Aug 272015
 

Our final day in Savannah was the best one. Octavia graciously invited us over for quite honestly the best meal we had on the entire trip – fruit salad, sweet potato hash with sausage (and a version with faux-sausage for me!), cheesy grits, eggs, and fried green tomatoes. And coffee in pretty cups!

All prepared by her husband, Dustin.

I’m drowning on my own drool (and not someone else’s, for once, you know, when I’m out whoring around) over here just thinking about it. I am always so terrible at hospitality issues. For example, if you were visiting Pittsburgh and came to my house for breakfast, I would hand you a Poptart, or guide you down the street to Eat n Park.

And that’s on a good day!

Octavia and Dustin’s kid, Tallulah, immediately glommed on to Chooch. I absolutely love when this happens. PAYBACK, CHOOCH.

Although, he only just pretends to be distressed by this. Deep down, he loves the attention. (But you guys, would you look at how freaking adorable she is? THOSE CURLS, THO.) They got along really well, if you don’t count the time Chooch was pushing her outside in a swing and accidentally slammed her into a tree, ugh.

Octavia’s house is stimulating in all of the best ways. They have two cats and a dog, and an entire room of instruments. It’s a musician’s wonderland and they told Chooch to have at it. He was like, “Seriously? You want me to make noise? YOU’RE TELLING ME I CAN MAKE NOISE?!” They very nearly acquired themselves a son that day.

OCTAVIA EVEN PLAYS THE ACCORDION. These people are swimming in talent and I kept hoping some of it would waft over my way.

And then she showed me some of her mixed media pieces and I was just like, “OK, when can we be sister wives already or nah?!”

As much as I was enjoying talking about art and music and our dislike for other mothers, it was getting later in the afternoon and we needed to hit the road. The plan was to spend the night in Charlotte, NC and continue on our way home the next day. Chooch gave Tallulah one of the birthday balloons that Octavia used to decorate our hotel room, and when that one was whisked away into the tree tops, he gave her another. Sometimes Chooch is not a dick!

IMG_7433

****

As stoked as I was to gallivant around Savannah, this is what I was really hoping to do in Georgia. Casually talking all morning and into the afternoon was what exactly what I wanted and was honestly the zenith of the trip for me. I have a tricky temperament and there are a LOT of incompatible personalities out there for me. And I’m not saying that it’s not me, it’s everyone else — I am voluntarily admitting that I can be tough to get along with. (Just ask Janna. It takes a saint!) I start out fairly introverted and observant, until my comfort and trust levels go up. (Which doesn’t always happen.) But I knew within minutes of meeting Octavia that it was going to work, that conversation was going to be easy and two-sided, and that I was going to learn a lot from her.

Also?! SHE WAS BORN IN ROMANIA. We were bound to become friends at some point in our lives and I left her house that day feeling really good about things, and also determined to have some of my ribs removed so I can fold myself in half to better fit inside her luggage the next time she visits Romania.

Kismet! I’m so grateful that we met, and apparently, I can thank Barbara and her fucking denim jacket for that.

****

Just a few days ago, Octavia texted me a picture of the purple balloon, still branch-snagged. “Miss you,” she texted. I MISS HER, TOO. :(

No tags for this post.
Aug 202015
 

I haven’t done a throwback Thursday in a few months, and today I came across an old LiveJournal post from 2006 about the first time my friend Kara and I met in person!  10 years and three babies later, we’re still friends! Thank god for Myspace and awesome taste in music. Kara, I can’t believe Blogathon alone didn’t scare you away!

************

Sometime last summer, I received an email notification that someone wanted to add me as a friend on Myspace. I was surprised to find out that it was neither a:

[a] screamo band from Idaho
[b] girl trying to break into porn
[c] married middle-aged man looking to just chat, he swears, with a young chick

Instead, it was a real life girl, Kara, from Pittsburgh who actually seemed to be adding me out of sheer interest and not to bolster a high friend count. A glance at her profile told me that she could type and spell properly, and didn’t have an annoying layout spewing out the latest Mariah Carey single, forcing me to scroll up and down in search of an off button. We began sending messages back and forth, making empty promises to meet up real soon for coffee. I didn’t have much faith in that, because the only other time I tried to meet someone from MySpace, she blew me off three times in a row (once was because she got her period).

But then a coffee place opened up in my town of Brookline (and it was about time since the only places around this dump to get coffee is an Eat n Park with awful service or a varied selection of gas stations) right by Pizzarella, no less! I figured this would be a great opportunity to meet Kara, until I sent Henry there one day for a smoothie and he was told that they had no refrigeration. The second attempt to humble them with my patronage was shot down when I wanted a cappuccino and was told that their microwave was broken. If they’re making their cappuccinos in a microwave, I don’t think I want one after all. I’m glad that I discovered this before having Kara meet me there, since I feel like a representative of Brookline and taking her to a bunk coffee house would be sure to hurt commerce.

Another month went by and we finally solidified plans to meet yesterday at an Eat n Park near her part of town. She was already there when I arrived and I feared she would flee in horror as I waddled through the doors with the thunderous steps of a pregnant Godzilla. The most recent picture of me on MySpace was taken in November, when my face was half of what is now, so I hope she wasn’t too startled.

As we walked back to our booth, I begged her not to laugh as I kept my jeans hitched up with clenched hands to prevent them from slithering down my hips. Still, the crotch was halfway to my knees by the time we were seated. I embarrassingly told her that I’m between sizes in maternity pants.

After the initial awkwardness of saying hello 3 dozen times, laughing nervously, and trying to decide what to order (which is hard when two pages of your menu are glued together by an unknown and hopefully not unsanitary substance) everything went well. We lounged around in the booth for two hours drinking coffee (YES I HAD DECAF, GOD) and laughing at our waitress who looked like Gerard from My Chemical Romance. Then the smoke alarm went off and everyone sat there, staring stupidly at one another. “Should we leave? Is there a fire?” The host slouched past us and mumbled, “I wish this place would burn down” and judging by his lax movement, we figured we weren’t in any danger and there was no need to evacuate. But oh, that was the most excitement I had experienced all week!

I don’t think that I scared Kara away (I’ve learned through trial and error over the years what subjects to avoid) and she claims (CLAIMS) that she had a nice time and would like to hang out again. I hope so, because I have this feeling that all my old friends are going to head for the hills once my chitlin’ is born. She said she likes babies!

That night, Henry treated me like I had just come home from 1st grade after making my first friend, and gave me that “I’m so proud of you” look. I realize that I’m a bit reclusive in my pregnant, unemployed state, but really, I’m not that bad. OK, I am. It’s just that you think you have a lot of friends until you actually need one of them, so I started to pull away from some of them. I’ve been very disenchanted with my selection these days.

