Aug 072018
 

Hi, I’m back with the shocking conclusion of my previous post, Being Tourists In Pittsburgh. WOW, HOLD ON TIGHT. Just kidding, feel free to flail around.

After we left the Heinz History Center, we walked Jessi back to the hotel so she could get started with her pre-Rocky Horror performance process. We didn’t want to be the ones responsible for jinxing her by pulling her away from that, so released her to the Omni William Penn and then continued walking to Millie’s because Bill said he was down for ice cream but I think he knew he didn’t really have a choice because I was like, “Millie’s is the best; we’re going.”

Look, Pittsburgh has got a lot of great ice cream options but Millie’s is the one that always wins a spot on my itinerary when I have out-of-town guests visiting. (So like, twice so far, lol.) They just make really delicious, fresh ice cream and sorbet made with local ingredients and they’re always getting involved with the community—you know the types! Just all-around great people and Henry loves it because you can buy little packages of waffle cone pieces which I think is genius because what else are you going to do when you’re making homemade waffle cones and one breaks? YOU DON’T THROW THAT SHIT AWAY.

Also, they plug the butts of the waffle cones with a marshmallow so you don’t get melted ice cream tracks running down your shirt and arms like I generally do everywhere else we get ice cream cones.

The main reason I wanted to go to Millie’s (I mean, other than to treat my awesome friends to some great ice cream!) was because they updated their Instagram that morning with a new flavor: BLUEBERRY PANCAKES.

The description is what really sold me though: fresh blueberry compote, homemade syrup from some dude name Paul, and, this is what sealed the deal for me: real pancakes from Square Cafe in Regent Square. I love Square Cafe and I love pancakes so I wanted to eat this on that day, it was imperative.

It also did NOT DISAPPOINT.

They actually ladle the syrup right on top of the scoop!

Chooch got his standard scoop o’ chocolate, which inspired Bill to do the same. Peer pressure, Bill’s got it. I always mock Chooch for having such a basic palate but Millie’s chocolate actually is indescribably perfect.

I forget what Henry got. One of the sorbets, I think. Who cares.

We went back to the Omni after that and Bill was dumb and invited us into their room without even bothering to squirt us with holy water first to make sure we’re not vampires. Jessi was still getting ready (she was being the Criminologist for that night’s show so she had a lot of costuming to do!) so we decided that we were going to investigate this so-called fifth floor that most of the elevators skipped over. Bill said he noticed that there was one particular set of elevators that actually had a button for the fifth floor, so we sought out that one and then held our breath while it descended.

However, when the doors opened, we were immediately disappointed. I guess I was expecting something out of Nightmare on the 13th Floor*, hallway all blood-red with fancy tapestries and gaslight sconces, Victrola music humming from behind someone’s locked door.

*(HAVEN’T YOU EVER SEEN THAT MOVIE?! It was a 1990 made-for-TV movie that USA frequently played and it scared the shit out of me. Look that up.)

But no, we could tell right away that it was just a floor full of offices.

Such a let down.

Then we went to the room where the convention was happening because there was a raffle drawing about to take place and Bill and Jessi had some stake in it.

“They haven’t checked anyone’s badge the entire time we’ve been here, so I don’t think it’ll matter if you guys come with me,” Bill assured us, and Chooch and Henry were like, “That’s cool” and never thought about it again, while I was being my typical “DEER IN HEADLIGHTS-TOTALLY SUSPICIOUS-LOOK AT THE SPOTLIGHT ON ME-I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE” self.

Henry said that there were some girls asking me about my purse when we walked in but I completely ignored them because I couldn’t hear them over the metallic ringing in my ears BECAUSE OMG ARE WE GOING TO GET BUSTED.

I felt like everyone knew we weren’t actually convention-goers and I was doing everything in my power to burrow myself into Henry’s armpit. I have many layers and one of them is that I HATE STEALING and I felt, in a way, that we were being thieves by waltzing into this convention without purchasing a badge. Granted, we only sat there long enough to watch some broad named MONTANA clean up on all the winnings.

Bill was irate.

We hated Montana after that! Plus, she wasn’t even present to collect her bounty! They should have tossed aside her tickets and drawn again! Don’t get me started on Montana.

Afterward, we went back to Bill and Jessi’s room. Jessi was nearly finished getting into her role by then, but Henry had just enough time to fall asleep in an arm chair.

His favorite thing! Sleeping in other people’s hotel room!

Then we piled into our car and drove back to the Hollywood Theater which is literally about a 5 minute walk from my house. The Hollywood is famous for being in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s also where the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the shadowcast has played for like, decades. Tonight’s show was special because it was going to feature an all-star shadowcast from different cities. Jessi had submitted an audition tape a while back for this and was accepted so when Bill asked us if we wanted to come out and watch her, how the fuck could I turn that down?

Henry and I had a brief parental powwow about whether or not we should take Chooch with us to this but then I reasoned that I was his age when I first watched RHPS. BLOG READERS, WALK WITH ME:

It was Easter of 6th grade (whatever year that was) and my BFF Christy (see also: Crystal Lite and Crystal McGoo-Goo) was sleeping over which meant we were in the market for some horror movie rentals. My aunt Sharon took us to Blockbuster (miss you, baby) and recommended RHPS to us. I mean, if one were to judge a VHS by it’s box, it did look like it had horror movie potential.

However, after watching it that night, we were immediately disappointed. It had it’s grotesque moments but it wasn’t the eye-covering 70s slasher film we were in the mood for. We grumbled about it for a bit and then went to sleep.

When we woke up the next day, however, I looked at Christy and whispered, “Do you want to watch that again?” and she was like “YES” and then WE DID and by the end of the second-viewing, we knew the Time Warp front and back, left to right, and I was writing diary entries entitled WHERE HAS TIM CURRY BEEN ALL MY LIFE. We were shook and hooked, you guys.

There was this one time when my mom hid the video camera inside the fireplace and recorded us doing the Time Warp. I texted her last week and asked her if she remembered this and instead of saying, “No, you must have dreamt that” which is her typical response when she doesn’t want to fess up, she said, “Lol, yes. Hilarious.” I’m sure that’s still floating around somewhere, along with footage of me dancing to Queen’s Radio Gaga with rollers in my hair.

We were so obsessed that we used to sing parts of RHPS songs as roller coasters at Kennywood would be carrying us up the first hill.

“I bet she doesn’t remember that,” Henry scoffed, knowing that none of my friends ever remember the things from our childhood that seemed like BIG MOMENTS to me.

But then I texted her and this happened, so fuck off Henry:

So, all of this is to say that I was pretty excited to be experiencing this all over again but with Chooch this time.

We arrived at the Hollywood before tickets went on sale, since we were basically the Criminologist’s entourage so Chooch, Bill and I sat on a couch in the lobby, where Chooch got his first taste at RHPS as all of the Columbias and Franks sauntered around before him.

He just kept shaking his head.

“You have no idea what you’re in for!” I laughed.

Pre-show selfie! I was so stoked for her, but also experienced sympathy butterflies.

Here’s a picture from the basement bathroom of the Hollywood which I have actually never been in, after literal decades of seeing movies there. I think it’s probably haunted. Anyway, I took this picture because my popcorn purse was getting mad love from all the RHPS convention attendees that day which made me glad that I splurged on this at Everland in Korea. I didn’t want the popcorn (although it ended up being delicious and banana-flavored, because Korea) but when I saw people walking around with it that day in the park I had mad visions of using it as a purse. I mean, it’s pretty clunky and only fits like, lipgloss and some change, maybe a tampon (I’ll have to try) but this bag is everything.

After sitting around for nearly an hour waiting to buy tickets (they weren’t being sold through the theater), Bill finally had enough and said, “THAT’S IT, WE’RE JUST GOING IN.” ANyone with a badge had free admission, so Jessi gave me hers since she was performing, but I still felt like, again, A FUCKING THIEF.

Bill reasoned that he and Jessi had given the convention people enough of their money and us not buying $15 tickets wasn’t going to hurt them, but I still felt so guilty and paranoid walking to the seats that Jessi saved for us. IN THE SECOND ROW. WE WERE PRACTICALLY SITTING DUCKS FOR THE CONVENTION PEOPLE TO SPOT. Chooch was oblivious and just sat there eating popcorn, checking out all the fishnets and corsets, but I was gnawing my fingers to the bone over this.

“WHAT IF THEY WALK AROUND AND ASK FOR OUR TICKETS?!” I hissed to Henry.

“Would you calm down?! They’re not going to do that.”

They didn’t do that.

It was fine.

We assimilated and no one gave us a second glance.

Bill bought Chooch and me prop bags, not considering the repercussions this would have on Henry, who ended up soaking wet and covered in covered by the end of the night. Also, as soon as Chooch was explained the concept of the prop bags, his attention was piqued and he was in it to win it.

Before the show started, they played the audition tapes of all the out-of-town shadowcast participants and we screamed our faces off when Jessi’s was on the screen.

Anyway, the show was fantastic and Jessi killed her part! Second to that, I had so much fun seeing this movie again through Chooch’s eyes. In the beginning, when all the RHPS virgins had to go up to the front and fake orgasms, Chooch was like SRSLY MOM WTF and Henry was just like FROWN FROWN FROWN GOOD JOB BRINGING OUR PRE-TEEN HERE, but then Chooch was so into the audience participation elements that he forgot he was witnessing age-inappropriate shenanigans with his parents and snapped his rubber glove with wanton abandon.

What a fucking awesome night with Bill and Jessi. I mean, all of our hangouts are totally memorable and hilarious, but this night is definitely up at the top. And I can’t think of anyone better to expose Chooch to RHPS than the people who played Cards Against Humanity with him when he was like 8 (and he won). And Henry only slept through some parts of the show, not all!

We went to Tom’s Diner afterward and Chooch had so many questions. So. Many. Questions.

He is in SO DEEP now that by the next morning, he had YouTubed all of the song-scenes, learned a bunch of call-backs, and is ready to go to Michigan to watch Jessi perform there with her cast.

I laughed a little bit to myself at work the other night because my boss was talking to me about Chooch and how many cool experiences he’s had in his short life because of Henry and me. “You guys are great parents! Taking him to all kinds of places that most kids his age don’t get to go!” and in my head, I was like, “Yes, like Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He is certainly well-versed in a myriad of pop culture categories!

***

A few days ago, he came home from the library and said that he was singing “Sweet Transvestite” and Liam and Markie were like, “What is a transvestite” so he explained it to them, and that’s my son, broadening horizons and opening minds.

***

P.S. Bill & Jessi ended up meeting Montana the next day and he said she was actually very nice so we felt for motherfucking her and all her raffle wins. OR DID WE.

Aug 042018
 

Last fall when we visited our friends Bill and Jessi in Michigan, Jessi mentioned that there was a strong possibility they’d be in Pittsburgh at the end of July for a Rocky Horror Picture Show convention and that weekend had been emblazoned in my mind ever since. I refused any publicity events, interviews, or party invites that I received for that weekend (LOL). Seriously though, we had all been looking forward to this so hard but I kept my expectations super low because I knew they would be busy with convention stuff.

