Apr 072014
 

I kept saying that I didn’t want to do anything this weekend.

“I don’t want to do anything this weekend,” I said to Henry. See? It happened. And these words were like the theme music of NCIS to Henry’s ears. This is all he ever wants to do on the weekend: NOTHING! I really thought that was what I wanted too. We have been doing so much lately that I was starting to feel a little run-down, physically and mentally, anyway. So aside from taking Chooch to his piano lesson Saturday morning, nothing else happened that day aside from binge-watching HBO while it was free and screaming at the hockey game.

I WAS SO FUCKING BORED.

The next day, Chooch went to the neighbor kid’s birthday party, which was right next door so we didn’t have to do anything but open the door and boot Chooch out of it. It was glorious! But then I became immediately bored again. I left the door slightly ajar because all of the jackass birthday party kids were running around outside the house making me super nervous and annoyed and I needed to adapt my role as Crotchety Bitch-Neighbor in case something happened that would provide me an opportunity to run outside and chew out some dumb kid.

About an hour into the party, someone started to knock on my door, which blew open because of the wind; this left me in an awkward predicament because I absolutely hate answering the front door but now whoever was knocking could basically see into my house.  DO YOU WATCH THE FOLLOWING!? It seems like every motherfucker that opens their door for someone gets stabbed to death. I don’t want to get stabbed to death. WHO DOES? (I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of people who do, but they’re probably singing Crash Test Dummies song(s) while coloring walls with their feces in a mental institution.) I figured it might be one of the parents, that Chooch probably fucked up somehow (he’s my kid, after all), so I exhaled and bravely pulled the front door open the rest of the way.

It was an older man looking for his missing cat. RED FLAG, right? Total Yinzer, dishelved, possibly a little buzzed, and definitely dressed worse than Henry. So, your basic Brookliner. Whether it was true or not, I indulged him while he struggled to not only describe the cat, but remember her dumb name. (Tia.) And then he struggled some more to tell me where he lives, which is literally like 5 houses down the street.

“OK, we’re the first house down there that has a porch that sticks out. Do you see the porch sticking out? Maybe you can’t see from here,” he squints real hard, practically hemorrhaging while digging in his brain for a house number. “OK, you see that gray car? Not the one on the street. The gray car in the driveway. That’s our house past the driveway.”

I promised him I would keep my eyes open for his car and we shook hands after he told me his name is Gary. He was just about to leave when I reminded him to watch his step. (Our front porch steps are all crumbled on one side and are hopefully about to be repaired soon. The landlord knows, and I hope he doesn’t want a law suit. But maybe he does. Maybe getting sued gives him an erection.) At my simple suggestion, Gary took that as an invitation to pause and study the porch.

“You know, I painted one of these porches awhile back,” he said. And it suddenly all started coming to me and I knew exactly who he was.

“I remember that!” I exclaimed, because he and his weirdo brother-in-law (who lives next door to him) kept me wildly entertained that day with their half-crocked banter. “Hey, do you by chance have a cat named Teddy?” I asked.

“Teddy! Yeah, he’s dead now though. He was a good cat!”

“He really was!” I agreed. “He got my cat Marcy pregnant in 1999,” I explained.

“Oh, no! Do I owe you kitty support?” he laughed, and we went on to talk forever about cats. I told him that Teddy used to come and sit on the windowsill after Marcy had the kittens, like he wanted to check in on them, but Marcy would go absolute ape shit on him through the screen. She used to make these terrifying, gutteral screams that I have never heard from a cat before.

Don looked exactly like his father Teddy.

“Hey, you should come over in the summer and go swimming!” Gary suggested happily after finding out that we’re basically in-laws. That is definitely not going to happen, but I cheerfully went along because CATS! What a great topic.

Something like 15 minutes later, I was pulling the door closed behind me just in time to find Henry on the couch cracking the fuck up.

“What?” I squealed. “We were talking about CATS!”

“Have fun swimming at his house this summer,” Henry tried, and failed, to say without laughing.

That’s one of the few times you will ever find me not resisting human contact.

***

I still wasn’t feeling 100% myself (obviously something was wrong with me if I willingly spent time small-talking with a neighbor) but it was really nice and sunny out that afternoon so I made Henry go for a walk with me.
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Jo’s Salon decorates for every holiday. Love the bunnies and sexy Jesus-in-a-basket!

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There used to be this totally sketchy bar on the Boulevard that you had to walk down steps to get to, basically a rape-trap, but it was closed down (I think there were a lot of drug busts there) and now it’s some strange church-thing.

I was hoping that this would the day I could finally get Henry to go inside the African market but he’s still being a baby about it. Aside from him being secretly racist, I’m not sure WTF is going on with Henry and the African market. Maybe he tried to get them to sell Faygo and they laughed at him?

So we went to Pitaland instead. I used to be inexplicably terrified of that place, but then I learned that they have the freshest dates around, and also a super-hot guy working there named I forget now but he is really handsome and I like to remind Henry of that fact every time we go there.

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Cactus pears & nub-things.

I got to witness some incredibly old man with a walker pick up a box of Mediterranean candy and honest-to-god bellow, “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS” before slamming it back down. Dude, they’re ANGEL KISSES AND THEY LOOK DELICIOUS SO STOP SLAMMING SHIT.

(Henry just responded to my urgent text. The Hot Pitaland Guy’s name is Marvin. Thanks for paying attention when I kept dreamily saying his name in your ear yesterday, buddy.)

Then I made Henry buy a container of these delicious looking powdered pastries that the non-Marvin Pitaland guy described to us in a bored mumble. Turns out they were $10 and DISGUSTING. I couldn’t taste anything but ROSE and the choking was almost as terrible as the time Janna tried to drown me in rose water at the Palace of Gold.

Back outside on the Boulevard, I stopped abruptly and tried to take a picture of this guy standing in front of the red door of one of Those Weird Churches, but I wasn’t fast enough and he had already started to walk down the steps. I was so upset that I missed such a great photo-op, but Henry was perplexed and annoyed.

“What the hell are you trying to take a picture of!?” he hissed, wanting to continue on so we could get home already.

“The way that man was standing at the top of the steps, it was such a Jesus pose!” I cried irritably, knowing he wouldn’t understand.

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And he didn’t.

It’s funny that all this religious stuff was happening on our walk because I just ordered a bunch of religious candy to stuff in plastic eggs because it’s time for another EASTER GLENN HUNT! Just a little while ago, I made a Veronica’s Veil Glenn and a Hot Cross Bun Vendor Glenn. I love religious Glenns.

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This was when we were fighting about who likes dates more.

“I’ve been eating dates since before you were born!” he bragged.

“YEAH WELL I ATE DATES IN MOROCCO!” I cried and then kicked him, because that’s what I do. But then we started reminisicing about the date milkshakes we drank at a date farm in California, so that was nice.

***

Almost as soon as we got home, Henry “suddenly” got a fever, WTF? So he spent the rest of the day in bed which affects me greatly because no one was available to make me dinner. I kept calling him, and I could hear his phone start to ring (he has a Dance Gavin Dance ring tone for me and I didn’t even download it on his behalf!!) and then it would stop suddenly because that dumb motherfucker was DECLINING MY CALLS. So then I would march upstairs and be him to come down.

“Just order pizza,” he mumbled in a (fake!!!!) fever-induced drawl.

“THEN I HAVE TO ANSWER THE DOOR FOR THE PIZZA GUY!” I wailed.

“Oh my god, tell me you are not even crying right now,” he sighed and rolled over, putting his dumb blanketed back toward me.

I ate a dumb bagel and Chooch had Apple Jacks. Sorry kid, but I’m not one of those broads who rises to the occasion and suddenly knows how to make a roast. (Not like Chooch would ever eat that anyway.)

I was telling Barb about the dinner tragedy today and she asked me something dumb, like, “Did it feel like Henry was burning up the bed?” or something.

“Yeah, that’s funny,” I laughed sarcastically. “I slept on the couch last night because I didn’t want to get sick.” And Barb looked like she wanted to say something about that but then remembered who she was talking to, so she kept it at a simple, “Oh, Erin.”

Way to ruin the whole entire weekend, Henry. You’re so selfish.

 

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Mar 312014
 

 

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My friend Wendy is a Stella & Dot stylist and I’ve been promising her for awhile now that I would host a trunk show. (I keep wanting to call it a “party,” but this is 2014 and one does not call these things “parties” anyway; duh Erin Kelly!) I finally took the plunge and told Wendy to sign me up last month and apparently when Henry found out what I had done, he texted Wendy a simple “thanks.” Ha! That made it totally worthwhile. Wendy and I decided that it should just be Henry’s trunk show, so that is how we sent out the Facebook invitation for it. (Henry never RSVPd.)

One of the main reasons I kept saying no isn’t that I don’t like the jewelry, but it was my house. How many times have I referred to it as our “pit of despair”? But over the last year, Henry and I have been working hard on giving our old furniture a makeover and basically throwing out a ton of things that were taking up too much space. It’s been a slow process, but I was feeling pretty good about things. I mean, there’s only so much we can do to rental property, but a budget kitchen makeover is next on the list. (Henry if you’re reading this, measure the kitchen floor. Thanks.) And then everyone got there, and then I just felt like shit, so I probably won’t let people come to my house for another 5 years, unless I make friends with college kids. I don’t think they’d mind my crap house so much.

Wendy got there a little early to set up her wares and walked right into Henry and I fighting about orange sherbet like it was a conflict the size of Ukraine. Then, promptly at 5, there was a horrible “This is the police!”-type of banging on my front door, so I screamed really loud, but it was just Cara and Alisa. If they had screamed, “PIZZA GUY!” I probably would have crapped my pants. I’m so afraid of knocks on my door, you guys!

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I decided to try and distract everyone with cookies (they were Pillsbury and so-so, except for the key lime ones which I was in charge of and burnt the bottoms) and six different kinds of delicious cheeses. But why stop there, let’s have 5 different types of carb-y cheese vessels (otherwise known as crackers), fig preserves and apricot jelly, apples and grapes and three different types of olives so everyone could make tiny cheese sandwiches. HOW ADORABLE, RIGHT? Now stop looking at the holes in my ceiling, thanks.

The cookies were pink lemonade, key lime and orange creamsicle, which not only matched my two punches but also three of the plate colors! I LIKE MATCHING. I think maybe it’s because I played a lot of Memory as a child.

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But then everyone arrived and immediately I was reminded of my broken porch step that yes, my landlord knows about but just doesn’t care I guess, and the fact that my tiny duplex is not equipped to hold 14 people all at once. I don’t know how the hell I used to have all of those house parties in my 20s.

Speaking of, two guys walked past the house and I was tempted to open the door and invite them in, because that’s how I used to do it back in the day. (And by “do it,” I swear I mean “invite people to my parties” and not “have sex with strangers.”)

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The cheese was so good. I barely get to eat cheese anymore, so I basically loitered near this spot for two hours while everyone else tried on bracelets.

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Henry scored me a second punch bowl so now I can have two tacky punches at once! To go along with everything else that is tacky about me, yay!

