Sep 112014
 

THE SET-UP

A few weeks ago, back when CHRIS STILL WORKED HERE, the firm announced its upcoming Global Day of Service. CHRIS decided that Lauren and I should join her in signing up for some organization that has to do with trees.

“It’ll be great!” she said. “We can hug trees!” she said. And Lauren and I blindly followed. And then you know what happened? CHRIS LEFT BEFORE GLOBAL DAY OF SERVICE EVEN HAPPENED!

Last week, Lauren and the rest of the people in our group received an email saying that we would be mulching in the business district of Bloomfield (a Pittsburgh neighborhood right outside of downtown). That seemed OK to me. I imagined us sprinkling mulch upon tiny saplings, blowing a kiss at it, and then moving on to the next one.

On my way to work yesterday, I was on the phone with Henry and he asked what it is exactly that I was going to be doing that day.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, even though he wasn’t there to see it. “MULCHING, whatever MULCHING is.”

“Oh my god,” Henry laughed. “Please tell me where you’re going to be so I can come watch.”

Later that morning, I found out that another co-worker volunteered on Monday for the same organization and was so sore, she had to work from home. I laughed about it, because please. I couldn’t imagine any charitable organization expecting law firm slugs to do any heavy-lifting. I mean, when Lauren and I volunteered at the Food Bank last year, we basically just looked at cans of food for three hours and talked about how great Nutella is.

(Seriously, how great is Nutella?)

Clearly this co-worker was exaggerating. I mean, obviously. And she apparently was pulling vines out of a hillside and not mulching, like we would be doing. You know, drizzling down pocketfuls of mulch onto trees like sprinkles on an ice cream cone. Because that’s what I was going to be doing all day, twirling all around beneath the beaming sun, singing Emarosa songs in my head.

But then I started to panic.

“Why am I starting to think this is actually some sort of chain gang?” I cried to Mean Amber, who wants me to write an entire blog post explaining how she’s not actually mean at all, and do you see how bossy she is?!

Lauren was likewise freaking out and we collectively rued the day that we signed our souls away for a fucking ice cream sandwich.

(Albeit, a damn fine ice cream sandwich. Mine was blueberry ice cream inside a snickerdoodle! It was delightful, snickerish, and doodley.)

AND THEN I found out at 11:45 that we were leaving at 12:05 and not 1:00 like I thought (because instead of reading emails, I like to play a game called Guess & Assume), so I didn’t have time to eat lunch! I figured I would be ok though. I’d just eat when we got back at 4, that’s all. I forget to eat a lot of days so it wouldn’t be anything new.

THE BUS RIDE

Lauren and I were the first ones on the shuttle bus and I was starting to feel giddy, like we were going on a field day and oh, what sorts of adventures were we about to have? It doesn’t take much to excite me.

The bus loaded up fairly quickly. It was mostly all people from other departments. There were only 4 of us reppin’ the 10th floor, and one of the 4 was missing: Patrick. Finally, I spotted him strolling casually toward the bus, eating a peach like a goddamn farmer.

I lost it, just totally interrupted Lauren with my chuckle-vomit. Patrick was the last one to get on the bus, and he ever so calmly strode to an empty seat adjacent from me, and went right back to eating his peach.

“What?” he asked, catching me laughing.

“Nothing,” I wheezed. “Just the way you’re eating that peach!”

“What’s wrong with how I’m eating my peach?” he asked seriously.

“I mean, nothing. It’s just funny because you’re so casual about it,” I tried to explain, wiping away crumbs of cachinnation from my mouth.

“How should I eat my peach?” he pressed, and I was like OMG JUST FORGET IT.

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Patrick and the Peach.

Meanwhile, the shuttle driver was forcing people to get out their phones and put his number in it, because he wasn’t going to be sitting around waiting for our philanthropic assed, ok? Lauren and I just sat there and made no effort to take down his number, but Patrick was ALL OVER IT.

The driver, whose name was either Dale or Gale or Nail, told us that the group of volunteers he picked up for the morning session was too large and they and to get a bigger truck.

So then I started picturing a dump truck hauling all of the law firm volunteers to the site on a bed of mulch. Meanwhile, Patrick was trying to get us to buy his house. He actually lives in the same neighborhood as me, so we spoke briefly of Purple Pants because he knows her too.

Then Dale/Nail/Gale pulled over because he thought he got a flat tire and someone in the front said, “That was just that lady,” and I started cracking up because riding on buses reminds me of going on tours and I get super slaphappy.

THE LOTION

Our valiant driver booted us out onto some corner of Bloomfield. At our feet was a mountain of bagged mulch, wheelbarrows, enticing tools, and four people in fluorescent yellow t-shirts.

“There’s a guy in a ponytail,” Lauren said off-handedly. “He’s probably going to be cool.”

And also, a woman.

