressed up band geeks for Halloween. The girl especially looked like she had a hidden prettiness, like she was dying to star in a real life version of one of those predictable teen makeover movies. She’s All That, or if I want to date myself, SHE’S OUT OF CONTROL which starred Mickey Dolenz’s daughter! I saw that movie in the theater with my friend Spring and I thought it was so great and it gave me hope that someday I would grow out of my ugly duckling phase.

(Spoiler: I never did. Have you seen me?)

So back to the Phantom. These fucking kids went from “aw” to “awful” really fast. Their PDA was so out of control that I was starting to dig my fingernails into my palms. The boy kissed the girl after EVERY SENTENCE. These disgusting little kisses on her nose, lips, cheek, shoulder, neck, head. And then she would do it back and it was like being a fucking farm watching chickens peck at each other.

“I like water rides,” she said. *KISS*

“I like water rides too!” he said. *KISS*

“OMG we should go on a water ride!” *KISS*


I tried to get Haley to switch spots with me but she was like, “Girl, I will fucking kill them.”

It was so out of control! Their conversation was so banal (because this is real life high school and not Dawson’s Creek where they look at the stars and talk about paradigms) and did not warrant such flagrant, superfluous affection, like each precious peck was some uncomfortable form of punctuation that English teachers omit from their curriculum because it’s gross. 

We moved up enough in line to where it was almost time to pick which car we wanted to sit in and then get in the appropriate line. Blake asked where I wanted to go and I was like FAR AWAY FROM THESE OVERACTIVE LIPSMACKERS OVER HERE.

But as it turns out, we wouldn’t have a chance to go any further because an announcement was made saying that the Phantom was temporarily shutting down due to the approaching storm.


This was after about 30 minutes of already standing in line!

Some people opted to stay and wait it out, but we turned around and went to find Henry and Calvin, who had taken pre-shelter under a pavilion of Pedro’s Tacos, which was closed and now that I think about it, I don’t think I have ever seen that place open.

Henry the Meteorologist kept checking some storm tracker map thing and pointed out that it looked like it was going to be OK once this storm came through, that the rest of the day should be all clear. There were other storms behind the first one that was approaching us but Henry pointed out that it looked like they were going to pass around our location.

All of a sudden, the rain fell and people started screaming like it was acid dropping from buckets. We just laughed because come on, guys. It’s rain. This went on for several minutes, with more and more people squeezing into the pavilion with us. I turned my back for a second and got doused with what felt like a really rough wave, and everyone started SCREAMING and pushing each other further into the pavilion. I had no idea what was going on, but garbage cans had fallen over and were rolling violently along the wet ground, and the rain was coming down in what appeared to be curtains at this point.

We were right across from the Pittsburgh Plunge, which is a water ride, and I very naively thought that some sort of tidal wave had been created in the pool of water at the bottom of it and that’s what had hit us, but Henry was like, “No, stupid, the wind was so strong that it was making the rain fall sideways.”

It was intense! And of course this feels like a string of nonsense in light of Hurricane Harvey.

Some dumb bitch was standing near me, coddling her crying son who looked like he was at least 9, and loudly saying things like, “I KNOW, I KNOW. I HATE CROWDS! PEOPLE ARE SUCH IDIOTS” like excuse me, we’re all trying to stay safe here, and I personally didn’t witness any shoving or general jackassery.  Dumb bitch—your kid is basically an adult at this point, get a grip. Meanwhile, Haley was standing behind her, calmly holding Calvin and not panicking or shouting passive aggressive insults at everyone who wasn’t paying enough attention to her.

That lady was already under my skin before the rain even started falling because her face was a moving billboard of angry expressions.

After the storm, there was nothing to do but eat and play games. I remember back in the day, only certain rides would get shut down when it rained and then they would pretty much fire back up as soon as the storm passed.

“Yeah, but then that microburst blew the roof off the Whip and some lady sued,” Henry said.

“Someone sued for real?” I asked.

“Probably,” Henry shrugged. A logical assessment.

The greatest part though was that it cooled down so beautifully and felt like a brisk fall day. I wanted a maple latte badly though. 