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Henry was basically choking on estrogen and disappeared for quite some time. I thought perhaps he was hiding under the bed, but no. Then Wendy jokingly said she heard banging on the basement door awhile back and that maybe he was locked in the basement.

He was.

I found him down there working on one of my dumb DIY projects and I asked him why he didn’t knock harder.

“Because I didn’t care,” he sighed.

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Henry kept doing this “I hate women” jig in the dining room and whispering things to me about how badly he wanted to escape.

“Chooch, let’s go to Target!” he’d suggest, but Chooch was like, “Fuck you, I’m watching Wendy model this scarf. Who knew there were so many ways to wear one!?” So finally Henry retreated to the bedroom, claiming to have a “headache.” Wah-wah.

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Chooch ate all of the M&Ms I think. I love these bat bowls that Laura gave me, but they make me miss her.

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Thank god Chris and Monica came with cupcakes and real cookies to distract everyone from the cookies that were supposed to be distracting everyone from my shitty house! They were so good. (Theirs, not mine.) The frosting on the cupcakes were made from strawberry wine, WHAT. So good. I love cupcakes too much.

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I made Kaitlin pose with Brad the Clown because she’s the one who tipped me off on its existence at the flea market last summer. I still love him so much! And Kaitlin! Hate that I don’t get to see her everyday since she abandoned the Law Firm.

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Henry let us near knives. He’s really slipping.

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One of the perks of having a Chooch is that he is naturally entertaining and sincerely enjoys spending time with adults. So while I mostly stood alone and drank too much wine while wearing a cape of general “I sort of prepared for a party” malaise, no one noticed because Chooch amused us by:

  • drawing weird Asian pop stars on Draw Something
  • modeling necklaces while shouting, “OMG I HOPE KAITLIN DOESN’T SEE ME!” because he totally loves Kaitlin and wanted more than anything for her to look in his direction (she did)
  • see above picture

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I love these two! Please note that they are enjoying punch that I made all on my own except that Henry bought everything I needed for them. I got the go-ahead to write about the day I took their engagement pictures so hopefully later this week, that will happen!

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My only duty for the day was to clean the bathroom but then I made myself throw up so then Henry cleaned the bathroom.

And the house managed to stay clean even after everyone left! I don’t know, I thought it was kind of looking OK but now rental property insecurities are taking over again. Cry me a river of hobo tears.

 

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Mar 272014
 

Henry and I checked out of the airport Sheraton early Saturday morning; as soon as we walked out into the parking lot, Henry inhaled deeply and said, “Mmmm, the smell of jet fuel in the morning. Reminds me of THE SERVICE.” I lost another one of my lives laughing so hard at him. God, I love it when he slips up and mentions his SERVICE days.

Our plans for the morning were to finally get to see our friends Terri and Christian after two failed attempts the previous two years. It’s funny, because in this day and age, most of the new friends I meet are online; but in this case, we actually met Terri and Christian in person first, back in the fall of 2011 when we were all in Cleveland for the AP Tour (and to eat at Melt, obviously). And since then, we have gotten to know each other better through Facebook and Twitter and I have been dying to hang out with them again!

Henry and I don’t need to be entertained, so when Terri suggested that we just eat breakfast at their place and hang out, I was all for it and Henry seemed relieved because he’s always tired and doesn’t like walking around looking at things. Terri even made three different kinds of breakfast casseroles! One had fake bacon in it and I was so happy! (They’re vegetarians too! I can call myself that again because I have re-eradicated seafood from my diet, so come at me bro.)

I was a little nervous on the way there because we had only ever spent that one day together three years ago and what if it was going to be totally awkward? Well, it wasn’t, so you can stop holding your breath. I mean, I was still at my usual level of awkward, of course, but at least Henry was there to ease my food-cutting anxiety. We hung out for three hours, talking about music, music, music and more music and I can’t tell you how fucking awesome that was! And we learned that Terri and Christian met while working at Tower Records, how apropros! We even had civil hockey discussions, even though our teams are huge rivals! And I found out that Christian was at the aforementioned Type O Negative show in 1998 that I couldn’t attend because some bitch named Your Druidess didn’t show up with the tickets! It’s funny how many times that memory was recalled last weekend.

I wish we could have spent more time with them, but Henry and I had plans to attend the Hollywood Theater’s “Twin Peaks” party that night, so we had to hit the road around noon. As soon as their door shut behind us, I said to Henry, “If we lived closer, I would hang out with them so much, they would get so sick of me.” (So basically, two times.) And Henry said, “Yes, I like them. They’re nice people.” THAT IS A BIG DEAL FOR HENRY TO HAVE AN OPINION! He is usually so neutral about everything. But I think what he was really thinking was, “I wish we did live closer because then Erin can just go to shows with them while I sit at home watcing NCIS in my underwear.” Seriously though, thank you for opening up your home to us and stuffing us with delicious breakfast foods! We owe you one next time you’re in our city! (Don’t worry, Henry will do the cooking.)

“I hate you,” I sighed as Henry drove around looking for a gas station.

“Why?” he mumbled with very little emotion.

“Because you weren’t working at a record store when we met!” I cried.

“Either were you!” he shot back. THAT’S NOT THE POINT, HENRY.

***

OMG, the ride home was so boring. There was a hockey game on, so that entertained us for a little while. We stopped at a rest area so Henry could finally get his stupid Auntie Em pretzel bites, but I threw a fit because he didn’t get mustard so I stormed out into the parking lot, because this is how you get what you want when you’re 34. (And also 3 and 4.)

Henry went back and got mustard.

Later, we stopped at another rest area for a late lunch/dinner situation, and he accidentally pulled into the “Trucks/RV” side of the parking lot which caused me to scream, “OMG YOU FUCKED UP NOW, HENRY ROBBINS!” while making all kinds of dramatic gasps. Naturally, he was annoyed. Especially when every hour after that, I would casually say, “Hey remember when you broke the law by USING THE TRUCKS AND RV ENTRANCE? God, you’re such a moron. You could have gotten us killed.”

“We would NOT have gotten killed,” he sighed.

***

We made it home with about 45 minutes to spare before we had to leave again. While I was upstairs changing clothes, I found out that Henry never told his mom about our Saturday night plans so she thought she was done babysitting Chooch as soon as we got home. Oh sorry, Judy, didn’t your son tell you? You’re stuck here for three more hours. Possibly even forever.

God Henry, you’re such an asshole.

Luckily, she’s a good grandma and didn’t give a shit about a few more hours with Chooch. (Who, by the way, didn’t even miss us.)

***

The Hollywood Theater is only a few blocks away from our house, but Henry has never been there because he is so lame. I’m actually surprised I was even able to get him to go Saturday night, but we do both equally love Twin Peaks, so there’s that. He refused to dress up, though. I tried to get him to go as Mike, the One-Armed Man, because literally all he would have to do was wear a black t-shirt and not put his stupid left arm through the sleeve, but even THAT was too costume-y for him. So he went as Henry.

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The theater was playing a marathon of all the episodes starting that Thursday, culminating in a party Saturday night, which entailed a costume contest, raffles and the big draw: a live performance by Silencio, a local Pittsburgh band that plays music from Twin Peaks and other David Lynch movies. I can’t tell you how much I love that music, especially the music from Twin Peaks.

Also, we were promised damn good cherry pie, and if I told you I wasn’t thinking about it all last week, I would be lying. Cherry pie is actually my favorite kind of pie and it pisses me off that restaurants around here usually have every other kind of fucking fruit pie but cherry. Maybe it looks too menstrual?

Anyway, I’m a lousy dresser-upper. It’s very hard for me to commit to a costume and I usually wind up half-assing it in the end because I’m lazy and unmotivated. (See: Fatal Attraction.) I didn’t want to go the obvious plactic-wrapped-Laura Palmer route, so I opted instead for one of my favorite characters, the Sheriff’s secretary Lucy Moran. I picked her because she’s awesome, but also because all I had to do was get a 90s’ish sweater from Goodwill, pair it with a skirt and tights, and put my hair in a half-pony. Henry kept trying to cut my bangs to make it look more authentic but, no. I’m not ready to rejoin the bangs-having society*. (However, I did order a pair of clip-on bangs from eBay for $5 but they sent me a bleached blond pair instead of the ones that would actually match my shitty hair color, so thanks for ruining my already-destined-to-fail costume, stupid Taiwanese seller.)

*However, if and when I’m ready, Henry could probably give me good bangs. (BANGS, NOT BANG.) When I did have bangs, he was always super good at trimming them and my hair stylist would always be so impressed that his meat-hands could pull off such precise scissor-y. (SCISSOR-Y NOT SCISSORING.) Of course he could. Henry excels at girly things.

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So 90s. So sweater-y. So wow.

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When I looked at this picture of myself last weekend, I thought, “Hmm, I look familiar….” and then after awhile it occurred to me that I looked like 15-year-old Erin. So, what I learned from this is that I spent my entire 10th grade year accidentally emulating the Lucy Moran hairstyle. Also, I still have the same dopey smile.

We got to the Hollywood right around 7 and proceeded to stand around like social pariahs because god forbid we should make new friends, ever. Henry bought a can of PBR (lol) and I got some coffee from the place I made Janna walk to last October, because they had a table set up and the two guys behind it kept wanting to talk to me but I think I was in the middle of one of those social strokes I sometimes succumb to? Honestly, I just stood there and kept saying, “Oh, really?” I HATE MYSELF.

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We grabbed seats near the front of the theater and I got comfortable with my damn fine cup of coffee and cherry pie, and yes, it was damn fine. (Homemade!)

Silencio came on around 8:00 and Henry promptly fell alseep. Not because they were boring, but their music is so smooth and those seats are really comfortble. (Not to mention Professional Driver had been driving for 6+ hours that day, and the day before.)

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Scenes from various David Lynch works played on the screen behind them, complementing the sounds with a bit of creepiness.

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In between sets, the Hollywood Theater people came out to do the raffle drawing and I REALLY wanted to win the log. Yes, it was just a log, but I wanted it. There was also a set of these amazing David Lynch movie posters that an artist donated, but I didn’t win those either. I HATE NOT WINNING.

I went through a brief stint senior year of high school where I was obsessed with Angelo Badalamenti because of the Lost Highway soundtrack. I keep telling Chooch that he was only 8 when he started piano lessons, but Chooch as usual does not give a fuck. BE THE NEXT BADALAMENTI, SON.

Anyway, if you have never seen Twin Peaks, both seasons are on Netflix and you should go and do that. Go get mono or something and then lay there and watch it all. It’s worth it.

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On our way out, we snagged a “The Owls Are Not What They Seem” cupcake for Chooch as a consolation for leaving him parentless for two days. Again though, he honestly didn’t give a shit that we were gone. He’s at that age, I guess.

Silencio was pretty fantastic and even though I hated being in a rush all day, I was glad that we were able to work this into our itinerary. It was a fun way to cap off three nights of three very different bands. That should tide me over for awhile. (It won’t. But at least there’s Eisley on April 10th!)

P.S. That sweater is totally now a part of my regular wardrobe.