“Oh my god, who’s THAT GUY?” I sighed dreamily as my eyes fell upon the most beautiful blue collar of them all. “I claim him!” His name tag said Jake.

The leader of Trees gave us a brief rundown of the organization while we all passed around sunblock. I showcased my competency right off the bat by inadvertently squirting too much into my hands. I still proceeded to smear all of this into my skin, looking like I was getting read to go to a costume party as Powder.

“Oh my god,” Lauren laughed, spooning some lotion off my arm with her fingers. Some stranger from another department followed suit and I felt so violated. Then, in a moment of HOW AM I GOING TO RID MYSELF OF THIS LOTION, I slapped some onto Patrick’s arm. Lucas, rounding out our 10th floor quadrant, gave me the universal “I’m good!” motion as I turned my splooge-hands toward him.

I had nowhere else to rub my hands so I just shoved them into my orange work gloves, suntan-splooge and all.

WHEN IT WASN’T SO BAD

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Jake took the reins from whatever the non-hot guy’s name was and gave us a short demonstration of what we were going to do which, newsflash, seemed more like aggressive weeding and less like “mulching.” said since there were 20 of us, he was going to put us into groups of 5. I yelped audibly enough for Jake to hear and pressed myself closer into my 10th floor group. Jake laughed. “OK, some of you have friends here, so you can make your own groups if you want.”

We needed one extra person so a girl named Amy was brave and came over to join us.

“And I guess I’ll just stick with your group,” Jake said, to which Lauren and I exchanged looks of “FUCK YES.” Also, we got to wear neon yellow vests, and I was obnoxiously happy about that. I LOVE NEON.

MULCHING

Aside from feeling self-conscious because passers-by were ogling us, mulching started out OK. In fact, I couldn’t believe how easy it was! We worked our way down one side of the street, picking out trash from tree beds, pulling out the small assortment of weeds poking through the old mulch, and then putting down a new layer of mulch. Sometimes we didn’t have to put down new mulch at all! I was having a lot of fun using my mulching weapon too, which I had silently named Walden. (After Bradley Scott Walden, duh. Google that shit.) I quickly discovered that hacking away murderously at unsightly weeds was almost as satisfying as hacking away at the faces of fake Mexicans from Ohio. Therapeutic. Cathartic. EXHILARATING. If I wasn’t wearing my murder gloves, I would have texted Henry and told him that I was quitting my job to become a landscaper.

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While working on one tree bed in particular, we observed that the number of cigarette butts had increased exponentially and then someone pointed out that we were in front of a bar. A nice, light-hearted moment before things went downhill.

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Then this guy ^^^ stood around and observed, like what we were doing was any of his business! GOD.

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This was before Lauren savagely whacked Amy in the head with the wooden handle of a rake.

After we had worked our way through our designated area, Jake exclaimed, “Wow! You guys are working so fast. Let’s move across the street and help that group over there.” So we were feeling really heroic at that point. I was, anyway. Like a landscaping bad ass. Where’s my fucking cape?

During this time, I made the rookie mistake of wrongly identifying a rose hop bush as a plant full of under-developed persimmons, but don’t worry: Patrick made sure I knew I was an idiot for thinking that. Then Lauren pricked herself on one of the rose hip thorns like this is some goddamn fairy tale and then we had to hear about it for the rest of all time!

I think was after some random lady stopped and asked what we had done to get ourselves put on a chain gang, ugh. WE’RE NOT A CHAIN GANG! WE’RE VOLUNTEERS!

It didn’t take long to finish primping the trees on the next block, so Jake decided that we were going to walk back to home base, load up our wheelbarrows with some mulch, and then continue on down the street to meet up with another group. This sounded great, like maybe we were nearing the end of our service. Then I made the mistake of looking at my phone and seeing that it was only 2:00pm. We still had two more hours?! How could that be possible.

Somehow, I got strapped with one of the wheelbarrows and it was just a disaster, so Lauren traded her armful of rakes with me and I was glad that she hadn’t fallen into an eternal sleep after getting pricked by the rose thorn.

Once we made it back to the Mt. Everest of mulch bags, Jake realized that the other group was too far away for us to transport the mulch via wheelbarrows, so he demanded that we pick up the bags and load them onto the back of his truck and then he would just drive everything down. Physically, I was fine up until this point. I mean, it was hot out so I was sweating a little bit, but it wasn’t like, “OMG I’M GOING TO DIE.” Until I started lifting bags of mulch. Now, I have moderate back problems and I have known this ever since I had to quit playing tennis because of it when I was 16. So I should have been like, “Hey guy, I’m going to excuse myself from this portion of the day’s activities.”

But no. I’m stubborn and lifted like 8 of them in succession because why? For what? Was there a prize? A medal? NO. JUST 48 HOURS OF CRIPPLING BACK PAIN. The day went from leisurely weeding to recreating the goddamn work site scene in The Ten Commandments.

