Oct 042020
 

I had a slow book month in September, apparently – only 14! Here is how I felt about the first half.

  1. Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell

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OK Lisa Jewell, I see you. My second book of hers and I am now fully on board. I’m always down for a good thriller, and she’s delivered 2/2 times for so far, so I’m gonna be adding more from her oeuvre to my TBR queue, for sure.

I don’t even know where to start with this but it starts with the disappearance of a teenage daughter, and goes back and forth between that timeline and present day. There are your expected twists and turns, as with all thrillers, but I think what really grabbed me was the way the mom was written. She was a solid character and I felt her pain.

This was just a great escapist read. Would recommend. I think I have it 4/5.

2. The Seep – Chana Porter

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This book was so weird and made me feel so uncomfortable that I don’t even really want to recap it. It was VERY short though and that’s the only reason I didn’t DNF it.

I guess it’s sci-fi, sort of? An alien invasion had taken place and the survivors of the world’s population have kind of adopted the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” policy by giving in to “The Seep,” which is what the aliens are called. It’s basically like doing psychedelics, where you let The Seep into your body and you can transcend to some bizarre utopia. For instance, the main character’s wife decides one day that, with the help of The Seep, she wants to be reborn again.

No, like literally. Reborn as a baby to a new family.

The main character, Trina, goes on a downward spiral after that, dealing with the loss of her wife. It’s just weird, but not the kind of weird I like, and not that I’m saying I wanted it to be longer because I honestly wasn’t into it at all, but it just felt like there wasn’t enough time in the pages provided to really hit the mark. I had a hard time even envisioning any of the characters or the world itself. I just kind of kept picturing Eisley Cantina for various scenes.

Even Henry was like, “This doesn’t seem like a book you would like,” when he read the synopsis inside the book. One of the many times Booktubers have lead me astray.

3. You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown

This was cute but not as great as everyone on the Internet was saying (but again, I’m not an LGBTQ+ teenager, so this book definitely probably hits harder for them).

We follow Liz, a Black queer girl in a small town, as she runs for Homecoming Queen strictly because there is a large reward (her town is REALLY into homecoming) that she desperately needs in order to attend the college she got into. Liz is an extremely relatable, likable character, and it was fun reading about her stepping out of her comfort zone, and then my chest tightened when she was outed, and my face got second-hand redness when she had confrontations with other classmates, because ugh high school kids amirite.

I dunno, I had fun with this one even though it 100% was not for my demographic.

4. Burn Our Bodies Down – Rory Power

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I picked this up because people kept saying it gave them Children of the Corn vibes. That would be a negative, pals. I think that Rory Power has an interesting writing style, which I really liked, but the story itself was like….I was really in it for a bit, pretty hooked after a certain point, but it just didn’t really take me there. I needed more. I mean, the “creepy small town holding secrets” vibe was there, the stern and overbearing grandma in the weird farmhouse was written well, the “OMG DO THESE TWO GIRLS LIKE EACH OTHER” tension had me flipping the pages…but Rory Power never really drove any of this home for me.

Also, I don’t even know how to explain it. Girl finds out she has a family outside of her mom and runs away from home to meet her grandma, even though mom has spent the girl’s whole life hiding her origins from her. OMG but why? I don’t know, read the book. It’s pretty fucked.

5. The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers

OK hold on. I just started spontaneously crying as soon as I saw this book cover.

THIS BOOK.

SOLID 5/5.

Jesus Christ.

I know that I’m a pretty sensitive person in general, but I think even I wasn’t, I still would have full-on sobbed at times while reading this, and then I got all choked up while trying to explain it to Henry. I guess I have a sick fascination with reading books about the 1980s AIDS crisis, because that is LARGELY what this novel about and it is fucking heartbre—hold on, I’m crying again OMG.

In The Great Believers, we follow two separate timelines: one is in the 80s, where we meet Yale and his group of friends and watch as they navigate the murky waters in the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. At first, I was worried that too many characters were being introduced, but I felt that each one was so fleshed out, they practically jumped off the pages. I became extremely, uncomfortably, attached to Yale and rooted for him SO FUCKING HARD.

The second timeline is in the late 2010s, which finds us in Paris with the sister of one of Yale’s friends, as she tries to track down her estranged daughter. A lot of reviews I read said that they could have done without this timeline, and I can see that. I was definitely less into these chapters, but it does all tie together for one extra curb-stomp to the soul.