They had time Saturday afternoon for a museum break so Henry, Chooch and I met them in front of the Omni William Penn where they were staying (it’s haunted, so that was a bonus for them!) and made the 10 minute walk to the Heinz History Center because they were interested in seeing the Mister Rogers set artifacts.

First we had to walk past a sidewalk filming of this one really aggressive religious group that has a show on the public access channel and that was scary. But then I got to show them the famous Two Andys mural  and of course point out the Army Navy Store with the infamous machete purchased. Meanwhile, they were both saying very nice things about the city and it always helps chip some of the jade off my soul when I’m seeing PIttsburgh through someone else’s eyes. So I was kind of like, “Yeah, it’s not too b ad here.” Then a few days later I got caught in a rainstorm and almost passed out at the rising fumes of urine BUT I GUESS THAT’S MOST CITIES IN THE SUMMER.

Jessi took this picture of Chooch and Bill in front of what used to be the Toonseum, one of only three museums in the US dedicated to cartoon art, but apparently it recently closed and I have no idea how I didn’t notice this because I walk past there nearly every day!? I guess it closed in March and is now going to be a “roaming-museum” where they do events and stuff and honestly that does make more sense to me because my recollection of the Toonseum is that it was very small and not much was in there. So now I’m not too sad about it anymore.

We made it to the History Center safe and sound because I was a fearless troop leader and if there is one place I know my way around, it’s downtown Pittsburgh. Just don’t ask me for street names like some lady did the other day.

“If that’s 6th down there at that corner, is that 7th down this way?” she asked, pointing a certain way and I fucking FROZE and kept saying “um, uh” but then I remembered that she pointing the direction where there is a restaurant called Nine on Nine because it’s on 9th Ave and 900 Penn so that is how I was able to deduce that yes, the numbers went up in that direction. She didn’t seem very confident in my answer and was just like, “mmmmmmkay” but hey, she walked in that direction!

One time someone asked me where to get birth certificates and I was like, “Uh, have your mom re-birth you and the hospital will bring you one?” No really I just screamed I DUNNO and the person acted like it was a personal affront. Sorry, I only know alleys and cafes.

Anyway, it’s a shame that I have only been to the Heinz History Center once, and that was nearly 10 years ago at this point, when Vatican Splendors was touring the country and made a stop here in Pittsburgh so I made Kara go with me and watch me cry because religious artifacts really do it for me.

I know what you’re thinking, wow how much history could a dump like Pittsburgh have that it needs its own museum and here is where I will tell you to fuck off because only I can shit-talk my town, lol. I get really defensive when outsiders say disparaging things about it! But seriously, like most cities, Pittsburgh is rife with history and it’s not all steel mills and football, yay. I think it’s pretty common that Heinz was a huge deal for Pittsburgh and we are morally offended when we go to a restaurant elsewhere that has anything other than classic Heinz 57 on the tables. Piss off with that Hunts catsup junk.

After Bill nearly bought two memberships by accident, we headed straight to the Mr. Rogers exhibit which opened in March to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show. I actually saw a lot of this stuff back when I was at Pitt when my creative non-fiction class took a field trip (lol) to the WQED building specifically to tour the Mr. Rogers set and write about it. Little did I know we were going to have to read it out loud the next week in class and here I was making asshole-y observations as I am known to do, so that was cool, reading that out loud. My writing teacher was the only person who liked me in that class. She had high hopes for me and I bet she would be so proud to know that I am still doing the same shit I was doing then – writing on a shitty blog.

Anyway! My favorite part of this day was actually seeing how happy it made Jessi to be there.

My second favorite part was when Chooch found out that there a stair-walking challenge where you take a slip of paper and get it stamped next to each stairwell to prove that you took the steps on every floor and then you can turn it into the gift shop and collect a prize! You better believe Chooch and I ran back up to the top of the last two floors to start this process, and yes, it would be super easy to just collect a stamp and not even take the steps but I hope that people wouldn’t do that. YOU’RE ONLY CHEATING YOURSELF!

Chooch was excited to point out the hearse to me. The funerary collections were definitely my favorites out of the whole museum.

This kneeler is so much better than ours! I’m jealous! (Yes, we have a kneeler in our house. Henry brought it home as a surprise one day because sometimes he’s actually in tune with my interests.)

If Jessi’s favorite part was the Mister Roger’s stuff, then Bill’s was this weird tooth-head doll. He was obsessed.

Henry didn’t have a favorite part because he’s seen all this shit before in his daily life. Because he’s old and museum artifacts ain’t got nuthin’ on him.

When we were looking at all the Heinz shit, I had this vivid flashback to when I worked at the Bad Place with Henry and our bosses had just come back from cruise. They were excitedly telling us that they were eating dinner with some other couples on the cruise and one of them was struggling to get the ketchup to pour out of the bottle. You’ve been there before, unless you’ve never had the pleasure of throttling a glass bottle of ketchup. Anyway, our boss Joe excitedly said to us, “And then I told them to strike the 57 with the heel of their hand and they thought I was joking but then they did it and it worked!” It’s a super common trick here in the ‘Burgh but people always think we’re nuts UNTIL THEY TRY IT AND THAT SANGUINE SAUCE COMES SHOOTING OUT. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, there is a small “57” on the actual glass of the bottle, not on the label, and striking it does the trick.  I didn’t see if the museum mentioned that anywhere but I’m also super well-known for peacing out when it comes to reading signs in museums.

I get bored easily.

Jessi was obsessed with the fact that pickle salesmen had leather cases for their pickles back in the day. I wish men still wore hates like hat but I can’t imagine Henry looking good in one.

I am suspicious of people who don’t like ketchup, just like I am of people who don’t have pets.

<3

My third favorite part was when were in the interactive kids zone and I waited until some dumb kid finished making a picture on a lightboard and then I went over and messed it up. Henry frowned so hard but it would not be his biggest frown of the day.

Then I got lost for what seemed like days because that joint is big with lots of different ways to go!

I only went into the sports area to see the Penguins stuff but really it was because I was still lost and ran there in a panic. I almost considered joining another group and no, not once did it occur to me that I could have texted Henry, Jessi, or Bill using that newfangled contraption that it always glued to my hand.

You know, a cell phone.

God, you guys make me spell everything out!

I wish the Racer still looked like this! I’ll post pictures of when it looks like now soon, since I still have to vomit all my Kennywood birthday memories up on here.

Chooch wore this Isaly’s hat for the rest of the afternoon. IF YOU LIKE KLONDIKE BARS, THEN YOU’RE WELCOME.

The museum has an old trolley car that you can walk through and if the trolleys still looked like this perhaps I wouldn’t bitch so much every morning!

Anyway, Chooch and I collected all of the stamps needed and the nice lady at the museum gift shop register gave us each a small plastic Heinz ketchup pin and we were both like WORTH IT.

“Those probably cost like fifty cents,” Henry said, always trying to poop on our joy.

STILL WORTH IT.

Stay tuned for the grand finale of their visit!

Jul 212018
 

Well guys, my last Warped Tour ever happened last Monday and even though I barely even have my pinky finger still dipped in that scene, it was extremely hard to say goodbye. Not ready to write about that yet as I’m still processing my feelings (#sodramatic #soErin) but I do want tell you about one of the standouts moments of the day for me!

It was in the low nineties that day so I decided to fuck trying to look good and just threw on shorts and my KpopX Fitness shirt because it’s one of the few white tank tops that I own and I wanted to stay as cool as possible. When we were waiting in line to get in, people were complimenting each other on their shirts because you know, you wear your favorite band shirt to Warped Tour and that’s how you make new friends. Henry joked that no one was going to care about my shirt because who wears a Kpop shirt to Warped Tour?

Hey, if I wasn’t so concerned about dying of heat stroke, I’d have worn my black G-Dragon tour shirt and given zero fucks about who cared!

Anyway, halfway through the day, Chooch and Henry were passed out on the hill and I decided to take that opportunity to walk around and soak up the Warped Tour atmosphere for one last time when I realized that With Confidence was about to come on the small Owly.fm stage.

I was in the middle of texting Henry to let him know what stage I was at when someone tapped my arm. Alarms immediately went off (see last post re: paranoid schizophrenia) because OMG HUMAN CONTACT. I quickly turned and saw a total stranger standing there because why would it be someone I actually knew, I have never run into anyone I know at Warped Tour because all of my friends are grown-ups.

So now I’m looking at this young guy-stranger, waiting for him to ask for a cigarette or directions because he thinks I’m Key Bank Pavilion staff, but instead he pointed at my shirt and asked, “What’s KpopX Fitness?”

This….was not what I was expecting to be asked. What was this guy’s agenda?! Was he going to try and sell me a Bible?! The Hare Krishnas usually love targeting people at Warped Tour.

“Do you know what kpop is?” I began, and he quickly waved me off.

“Yes, I know what kpop is, but what is kpop fitness?” he pressed.

So I explained it to him and he asked me how long I’ve been into that so now I’m to the point where alarms are still going off but now the paranoia police have arrived at the scene and I figured he was going to say, “WOW THAT LONG? THEN WHY ARE YOU STILL SO FAT?” but no, he then asked me what my favorite one was.

“Routine?” I asked. “Or kpop group?” I was still thoroughly ‘noided out, wondering what direction this conversation was headed, if he was in the process of pick-pocketing me or what.

When he said kpop group, I answered “BIGBANG” with no hesitation and asked him if he was into kpop too. At this point, I was sure he was going to bullshit me with some vague answer or say BTS because everyone knows BTS now, but he said, “Mine is 2NE1 but lately I’ve been really into Black Pink.”

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. Were there cameras on me? Was this guy real? Were we really talking about my favorite thing in the middle of my old favorite thing?!

“Oh OK! So you’re a YG guy then!” I said, my attitude totally changing and my real life personality oozing out from behind my perma-walls. This rarely happens anymore. It’s usually Stiff, Blank Erin all the way these days unless I’m with Henry and Chooch. It felt good and free to be myself in that moment!

“I just bought a CL shirt yesterday, she’s my bae,” he said and I was like OK THIS GUY IS THE REAL DEAL. So we talked about how CL is going to be in an American movie that’s coming out later this year, and how our friends make fun of us for liking Kpop, and I told him about running into Super Junior on the streets of NYC (“HOLY SHIT, that doesn’t happen!” he said, and I was like, “I know, that’s what I was trying to tell my friends!”), and how we both fell in love with Kpop in spite of our metal/hardcore loyalties.

And then With Confidence started their set, so we said goodbye and he ran back over to his friends while I stood alone in the crowd, smiling to myself while raindrops started to fall, fully appreciating the symbolism of this whole scene that just played out. The door might be closing on my Warped Tour chapter, but now I have a brand new world to immerse myself in and new connections to make. That’s pretty exciting.

When I found Henry and Chooch later, I excitedly told them about how I made new friend.