 

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Mar 172014
 

My friend Patty had a birthday dinner on Saturday at Hokkaido Seafood Buffet. At first, I thought I was not going to be able to attend because of my tattoo appointment at 5, but luckily, it was an early dinner that started at 3! Old Folk Supper Time, get into it.

I know Patty from work. She’s friends with Gayle and when I did the whole serial killer desk thing two years ago for Halloween, Gayle made Patty come down to see it (Patty works on a different floor, hence the need for her to COME DOWN; try to keep up, you guys). And then Gayle made me and Patty be friends. It probably would have happened anyway, because we have a lot of mutual friends in the horror/haunted house community. Because we’re awesome. Duh.

Gayle was the only other person I knew who was attending the dinner (other than Henry, but he doesn’t count because we never talk to each other in public), so I was all panicked when we arrived before her and actually, god forbid, had to walk in and talk to people. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and ask, “Erin Kelly, what the fuck happened to you?” Because I was never this socially indigent before. Or was I?

We quickly said hello to Patty and then I raced to the end of the table before anyone could make eye contact with me, grabbing a chair two down from the last person sitting on our side so that Henry would have to sit next to a stranger. Then I claimed the chair on my other side for Gayle. I needed to be flanked with familiarty. It’s how people of my ilk survive. (Barely.)

I started doing that thing that I do, which is pretend like I’m not staring at people when I’m definitely staring at people, because I was mostly certain that I went to high school with the guy I made Henry sit next to, who was currently immersed in a conversation with Patty’s fiance Tim, so he didn’t notice me creeping the side of his head. Then Patty came over to talk to us and I whispered, “Hey, is that Dan—-” and she cut me off to holler, “HEY PALSO, IT’S ERIN KELLY!” So then Dan was all, “Ohemgee!” and we stood up and hugged like people do on the television while Henry just sat there and smirked because watching me do the whole paint-by-numbers social dance is hilarious to him.

So…that was really cool! I hadn’t seen Dan since 1998 at the rib fest! I mean, we’re Facebook friends, but does that even count for anything these days? Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to talk to him at all after that because, well, food. I was practically banging my knife and fork on the table, because NO ONE WAS GOING UP TO THE BUFFET. Finally, Gayle arrived and I kept asking her, “When can we go up? Can we go up now?” But she was in no hurry because she hates seafood. Then Henry was like, “Patty is up there now. Let’s do this.” And at first, I felt like an asshole because everyone else was still sitting at the table, but you know what? It’s a buffet and I came to eat my face off.

(Actually, I did NOT come to eat my face off. I kept a steady pace because I didn’t want to eat 19 plates of sushi and then sit in a chair for 3 hours getting tattooed. I’m sure my tattoo guy wouldn’t have appreciated that very much either.)

Buffets and I don’t get along. I know it’s hard to believe, what with my lifelong BMI-struggle, but I actually cannot eat that much in one sitting. And I have a hard time matching up the labels with the food below, so it’s basically me following Henry around like a puppy, asking, “What is this? Will I like it? Have I had this before?” Mostly, he steers me in the right direction, except that I’m pretty sure I accidentally ate chicken because he told me it was a biscuit. After my own instincts failed me on a spoonful of “mango salad” (which was savory and had shrimp in it), I mostly just stuck with sushi. I’m surprisingly OK with sushi.

On my way back to the table, I passed the dessert portion of the buffet and no one was there to supervise me, which is how I ended up plopping banana pudding on one of my sushi rolls because I didn’t know there were little bowls at the end of the buffet, perfect for spooning banana pudding into. But there was a sign on our table that threatened an $8 charge for unfinished food, and after already having straws thrown at me by the mean waitress, I wasn’t about to press my luck. I ate everything on my plate, pudding-sushi and all.

Then more people arrived and sat across from us, triggering my rusty social cues.

“I am going to ask this girl questions, BUT NOT UNTIL SHE HAS FOOD IN HER MOUTH,” I thought to myself, and that’s what I did, too. So the poor girl (Lauren; I actually remembered a name!!) had to hold up a hand while she finished chewing before she could tell me how she knows Patty. I am so awesome at eating food and talking to people in public places.

“Wow, you really do know how to use chop sticks,” Gayle said, clearly in shock as she watched my deft sushi capturing skills. At first I was really offended that this would come as such a shock to her, but then I remembered that I’m basically helpless with most things in life, so who could blame her.

Meanwhile, waitresses were standing in a row near our large party table, watching everyone with blantant suspicion. It brought back memories to this one time in 1999 when an ex-friend and I went to pick up her friends at a Chinese buffet. They weren’t done eating yet, so we went and sat with them at their booth, which obviously was a huge mistake and NOT MY IDEA. The waiter kept coming over and accusing my ex-friend and me of eating crab legs off of their plates. First of all, in 1999 I was still a very strict ovo-lacto vegetarian: no seafood for me. Second of all, ew: I barely knew the girls we had gone there to pick up so fuck if I’m eating anything off their stranger-danger plates. Meanwhile, my ex-friend was (is) a disgusting pig, but even she wasn’t eating their crab legs. The waiter kept poking his head around corners, pacing up and down parallel aisles, before finally coming back with the manager, who proceeded to ESCORT US OUT. It was humiliating. I felt like the biggest piece of white trash ever, like I might as well just go straight out back to the dumpsters and give blow jobs for meth.

It was really hard not to think about that night when every time I looked over at Dan, he had another fresh plate of crab legs. He was pounding those motherfuckers with panache. Even Henry was impressed.

Patty came back down to visit and she was telling her friends about my serial killer Valentines, so Gayle held up a finger and then pulled out a stack of my non compos business cards from her purse and began doling them out. Henry smirked at me because I literally NEVER have any of my business cards with me and it was hilarious that someone else did. Later, Gayle said, “She also takes beautiful pictures!” and I was like, “GAYLE I’M BLUSHING YOU CAN STOP NOW.” But really, how nice to have someone actually be proud of the things I do. What a foreign feeling.

After letting our stomachs settle for a few minutes while getting to know our table-neighbors (such lovely people, for real! Lauren’s boyfriend Robert has an incredible Hitchcock’s Birds tattoo on his arm that I am 100% jealous of), Gayle and I decided it was time to hit the dessert bar. There was a chocolate fountain that we wanted to try, but some old lady in a wheelchair and another old lady, not in a wheelchair, were idling in front of it, staring at it with cocked heads. I paced back and forth in buffet basketcase fashion, because GIVE ME CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN. Gayle reacted like a normal person by opting to see else was there instead of doing the pee jig and hissing about wanting to dip thing in the fountains, which is what I was doing. I kept making eye contact with Henry, who was sitting at the table, watching me intently. Because it is not often I stray and I’m sure he was bracing himself for an accident. I kept shrugging and making huffy pantomimes to illustrate that I wanted to use the chocolate fountain but two old bags were too busy looking at it.

Finally, Gayle went over to assist them.

“You have to put something on one of these skewers,” she was saying. “And then you stick it in the chocolate.” She was so patient! So calm! Not even a NOTE of condescension in her voice. I couldn’t believe it.

“Does it have to be fruit?” the lady in the wheelchair asked. “Or can it also be a marshmallow?”

My skin felt like fire ants were using it as an Electric Slide dance floor. I took a jetpack ride to my alternate reality where I released the kickstand of the lady’s wheelchair and gave her one mighty push back down to hibachi town. But instead, I just stood there holding my tongue (and my plate of bland consolation cake-sponges) while the old broad held out a skewered banana just out of reach of the chocolate waterfall. Seriously! She just kept holding it there like she was waiting for the chocolate to somehow defy physics and splash itself onto her stupid rotting banana.

Finally, I cried uncle and retreated back to the table, just as Gayle was explaining to them that they needed to actually put the stick into the chocolate in order to get the chocolate onto their food.

^&*(^&*(%^$$#$#@#@!!!!

I sat down in a pout and started to rant to Henry about the chocolate fountain.

“It’s like they’re chocolate fountain tourists and I just can’t.”

Henry said, “Oh, I was wondering why that lady was just standing there watching the fountain.” There was a small wall separating the buffet from the restaurant-area, so Henry couldn’t see the chocolate fountain-dunce in the wheelchair. This and the fact that Gayle was the accidental fountain expert was highly amusing to me and I couldn’t stop savoring my new inside joke with myself.

In an easy effort to finish my meal off in a disgusting manner, I served myself a scoop of “wood ear soup.” Yes, this was supposed to be a dessert; I mean, it was right by the tapioca and jello squares. I knew without even trying it that it was going to be another failed Asian attempt at “sweet.” And it was! It was like placing paper-thin sheaths of cartilage in my mouth; some kind of texture in between “crunchy” and “chewy” and my lower jaw actually just quivered a tiny bit at the memory of my molars bearing down on this junk. Everyone at our end of the table was following along with my wood ear soap opera, and Lauren’s sister Erica said, “I’m pretty sure wood ear is a type of mushroom…”

(Meanwhile, another of Patty’s friends had arrived and was having his goatee stroked by Gayle. It was THAT kind of a party, you guys.)

20140317-154531.jpg That red thing tasted familiar. Not sweet at all, and weird. I have no other English words for it, but it was ultimately just a really uncomfortable after-dinner option in a bowl. Finally, I broke down and googled “wood ear soup” and learned that the red thing tasted familiar because it is a red date and one time a few months ago, I made Henry buy an entire package of those things from Oriental Market even though he said I wouldn’t like it.

“And did you like it?” Gayle asked.

“No,” I said, and then Gayle laughed really hard in front of everyone which is what I pay her for.

Anyway, Google also taught me that “wood ear soup” is a real thing that people willingly eat. There are recipes for this shit. It calls for wood ear mushrooms, red dates and a blowtorch just to make certain that you have no tastebuds going into this.

I couldn’t get anyone else to go up there and try it, and Henry wouldn’t finish mine, which made me panic because was I going to get charged an extra $8 for not licking that bowl clean? Everyone said I was probably fine. And I believed them. They made me feel strong, which was how I found the strength to help some little girl get soap from the automatic soap dispenser in the restroom.

(This is how it happened: Her: *holding hands under automatic soap dispenser; nothing squirting out*

Me, in an annoyed tone: “Yeah, maybe try the other one…?”

Her: *tries other one; classic hand-washing success story*)

Then it was time for Henry and I to leave (totally dined and dashed and felt terrible about it; we were having a good time!) which created an awkward tizzy of “DID YOU HAVE LUNCH OR DINNER?!!?” interrogations from the meanest waitress I have ever encountered. (The same one who chucked straws at us.) Honestly, it made the whole experience even better.

Anyway, after we left, I realized that I’m Facebook friends with someone else who was there, but had no fucking idea because I have never seen her in real life. (We’re friends because of zombie and horror events, and I’m pretty sure she has bought cards from me.)

As usual, I didn’t eat my money’s worth at the buffet, so halfway though my tattoo session, I was so hungry that even the subtle stench of my own burnt flesh was making my stomach growl. Henry, on the other hand, was sick from his 45 plates of meat so I spent the rest of the night “accidentally” punching his stomach.