I love/hate when they play games. On one hand, there is always something cute that I want them to win for me, but on the other hand, that’s S. Korea money going right down the shitter.

The fish pond is my favorite game! I love how it smells, and I love the sound the metal hook makes when it connects with one of the chunky plastic fish cruising on by with the “current.” It’s one of the things that hasn’t changed about Kennywood since I was a kid and I appreciate that so hard.

This girl was not amused by Chooch’s uncertainty and indecisiveness when it came to choosing fish to hook and I was waiting for her to reach in with her hand and pick for him. I feel like if you’re working one of those games, that one especially since it’s such a kid-centric game, you should have a more docile, friendly disposition?

I wanted Chooch to pick a plush popsicle, but he chose a cupcake instead. I was really disappointed but when he declared that he was giving it to Calvin, the disappointment was replaced with pride because no one made him do this, and it was basically the first time in three months that he acknowledged Calvin’s existence!


Blake won a small pink poop for Calvin. 

An hour later, it started POURING again while we played the shooting game, which is also where I got angry at Henry because he will never properly teach me how to aim and I never hit any targets!

It was 3:00 by this point and we had basically done fuck-all, when a speaker crackled, followed by, “This is the voice of Kennywood….”

The park was officially closing at 4pm because an entire of fleet of storms was still en route to the area. 


But the upside is that we got rain tickets for next year! 

We still stayed put under an awning because it was torrentially downpouring and no one wanted to walk through that to the gate. This was how I learned courtesy of Haley that if you run through rain, you get more wet!


The rain slowed down long enough for Henry, Chooch and me to speedwalk to Goldent Nugget to grab ice cream cones for the crew but THEY WERE DONE SERVING ICE CREAM FOR THE DAY. 


I had to text Janna and tell her to JUST FORGET IT because she was going to meet us there after work. This could have been such a great day! We had the perfect group! But then HENRY made us go left instead of right AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED. 

I never noticed this fire hydrant before. 

All was not lost though because Chooch ended up winning this plush unicorn on the way out, and Haley (who had craved candy apples during her whole pregnancy) snagged the last candy apple in the candy store by the exit. 

Small victories!

In conclusion, shitty weather but excellent company. 

I bet those fucking band dorks spent the whole afternoon kissing raindrops off each other ugh I’m so glad I never saw them again. 

Aug 292017

On the last Saturday of August, I met Jeannie, Wendy, and Summer at Pamela’s for breakfast.

This is how I learned through casual conversation that Barb is taking a creative writing class! I was really excited when Jeannie mentioned this but then I blurted out, “She better not plagiarize me!”

Then Jeannie found out that I’m no longer on Facebook and she was shocked, but also happy. “Now we can finally be friends!” she said, since we’re basically the only two people in the world who aren’t on Facebook now.

I started gushing about how great it’s been being off it, no politcal drama, no constant disappointment when you realize how many racists you went to high school with, no more mindless scrolling through the same posts over and over in your feed instead of living life. Yes, I’m still on other social media, but those platforms have never threatened to consume me the way Facebook did.

“It’s really refreshing when you run into a friend and when you ask them what they’ve been up to, you REALLG MEAN IT because you no longer know every single thought and movement of your friends,” I explained. “It’s like, going back to basics.”

Wendy nodded and said, “Yeah I hate it when you’re talking to someone and they’re like ‘didn’t you see my post?'”

I started laughing and admitted that I used to be like that with my blog. “‘Didn’t you read my blog???’ I’d say whenever someone  didn’t know what was going on with me.”

“I only read Barb’s blog,” Jeannie said dryly and I almost spit up my Lyonnaise potatoes all over Summer. I WISH BARB HAD A BLOG! (Hint hint Barb!)

You’ll never believe this but the rest of Saturday was spent at home! Henry finally started getting some work done in the kitchen, I went for a million walks, we went and got coffee at one point at Cafe Noir and Henry dropped a chocolate chip cookie on the sidewalk and THEN ATE IT.