“What’s his name?” Henry asked.

“I don’t know,” I said with a shrug.

“Then you didn’t make a friend!” he sneered.

UGH SHUT UP HENRY YES I DID.

Jun 202018
 

It’s so hard to believe that it’s been a year already since Henry’s grandson Calvin was born! It’s been a lot of fun watching him grow and now he’s a regular walking machine!

Blake and Haley had a birthday party for him last Saturday at South Park and they really went all out–it was such a cute set-up. They wanted everyone to sign the frame around that picture of Calvin up there and of course Chooch was like, “I WANT TO BE FIRST” and then proceeded to write BAMBI super big on it, like WTF WHY?! I was so angry and then Blake and Haley saw it and were equally as angry and Chooch was like, “YOU SAID TO SIGN MY NAME AND MY NAME IS BAMBI.”

Why is my kid so freaking weird sometimes?

Wait.

Don’t answer that.

Anyway, I diffused the situation by having him write in small letter “You’re cuter than” on top of the “Bambi,” and then “Love, Riley” beneath it. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Speaking of “you’re,” one of Haley’s friends signed it “You’re favorite aunt” instead of “Your” and so then Chooch got booted out of the hot seat. Whew.

You guys, these were the cutest cookies and they were goddamn delicious. I’ll be getting all my future party cookies from Give Mia Cookie now, I guess. We’ve had their regular bakery cookies and brownies before, and those are equally as delicious. If you’re local to Pittsburgh, give this place all of your business!

I love when a cookie meets my aesthetic and taste requirements.

Blake and Haley are the sweetest, most natural parents. I can’t believe I’ve known Blake since he was 8 and now here he is, being the coolest dad ever. AND HALEY IS PREGNANT AGAIN! She officially announced it last month so I’m OK to blab about it now. It was so hard not saying anything because I love spreading good news.

And here he is, the cutest little maknae of the family! It’s been a lot of fun having them living next door to us too. Henry will text Blake and be like, “Can Calvin come out and play?” He was sad last night because Blake was like, “NO HE’S DRINKING HIS MILK AND GOING TO BED, GO WATCH THE NEWS OR SOMETHING, DAD.”

We were kind of holding our breath when Calvin was born because we thought Chooch would have a lot of resentment since he’s so attached to Blake, but he actually takes his uncle role very seriously and Calvin freaking lights up when he sees him.

I bought Calvin some Korean children’s books so that we can learn together, haha. After I bought them, I realized that I’m the only one who will be able to read them to him because there isn’t any romanization in them (thank god, though, really) and I’m not a huge fan of reading books BUT I WILL DO IT FOR CALVIN. My goal is for him to someday be able to read the “I Love My Mom” book to Haley in Korean.

Anyway, it was a really nice afternoon and my mom even came! She got him this hip hop ABC book, lol. Calvin is going to be so well-rounded.

I’m excited for when he can ride things at Kennywood, go to haunted houses, and choose a Kpop bias. You know, things I’m interested in. Maybe after three more birthdays.

Jun 102018
 

Somehow a weekend that included a dentist appointment ended up being one of the nicest ones I’ve had in a while.

HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS TO SHOW WHY.

First of all, we had our first group-hang with Tommy and Jessy since 2016! HOW DID THAT MUCH TIME GO BY!? Henry was trying to play it cool and coy but he was stoked to resurrect his bromance with Tommy. And Tommy was stoked to get to torture Chooch again.

He was literally saying, “LEAVE ME ALONE” right before I snapped this picture.

Anyway, we met them out in Oakmont at a small family restaurant called What’s Cookin’ Casey? and while there were some annoyances, I think we overall agreed that it was a good choice. The annoyances had nothing to do with the food and service, but the seating arrangement was kind of haphazard and even though we were in a booth, the tables that were set up in the middle of the floor were situated in such a way that we felt extremely crowded and boxed in. In fact, I started to have flashbacks of a similar discomfort and I realized that I had been there several years ago with Evonne and Wendy, and Evonne’s friend Barbara, and experienced the same panicked I MIGHT BE STUCK IN THIS BOOTH FOREVER collar-tugging sensation.

Meanwhile, Tommy was searching and squinting at the menu like he was prepping for the SATs, trying to find the “vegan” option that he swore he saw earlier when he looked at the menu online, and then finally acquiesced and said, “I think what happened was that I saw ‘veal’ and read it as ‘vegan.’ Oh well, sorry Erin.”

I was content with my rigatoni and marinara, though!

The other annoyance was the ASSHOLE KID IN THE BOOTH BEHIND US WHO FUCKING KICKED THE BACK OF THE BOOTH THE ENTIRE TIME AND JESSY, CHOOCH AND I WERE IN A STATE OF SLOW-SIMMER. At one point, we heard a huge BANG, CRASH and it turned out that little fucked fell off his booster seat, what a dumb shit.

Henry, who was sitting on the Safe Side of the table, mind you, kept trying to White Knight this little hooligan by pointing out that he “was little, like three” and that “it’s his parents’ fault, not his” but Chooch finally was like, “OK I see your lips flapping but I’m not hearing what you’re saying” and then stood up and said, “COULD YOU PLEASE STOP KICKING?” in the most terse, faux-polite, BOY ON THE EDGE voice I’ve ever heard come out of him and we all just collapsed in laughter.

At one point, the boy left the booth, presumably to go to the bathroom (good luck squeezing through the tables of elderly people, kid) but then he stopped next to our booth and FUCKING STARED AT US WITH THESE HUGE-ASS ALIEN EYES and he had super blond, lightning white hair like he just Uber’d here from Village of the Damned.

So fucking bizarre! We all just stared back at him, totally bullying this three, maybe four year old kid with our eyes, until he finally went back and sat down with his family.

MAYBE YOU HAD TO BE THERE but it was chilling.

Henry ordered a burger and Jessy became entranced by the pickles on his plate. So she asked the waitress to bring her one and she came back with a whole bowl of them! Jessy hadn’t even officially finished offering them to us before Chooch and I attacked the bowl with our dirty orphan mitts. WE ARE A HOUSEHOLD OF PICKLE-LOVERS. There were a bunch left over and Chooch tried to put the entire bowl in his pizza to-go box but Henry busted him and was like, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT, THAT’S STEALING” so then Chooch dumped the pickles out into the box and then somehow got pickle juice all over his leftover pizza so congratulations on ensuring that Henry and I won’t dip into your leftovers, son.

I’d eat pizza with pickles on it, but something about pickle juice makes me feel sick.

And by something I mean everything.

Sorry, Snooki.

Chooch and his pickle pizza.

Henry has been obsessing over our waitress’s ear tattoo ever since. “THAT HAD TO HAVE HURT!” he cried today when he brought it up out of nowhere.

After dinner, we walked across the street the Brr-Kees, where I immediately had ordering remorse.

For some reason, I wasn’t prepared for this place to have hard ice cream and had already in my mind pictured Future Erin eating up some soft-serve, so when I was met a few minutes later with numerous ice cream flavors, I panicked and Henry was like, “COME ON, ERIN, YOU’RE UP” and so I blurted out, “KEY LIME, I DUNNO!” and it was not great.

I ate half and then gave the rest to Henry, who had just finished a strawberry shortcake sundae, but that’s Henry’s role in our family. He takes the extra calories for the team.

If it were just the three of us, I would have pouted but Tommy and Jessy were with us and the bigger picture was that getting ice cream was just an excuse to extend our hang-out sesh anyway, so I was content!

But you guys! While we were in line waiting for our ice cream, THE EVIL TOW-HEADED KID AND HIS STRANGE FAMILY ROLLED UP! We started laughing so hard and I’m sure it was obvious what was going on, so this made Henry bristle because HE HATES SCENES.

Oh man, that kid’s frog-eyed stare though. It will haunt me.

Tommy tortures him.

And Chooch tortures Henry!

Then some lady came by with two golden doodles and Jessy, Chooch, and I got to pet them for an extended amount of time because their owner was super talkative and told us all about their lives as therapy dogs (well, the younger one is still in-training). She was a cool broad and her dogs were beautiful, so that was a nice highlight!

At one point, Jessy asked Henry if he’d ever go back to Korea and HE SMILED, YOU GUYS, HE SMILED AND EMPHATICALLY SAID, “OH, YES.” And then when she asked him what his favorite part was, he didn’t hesitate to say, “The markets.”

I finally found something that all three of us love equally and not just tolerate for the sake of one of us.

Great time hanging out with great friends. I know that schedules and responsibilities get in the way, but I am going to push to see them more regularly like we used to. Plus, it’s good for Henry’s self-esteem because Jessy is always complimenting him and Tommy talks to him about boy stuff.

And then today, we took a family walk in one of my favorite cemeteries – Uniondale. This is where we typically have our Xmas picnics, but it occurred to me today that it’s been a minute since we spent any time there; I needed some steps and Chooch is back on the Pokemon Go* bandwagon for whatever reason so we dragged Henry with us and it was actually really nice with zero arguing!

*(Apparently, Blake plays too so now that he lives next door, he comes over all the time to get Chooch and they go off on their dork adventures. It’s hilarious to me, because he’ll knock on our door and say IS RILEY HOME like he’s just another neighborhood kid and not Chooch’s 24-year-old brother who is also a dad, lol. “Blake plays Pokemon Go?” I asked last week, and Chooch matter-of-factly said, “Yeah, he’s a member of the Pittsburgh Pokemon group on Discord.” OMG.)

I still don’t understand Pokemon Go.

And now it’s pouring down rain, which cut the humidity, so Henry and I will be nice and comfortable when we embark on our Kpop Dance Cardio journey later on tonight!

Also? This is my summer jam, which is unfortunate for Henry, who does not like Vixx.

May 032018
 

*(I totally typed “Threats” at first which could easily be the case on any day.)

Three very important things happened today and I just couldn’t wait until the next bulletpoint post / word smorgasbord to tell you.

I mean, it’s not THAT great, but anytime anything even remotely exciting happens in my life, I’m pretty happy.

It all started last night when my favorite Pittsburgh ice cream joint posted on Instagram that, in honor of getting 10,000 followers, they were declaring today FREE CONE THURSDAY.

Just in their Market Square location!

Which happens to be right by my work!

I texted Amber and she was like YES so today we rallied our little group together and made a date for 2PM Free Ice Cream Cones. I emailed everyone the list of May flavors which Millie’s just released today and Glenn was like, “WHAT NO KIMCHI?!” I know, right?!

Anyway, I walked over to my old side of the floor at 1:58 to get everyone together and of course I was the only one ready! And then we had to wait for Amber to finish doing work stuff! Ugh! But eventually we all headed out together and everyone was so excited to be with me since I moved and now they don’t get to see my dumb face for 8 hours a day anymore.

And I was happy to be outside of work with real life people and hoped that some of the weirdos who are always slithering around out there would see and realize that I’m not just That Girl Who Walks In Circles Alone Downtown, but someone who actually has friends!