Then I took my prenatal vitamin this morning like a dumbass (I always take it at night) and threw up so fiercely that I was seeing bright starbursts around the edges of my vision and one of them morphed into Cap’n Crunch, which is the second time I’ve seen his likeness outside of a cereal box (the first was within the scalloped texture of my old apartment’s ceiling).

No tags for this post.
Aug 182015
 

IMG_9462

A bunch of years ago, like 26 or 7, I met Octavia through Etsy. Specifically, it was my fauxtography Etsy shop, Appledale. No one ever paid attention to that shop of mine, full of lomography before iPhone apps made that shit cool (and so much easier and cheaper to achieve that vintage effect, bastards), accompanied by my signature idiotic short stories.

But Octavia noticed. And she sent me the greatest convo ever; a meaningful, deep virtual handshake from one person happy to meet another person of like-mind. I will never forget how excited I was to read it! We started writing back and forth; I was enchanted by her own art and deranged imagination. She is incredibly talented.

Thank god for the Internet! I feel like if the Internet didn’t exist, then Octavia and I probably would have met through the world of pen-palling. Somehow, someway, we’d have found a way to meet!

This meet-up has been in the pipes since we bought the Williamsburg vacation package thing at the 2013 Big Butler Fair. Because clearly, Williamsburg, VA and Savannah, GA are so close to each other! The first half our trip was fun, but this was the part that I was really looking forward to, so when I woke up the morning of my birthday, I was S-T-O-K-E-D!

We had plans to meet Octavia at the Bonaventure Cemetery at 11:00am that morning. I was so nervous on the way there! I love meeting people but I am beyond awkward about it and sometimes that awkwardness never goes away because that’s just who I am, you know? Be nice.

Luckily, Octavia was chill as FUCK, sang-froid in a green dress. She claims she is awkward too but I definitely didn’t sense that, thank god, because then I would have just fed off it and it would have unraveled into some socially depraved banquet of stutters, ticks, and twitches. Instead, I felt at ease. I mean, once we got the obligatory “now is where we hug as normal people do” act out of the way.

I didn’t take any pictures of Octavia at first because I was scared to, but those will come later!

IMG_9453

 

There is one super huge difference between Octavia and me: she actually knows shit about where she lives. Out-of-towners visit me in Pittsburgh and ask me simple Yinzer 101 questions like, “What river is that?” or “How are the Steelers doing this year?” and I have to politely decline answering.

That’s accomplished by either shrugging, grunting “I dunno”, or a combination of the two. But Octavia taught us shit about the war and the Masons and Johnny Mercer, and then a ton of stuff about NATURE because she went to college for botany so immediately Henry’s ears perked. You know how he gets nature boners. Especially when she turned her nose up at the moss issue. HENRY HATES MOSS. Now he had someone to hate moss with him!

IMG_9454

While we strolled around the cemetery grounds, we talked about Jonny Craig (I mean, duh; I’m sure Octavia couldn’t wait to have THAT conversation in person) and the nightmarish insects that live in Georgia, holy shit. We saw salamander things and skinks:

IMG_9464

The skinks really freaked me out but Chooch was trying to figure out how to turn his t-shirt into a skink carrier. Then we walked under a tree with berries on it and I cried, “WHAT ARE THESE, OCTAVIA!?” while trying to get Henry to eat one. Now I can’t remember what she said they were. But I think the final verdict was that they were not poisonous. Don’t worry, she didn’t let me eat any of the mushrooms I saw, either.

IMG_9455

I also learned that you can eat that ballsack thing in the middle of the palm thingie! “Like, right now!?” I asked.

“Well, I mean, you have to cook it first, probably,” Octavia patiently explained before I had the chance to whip a fork out of my bra and dig in. God, Octavia was determined to prevent the cemetery from becoming my test kitchen.

At some point during our aimless journey across Bonaventure, a butterfly popped out of a bush and Chooch groaned. I relished the chance to rat out Chooch’s wussy phobia and blurted out, “Chooch is afraid of butterflies!”

“Do you know what the German word is for butterflies?” Octavia asked Chooch. “Schmetterling!”she yelled like a witch in an uncensored fairy tale.

“SAY IT AGAIN!” I begged, and she did. It was glorious! I couldn’t wait to go back to school work and talk about my educational vacation!

IMG_9457

There was some douchey guy there leading a walking tour and they were everywhere we wanted to be. Octavia hated him too for the same unsubstantiated reasons as me (he just looked like an asshole and I hated his blond swoop-y hair and monochromatic clothes) and that was when I knew for sure that was the real deal.

IMG_9463

“Ow, my head.”

“Ow, my back.”

IMG_9458

We got to see Little Gracie! This is one of the most popular graves in the joint, and Octavia said that it used to be more easily accessible but there has always gotta be those assholes who like to be destructive. So now you can’t get beyond the gate for a closer experience. I was just happy that we got to see her at all, and I wished we had brought something to leave behind for her.

IMG_9461

I suggested leaving Chooch, but Henry said no. :(

IMG_9460

Being in Bonaventure was surreal. Cemeteries are one of the few places on this earth that I feel at home (and also Warped Tour, duh) and Bonaventure has always been one of the cemeteries of my dreams. Finally getting to see it, on my birthday no less, was amaze. And the best part was that instead of getting sucked into some touristy walking tour, or blindly stumbling around on our own until we started fighting within 20 minutes, we got to meander about at our leisure with Octavia. Which was great because it was like 299 degrees and walking any faster than I already was probably would have set me alight.

And you know what else? Henry checked in here on Facebook, which means he was excited in his own weird, silent way and wanted his “friends” to know that he was living it up in a famous cemetery in Savannah. Sure, he probably would have chosen a nap over this in a heartbeat, but I think he at least recognized that it’s not the worst thing he could have been doing that day.

Until I forced him to pose for this, that is:

IMG_6729

I took this with my phone that day because I needed to be able to plaster it all over social media ASAP, because: HENRY ON THE GRAVE OF HIS ROLE MODEL, NUGENT, what a great birthday! Of course this inspired Chooch to tell Octavia the story of Henry at the Ted Nugent show, which I was actually trying to tell her at the same time, but Chooch always has to steal the show…AND MY FRIENDS! He kept hijacking the conversation by bringing it back to video games and I was getting so jealous.

IMG_9465

“Are there crocodiles in there?!” I asked Octavia as we looked down over a small hill at the water below.

“No,” she assured me. And then she added, in the most non-patronizing tone possible,”and they’re alligators, anyway.” Something about her delivery made me crack up. The people I need most in my life are the ones who will gently correct me when I’m wrong and also make sure I don’t eat poisonous berries. Octavia exceeds expectations in both departments.