OFF THE GROUND IN BROOKLINE. Lord knows how many junkies puked on that square inch of sidewalk. Good one, Henry.

Oh and Chooch also got his hair cut – all of these were accomplished by walking to Brookline Boulevard and when I complain about Brookline, I always have to check myself and remember how motherfucking convenient everything is.

(Just wish they would get a Korean restaurant.)

Off topic: I fucking hate that Sam Hunt “Body Like A Backroad” song so much. Every time I hear it on the radio, I am instantly filled with rage and lunge to turn it off (we had to listen to the radio A LOT when we were trying to win those Shawn Mendes tickets ugh).  I was ranting about it to Henry and said that if anyone told me I had a body like a backroad, I would be so offended because what–my body is dusty and bumpy?!

“I think he’s trying to say that he knows her body like he knows a backroad, like the back of his hand. Like, the curves in a backroad,” Henry calmly explained.


Henry: FML

Mannequin Henry: Same. 

Saturday night, we watched an episode of Goblin and then I probably went for another walk. I’m training to be the next Crazy Lady of Brookline. I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, I probably don’t need much training.


Sunday morning, I was still lounging around in bed when the DJ on the Korean radio station I listen to started saying words that sounded familiar and then I realized that the other day she asked people to write in and tell her how Kpop changed their lives so I did (natch) and SHE WAS READING MY STORY! I was actually in the middle of talking about how tall Lee Gwang Soo is because of course I was talking g about a Korean TV personality while listening to Korean radio, when I interrupted myself to blurt out, “HEY THATS ME!!” Henry murmured, “Oh my god,” Bob’s Burger-style

It was a really special moment for me!

Then we dropped Chooch off at his piano lesson and hit up the Asian markets. Right away, I saw these curious things on branches in the produce section and immediately wanted to buy them. The thing you should know about Asian markets is that sometimes you will see things labeled in English, but mostly the produce is hand-written in Chinese. I can read Korean, but Chinese characters are waaaaay out of my wheelhouse. These particularly fruit-balls were not marked in English, but while we were gawking at them, a Chinese man reached in front of us and grabbed two red bags of the things. Henry asked him what they were and the man just laughed and said, “I don’t know but they taste good!”

That was a ringing enough of an endorsement for me so I grabbed a sack and then Henry found our favorite grocer who informed us that they’re yellow dates. I googled and it said you could eat them just as they are, even though they hadn’t yet turned soft, brown and wrinkly. (There’s an old man ball joke in there somewhere but I’m all out of humor after doing kpop workouts for like two hours tonight.)

We sat in the car and dared each other to take the first bite. Eventually we both went for it and holy shit, new favorite fruit. It had the crunch of an apple, a slight astringent bite of a persimmon, and a wonderfully sweet aftertaste of date.

They are so delicious and addicting!

The moral is: don’t be afraid to ask someone what things are when you’re at some type of ethnic grocery store. This is also how Henry and I discovered that baby taro is the BOMB.

I was just at one of the other Asian markets last week on my lunch break (there’s one that’s close enough for me to walk to, but my favorite one is several blocks farther away and I’d never make it back in time, so sad). I wanted to grab some more candy for the pumpkin at work, but there were some white people there acting like typical American assholes, loudly making fun of the candy and I just didn’t want to be associated with them. Just imagine all the delicious things they’re missing out on.

After Chooch’s lesson, we went to Spirit for their Sunday brunch. I’m not a fan of brunch or buffets (I know, what kind of anomaly am I), but we settled on Spirit because their veg options seemed tight. I was worried that the vibe was going to be off-putting since this place is also a music venue (of the hipster variety) but the atmosphere was dark and on point—exactly the kind of ambiance I like in a restaurant.

Chooch immediately went to check out the bathroom and reported that it was “nothing special, kind of like the ones at the Altar Bar.” Because my 11-year-old knows his music venue bathrooms, guys.

The buffet was pretty lit (Chooch hates it when I say that because I’m apparently not supposed to know that word since I’m A Mom) and there were more meatless options than anything else, really. Three different types of salads, hummus, yogurt, rice pudding, lemon beignets (God yes),- pizza bar, quiche, French toast sticks….just all kinds of wondrous brunch fare.