I have also seen this book likened to a lighter version of A Little Life, which I want to read but after how devastating THIS book was to me, I’m even more terrified of picking up A Little Life.

Earlier today in the car:

Me: I really want to read A Little Life but I’m afraid it’s going to make me want to die.

Henry: Then don’t read it.

Me: But I really want to read it.

Henry: Then read it.

Henry, being an ambivalent sounding board to Erin R. Kelly since 2001.

6. He Started It – Samantha Downing

He Started It

OH MAN this was a FUN THRILLER. A group of siblings can’t get their inheritance left to them by their recently deceased grandfather until they embark on and complete the exact same road trip he took them on as children, only this time he’s with them in the form of his ashes.

There are so many twists, so many laugh out loud moments, so many OH SHIT moments — I can’t stress how fun this book is. I mean, come on – a sibling road trip, and by the way, none of the siblings particularly like each other.

The ending is a little….controversial. I think I would have given this a solid 5 had it not been for that “huh” ending, but it was still good enough that I asked Henry if he wanted to read it before I had to return it to the library, AND HE DID. And he liked it too! Except for the ending. He was a little mad about it.

Man, this also made me REALLY want to go on a road trip :(

7. The Silence of Bones – June Hur

The Silence of Bones

I knew nothing about this going into it but wow, I really enjoyed it! It’s historical fiction, set in Joseon Dynasty-era Korea, about a 16-year-old orphan who is basically a servant to the police bureau, from what I understood it was so she didn’t have to live in an orphanage. She finds herself assisting the young police inspector when a noblewoman turns up murdered.

I’m not typically wild about historical fiction, but this was so dark and gritty, and I always enjoy learning more about the history of Korea (this one talks a lot about the persecution of Christians in 1800s Korea, which was scary & interesting). I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys learning about the history of Korea while also trying to solve a mystery.

8. The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendericks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us

OH.MY.FUCKING.GOD. This thriller is a motherfucking roller coaster track of twists and turns. My work friend Megan had recently read it and loved it so I was like OK I WILL READ IT TOO TWIST MY ARM. I kept sending her messages like “WTFFFFFFF I HATE RICHARD” and she would be like INORITE.

First of all, it’s always intriguing me to when a book has two authors. I feel like I would never be able to write a book with anyone because I’m one of those Type A megalomaniac people who will be like, “OK. I can see where that would be a great idea….but we’re doing it my way.”

Anyway, holy shit this book! Every time I thought for sure I knew what was going on, what people’s motives were, etc etc,. everything was turned on its head, giving me reader’s whiplash. Hopefully Henry never planned on reading because on one of our nightly walks, I asked, “Can I tell you about that book I just finished OK great here it goes…”

Read you a book that makes you excitedly vomit the plot all over the sidewalk.

****

On that note, I’m gonna go back to screaming at the news. FUCK TRUMP FUCK TRUMP FUCK TRUMP FUCK TRUMP FUCK TRUMP.

 

 

Oct 022020
 

OK look, to be fair, I haven’t decorated at work for the last two years (or three?!!?) so I can’t really be too much of a bitch-baby about this. YOU NEVER KNOW: This could have been my big comeback year! But you know, it’s hard to decorate a desk that you haven’t occupied since March. I felt really sad and nostalgic about that today so I took a stroll down memory lane and I honestly can’t believe it’s been EIGHT YEARS since the October that birthed the Glenn Defacement Project.

Hold my hand (VIRTUALLY!!) and walk with me down blog boulevard to October 2012, won’t you? Also, sorry for the shitty photo – I was clearly obsessed with Hipstamatic in 2012. *cringe*

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Finally, we got the approval to decorate for Halloween again this year! I’ve known since last October what I was going to do this year. Last year’s was so graphic and murder-y, so I decided to go a different route: clowns. It seems like most of the department are coulrophobic! And it just so happens I have a few clowns in my collection.

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Henry and I had a huge fight about the fabric. I’m sorry but fabric stores are gross! I didn’t want to be there at all, and I threw a massive fit about how ridiculous it was that I couldn’t find striped fabric.

“You only looked in one rack!” Henry cried, whic prompted me to scathe, “Oh, don’t you talk to me that way!” and storm out of the store. Sunday was a fabulous day!

(Obviously, I sent him back out for the fabric.)

(The randomly jutting clown shoe scares Brad.)

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So, one of the first components I began working on last week was defacing pictures of Glenn.

Watching me turn Glenn into a Juggalo, Lee asked, “What started your beef with Glenn, anyway?”