I just asked Chooch what his favorite part of Bonaventure was and he said when Octavia told us that sometimes there are dolphins in the water there. He hasn’t learned Henry’s favorite response yet, which is: “When we left.”

IMG_6731

We waited until it was time to leave to look at the map, because that’s smart.

From here, we continued on to downtown Savannah so that we could eat food that was cooked in a kitchen and not picked up off a boneyard floor, and Chooch was thrilled that Octavia got to sit in the back with him SO HE COULD CHEW HER EAR OFF SOME MORE. Ugh. I’d steal his friends to show him how it feels, but…kids and I don’t get along.

I must have said, “UGH!” in response to Chooch’s charm at least 87 times that day. Ugh!

No tags for this post.
Aug 092015
 

Hello, let’s briefly pause the vacation recaps so I can post proof that occasionally, people outside of the Cult of Erin (otherwise known as Henry and Chooch) hang out with me. Friends, I have them.  

Thursday evening, Wendy and Barb took me to dinner for my birthday! Wendy and I left straight from work and met Barb (THE QUITTER!!) at Cafe Io in Mt. Lebanon. I didn’t meet Wendy’s navigational standards so by the time we arrived, she said exasperatedly to Barb, “YOU can take her home. I’m done with her!”

Wendy has made a seamless transition into the Mean Pregnant Lady spot that Amber2 has vacated!

I mean, I was already stoked that I was getting a free meal, but they both had presents for me too! I LOVE PRESENTS! I think it stems from my past of being a very spoiled child. Wendy got me an awesome bracelet that has a ribcage cameo on it. Totally screams “Erin Rachelle.”

Barb has entered the Adult Coloring stage of her life and I’m the first recipient of the fruit of her labor! I LOVE BEING FIRST! Not only did she put it in a frame for me, but she signed it too! 

So sweet and thoughtful and abundantly clear that she idolizes me so much that now she’s trying to be a fake artist like me now, too.

I miss seeing these two everyday at work. I mean, I still see Wendy, but it’s only half as good without Barb being there too. LE SIGH.

As Barb crossed the street to her car, I shouted that I was going to hang the picture up when I got home. “In my BASEMENT!” I added, and oh how we laughed. Just like old times. :(

And then on Sunday, I got to see Barb again, at Wendy’s baby shower! Did I tell you, Internet Memoir, that Wendy is PREGNANT?! I mean, aside from the second paragraph of this chapter.  Well, ICYMI*, Wendy is WITH CHILD.

*(Barb, that means “in case you missed it.”)

Normally, the idea of these types of functions makes ash slough off from charcoal heart, but I was excited about this one because Wendy is one of my dearest friends (ugh, it pains me to be sweet) and I was doubly stoked about this event because Nina and Angie were going to be there and I never get to see them anymore since they left The Law Firm and moved to different states!

Angie and Nina, and Debbie who also left The Law Firm last January! It was a nice reunion.

Nina harassed me because I get so stiff when someone tries to take my picture. Deer in headlights might not be as accurate as, say, girl in a dentists chair with a drill approaching.

Bridget got roped into being the gift-writer-downer and the poor girl probably needs physical therapy for her hand now. She made a comment about how it should be me in that chair with the pen and paper, and I was like “LOWER YOUR VOICE!” Seriously, if I had been nominated for that duty, I’d have knocked Barb the fuck out the way and dove through the closed window behind her. I hate being in front of crowds!

Wendy got a SHITLOAD of awesome gifts, and because she’s Wendy, she had an anecdote for pretty much every gift she received. She could find a way to drag out the opening of a bottle drying rack into a 7 minute Rose Nylund-esque trip down memory lane. Another one of my work friends, Regina, was one of the shower planners and she was trying so hard to get the present-opening portion of the afternoon moving less like a Sunday Driver and more like Justin Bieber driving through a Florida suburb.

I got the baby “The Adventures Of Beekled: An Unimaginary Friend” because the illustrations were cool as fuck and that’s the most important thing to consider when buying a book for a baby. Also maybe stop and think and if there will be any literate people around who can possibly read this book when the baby is born. I also made Wendy a painting for the nursery, because she has me on lock for three pieces. So, one down!
  

The book and the painting both inspired two separate wendylogues and Regina gave me a seething look. A thing you should know about Wendy is that her ability to get sidetracked and take you down an oral rabbit hole is one of her most endearing qualities!

It was a really beautiful baby shower and so great to see some of my work friends outside of The Law Firm, and to some quality time with those who aren’t there anymore. But if I’m being honest, my favorite part was the fact that the favors were TEA CUPS. You guys might not know this, but I have a thing for these little plants called succulents?! And tea cups are my preferred potting object for them! In fact, I had two at home that were homeless, so I was really excited to bring home something for it to rest its roots!

But then I noticed that all of the tea cups were different, and I promise I was trying to be subdued about it, but I started examining the other cups at my table. Nina and Angie’s mom were like, “Uh, you can have ours” and Barb tried like 87 times to give me hers even though I kept telling her IT WAS TOO PLAIN!

Debbie pointed out that hers was still at the table she was technically supposed to be sitting at (she dragged her chair over to our table and we made room for her). I noticed that Missy was walking toward it, so I got up and lunged at it, swiping it off the table before she had a chance to. She was just like, “Um, OK.” And then I kind of felt bad because she was just trying to get an extra one so that her daughter could have a tea party; I offered Barb’s bastard tea cup to her but she didn’t want it either.

Catherine found out what was happening, so she gave me hers, which she didn’t want because she found a better one unclaimed at another table. When she showed me that one, I said I preferred that one over the first one she offered me, and she was like, “Tough shit, I’m not giving this one up.” IT WAS SO PERFECT. It had TWO HANDLES and a beautiful gold, Greek-like design embossed around the lip.

Then Regina caught wind of my tea cup hoarding and gave me a tea pot that no one chose as a prize. As soon as I got home, I ran straight to my bedroom, changed out of my dress and into my gardening garb, and potted the shit out of my two homeless succulents.

I texted a picture to Barb who replied, “You don’t waste any time!” Maybe if Barb understood what it was like to be passionate* about plants, she wouldn’t respond in such a surprised manner.

*(See also: obsessed and lacking an actual life.)

Later, I went to dinner at Grant Bar in Millvale with Henry and Chooch because god forbid a day goes by that I don’t allow them to hang out with me.

IMG_6953.JPG

Henry made a silverware sculpture, I had the best coconut cream pie I’ve ever had in my whole life, and Chooch NEVER STOPPED TALKING. (He also was on the verge of verbally attacking the waitress when she came back from the kitchen to inform him that they were out of the pumpkin pie he ordered “with a la mode” but managed to catch himself just in time and instead expressed his disappointment in a long, drawn-out groan.)