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The pain was so immediate that once I lifted the first bag, I knew there was no way I was getting it up into the bed of that damn truck, so I had to pass them off to Lucas.

Thank you Lucas.

THE LUCAS INTERLUDE

In the 4.5 years that I’ve been at The Law Firm, I have had very minimal interaction with Lucas, so I was excited to be tree tenders together. I learned a lot about him, too. Such as: he has a tree in his front yard.

And…he has a tree in his front yard.

MULCHING GETS REAL

One of the other Trees people gave us very sketchy directions which had us crossing over a major intersection and getting trapped on a cement island for an indefinite amount of time. Thankfully, Patrick was there to lead us to safety.

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“Don’t cross yet. Wait for the walk sign.”

Once we made it to the other side of the street, it was pretty clear that we were no longer in the quaint business district of Bloomfield anymore, but more so The Shady Garage borough. We somehow accumulated a lady from one of the other groups, and also three rough men in street clothes who were apparently being paid to do what we were naively doing for free and made some comment to Patrick and Lucas about how lucky they were to get to have women on their team and I was like “We’re going to get raped. In our fucking neon vests. That’s the only way this day could get any worse.”

It was a concrete jungle down on this end: the tree beds were triple the size of the ones we had grown accustomed to and the weeds grew tall and dense and had super thick stems and deep roots. I hadn’t recovered from lifting mulch, so when I knelt down, I started slapping the ground with my mulching weapon in a petulant manner. My energy was gone, my back crunched every time I moved, and I HADN’T EATEN LUNCH AND WAS FEELING FAINT.

But I kept going on because I didn’t want to be That Person.

I know, since when, right?

Jake pulled up in his stupid truck and spouted off some obligatory praises, like, “Yeah. You guys are doing great. Woo. Dig those weeds. Spead that much. Go team, go.” You guys. I watched Patrick drop his mulching weapon and begin to shut down at one point.

Patrick has been IN AFGHANISTAN, you guys. Patrick has been IN THE WAR.

PATRICK HAS SHRAPNEL ON HIS DESK AND EVEN HE WAS LIKE FUCK THIS SHIT.

“Remember when we had to pick up all those cigarette butts?” I quietly asked Lauren. “Those were the days.”

I don’t even want to think about how many dogs and drunks have pissed on the trees we were tending to.

After about an hour of hacking down the set of Little Shop of Horrors, Jake came back and said we could cross the street and join the other three groups on that side, which is when we discovered that not only were their tree beds way more suburban, they weren’t even weeding the whole thing! Just narrow strips along the tree trunk! It was APPALLING and we were vocal about our irritation, too.

Oh, and those bastards also had the cooler full of water with them the whole time, too. So, three hours into it, I finally got to have a fucking drink. THANKS FOR THE HOSPITALITY, TREES.

“Hey Lauren, remember last year when we volunteered at the Food Bank and they were practically begging us to eat their snacks and drink their coffee?”

I think Lauren’s response to this was a handful of tears.

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Fake smiles.

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Lucas is thinking about cutting down that tree in his front yard.

Finally, it was almost 4:00 and I have never been so happy to see Dale/Nail/Gale, and the Law Firm, and my non-laborious desk work.

I wish I could go back in time and punch myself in the vag at the exact moment I felt excited when Jake picked my group.

********

Later that night, when I complained for the 548678th time about how exhausted I was, Chooch rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah we know. Because you had to ‘do mulch’ all day. We get it.”

 

 

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Sep 012014
 

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My dear friend Kaitlin got married last Saturday! Henry and I couldn’t make it to the ceremony, but we wound up being the first ones at the Lemont for the reception, so we had to sit at the bar, where someone walked past and brought with them some pleasant aroma that brought back the strongest sensation of my Pappap’s presence that I’ve experienced in quite some time, so I sat there trying not to drop tears into my $9 amaretto sour.

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Henry in a suit: I approve. And he didn’t even put up a fuss about wearing one! He must be growing up, or just losing the will to fight.

Eventually, the banquet room was ready. Wendy and Shawn had just arrived so we walked down with them and Henry and Shawn basically imprinted immediately. Especially after Wendy told me to show Shawn pictures of the Get Stoked sign Henry made me. Their first man-date will probably be to Home Depot.

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Then Barb arrived and shocked us by saying that she managed to NOT CRY at the ceremony! She wandered off for a bit because she wanted to find some of the people from the Penguins organization (Danny, the groom, works for the Penguins!). A few minutes later, Barb came rushing back over to us with her arm hooked around a man and cried, “LOOK WHO I FOUND! JOE MACHI! FROM LAST COMING STANDING! ON NBC!!!!” Then she practically chucked her phone at me and made me take her picture with him. It was all happened so fast, you guys.