GOOD TIMES. Happy birthday, Patty!! Sorry I missed the cake. (Which she brought with her, so it probably didn’t have mushrooms or squid broth in it. But, you never know. I don’t know Patty that well.)

 

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Mar 022014
 

I’m the only one awake in my house right now, so instead of sullenly staring out the window at the SNOW, I figured I could spin some yarns about the shit we did yesterday. Because how will you ever sleep not knowing every detail about my lame life.

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Chooch has his piano lessons every Saturday at noon. It used to be at 11 but then Cheryl moved it back an hour and I rejoiced because sometimes it’s nice to lay around like a sloth on Saturday mornings. I know my kid’s attention span, so I’m kind of surprised that he not only makes it through the hour long lessons without his brain exploding, but that he actually seems to enjoy it (and he even practices on his own!). He’s getting comfortable enough with Cheryl now that he gets kind of argumentative with her. Because he knows everything, you know. Like, I sit there and try to read my book*, but then I get distracted by the arguing. She was like, “Here, you play this song and I’ll sing along” so that happened but Chooch for some reason got really irritated by her singing (she sings like a normal person, not a dwarf swallowing pine cones like that Passenger guy) so he made this disgruntled noise and said, “Or, how about I play this AND I sing.” He’s such a goddamn dick sometime.

Then she made the mistake of telling him he’s a natural talent, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing all about that until the end of time.

*(I’ve been on the same page of “Broke Down Horses” for weeks, it seems. This book is so boring, it’s no wonder it’s been sitting around my house, unread, since 2009. I really liked Jeannette Walls’ other book, “Glass Castle,” so I’m pretty disappointed. I’m on page 70. Should I just quit? I mean, I quit everything else!)

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After the lesson, our chauffeur Henry picked us up and we ate lunch at Station Street Hot Dogs which I love because they have veggie versions of pretty much everything (and it’s Kevin Sousa’s, my Pittsburgh chef-crush). My favorite is the Devil Dog, which is loaded with egg salad and potato chips (a fucking picnic in your palm!), but yesterday I opted for the veggie chili dog because it has cheese curd on it and I woke up yesterday really wanted to roll some balls of cheese curd around my mouth. (Not actually.)

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I forgot that I dislike onions.

Anyway, after we ordered at the counter, the cashier asked Henry what name to use for the order.

“Henry,” he said, of course.

“Eric?” she repeated.

AND HE WAS LIKE SURE. So then the hot dog maker called “Eric?” when our order was done and Henry was like “That’s us” and fetched our hot dogs like a good Eric. It wasn’t that funny, BUT IT WAS THAT FUNNY. I had to spin around on my stool so no one would see me cracking up alone, because why wouldn’t Henry correct that lady when she misheard his name? (Asks the girl who eats tomatoes & walks extra laps in the cemetery because speaking up is hard work.)

“It’s not that funny,” Henry mumbled when he slid my hot dog over to me.

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Henry’s Hot Dog Hole. I was going to start calling him Eric all day, but Eric’s Hot Dog Hole just doesn’t satisfy my psychotic need to alliterate everything.

Then we came home. Then we went to the craft store so I could get shit for my fake art. Then we went to my new favorite cookie place, Give Mia Cookie, and then and then and then! We acted like we had never seen or eaten a cookie before and tried to get Henry to buy it all. Seriously, if you live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, or if you live elsewhere in Pittsburgh and don’t have a bridge-crossing stick up your ass, go buy some cookies from this place!

After eating too many cookies (and brownies; they brought out a tray of fresh brownies right as Henry was about to pay and Chooch and I screamed, “BUT, BROWNIES!!!” so then we got brownies too because Henry still is moderately affected by our adorable spoiled brat syndrome), we went right down the street to the South Park Skating Rink, a place I haven’t been in honestly like 20 years, what the fuck—how did I get old? It was my friend John’s daughter Abby’s birthday party, and I was really nervous about this because you might remember when we went to her party last year at the bowling alley and Henry tried to murder me with a bowling ball. I didn’t even want to think about the horrible “accidents” he could cause on an ice rink.

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Thinking about it.

As we walked into the skate rink, I smiled and said dreamily, “Wow, I got in so many fights in this place.”

“Why?” Chooch asked.

“Because your mom’s a brat,” Henry sighed. MORE LIKE BECAUSE MOMMY WAS A THUG, YO.

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My relationship with ice skating is shoddy at best. I spent almost every winter weekend in 9th and 10th grade at this rink, but I sure as shit wasn’t skating. I was flirting, y’all. (I actually had a personality back then.) Sometimes I would go through the motions of slapping skates to my feet, but I never made it much further than the baby rink. It always hurt my ankles and I was never very good at it. I was one of those wall-clingers that I make fun of at the roller rink.

But I wanted to try it again because I didn’t want to just stand around like a doof. But I should have known that it was going to be a failure from the get-go when they skate people kept giving me awful skates that were made for giants and gave my Princess Complex a reason to come out roaring like a bear, and Henry just looooves when that happens in public, because who doesn’t like to be seen with a 34-year-old spoiled fucking brat?

Finally, I let the skates win and dejectedly followed Henry and Chooch out to the baby rink. This was Chooch’s first time ice skating and he was walking around like he was wearing penny loafers, no big deal. He went around the baby rink once and was like, “OK, I got this” and left for the big rink while I was still paralyzed on the first square foot of ice I stepped on inside the baby rink. Henry had to help me back out.

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Even after that, I was still going to try to skate on the big rink, especially after seeing Chooch fearlessly step onto it. But I never made it. I stood at the rink-opening, contemplating it, but visions of falling and having Henry skate over my neck kept ice-dancing through my head so I stomped back inside and ripped off the skates.

With just the tiniest smidge of attitude, I said to the skate rental boy, “I’ll stick with roller skating.” Then I slid the skates at him in a huff, forgetting I had to wait there for him to return my fucking shoes to me.

Oh, the joy of sliding my green-striped feet back into my TOMS. None of the other parents were skating, so fuck it, right?

I went back outside to watch Henry forget that he’s a warehouse manager and not Johnny Weir, but he didn’t last much longer either, stating “foot problems” as the reason, when we all know it’s because his hemorrhoids were probably becoming enflamed. So we were standing there, watching the kids skate, when I heard a familiar voice behind me. I turned around just in time to see a white puffy coat and a flash of blond hair whizz past me, and immediately I recognized her as someone I went to high school with.

Now, normal Erin fashion would be to form a face-curtain with my hair and then spend the remaining time at the party trying to wedge myself inside Henry’s armpit. But instead, I left Henry without a word and marched over to where the girl was standing, because this was one of my best childhood friends of all time.

Turns out she had recently moved back to Pittsburgh and her son is in Abby’s class, so they were here for the same party. So fucking random. I think the last time I talked to her, we were 19 or so. We had slowly grown apart during high school, not because of any certain drama or anything, but we just went different directions. And it probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to reconnect with a lost friend in the age of Facebook, but she isn’t on Facebook. God, that must be nice!

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So I totally ditched Henry and talked to Spring for the rest of the party. Henry didn’t mind though because he and John were talking about boring man things, like Home Depot sales and NCIS probably.

“Are you still artsy?” Spring asked me, and it made me laugh because back then all I ever did was write and draw and now I still do, but just in very different ways, I guess. So I don’t know if I really consider myself “artsy.” I do tech support at a law firm, for Christ’s sake. That’s about as un-artsy as it gets. But I appreciate that this is how I was remembered.

And then the subject of my family came up, which is always a party foul. I guess her mom runs into my dad sometimes, so Spring knows a little about what’s been going on, and so we talked about how my mom is not the woman she used to be and how everything went to hell after my pappap died.

“He was the glue that held your family together,” Spring said knowingly. And then she went on to talk about how wonderful my mom was to her when we were growing up, and it made me so goddamn sad, because my mom used to be the fucking shit. I can’t tell you how many times she helped out my friends, how generous she was, and how much fun we used to have with her. She wasn’t “Mrs. Kelly” to anyone, she was Val. But you know what I realized though, after thinking about this all last night? She still sucked at being a mom, even back then when she still had most of her sanity. She was just good at throwing her money around and rejecting responsibility, which obviously was amazingly cool and fascinating in the eyes of a teenager. But sometimes I needed her to be a mom. Like when I was heart broken but she said I didn’t know what a problem was. Or when I was legitimately sick and she kept laughing and saying I was a hypochondriac. Or when my pappap died and I needed to mourn with her but she had completely shut down.

Family drama out of the way, we spent the rest of the party reminiscing about all the time we spent in the “haunted” woods behind my house (for real though, it could be haunted), roller-skating in my basement, and how Spring stepped on a yellow jacket nest at my dad’s campground.

“Did you ever legally change your name to Emerald?” Spring laughed. I totally forgot about that! It was my poetry pen name. You know how I make fake art now? Well in high school, I wrote fake poems. I even trained two teachers to call me Emerald in class! (Granted, one was a gym teacher…)

Emerald Appledale…now to find a Pudgy Mom porno to star in.

We kept trying to tell our respective sons about how we were best friends when we were their age, but they didn’t give a shit.

Eventually, everyone went back inside to the party room to have pizza. I was getting anxious because it seemed like every child was going for the cheese pizza and I started wringing my hands because what if they ran out of cheese and I had to pick off sausage?! So I got up and stood in line with the kids.

“I just want to make sure all the kids get a piece first,” John said as I was doing the Nervous Jig in line.

“John, I AM a kid,” I argued.

“This is true,” he said, handing me a plate. And that is how I got to eat pizza before any of the grown-ups.

Later, he was telling me and Henry about how his teenaged daughter was driving him nuts.

“It only gets worse,” Henry counseled, subtly jabbing a thumb toward me.

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As the party started to disperse, Chooch and John’s son Gavin were running around. John and I had both told them multiple times not to run around up there, but god forbid kids should listen. So Chooch got up and started running, causing Gavin to immediately get the itch to chase him. However, Gavin was running in his socks and inevitably slipped, banging his head off the concrete floor. OMG we are like a black cloud at their parties! Two years ago at Gavin’s party, Chooch and Gavin were running around and Chooch accidentally pushed him down a hill. Henry, as mentioned earlier, almost killed me at Abby’s party last year. And now this.

I really thought we were going to make it out of there without incident! It’s a miracle that still invite us to their parties.

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Feb 112014
 

“Do you know anyone from Kansas?”
“No, I don’t think so…”
“Well, YOU DO NOW!”

***

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My dear friend Alyson was in town on Friday. A blues band from Wichita, Kansas—Moreland & Arbuckle—were playing some shows in Pennsylvania and Alyson happens to not only be a fan of this band, but also friends with this band. So she decided to drive down from New Hampshire to follow them, which benefitted me since one of their shows was in Pittsburgh. There was not enough time to hang out before their show, but she stopped over when it was over, just in time to feed Chooch chocolates and then bodyslam him right before he went to bed. (He had honestly been pacing all night, asking when the hell she was coming over. It was adorable & annoying all at once.)

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Chocolates from the one and only Bobby Blitz Ellsworth‘s wife’s Chocolaterie! I have read so much about this chocolate from Alyson’s LiveJournal, so it was extremely welcome in my slobbering mouth. Chooch and I were practically clawing each other over it.