IMG_6959.JPG

The food at Grant’s Bar is fine, but it’s those faux-stone walls and small-town, outdated ambiance that keeps me coming back. These are the types of restaurants I’m always trying to eat at when we’re on vacation too! Speaking of, I will continue that saga tomorrow. Busch Gardens or the Whirligig Park?!  I KNOW YOU CAN’T WAIT TO FIND OUT.

No tags for this post.
Feb 102015
 

FRIDAY:

Janna and I walked down the street to the trusty Hollywood Theater, where we sat numbly through the incredible film Birdman. The whole time, I kept thinking, “Henry would fucking HATE this movie.” Goddamn was it fantastic, albeit emotionally draining. As we sat staring blankly at the closing credits, Janna said, “This movie made me feel so strange, the same way that—” and here I was thinking she’s going to say  Lost In Translation “—Lost in Translation made me feel.” Because I swear to god, I felt exactly the same. MOVIE TWINSIES.
Also, Michael Keaton all fucking day long. This might actually dethrone Mr. Mom as my favorite Michael Keaton movie of all time, and I REALLY LOVE MR. MOM.

But let me watch Mr. Mom again real quick and then I’ll tell you for sure.

Then we came back to my house and Chooch dressed up like a pretty, pretty princess for us.

(null)

(null)

Totally robbed my style.

SATURDAY:

I was so excited to have a mini-reunion with some old friends from high school, Sarah and Liz! (And Lisa too, but I see Lisa too often for any necessary reunions!) I actually became friends with Sarah and Liz through Lisa, and I’m pretty sure the first time we hung out was at a haunted house on a rainy night in October. The kind of nights where friendships are destined to be born! I stayed in touch with Sarah for quite some time after high school—she was even at my baby shower—but haven’t actually seen her in person since 2007. And I got back in touch with Liz through Facebook and even ran into her randomly when I was at McGinnis Sisters spending too much money on fancy cheese.

(null)

We had brunch at the Yard in Shadyside and it’s a good thing I made reservations, because moments after arrived, a flood of people in varying degrees of “Mumford & Sons fan” showed up. In otehr words, we could have played Hipster Beard Bingo.

I made the rookie mistake of feeling obligated to order from the brunch menu instead of just getting a gourmet grilled cheese like I originally planned, and subsequently suffered through some seriously underwhelming Johnny Cakes (if you know me and my Lizzie Borden obsession, you will understand why I order Johnny Cakes any time they’re on a menu!). However, the company and bottomless mimosas made up for the saliva-sucking, overcooked cakes.

(Quick side-note: I was thinking about this on the way there, but Sarah is actually the reason I started up a LiveJournal in 2001 and got into writing again, although those initial journal entries were a far cry from “writing.” So, thank you, Sarah! Look how many years I’ve been polluting the Internet with my misspelled words!)

It was such a pleasure to get to hang out with Liz and Sarah again. The conversation was easy, Liz still has disgustingly amazing curly hair, and just hearing Sarah laughing brought back so many great memories. Ugh, I love days like these.

The best part was drunkenly stumbling into Chooch’s piano lesson (after nearly falling out of the car because my purse strap was completely wrapped around my legs—don’t worry, Henry was driving) and then starting to nod off in his piano teacher’s living room armchair. A+ parenting, would drink bottomless mimosas again.

SUNDAY:

Henry spent most of Saturday tackling the landfill that is Chooch’s room, and by Sunday afternoon it looked like this:

IMG_2798.JPG

I’d have taken a “before” picture, but it was bordering on hoarder status, and…. just no. I don’t understand where Chooch gets it from, but he clearly does not care at all if he can’t see the bottom of his bedroom floor. I however do care. Which is why I started tossing everything into garbage bags last weekend, whether it was garbage or not, while he just stood there smugly, with his arms crossed, sneering at me and saying, “I know you’re not really going to throw all this stuff out.”

And he was right, only because DUMB HENRY intercepted and made me go count to a billion in order to get the voices to stop screaming at me in rhyming couplets.

There was also an Ikea trip in here somewhere, which was OK except that the bedroom set I wanted to buy Chooch was out of stock and I had my heart set on it because I’m an eight-year-old! Seriously though, it’s a loft bed with a shit ton of storage and a desk attached and it’s just basically a dream come true for someone obsessed with maintaining order. That lump of furniture could solve a world of problems in Chooch’s room and I stalked one of the Ikea bitches until she wobbled over to her computer and printed out the info I need in order to repeatedly call and harass and the Ikea warehouse for a status update.

My bedroom was the shit when I lived at my mom’s house. All kids should have a fucking spectacular bedroom, and Chooch gets so pissed when I show him pictures of how fabulous and cozy my room was and I’m like, “PROVE TO ME THAT YOU WON’T LURE RATS INTO THIS SPACE AND THEN WE’LL TALK.” God.

And then, The Walking Dead. Because I love ending the weekend on a depressing note.

No tags for this post.
Dec 302014
 

Initially, we weren’t going to host any Christmas-y festivities since we were spending Christmas Eve at Henry’s sister’s and then visited my dad on Christmas day. But at the  last minute, I decided to try to have one of those White Elephant things that people are always going on about. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh is in the middle of flu season, so party attendance was at an all-time low. We still had fun!
IMG_2106.JPG

Blake arrived two hours early and then left after about 30 minutes, but we’ll take what we can get with that one.

IMG_2090.JPG

I had spent literally all day dealing with Etsy/Facebook drama that really killed my mood. Seriously, it was the biggest party foul of all and Henry and I didn’t even start getting shit together until an hour before people were set to arrive. It really seemed like it was going to be a bust. Especially considering that one of my punches didn’t turn out right (that peppermint coconut crap on the right) and we all know that my parties revolve around the goddamn beverage buffet. Luckily, that red nose shit was exceptional.

IMG_2089.JPG

Henry made bite-sized versions of the Funfetti grilled cheese we had on Christmas, but was mad because he had to use French bread since the lame Brookline bakeries didn’t have any brioche. I bet if he had a food blog, he’d have ranted about it on there by now.

Now I want to ghost-write a food blog for him. Henry’s Hankerings. I’ll porn it up real good so you won’t be able to tell if you’re reading about how to fill a burrito or knocking on backdoors in a Tijuana hostel. (Don’t mind me. I’m getting over a fever.)

IMG_2100.JPG

Waiting.

Corey and Janna were the first to arrive, just in time to hear Chooch’s rousing rendition of Jessie J’s “Bang Bang.” We completely lost all good sense and bought him a Singing machine for Christmas, and it connects to the TV so we can all sit back and read along as Chooch sings songs brimming with sexual innuendo.

IMG_2092.JPG

 That Time Henry Had a Friend Over.