When we got to Millie’s, the line was out the door and down the sidewalk, which wasn’t surprising, but Amber was like, “Well, let’s just get in line and see how it goes” so we did and it actually moved pretty quickly! I mean, luckily for them, I was there to entertain them with my wildly riveting stories that they don’t get to hear everyday anymore.

I was so worried that people were going to cut in front of us and Amber and Lauren were like “You’re being silly” BUT THEN PEOPLE CUT IN FRONT OF US AND WHO IS THE SILLY ONE NOW?! I was so mad and I kept loudly saying, “Did those people cut?!” and Todd was like, “They sure did” and then Lauren was like, “Let’s distract Erin before she makes a shiv out of her plastic kpop keychains and stabs those poeple” so she started asking me questions about Mr. Small’s because she’s going to a concert there but I literally couldn’t stop staring at the people who cut and I was so afraid that they were going to get the last scoop of whatever flavor I wanted, and I didn’t even know what flavor I wanted yet.

“I FEEL LIKE I’M AT KENNYWOOD AND SOMEONE JUST LINE-JUMPED,” I seethed to Glenn and Todd who were both like, “It’s over now. Move on.”

But then we got inside Millie’s and Charlie Puth’s “We Don’t Talk Anymore” was on and I was like, “REMEMBER WHEN I SAW CHARLIE PUTH” and Lauren took this as her opportunity to make me forget about seeking revenge on the line-jumpers and said, “YES I DO! AND YOU WERE LIKE IN A SMALL ROOM WITH HIM TOO RIGHT” and then all was well. Thank god too, because I was almost as mad as I was the day before when I was on my lunch break walk and Henry mentioned something about golf on the phone and I flew off the handle about how golfers aren’t athletes.

“EXCEPT FOR ONE, AND YOU KNOW WHO I’M THINKING OF!” I cried.

“Phil Mickelson,” Henry sighed, because my Phil Mickelson obsession is something that he has been trying to figure out since like, 2004.

OMG, the rest of my day was pretty much ruined because of this. Thanks, Henry. Thanks, GOLF.

Um, back to Millie’s. Surprisingly, they still had all but one flavor left! I thought for sure we’d get there and they’d only have Golden Milk left, whatever that was. I kept wanting to call it Yellow Snow. But anyway, I got Yuzu Meringue, which was made with Asian citrus so it was the next best thing to Kimchi!

And it was sooooo good. There was a huge chunk of pie crust in it and you have no idea how much I love it when there is pie crust in ice cream.

Lol, I made them pose for this Team Building Ice Cream Cone picture and they were like, “For God’s sake, Erin.” BUT THEY DID IT.

Thank you, Millie’s, for having such amazing fan service! Or customer service. I keep forgetting that not everything is about Kpop.

Then later that afternoon, I was on my walk and saw Ovechkin, LOLOLOL:

In case you don’t know anything about hockey, he’s on the Capitals, and they are currently playing the Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s a huge rival of Sidney Crosby and Pittsburghers hate him.

AND THEN I CAME HOME AND KCON ANNOUNCED PENTAGON AS THE FINAL GROUP FOR KCON NEW YORK AND I STARTED CRYING!!!! They’re in my Top 3 favorite groups and I kept hoping they would be announced!!

However, if I’m able to get BTS tickets, there might be nothing left for KCON tickets. I mean, I guess I could always sell my plasma? Do people still do that? Being obsessed with things like I am makes life super stressful sometimes, haha.

This concludes my Three Thursday Treats blog post. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT.

Apr 272018
 

Isn’t it crazy when you can not see someone for years and years yet somehow fall right back into a comfortable groove when you do? That’s how it is with my friend Alisha, who I saw for the first time last summer since 2010, and again last Friday when she was in town visiting from Arkansas.

I was so glad that she carved out some time for me on this latest visit, especially when I texted her a picture of a Julian Baker concert flyer and her immediate response was, “YES LET’S GO TO THAT” and within minutes she bought tickets. I forgot what it felt like to have a friend who wants to go to shows!

But first, food. Alisha picked me up from work and we skipped all the frou-frou salutations and went right into our routine of her being annoyed and exasperated and me being totally giddy – ugh, I missed our dysfunctionally perfect yin and yang!

Alisha’s British-voiced GPS led us to Apteka, an Eastern Europe-Yinzer-Vegan joint across from the Allegheny Cemetery that my friend Sarah recommended to me over a year ago and I never made it there because kimchi or GTFO. However, Alisha is vegan so I thought this would be a grand time to check it out and I was happy that it wasn’t crowded yet and the staff wasn’t off-putting as they sometimes can be in a niche vegan eatery, leaving me feeling not inked-up enough and half-assed in my veg-ways. (Which brings us back to kimchi, which I know is made with anchovy paste but I still eat it because I never signed a contract, OK? Korea has changed me!)

Apteka is cafe-style which is kind of annoying when you walk into a place for the first time and they’re like BAM HERE IS THE MENU STAND HERE AT THE COUNTER AND I WILL STARE AT YOU WHILE YOU TRY TO FIGURE OUT OUR WEIRDO MENU GOOD LUCK WITH THE POLISH.

Alisha had a million questions and the Apteka girl very patiently answered her. She asked what the waitress recommended and she blew through the menu so fast I felt like I just been lead through a polka.

Alisha ordered the thing I was going to get so then I had to stand there and stammer, and of course I was unable to pronounce anything on the menu (is it nuts that I was trying to imagine what it would look like in Hangeul to help me sound it out?!) so I just pointed and said, “Lima bean.”

Because the thing I got had a lima bean purée and it was shockingly not phrased more dumb or pretentious than that because you know how nauseating menu descriptions can be in these types of places.  Let me see if I can find a menu…

Kluski Slaskie

baby lima bean + winter bitter leaves + potato dumplings + fried buckwheat + marjoram (GF)

I didn’t even notice that my meal had marjoram on it and I guess it doesn’t matter because I didn’t even notice it while I was eating it to even wonder what even is it. That was a weird sentence.

(GUYS, I LOOKED IT UP. IT’S MINT.)

Alisha also ordered a pot of some kind of tea for us to share. It tasted like ground. Maybe it would have been better with sugar but do vegans eat sugar? I didn’t see any.

Alisha also ordered the Kanapki which was three pieces of small toast, each with a different spread on it. One was for sure carrot and that was the only one I liked.

Guys, that’s my plate at the bottom there and it was so fucking good – those potato dumpling dickheads were so fucking divine and I wanted so much more, and the fried buckwheat was WHAT THE HELL WHY HASN’T HENRY BEEN CRACKLIN’ BUCKWHEAT FOR ME ALL THIS TIME levels of tasty. And that lima bean puree? I didn’t have time to grab my bathing suit before diving into that bitchin’ legume lagoon.

That’s Alisha’s crap at the top.

Somehow, my dinner was considered a “large plate” and hers was “small” and cheaper yet seemed so much bigger and she was still working on it a good twenty minutes after I had licked the last lima smear from my plate.

To cap off our meal, I ordered dessert for us to split, and again, I could have eaten 5 plates of these.

My Apteka verdict is that the food was bomb and inventive, and even had a level of comfort to it that vegan joints sometimes lack. But, for the price I paid and the amount of food I ate, I was a little unsatisfied. I was ready for second dinner less than an hour later. Even still, I’ll probably go back again because I liked the atmosphere, the staff was great, and I want to try the other things on the menu — I’ll just be prepared to eat my arm later on.

Afterward, we went to the Carnegie Library lecture hall to see one of my favorite female vocalists, Julien Baker. Ugh, I have been dying to see her live for years now but something always comes up when she’s here. I thought I was going to end up going to see her alone because I don’t know anyone else who likes her and Henry was a hard nope, but it ended up coinciding perfectly with Alisha’s visit. She was my concert buddy when she lived in Pittsburgh back in the day and I was so excited to have another good music night with her!

Alisha was all frenzied because she wasn’t sure if we were allowed to park in the lot she chose, and then she was mad because we walked some totally long-ass way to get to the lecture hall when we could have taken a much shorter route, but I was selfishly happy about this because I needed the steps since it was week one of the Law Firm Walking Challenge (OH, I HAVE AN UPDATE ABOUT THIS TOO, CHECK BACK LATER) and I was kicking myself for planning an evening of DINNER and a SEATED CONCERT. Alisha was miserable because she had a bad cold and here I was, walking her around Oakland on a super chilly April night.

When we arrived, she was immediately annoyed because the young girls checking tickets at the door were all googly-eyed over my knack for accessorizing and then we stood in the bathroom waiting for the two occupied stalls to open up and then the bathroom door slowly started to open on its own and we were like WTF SCOOBY, GHOSTS!? but here it turned out Alisha had leaned on the handicap door opening button.

And then a few minutes later, we realized that only one of the stalls had been occupied that whole time, so that was cool.

“I should have known it was going to be a night full of stupid things,” Alisha sighed, insinuating that my presence draws this stuff out!?

Whatever!

Anyway, we found some good seats nice and close (BUT NOT TOO CLOSE) in the first row off the floor. Alisha was whining about why it hadn’t started yet and I was like, “Because it’s only 7. We have another hour.”

LOL Alisha thought it started at 7 that whole time and was so angry that now we had to sit in this growing-more-stifling-by-the-minute room. She amused herself by spying on a man who apparently looked at me twice after I said “bless you” to Alisha so she was convinced he was obsessed with me but clearly I think she was obsessed with him! He kept pretending like he was waiting for someone but then no one ever came…

Then people attempted to speak to Alisha and I thought she was going to will herself to incinerate into a pile of Arkansas ash.

“Why does this always happen? I was doing so good all these years and then I’m with you for like a minute…”

“And the awkward social situations come back?” I laughed, and she emphatically agreed.

It really was an interesting mesh of people there that night though. Lots of punk rock college lesbians, little girls, and old guys.

And us.

Tancred was the opener and I really don’t have much to say about them because I have tried so hard over the years to like them, especially when I got more into that Bledfest-type of scene, but I just can’t. The singer is fine but her voice doesn’t evoke a single emotion from me and the lyrics are kind of middle school diary.

But Julien though….

She performed mostly alone until closer to the end of her set, when her friend came out to accompany her on violin. I didn’t take any video and this picture is actually Alisha’s, because I kind of felt paralyzed with regurgitating grief and realized at one point that I was barely breathing.

Julien has this poignant and measured way of singing the most delicate, whispered notes and then, before you have time to prepare yourself, she is lurching her head back and full-blown power-vocals are roaring out of her small frame and sucking up all the oxygen in the room. She will leave you fucking breathless.

So, there’s this thing about me that you should know, and it’s that, as much as I love words, the lyrics of songs usually come secondary for me. It’s the music itself that heals me first and foremost, it’s what gets my heart started, the tears flowing. And then it’s the tone of the voice singing against that music. I have to laugh a little bit because when I was super into the post-hardcore and screamo scene, people would ask me how could I tell what they were saying? And I would say, “I can’t, and it doesn’t matter, because it’s still touching me.” And now, I get the same question because 99.9% of what I listen to is in Korean. And again, it’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter to me what they’re saying, because the music, and the sound of their voices singing in that perfect language, fills my heart with joy that I haven’t felt in such a long time.