After a brief visit at my house, I followed Alyson back to her hotel, where we drank beautiful wines made by her friends Peter and Josh (a Fox Run Cabernet Franc and Lamoreaux Landing semi dry Riesling, respectively), ate more chocolate, and learned self-defense moves with 2/3 of the band, Kendall and Dustin. And then there was 3AM handwriting analysis. Some people do drugs in hotel rooms; Alyson does signature scrutiny. And this is why she is certainly, unequivocally one of the coolest kids in my book.

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Do.Not.Fucking.Ask. what is up with my Sloth-like appearance. I hadn’t been feeling well that day and by this point, it was like 2AM and….yeah, I have no excuse. IT IS WHAT IT IS, OK.

It’s not easy to put into words when a night is that great. Before our New England road trip last June, I hadn’t seen Alyson since August of 2008. And now here I was, hanging out with her for the second time in less than a year. I think that counts as one of those blessings that you people talk about.

I rolled into bed around 4:30 that morning, much to Henry’s delight, and proceeded to be a royal, sleep-deprived bitch all of Saturday because I just can’t hang anymore, you guys. Henry kept begging me to take a nap. But I am too stubborn for naps.

***

The funny thing about me and Alyson is that, on the surface, it doesn’t appear we have much in common. But the interests we do share, we share in a big way. One of the first common denomonators that presented itself back in 2005 was The Cure. Sure, a lot of people “like” The Cure, so that shouldn’t have been a big deal. But Alyson and I both fucking adore The Cure so much that I know when I say that sometimes it feels like my heart is inching its way up to my throat when I listen to them, she will be emphatically nodding in agreement, hundreds of miles away.

For years, we’ve had an inside joke regarding a former member of The Cure, Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst. So I made her this little painting to commemorate our friendship with a proverbial wink.

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Sometimes, the unlikeliest of friendships form; life is beautiful that way. Alyson has stuck with me through drama with mutual friends, great distances and personality differences. Thank you, Alyson, for your loyal friendship (and gifts of wine and chocolate, obviously)!

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Jan 062014
 

Chooch decided he wanted to have his own game night and I was like, “That’s fine because I don’t feel like having my own. You do it.” So he invited Janna, his cousins Zac and Steph and Aunt Kelly for a riveting night of “Wait, where did we put the games?”

GOD FORBID JANNA was late, so we had a relaxed social hour while waiting for her, a social hour which consisted of Chooch pretending to know how to play his keyboard (I’m 5 for 5 so far with piano instructors not reponding to my inquiries, so that’s rad) and me chanting, “Can we have pizza? Will you order pizza? Did you order pizza? WHERE IS THE PIZZA?” in time with Chooch’s make-believe piano ballads.

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Here’s a rough timeline of Chooch’s Game Night for those of you who were not (un?)fortunate enough to receive your own Chooch-emailed invitation.

Around 7:00: Let’s play Apples To Apples Junior! Chooch will be the judge and try to only pick his brilliant mommy’s card, which makes Janna and Zac say things like, “We want a new judge!”

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7:20: Chooch cries for the first time of the night because Janna and Zac said they want a new judge and EVERYONE HATES HIM!

7:21: Chooch runs off to his bedroom.

7:22: Flimsy accusations of how he’s “JUST LIKE ERIN” poop out of Henry’s dumb mouth.

7:23-7:35: People try to coax Chooch downstairs, but then he wipes his tears off and says, “Send Janna up here.”

7:36: Janna goes to Chooch’s bedroom and is almost killed. She’s all, “Let’s talk about this” and Chooch is all, “Thanks but I would rather dice you up with my ratchet and eat like a fucking Dinty Moore stew.”

7:40: We play Scattergories without Chooch, and Janna tried to fashion a garrote from the memories of 15 years of surrendering to my impenetrable Scattergories gauntlet.

7:42: I forget how to spell Mary Magdalene. God, who does that?

7:45: I make up a dessert called raspberry ramalade because that is a word I heard once on the Food Network but it’s apparently spelled “remoulade” and is made with pickles and mayonaisse and sometimes anchovies, so clearly I was justified in giving myself 2 points for that dessert. And then I put “rapist” for “Things on a Map” and the room gets quiet. “I can see why Janna hates playing this with you,” Kelly says, laughing nervously.

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7:50: I scream at Janna for continuing to write after time runs out. Kelly and Steph learn why I have no friends.

7:55: Give myself a pat on the back for winning another three rounds of Scattergories while being super mature about it for once.

8:20: Chooch and Zac play Twister after us Old Timers explain that adults have been known to break things by playing Twister, and sometimes those “things” are “children.”

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8:45: Janna drinks all of my wine and then starts drinking Henry’s beer, too.

9:00: Kelly, Zac and Steph peace out. Wouldn’t you?!

9:05: OMG I drink a beer!

9:10: I remember that we have Old Maid, which just so happens to be the only card game I can play. After downing a lot of wine, this seems like the best idea ever, even better than the time I decided to vaccuum the fridge to “save time.”

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9:11: I’m still drinking the same beer.

9:20: We manage to fuck up Old Maid, and then Chooch loses interest.

9:21: We play Story Cubes and Chooch makes me proud by effortlessly name-dropping Lizzie Borden in his story. He is so good at that game! I wish I had recorded one of them.
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9:30: Henry participates in approximately zero games, which makes Janna and I reminisce about this one beyotch we used to be friends with (who, incidentally, threatened to kick me out of her wedding party one night after I slapped Janna while playing Scattergories, haha) who would always bring her weird boyfriend/now-husband to my game nights but he would never play so we were certain it was because he was illiterate. I know that Henry is at least partially-literate, so clearly his problem is that he HATES FUN. Shocker.

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9:45: I’m almost halfway done with my beer!

10:00: Speaking of literacy, Janna and I talk about books.

10:30: Janna accientally hits Chooch in the face with a chair, WWF-style.

10:31: Chooch cries for ONLY the second time that night and then uses said tears to guilt her into watching him play Minecraft.

11:00: Janna tries to escape and Chooch says, “You hit me in the face with a chair. You’ll do what I tell you to do.”

11:01: Henry draws Chooch/Erin comparisons for the 87th time that day.

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11:20: I (mostly) finish my beer!

Great game night, Chooch. You have a real future in hosting. JUST LIKE YOUR MOMMY!

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Dec 272013
 

20131226-190824.jpg Lately I’ve been feeling OK about our current living situation. I think all the furniture repurposing and purging of “stuff” has really rejuvenated the living room enough for me to feel comfortable about having people over again. Hosting parties was my thang, you guys. And then I just stopped because time (and lack of money) has really worn down my house, and we only rent so there is only so much we can do as far as sprucing goes. Thank god spray paint is so economical.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I wanted to have a small, casual Christmas Eve get-together. I know most people celebrate with family, but I figured maybe there might be some friends looking for something to do. There were a ton of Christmas Eves where I was alone with a cup of Manischevitz and tears. I don’t want anyone to have to be alone!

And I also just wanted an excuse to bring back the Beverage Buffet again because you know how I get obsessed.

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We went with a Christmas Sangria and classic spiked egg nog. Turns out, Henry makes some fucking bomb egg nog.

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Chooch was pacing all day. “When are people coming over? What time is it now? How much longer?” He’s definitely my kid.

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Christmas Crack. I forget what it is, but it was really good.

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Corey is probably the only other person as obsessed with the Beverage Buffet as me.

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My friend Sean (ex-Law Firm) stopped by with some wheat beer for me, because so far that is the only kind of beer I am sort of able to kind of swallow. This particular kind tasted like an unknown vegetable, but I was able to drink TWO OF THEM back to back, which is how I know I was already drunk. Sangria/egg nog/beer/wine: GREAT FUCKING COMBO, DUMBASS.

Sean brought his friend Lee with him. I thought he looked familiar when he walked into my house, and then he was like, “I met you a few years ago at your roller skating party. I’m the one—”

“WHOSE SKATE BROKE!” I cried, and then laughed because I’m super polite and socially on point. So then that’s how I introduced him to everyone, as the Guy Whose Skate Broke at my birthday party, and he was just like, “This is fucking awesome.”

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Lee Whose Skate Broke and Sean.

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Sean and Wendy.

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Henry’s oldest son Robbie and his girlfriend Stephanie.

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Shannon and Blake, who I don’t believe purposely coordinated wardrobes with his brother Robbie.

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Evidence that Henry socializes with people!

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The Handa’s! I was happy that they were able to stop by because usually our hangouts consist of us covertly waving to them as we pass through their rooms in Castle Blood.

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Best Frenemies.

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Janna stayed late and we watched Henry wrap presents while I commented every 15 seconds on how drunk I was. It was a really great evening, even though Henry’s weird pumpkin seed dip was a colossal fail. Good job, Henry.

I think it’s time to start having Game Nights again. RIGHT, KARA?

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Nov 302013
 

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I’ve never been a very big shopper, so Black Friday does not appeal to me at all. I was, however, happy to have the day off work and spent it being leisurely with Chooch. We walked to Cannon Coffee on Brookline Boulevard and got some hot beverage.

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Chooch somehow ended up with “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America” or something, and decided to read aloud from the first chapter, which was about shiesty lawyers turning us into a sue-happy nation and it coincidentally started off with a Simpsons analogy. Since Chooch is also OBSESSED with Simpsons Tapped Out, he was fucking thrilled about this.

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Came home, tortured Marcy.

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Henry came home around 3:30 and I abandoned him and Chooch. My friend Nina was visiting from Virginia and Wendy was hosting a small get-together for her. Everyone was all, “OMG Erin drove here all by herself!” like I don’t know how to drive or something! I just barely get to go anywhere on my own since we only have one car, you guys! I’m not THAT helpless.

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Barb was there with her tricked-out boots, and also Sean and Angie who ditched the Law Firm last spring, so I was really happy to see them. Several of Nina’s non-Law Firm friends were there, too, but poor Sean was the only boy…

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…so it was inevitable that he learned about Kegels.

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Angie and Nina!

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This is also the same face Wendy makes when ordering My Pretty Zombie eye shadow.

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Barb and Baby Q!

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OMG I miss working with Angie so much.

I think Wendy fed me an entire can of whipped cream while I was there. I need a fucking detox!

 

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Nov 142013
 

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Last night after work, Henry, Chooch and I met our favorite Castle Blood friends (Ricky, Dawn, Chris, Kari and Katelyn) at Cambod-Ican Kitchen on the Southside for some late night dinner. The last time I saw them, we were going through Castle Blood so we couldn’t very well stop the tour and talk about the weather with them. Dinner was definitely in order!