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After the Joe Machi experience, Barb was like, “Sure. I’ll pose for a picture with you, Erin Kelly. But you’re no Joe Machi.”

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This cake was just for ceremonial cutting purposes. We all had crème brulee instead, and it was fantastic!

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You might remember that Kaitlin used to work at The Law Firm and won all of our hearts with her otherworldly baking prowess. Well, she is such an overachiever that she baked 80% of her own wedding cookies, which were booby-trapped with sheaths of tulle during the cocktail hour. We took turns pacing back and forth with our tongues wagging.

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The signature KrollWedding2014 drinks were a cocktail of vodka, lemonade, mint and basil. And they were delicious. And free-flowing. I was pretty blitzed before the cocktail hour was over, and Henry was not happy about this. Haha!

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Mary arrived soon after Barb, completing the Law Firm table.

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The happy new couple, Shawn and Henry, taking in the view together.

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I love these broads. <3

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I hate that I don’t know what they were laughing at!!!

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Table 24 was the best table.

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This was when Wendy was trying to clean crème brûlée from my skirt with a centerpiece flower, sometime after I drunkenly exclaimed that if I ever get married, I’d want Wendy to be in it and then she drunkenly exclaimed in return that she would be honored and OMG how sweet and then I think we hugged.

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That’s JOE MACHI standing behind Henry, you guys! JOE MACHI!!!!!!! Side note: Mary held a butter knife up to Henry’s neck several times during the night, further ingratiating herself into my life.

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Photobooth fun! Before I went in with Henry, I grabbed the “Soon to be Mrs” sign and said, “Oh here, hold this up. It’ll cause an outcry, I guarantee it.” And it did, haha. People thought we were announcing our engagement but I was like, “Sigh, no. We were just being dicks.”

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Ugh you guys. Kaitlin was the most beautiful bride! I cried as soon as she and Danny walked in and Henry was like, “Jesus Christ, here we go.” This might be my favorite picture of the night. Henry kept trying to duck because we were all trying to take pictures of Kaitlin, so she came right over and hugged him, haha!

Then Wendy and I made the mistake of relying on Henry and Shawn to take group pictures of us, and we wound up with a collection of photos that are just asking to be made into derp memes.

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This is what happens when you give a man the simple task of taking a picture for you: Barb gets cut out of both pictures and one looks like it was developed by a drunk person at Foto Hut in 1978.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot. I was pretty drunk, but we all had the best time and Henry and I didn’t fight at all! I was too busy staring at him with heart-eyes all night because underneath my layer of assholeness, I’m just a stupid girl who loves love and you guys, it was such a nice night. I was honored to be there. Congratulations, Kaitlin and Danny!

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Jun 282014
 

One of the greatest things ever about the Internet is meeting new people, especially if those people aren’t psychopathic torture warriors greasing up the Iron Maiden for your visit.

Before I had this blog, I used this awesome blogging platform called LiveJournal and met some really incredible people, most of whom I have kept in touch with even after abandoning LJ in 2007 (I still miss it every day, though!). So on day 3 of our road trip, we had plans to meet two girls I have known for what seems like my entire adult life at this point, thanks to LJ.

After Indiana, we had plans to go to Michigan to hang out with Bill, Jessi and Tammy for the weekend. They were coming back from Tennesee that Friday night, so we had the whole day to make our pilgrimages to meet Michelle and Sarah, who thankfully all live within an hour’s drive from Bill and Jessi. And they were both available that day! All the stars were aligned, for once.

(Coincidentally, LJ is also how I know Bill! All hail, LJ. Some of my best friendships were forged from something that I had no idea what I was doing when I signed up.)

First up was Michelle in Royal Oak. I can’t even remember when she and I became friends, but it was definitely pre-Chooch, so probably around 2004/2005, would be my guess. I have wanted to meet her for quite some time and we even had plans to meet up last year at this Pee Wee’s Big Adventure festival that was supposed to happen in Louisville, KY, but then Pee Wee found out about the festival and pulled the whole cease and desist thing, so there went that.

Michelle and I both really like Pee Wee, obviously.

It was raining in Royal Oak when we pulled onto Michelle’s street. Henry passed her house and had to turn around but that was a good thing because it meant that I got to see her Little Free Library! Henry was like, “Oh she’s the one with the library thing?” TRY TO FOLLOW ALONG, HENRY.

Ugh.

Anyway, we finally parked in front of her house and Henry said hello to her mailman which cracked me up for unknown reasons. He just loves men in costumes, you guys.

Michelle opened the door and I immediately went into “dur dur dur now what??” mode because my social skills are missing a chromosome. My first impressions: her hair is awesome. She has purple walls! And some of my art is on them! OMG CUTE KIDS! OMG CUTE DOGS! Chooch pretended to be totally annoyed but then immediately ran off with her little girls, Delia and Kira, so Henry and I got to sit down and have grown-up conversations with someone which rarely happens!