But yet, Julien is the rare exception for me. Because I AM listening to her words. And they are slicing through my wrists like a rusty razor. To write the songs she writes…and to sing them with such brittle sincerity and honesty…you have to have a lot of pain in your life. I can’t imagine standing there on a stage in front of so many adoring fans, stripping down to your bare, aching soul, letting us all watch you relive whatever you were going through when these songs came to fruition. She gave us a gift that night, and I will forever cherish it!

This is one of my favorite songs. Careful, she might break your heart.

And then we thought we were going to have to live in the parking lot because one of the parking ticket machines wasn’t working right and traffic was all backed up and we blamed Henry for not driving us.

“You never asked?” he replied to my text. WELL, HE SHOULD HAVE JUST KNOWN TO DO IT!

And don’t you worry – I came home at 11pm and still managed to eke out 20,000 steps.

Jan 192018
 

Perhaps you remember me whining last spring about how my good friend Lisa was moving to Idaho. Well, she moved to Idaho. And I have been missing her so much ever since! Even when she lived in Pittsburgh, she was really the only friend I talked to on the phone (LITERALLY TALKED TO ON THE TELEPHONE who even uses phones for talking anymore?!) so you would think that we would still talk fairly often even now that she’s gone and ditched the ‘Burgh, but those pesky time zones, man. Those pesky motherfucking time zones.

Ugh.

Luckily, she hasn’t completely forgotten me because I made the short list of people she wanted to see when she was back for a visit last week! She asked me about a month in advance if I was free on MLK day for dinner and I was like look if I wasn’t free, I’d make myself free! I mean, unless my prior plans were with G-Dragon. Then sorry, Lisa. We’ve seen enough of each other since high school, I’m sure we could skip this one time.

But sadly, I did not have prior plans with any beautiful Korean, so Lisa got lucky!

We met during a snow storm at Needle+Pin, which I had been wanting to try since it opened last year and Lisa was enthusiastically on board. It worked out for both of us because, since it’s Indian-English fusion, there are several vegetarian options, and it’s also one of only three gin bars in Pittsburgh and coincidentally Lisa has recently become a gin drinker.

Right off the bat, we had excellent rapport with not only the waitress, but the bartender as well, who came to our table to answer Lisa’s 1548452 questions about gin, while I was super low-maintenance and ordered the Blackberry Bramble simply because it sounded delicious and despite the fact that I’ve mostly avoided gin ever since my ex-boyfriend psycho Mike grabbed a bottle of it from my grandparents’ basement bar and got shit-faced on a hill in South Park in high school.

I just vomit-burped at the memory.

Anyway, the bartender–a sweet, young boy–praised my choice and I was so smug about that. Lisa had two different lemon-y gin drinks and was “meh” about both of them while openly coveting mine. It was so fucking good, you guys. And the best part was that the single, large ice cube slowly melted and mixed with the leftover blueberry syrup stuff at the bottom of my glass, so it was like the gin-gift that just kept gin-giving.

The ambiance and decor was just my style.

After the drink-ordering, we stressed over the food. The waitress broke my heart because they didn’t have the vegan bangers & mash that night, but the Tikka Masala I ordered was freaking delightful.

Lisa had ordering remorse again and it was just like old times.

And then I went back to 2008 and took this picture with my red Blackberry Curve. Here’s Lisa trying to steal some of my paneer.

Gin phone booth!

Lisa told me that on the plane to Pittsburgh, she was randomly sitting next to a man who started talking to her about he CS Lewis book she was reading and eventually she learned that he’s my second cousin Mike! His mom was my Pappap’s sister, and I haven’t seen him probably since I was 10 so I have very vague memories of him and that side of the family, however, Lisa said that the way he talked about my Pappap to her was exactly how I talk about him and I started crying right there over my Blackberry Bramble. Time has healed a lot but shit, I still cry about my Pappap A LOT.

A LOT, A LOT.

Overall, it was an emotional dinner. Ugh, it was so good to see her again and catch up!

MOVING OVER BY THE ELEPHANT FOR PICTURES WAS MY IDEA, OK!?

Lisa made me pose for this one and I hated every second of it. Payback for all the years of shoving my camcorder in her face I guess!

Before we left, we stopped at the bar and chatted some more with the bartender, who gave us straws and let us sample some gins. I think it’s safe to say that I will probably not be venturing out from the mixed gin drinks, but it was still fun to try and listen to him and Lisa nerd out about gin baths or whatever.

And then, just like that, the night was over, and I had to say goodbye to her all over again. Hopefully the next time I see her will be in Idaho. She was showing me pictures of where she and her family moved and it is definitely NOT Potatoville everywhere in Idaho, apparently!

Jan 022018
 

Henry and I worked hard to make sure that we were offering a good array of Korean fare. We have both learned so much about it over the last year and honestly have adapted our daily diet around it, no joke. Most of my meals are seasoned heartily with gochugaru and swimming in gochujang that my tongue rarely feels the heat of spicy food anymore. I’m over here like, “Here try this, it’s not spicy at all” while people are gasping and reaching desperately for a glass of cold milk.

So we tried to keep it authentic* while not incinerating our guests’ cheek linings.

* (As authentic as possible considering neither of us are Korean; but as someone who really likes cooking, I will say that Henry treats this cuisine with utmost respect and doesn’t try to Americanize it at all. He even added eomuk – fish cakes – to the tteokbokki.)

The final menu was:

  • japchae
  • tteokbokki (this is seriously one of my favorites and I can’t wait to eat the fuck out of it in Korea)
  • bossam (pork belly lettuce wraps)
    • plus a vegetarian pork version for Chooch and me
  • Korean fried chicken
  • Korean fried tofu
  • a handsome (lol) array of banchan

I wanted him to also make kimchi jeon (pancake) but he answered me with a glare; also, we ended up being properly stuffed with what he provided, so perhaps we’ll save the jeon for the next K-dinner party.

The banchan included:

  • lotus root
  • perilla leaves
  • bellflower root (one of my faves!)
  • kimchi
  • pickled daikon
  • fernbrake

All of these were procured from New Sam Bok, a Korean market in the Strip. Henry made the lotus root himself though. I mean, he didn’t GROW it, but he boiled and marinated it and our house smelled so fucking good while that was happening.

I was worried that our guests were going to recoil at the banchan, because let’s face it, this isn’t like your standard side of fucking cole slaw, you know? But these are staples in Korean households, and I have to say that for the last year I have been eating kimchi on a regular basis and it’s to the point where I will sometimes sit at work thinking about it and longing to be home with a side of it in front of me.

Henry also prepared bean sprout (basically just fresh bean sprouts marinated in sesame oil – it’s so good), but we forgot to put it out on the table. C’EST LA VIE, BEAN SPROUTS.

Everyone was waiting for JANNA to get there. She had some excuse about TRAFFIC.

But then she finally arrived and the pouring of the soju commenced. We had two bottles on hand, and Chronica brought two more, so we were set. I wanted to also have magkeolli but we live in shitty Pennsylvania with their prohibitionist liquor restrictions so none of the Asian markets around here sell it. Henry was going to order it from the state store but they were like, “Nice try, you have to buy a whole case.” We obviously didn’t want a full case so no magkeolli for this go around. Maybe next time we’ll plan ahead and take a drive to the nearest H-Mart or something, or Henry can buy a fucking kit and make some.

Holy chopstick holder.

You guys! The banchan was a success! Blake said his favorite was the bellflower (doraji) and everyone resoundingly enjoyed the fernbrake which I thought was going to bomb, even though apparently in Korea it’s the favored banchan. I liked it, but the texture was a bit off-putting. I read that it’s really good in bibimbap though so I think I’m going to have Henry make some of that this week. (He recently bought a dolsat pot!)

Sorry this picture isn’t very appetizing but I was off my food-photog game that night because I was too busy Edward Chopstickhanding all the food into my face. But here’s the tteokbokki and japchae!

And Korean Fried Chicken & Tofu! No pictures of the bossam, though — SORRY.

Every kept saying how much they liked the food, and I was glad for Henry. He deserves all the props and hat tips!

Also, Chooch finally tried kimchi and admitted that he sort of liked it, kind of. I’m actually not sure if he ate anything all night because I was too busy with my face in my plate. I guess I should ask Janna.

Chooch got What Do You Meme for Christmas and was itching for dinner to be over so he could finally play it with Blake and Chris. (“And maybe her,” he said, putting at me as an afterthought. Monica was delighted to not be included because she didn’t want to play. I DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO PLAY EITHER!) At one point, he could contain his excitement no longer and started rummaging through the game; he was so pleased when he pulled out the Kim Jong Un card. Sigh.

Also, Chooch had a seating chart all planned out in his head and his brain all but exploded when people arrived and started sitting wherever they wanted. But he still got to sit next to Blake, which was his ultimate goal, so he left everyone else stay in their seats. It was kind of up in the air there for a minute, though.

Henry spent most of the dinner in the kitchen and then holding his grandson Calvin, but he had no complaints.

And my favorite kpop videos played in the background all during dinner. I even got to answer questions about kpop, the food we were eating, and Korean holidays! It was all I could ask for and I was so happy that everyone there was showing interest and not making me feel dumb for bear-hugging an entire culture that’s not my own. Monica at one point said that everyone has a thing, and some people’s thing i making the rest of us feel bad about having a thing.

This is really true.

After dinner, Chooch finally got to play his damn game, which is basically just as vulgar as Cards Against Humanity and Janna kept putting cards back in the deck because she didn’t want to read them in front of Chooch. I think Janna’s modesty was my favorite part! Monica and Henry wee so happy that they didn’t have to play.

My favorite part of the night was when we played MY favorite game, which Chris says isn’t actually a game, but it’s called, “Use Google Translate to give Chris Spanish sentences to translate” and of course she always gets it because she’s a freaking bilingual genius, but the funnest part is listening to Chooch read the Spanish out loud, even though all of his sentences are disparaging about my cat Penelope and way too complimentary about his dumb cat Drew. Mine was, “Jimin is Henry’s bias because he likes his chipmunk cheeks and luscious lips.” It was so dumb, and maybe it was the wine, soju, and Chris’s homemade eggnog talking, but I was in tears laughing.

I wish I had more pictures, but goddamn I was so into the food and company! It felt nice to be moderately social without the accompanying anxiety for once. It’s been a while. The night was so awesome, but more importantly, my friends are awesome! I’m thankful that they came over and partook in my favorite things for an evening. <3

Jan 012018
 

I was going to have a Christmas party this year because it just seemed like the thing to do, but my heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t want to stress myself out anymore than I already was by trying to force the yuletide spirit up my ass, DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Still, I felt that doing something on a smaller scale could boost my mental well-being, so I got Henry to agree to let me have a Korean dinner party, and by “let” I mean that he had to be on board because otherwise we’d just be sitting around eating ramen and kimchi, unless of course I couldn’t find the strength to open the jar.