IMG_2091.JPG

We’re all obsessed with Trivia Crack (and sometimes Quiz Up, but Trivia Crack has my heart) so Chooch and Corey decided to try and teach Wendy about it since she’s always the last to learn about the cool things us kids are doing.

IMG_2131.JPG

Seriously. This, for hours.

IMG_2095.JPG

But then Chooch pulled out his Perler beads, which he has recently become obsessed with. They’re just these little colorful beads that you put down in a pattern on a pegboard and then you iron it (or, in Chooch’s case: you get Henry and not Erin to iron it because Erin is no good) which fuses all the beads together and now, hooray, you have some relatively useless plastic thing. Chooch made a Minecraft sword (see above picture) out of these things, using no pattern somehow, which I thought was pretty impressive.

“I’m going to see this on Etsy for $50, or maybe $20,” Chooch told Blake.

OK, maybe not THAT impressive. He did make me a super adorable Michael Myers though. I bet if he made O-Town perler bead guys, Amber1 would be his best customer.

IMG_2096.JPG

Chris came over later with her cousin, Amber, just as Chooch was preparing to sing some terrible Backstreet Boys song. You guys. Do I know how to throw a party, or what? Basically, put out some booze, choke Chooch’s neck with a bowtie, and then sit back and watch as it escalates. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to go back to entertaining when he’s out of the house. HE DOES IT ALL FOR ME.

Now that everyone was here, we got to fumble through the White Elephant exchange. Wendy was pissed because I told her that she could literally bring stuff around the house that she didn’t use, so that’s what she did and then she accused everyone else of bringing real gifts, but hello, my thing was a plastic vampire that you put on top of a ketchup bottle so it looks like it’s bleeding when you pour it out. It cost $3!

OK, bad example. My thing was fantastic and you could tell that Amber, who had picked it, was not letting that gem get plucked out of her arms.

Anyway, Wendy brought two gifts: one from her and one from Shawn, which is how Janna scored a fabulous lens cleaner kit that she can even use on her binoculars and scuba gear, and Corey got a stationery set that may have been made in the 70s.

Seriously though, the Facebook Event thingie said this:

Make a potholder! Regift that candle that reminds you of your ex-boyfriend’s grandma’s bathroom! Turn some lint into a throw pillow! Put some gasoline in a mason jar & pretend it’s moonshine!

I don’t care what you bring, just come over! I’m desperate for human contact.

 

IMG_2098.JPG

Chooch totally got Chris and Amber to finish one of his perler projects for him, because he’s got that Charles Manson charm. “Here. You do this while I go and do something better.”

IMG_2094.JPG

Everything was fine and then Marcy had to come downstairs and inspect the situation. Of course she sat with her back toward everyone though, because she’s rude.

IMG_2093.JPG

Mid-performance.

Janna brought over a very delicious dessert dip, the leftovers of which she said that I could keep but that she would eventually need the plate back, because it’s her mom’s. This reminded me of a few weeks ago, when we went to Nemacolin Castle, and Janna’s mom supposedly gave Janna permission to just take her car since Corey, Janna and I all have unreliable cars. We had just arrived at the castle, about an hour away, when Janna’s mom called her and was all concerned because she apparently looked out the window and saw that her car was gone, so they had what sounded like an argument, even though Janna was like, “No it’s fine. She told me I could take her car, so I don’t know what she’s talking about” and I’m thinking we’re going to get dragged to the local Brownsville slammer once Janna’s mom reports her car as stolen.

Since we had met up at Janna’s parent’s house, we had to go back there to get our cars. “I’m not going in!” I cried, as Janna rolled her mom’s car to a stop. And then Corey and I joked about seeing the silhouettes through the front window of Janna getting beaten by her mom.

“Does your mom know you used her plate?” I asked, my voice cracking with giddiness at the end.

So of course, Corey and I were practically bursting blood vessels from laughing so hard, and we had to retell the Nemacolin story in a tag-team fashion for Chris and Amber, and Henry just shook his head in that “For Christ’s Sake” way of his.

“Apparently, something bad happened in Brownsville that night we were there,” Janna said, her tone pregnant with somberness.

“WERE PEOPLE SLORING?!” Corey cried, because that was his favorite word the night we went to Nemacolin Castle, when we tried to start rumors that Janna had a secret life where she wore a beeper and “slored” around Brownsville.

“No!” Janna said exasperatedly. “There was a fire or something.”

And then we lost interest because it had nothing to do with neither sluts nor whores.

IMG_2085.JPG

Chooch and the finished product of Chris and Amber’s labor. Plus his $50 Minecraft sword.

It was around 1:00am at this point and we were all super slap-happy (except Henry; never Henry), so Corey decided he was going to write Wendy a thank you note using the stationery he got from her and Meghan Trainor song titles. Because Wendy HATES Meghan Trainor and if there is one thing you never want to do, it’s tell me the things that you hate because I will use it in my Jerk Cannon for the rest of the time we’re friends. One time, Janna told me that she hates that Billie Myers “Kiss the Rain” song so I bought the CD (this was like, 1998 you guys) and put just that song on repeat one time when she came over. And she dealt with it. Because that’s what you learn to do when you’re friends with me.

IMG_2099.JPG

As the party came to a close and Janna left with her lenscleaner kit, Corey looked at me and asked, “Does Janna even wear glasses?”

I said I didn’t think so, and then we promptly lost it all over again. Oh, Janna.

So really, not the worst White Elephant party in the world.

No tags for this post.
Dec 102014
 

Just a little preface: after I posted about the most recent game night, I decided to make a “game night” category so that I could keep all of the game night posts together because every so often, I get some kind of blog OCD. Anyhow, I realized that the only account missing was still over on my old LiveJournal. And it just so happens it’s the one where the infamous (not really) CARLY SIMON incident happened! So, this is a reposting of the very first game night I hosted at my house in 2006. You have permission to not read it. Aren’t I nice.

——————

The last time I played Scattergories was in 2003 and I slugged Janna for challenging one of my answers (because according to her, frolicking is not a valid form of transportation, and not even my graceful demonstration of frolicking to and fro could convince her otherwise — bitch) and then Keri threatened to kick me out of her wedding party if I couldn’t get along with others.

I figured three years was long enough to cool down, so Scattergories was the first game we dove into during the Game Night that I hosted at my house Saturday evening. Brian, Janna, Ryan, Stacey, and Kara all spread out in a circle while I got all the pieces together. OK, Henry helped me with that a little. There were plastic things that hadn’t been assembled yet on the cardboard clipboard things because I usually only ever play Scattergories (and Boggle) with myself and I lost my patience within a cool ten seconds.