It’s always surreal to meet someone in the flesh after they start out just being a user name (mshecubus!) but then advance to real pictures on Facebook and sending real life mail to each other. Michelle sent me my coveted blood-splattered coffee cup with the brass knuckle-shaped handle that made everyone at work shake their heads! I love that damn mug!

We passed a signed for 8 Mile on the way to Royal Oak, so of course I had to ask Michelle questions about Eminem. She wasn’t sure if he still lives in Michigan, but she said his daughter recently graduated from a high school close by and that he had to watch it from a TV somewhere inside the school so he wouldn’t get mobbed, which is kind of sad but then I remembered that I don’t like Eminem so what do I care.

Every once in awhile, Chooch would run back into the house to tattle on the girls, not one of his finer traits, and to cry about getting sand in his damn ankle wound. God, try to be a little more self-sufficient, kid.

As usual, we were behind schedule and had to leave after about an hour, plus we didn’t want to impose since it was such a poorly-planned meet-up because Henry sucks at mapping things out. Professional driver my ass.

The only good thing about leaving was watching Chooch writhe in horror and pain as Delia and Kira gang-hugged him, hahaha.

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PROOF!

Then it was back in the car for more stupid driving, this time to meet Sarah. It took about 45 minutes to get to Flint and we were too stupid to find Sarah’s salon, so she took a picture of us standing on a street corner, looking lost, and texted it to me. And this is why we’re friends!

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Sarah was one of my very first friends on LiveJournal, back when I didn’t believe in capitalization and the only punctuation I used were ellipses and groups of 18 exclamation points. We were pregnant at the same time (her daughter Alpha is two months older than Chooch) and she was one of the only people who knew the truth of my fucked up friendship with Christina; I still feel so grateful that she was there for me.

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And now we were finally meeting! More surreal feelings.

Sarah had recently finished working at the salon for the day, but if I didn’t work at a Law Firm, I would have totally asked her to give me lavender hair. I dream of lavender hair. But instead she took us around the corner to the Flint Crepe Company, which was like walking into the 1920s.

A man in a suit said, “Hi Sarah!” and after greeting him, Sarah was like, “Oh that was the mayor of Flint.”

THE MAYOR KNOWS SARAH! She is so cool. (This made me really giddy too, for some reason. Mailmen and mayors just do it for me, I guess.)

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OMG I got the Lemon Drop and it was just the right combination of lemon and drop. So good.

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Who cares what Henry got, but he was actually kind of smiling!

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Chooch got some chocolate strawberry special and ate it like we hadn’t been feeding him at all on this trip. Then he proceeded to lap his water out of the glass like a cat, because that was his new thing, as of that moment, pretending to be a cat who speaks like a toddler.

“Me a cat, meowmeowmeow,” he kept saying and I was kicking him under the table because it was creeping me out. I mean, it’s one thing if this was just his nervous tic, something that he does every now and then because he thinks he’s being cute, but aside from a casual and ironic “meow” here and there, he has never regressed like this before. I was kind of alarmed, like my kid was breaking.

I ended up chalking it up to the fact that he was acting stupid because he was crushing on Sarah.

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After crepes, Sarah took us on a walking tour around Flint. Some of my friends were like, “Really? Flint?” because vacations are supposed to have beaches I guess, but it was really fun! I love exploring places and Flint had that gritty feel to it that I love.

Of course we had to ask Sarah about Eminem too. She told us this story about how she was at Warped Tour in 1998 (Chooch perked up at this part, because WARPED TOUR) and accidentally kicked a rock at the guy in front of her. He turned around and called her a fucking bitch and then later she heard all of this booing coming from one of the stages and the guy who called her a fucking bitch was on the stage and turned out to be Eminem, haha.

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This is when Chooch was excited to trespass.

 

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Sarah taught us about these berries, the most important fact being that we could eat them, so then Chooch and I had to stand there, pulling down branches and getting stains on ourselves. “I don’t even like these!” Chooch said, popping another into his mouth. Henry just sighed and kept walking.

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I bet they sell Faygo in there!

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Then Sarah took us to the river to see if there were any dead bodies and causally mentioned that there was a 1-in-45 chance that something violent would happen to us just by being in Flint. That was exciting!

I thought we saw a dead body for sure but Henry was like, “THAT IS A RUG AND BESIDES IT’S TOO SMALL FOR A BODY.”

Oh OK. Midgets or babies can’t be wrapped up and discarded in a rug? Appendages or severed heads? I forgot we live in a perfect world where midgets don’t get murdered and babies aren’t thrown away and not everyone eats their kill. That’s so 1990 Jeffrey Dahmer.

THIS POST JUST GOT TOO DARK. Or not dark enough, if you’re my kind of people.