Of course Henry said yes though because that guy loves to cook and he has really embraced the nuances of Korean cuisine. And thank god because how else could I have spent the last year eating a primarily Korean-based diet? Henry is kind of the best.

I promised him that we would keep it small since he would be doing all the cooking, plus our dining room table is small as fuck. Technically it’s only meant to comfortably seat 6 but I managed to squeeze in two extra seats.

The guest list was:

  • Chronica
  • Blake & Haley (Blakely? Halke?)
  • Janna

This was kind of like their reward for putting up with my complete Korean immersion without judging or mocking me.

A few weeks ago, I had this grand idea that we should put Korean stars on the banchan bowls. (Pro tip for you Westerners who might not know much about Korean food because let’s be real before last year I only knew kimchi and bibimbap: banchan is an array of Korea side dishes that are traditionally served with meals – you don’t order it, they just appear on the table and they are fucking glorious. It’s mostly vegetables, like kimchi, bean sprouts, pickled cucumbers or radish, etc etc. Ah, service.) So that’s what Henry and I had been diligently working on around here lately and I am so happy with the results! For starters, here’s this gorgeous G-Dragon bowl and Chooch’s Got7 tea cup:

A BIGBANG dessert tray (this is my favorite!).

Weekly Idol & IU tea cups. (I love Weekly Idol so much.)

#수고했어요 💔 #craftingthroughthepain

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

I made this one to honor our recently departed Jonghyun. The inside is Korean for “You worked hard.” This dinner party was actually a secret memorial for him in my head. I brought down his picture from my bedroom wall and surrounded it with candles. It made me feel moderately comforted.

For our serving bowls, we made one with Goblin and Boys Over Flowers (two of my favorite k-dramas) and the second one is RUNNING MAN. I used the original 7 members because that is my favorite line-up. Now Gary is gone and they have two new members, but it will always be 7012 in my heart. (THAT’S A RUNNING MAN THING.)

Ugh, Taemin’s beauty makes my heart hurt.

Here’s all the banchan bowls on the lazy susan! In addition to the G-Dragon and Taemin ones, we also did BTS, SHINee of course, 2NE1, Sistar and a larger rice bowl in the middle was Twice.

Henry wanted Blackpink to be his tea cup but I gave him…

Hyuna instead, because he loves watching her scandalous music videos. Also, he’s actually redoing this one right now as I type this because he fucked up the one mouse ear. This is why I was just in charge of the Photoshop part and he got to do the actual decal placement because I have zero patience for things like that!

Wouldn’t be a K-dinner party without a Girls Generation plate! Don’t worry, this picture was taken the day after the dinner. The cats were not on the table at all prior to that. Also, Chris initially thought that was a kimchi-scented candle and not just me using an empty kimchi jar as a votive holder, which made me laugh!

Another view of the EXO tea cup. This one was hard to make because they currently (allegedly) have 9 members but there is some weird “scheduling conflict” that constantly comes up with their Chinese member, Lay, and he has been AWOL for like every promotion they’ve done in 2017 and some people say that SM Entertainment is trying to quietly force him out of EXO!? I only know like 4 EXO members and am not qualified to make assumptions about this at all, but Kpop’s got some drama.

We used my precious G-Dragon table as the dessert table, natch. We had a type of traditional Korean rice cakes which are often eaten during celebrations such as Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), honey cookies called yakgwa, and Haley made delicious orange cranberry cupcakes – I was obsessed with the frosting and commented on it like three times like it was the only thing I was capable of talking about.

Also! Korean cinnamon punch, OMG. It tasted just like the kind we bought at the Korean food festival last year! It has a shit-ton of ginger in it and dried persimmons. Chooch was happy because for once we had punch with no alcohol in it.

This was what the table looked like after I finished fussing with it. Everyone got a BIGBANG tea, as well, which I thought would be a nice souvenir but NOT EVERYONE TOOK THEIR EMPTY BOTTLE HOME!

OK, I have shit to do so I’ll be back later to write about the food.

Oct 232017
 

*I searched the word “seven” in every language looking for one that starts with “p.” Congratulations, now you know how to say “seven” in filipino! My dedication to alliteration is alliterastupid. 

Also, I originally had this titled as the eighth pie party because I can’t count.

Pie People:

  • Scott & Maya
  • Gayle & Jeffrey
  • Chris & Monica
  • Sandy, Ben, Elena, & Zoe
  • Janna
  • Lori
  • Sue
  • BARB
  • Wendy & Summer
  • Andrew & Karen
  • Blake, Haley, & Calvin
  • Haley’s mom
  • Robbie, Nikki, Eli, & Levi
  • Maggie, Ivan, Annabelle, & Lila
  • Amber, Steve, Teddy
  • Valerie & Dustin

This is the first time Kara missed a pie party! But she was running in the Chicago marathon so I guess that’s an acceptable excuse. 

Ok guys. You know the drill by now. We rented a pavilion, people brought pies, people ate pies. After seven years, there’s not much deviation to the formula. This will mostly be photos because I remembered to bring the good camera.

This year was exciting though because we had some new blood! Maya & Scott were here from Nashville (I liked to tell people that the pie party was THE ONLY reason they traveled here, though they did say it was the reason they picked that particular weekend to check out Pittsburgh as potential new digs), Henry’s co-worker Andrew and his wife Karen came, and Valerie brought her husband Dustin who I was excited to finally meet! And this was Lori’s first pie party too, because she couldn’t make it to last year’s pig-out.

I wanted to go bare-bones this year, because I honestly didn’t want to have one at first but then some of my friends talked me into it. Originally it was going to be bomb shelter themed, with just some old newspapers thrown down for tableclothes and some scattered slices of Velveeta for tablescape decor. But in the end even that was too much. We left the table bare-boned, no succulents to meet & greet, no mason jars of crayons to assist with doodling on the tables.

We did decorate the actual pie table though and thankfully Scott and Maya were there to help me because oh what a shocker, Henry ditched me again to go and fetch so forgotten item at the store. He does this every year and now I’m beginning to wonder if it’s intentional?!

I enjoyed this time with Scott and Maya though because Chooch wasn’t there to interrupt constantly – I have things to say too!

Also, Scott is super tall and excelled at hanging things from the rafters.

Obviously, my contribution was something Korean. Choco Pies 4 lyfe. (Surprisingly, every single kid at the pie party took one bite and then slowly handed the rest their moms. I’m offended!

I saved the “BABY” balloons from Blake and Haley’s baby shower because I figured I’d find a use for it again one day. October 6th, 2017 was that day! Mmm. Pie, baby!

(Every time I looked at it, I kept hearing Joey Tribbiani yelling it with zeal.)

Remember when I joked that the theme was “pies that Trump hates?” Maggie won the whole entire event with her ImPEACH 45 pie. Maggie’s Pie for President!

Twins!

I was sad that Amber1 and her twin sister couldn’t make it because I wanted there to be two sets of twins at the pie party just so I could say, “Yeah well MY pie party had TWO sets of twins, how many did YOURS have?” and then that person would be like, “None because wtf is a pie party, that sounds dumb.”

YEAH WELL FUCK YOU IMAGINARY PERSON I’M COMPETING WITH!

I think this was a picture of Henry staring adoringly at all of his grandbabies and kids, all under one pavilion roof covered with the graffiti of high school lovers.

(They must have painted it recently, actually, because there seemed to be less adolescent devotion up above our heads than usual.)

Lori literally made a cherry pi. So good!

There were so many savory pies this year! Sandy made a delicious corn and tomato pie, Andrew made some kind of chicken pot pie thing (the first pot pie ever, if you can believe that!), Blake & Haley went above and beyond with this super-hearty butternut squash, goat cheese, pine nut concoction that ate like an entire Thanksgiving meal in one slice. I can’t even explain how filling that sucker was! Henry conceded to my begging and made a kimchi quiche which even the pickier people enjoyed! It had a quinoa crust, which I thought was interesting.

You guys. I’m so excited to tell you — I’m betrothed to a pie! I never want to be without it.

Chooch had Sandy’s kids and Blake playing some dumb game with rocks. It had something to do with The Kingdom of the Unobtainium Rock? Who cares.

Except those guys cared and played it for like a solid hour until Blake got carried away and tried to hide one of the rocks in the rafters, which caused Sandy’s kids to try to climb to retrieve it, so I had to be a mom for once in my life and yell at Blake to get the goddamn rock for them.

Maya’s first pie party!

Janna brought a Mexican chocolate mousse. We did not build a wall around it though. Mexico is cool.

Anyway, this mousse brought the heat! It was delicious.

Pie party or not, his face always looks like this.

Here’s Monica holding Calvin, freshly pulled from the oven.

This was taken sometime after I told Chris she had a spider in her hair, landing me above Chooch on Monica’s list of least favorite people. I’m a really awesome friend!

My favorite part of the pie party is how welcoming my friends were to Scott and Maya. Here’s hoping they move here and can join us for more pie in the future! My least favorite part of the pie party was when I was on hug-giving auto-pilot and misread Lori’s body language when she was saying goodbye and started to make a hug motion with my arms, then quickly dropped them down to my side when I noticed she was slightly recoiling, and then the next day she texted me to  tell me that this was her favorite part of the whole pie party and that was sad I wasn’t at work because she wanted to tell everyone about it and embarrass me and I died a little but. I have a NO HUMAN CONTACT reputation to uphold, but the stupid pie party always ruins that because there are always people there who demand to be hugged upon departure and I have trained myself to leave my body for a bit in order to get through this.

I am so awkward, it hurts sometimes.

On that note: it’s hard to believe the 7th pie party is in the books! 7 parties-worth of hugs. OMG.

Oct 112017
 

I am so excited to write this blog post and it will likely be rife with typos because of said excitement (and also because it’s me typing this, remember). Ok ok ok. So, my friend Maya and her husband Scott have been tossing around the idea of moving and somehow, someway, Pittsburgh made it on their short list of options.

Maya and I go way back, and by way back I mean to somewhere like 2008 when we were both active members of a sellers group on Etsy called Etsy’s Dark Side. It was a lot of fun – people in the group would swap business cards, etc so when an order would go, you could include a cute little pack of swag from other shops in the group, kind of like back in the PENPALLING DAYS when you’d throw in some FBs* with your letter for an added bonus. Maya was so great at organizing these swaps! Our one friend Agony’s Decay used to send us little skull-shaped soaps to include with our orders. I was just thinking about this yesterday and felt inspired to re-order business cards from Vista Print for the first time since 2011. I’m good at running a fake business.

*(Pre-Facebook, “FB” stood for “friendship book” which was a small handmade book of stapled paper, sometimes just index cards, that would get passed on from one penpal to the next with each person writing their name, address, interests, etc with the hope of making new penpals; it was like a super rudimentary Craigslist.)