I was so fucking hungry by the final hour I was here at work that I was full-on chewing on my hair. (My friend Kara lectures me about this all of the time, but I can’t help it!) I don’t generally go out after work since my shift is so ridiculously inconvenient (I need to work on changing that, and if the Fates are reading this, I DO NOT MEAN THAT I WOULD LIKE TO BE FIRED), but if we waited until the weekend, I would not have gotten to see my friend Dawn before she returns to Canada. And that’s just bullshit. Thankfully, almost immediately after we sat down, Cambod-Ican Dan slide two plates of Moon Sauce-bathed wontons down on the table and I was like “FUCK YES!” and then “HOW DO I EAT THESE?!” because I’m really weird about picking up food with my hands. (Don’t worry, I figured it out.) They were so delicious that even CHOOCH ate them and he is so goddamn picky when it comes to eating things that haven’t been shat from a vending machine or boxed by General Mills.

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We had to beg Chooch on the way there not to be an asshole. He reaches that point at night where he basically goes insane and you never which way it’s going to go: careening down It’sNotFunnyAnymore Avenue or wanting to drown myself in the Here’sDamien Canal. Luckily, he wasn’t being too bad, but he did get pretty hyper by the end of the night because his GIRLFRIEND Katelyn was there. He even breakdanced at one point, which is proper restaurant etiquette in Pittsburgh, not bad parenting.

Chooch and Katelyn mostly competed with each other over who knows more math and on one hand I was like, “Wow, this is awesome to hear kids giving a shit about math!” but on the other hand, I was like, “But I don’t give a shit about math, so STFU.”
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Also, I was a little bit on edge because my Simpsons: Tapped Out app WOULD NOT FUCKING WORK for me almost all day! I was waiting for goddamn Spinster City Apartments to finish building, too. It was a big day for my fucking Springfield, so thank you EA Games for fucking my life with a pine cone.

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Henry made everyone laugh and it was so annoying.

Chooch was trying to hide behind a chair (thank god we were the only diners there) from Katelyn and everyone was like, “She is totally going to see you, asshole” and then Henry was like, “He gets his poor hiding skills from his mother.” I got super defensive about this because I AM GOOD AT HIDING, so I reminded Henry of the time Chooch and I hid from him in a wheat field and he had no idea where we were.

“Yeah, and I didn’t care, either.”

Chris actually choked on his water and Henry was SO SMUG. He’s going to be riding THIS horse for weeks. Maybe even longer.

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But then all of the grown-ups had to figure out the bill so it got really serious.

Chris said his favorite part was when Chooch stunned Dan by not only ordering tofu, but actually knowing what tofu is and liking it. THAT’S MY BOY. We also bullied him into eating a dragon pepper. That didn’t go over as well.

Here is Henry’s review:

Normally, I don’t like beef at Asian restaurants, but this beef was good.

PLEASE start a food blog.

In other news, I can’t wait for Dawn to move here. She likes crafting so I’ll be able to say, “Here Dawn, turn this Band-Aid into a pillow” and then she also loves to bake so I can also say, “And when you’re done with my Band-Aid Pillow, bake me some snickerdoodles in Jonny Craig’s likeness.” And she will do those things.

Just like that!!

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It was after 11 when we left. We’re all such great parents, keeping our young children out that late on the Southside of all places. The Catholic school moms reading this will probably have a lot to say!

Anyway, what a great night. It’s always so good seeing my haunter friends because who else really gives a shit about how I rate all of the haunted houses I went to this year?

SHAMELESS PROMOTION: I’m really looking forward to the Castle Blood Christmas show on December 14th and 15th. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, you should totally go. You could even go with ME, OMG!!!

(They didn’t even pay for my dinner, and I STILL pimped them out! I guess I’m still riding on my Food Bank high.)

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Nov 082013
 

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I had lunch plans with my blog friends Alex and Elizabeth last Saturday. It feels weird to call them my “blog friends,” but that is technically how I met them, which is unusual only because they don’t live 5,000 miles away like my blog friends typically do. (Probably Janna wishes she lived 5,000 miles away from me, too. And Henry.) Shamefully, I am really not a part of the Pittsburgh “blog scene,” like, at all. I’ve been toiling away at this shit for 12 years but am pretty much the blogging equivalent to a recluse. I don’t go to those podcast things (I don’t even know what the hell they are! It sounds too sci-fi for my liking) or tweet-ups so it’s really no wonder that I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

(Although, a few weeks ago, I did agree to be interviewed for an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about anti-soccer moms who blog, which was really stepping outside of my padlocked box. I didn’t even mention it to my friends and family on Facebook! Literally, I think only 5 of my friends knew that it was going to happen. I hate attention, says the girl with a public blog, Twitter, Instagram and quotation mark tattoos on her fingers. But honestly, I mostly just want attention from HENRY and he does not give me enough.)

Anyway, the point to this is that yay! I have a few friends in Pittsburgh who blog! I can sit down with people and talk about comments and feeds and stats while taking pictures of my food to post on my blog later, and not have my company nod off or fashion nooses out of their own hair because oh great, Erin’s talking about her blog again. I mean, not that I talk about my blog constantly…anymore.

Originally, we were supposed to go to Casa Rasta and I was all excited because Casa Rasta does not hate vegetarians and also because it would be a nice walk for me. Except that Henry had some stupid training thing (read: sexcapade) that morning at work (read: seedy motel) and didn’t tell me until the last minute so then it was starting to look like I wouldn’t be able to leave in enough time to walk there, so I did what any normal walkaholic would do and started to walk there with Chooch and then Henry swung by on his way home from infidelity and picked him up so that I wouldn’t have to be all, “SURPRISE! I brought my child! Please watch your swearing*, thanks.”

*(Yeah right.)

Anyway, I got to Casa Rasta and those taco-makin’ motherfuckers didn’t have the decency to text us personally to let us know they were closed for the day because of some dumb party they were preparing for. So then I had to be all, “Hay Elizabeth and Alex, this place is closed. Btw I walked here so someone pick me up, please.” Alex suggested we just go to Arby’s and I was about to whine about how there is nothing for me to eat there, but then he was just kidding. I was all on the spot because we were technically on my turf and I should probably know about all kinds of underground hot spots and not just meth-related ones, but everything I suggested was closed until dinner time for some ludicrous reason. This is just a lot of words to say: We ate lunch at It’s Greek To Me. I was just there over the summer and was pretty disappointed to see that they had majorly pared down their menu. No more flaming cheese. :(

This was the third or fourth time I hung out with Elizabeth. We started reading each other’s blogs through our mutual friend Sandy and then eventually took the plunge and met IRL. The first several times were not conducive to conversation: roller-skating; chasing our spawns at a Hipster Gathering with Food Trucks; and, god forbid, the pie party. The pie party is also where I met Alex for the first time IRL, and some things you should know about me when I’m hosting a party: I AM STRESSED OUT AND FRAZZLED AND SUCK AT MAKING WORDS WITH MY MOUTH. A do-over was in order and a lunch date was definitely the perfect setting for having relaxed conversation with pita stuffed in my mouth.

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Elizabeth recently decided that she wants to start meeting up with Pittsburgh bloggers for a new interview feature on her blog. And Alex and I got to be her guinea pigs! I was kind of stressed out at first because who knows the things that I might say, but it was good. I think she should have interviewed the waitress though. That lady was nuts and totally off her game. One of the questions Elizabeth asked us was if we hate-read any blogs. The official answer on her blog was that we don’t, but I actually used to and had to stop because it was giving me an ulcer. Now I just hate-read Facebook.

All of Alex’s answers started with, “Hey, humble-brag alert! I went to Greece on my honeymoon.” And all of mine started with, “Um.” I speak good.

Blogging wasn’t exclusively what we talked about in between frantic interruptions by our well-meaning waitress, but you know, it was kind of nice to dip my falafel in whatever-the-fuck sauce while listening to Alex tell me how fantastic I am. I mean, my blog. How fantastic my blog is. He also marveled over how SOFT-SPOKEN I am, which is a little known fact. I am quite soft-spoken. And refined! This is because I’m so busy being calculating and weaving prejudices in my head. But I have my other side(s), too, like most people do, so if he hangs out with me a few more times, he’ll probably meet Other Erin. I also liked the time when Alex started to tell us about some electrical thingie that happened to his car that morning, and he paused to ask me if I drive. Yes, I drive! I’m just obsessed with walking.

Elizabeth and Alex both brought fun blogging ideas with them and I’m very excited to participate in both! I on the other hand brought nothing with me but an umbrella which I managed to lose.

And I only mentioned Jonny Craig once. You guys, I think I’m finally starting to kick the addiction!

Then Alex ordered baklava to go because he doesn’t want people to know he eats dessert and there was this befuddling mixup with the checks and I’m still not sure how it was resolved. I was going to say that it was Greek to me, but that’s just dumb.

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Oct 122013
 

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Signing up for the Color Run two months ago seemed like a super great idea when Chris sent out the email at work. But I had completely different feelings about it when my alarm went off at 6 o’clock this morning, that’s for sure.

Amber1 picked me up at 7 we mostly talked endlessly the whole drive to South Park about how tired we were. We got a little perkier once Chris, Monica, Amber2 and Steve showed up, though. Plus there was loud Top 40 music blaring across the fairgrounds so that also helped keep me alert.

 

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I made lots of sad, pouty faces while we stood in the start line, but then Amber1 started throwing her pack of color on all of us and how can you not be happy when clouds of color are sprinkling down on you? I was really worried about getting it in my eyes though. I had enough problems seeing without this color shit getting all up in there.

Then I tried to catch a color pack that some Color Run dude was tossing into the crowd and I ended up mistaking it for a bridal bouquet and accidentally pulled some bitch’s hair (and I think I stepped on her foot) and THEN SHE SNATCHED THE COLOR PACK FROM ME. God, I was too fucking tired to care. I did really want to catch one of the free fanny packs, though, but none came even remotely close to me. I totally would have filled it with Fruit Stripes gum and stuck my Smokey the Bear pin to it.

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That time Amber2 and Steve got mad at us and walked ahead.

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I learned that certain colors are really important to certain people. For instance, Amber1 was pissed that she didn’t get coated in more pink and I became inexplicably obsessed with the fact that none of us got any green thrown on us. Apparently I like green more than I thought I did. Purple was also a color of contention because we felt it was lame that none of the color stations had it! And Monica and Chris almost broke up arguing over whether it was really pink or fuschia. (I mean, I think that happened, anyway. I was pretty tired.)

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We all started off in a slight jog, but then quickly went back to walking. I was talking to Henry about this later on and he said, “If I had to pay $40 for a 5K, I would definitely walk the entire thing so it would last longer. Why would you want to run and get done faster? I’d want my money’s worth.”

I don’t think Henry understands the concept of a 5K.

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It rained for a little bit, which made the colors feel super gross on my skin.

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I stole this picture from Amber1′s Instagram because it’s great.

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After we crossed the finish line (totally anticlimactic), I did what I do best by posing awkwardly for a photo. Then we all ate a free Kind bar and went home.

WAIT!! PS!! I forgot about the part where I BROKE MY ANKLE* near the finish line after I accidentally stepped in an 87-foot deep pothole disguised as a puddle AND NO ONE CARED!!!!

*(Don’t worry—it has since miraculously healed.)

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Oct 102013
 

Alternately titled: Alliteration is Annoying.