I think it was the first time I actually ate my money’s worth too. It may not seem like it on the outside, but my stomach is way too small for buffets.

I didn’t eat anything the rest of the day. :/

We had THE WORST service though, considering all our server had to do was bring us our drinks and check. It was ludicrous how neglected we were. Other people were annoyed too, and some broad at a table nearby crumbled up her check and walked out because all she cared about was the sausage and potatoes and it was never refilled or something, I don’t care about other people’s problems.

The bottomline for me is that I enjoyed the ambiance and food enough to give it another try but we better have a different server and my fucking coffee better actually be bottomless like the menu says, considering this is the most important part of a meal for me and I didn’t get my cup until I WAS ALMOST DONE EATING ARE YOU KIDDING YOU HAVE ONE JOB LADY!

(Side note: Chooch thought he was so cool because he ordered a Snakebite, which was some kind of ginger-spiked OJ. We didn’t think he would like it, but he drank the whole damn thing.)

Forever making him stand in front of walls.

After lunch, we went to visit Patty, who gets to come home on September 24th! This is huge news and I’m so stoked for her! She’s been at this particular long-term care facility for nearly a year now and she has made so much progress. (Unfriendly reminder for cancer to go get fucked.)

In the activity room, Patty strong-armed Chooch to play something on the piano for all the elderly women sitting around the table. He finally sat down and plucked out this little ditty from memory like it ain’t no thang:

Begrudgingly entertaining.

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

I sent this to his piano teacher yesterday and she was so thrilled! I love how great the two of them work together. When I went to get him on Sunday, I caught the tail end of her teaching him the drum parts to Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue.” She is so fucking cool!

After Chooch entertained the ladies, we went to an empty rec room and played Joking Hazard while Henry sat down and IMMEDIATELY fell asleep. At one point, some man in his nineties came in and rifled through the newspapers on the table near Henry and I started cracking up because that dude looked like he had way more energy than our slumbering hero. I told Henry later that while he was sleeping, one of the orderlies came in and asked us if we wanted her to take him back to his room, and he believed me.

“They could have taken me to a room,” Henry said with a shrug, and then got this far-away look in his eyes as though he was fantasizing about having a secret room in a nursing home where he could sleep as much as he wanted without Chooch and me waking him up because we need fed or burped or whatever.

It took forever to get home because nearly every way out of the city is under construction. Henry kept shouting, “FUCK YOU!!” every time he’d come upon another road closure. He’s usually on his detour game, but not on this day. I was actually starting to feel anxious, like we were in a bad horror movie. Welcome to Pittsburgh, where there’s NO WAY OUT.

We did eventually make it home and I went for a…WAIT FOR IT…walk. This time, I walked around a part of Brookline I don’t generally visit, and on one of the streets, I heard these kids yelling about a hug, but you know me, I ignore the frequency of a child’s voice.

But the yelling persisted, and that’s when I realized that these two little kids in a yard across the street were asking me for a hug.


But their screams were getting louder until finally I stopped and gave them an air-hug from across the street, because that’s the kind of dick I am. They weren’t buying it and demanded that I give them a real hug.

Look. It’s 2017. Even if I enjoyed the act of hugging another human, it gets tricky when that other person is not a kid, but a KID STRANGER. Who knows what someone would think if they happened to look out their window. Sad, right, that we even have to think that way in this day and age.

I decided that we could at least high-five, so I crossed the street and walked over to them. Their yard was bordered by a retaining wall, so I was pretty much eye level with this little brother and sister pair of hug-obsessers, who appeared to be maybe 3 and 4. But after high-fiving, they GANG-HUGGED ME. I had no chance! The little boy was actually hanging off me and I was like, “WHOA HAHA OK DOWN!” and had to actually pry these children off me torso.