Anyway, some of us became “outside of Etsy” friends and by that I mean we friended each other on Facebook. Mostly, I didn’t interact very much with any of them but Maya was one of the few that I felt like I clicked with, even after I stopped being as active on Etsy as I was back then. And you may remember that Maya is the maker of my favorite dolls!

(Christofer Drew, Jonny Craig, Vic Fuentes, Birthday Clown keychain!)

Technically, that Christofer Drew doll is Chooch’s, along with a Ju-On doll she made him a few years ago, which is in his room because she’s one of his favorite possessions.

Maya and Scott have been wanting to head on over to Pittsburgh to scope it out. When I told her the date for the pie party, they decided that would be a fine weekend to come out, eat some pie and check out some possible neighborhoods. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE! I was at work when she told me and I made some (probably disruptive) exclamation at my desk and then ran around telling people. SOME PEOPLE were like, “Great, if you’re giving her the grand tour, they’ll probably scratch Pittsburgh off the list.”

Ugh, shut up guys.

They got in Friday afternoon but I was working late shift that day (#fml), but they hit up 21st St. Coffee, Primanti’s, and the Wood Street Gallery on their own because they’re capable humans. We didn’t actually meet up until Saturday. Janna joined us because I was afraid they’d ask simple questions about the city and I wouldn’t be able to answer, like, “What is that building?” or “Is it safe here at night,” but I figured if they asked me things like, “Hey where did that creepy guy hug you that one time?” or “Where did that machete thing happen?” I’d be fine.

They didn’t ask, but don’t worry: I SHOWED THEM ANYWAY!

I feel like I’ve been training for this day though, all these years, all those lunch break walks. I have gotten so good at Pittsburgh! Well….kind of. I know the good alleys and where to get ice cream. I also know when to avoid walking around down there (4pm – when all those fucking school kids are running the sidewalks acting like they own the goddamn town, ugh GET OFF MY LAWN) and where to get a good non-Starbucks cup of coffee. (Pro tip: anywhere that’s not Starbucks.)

Henry dropped Janna and me off at Scott and Maya’s hotel in the Strip District and I was prepared for awkward greetings because have you met me? Maybe you haven’t. I’m missing very valuable social skills. We’ll touch on that when I get to the Pie Party post, don’t you worry. But thank god Maya and Scott have enough of those skills to make up for my deficiency because I immediately felt at ease.

Plus, it helped that right away Maya gave me this adorable Monster-era G-Dragon that she made me, so that got me talking animatedly about kpop which is my ultimate comfort zone, <3

She even embroidered the “BB” on his back, I love this little baby G-Dragon so much!

The first thing we did was walk under the Convention Center, because there’s this cool water-path thing that’s usually lit up by pretty lights but I think that it must be turned off for the season now. But at least it gave Janna and me a chance to tell them about the annual furry convention, WHICH THEY WILL GET TO EXPERIENCE IF THEY MOVE HERE.

Add that to the “pro” column, guys.

We walked down Liberty and I was sad that my favorite homeless guy wasn’t out for them to see. Actually, I don’t think he’s homeless, and I’m mad at him (again) because he was shaking his Big Gulp cup of change super aggressively the last time I saw him which I thought was just completely unnecessary because he should know by now that I don’t have any change to give him.

Then we walked to the Point so I could show them the fountain. (“When you start seeing 87 pictures of the fountain a day on Instagram, that’s when you know it’s officially summer,” I read to them from my guidebook. I’m good at this.) They saw the fountain. They took pictures of the fountain.

Then Scott asked a question!

“Do you get much flooding here?” he asked innocently, not knowing that his simple inquiry was forcing my brain to do things and I JUST DID NOT KNOW THE ANSWER nor could I think fast enough to make one up. It was hot that day, OK? Really hot and humid for October.

Thankfully, Janna started spewing out some mundane flood facts and to myself, I thought, “This is why I brought her. Thank god for Janna and her knowing of things.”

You might notice that this post is curiously remiss of photos of them. That’s because I was still testing the waters and trying not to be as extra as I tend to be when I’m excited about fresh (faux)meat. 

I decided I would lead my tour group to Market Square. Janna and I told them about how the restraurant NOLA catches fire a lot and they were like, “That’s concerning.” Janna was all, “Yeah but the food there is good” and I couldn’t really back that up because I’m a vegetarian and New Orleans-centric cuisine hates my people.

We walked past some scary propaganda thing being filmed and then I lead them to Millie’s for the best ice cream in Pittsburgh. Actually, I lead them past Millie’s because I wasn’t paying attention, and also the Market Square location of Millie’s didn’t have super impressive choices this time, but my condensed milk nectarine was a delight. Janna got strawberry (*snore*) and Maya and Scott both got milkshakes (blackberry cobbler and Vietnamese coffee, respectively) and I was really excited about this because for some reason, I never think about getting milkshakes at Millie’s. They said it was good though! Janna made me get sprinkles on mine because she wanted it to look like I was trying to emulate her. It was OK.

Fine, it was wonderful. I usually only get sprinkles on soft serve! I am a very particular ice cream orderer!

There were old people in Millie’s talking about Nashville which was coincidental because you know, Maya and Scott live in Nashville. I felt like the old people thought we were totally in their way and hated us because we were like half their ages.

We pulled some tables together in the center of Market Square and talked about our lives, and Pittsburgh, and the fact that Maya is too scared of haunted houses (#fakegoth!). I was acutely aware during this time that conversation was flowing effortlessly and I was getting attached to these people, oh god!

Check back later for part 2, where I successfully got them on the trolley, compared every bird in the aviary to one of my cats (past or present), and caught Janna stealing. It was a jam-packed day, you guys. We did lots.

Sep 222017
 

Henry and I were going to take a break this year and hope that the season would slip by quietly without anyone noticing we didn’t have a pie party…

…but then friends started asking me as early as July if we were having one this year. I held firm on my decision but after the eighth person asked, Henry and I had an emergency meeting, which means I paused Running Man and said, “People want a pie party, do you want to have one?”

He was like “whatever you want to do” because duh. So I guess we’re having one!


The one downside to not being on Facebook anymore is that it makes party-planning a bit tricky. What did we do we before Facebook events??

Oh yeah: Evites.

I don’t know hardly anyone’s email address though.

Most of my pals are on Instagram so I hoped that posting this rough Photoshopped invitation would suffice but I’ve still been approaching people directly too because I have no way of knowing if anyone has seen it if they don’t heart it or flat out tell me they’re coming. So I have a feeling this pavilion is going to be super-empty.

If you’ve never been to the pie party before, it goes like this: you either bake or buy a pie, bring it to the designated pavilion, put it down with the other pies, grab a plate and go to pie-town. You don’t need to worry about bringing enough pie to feed everyone, because people come and go all day — we have yet to run out of pie!

It’s literally an all-you-can-eat pie buffet. Bring some beverages and enjoy the (hopefully brisk & sunny) autumn day! I won’t make you play weird social ice-breaker games or anything. I’m too busy keeping tabs on THE PIE.

What else can I tell you…oh! Themes. My friend Maggie just asked me the other day if there will be a theme. I never enforce themes because most people seem to ignore me and go rogue, so it’s a basic creative free-for-all. Although, I did jokingly respond with, “I don’t know….pies that Trump hates?” which got us excitedly throwing options out there like a varying flesh-toned Equality Pie and one that’s rainbow-filled, a glass ceiling creme brulee pie, perhaps a delicious dotard custard? Barb is bringing a Covfefe Pie, so that one’s off-limits.

I mean, I GUESS if you swing the other way, you could bring a pie with a popsicle stick wall around it, or a KFC chicken pot pie with a dusting of Cheetos on top. Can’t promise anyone will eat it though.

I’m pushing Henry to bake some Korean pies. We’ll see what he comes up with. I have an idea for Korean pie-pops but after our tense foray into mini pies at the 2015 pie party, I think Henry may have thrown out the little pie-mold maker thing.

Above, please find a sampling of pies we’ve had in the past. Everything from savory to exotic to mini to tarts. Personally, I loved the cupcake pie that Henry made a few years back but it was critiques harshly by some.

So, if you’re reading this, we’re friends (whether IRL or through The Computer), you live in/near Pittsburgh, and you love pie, please consider coming to this thing! It’s also dog and kid friendly. There’s a playground next to the pavilion and my kid is like KIND OF ok at watching younger kids now, and he also doesn’t run around with sticks anymore so it’ll be safe. 

Probably. 

Here is a very basic and not flashy or pretty map that Henry made to help people get to the pavilion but it probably won’t help because most people get lost no matter what – South Park has that effect on people. 

May 092017
 

You know how you pick a date for a party and you’re like, “Oh I have so much time” and then it’s the day of the party and you shut the front door on people and make them stand on the front porch because you’re not ready and why did so many come early when usually everyone comes late or not at all?!

Yeah, that was us on Sunday before Blake and Haley’s baby shower.

Luckily, I had the smarts to decorate the night before, so that was one less thing on the list that I had to break my neck trying to accomplish.

I love/hate decorating! Henry doesn’t know this yet, but we’re swapping out those letters for a G D R A G O N.

Or at the very least: K P O P.

He’ll be fine with it, don’t worry. #StockholmSyndrome

Blake and Haley have a mutual love for cacti and succulents, and they had a distinct woodland theme all up on that baby registry, so I was like CACTI AND FOXES IT IS. Henry said he would bake sugar cookies, and I was like OK cool you should do that Friday night, but he picked that moment to suddenly have a mind of his own and said Nah I’ll do that Saturday.

And then guess what happened? He fucked those cookies high up to the heavens and then sucker punched them down to the hell.

We went to bed angry.

He woke up at one point and mumbled, “I used too much butter. That’s what it was…”

When I woke up Sunday morning, he was already out of bed, making a new batch of those motherbitchin’ cookies.

And then he left me alone with them and several bags of icing while he took Chooch to piano lessons because neither of us had the foresight to cancel the lesson since we had a gazillion things to do, and then on top of that the fucking Pittsburgh marathon was happening so Henry couldn’t get to any of the Asian markets he frequents on Sunday in order to procure last minute ingredients pertinent to the appetizer recipes we picked out, so our kimbap had no damn daikon and the tteokbokki kkochu was just fried tteok with whatever sauce he came up with on the fly.

SUCH SAD.

Anyway, me and the cookies, alone in the kitchen. Good goddammit I might be able to kind of doodle and maybe I could pass with a C- in Painting, but when it comes to arting with icing?

I AM ALL THUMBS.

I cried.

I raged.

I did that thing where I make like I’m going to kick a hole in the wall but then I stop at the last second and just scream instead.

You know that thing.

You do it too.

YOU DO.

Finally I motherfucked the bags of icing because they were making my CLENCHED FISTS shake too much, and I opted for the medium beloved by my preschool brethren.

That goo-goo ga-ga go-to.

That fingerpainting formula.

It mostly worked, but I was so angry and stressed out by the time Henry and Chooch came home that I could barely hear their compliments overtop the rage-ringing in my ears.

I was in the kitchen for a really long time doing this! Like 35 minutes! When all  wanted to do was Kpopx! (I have a problem. At least it’s not heroin, though?)