We did see homeless people with a George Forman Grill, and that was the one thing that Henry  took away from him. When we met up later with Bill and Jessi, he couldn’t wait to tell them about that.

“A George Forman Grill! Where were they going to plug it in!?” he laughed. Oh, Henry.

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Henry Crapo, HAHAHAHA!

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Trying not to laugh at Henry Crapo.

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Alleyway Photo Op.

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Henry and Chooch had to stay outside while Sarah and I went inside Paul’s Pipe Hospital, which immediately made me think of my dad. I’m not sure if he still smokes pipes, but he did when I was growing up and I always loved that smell. One of my high school teachers owned a pipe shop in the mall called the Tinder Box and I used to love walking in there for the same reason.

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Paul’s Pipe Hospital taught me that there are actual trophies to be won if you can continuously smoke the same pipe longer than anyone else in Pipe Competitions. Now I kind of want to acquire a taste for pipe tobacco so that I too can win a trophy. How popular would Chooch be at school once everyone finds out his mom is a competitive pipe smoking CHAMPION? And how long will it take before someone in his school realizes there are ways to make this into a euphemism for fellatio.

“OH YEAH, I HEARD SHE SMOKED YOUR DAD’S PIPE REAL COMPETIVELY.”

God, this is a fantastic idea. How do I get started? I want one of the pipes I saw there that come in a far-out array of 1970s afghan colors.

Look at what you’ve done to me, Sarah.

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My outfit matched Sarah’s hair perfectly.

After about 2 hours, it was time to say goodbye and head back to Wayne so we could check into our hotel and grab a quick dinner before meeting up with Bill and Jessi.

Sarah and Michelle, thank you both so much for making  time for us and getting the awkward “first meet” out of the way. I already can’t wait to see you both again! Come to Pittsburgh!!

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May 202014
 

What a clunker of a title. Let me explain: I had dinner plans at Ten Penny last Saturday night with Wendy, Kaitlin, Barb and Mary. Ten Penny is downtown, and since I accidentally walked past it one day last week, I was pretty excited at the prospect of taking the trolley downtown of my own volition and walking to the restaurant like a big girl. I think Henry was bracing himself for me to change my mind, but really, taking the trolley downtown at this point in the game makes me way less anxious than the thought of driving down there and finding somewhere to park, OMG no.

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I walked past Wiener World and knew I was going the right direction, yay landmarks!
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Of course I was early, so I wandered around (making sure I stayed close so that I wouldn’t get lost!). When I was on my way back to Ten Penny, I saw two women across the street, waving.

“I don’t recognize these women, but surely it’s some combination of Wendy, Barb*, Kaitlin and Mary,” I thought to myself. So I waved back.

They waved more exuberantly and then began jumping too. So I waved back more exuberantly and did a little awkward jump, because YAY FRIENDS!

They were waving to the bitch next to me. Also, they were strangers. I really need to get my eyes rechecked.

*(Barb ended up not being able to make it. Probably because she didn’t want to see me, ugh!!)

Luckily, I crossed the street and ran into Wendy, so I felt like less of a lost sheep. Thank you, Shepherd Wendy.

We went inside to claim our table and wait for Kaitlin and Mary, and I told Wendy of my newfound independence and bravery.

“I even took a DIFFERENT EXIT when I got off the trolley,” I confided. What a weird little phase I’m going through.

Here is where Wendy nearly choked on her water from laughing so hard. “I’m sorry, but you just sounded so earnest, you fool!” And then she wanted me to say it again so she could record it.

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WHATEVER, WENDY. We were soon joined by the rest of our party and commenced the ordering of cocktails, which was hands down the best part of the night for me because I love fancy cocktails so much. Too bad that bartending “degree” didn’t get me very far.

I already knew that I wanted a Stormy Morning, because I always have to look at menus online before going somewhere, whether I’ve been there before or not, because I like to know what I’m walking into. This is how I knew that Ten Penny is a vegetarian’s nightmare. Almost everything was meat, and even the things that were just vegetables or potatoes had gratuitous bacon incorporated in an assortment of creative ways, like the brussels sprouts were capped with candied bacon and the truffle fries came with bacon aioli. (I love aioli so I almost cried about that.)

ANYWAY! Back to the cocktails. I knew before I even left the house that I would be glugging on a glass of the Stormy Morning, which consisted of St. Germaine (yes, please), Creme de Violette (oh shit) and a blanc de blanc. I would have been fine with a barrel of that heavenly secretion and a bread basket. I can never get enough bread.

Dumb Wendy ordered the Stormy Morning before me but only after she found out I was going to order it, so I made sure the waitress knew it was my idea first.

“She’s one of those,” Wendy sighed to the waitress, in a time that made it sound like she was referring to a mangy disease.