The girl happily asked me where I live and I stupidly told her and then stopped myself because WAS I BEING KID-NAPPED?! I had no idea what was going on, but they were so friendly and I think they wanted to keep me and I wasn’t down with that. I told them I had to go home and, in my own awkward way, tried to coax them further back into their yard. “Uh, don’t come out into the street. Try to, like, you know, stay safe,” I mumbled as I turned to walk away. And then the boy started crying, like legit wailing, “No don’t go! Come back!” and my anxiety went through the roof. The voice in my head was all, “FUCKING RUN. RUN RUN FUCKITYFUCKFUCK RUN!” Was that his signal for the rest of the neighborhood kids to fall from boughs and emerge from manholes, pulling their ropes taut and cocking their BB guns?!

Eventually, he stopped screaming and when I risked one last furtive glance over my shoulder they had gone back to calmly playing whatever they were playing before they spotted the naïve-looking girl with the Pusheen wallet hanging off her shorts.

And then my hand instinctively reached for said wallet because WAS THIS A PICKPOCKETING PLOY FROM BROOKLINE GYPSIES? But no, everything was intact.

Super creepy though.


And then the weekend ended with Game of Thrones, while Chooch diligently and slightly obsessively organized his backpack for the first day of sixth grade. I know summer isn’t technically over yet as far as the calendar is concerned, but it might as well be. :(

Aug 282017

I know, I know: parents do this every year. “Wah, my kid is growing up” blah blah blah. It’s still a little bit of a shock to the system though when you send your kid off to the first day of school and then think to yourself, “Fuck, I’m a mom of a MIDDLESCHOOLER” and then you feel all self-pitying and pathetic and cry a lot but take consolation in the fact that now that he wears a boys’ large, you can actually fit into some of his clothes and that denim vest is LOOKING MIGHTY FINE.  

I mean, this isn’t about me, this about my BEAUTIFUL GROWING BOY. 

I can’t wait to fill this vest with pins—oooh I can make a patch that says MOMMY & CHOOCH 4L!

Um, anyway. Here’s hoping that sixth grade goes as smoothly as fifth grade did. (Of course he got the teacher that requires about $150 in supplies when all the other ones just have “pencils and paper” listed. 

Ugh middle school. 

Aug 252017

With Erin & Chooch

I volunteered to work the last three Friday late shifts for August because we get to work those from home and I thought to myself, “Golly wouldn’t it be swell to spend some of these last summer Fridays with my little baby boy?!” 


On every one of these Fridays, we went out for breakfast. And that is what this blog post is about, ok?

On the first Friday, we walked to Orbis Cafe in Mt. Lebanon. It took about 25-30 minutes to get there but it was a beautiful, mild summer morning so we didn’t show up sopping with sweat or anything. Don’t worry. 

Hilariously, we had just been joking around at work about someone who listed “third wave coffee” as an interest on their resume, and now here I was, at a cafe that totally promoted that movement, what with their multiple, confusing brewing options. 

I panicked and just got a pour over,  because I was only familiar with that and French press. Then I had to choose a coffee blend and it was a real high-anxiety experience, almost as bad as waiting for public transportation or being randomly called on in class. 

I’m easily rattled ok?!

I’m conflicted with this place. The two women working that day were pleasant but the service was…..

Just not that wonderful. For starters, I stood at the counter the entire time the one barista was making my pourover because I noticed other people standing around too. I had Chooch grab us a table while I continued waiting. 

I stood there for at least 8 minutes before one of the girls walked out from behind the counter and brought Chooch’s breakfast to him (fruit and nut yogurt, and a bagel which he could have had at home but whatever). 

Apparently the people standing around were waiting for their to-go drinks. I didn’t have to be standing there at all, yet neither of the two baristas said anything to me, or even asked me if I needed something! THEY JUST LET ME STAND THERE LIKE A LOST SHEEP. 

So I went and sat down with Chooch, feeling stupid and completely spotlighted. It was about 15 minutes later when I had finished my coffee and he had finished his breakfast, when I started to hard-core wonder where the hell my breakfast wrap was. I kept looking over shoulder at the counter and couldn’t tell if it was still being heated up or what. 