This gave me pause. You know, I can’t be certain exactly what happened, but I know that he sassed me one time. And for that, he will forever be my joke-pony.

Anyway, the seedling of my idea was to get a bunch of those prize machine capsules and fill it with candy and a picture of Glenn (collect them all!).

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Crooked Cop Glenn!

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Stripper Glenn!

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I also made a bunch of department-centric fortunes. My favorite is: Never underestimate the power of a Barb Riley Nastygram.

So I did all of these things, ordered those plastic vending capsules in bulk, and then thought to myself, “WTF am I putting these in?” Certainly not just a random bowl. So I made a beachball-sized paper mache clown head (with Henry’s help—I’m not allowed to use the hand mixer). It took all weekend and was one of the most frustrating projects of my life (hi, I hate crafts, remember?), but I am so in love with him now! My babe!

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It’s surprising to me how many people either hesitated or flat out refused to put their hand in his mouth, like I am so untrustworthy! Barb is so thrilled she gets to stare at the back of his bald head all day.

And what goes along with carnivals and circuses? Side show freaks! [Message from Erin 2020: There is only ONE PERSON out of all of these circus freaks that still works at the Law Firm *sad face*]

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Carey as the Tattooed Lady! A Fiji Mermaid!

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Midget pacifier-sucking Brad! Bloody circus peanuts!

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Ringmaster A-ron!

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Chris and Lee, Ultimate Law Firm Bromance! (Lee is so angry and traumatized about this.)

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Moustache and beard lollipops!

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Fiji Mermaid up close!

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Barb the Contortionist!

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Random babies in a bottle!

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So, this is why I haven’t been writing much on here lately: I’ve got a one-track mind!

Mostly, it’s been received very positively. I mean, it’s fun! It’s interactive! It’s mean-spirited toward Glenn (who secretly loves it)! Even some people who don’t usually talk to me have stopped to appreciate it. I just hope that the few anti-fun people here don’t get upset and complain. But if last year’s Murder Desk was allowed to carry on throughout the entire month, I don’t see why this one can’t, too.

I heard through the grapevine that Glenn liked last year’s Murder Desk better than this year’s Carnival Desk because he got to be the killer. (I’m going to pretend that he wasn’t being sarcastic.)

So I decided to incorporate his murderous streak into this year’s theme, too.

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I’ve been calling this Candy’s Corner.

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Remains of Candy mingle amongst circus peanuts.

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I figured I could use Glenn to tie in Candy’s Corner with all the department sideshow freaks, so I made a newspaper article. (The picture of Candy is random — I didn’t want anyone here to be all, “OMG WHY DO I HAVE TO BE THE VICTIM!?”)

(But really, aren’t we all?)

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The “unknown metal object” will be officially revealed next week when I have Candy’s stomach contents on my desk.

I tried to throw in a few shout-outs here and there, like Barb’s newfound predilection for tacking on “holla!” to the end of random proclamations and Amber1’s publicly shared affection for her wiener dog.

And Brad’s midget-ness.

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Another new addition: creepy old jack in the box!

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Candy’s wig and bow.

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Sean and Glenn checking out the latest Glenns on the wall. The real Glenn got Little Orphan Glenn in today’s clown head digging. George got Jesus Glenn, and to quote Lee: “George gets ALL of the good Glenns!”

Here’s a sampling of Glenns:

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 Glenn Close Glenn (Henry didn’t get this one!), Chef BoyarG, Luau Glenn, Glenn in the Hat, Miami Vice Glenn, Glenn Danzig Glenn.

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 Elton John Glenn, Glenn of the Corn, Darth Glenn, Gary Bettman Glenn (NHL Commisioner, FYI), Jigsaw Glenn, Pulp Fiction Overdose Glenn.

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 Devo Glenn, Einstein Glenn, Sea Monkey Glenn, Batman Glenn, Bill Cosby Glenn (with Puddin’ Pop and Jello!) [HELLO FROM 2020 ERIN: was Cosby a known-rapist yet when I made this!?!? Yikes.], Captain Ahab Glenn.

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 Damsel in Distress Glenn!

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 ALL OF THE GLENNS!

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Also new for this week was Candy the Clown’s stomach contents, which was a big fail. I had Henry make a big batch of slime, and then I added paper clips. Because that is what Glenn the Clown made Candy choke on, you see. Paper clips. Someday I will explain the paper clip obsession.

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I can’t imagine why no one wanted to plunge their phalanges into that.

Oct 012020
 

It’s October 1. Thank god you’re reading this or else you’d have never known.

Anyway, that song up there used to be my favorite. It was such a mix CD staple! It popped into my head the other day and I got sad because I couldn’t remember who sang it for the longest time. How?! It eventually came to me today so I decided it was a sign to share it here with…whoever is left in this wasteland.

Historically, October has always been my favorite month. I grew up with a mom who LIVED for decorating the fuck out of our yard and always let me have Halloween parties (and uh, let’s not get into the costumes she used to make me when I was in elementary school – that’s been covered to death on the slog blog). I mean, I started watching horror movies when I was in the single digits because my mom just didn’t care, lol!

October was also the month I met The Cure in Australia (ok ugh and also the month I met Henry—the same year even, just not in Australia lol)!

Sadly though my absolute favorite October activity is going to as many haunted houses and hayrides as I can jam in, but clearly that is not going to happen this year. And you know what? I’m not gonna be a bitch baby about it. Maybe I’ll just break into ACTUAL haunted houses?! Find some creepy urban legend-y places to poke around in? Jump in piles of all the money I saved from NOT going to corporate haunted attractions?

It’s actually been a long time since we carved pumpkins (we never have time, usually because we’re busy, you know, going to those aforementioned haunts lol) so maybe we’ll actually do that this year. Decorate the yard a little? We haven’t done that in a long time either because we’re never home!

I think I will also spend (more) time in cemeteries, possibly while listening to good horror audiobooks? Maybe take a day trip to point at fall foliage? I mean, clearly I will be watching the fuck out of horror movies.

The whole point of this is that I’m not gonna let it get me down. There are bigger things to be mad at right now. October can (and will) still rule!

(Is trick or treating even going to happen this year?! I mean, if ever there’s an apropos time to wear a mask….)

I mean, if Jo’s can be Halloready in spite of it all, I can too!

Sep 302020
 

In honor of my mom giving me spare rolls of the wallpaper found in my grandparents’ house, and my inability to function today after enduring last night’s political circus in its entirety, I am re-sharing this tale I wrote four years ago after doing a for-funsies photoshoot of Chooch while we were cleaning out the Gillcrest house. I still miss that house every day (I mean, it’s still standing but some asshole house-flipper bought it and has since gutted it and torn up the entire back patio area so whoever they are, they can kindly go fuck themselves with a fistful of pinecones). 

(The worst part is that my mom still lives on the same street and has to drive past a plot-full of memories every day.)

Anyway, onward and upward, as they say. 

(“They” can also go fuck themselves with a fistful of pinecones, honestly.)

See also: this is why I don’t “write” anymore, lol.

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

Bun had been haunting Gillcrest for the last 10 decades,

No one had bothered him, not even the wool-clad Mormon mission-maids.

But then one Tuesday a stranger arrived with a bag—

The new resident of Gillcrest, it was a horned stag!

Bun watched this scene unfold from a darkened upstairs window,

and wondered, “How in the hell can I chase off this bimbo?”

The new resident brought with him nine pounds of lunch meat in a chest,

three truckfuls of IKEA and paint swatches tucked near his breast.

His name was Bart and he was quick to make himself at home,

Tucking into bed with a trashy airport tome.

Bun waited for Bart to close his eyes for the night

Before pulling out a nightmarish delight.

A mannequin, green like slime and with nary an arm

Out from the closet to cause all sorts of harm.

When Bart arose the next morn’ with a stretch and a spit,

His heart skipped a beat at the sight of the broad’s plastic tit.

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“I swear this tart wasn’t here when I turned off the light,”

He swiped at the beads of sweat along his lip, butt clenching in fright.

Bart fled from his room and sank down into a corner,

Wondering if he was dealing with the supernatural or a burglar.

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Bart thought he heard some blips, some gurgles, and a bleet,

Coming from the basement far under his feet.

“That’s probably just the house groaning, or feral cats under the foundation, boning,”

Bart laughed nervously, thinking he might call his Mother for some chaperoning.

Oh, but it was Bun, partaking in his daily routine:

A rousing game of Pacman and a few swigs of hooch at 10:14.

Bun floated back upstairs just in time to hear Bart on the phone,

Talking to his mommy who made him feel a little less alone.

She said to vacate the spooks behind the peregrine doors,

“You need to redecorate, and make this house yours!”

Bart assessed his new home from a red corner chair,

and thought, “How can I change things up around here?