I was putting last minute touches on the foxes when people started arriving and the stress and HURRYHURRY of the situation found my hands stained with ink-black icing, which I inadvertently spread to my mouth and teeth because that’s how I clean myself.

So when I opened the door to let everyone in, Blake immediately followed his hello with, “Were you eating…chocolate?”

ALL OVER MY MOUTH AND TEETH.

You know who said nothing about this and let me open the door to a host of party-people?

HENRY.

He said he didn’t notice.

You know why he didn’t notice?

BECAUSE HE DOESN’T LOOK AT ME.

Anyway.

The shower!

Here are the people who came:

Judy, Kelly, Sam, and Steph

My mom

Janna

Chris and Monica

Blake’s friends Tyler and Bob

Christy

Kara

Their main shower was the day before, this was just for Henry’s side of the family and my friends to dump all of the baby goods on Blake and Haley. So it was super caj and low-key. Which was great for Haley because she seemed pretty exhausted. We didn’t make them play any weirdo games or anything. They got to lounge around, eat, be annoyed/entertained by Chooch, and then open presents.

Chill and food-filled. The best kind of party.

I kept changing my mind with the cake and before I knew it, the shower was a week away. Luckily, Bethel Bakery was beyond accommodating and whipped up this babe for us (the inside had blood orange buttercream, STFU). We stuck with the woodland/fox theme and Blake & Haley seemed to like it so that’s all that matters in the end!

Henry and I only almost killed each other 4x over the cake-ordering, but who’s counting.

When Blake was here for Chooch’s birthday party, he asked if his baby shower was going to be Korean themed. I promised him I wouldn’t do that and that we could just have standard party food, but then he said, “I mean, if you want to have Korean food…”

“Do you want me to have Korean food?”

“….maybe?” he said with a suggestive shrug.

“That means yes!” I said later to Henry, but then that was quickly followed with, “I can’t tell if he’s just instigating me though….” and Henry just laughed because Blake has always instigated me when it comes to my obsessions.

Nevertheless, we added some Korean fare and flair to the party in the way of daikon-less kimbap (boo) and some Henry-bastardization of tteok kkochi, as previously mentioned. Everyone was like “this is good” but in my heart, I knew what it was supposed to taste like, and this was just “so-so.”

(Sorry Henry but you know it’s true!)

When Christy arrived, she said, “I guess I’ll just put my present down here on the…wheelchair,” and then she looked around the room at everyone with this, “Erin is a fucking weirdo, amirite guys?” We’ve known each other since we were 4 years old so really nothing I do shocks her…ever.

Don’t let this picture fool you – the guys were REALLY INTO the presents. Blake especially was like freaking the fuck out over last onesie and washcloth. He’s easily excitable.

img_1628

I made this cacti painting for Calvin’s nursery, which doesn’t match their theme at all, but cacti! It was the first painting I’ve made in months. Ruts, you know?

“How long is this flag banner going to stay up?” Henry asked after it got snagged on his hat for the millionth time since it was initially hung for Chooch’s surprise party last week.

“Forever,” I said with a smile. I love it. PARTY DECORATIONS FOREVER.

Things took a turn when Chooch asked if his neighbor friend Marky could come in; everyone said No! and I said Sure! because I love how annoyed he makes everyone. Chooch put on some YouTube video of a guy pretending to package up his family and mail them to wherever they were going on vacation…??? I’m not exactly sure what was going on other than this family thought they were SO FUCKING FUNNY with all their basic white walls in their McMansion.

Anyway, every time a family member would get into the box, Marky started gleefully chanting, “SUCFFOCATE! YEAH! SUFFOCATE THEM! KILL THEM! DIE! DIE!”

Welcome to the darkest baby shower ever.

I’m not sure if this picture was taken before or after Henry made some flip comment about, “She ran away and became lesbian” at which point time stood still, an ostrich ran backwards across the dining room floor, a tea cup full of blood hovered midair, and Monica broke through the barrier to say, “No, that’s not how any of this happens.”

GOOD JOB, HENRY. This is why we don’t have friends!

(Well, it’s usually because of me. But still.)

Then Chooch came in and did some spontaneous Beyonce squat, slapped himself on the ass, grabbed some chips, and left the room.

My mom brought artichoke dip and Picky Chooch was all, “Ew that sounds gross,” because he hates everything that’s not perched atop a waffle cone or from a vending machine (j/k, he likes grilled cheese too), so Monica slyly said, “That’s Chris’s favorite.”

“Really!?” Chooch exclaimed, spooning a huge dollop onto his plate. He is like obsessed with Chris (that said “Christ” at first and I really considered leaving it as that) to the point that Monica probably fears that Chooch will suffocate her (Monica) in her sleep.

Or have Marky do it.

In any case, Chooch now loves artichoke dip and when he found out my mom made it, he told me to tell her she’s hired.

“Marky wants to ride in the wheelchair, so I’m just going to take him out back,” Chooch casually said, filling Monica’s head with images of Marky rolling up to her house in the middle of the night in a creaky wheelchair, knife in hand.

The parents-to-be!

We’re all so excited to meet baby Calvin next month. These two are going to be great parents!

So yeah, another baby shower in the books! I think I’m taking a hiatus from party-throwing though. Two in a week was a bit much even for me! Um, and apologies to the shower guests for any Marky-inspired nightmares they’ve been having since Sunday. Any other offensive remarks that may have been/were definitely made.

Apr 022017
 

It started out that I didn’t want to be around people on Thursday. I even took the day off work in advance, because I know myself all too well. I reminded myself to stay away from Timehop and then attempted to fill my day with healthy things to keep my mind from reliving the bad memories from the last March 30th.

I went for a walk in the rain.

I practiced my Korean.

I went to lunch with Henry.

I watched a Running Man episode.

All good, healthy things to keep my mind spinning in positive directions, and not unnecessary downspirals. Anniversaries are so weird. I could have stayed in bed all day cried but fuck that noise.

I had a ticket for the Stolas / Icarus the Owl show that night, but I wasn’t particularly in the mood to be around strangers. The idea of staying home was very tempting, but I really like Icarus the Owl and I hadn’t seen them since September 2015. I had to go. I let myself be selfish for most of the day, but now it was time to get over myself and go support a band I love.

And I am so glad that I did because it turned out to be not only an amazing show, but just an overwhelmingly healing night for me in so many ways.

I got to Smiling Moose about twenty minutes before the opening band, Atlas Decay, went on. The room was still relatively uncrowded and the tiny bar area was empty. I grabbed a stool, had a brief conversation with the bartender about wheat beer before settling on Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (I’ve been making an effort to try new things rather than fall back on my old standby—cider). A few minutes later, I was looking down at my phone when a girl sat down next to me and said, “Hi, how are you?”

Alarms went off.

No one ever acknowledges me when I’m alone at a show. I’m invisible, remember?

I blurted out that I was fine and then tossed some side-eye to my left and saw that it was a younger girl in a Contortionist hoodie. I realized within seconds that I recognized her from other shows at the Smiling Moose, and that she too tends to always be there alone.

After the awkward salutations wafted off into the ether and were now just a faint memory, that familiar, uncomfortable silence set it. But when the bartender set down her Boddington’s, I used that as my chance to start a real conversation.

So I told her that I’m just learning to drink beer.

Because I’ve found that people who drink beer always want to talk about drinking beer.

And that worked! We started talking fluidly, without any awkward pretenses. This is how normal people do it! This is how I used to do it, too, back when I still had a personality and self-esteem! And then she asked what band I was there to see and when I said Icarus the Owl, she said, “Me too!” We animatedly discussed bands we liked until Atlas Decay started, and once they were over, we immediately resumed our conversation.

We talked a bit about Emarosa and she asked me how many times I’ve seen them. When I told her about the first time, at a skate park in 2008, opening for Pierce the Veil, she exclaimed, “Wow! That’s one for the books!”

HOLY SHIT, SOMEONE WAS INTERESTED IN MY GRANNY TALES!

Anyway, her name is Cat and she is only 22, but she’s an old soul. I could sense it.

We hung out for the duration of the show, and I really hope I see her again. It was so cool to have someone to stand with, as simple as that sounds. At one point she said, “Erin, you’re awesome” and I almost cried because usually I hear, “You’re weird” “you’re annoying” or “you’re dumb” and that’s just when I’m not being interrupted, talked over, or just ignored completely.

#life

And holy shit, Icarus the Owl. I am even more in love with them. Their music filled the holes in my heart that night and I knew I made the right choice. Not just for myself, but for the bands. Our scene here is not the best and these shows at Smiling Moose never really fill the room, so it’s my duty as a fan to boost the attendance by at least one. These guys sacrifice a lot to go on tour. I live 10 minutes away from Smiling Moose and had no other obligations that night. No excuses.

Joey Rubenstein makes me smile. <3

When they played “Skysweeper” I had an out-of-body experience. It was beautiful.

Next was Mylets, who I had never heard of but Cat was like, “OMG you’re going to love him!” and she was right of course because she’s awesome and has impeccable taste! So Mylets is Henry, a one-man band. It’s almost like he’s playing DDR up there with his pedals, and it was mesmerizing to watch.

Mylets was just one guy doing it all. It was beautiful.

A post shared by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

I almost left before Stolas because I’ve seen them numerous times and while I don’t dislike them, they’re not a band I generally tend to listen to on my own. But something told me to stay, and I’m so glad that I did because they blew me away. I don’t remember them being that good!

After Cat and I said our goodbyes, I was about to leave as well, but I noticed Joey from Icarus the Owl standing nearby. We made eye contact, and I thought to myself, “You had two beers. YOU CAN DO THIS, ERIN R. KELLY.” And so I walked over and told him that I think he’s amazing, and he was all, “Me?!” in the most adorable, humble way, and then he said, “We’ve met before. About two years ago….here, I think, right? And….you’re on The Twitter.”

“Yes! I’m the girl who’s always wishing for you guys to tour with Artifex Pereo and Emarosa!”

He remembered! People don’t remember me! I’m too average!

I couldn’t believe it.

And we had such a good, effortless conversation about the scene and their tour, and he said that actually, they were supposed to do a tour with Emarosa but plans fell through. Ugh!

I bought their newest album on vinyl and he legit wouldn’t let me leave until he had every last band member sign it for me, which required him to text, call, and flat out leave the merch table to seek out the last guy. Some of the people waiting in line looked annoyed, but I was like I’M SORRY OK.

Anyway, he hugged me two times and said it was nice to re-meet me and by the time I got to the car (Henry and Chooch were annoyed that I came out later than I originally said, lol), I was super giddy.

“That’s great,” Henry sighed, and Chooch just mumbled, “Cool story.”

I mean, probably that’s what happened. I still had so much buzzing in my head.

Oh! And the bartender said, “You look so clean cut but then you have hand tattoos. I love it.” That made me laugh so hard, because I make no sense. 

Fuck, I needed this night. Pity party officially canceled.