“I mean, I DID order it right?” And of course Chooch made me doubt that my order had gone any further than just being a thought in my head. But then I started doing the math and confirmed that I definitely paid for it. 

I was about to go up to the counter and just ask for a refund (or possibly a CHEMEX) when one of the baristas started asking, “Breakfast wrap?” to every table she walked past. Then she met my eyes and suddenly realized that it was mine and she had FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT. 

“I’m so sorry!” she said, setting down the lukewarm wrap in front of me. It had obviously been abandoned on the counter for quite some time. 

I’d give them a free pass if the joint had been exceptionally busy but it was boasting a basic hustle and bustle that morning. 

They’re lucky I’m a sell-out and all up on the Third Wave Coffee train now because their pourover was EXCEPTIONAL and just delicious enough to not only drink black, but to forgive them for their wrap-dementia. 

I’ll be back for coffee but not breakfast. (Although their display of baked goods looked pretty good.)

For our second Friday, we were treated with a very heavy downpour. We tried to wait it out as long as possible but we were both swinging from hunger’s lunacy fringe so we left the house with our one shared umbrella and dealt with it. 

Everything was mostly fine. We walked past our old neighbor who didn’t go very far—just down the street—and a split second after cutely saying hello (she loves us and thinks we look like twins so take that everyone who always says that they see no resemblance) we were puddle-splashed in the most dramatic fashion by some FUCKSTICK in a truck.

Even if we had been double-umbrella’d, there was no protection from that one. 

So that was swell!

We reluctantly opted for Dorstop this time. I say reluctantly for two reasons:

  • Dorstop is majorly over-rated and their figurative head is entirely too enlarged from That One Time they were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives like 10 years ago. 
  • We’ve been anxiously awaiting this one place called Parker’s to open. They used to be across the sreeet from Dorstop in Dormont, but they moved to a great spot on Brookline Blvd — basically still the same walking disgance for us but we spend more time walking on Brookline Blvd than we do on the street where they used to be located, plus this new spot is bigger! We always chide Henry because he’s never been to Parker’s so we treat it like it’s a club he doesn’t belong to. “You act like you guys were regulars there but you only ate there like theee times.” Twice, and both times were memorable because PARKER HIMSELF talked to us and he is AWESOME and no I DONT HAVE A CRUSH ON HIM OK I DO.

I mean. 

So we begrudgingly went to Dorstop and I was just really happy to get away from the rain. Of course it was packed, even on a weekday morning, because Guy Fieri ate there once, y’all. 


Of course everyone turned to look at us when the bells on the door jingled and I hadn’t even told them Large Marge sent us yet. 

 Right off the bat, a synthetic ginger broad asked us how many in a disgruntled grumble, coupled with a very surly, “Follow me.”

I was ready to walk the fuck out because what a rude twat. But…rain. 

Luckily we had a nice young waitress who gave me coffee immediately and our food was fine. (I had potato pancakes; Chooch had an omelette which wasn’t nearly as good as the one he had at The Twist, the one that had him throwing down glitter on “Honk If You Love Artichokes” signs.)

It was fine but I would never recommend it nor would I take any out-of-town guests there. 

Which brings us to today…

Our last Friday Breakfast Club meeting for the foreseeable future. :(

Me: I’m sad that this is our last day of Friday Breakfast Club.

Chooch: We literally only went to breakfast three times, though—how is that a club?!

Ugh shut up Chooch. 

This time we went to Tom’s. We could have went there last week instead of Dorstop but we had eaten at Tom’s for dinner (WITH BARB, UGH BARB) two nights before. 

I originally suggested Cain’s Saloon which is open early on Fridays for breakfast (allegedly) but Chooch was all, “Um I feel like that’s a place that daddy would want to go to with us so we should just go to Tom’s” and I’m not a fool I know it’s because Cain’s is a longer walk and he was itchin’ to get home and play with his dumb friends. 


But yeah! Anyway! You know! Can’t go wrong with Tom’s! I had the Greek eggs Benedict and Chooch had eggs and home fries I guess. All I remember is him complaining about the nerve of restaurants that serve jelly packets with their toast, assuming that everyone uses jelly. 