Henry decided he was going to sit this one out, because he’s afraid to play Scattergories with me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We played three rounds, which was all good and fun, except that I discovered that Stacey is some brand of undercover Scattergories-Nazi and challenged about 3/4 of my answers. One of those she challenged was “earwig police officer.” I’m sorry, but who are we, as human beings, to say that earwigs don’t have police officers (category: Someone in a Uniform, Letter “E”)? And are you going to tell me that, in some fairy tale right now, someone isn’t sitting on a toadstool? The category was a very ambiguous “Furniture,” not “Human Furniture” or “Earth Furniture.” At one point, she got really angry and said, “Come on Erin, you’re a smart girl! Play right!” I was playing right! It’s called strategy, Stacey. I don’t want one of those dickshitters having the same answer as me!

Almost every time it was my turn to unveil one of my answers (it took about twenty minutes for everyone to grasp the concept of clockwise and Brian was really getting heated), I would be laughing to the point of tears, but no one else would laugh with me (sometimes Kara would because maybe she feels sorry for me) because there was a Serious Game being played and I was holding it up.

Because of Stacey’s iron fist, I ended up losing by ONE point to this asshole:

300948476_7ec2c1146e_m

…whom I’m positive was cheating. I think he realized that he was down a few points whenever my answer of water buffaloes as farm animals was being challenged. I have to state for the record that Janna and Kara tried to sway the vote in my favor, but Brian, who had the distinction of being the swing vote, saw this as his opportunity to go in for the win so he gave me a big hearty thumbs down.

I was angry at Brian six hours before Game Night even started though, because he called me that afternoon to ask what time it started, which spun me into a frenzied tangent about invitations (or Evites, in this case, which always skyrocket my blood pressure because, unfailingly there’s always at least one asshole who doesn’t RSVP or downright doesn’t even view it and then I get all OCD because their name just hangs there, festering in limbo and no matter how many times I call them and email them with clear cut instructions, they refuse to make it right). I left him a lengthy voice mail, schooling him in the very narrow field of invitations, and how they are necessary because they contain pertinent info regarding the party, such as, oh I don’t know, the fucking time it starts, asshole.

He called me back later and left a message to see if it would be cool if he was fashionably late. But apparently, in Brian’s skewered land of party etiquette, fashionably late means retardedly early, because he arrived two and a half hours before game night even started. I hadn’t even dusted the games off yet.

I’ll probably just place a fake personal ad in his name and then I’ll be over it.

During the third round, Lisa arrived with her arsenal of games, which included the crowd-pleaser that is Catchphrase. I was thankful for this, because a girl can only take so much rejection during the same game, so I stuffed everything back into the Scattergories box and slid it under the chair, secretly proud of myself for not throwing any blows during the game but inwardly ready to blow a fucking gasket because goddamn, it’s hard to control your temper when you have explosive anger disorder!

Lisa explained the rules of Catchphrase repeatedly until Brian couldn’t take it anymore and screamed at Lisa to just start the motherfucker, already. I mean, once it was unearthed that Henry had played the game before, everyone relaxed and decided it couldn’t be that hard. I was thankful to not be stuck on a team with Stacey.

Right in the middle of the fourth practice round, Melissa arrived with her baby. I let her fill in for me because I was too rambunctious to be doing so much sitting. Instead, I stood behind Henry and pinched the back of his neck many times and mocked him every time it was his turn to get his team to guess the catch phrase. Most of the time, I couldn’t figure out where he was going with his hints, because he really is a special sort of durrr, but I guess that’s what makes him so endearing. I mean, if you’re the type of person who would think someone is endearing, who typically, I am not.

Every time Catchphrase ended up in Melissa’s hands, she would take too long to get her team to guess the word and the buzzer would go off. She attributed her distraction to Stacey’s “beautiful cleavage.” It could have been an uncomfortable moment, and my innards were aching from laughing so hard, but Stacey took the compliment with grace and the game went on. This would turn out to be a suggestive hint to where the night was headed: Down Girlsex Alley. Of course Brian took great pleasure in this and went to great lengths to egg Melissa on until finally she knew no other topics other than Boobs, Tits, and Pussy. It was very apropos later on when her Catchphrase word was nipple.

And don’t let Ryan fool you, but I was in the kitchen with him when he was getting a refill of his Faygo (haha) Blue Raspberry and totally saw him reach for the Windex instead and quickly try to play it off when I started laughing.

“I knew it was Windex! It was in my way and I was moving it, I wasn’t going to drink it!” Lol oh.

My favorite moment of the night was about an hour after Brian confided to me that, “I’m not trying to be conceited, but I really do know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff.” He was trying to get his team to guess Stalingrad and decided to tackle the “Stalin” part first. He kept saying, “Russian tsar! He was a fucking Russian tsar, Janna, you idiot!” (Put those two on a team together and it’s truly like having a wholesome 1950’s TV family sitting in my living room.) Somehow, Janna was able to piece together his mis-hints and after she finally guess it, she quipped, “Stalin wasn’t a tsar, Brian.” I wasn’t on their team, but I did a jubilant fist pump in her honor. It’s not often Brian gets put in his place.

No, I was wrong! I have a different favorite moment of the night, because that one wasn’t about me. But this one is. It was Henry’s turn and all he said was, “I don’t know. Um, female singer” and I screamed “Carly Simon!” and it was totally Carly Simon and I seriously rode that horse for the rest of the night.

“Remember when all he said was ‘female singer’ and I totally guessed Carly Simon because I really am that many layers of awesome?”

After playing Catchphrase for about three hours, because we’re all clearly pathetic, it turned into Ask Uncle Brian comedy hour, wherein Melissa asked Brian questions of a sexual nature, but I do not have permission to go there.

300948898_6b98642099_m

Finally, it was after 1AM and I was coming dangerously close to achieving auto-annoyance, so everyone said goodnight and then Janna came with me to drive Ryan home. I started to pat myself on the back for not losing my temper and Ryan was like, “Really? You don’t think you lost your temper? At all?” and Janna kind of gave me this sad look that read, “He’s right, you know.” Fine, so I got a little angry, but I kept my paws and claws to myself and no one got hurt and nothing got broken. I did good considering what I’m capable of!

Unfortunately, it began to unravel after I dropped off Ryan. One of the scenes where Stacey gave my Scattergories answer a thumbs down started to replay in my mind and I punched the steering wheel. I slight honk was emitted, which kind of sucked because it was like 1:30AM and we were driving through a semi-scary area. I ended up bending one of my nails all the way back.

It hurts really bad today.

—————

And now some thoughts on this night from 2014 Erin: That kid Ryan turned out to be the Biggest Douche and started a huge flame war with me in 2008, and prior to this, literally every last one of my friends were begging me to stop inviting him to my parties because no one could stand him, BUT I NEVER LISTEN; my thoughts on RSVPing have not changed and I WILL hold it against you; Melissa supposedly left her husband and child and ran off to the Playboy Mansion, and I haven’t heard from her in years; could my pictures be any smaller; Stacey’s work schedule prevents her from attending game nights now but there’s a part of me that wonders if it’s really because she just can’t take the blinding light of my Scattergories brilliance; I’m totally going to play Scattergories alone tonight after work.