But as it were, we were there for dinner, so I had to order actual food. The only veg entree option was a pasta primavera and I can’t tell you how far away from the pasta tip I was that night. So I wound up getting the wild mushroom flatbread, which was fine but not anything that Henry couldn’t have made me. But whatever, I was happy with my dranks, y’all.

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For dessert, we all split the S’mores, only because we wanted to fuck around with the novelty of melting shit over a mini-stove thing. That was pretty fun for a second, but the S’mores themselves were only so-so.

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Marshmallow poops.

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Then Wendy made us have our picture taken. 20140520-110413.jpg

Overall, I would go back to Ten Penny the next time I want to more than I would at a dive bar to drink myself stupid. But unless I was going for lunch (GRILLED CHEESE & TOMATO BISQUE: ’nuff said), or suddenly start masticating flesh again, I probably won’t give their dinner menu another shot. Unless Wendy tells me to. Because she basically plans my weekends for me now.

Mediocre food or not, the whole point was to spend time with three of my favorite broads, and that part of the night was five stars, you guys. Go tell Yelp.

And then it was around 11:30 by the time we left and sorry, but ain’t no way, no how this bitch is riding the trolley home at 11:30 in the PM, so I texted my chariot. An irritated Henry arrived about 10 minutes later.

So much for independence.

 

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May 122014
 

When we settled on a LOLcat theme for Chooch’s party this year, there was only one thing that I knew we had to do. At the risk of being one of your typical Pinterest Moms, I wanted to have a photo booth-type set up where everyone could choose their own feline accoutrements. I was going to buy cat ear headbands on Etsy, but apparently those sons of bitches are infused with Jesus’s bone marrow and I wasn’t trying to bleed out any more money on this damn party. So Henry and I bought some plastic headbands for 49 cents and a few sheets of felt. Voila, cheap ass cat ear headbands. Go fuck yourself, Etsy.

But then I was like, “OMG WHAT WILL THE BACKGROUND LOOK LIKE?!!?” And of course at the last minute, it occurred to me to just use the image I designed for the back of the party invitations. Duh. And then Henry waited until the day of the party to print them all out and glue them to cardboard, because Last Minute is the only way we know.

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I love this thing and hate it all at once.

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Before the party started, I practiced on Jessi (who thankfully loves having her picture taken!). Ideally, I wanted to have the backdrop facing out of the pavilion so that everyone could stand/sit in the natural light, but it poured all afternoon without letting up once. We had to keep the backdrop inside the pavilion and if you’re like me and struggle with lighting and camera settings because you’re a fauxtographer, this is bad news bears. I really liked how this picture turned out with my real camera, but I knew that children at a birthday party were not going to be as patient as Jessi, so I just used my dumb iPhone for the rest of the pictures. And once I took my invisible OCD pills, it was fine. Really!

These are the things I stress out about. Honestly. Some days I can’t wait to be old and in a nursing home where all the things are planned FOR me.

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OMG I GLUED THOSE WHISKERS ONTO THOSE STICKS ALL BY MYSELF!! Also: Chooch and I wore matching Warped Tour shirts and it made me really happy even though he was like, “I don’t really care, can I open presents now?” There were actually quite a few guests wearing cat shirts and it was so much fun!

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I’m being smart and not posting pictures of Chooch’s school friends. It took 10 years of blogging to finally drill that through my thick skull.

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Jesus, my friends and family are good sports! I wasn’t able to wrangle everyone, but I tried! My friend Elaine pointed out on Facebook that there isn’t one of Henry and FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION IT because that motherfucker somehow made grilling hamburgers and hot dogs into a 3-hour-long affair and was conveniently not involved in basically anything. Thanks for feeding me to the wolves, er, children.

Anyway, I know it’s not that big of a deal, but I really want Chooch to have good memories of his childhood, and memories are even better when they come with photographical evidence. These things are important to me.

More later! This broad is goddamn exhausted and having a terrible Monday.

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May 062014
 

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Saturday, despite being full of crazy spring storms, was a really nice day all around. First, we had a birthday party to attend for my cousin Danielle’s mom, Janet.

To quickly back-story this bitch up, I don’t have much of a family. My immediate family (i.e. my mom and her side) pretty much kept to themselves, and because of this, I never had a chance to forge any real relationships with extended family members like cousins and great-aunts and uncles. About four years ago, I somehow saw my second-cousin Danielle on Facebook. We’re related because her dad was my grandma’s brother. He died young, before I was even born, so I sadly didn’t get to know him at all, and because of that, I barely got to know Danielle. I hadn’t seen her since I was probably about 4 years old, and she would have been a pre-teen? Teenager? Possibly we may have attended some of the same weddings in the 80s and 90s? I’m not even sure. But I took a chance and sent her a friend request, and suffice it to say, it has been really nice reconnecting with her over the last 4 years.