Turns out Chooch is not a fan of jelly on his toast. 

“It just belongs on PB&J and nothing else,” he shared with me and I BET HIS DUMB FRIENDS ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THAT DONT THEY? I AM SO OUT OF TOUCH. 

I’m not having feelings about him starting sixth grade on Monday. Pfft. That’s you,  not me. 


Aug 232017

Henry had to work on Saturday so Chooch and I were on our own.

Well I guess we’re gonna have to take control

(On our own)

If it’s up to us, we’ve got to take it home

(On our own)

We went for a walk first thing in the morning, trampling down Brookline alleys and stumbling upon ANARCHIST GRAFITTI! We decided to try and figure out who the culprit was and then suddenly, Chooch spotted an aerosol can discarded over to the side of the alley. “Maybe that’s the cam of spraypaint!!! NO DONT TOUCH IT, YOULL GET YOUR FINGERPRINTS ON IT!” I screamed. 

“It’s just hairspray,” Chooch said, failing miserably at pronouncing Tresemme (ooh la la).

And then we moved on to other things, like judging peoples’ backyards. (Like ours is so great. Oh wait we don’t have one lol.)

We walked past CVS and as the automatic doors opened, Chooch yelled, “Do you love Bambi!?” Because that’s what he calls his dumb cat Drew these days. 

“No, and stop yelling at me!” I cried. 

“I wasn’t asking you, I was asking the people in CVS.”

Whhhyyy did this make me crack up so bad? I think we’ve been spending too much time together. 

Wait! I’m getting my walks mixed up! I think this was from our second walk, around noon, when we went to Cafe Noir for our traditional Saturday beverage. (I usually get a latte, Chooch gets hot chocolate. Look at how much I tell you!)

This is me, half-woke and makeupless, and Chooch, struggling to see without a YouTube video in front of his face. We were walking down the sidewalk on our block and one of the neighbors shouted, “Here come the Bobsy Twins!” So freaking accurate. 

Idiot Henry came home around 2 so we went to a late lunch at Nak Won Garden. Pittsburgh doesn’t have many Korean restaurants and this is the only one I’ve been to so far that has ttkeokbokki on the menu! It’s specifically a Korean streetfood but most of the restaurants in Toronto’s Koreatown had it on their menu. If I had a Korean restaurant it would for sure be on the menu, with a glorious photo of it on the front, skewers and all. 

This particular place has it listed as an appetizer and it was perfect to share between us. I derived great pleasure from watching Henry struggle with metal chopsticks. He can barely use cheap wooden ones, let alone the Korean variety! He was getting so irritated because I kept swiping things from him and then trying to feed him. 

Oh Henry. So put-upon. Ho ho ho. 

I don’t know what he ordered but I got soondubu jjigae with mushrooms and basically wanted to place my whole fucking face in that bubbling cauldron of Korean stew. 


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And don’t get me started on the banchan. I ate all the kimchi before Henry even realized it was there. 

Eating lunch was exhausting so Henry fell asleep immediately upon returning home and I took lovely, sentimental pictures of us together. 

Then I hoped he wasn’t actually dead,  because these pictures would take on a completely new meaning. 

I made this birthday card for my noncomposcards shop and Chooch was like, “Get away from me with that. You are so cringey.” 


Chooch’s queen on her throne. After I posted this on Instagram, several wheelchair accounts started falling me. I’m moving up in the world! This was almost as good as the time I was contacted by this poet who wanted to use one of my photos of a unicorn masked-Chooch sitting in that very wheelchair, as the cover of his next chapbook. I said sure as long as he credited me and he promised to send me a copy of it in the mail. He did, eventually, and boy was it interesting. It was basically a collection of sex poems written by a paraplegic. Chooch’s first cover!

Saturday night ended with me watching the livestream of KCON LA and throwing a fit when the feed froze THE EXACT MOMENT Vixx started to perform “Shangri-la.” OF COURSE IT WOULD. That was the main thing I was looking forward to!

By the time I woke up Sunday morning, it was already on YouTube, so….