20131009-141455.jpg You know what my favorite part of the Pie Party is? I mean, besides pretending to be invincible from saddlebag-inducing calories all day. Getting to hang out with my peoples! I’m not nearly as social as I once was in the yesteryears, but I still have a little bit of the hostess bug in my system, so I enjoy putting together a nice event for my friends to crash. And people seem to really love the whole “WHAT KIND OF PIE SHOULD I BAKE/BRING!?” part, which is awesome. Especially when dudes roll up with a pie in their hands like it’s your basic 6-pack.

I literally started having pie parties because I wanted to eat pie and I wanted my friends to bring me those pies. And they did! I had no idea it would have grown into what it is now though. And it’s even reunited me with some old high school friends too, which makes me believe that pie is the answer to all of the problems. Vote for pie.

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The tables were pretty much piled with pie within the first 45 minutes. Sweet, glorious motherfucking pie. All kinds of pie, too! Pies with fruit, cream, chocolate and even savory pies like Kelly’s taco pie and spinach pie, and Patty and Tim’s veggie quiche. I loved that there were non-sweet options because while I love the fuck out of pie, I always forget to eat lunch beforehand and end up being That Person who is craving a sandwich at the pie party.

From what I hear, the taco pie was a hit, but I wouldn’t know because of that whole no meat clause in my diet. (Read: I’m still too stubborn to eat meat 17 years after my parents told me I’d never last as a vegetarian.)

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My ex-work nemesis BRAD, along with Gayle and her crew. Gayle brought me a hostess gift! Brad did not.

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I didn’t know Sean was planning on coming! So that was a nice surprise.

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I became tragically ill after eating my first plate of pies. I guess my body isn’t used to all of the sugar anymore, so I wound up with an immediate headache. (This could have also had something to do with the ridiculous amount of stress I put myself under before the party even started. What good is a pie party if I can’t even enjoy myself!?)

That chemical pie up there was made by Kara and it was extremely confusing yet pleasurable to the mouth. It tastes just like an apple pie but it is MADE OUT OF RITZ CRACKERS WHAT. I guess this is something that originated during the Depression when apples were too expensive, but my feeble mind can barely comprehend the fact that someone was able to invent that back when there was no Internet. Henry was annoyed that I didn’t label it “mock apple pie” because I guess some people were deterred by the whole “chemical” thing. I wish I had a slice of that right now.

Kaitlin’s crack pie was the clear crowd favorite for the second year in a row, but Bridget’s Snickers apple pie was definitely a close second. I was able to snag a tiny morsel toward the end of the party after the tylenol my cousin Danielle gave me kicked in, and I can attest that it was definitely the kind of pie my fatter self would have eaten the FUCK out of.

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My new work friend Chris and her girlfriend Monica (who is also my friend now too, thanks Facebook!) made this Yoda caramel pear pie which I didn’t get to try and I am so fucking pissed because the first (and only) pie I ever made (kind of)on my own was a pear pie!

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Bridget’s Snickers apple pie thing! I had to steal this photo from her Facebook because I didn’t get a picture on Sunday. I really wish that was sitting in front of me right now instead of this severed nun’s head that Marcy just brought over to me.

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Janna schmoozing with Jeremy when she was supposed to be helping me!!!

Apparently, everyone also really liked the pumpkin creme pie that Janna brought so I was quick to point out that it was FROM EAT N PARK. Nice try, Janna Child, but I saw the bag it came in.

I’m just kidding—lots of people bring bakery pies! There aren’t really any rules for the pie party. Just, you know, bring a pie.

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Here is a photo of people pleasantly pillaging pie. Sandy looks like she might even be singing about it.

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Dogs are also invited to the pie party. And I mean actual dogs, not ugly women.

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Danielle just always wears gray now to make it easier for Corey.

OMG! Remember two pie parties ago when I learned that my brother Corey is color blind?! Well, at this pie party, I learned that he sucks at Solitaire. But! He was one of only two people who enjoyed the cupcake pie, so at least he doesn’t suck at having good taste in pies? (I don’t care if anyone loved or hated Henry’s other pie, because that one was his idea and this is all about me. But my pies never shine, goddammit!)

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TWINS! Amber1 (on the right) brought a pink lemonade pie!

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The Law Firm Table. God only knows what good gossip I missed out on by earning my social butterfly wings. :(

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Laura and Mike brought a maple cream apple pie! MAPLE. IN AN APPLE PIE. I managed to plunge of forkful of it down my gullet before the end of the party and it was amazing.

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There three tiny babies at this year’s pie party, all of which I admired from afar. Not Wendy though, she got all up in their grills.

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OMG two of my friends from high school came this year! I hadn’t seen Cara since 1997, and I actually just had breakfast with Alisa a few weeks ago, so this was only the second time I’ve seen her since 1997. They brought little baby apple raspberry pies which were a hit (and were all snatched up before I could get Henry to put them with the invisible pile of leftovers he was pretending to take home). My favorite part was when Henry would walk by and Cara, Alisa and I would all look at him at the same time and he would be all, “What? What?” and then we would just laugh.

Alisa was really proud of her drawings, particularly her saggy boob-like glasses:

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I couldn’t believe she left without ripping this off as a souvenir, so then I thought it would be REALLY NICE of me to mail it to her so her kids could hang it up on the fridge, but stupid Henry had already thrown it out. What an art-hating douchebag. What’s next, Henry—signing petitions to get art classes out of public schools? Melting down our crayons for marital aids? Sorry to tell you Henry, but THAT IS CONSIDERED ART IN PRISON.

20131009-141340.jpg I sat next to Kara and Theo for awhile because Kara is pretty good at not baby-bombing my lap or giving me face-noogies with diapered butts. While I still have baby-phobia, it was pretty cool that there were three new babies there, unable to eat pie. In addition to Theo, Sandy brought her new baby Zoe, and my Internet friend Alex brought his little baby Finn! So all of the babies got to look at each other and not do anything. And no one forced one into my arms! I got to admire from several feet away, which is how I best handle these situations. I guess deep down I have this fear that I am going to cradle a baby in my arms at which time they will be able to sense with immediate certainty that I have the devil within and then they will begin to buck and shriek and everyone will turn to look at me and I hate it when people look at me.

Anyway, I do not have photos of Alex (THIS TIME) but it was really exciting that he came to eat pie because I have never met him in real life before! You may remember him as my guest-poster while I was on vacation last June and also the mastermind behind the April Fool’s Day Pittsburgh Blogger Thingie for which I wrote this Top 5 list about things I like to do in Pittsburgh. Anyway, I invited him via Twitter and was super stoked when he posted a picture on Instagram while baking a pie, because that meant that there was a 50/50 chance he was actually going to show up! Apparently, I missed his tweet telling me that they were lost, but he and his family still managed to show up! Which is amazing because whenever I’m lost, I give up after 5 minutes and go home. If I can find my way home. That’s the only complaint about the pie party every year, is that South Park is such a fucking vortex that most people end up driving around aimlessly looking for the pavilion. My co-worker Jill even wound up going to the park office for directions.

Too bad Henry won’t buy me a house with a sprawling backyard. BLAME HENRY, PIE PARTY IV EDITION.

Anyway, after Alex and his family left, Henry’s mom asked me how I know him.

“The Internet,” I said nonchalantly. “This was actually the first time I met him.”

“Did he bring a pie?” she asked me slowly.

“Yeah, the pecan pie,” I answered.

“I ATE A PIECE OF THAT!” she cried like she was expecting to fold in half and collapse into a poisoned flesh-heap. I promised her that I didn’t think Alex had baked hemlock into his pie, but if he did, I would surely contact the Twitter Police and they’d take him to some iJail and we’d follow the trial on Instagram.

20131010-091338.jpg There’s a water pump thing next to the pavilion and the kids pretty much spend most of their time at every pie party screaming at each other in kid-code and doing May Day dances around the pump all afternoon. Usually, other parents are keeping an eye out in case someone fashions a shiv out of a pie server and retaliates after their stuffed bunny gets tossed into the woods (I may or may not have my own child in mind here), so I can continue being 100% ignorant to the fact that my kid has stripped off his shoes, socks and shirts and is running around, drenched in sweat, speckled with dirt and leaves, and baring his ass crack. Supposedly, Chooch and his crew took bottles of water over to the slide and turned it into a waterslide, and it was probably a good thing that I was ignoring all of this because I have been told after the fact that when grown-ups would go over and tell them to please be careful, they would respond with, “We are invincible.” However, Kara told me that Chooch and the older kids were really good around Harland, Rachel and Elena, at least, and did not try to get them to climb any trees or stab adults in a cornfield.

Henry and I were talking about how no one cried this year, and then we realized it was because there were no poorly-parented bad seeds in the mix. The safe word of last year’s pie party was “MOMMMMMMMMY!!!!!!!” It was four hours of tattle-telling and crying and I wanted to run away. Ugh, kids.

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My pretty mason jars.

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The table looked so pretty in the beginning, but after about five minutes it prety much looked like this all day. Ugh, just looking at this picture makes me want to rewind to Sunday so I can eat more. I totally missed out.

Obligatory Pie People Count:

  • Janna
  • Jeremy
  • Elizabeth, Mike and Rachel
  • Sandy, Ben, Elena and Zoe
  • Kara, Harland and Theo
  • Kelly, Sam, Steph, Kian and Zac
  • Judy
  • Kaitlin
  • Corey and Danielle
  • (Cousin) Danielle, Ean and Corey
  • Cara and Alisa
  • Wendy
  • Brad
  • Bridget
  • John, Jenn, Hailey, Gavin and Abby
  • Sue
  • Barb
  • Amber1 and Ashley
  • Sean and Kylie
  • Chris and Monica
  • Nate and April
  • Mike and Laura
  • Patty and Tim
  • Gayle, Jeff and Tami
  • Debbie and Colton
  • Alex, Kelly and Finn
  • Jill

20131009-141544.jpg Thank god there always seem to be people there at the end to help Henry clean up and dole out leftovers, while I sit in a pie-coma, holding a fork.

I was never really able to bounce back after my inaugural pie plate gave me diabetes, but toward the end of the party, I remembered that there were savory pies, so I had a slice of spinach and the veggie quiche, which were both AMAZING and made me feel a lot better. Thanks for thinking out of the box, Kelly and Patty! So then I was able to take small samples of other pies while Henry was trying to wrap things up, like the cheesecake Wendy brought from the farmer’s market; Jill’s raspberry & chocolate ganache, which tasted like something that would earn a bitch an apron on Master Chef; Bridget’s Snickers apple pie thing, GOOD GOD Snickers should honestly find a way to put that into candy bar-form; and Laura’s maple cream apple pie which was fantastic because I’m obsessed with maple things still! I tried to get Henry to taste it but he said he doesn’t like maple!? I feel like maybe I just recently learned this but forgot because nothing he tells me is really all that interesting, unless it’s a story about him taking steroids and then Hulk-smashing a handicapped lady at a Ted Nugent concert.

Finally, at around 6:45, I headed down the street to Hundred Acres Manor with Laura, Mike, and my cousins Danielle, Corey and Ean, because what better way to end the pie party than by running through a haunted house while inhaling chainsaw fumes and synthetic fog? I was in such a hurry that it just now occurred to me that I don’t think I said goodbye to Henry’s family, and I now for certain that I didn’t say goodbye to Henry or Chooch. I rule at social couth.