No tags for this post.
Dec 082014
 

IMG_8570

GAME NIGHT PARTY PEOPLE

Janna

Kara

Blake

Corey

Ricky

Tim and Patty

Chris, Kari and Katelyn
IMG_8569

In lieu of a traditional Thanksgiving at our house this year, I opted to have a casual game night the following Saturday night. And then it occurred to me that, Jesus Christ, I haven’t had a game night here since 2010! And if I remember correctly, we didn’t even really play any games that time.

So it was settled. I sent out Facebook invitations a few weeks in advance, which is how Henry discovered that instead of cleaning the house and cooking a turkey, he would be cleaning the house and cutting cheese cubes. I think he was OK with that.

IMG_8567

All day, Chooch was like, “PLEASE CAN WE PLAY HEADS UP AT GAME NIGHT?!” and I was like, “NO BECAUSE THIS IS MY GAME NIGHT NOT YOURS GO AWAY UGH” and then Henry was like, “STOP FIGHTING! YOU TWO CAN SHARE GAME NIGHT OR THERE WONT BE A GAME NIGHT!” Ugh. So I took the high road and let Chooch play his stupid game as a sort of game night aperitif while we were waiting for everyone to arrive. I really dislike this game for some reason, probably because Chooch always wants to play it and then literally never knows the answer and he sucks at giving clues UGH. But anyway, I had one turn and Kara was like, “Blah blah blah, you probably think this song is about you” and I yelled, “CARLY SIMON!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!”

You guys. At one of our past game nights, we were playing Catchphrase. When it was Henry’s turn, he honestly only said, “I don’t know. She’s a singer” and just to be a jerk, I screamed, “CARLY SIMON!” because who really thinks of Carly Simon anymore other than maybe Warren Beatty. Everyone was like, “Yeah, haha, OK” but then Henry quietly passed the Catchphrase device over to the next person and I said, “Whoa, wait. Was it seriously Carly Simon?” and the next person checked to make sure Henry was fucking with us, and it was totally Carly Simon and I know it’s not that big of a deal but I think I have probably referenced this on my blog 87 times since that happened because I honestly consider it to be The Moment I knew that I wanted, NO–NEEDED, to stay with Henry for the rest of all Time.

IMG_8575

Something totally devastating happened though, mere hours before game night was scheduled: I realized our beloved Catchphrase no longer worked! I thought maybe it just needed new batteries, but NO. I actually felt panicked, because this is pretty much the game we ALWAYS start with, since it forces people to have to yell out answers and serves as a good ice breaker. (Although my punches worked pretty good at soothing nerves, too.) Janna stopped at Target or somewhere, I don’t know I’m not her keeper, on the way over and bought an electronic version of Taboo, which is similar to Catchphrase, so I felt a little better. God knows how much how I hate change.

IMG_8580

IMG_8565

Hi this is Chooch my review of Game Nite is “Inappropriate Content Deleted”

20141207-161649.jpg

Beverage Buffet, Game Nite Style. Some kind of red wine cider punch thing and a cinnamon roll punch, which was originally supposed to be pumpkin pie but for SOME REASON, I had trouble finding Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie vodka immediately after the holiday with the biggest pumpkin pie demand. So I had to swap it out with the Cinnabon flavor, which was delicious anyway so who cares. Pumpkin is overrated.

IMG_8572

Patty and Tim brought a STACK of games that we never got around  to playing and I’m pretty sad about that. They were going to teach me how to play Fluxx which everyone says is the easiest game to learn but I have read the directions 4 times (see also: skimmed half-assedly, one time) and I just don’t get it. I have a really hard time learning how to play games, which is amazing considering how stellar I am at playing people.

IMG_8573

IMG_8578

IMG_8581

 

We are great at parenting. Also, Chooch won.

IMG_8586

IMG_8587 IMG_8591

I kept the hockey game on in the background because hockey yields to no motherfuckin’ game nights. And then this exchange happened:

Me: [Evgeni Malkin] reminds me of Don, don’t you think?
Corey: No! No, I do not! One is a Russian hockey player and one is YOUR CAT?!

But then Kara pointed out that Corey thought a seagull and pelican were the same, so I shouldn’t put too much stock in his opinion, and this made me super giddy because now I know that not only is my brother colorblind, but he’s also BIRDBLIND.

(On a serious tip though, Malkin really does remind me of my deceased cat Don and I just want to cuddle him so bad. No one sees it, though. Sigh. Does it help if I add that Don was a Russian Blue?)

(JUST FORGET IT!!!)

IMG_8592 IMG_8593

Something to note about Game Night: Resurrection is that I didn’t hit Janna. Not even once! I don’t even think I raised my voice at her! I’m going to go ahead and thank the beverage buffet for that one.

IMG_8598

We finished the night playing some new game that Janna brought over that involved writing answers on paddles with dry-erase markers! One of the questions was something about a weird movie you’ve recently watched and I was stage-whispering to Henry (who played zero games all night, OK tough guy), “WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THAT GERMAN PORNO WE RECENTLY WATCHED? THE ONE FROM THE 70s* WITH THE PRIEST?!” And Ricky was all, “You do know the point of this game is to try and match answers with the rest of us, right?”

20141207-161629.jpg

Idiots.

Anyway, now that these photos have been effectively dumped, it’s time for me to call it a day. Can’t wait until the next game night! (Right, Henry?) (Maybe in February? VALENTINE EDITION?!)

(No, that’s dumb.)

No tags for this post.
Oct 132014
 

A few months ago, my friend Kristy asked for two volunteers to be a part of her Zombiefest 2014 costume. I stepped forward (you know, as best as one can on Facebook) and offered my person to be costumed without even asking questions, that’s how much trust and faith I have in Kristy’s brilliant mind. She is hands down the most enthusiastic zombie-lover that I have ever met. She makes all others look like posers, you guys.

Turns out, her idea was the Golden Ghouls!  She had already claimed Dorothy, and her 5-year-old daughter Sarah was Sophia. I chose Rose, because she’s the one I could relate to most. This left Kristy’s friend Bethany as Blanche, and she pulled it off excellently!

Here is a quick recap and photo dump!

20141012-093450.jpg

This was me, pre-wigging.

20141012-093444.jpg

And I made this pin to help people decipher who I was supposed to be. It was especially helpful anytime I wandered off without the rest of the Ghouls.