When Danielle invited us to her mom’s birthday party, I was hesitant because I don’t think I have ever met her mom and, well, I’m incredibly awkward at parties. But in the end, Henry, Chooch and I went and immediately befriended Ruth, an old neighbor of Danielle and her mom’s. Ruth reminded me of what  my grandma might have been like if she actually wanted to purposely talk to me in public. I liked her a lot. So Henry and I sat at a picnic table, listening to Ruth talk about the different sorts of wildflowers she spotted along the perimeter of the pavilion, while waiting for Janet’s arrival.

Another guest arrived and placed a gigantic potted plant down on the gift table.

“Oh, that’s really pretty,” I cooed robotically. And then to Henry I whispered, “My social cues told me to say that.”

“You don’t have social cues,” Henry sighed.

I’m really improving my small talk game these days. Just this morning, I accidentally struck up a conversation with some broad as we crossed Brookline Blvd together and then got stuck into walking an additional three blocks with her, talking about Pittsburgh weather, camping and my kid’s upcoming birthday party.

I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Finally, Danielle’s son Cory rolled up with the chicken and the lady of the hour. Everyone was like, “Yay!” and I was yay’ing too except that I felt like a fraud, you know? But then, after greeting some other guests, Janet came right over to me, gave me a hug and said, “You look familiar…”

“I don’t really know what this makes me to you, but I’m Valerie [blahblah's] daughter,” I explained with a slight hesitation. Our family sitch is awkward and complicated—like most people’s, I know. But the amount of “write-offs” over the years have left one dead and ugly family trees on my generation’s hands.

Janet gasped a little bit and exclaimed, “You look like her!” Then she looked at Henry and asked, “And…is this your husband? Boyfriend? No, never mind. I don’t need to know!” she waved it off as my mouth started to form my signature “HE WON’T MARRY ME” catchphrase. And then she sat down with us and we talked about the family and it was pretty amazing, I won’t lie. I hoped that maybe she had some memories of my birth dad (I have a post about him pending), but she said that she didn’t really know much about him other than he gave my mom a real hard time.

I mean, that’s one way of putting it.

Suddenly, the calm Saturday air was disrupted by the cacophony of a fleet of motorcycles roaring down the path to the pavilion. I figured it was a bunch of bikers looking for a place to turn around, until Janet casually said, “Oh, here come the Pagans.”

WAIT, WHAT.

So it turns out my other cousin Skip is a member of the Pagan bike gang and they made quite an entrance. I was terrified yet entranced and did not make eye contact with any of them the whole afternoon because god forbid I should pull some terrible Pee Wee Herman-esque faux pas and wind up being lifted off the ground by a hand around my neck. I knew little to nothing about the Pagans until I Googled them later and then gulped.

When Janet’s sister and brother-in-law arrived, she introduced them to me right away and they were like “OMG” because it seems like as soon as you say the S-word (my mom’s maiden name) around certain people, it’s like RECORD SCRATCH.

“Are you hungry?” Janet asked me. “Go eat!” My favorite words!

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What a great afternoon. I got to stuff my face with good food, cookies, and cake made my Ruth’s daughter; take a bunch of photos of Henry looking dumb with food; and get to know a little more about my enigmatic family. I hope I get to see Janet again soon because she is awesome and now I want her to be friends with Henry’s mom.

And I still don’t know what relation she is to me. 6th cousin? Lady person? My cousin’s mom? Great cousin? Great aunt?

 

 

 

 

 

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Apr 072014
 

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

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

I WAS SO FUCKING BORED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don looked exactly like his father Teddy.

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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Cactus pears & nub-things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And he didn’t.

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Mar 312014
 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was.

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

“Because I didn’t care,” he sighed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Mar 272014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?” he mumbled with very little emotion.

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

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

***

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

Henry went back and got mustard.

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

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

***

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

God Henry, you’re such an asshole.

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Mar 172014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, Gayle went over to assist them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And did you like it?” Gayle asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Mar 022014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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I forgot that I dislike onions.

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

“Henry,” he said, of course.

“Eric?” she repeated.

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

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

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

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

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

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Thinking about it.

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

“Why?” Chooch asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“John, I AM a kid,” I argued.

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

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

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

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

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

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Feb 112014
 

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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Jan 062014
 

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

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

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

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

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

7:21: Chooch runs off to his bedroom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9:05: OMG I drink a beer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dec 272013
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lee Whose Skate Broke and Sean.

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Sean and Wendy.

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Henry’s oldest son Robbie and his girlfriend Stephanie.

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

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Evidence that Henry socializes with people!

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

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Best Frenemies.

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

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

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Nov 302013
 

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

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

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Came home, tortured Marcy.

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

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

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…so it was inevitable that he learned about Kegels.

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Angie and Nina!

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

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Barb and Baby Q!

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OMG I miss working with Angie so much.

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

 

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