****

When I got home that night, I felt a lot better and was suddenly really hungry again (literally, all I ate all day was cream of wheat and pretty much the equivalent of two slices of pie) so I started to look around for the leftovers but HENRY DID NOT TAKE ANYTHING HOME. Nothing! Not a single fucking piece of any pie. I wanted to kill him!

“Yeah, but if I had brought leftovers into the house, you would have bitched about me wanting to make you fat,” Henry argued. Touché, motherfucker. Touché.

Were you at the pie party? Did you have a good time? What is your all-time favorite pie? TELL ME! Because I clearly didn’t get my fill on Sunday.

 

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Oct 082013
 

Alternately titled: Henry & Erin’s Many Pie-related Break-Ups

I’m pretty laid back in a lot of different scenarios—well, mostly the ones that involve sleeping or watching TV—but when it comes to hosting parties, I am TYPE FUCKING A. I’ve always really enjoyed having parties, and one of the reasons I love the pie party is that it gives me a reason to have a party in the park instead of my shack-house. At the pie party, I don’t have to worry about my cat Willie pissing on someone’s purse, which some people might consider a party foul. (Ha-ha, do people even say that anymore? I didn’t think so.)

The first pie party was pretty simple. Henry baked one pie. We threw some fake leaves and paper tablecloths down on the tables. I had name tag stickers to label the pies. Only four of my work friends came, 10-15 of my outside-of-work friends, and Henry’s entire family. But every year, it’s gotten bigger. I wasn’t even going to have one this year, but people started asking me “When is the pie party going to happen?” a few months ago, and apparently Henry wanted to have another one, too, so I conceded. At first, I wasn’t into it AT ALL. But then, I suddenly got inspired to have the BEST PIE PARTY EVER because maybe this would be the last one.

So I started scribbling down ideas during downtime at work and on the trolley. I scoured the Internet for weird pie recipes while pretending to listen to Henry talk about his day. And then I decided that since it was the fourth pie party, I wanted to do pie four ways. I kept trying to tell people about it because I was so excited, but no one really seemed too stoked on the idea, especially when I got to the “pie-flavored popcorn” part. But I don’t care. Henry carried out all of my ideas and we had pie four ways after breaking up four ways. (Don’t worry—we’re together again. Barely.)

The main pies were Salted Honey Lavender (Henry’s pick):

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And the Cupcake Pie, of which I can say for sure that I am a fan. Basically, after Henry broke up all of the mini cupcakes, he poured some sort of custard mixture of it and when it baked, the custard bound everything together and kept the cupcakes moist, while the frosting melted and hardened into these perfectly-crunchy pockets of SUGAR OMG SUGAR. And then it was topped with more frosting. I liked it, but trust me–no one was banging down our door for the recipe, haha.

(I put the sprinkles on it!!!)

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Then there was the neglected caramel apple pie popcorn made with homemade Mexican caramel! Oh shit, that caramel was amazing, you guys. I think it’s called cajeta and it is made with GOAT MILK. I don’t know why I was so excited about this fucking caramel. It was actually on my list of things that I was going to attempt to make myself, but that plan was met with some skepticism from people who know me a little too well, so I moved that to Henry’s To Do list. Which consisted of basically everything and the poor man was literally in the kitchen all weekend up until it was time to go to the pavilion to set up, which was supposed to be my job, but it’s hard to do when Henry forgets to bring 75% of the things I need and ends up having to drive to the nearest craft store (FORESHADOWING) and my helper (JANNA!!!) doesn’t get there until literally 5 minutes before the party starts, and it’s 82 degrees and humid in OCTOBER and I’m already sweating my makeup off and I can’t wait for people to arrive and start hugging me.

Um, anyway. The popcorn had pieces of leftover pie pop pie crust in it and I thought it was really good but I eventually had to walk around with the pie pan and force people to eat it. No love for pie-flavored popcorn.

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The third type of pie Henry churned out was an array of mini pies in pumpkin, cherry bourbon and gorgonzola fig which were my favorites but he ran out of fig after only making about eight of them, ugh. (I don’t think anyone ate them anyway, so that’s a moot point.) I was super excited to use the three-tiered pedestal for those.

I’m totally obsessed with these fucking pie pedestals, you guys. “We” worked so hard on them! I know I will find a billion different things to use them for during the Pie Party Off Season.

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And then there were the pie pops, which honest to god were nearly the demise of Henry and me. After my failed attempt at baking a few weeks ago, I bought a pie pop maker on eBay thinking that if I had a machine, I could do it. Because my track record at operating machines is so stellar?

Guess what? Totally not any easier. I tried to help Henry make some Friday night when I came home from work but it was complete bullshit and, to cut out about 45 minutes of obscenities from the story, I threw a total fit and then sulked on the couch. So then I was convinced that the pie pops weren’t going to happen but my puppy dog Henry diligently churned them out the next night while Chooch and I were busy gallivanting around town with Janna and Laura.

Henry knows what’s up. (But then I came home and was mad that he made some without the pie pop maker so we had a huge fight and broke up.)
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Sunday morning, Henry made glazes for the pie pops because I thought the crust wasn’t flavorful enough and then he taught me how to drizzle it on. And I succeeded!

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I DID THAT DRIZZLE, YOU GUYS.

The pumpkins got all banged up en route to the park, so I was pissed about that, and then I was pissed that the free-form pie pops that Henry made were too top-heavy and barely stayed propped up in their pumpkin-display. They probably tasted like shit, but they sure looked pretty. So whatever.

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If you were at the Pie Party on Sunday, you may not recognize the child in the above picture. But that is indeed a shirted-version of my son, Chooch, before he abandoned half his clothes in favor of wildnerness chic. His only task was to fill my gold glitter mason jars with crayons, which he took very seriously by turning into this OCD crazy person who had to make sure each jar held the exact same number of crayons and then when he lost count at one point, he dumped all of them out and started over.

The idea was to use craft paper as tablecloths and put crayons on all of the tables, but HENRY only bought one roll which covered like, three tables. And then he brought a staple gun that only had ONE STAPLE in it, so we had no way to keep the paper on the tables. He already had to go back to the craft store anyway, because months ago, I bought several pieces of burlap to lay down on the pie table, and he swore that they were in the car, but only three pieces were there!!! THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH BURLAP! I NEEDED MORE PIECES OF BURLAP EVEN THOUGH NO ONE WAS GOING TO NOTICE BUT ME!!!!!

Another break-up in the books.

Anyway, Henry left to go to the craft store for burlap and tacks and also pick up some cases of water and ice, so Chooch and I pretty much just sat there, swinging our legs and being super bored with nothing to do. And then Henry came back and I said, “Oh good, give me the burlap” and he shouted, “DAMMIT” because of course he forgot the burlap. I was going to make him leave again but then people started showing up and that’s when we realized we didn’t have FORKS. So that took my mind off the burlap. Luckily, Kara had just arrived in time to save Henry from being disemboweled by my simmering glare because she had a bag of plastic utensils leftover in her car from Harland’s birthday party a few weeks ago, bless her goddamn party supply-hoarding heart.

And then Elizabeth came bearing thingies of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts (and also her husband Mike and daughter Rachel) and I was like, “If I weren’t so socially awkward I would hug you” but instead I mumbled something about being stressed out and wanting to kill Henry. Elizabeth asked if I needed help and I kind of remember saying yes but not giving her anything to do. But god, that coffee was very appreciated. Thank you, Elizabeth!

It’s a fucking pie party. Nothing is happening other people eating pie. I’m not walking down any fucking aisles, last time I checked, but I still get so stressed out that I’m almost (almost!) unable to enjoy myself. Luckily, I get distracted once people start showing up and eventually stop caring that half of the last pie table is un-burlapped.

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A small crowd had assembled within a half hour and it finally occurred to me that no one was eating pie. “You didn’t tell them to,” Henry pointed out. So I stood up and said, “You can eat pie now” and then everyone did. I was unhappy with the plates Henry bought, but then too many people were there by the time I noticed so I guess that’s a fight we’ll have to save for another time.

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At one point, I saw Henry flinch but I couldn’t tell if it was from my icy glare or the cupcake pie against his teeth.

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Oct 012013
 

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After work on Friday, Girl-Chris and I headed over to that one bridge, where a full-blown rubber duck celebration was underway. There were vendors set up all across the bridge and one of the KISS FM DJs had a stage set up so people could do interpretive rubber duck dances to Mackelmore and Fergie.

By the time we got out of work, there was only about an hour left of the party, but the bridge was still packed. I was a little bit, OK a lot, freaked out though, because Amber2 had stopped back to the office after being down there with her husband and apparently they saw some random, unattended orange backpack on the bridge, and then a little while later a cop wouldn’t let them through and said there was a BOMB WHAT THE FUCKKKKKKK.

I didn’t actually hear Amber2 telling this story, but Chris relayed it to me right before we left the office and my legs got all gelatinous. Chris said she looked online and didn’t see any mention of a bomb scare, and I don’t know what I was expecting when we emerged from the Law Firm (a bomb squad parade, I guess), but everyone was just milling about casually, laughing and smiling. No pandemonium. No mob scene. So we went to the bridge and it was a blast without actually involving a blast!

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There was one point though where Chris said, “Look at that backpack!” and I was like, “OMG WHAT WHERE?!” but before I fell to my knees and covered my head with my purse, I saw that it was just some guy wearing a duck backpack. My bowels dropped a little in that split second though, Jesus Christ, Chris!

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We stood in line for official duck merch, but the stuff the Toonseum was selling, like the above Night of the Living Dead spoof, was way better. Unfortunately, they had packed up their booth and split by the time we made it back with smaller bills.

Pittsburgh Pottery was there and I bought some of their non-duck-related pottered things, like a small bowl featuring what appears to be a man projectile vomiting blood, and also a CLOWN RING from some chatty lady who loved my iPhone case. Ugh, small talk. Worth it though because that ring is cute as shit.

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I generally dislike crowds and bridges and things that are popular and well, basically anything involving having fun with strangers. But I’m glad that I went because it was really kind of exciting to see something like this here, in boring old Pittsburgh. It’s making people so happy!

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As the party fizzled out around 10, the duck made its move to the Point, where it will be moored (I JUST LEARNED THIS WORD BECAUSE OF THE DUCK) until October 20th, I think. (Who has time for fact-checking these days?) Chris and I decided to walk along the river and follow it to the Point. Along the way, we discovered a hobo beach beneath one of the overpasses, so that was exciting.

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In spite of all of the buzz and legit joy this over-sized duck has brought my city, I’ve noticed that there are rubber duck-haters on Facebook. Of course there are. People are “sick of it,” and it’s “making Facebook so annoying!” Yeah, THAT’s what’s making Facebook annoying.

IT’S A GIANT RUBBER DUCK. ON THE RIVER. IT’S CUTE! IT’S NOVEL! IT WON’T BE HERE FOREVER! Find some  joy in your life, Jesus. Go post some more Some eCards while the rest of us have fun with the rubber duck.

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