20141012-093539.jpg

Kristy was hit on by this tiny zombie right away. We learned his name is Solomon and his…handler? showed us a picture of what he normally looks like and it was basically a photo of some Chippendale-esque man. What a transformation. (His middle name is Azrael, in case you were wondering.)

goldenghouls

Kristy ripped one of the shoulder pads out of Bethany’s “Blanche blazer,” leaving it to jut out subtly. It was such an awesome touch! Almost as awesome as the yard flamingo impaling Dorothy. I think that was my favorite part of the whole ensemble. OK, tied with Sarah’s impression of Sophia.

IMG_8352 - Copy

10671402_10152815207242069_2165931861369592911_n

Since Betty White is still alive, I happily got to go as a non-zombied Rose. (I’m really weird about having fake blood, etc on my face!) If this jinxes the universe and something happens to Betty, BLAME KRISTY!

One guy came up to me and asked, “Dolly Parton?”

“No, Betty White,” I explained, pointing to my pin. And he still asked to have his picture taken with me. Every part of me wanted to say no, because you know how I hate having my picture taken. \But he seemed like a nice guy, so I indulged him. Henry took the picture for him and then smirked at me for days afterward.

I was just happy that I somehow fit into a petite-sized dress. How the hell…? (Something creepy happened when I found it at Goodwill.)

IMG_8338

IMG_8344

Cheesecake Defense.

There was one guy who knew who I was, even when I was split up from my lanai-lounging ladies. He was behind one of the vendor booths and, as I was browsing the selection of skull rings, he said, “You arent’ from St. Olaf, by chance?” I was like YES OMG THANK YOU. And then I came back and bought two rings and a pendant because their stuff was wonderful. Go look!

IMG_8355 - Copy

Originally, I thought this would be a good opportunity for Chooch to finally wear that dreaded post-apocalyptic Claw Machine costume that the rain thwarted last Halloween, but then Henry pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to fit it in the car. So it was a game time decision to just stuff his head into a clown wig. Thank god our house is basically just one big prop closet.

We’ve been to some other zombie events but this was our first time attending Zombie Fest. It was the downtown convention center this year and I guess this was also the first time that they charged admission to get in. Judging by their event page on Facebook, the majority of the hardcore zombies were NOT happy about this, the location, or really anything. I didn’t really have any violent opinions either way. Sure, it was kind of boring, but I do get bored easily, so one should not gauge the liveliness of Zombie Fest by my boredom compass. I guess it was expensive? I wasn’t paying attention. All I know is that I got a great deal on a bunch of adolescent jewelry.

IMG_8358

Henry went as himself/Faygo expert. Big surprise.

IMG_8359

I kept imagining that Duff Goldman was underneath that Ronald McDonald suit.

IMG_8361

Ran into Patty and Tim!

IMG_8363IMG_8370IMG_8372

These two were my favorites! I love gnomes gso gmuch.

IMG_8374

 

 

IMG_8379

Chooch, after he sweated off most of his makeup by playing soccer with a blow-up brain.

20141012-093530.jpg

Wiggin’ out over water.

20141012-093547.jpg

Side of brains, aka tasteless mac n cheese.

20141012-093555.jpg

20141012-093601.jpg

I loved these guys! Colonel Eagleburger’s Something Something Band? I can’t remember. Bu they made me feel super festive. Weird Paul was there too, but he played before we got there. I saw him sitting at his merch table and wanted to ask him if he remembered when he brought pretzels and Uncle Wiggly to one of my game nights. 

Alas, that required energy I did not have.

20141012-093612.jpg

At least that OTHER GUY was stoked to have his picture taken with me. Christ.

All in all, it was a pretty fun time! Thank you, Kristy!

No tags for this post.
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.

20140910-083053.jpg

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 ready 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

20140910-083103.jpg

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.

20140910-083122.jpg

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.

20140910-083131.jpg

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

20140910-083137.jpg

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 hip 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.

capture4

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.

20140910-083148.jpg

“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 mulch. 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.

20140910-083154.jpg

 

Fake smiles.

20140910-083200.jpg
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.”

 

 

No tags for this post.
Sep 012014
 

20140824-101710.jpg

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.

20140824-101746.jpg

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.

20140824-102001.jpg

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 all happened so fast, you guys.

20140824-103317.jpg

20140824-101800.jpg

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.”

20140824-101828.jpg

20140824-101911.jpg

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

20140824-101917.jpg

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.

20140824-101927.jpg

20140824-101935.jpg

20140824-101942.jpg

20140824-101950.jpg

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!

20140824-102008.jpg

20140824-102014.jpg

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

20140824-102021.jpg

20140824-102028.jpg

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

20140824-102159.jpg

I love these broads. <3

20140824-102034.jpg

20140824-102041.jpg

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

20140824-102129.jpg

20140824-102135.jpg

Table 24 was the best table.

20140824-102141.jpg

20140824-102148.jpg

20140824-102231.jpg

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.

20140824-102154.jpg

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.

20140901-163513.jpg

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.”

20140824-102222.jpg

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.

20140824-103251.jpg

20140824-103302.jpg

20140824-103310.jpg

20140824-103329.jpg

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!

No tags for this post.
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.

20140626-082124.jpg

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!

20140626-082523.jpg

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.

20140626-082154.jpg

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.)

20140626-082245.jpg

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

20140626-082330.jpg

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

20140626-082255.jpg

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.

20140628-084505.jpg

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.

20140626-082316.jpg

This is when Chooch was excited to trespass.

 

20140626-082341.jpg

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.

20140626-082354.jpg

I bet they sell Faygo in there!

20140626-082406.jpg

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.

20140626-082419.jpg

20140626-082440.jpg

20140626-082449.jpg

Henry Crapo, HAHAHAHA!

20140626-082457.jpg

Trying not to laugh at Henry Crapo.

20140626-082602.jpg

Alleyway Photo Op.

20140628-091529.jpg

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.

20140626-082545.jpg

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.

20140626-082623.jpg

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!!

No tags for this post.
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.

20140520-110212.jpg

I walked past Wiener World and knew I was going the right direction, yay landmarks!
20140520-110232.jpg

 

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.

20140520-110303.jpg

 

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.

20140520-110330.jpg

 

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.

20140520-110340.jpg

 

Marshmallow poops.

20140520-110425.jpg

20140520-110350.jpg

 

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.

 

No tags for this post.
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.

IMG_7773

I love this thing and hate it all at once.

IMG_7772

 

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.

20140512-151138.jpg

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!

20140512-150439.jpg

 

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.

20140512-150446.jpg

20140512-150453.jpg

20140512-150501.jpg

20140512-150507.jpg

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.

No tags for this post.
May 062014
 

20140506-135303.jpg

 

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!

20140506-135250.jpg

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?

 

 

 

 

 

No tags for this post.
%d bloggers like this: