Aug 032008
 

 

This year, Henry had the pleasure of taking his two favorite kids to Warped Tour: his son Blake, and, well…me. I kept ducking while we were stuck in concert traffic because I didn’t want the surrounding carfuls of scene kids to laugh and say, “Oh god, that girl is going with her dad, how gay.” When we entered the parking lot, we drove past the drop-off area and Henry said, “God, those parents are so lucky that they don’t have to go in.” Then he tried to murder me with a look of disgust and resentment.

It was nearly noon by the time we managed to park the car. Blake didn’t have a ticket yet so he and I stood around idly outside the entrance to Post Gazette Pavilion while Henry went and bought his ticket. We were approached by the singer and guitarist of Uh-Oh Explosion, who were toting around a box of their CDs. Making small talk, the singer asked if Blake and I were “together.” Instinctively, we both took a step apart and emphatically answered “NO.” Trying to figure it out, he squinted his eyes and guessed, “Brother and sister?” We shook our heads. I saw Henry lingering a few yards away, knowing better than to walk over and lame-up the convo. I pointed to Henry and said, “OK, see that guy? That’s his dad, and my boyfriend.”

This kid (he was only 17) thought this was so fucking fantastico for some reason. “That’s so awesome! Like, talk about closeness. And you guys all came to Warped together!” He paused for a second, before sending my stomach to the meat grinder. “So do you guys have threesomes too?”

RECORD SCRATCH.

I was ready to whistle for the cement mixer to come and seal up my sex organs for real. So disturbing and awkward. I still bought their CD though, because what I heard sounded good and proceeds went to the animals. And what’s a little quasi-incest discourse in the name of stray cats, am I right.

Once we got inside, I was like a kid on Christmas. My eyes had a veritable scene kid feast as we weaved our way to the main stage, where Sky Eats Airplane was playing. Blake and I have the same taste in music — the more scream-y the better. Henry, however, shits himself when he hears hateful bellows, so he took this as an opportunity to go and find a set schedule and then conveniently lose us. Sky Eats Airplane was a good way to start the day.

In between bands, I got to ogle more scene kids. I was wondering why I was so fascinated with them when it dawned on me: If that scene was around when I was a teen, I’d totally have been the first on board. I used to make fun of them,  but now I want to like, write a book about them or something. I’ll start with Blake.

Averting the Hare Krishnas, we went to the Highway 1 Stage to catch From First To Last. Henry was all, “I’m perfectly fine standing all the way back here” and sent Blake and I into the crowd to get pummeled without adult supervision. Anyway, FFTL’s singer Sonny left two years ago and it was a little strange watching them perform without him. Their new material is a little too easy-to-digest and mainstream for my liking, but they ended the set with “Ride the Wings of Pestilence” which always makes me want to sacrifice a shack of Mexican prostitutes. And drink some of Henry’s blood.

Not interested in any bands playing right after FFTL, we walked around and looked at t-shirts and other merch for awhile. Henry, who had bragged on  the way there that he NEVER gets sunburned, started complaining about his nose getting burnt. He kept trying to sneak away and pose under trees in his signature old man-stance. Blake and I would pause and hunker down over the schedule, trying to determine which bands were must-sees and which ones we could skip without losing sleep that night. I kept trying to include Henry, but he would grumble, “I don’t know, does that band actually SING? Then NO, I don’t want to see them.” Perhaps Henry should have just went to that twanged-out Jamboree with Tina instead. Fuck.

 

  • The Bronx: I almost got trampled trying to push my way to the stage to see them, only to leave after ten minutes to run to another stage far away to see Alesana. They were really good and made me want to continually punch Henry in the balls. I always forget how much aggression I have until I go to shows like this. I just found out that they’re going on a tour of LA Mexican restaurants as a mariachi band and oh, who I wouldn’t kill to see that.
  • Alesana: They were playing on the main stage, and Henry was like, “Thank god, now I can sit my weary bones down!” So Blake and I begrudgingly sat down too. I realize that I enjoy bands less when I’m sitting, because I become too distracted with people-watching. Because of this, I don’t remember if I liked Alesana live or not. All I remember is that Blake picked up an Underoath CD release poster from the ground and gave it to me, making me  think he wanted me to keep it, so I ended up lugging it around all day in my backpack only to wind up throwing it away the next day.
  • Human Abstract: Another main stage band, but at least this time Henry allowed himself to be dragged down to the floor by the stage. I had never heard their music before, only seen the ads in Alternative Press for their new CD, so I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like them. Even aside from the immediate crush I developed on the keyboard player, I ended up liking them a lot. They were nice and heavy, but had an interesting melodic side as well. Blake thought they were just alright and stayed sitting down next to his old man for their entire set. This was also around the time that I considered slamming my camera to the pavement because it was taking such shitty pictures, but after Henry inspected it for three seconds, he deduced it was because I had a giant finger print on the lens. I didn’t hate my camera after that.

After the Human Abstract, it was nearly time for Pierce the Veil. They were the main reason I was there and all day it felt like butterflies were fornicating in my belly. It was either Pierce the Veil anticipation or the residual side effects of being asked if my vagina is friendly with both generations of Robbins. Henry once again stood in the sidelines, but I weaved my way as close to the stage as I could get. Which was fairly close since they were still sound-checking.

To show his unwavering adoration, Vic vowed to wear his Jaws shirt every day for the duration of Shark Week. He kept going on and on about sharks and I know this is going to make me look bad but I’m going to be honest: all I could think about was Tina’s vagina, gnashing against flailing legs. Thank God they started playing right after thhat because fuck — my mind disgusts me sometimes. And holy shit, their set was fucking fantastic. It was so good, that I didn’t even mind the heat or having two bitches dropped on me (thank God for Blake, else they’d have hit the pavement). They basically just play a blend of alternative rock, with some screamo-lite thrown in for scene cred, but what makes them stand apart for me is their lyrics. They’re smart, morbid, sad, and just overall clever. At the end of one of their songs, they segued right into a thirty second cover of “Bleeding Love” which was a million times better than the original we’re guaranteed to hear every time we walk into a grocery store. They also threw in a cover “Beat It” which was energenic and really fun to watch, and they ended the set with “Party Like a Rock Star” gone metal.

I did NOT want that set to end. Even Blake admitted that he was surprised how good they were live, and Henry was like, “Yes, fine, I liked what I heard all the back there in Parent Alley.” It was one of those moments where you want to call everyone you know and give them a hyper review in a shrill voice, but you know no one will give a shit. So then you’re just depressed.

We had a lot of time to kill after Pierce the Veil, so I bought a five dollar soft pretzel while wishing for once I ate meat so I could get a corn dog for $3.50 — the cheapest foodstuff there. Henry got nachos which looked like slop. Henry’s demeanor seemed to uncurdle a bit while he was coating his ‘stache with cheese sauce. He even smiled a few times and I think he laughed once.

While we were chilling out at the picnic table, Blake proposed that he move in with us. Maybe it was just the contact high of being with someone who actually gave a shit about music, but I declared that this was the best idea I had ever heard in all of my life, even better than my idea to direct porn, so now he might be moving in with us. It would make my scene kid research easier, for sure.

Blake was so sad that we missed Katy Perry while we were foraging for discounted sustenance. He even pulled his hat down low to hide the tears. But maybe it was because he saw kids he knew and was embarrassed of Henry.

  • Evergreen Terrace: I liked them alright but there was nothing mind-blowing that made me want to scour Ebay for rare memorabilia. However, during one of their songs, they chanted “I want you dead” and maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I thought that would be such a romantic sentiment to have engraved on wedding bands.
  • Classic Crime: Another band that sounds good in stereo, but didn’t hold my attention live. Instead, I stared at this really surly girl who was like an overweight scene Sami Brady from Days of Our LIves. She was climbing over rows of seats and even though she was struggling to swing her trunk-legs over, she didn’t let it deter her from scaling the next row, until eventually she lost her momentum and wound up clotheslining her crotch. It brought me joy, lots of joy.
  • 3OH!3: I wouldn’t have sought this band out normally, but we wanted to see the band that was coming on right after them, so we hung out for their set. I thought I was going to hate them at first, because that wave of white boy rap-rock-electronica kind of annoys me. But they ended up being so fucking fun and there was a really hot blond chick dancing on the side of the stage, so they kept my attention for sure. During their last song, it basically turned into a chaotic dance party on stage, and even Blake’s girlfriend Katy Perry was up there dancing with her man Travis from Gym Class Heroes (who I walked past earlier and wanted to say, “Your gf is a gaybo” but I wasn’t feeling assholey enough. Plus, I like Travis.). Anyway, I’m going to have 3Oh!3 play at my Sweet Thirtieth Birthday Orgy Masquerade. It’s gonna be tight.
  • Bring Me the Horizon: Blake ran into some of his friends right as they came on, so we were officially ditched. Henry and I hung around for a few songs, but Henry looked like he wanted to call out for his mommy, so I spared him. I really liked BMTH though — they made me want to fillet a cop.
  • The Devil Wears Prada: Sans Blake, things were pretty gay. I wanted to get closer to the stage but Henry was all OH HELL NAH so I was like, “Fuck this then” and went to buy a shirt instead. Henry, you pussy.

The day was coming to an end by this point, and Blake had re-joined us in time for Dr. Manhattan. I was torn, because they were playing at the same time as Norma Jean, side-by-side. And I love Norma Jean. Norma Jean blocked out Eleanore’s nerve-prickling coupon-cutting many a night for me. But I chose Dr. Manhattan, along with fifteen other people. It was sad! But you know a band is good when there are OTHER bands in the crowd watching them. And they were good — they were quirky and fun and energenic and they made me laugh out loud a few times. Unfortunately, Norma Jean was one stage over, luring people into their crowd. They had gigantic black beach balls and I won’t lie — I’m a sucker for a beach ball. At one point, I yelled to Henry, “Hey, do you want to go over and watch Norma Jean for the rest of their set?” but right then, two people left Dr. Manhattan’s crowd and the singer — in the middle of a song — stopped and yelled, “Hey! Where are you guys going??” It was so sad/cute/scary that I looked at Henry and said, “Never mind!”

At the end of their show, some of the bands in the crowd started chanting, “One more song!” but they weren’t allowed because of time constraints. So the singer started chanting back, “One more crowd!”, the retardedness of which made me laugh. I was also dehydrated, though. Overall, I was glad I stayed loyal to Dr. Manhattan, because their set was rewarding.

And that was it. We walked back to the car and already I started to feel the body-dragging effects of post-show depression. Then I thought about how all day long I had been talking about all the bands I wanted to see, but by the end of the night, all I wanted to see was Chooch.

Aug 012008
 

So here I am, my last night at work, and I’m feeling alright. Everything has been pretty anti-climactic. When Eleanore left at 6, our big farewell-for-ever consisted of her tossing a "be a good girl" over her shoulder as she trudged away. Not even a hug. Really, Eleanore? We’ve sat together for a YEAR AND A HALF and not even a hug?

No really, I didn’t want one.

Joe left me with two peach Swisher Sweets, which made me happy. Thanks Joe! And Jenn, who used to work at night but has been on dayshift for the past year, left me a note in my mailbox and that made me smile. Thanks Jenn!

Tina decided she was leaving at 7:30 instead of toughing it out until midnight. This may be my last night here forever, but this is also the last night of evening shift (which is the main reason I resigned); you’d think we’d have had a party or something, the three of us. Maybe have a kegger in the parking lot, who the fuck knows. But apparently not.

As she walked past me, she paused and wished me luck and said that she wants me to send her occasional photos of Chooch. I said of course I would, and then as I heard the door shut behind her, something WEIRD happened. I mean, some crazy ass fucking shit — legitimate sadness happened. I even whispered, "Aw, Tina" quietly to my monitor. Then promptly slapped my hand over my mouth. It kind of felt like I had just been touched by an uncle AND LIKED IT.

I ran into Kim’s cube and blurted out, "I THINK I’M GOING TO MISS HER!" Kim laughed the word, "What?!" Then she got a good look at my sniveling face and exclaimed, "Oh my god, what’s wrong with you? You look like you’re going to cry!"

AND I FEEL LIKE IT, TOO. Tina, of all people. Tina and her gooey scabs. Tina and her codpiece. Tina and her man-stance. TINA I’LL MISS YOU.

Jul 282008
 

Henry wanted to get his son Blake out of the house on Sunday, so we decided what better way to be all familial for free than to go to the fucking flea market.

I had no coffee in my system; my head was thumping and a sour scowl was perma-etched on my face. Henry was all, “OK, this shit ain’t gon’ fly” so he went to one of the snack bars for a remedy, commanding Blake, Chooch, and myself to stay put where we were. As soon as he turned his back, we did what any other miscreants would and wandered off into the abyss of redneck unwantables.

“Who the fuck would buy this shit?” Blake mumbled as we pushed Chooch’s stroller past a table of romance novels and metal scraps.

“That guy,” I answered, as some loser handed over a fan of bills.

We continued strolling along, taking turns complaining about how gay everything was. Then we talked about Chiodos for awhile, which briefly lighted both of our faces, until it occured to me that we had been led too far astray and Henry was probably walking in circles, crying into a Styrofoam cup of coffee. So we hurried back to where Henry left us, but he wasn’t there. We then made the mistake of leaving the Abandoned Child Depot in order to find Henry, which was fruitless since he was doggy-paddling in the sea of beer tee’d bargain hunters, hoping to find us.

 
Fuck you, assholes!

 We made it back to our spot right as Henry called Blake’s cell phone. When he finally made his way back to us, we were all, “What the fuck, we were here the whole time, asshole!” Henry looked dumbfounded.

 

“I walked right past here and didn’t see you. Didn’t you see me?” he asked, eyes squinted with confusion.

“Probably, but everyone here looks like you,” I said. I don’t think he heard me, but Blake did, and as soon as Henry turned his back, we laughed like children.

We walked past one table weighted down with incredibly worthless junk, just as a very manly woman with the roughest smoker’s voice barked, “How much you want for that bottle of Eternity?” It seriously sounded like a knife-fight was happening in her throat. Her interest in a bottle of perfume tickled me so greatly that I was falling into Henry’s back from laughing so hard. She was with some social reject who had a lipstick print tattooed to his neck. God, what an asshole.

Just when I didn’t think anything could top those two, some broad petrified in makeup from 1975 began advertising loudly for the shitty cat nip mats she was shilling. “They make extraordinary gifts!” she called out jovially and I lost my shit all over again.

“Oh, they’re fucking extraodinary alright. I hope I get fifteen of them for my birthday. Motherfucker.” Then I thought about how much hate I had boiling in my belly, and I smiled.

Around the bend, some dumb ass colostomy bag of a broad was selling CDs and at the very top of one of the stacks was The Cure’s “Disintegration”. Henry pointed this out, probably thinking I’d go all Pollyanna and realize that the flea market really was a place for extraodinary gifts, but instead I grew angry. I mean, I was practically roiling.

“You don’t re-sell a Cure CD!” I bitched loudly. “WHO DOES THAT? An asshole, that’s who.” And I know that shitty old lady heard me too. SUCK IT, bitch.

It wasn’t until we fell upon some old dude slinging the mother lode of incense and natural soap that my edges began to soften a bit. I wasn’t too interested at first, until he stood up from the perch he had on his van and started teaching us of the miraculous healing properties of some shitty soap that sounded like “doo-doo” but was really something else that I just didn’t give a shit about. That was when I realized he was awesome. At first, it was because I thought he had a British accent, but then I think he was just slurring really bad from prolonged use of psychedelics. How nice of him to come to Trader Jack’s flea market straight from Woodstock.

“Buy some of this shit,” I hissed at Henry.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because that is one cool asshole.”

And so Henry bought some shit, that scared little bitch. He bought a whole heap of incense and found out later it makes him sneeze.

 
“This stuff is made in India. This ova’ here is from New Yorkkkkkkzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzsnore.”
Normally, I would try to be a little covert with my mean-spirited picture taking, but by this point I had adopted the “fuck a bitch, suck a dick” attitude and began walking RIGHT UP TO PEOPLE, stopping in the middle of the aisles, and holding my phone all the way out at arm’s length. Henry was not pleased. Especially when, afterward, I would justify my actions by shouting, “What? That person’s an asshole. They deserve this, and worse.”

 Yeah, you count that cash, you cock sucker. Bet it’s going straight into some yeasty g-strings, you sex addict. SUCK A DICK.”

Speaking of sex addiction (a very serious plight not to be taken lightly), there seemed to be a LOT of porn there this time. Large cardboard boxes marked ADULT DVDS XXX  in thick black marker were nestled smack in the middle of baby clothes and Care Bears. I desperately felt the urge to rummage and pilfer, but felt strange doing so with Blake with us. I’d like him to not speculate upon my sex life with his father.

 Apropos placement if you ask me.

 

I saw a produce-hawker go apeshit on a pile of empty banana boxes. I don’t know what got all up inside his puckered sphincter, but he was hurling the boxes out of the back of his truck and plowdriving them into the gravel. His face was red and his fat lips were a’quake with obscenities. I stopped to gawk for awhile, savoring the terror that was arresting my heart. Violence makes me wet.

 

 

 

More flea market assholes, plus Chooch and Blake.

 

There was some girl there who was clinging onto her youth even more desperately than me. Quite possibly the oldest scene kid ever, and ridiculously so. As she pushed a stroller past us, she giggled and very coquettishly said, “I like your piercings!” to Blake. After she walked away, Blake mumbled, “Dumb bitch.” It was high-five worthy.

 

 

The only cool people there. Aside from Blake and me.

 

Sometimes, for no reason, I would growl. Say, for instance, someone in a Kenny Chesney shirt would push past me, in a huge fucking hurry to look at fake designer sunglasses, my arms would get all stiff and I’d just fucking growl. Ew, grr.

 

 

Henry wouldn’t buy me this awesome Jesus Loves Me hat. Now I’ll have to find something else to wear to the church fair. My garter belt and a Cannibal Corpse shirt, I guess.

 

Later that day, Henry was telling me that his mom asked him to take her to the flea market next weekend.

I laughed, it was an angry laugh, and said, “I think I’ll sit that one out.”

“You ain’t kidding,” he said. Supposedly I’m banned for life or something.

Jul 252008
 

Urgent. Will die without reading.

  • 14:09 Apparently there’s a Heavy Equipment School and it just so happens I want to learn to operate heavy equipment for my army.  #
  • 15:17 My heart won’t stop dropping. #
  • 16:02 When Henry commented on my weight loss, I said, "It’s from all the cocaine." He laughed, but there was a tinge of uncertainty there. #
  • 17:58 Tina is going to a Jamboree this weekend. Oh how I wish she’d invite me. I’d wear my best overalls and tuck a dandelion in my straw hat. #
  • 19:35 apparently for someone to touch my life, i must personally know them. be all bff’s and shit. #
  • 20:13 Figures, one week left of nightshift and I find a new desk from which to steal candy. CHOCOLATE EGGS. How’s a bitch gon’ steal on dayshift??  #
  • 22:54 I swear to shit someone keeps pulling my hair.#
     

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Jul 252008
 

This is probably the best – not to mention the worst – idea that I have ever had.

Mel couldn’t take the pain of his broken heart any longer so he gouged a hole into his chest with a melon baller and pulled that bleeding sucker right the hell out. Now he’ll never have to feel that breaking torment next time a favorite ice cream flavor is retired. On the flipside though, he’ll never again feel the swell of hope and love when his girlfriend comes over. But how often does that really happen? She’s a cheating slutbroad.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a heart, too. But I would rather suffer through the lows so that I may have the highs, rather than not feel anything at all. I love you, Craigery.

Jul 242008
 

Urgent. Will die without reading.

  • 12:12 Watching horror movies alone sucks. #
  • 14:36 Henry just burned me with a bag of steamed peas. That fuck. #
  • 16:51 True story: Was reading some shit about Estelle Getty & the next record that came up on my screen was Getty Mart. (Data processor, holla) #
  • 16:36 The fact that people are always asking me if Craig Owens is my boyfriend makes me think that I have too many pictures of Chiodos on my desk. #
  • 21:23 I don’t remember writing 60% of the stories I have out there. I don’t know what that means.I’m an unbeknownst plagiarizer? I guess perhaps. #
  • 23:13 I’d burn a building if I knew you’d die. #

  • 10:22 I would not be opposed to planting my face in some fucking buttercream frosting right about now, fuck. #
  • 15:05 A Ne-Yo joint comes on and ain’t nuthin’ holding down my inner yo-girl. I come close to breaking out the Butterfly every time. #
  • 16:52 Tonight I will speak only in gutteral growls. #
  • 18:27 Tina likes mango daiquiris which completely shatters my fantasy of her knocking back Old Crow with the sailors. #
  • 20:08 Omfg Craigery. Why?? #
  • 23:06 Tonight definitely calls for wine. Lots and lots of wine. #
  • 23:12 Do u ever get urges to rip ur veins out so you can see them better? #
  • 10:31 Last nite, got drunk on wine while working from home, laugh/cried about work situation/life, read a book. Feel much better/worse. #

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Jul 232008
 

Carbunkletown. Population 789. Home to Mrs. Catsballs the contortionist, Father Pricklenuts the limp wrist, Frauline Gertude the snowglobe collector, Peter Sniffles the throat slasher.

789 residents: all different colors, some with herpes, some with stinkeye, all incapable of embracing emotion.

But down in the hollows of Carbunkleton, past Herman’s Booze Hut and a few stone throws from Porno Delight, lived a boy named Sigmund, and Sigmund loved music. He loved it more than the other 788 townsfolk, who turned the radio to the local Top 40 station only to block out barking dogs and dumpster-rummaging flaneurs. But they never listened to music to FEEL.

As he tacked up posters of his favorite bands, Sigmund would silently thank them for singing the words that swam in his heart, for screaming the cries that rattled inside his mind. He’d throw on records he found in neighbor’s garbage cans — discarded after they realized they might need to put effort into listening to it, that it wouldn’t go down nice and smooth like a swig of Pepto Bismol — and lay back in his bed, watching the hair on his arms stand up as the singer’s voice pierced through his heart with molted emotion.

Sigmund would excitedly run through the town square when he found a new band that made his heart quake. He’d try to implore the Widow Crotchbiter to listen, he’d tug on Jake the Smut Peddlar’s sleeve, tap Susie Chibbles on the back.

"Please, you have to listen to this band! They’re so good and full of emotion and they’re from Smugglesville and there’s this one song and and–"

"You’re so dumb, Sigmund," they’d laugh.

"Grow up, Sigmund," his co-workers would say.

"But, this record saved my life, seriously!" Sigmund would cry in defense.

"Music is for drowning out crying babies," his boss Patty Rumproast sighed when he asked for a night off to go see the Anal Probes play at a neighboring town. "And sometimes dancing to when you get drunk at weddings. Why would you want to actually FEEL something? That’s so stupid. YOU’RE stupid."

Slowly but surely, Sigmund put up his walls and stopped trying to express himself and stopped trying to share his love of music with his friends. He stayed inside his hut, listening to post-hardcore records with his headphones on, so he wouldn’t receive a citation from the out-pouring of emotion from his windows.

After time, his right eye swelled from the stress of bottling his feelings. Turned out his giant right eye really like synthpop, though.

______________________________________________________

Original painting on a thick 8×8 wrapped canvas. Sigmund is loaded with texture and would make a great gift for your favorite misunderstood music-lover.

 

Jul 222008
 

Urgent. Will die without reading.

  • 09:41 I really hope I don’t die from a stabbing. I keep daydreaming about it though.
  • 09:54 In the car, chooch & I flipped out at the same time over a passing playground; a good indication of my mental age.
  • 20:19 It doesn’t feel like summer to me unless there’s swimming in the afternoon and horror movies at night.

  • 11:50 Today, chooch is really into storing things down my shirt. A bit uncomfortable.
  • 11:53 Eric Nies and his fucking jumprope DVD can go anally probe themselves. My calves have welts from aerobic flaggellation.
  • 11:55 Just bought 2 Lost Boys figurines for myself. I mean, for Chooch. He unforch doesn’t yet understand e-shopping & wants them NOW.
  • 12:07  I don’t approve of any of the ppl looking at the vacant side of my duplex. Time to pull out the Viking metal & Satanist propaganda.
  • 16:41 One of my co-workers is encouraging me to contact Corey Haim so he can see he’s in love w/ me. God I work with a bunch of enablers.
  • 18:02 I asked Henry if he still thought I was pretty. His answer was "when your face is on my penis." Now that’s love.
  • 20:48 Henry won’t get involved in bento box lunches because "those are so gay looking". Yeah but – so is he.
  • 22:10 Kim had me blowing up balloons for some broad’s bday tomorrow, because she knows I blow hard. Now my fingers stink of balloon rubber.

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Jul 212008
 

My parents were in the process of having a back porch built onto our house. This was a big deal for my brother Ryan and me, because stalking one of the workers became the sole reason we got out of bed each day. I mean really, who wants to swim and lay out in the sun when you can be violating someone’s privacy?

There was no real reason why we felt so intrinsically drawn to the sweaty laborer. He wasn’t good-looking, he didn’t sport a peg-leg, he wasn’t albino. He was just your average forty-something year old porch-builder with tinted eyeglasses, a farmer’s tan and a bushy moustache. I don’t even think he ever spoke to us. I mean, would you?

We would run from window to window, snapping pictures of him. Pictures from the kitchen, pictures from our parent’s bedroom, pictures bent around tree trunks. One day, Ryan even chased his truck up the street as he departed for home after a long grueling day of hammering nails and chugging Schlitz under the shade of a maple. I often wondered if our porch-builder had a good broad with a nice plump behind to nail, maybe cook him up a nice thick stew.

I’ll never forget the day we discovered his name was Gary. We ran into the house, erupting into shrieks and giggles. Our mom’s reaction was something akin to “Yeah, so?” accompanied by an eye brow raise. She always raised the eyebrow that bore a scar from when she was a baby and rolled off her bed, banging her face off the corner of the nightstand. I still can’t believe she never made up a better story, like how she was nicked by a gypsy’s butterfly knife the time she tried to steal cantaloupes off their wagon. When I was fourteen and viciously mauled by our psycho rabbit, you better believe I went back to school with a yarn about getting stabbed during gang initiation.

After a week of wasting film on this fine craftsman, we decided these clandestine snaps weren’t providing enough of a sociopathic rush. We needed more thrill, something that provided more of an instant gratification. When you’re young, you want souvenirs for everything you do: pocketed sugar packets from a truck stop diner, pebbles from the parking lot of the first sex shack your dad made you wait outside of, bloodied gauze from your first tooth extraction.

So the next obvious step clearly was to collect Gary’s cigarette butts and beer cans.

We waited until he’d go to his truck, then sprint out in the backyard like scavengers, picking through the grass in search of a butt or two. Once we accumulated enough to satiate our pursuant appetite, we brought our treasures in the house and stowed it underneath the couch in the family room. Like chipmunks storing acorns, crack heads hording rocks.

Stalking Gary consumed so much of our summer. So much that it infiltrated the summer of my friends, as well. My best friend Christy was out of town for some sort of academic camp. I wrote her a letter and enclosed one of Gary’s cigarettes butts for her to cherish as well. I just wanted her summer to be as rich as ours had become, thanks to Gary. I wrote letters to every one of my pen pals, detailing Gary’s every action and movement. Everyone clung to the Summer of Gary with bated breath.

Unfortunately, the fun and games ended when my dad unearthed our stash of purloined memorabilia under the couch. Now, any other dad would have rightfully accused us of smoking and drinking. Luckily for us, my dad recognized the extent of our weirdness long before this incident, so he believed our tale and we escaped punishment. The downside was that he forbade us to continue our game and pitched our pirated keepsake, muttering something about how we were embarrassing him or something.

I often wonder what Gary is doing these days, and if he knew he was being stalked. Was he flattered? I asked my mom: she said probably not.

Jul 092008
 

I went through a short (five year) spell where I compulsively answered and posted personal ads for the sheer thrill of probable disaster. In the winter of 1999, a delightful man named Pete responded to one of my ads. After exchanging several cordial emails, I decided there was a fair chance he wasn’t keen on brandishing machetes, so I offered up my phone number.

He called me one night when my boyfriend Jeff was over. Jeff — yes, my boyfriend — was no stranger to my need to spread my wings of infidelity, so he busied himself with an episode of "Felicity" (the one where Brian Crackhouse raped the pink Power Ranger) while I carried on a merry conversation with Pete about all the various cereals we liked and how it was so hard to choose just one variety each morning.

Pete and I made plans to meet up one fine evening, and to be safe, I invited Janna over too. Because if he were to arrive wielding a chainsaw, at least I’d have a decoy. Minutes before Pete’s arrival, Janna called. "My mom won’t let me have the car because of the snow. I’m so sorry!" she whined, probably inwardly relieved that now she could stay home and watch PBS.

I tried to call Pete to cancel, but he had already left. I wondered about the possibility of him leaving the piano wire at home, on the kitchen counter, miles away from my vulnerable neck.

But he likes cereal so much, I pep-talked myself. It’s hard to imagine a serial killer enjoying a bowl of Apple Jacks, I assured myself, because that’s clearly grade A logic to apply.

When I opened the door for Pete, I was taken aback by his unexpected redneck visage. But once we got the handshaking out of the way, he settled down in a chair and conversation flowed freely. I was slightly irritated by his constant abbreviation for cigarette. "Let me light another ciggie," he’d announce, feeling the need to include me in his smoking schedule.

Then he pulled out a joint. I knew not to smoke it with him, because even when I’m with someone I’m supremely close to, my paranoia gets way out of control and of course every person in the tri-state area is vying to rape me. I want to sear my skin with a hot iron, leap from speeding vehicles, watch Olsen Twins videos.

So I did the rational thing in Erin’s World and joined him.

On TV, the news reports gave constant updates on the severe weather condition unraveling outside. I kept urging him to leave, and he would respond with obvious insinuations that he wanted to spend the night, which my marijuana-clouded mind translated as, "Imma treat ya like a pig, stuff an apple in yer mouth, and fuck ya silly from the bee-hind, you slutty broad. Who’s the cereal king now, ho?"

Oblivious to the pandemonium tap-dancing through my nervous system, he’d jiggle a cigarette between his fingers and say, "Just one more ciggie!" I sat on the couch, hunkered down among the pillows, arms protectively covering my boobs, legs bouncing with the verve and RPM of a bridge-dwelling paranoiac. I had cotton mouth and I wanted to go to bed. Maybe eat a PB&J.

He finally left after I completely closed off and started answering his questions with irate outbursts. I never heard from him again, which is a shame because we could have maybe made beautiful cereal together.

Jun 262008
 

 (Final version of a dumb essay I wrote for my Creative Non-Fiction class last fall, and never posted because I forgot.)

You might not know it, but North Versailles, a town once thriving during the height of the steel mill boom, is the home of a veritable Valhalla for thrifters, crafters, and peddlers. Residing in the old Loews Theater — forced into bankruptcy in June of 2001 by an over-zealous eruption in the multi-plex industry — Rossi’s Pop-Up Market Place is a glorified flea market for the twenty-first century. It’s a place where one could find an entire table lined with quilted purses, looking foreign outside of the Bingo hall; no less than two tables selling staplers amidst collectible spoons and cookbooks; cardboard boxes brimming with broken toys and stuffed animals; and racks of black-and-gold feathered boas. Situated on thirteen acres of paved land, vendors come from all over to set up booths and tables inside the vacated theater and all along the once-desolate back parking lot.

The weather was dreary on the day I visited, with showers bullying the outside vendors in sporadic episodes. Even with only a third of the back lot being utilized and the omnipresent threat of rain, the hardcore flea marketers were not deterred, as evidenced by the number of times my boyfriend was forced to circle the main lot in search of an empty parking space.

            It was still relatively early on a Sunday morning, yet the parking lot was already a-bustle with shoppers darting in and out of traffic on their way back to their vehicles, arms pregnant with loot. I was at once awash in a sea of fanny-packs and spandex-sausaged torsos, Steelers jerseys and trucker caps, high-waisted seersucker trousers and Hawaiian-printed shirts; they scurried in erratic patterns like locusts during a Biblical plague. Two of the locusts — a visored elderly couple, one of whom toted an old lamp in grotesque shades of the Seventies — crossed in front of a line of moving vehicles, with little regard. If this is any indication of the pedestrian carelessness in flea market land worldwide, I’m not surprised that a young boy was killed in the nineties when a truck backed into him when this market used to be located down the street at the now-demolished Eastland Mall. In its previous carnation, the flea market was called the Superflea and with the local mall now in ruins, the people of North Versailles basically had only Wal-Mart to rely on for their Olympic-shopping needs. But in 2005, the denizens of the defunct Superflea were invited to utilize the empty space of the Loews Theater by the building’s owner, Jim Aiello. What did the Superflea vendors do during the interim of Eastland’s demolition and Aiello’s metaphorical handing over of the golden key? Thank God for eBay, I guess.

The inside of the converted theater harbors the booths and tables for the more high-brow set: Racks of clothing that haven’t been worn before, handmade crafts, baked goods — generally nothing that has been previously worn or used. I decided to tackle the back grounds first, so we quickly bypassed the frustrating stop-and-go traffic flow of bargain hunters determined to scrutinize every last piece of price-tagged merchandise.

Posted to the back door was a typed and laminated sign that insisted “No heelies to be worn inside or outside.” My boyfriend obsessed over the meaning of “heelies” for most of our visit (wheeled shoes, you dumb ass), but I had more important issues vexing my mind: I needed to know who Rossi was.

Upon exiting the back doors, I was immediately barraged by a goulash of dueling aromas: teriyaki chicken and soul food duked it out to my right, while the best of Poland’s delicacies sparred to my left with the hot sausage sandwich heavy weight over at Mike’s Neighborhood Grill (also notable for his award-winning Philly cheese steak). Two food trailers competed with the controversial spelling of kielbasa. (Or is it kolbassa?) At nine o’clock in the morning, haluski and fried chicken were not the most nasally pleasing scents. If it was afternoon, and, you know – I ate meat, I’d have been in my glory.  Interspersed between so many savory selections were trailers shilling funnel cake, and the Slushie King was doling out sno-cones to children who displayed such a caricature of excitement that I wondered if they had never delighted in frozen sweets before. It was like Rossi’s very own carnival midway.

In spite of this festival of food, the rest of the parking lot gave off the vibe of a ghost town. If tumbleweed had blown past my ankles, it would have been suiting. There were tables lined up, but the hearts of the people manning them just weren’t in it. No one yelled things like, “Two dollars! Two for three!” or “Are you looking at that weed whacker?! It works! It really works! You can see for yourself, FOR TEN DOLLARS!” Walking past a table stacked with old issues of Woman’s World and a paltry selection of VHS dramas (Steel Magnolias was a steal of a deal for a buck), two middle-aged women sat slouched over in lawn chairs. Staring straight ahead with glazed-over eyes, the one whose mouth had yet to become mummified by boredom’s glue mumbled, “I can’t believe we have two more hours of this shit.” It never occurred to me before that these people are taking chances when they rent out lots. If the weather, so notoriously unpredictable, is sketchy that day, the vendors could potentially lose out on a lot of money, breaking even if they’re lucky.

The weather hadn’t managed to put a damper on everyone’s day, though. I walked past one woman, fresh from purchasing a VHS chockfull of show tunes. As she trotted back to her group of fellow flea marketers, I heard her squeal, “And it has ‘Luck Be a Lady’ on it too so we can all sing together tonight in the living room after dinner!” A small part of me hoped she was being facetious, but mostly I derived a perverse pleasure in imagining that some families do functional things like after dinner sing-alongs, maybe while wearing bonnets, and then I imagine myself watching from behind a bush, laughing and taking video to post on You Tube.

I was making my way down the third aisle of tables and still hadn’t found a single item that was worth parting ways with the crumpled dollar bill stuffed into the pocket of my jeans. In the past, a lone dollar bill had gained me a nudie mug, a chipped metal bangle bracelet that leaves a bruised band around my wrist, and a 1940’s 8×10 school portrait of one of the table vendors. That was my favorite flea market find, I think. I made up an elaborate back story about how he was my vampiric Uncle Otis who was haunted by chimeras of his ex-lover; I couldn’t imagine why my friends didn’t believe me.

Oh, I had seen such sights on this day though, like an entire table piled with hats of all styles and varying degrees of camouflage. Some of the hats went a step beyond and boasted embroidered John Deere patches and one had a real knee-slapper of a slogan draped across it: “Remington: Size Matters!” Had I been there alone, I’d have gladly set up camp and waited all day just on the off-chance that I’d get to spy the lucky person to score that gem.

Other tables are decorated with children’s books that look suspiciously five-fingered from the library, like “Why Am I Going to the Hospital?”,  and yellow-paged mystery novels by Dean Koontz and Nora Roberts and I know without getting too close that they come complete with the musty stench of a grandmother’s basement. Laid out on ratty and frayed bath towels are a downtrodden array of rusted shovels, hoes, hedge clippers and spades — a serial killer’s wet dream. Or a gardening fetisher’s. An entire table was devoted to glassware that must have looked really good when it was used on the set of “Mama’s Family.”

A woman hawked jewelry draped along the hood of her maroon Alero while next door, a burly man sporting a sleeveless American Legend shirt and a rustic beard stood cross-armed over his collection of tools and Harley Davidson bric-a-brac. I definitely wasn’t interested in any biker memorabilia.

Every few minutes, the oldies tunes – the elevator music of flea markets — blasting from outdoor speakers would cut out and a booming voice bubbling over with a showman’s enthusiasm would remind us shoppers to stop by Teresa’s Treasures, formerly known as Frick and Frack, for some fresh baked goods; or he would promote the aforementioned Mike’s Neighborhood Grill, who must have slipped the MC a Hamilton because there was a real urgency to his voice every time he would tap on the mic and remind us that hey, Mike’s still over there in the red and white trailer frying up some of that award-winning grub of his. OK, we get it: Mike rules.

Intrigued by this bodiless voice, I abandoned the garage sale fare of the outdoors for the more glamorous vendibles inside. Also, that’s where the bathroom was.

The main difference I observed inside was that each table has its own niche. Unlike the tables in the parking lot, the merchandise here was new and laid out in a neat and eye-catching array with glitter-painted signs that yelled, “Hey look Real Stillers shirts here! Tags still on!” and “Ninetento [sic] tapes $5-$8!” Above the storefronts of the indoor vendors hang wooden signs with their store’s name burned into it. Coincidentally, the maker of those very signs had his own booth set up, with a TV – squatting in the midst of charred wood signs — airing a running loop of his workshop. I paused to watch it, but became bored after three seconds. I’m sad to see that Eileen’s Crafts & Whatever: Home of the Special Angels is closed, because maybe I might have wanted to buy a special angel, or a ‘whatever.’

Later that day, after lamenting the fact that I couldn’t even find one single coral necklace or macramé pot holder amongst the knoll of orphaned junk to bring home, I dwelled once again on Rossi. At this point, I didn’t even care about meeting him. A tiny blurb on a website would have sufficed. Or perhaps a MySpace profile.

Google searches for Rossi’s identity only bring up individual websites of several of the vendors, such as Deanna’s Mountain T-Shirts. She is very excited to announce via her webpage that you can find her brand-new Betty Boop and race car shirts at Rossi’s every Saturday and Sunday! When she’s not slinging those and her new and gently worn jewelry, she designs websites. I hope they’re as visually pleasing as her website, with all of its seizure-inducing emoticons and gifs. I mean, if I’m paying for a professional website, I better get a blinding background and lots of waving American flags, and maybe a cheery midi file droning on as the page loads.

Determined to find answers, I revisited Rossi’s a week later. The sun was shining bright and the temperature was September’s signature crisp and clear; in other words, the venders were easily excitable and rearin’ to go.

Admittedly, I wanted to catch a glimpse of this elusive announcer, too. My boyfriend laughed and said, “Um, you walked right past him and his podium last week when you went to the bathroom.” I wasn’t sure if I completely believed my boyfriend that the MC’s voice was not really the product of a tape playing in a loop. I wished for a twist ending where I would tug back a heavy velvet curtain or at the very least a moth-eaten sheet of burlap, to find that Rossi and the announcer were one and the same.

I had to employ the Cardinal rule of flea markets: do not make eye contact with sellers if you’re not trying to waste money. They’re like puppies in a pound – you toss them the tiniest bone of a glance, and you’re taking their shit home with you.

Sometimes this doesn’t work, usually when you end up idling past a seller who is overly-anxious to be rid of his cache. A mustachioed man, noticing my small child in the stroller, spastically lunged into his pile of corroded tapes and waved a Barney video at me. “Barney video, one dollar!” he barked. I smiled and kept walking. I’m sure it was full of titillating moral tales, and my child will obviously grow up into a puppy-kicking plane hijacker without the guidance of a purple dinosaur in his life, but no thanks. He wouldn’t give up. “Barney tape, for free!”

Not one to pass up free swag, my internal dialogue was a’swirl.

                       It’s free!

                      But it’s Barney!

                      But it’s free!

“Oh, thank you, but I don’t have a VCR,” I quickly stuttered, shifting my eyes. He was still blurting out offers when I nervously jogged to another table, far away, that wasn’t shilling free children’s tapes. Why don’t the elderly ladies shilling fantastically kitschy costume jewelry make such offers? Further down, another man looking as though he were visiting from the mountains of Appalachia, caught me pointing to his luxurious collection of dented, rustic oil cans and asking the boyfriend what the hell they were.

 “Are you looking at my fan? Two dollars! And it works!” I recoiled slightly at the sight of his mouth rot.

No, I was looking at your shitty rust receptacles, but thanks.

As I was toeing the line between boredom and frustration, unable to give a shit about tattered cook books with coffee rings and cheap sunglasses framed in fluorescent shades, the sky parted, golden rays of second hand angel dust rained upon our heads, and the voice of the announcer reverberated through the lot.

 “Wayne and Ellie Jackson, there is a situation at your vehicle that requires immediate attention.”

Wayne and Ellie’s vehicle could have been taken over by pygmies playing horse shoes and on a normal day, I’d have been the first one on the scene to get the 411, but I could not shake my preoccupation with the MCs voice. So instead of rubber-necking out in the lot, I made my way past stacks of ugly abstract art, discount candy, and unripe produce, until I was inside the market place, boyfriend and baby trailing behind. I thought I heard my child whining, but my pace didn’t falter; sorry son, but Mama’s on a mission.

Once inside, it was all a blur. I hurried past the lady manning a table of bread and gloves (although I did slow down a bit to see if the gloves were the kinds with the rubber nubbies on them as I have a slight fetish); I bumped into a man looking at baseball cards and vaguely recall him grunting a reply to my rudeness; I paused briefly to demolish a sample of apricot pastry. Always pause for pastries.

As I rounded a corner, my boyfriend pointed. “There he is right there. MC Rich K.”

Standing behind a podium, all wrapped up in a snug leather jacket, loomed the body behind the voice. I had every intention of talking to him, asking him about this supposed Rossi character, but my voice was caught. I had built him up so much in my head, maybe as much as Rossi by that point, that he had become my own Wizard of Oz, and now he was standing there before me, yelling into his cell phone like some hot shot Wall Street power broker.

 “I just gave you an ad! Didn’t you hear it?” he shouted disgustedly.

This was the body of the voice coated with Santa-caliber merriment? If I were a vendor, I’d invest in a bullhorn and do my own publicity before relying on that asshole.

Intimidated, I instead grabbed a brochure from the information kiosk next to MC Rich K, playing it off like that was why I had come barreling toward him, and then I went home. I guess I wasn’t too determined after all.

The brochure ended up being a poorly edited odyssey down comic sans lane, and of course any information regarding the enigmatic Rossi, now fabled in my mind, was furtively omitted. Maybe Rossi isn’t even a person. Maybe Rossi is the dead childhood goldfish of property owner Jim Aiello and it’s a tribute in the same vein of Snickers, the candy bar named after a family horse. Food Network taught me that.

Or maybe I should just take a nap and wake up with a new futile obsession.

Regardless, even though my pressing questions about the flea market’s namesake went unanswered, I’ll be sure to go back the next time I’m in the market for a purse with sequins so big, it could solar power an entire house on its own.

 

Jun 232008
 

I don’t think I’ve missed hitting up the Three Rivers Arts Festival once in the past twelve years, so I dragged Henry, Chooch and Blake downtown to spend a leisurely Saturday evening perusing overpriced beaded jewelry and hopefully tripping over some knife-wielding homeless assholes. The arts festival is kind of like the summer kick-off here in Pittsburgh and I usually wind up spending exorbitant amounts of money on a piece of art that likely only cost $20 to make. Sure looks good on my walls though.

Blake has a pet rat tail now that he keeps tucked under his hat; it’s earned him about 146 scene points. 54 more and he can cash them in for a new white studded belt.*

It was slim-pickins this year though. Cheesy windchimes and generic photography (Pittsburgh in the morning, Pittsburgh at night, Pittsburgh under a cloak of fog, Pittsburgh who-the-fuck-cares) seemed to be the most prevalent wares on display in the rows of tents. Look, if I’m going to buy a photograph of the fucking shit hole I live in, it better depict faux-nuclear warfare and slutty clowns sucking dick atop the Mellon Arena.

There was one artisan that was peddling these amazing pieces of metal eye candy, which I could imagine making a cameo as a murder weapon in a Dario Argento film. Blake and I drooled over the aluminum display for like, three seconds (ADD, holla), but alas — neither of us brought our platinum AmEx cards to bloat with $2,000 purchases.

Blake bought a soft pretzel, though.

My stalking skillz were on the fritz that day. Every time I would covertly snap a shot of someone, the person next to them would send WTF rays right through my skull. I eventually gave up and reluctantly settled on shots of skylines and clouds. You know, like the shit that was being shilled inside all of those tents. But then Blake stepped up as a subject and I was happy again. I tried to get him to stab a cop for the sake of photography, but finally I settled on having him stand casually in front of things.

Like a wall of graffiti in a damp alley.

Seeing us slip suspiciously into an alley probably made the Dad Alarm sound inside Henry’s head. He backtracked a few paces, squinted into the alley, and asked, “What are you doing?” Don’t worry, Henry! We’re just freebasing, brb.

“Can I be done soon? It’s really hot over here,” Blake asked through gritted teeth.

“That’s because it’s STEAM,” Henry shouted, making me hurry up. I bet Blake’s mom loves it when he’s out with us. I have him loitering in seedy alleys in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh, climbing trains, enjoying natural steam baths: All things that Chooch has to look forward to.

There were two cops standing nearby and I was set off immediately by the fact that they were just STANDING THERE DRINKING GATORADE AND BEING LAZY ASSHOLES. Some ho was probably getting raped in a nearby alley, but at least these assholes are replenishing their flab with ELECTROLYTES.

Fuck, I hate cops.

Of course Henry tripped all over himself to defend them. “THEY’RE HELPING PEOPLE CROSS THE STREET!” he shouted desperately. Helping my ASS. They had their backs to the street-crossing pedestrians!

I kind of feel inspired to take senior portraits. Alternative ones, you know? “Listen here, high school cheerleader– I’m going to fashion a murder scene and you’re going to pretend to picnic off the bodies.” WHO WOULDN’T WANT THAT FOR THEIR SENIOR PICTURE?!

Back in the vicinity of the festival, I spied a set of stairs descending into the bowels of the city. I think it was some kind of utility thing that I know nothing about but I’m sure Henry does. It looked really desolate and cinder-blocky at the botton of the landing, so I urged Blake to walk down so I could take a picture. As soon as his foot left that final step, an ear-splitting siren went off, interspersed with a male computerized voice alerting the world of terrorists. Seriously, it sounded like BWAKBWAK WARNINGDANGERDEATHALERT BWAK BWAK and I almost shit myself.

Blake and I ran like hell and when we caught up with Henry, we tried to play it cool, but he saw right through our scared, blanched faces.

“Congratulations, you’re probably on video,” was all he said.

After leaving a trail of suspicious behavior through the streets of town, we hit up Point Park and made the mistake of giving Crazy Ass Chooch some freedom. Once he was out of his stroller, there was no catching him. I was grateful that we had Blake with us, because he chased after him while I continued to be a lazy ass and complained about how badly my feet hurt. Cry for me.

Blake and I were walking ahead of Henry and Chooch and apparently some punkass skater bitch looked at Blake and said, “If that was my kid, I’d kick his ass.” Unfortunately for that kid, Henry was close enough behind us to hear that comment and proceeded to flex his muscles and spit poison-tipped darts into that fucker’s neck.

I mean, I suppose that’s what he would have done if his balls weren’t made of cotton candy and butterfly wings. Instead, he whimpered and kept on walking.

We lazed around the wall of the fountain at the Point and ogled a couple whose lips were scandelously fused together. Blake wanted me to take their picture, but the boyfriend busted me and let’s just say it wasn’t the first time in my life that I felt like a sexual deviant.

*I seriously, honest to God-ly love scene kids. Like, I want to hug them all and be their big sister and film a couple After School Specials about those rainbow sex bracelets.

Jun 162008
 

 

 

 

The weather forecast for Saturday was rain, rain and more rain. I asked Henry, “Do you still want to go on that fantastically awesome scenic train ride, even in the rain?” and he said yes. At this point, my memory forbade me to remember all the other scenic train rides I had been on in my life time, and how extremely boring they truly are. (Unless, you know, you’re into that scenery shit.)

Schenely, PA is about an hour away and I was sulking for the majority of the ride. Just part of my nature. But then Henry stopped at a Sunoco and returned with a bag of mint M&Ms. I acted all ambivalent about it, but still drank down half the bag. Mood instantly lifted.

As soon as we boarded the train, it began pouring. Like any other sensible person, I chose the open-sided car so we could be treated to a natural shower and then simultaneously bitch about it for the hour long ride. There were about twenty other people who had the same idea.

While we were waiting for the 2:00 departure time to roll around, someone pointed out that one of the cars in the lot had an open window. It was the car right next to us, so Henry shouted out to the woman who owned it and then was thanked profusely by her and her husband. He sat there with a smug grin on his face, like he was some kind of fucking hero. I bet he did heroic shit like that all the time when he was in The Service, helping hookers climb out of vats of penii.

Imagine how tickled I was when the train kicked into motion and a woman’s voice filled the car from a speaker. Wow, a scenic railroad excursion paired with a guide enlightening us with local flavored fun facts? What a treat. Unfortunately, there was so much commotion on the train that her commentary came off sounding like the teacher from Peanuts. Every time I asked Henry what she said, it was always the same: “Something about the river. I don’t know.”

Chooch was really great for most of the first leg of the trip. He sat on my lap to avoid the torrential downfall that was attacking us from the sides. But then he had the itch to roam, and it all unraveled from there. Once he had his feet on the floor, it was like an open invitation for the other children on the train to come out and play. Chooch procured the four cars he brought in his backpack, and suddenly I had a horde of small children surrounding me: a one-year-old, another two-year-old (Sioux, like the tribe!!!!) and her six-year-old sister (Cheyenne, like the tribe!!!!), whose grandma was wearing a Kermit t-shirt and would not stop chatting with me the entire time and I was so nervous that I was physically clenching. And you know, with kids come parents. I really hate socializing with parents. Chooch was doling out his cars, only to confiscate them at his will. He seemed to take an immediate liking to the six-year-old, and was adament on giving her all the cars.

The one-year-old’s dad was wearing a Penguins hat, and I couldn’t help but notice Henry didn’t scoff, “Hockey season’s over” to him, like he does to me anytime I mention them.

At this point, I was unable to take in any of the trees and shit that we were passing, because I had to fulfill Mom duty and make sure that my son didn’t come to blows with anyone over a couple of fucking plastic cars. I hate this part of parenting. And you know what else I hate? Having to acknowledge other people’s kids. That Cheyenne chick kept standing in front of me and flapping her arms like a bird. “Oh. Uh, pretty,” I would try to placate her, instead of shoving her off on another parent like I really wanted. Another mother, though, she heartily exclaimed, “WOW! What are you, a bird?? OH COOL! You are so COOL! I LOVE KIDS! HAHAHAHA ZOLOFT!” Who the fuck gives a shit? Not me. Flap all you want, little girl. I’ll continue looking through you like you’re invisible to me. Because you are.

 

 

Chooch made me especially nervous around the one-year-old boy. I kept praying he wouldn’t push him off the train or choke him. (I had just taught Chooch that morning how to pretend-choke himself and quickly started to realize that I might wind up seeing repercussions to that act real quick.)

 

 

This guy told me what his purpose was when we first sat down. Something about doing something with the brakes? Who the hell really cares what his purpose is when he’s wearing some hot-assed overalls, though? Basically, he mopped us all off with towels and repeatedly noted that, “There are a lot of kids playing on this car!” and thank God for that play-by-play, because I really hadn’t noticed that my crazy kid was dominating over a trio of weaker-willed children.

After about an hour, I was stoked to see the station looming ahead. My hope was dashed as we turned around though, and headed in another direction. Apparently, you just can’t visit Schenely and not teeter precariously on a railroad bridge for fifty thousand minutes while a guide gives you muffled commentary about trout. And who would want to miss out on that?

 

 

It all looks so pretty, but on closer inspection below and to the left, I noticed that the camp site was dotted with Deliverance cast offs, who brought their laundry lines, rusted out pick up trucks, and large jugs to use as yard ornamentation; I’m pretty sure I smelled some hot incest from behind the jagger bushes, too. I can only hope Henry takes me there one day on our honeymoon.

Finally we got to leave and now I’m determined to remind myself every day that train rides are boring as fuck. I’m just glad Chooch didn’t call anyone an asshole.

Jun 122008
 

Urgent. Will die without reading.

  • 15:26 Chooch talks like a Canadian. #
  • 17:53 I wish my ring could squirt poison. #
  • 18:50 Tina just asked me why I’m sitting on my knees. I AM SO SCRUTINIZED UP IN THIS JOINT. #
  • 20:51 Totally threw off Tina by telling her I have a girlfriend. It was awesome. #
  • 21:18 When ppl try to avoid junk food I suggest picturing candy bars stuffed into the bloated carcass of a dead hooker, throw in some shit & worms #

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Jun 122008
 

Today, Chooch and I went to lunch with Janna and my brother Corey. We walked several blocks to Tom’s Diner, which was fine until the way back when Chooch was too tired to walk so I had to carry him in 179 degree weather and he stunk of sweat and curdled milk. Anyway, at Tom’s, he made a fist and held it out to everyone who walked past, and said, "Punch. Punch." Most people ignored him, but a fat old man wearing a big mother-whompin’ ring made a fist on his way out of the diner and shouted, "Gimme some knuckle, kid" and Chooch had this expression of "Fucking finally!" 

Chooch and I both had grilled cheese and fries, but he was more interested in stealing potato chips and pickles from Janna’s plate.

A woman came in with approximately 18 children (fine, four) and as soon as they sat down behind us, a really old should-be-fucking-dead-by-now man hobbled over with a hunched back and passed out saftey suckers to each one. "I just really love kids," he exclaimed to their mom, and then he went back to his table.

Now, this lewd display of favortism went down behind my back, so I sat there and funneled my disgusted sighs and angry scowls at Janna and Corey. "So what, Chooch doesn’t qualify? Why didn’t that elderly douche balloon give my son a fucking poison treat?" I swear to God it made me so angry that I could feel my adrenaline rushing, blood crashing like cymbals in my ears, and I wanted to approach him in the worst way. Me, approaching an octogenarian over a sucker. And then what? Cause a scene over candy that would wind up dirt-encrusted and dropped on the floor after three licks? I have a really ridiculously skewed sense of entitlement.