I’ll knock down this wall and tear up that shag carpet,

and turn that grand bathtub into a germ-filled ball pit.”

It was like reliving his midlife crisis of 1994,

Which came with a Porsche and an affair with a Gabor.

(Not Zsa Zsa.)

“He wants to put a ball pit right here in my loo?

I gotta get rid of him with something stronger than ‘boo.'”

Bun needed to sit down and have a good thought.

So he went and did just that on the master pot.

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Bun considered going the poltergeist route,

Tossing around dishes, chucking an old rubber boot.

Not wanting to break his things, he went with something more malleable,

And summoned an army of one of each stuffed animal.

Teddy bears and puppies and some weird doll-thing,

Surged upon Bart, pinning him to the wall like one big butterfly wing.

 

“It was probably just a fluke, something-something about gravity,”

Bart’s mom sighed over top of her daytime TV.

“You know what you need, a good healthy lay.

Go call up Bernice from 1-900-PONYPLAY.”

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Bart knew she was right, some company would do him good,

So he tried to fix himself up, he did what he could.

He lubed up his horn and filled his satchel with smelling salts,

Then when downstairs to wait for Bernice and all of her faults.

(Daddy issues.)

After waiting in his chair for more than an hour,

Bart thought he saw something, a figure the trees tried to devour.

“Is that Bernice?” Bart thought, bringing his binoculars  up to his eyes,

(He always kept them handy in case a neighbor bared their thighs.)

But what he saw didn’t resemble a hag rode hard and put away wet,

No, this looked more like…somebody’s Easter pet.

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And what was that, just behind the bunny and to the left?

A head in a ditch, the chin had a cleft.

Was that Bernice, beheaded by this cuniculus killer

But Bart rubbed his eyes, and the bunny was gone, nothing out there but filler.

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Bun came back into the house and changed his clothes,

Killing that stripper bitch left him bloody and anxious for her to decompose.

Bun knew that if he played his cards just right,

He’d have his estate back by the end of third night.

Just a few more moves left in this game by his pawn

Before Bart would be shitting his pants on the front lawn.

 

Bun spent time in the game room with his clown crew

While elsewhere in the house, Bart’s paranoia grew.

Was this some real life Amityville Horror ghost attack,

Or just another Vietnam acid flashback?

The bedside phone rang on Bart’s third night,

Not once but thrice, the trill giving his  faint heart a bite.

The first two calls were white noise, static silence,

Not even the slightest semblance of a sentence.

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But the third call exploded with the angry bellow of Bun:

“Bitch you’re in my house, best run motherfucker, run!”
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That was enough to get Bart to peace the fuck out, see,

So he called up a ride from the Teenage Hooker taxi company.

He waited and waited by the window, so harried and eager,

His hooves percussing the floor to the beat of Bob Seger.

“A real man would have lasted more than one day times three,”

He could already hear his mother say in between sips of her tea.

But mother can suck a dick, Bart thought as he ran out of the door,

To jump in the back of the cab driven by a whore.

(Out of Uber territory.)

Bun rejoiced on the deck beneath the sun’s bright rays.

“I got my house back and I have lunch meat for days!”

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

Sep 292020
 

So we’ve officially experienced every season through the lens of a pandemic. How fucking depressing! Woo!

I don’t really have too much to report. I mostly spent a lot of time taking walks and smiling at the fall foliage that’s beginning to turn up around town.

It makes me remember that my neighborhood can be so cute sometimes, even when there has been road work going on FOR MONTHS NOW on my street, as pictured.

Since our H-Mart daytrip was dashed (don’t worry, since this was something that HENRY wanted to do, it will be rescheduled post haste), we made use of the extra time to get more shit done around the house. It’s really frustrating to have so many open-ended projects going at once, but there has to be an end in sight at some point, I guess? For example, Henry got more work done on the coffee table. I think I mentioned that on here, but we’re just refurbing our current coffee table and by that I mean we gave it a fresh paint job with some new colors and we’re swapping out the pictures that were on the top with much better pictures and by that I obviously mean pictures from our trips to Korea.

We ordered takeout from Apteka since we couldn’t get the vegan food we were pining for in Maryland and I swear, every time I eat at Apteka, I wonder why I don’t eat there more often. Well, probably because it always makes me gain weight, but still – would you look at the hunk’a sadnwich?! Good god damn. I could barely even take down half of it. I’m not joking when I say that it felt like holding a brick when I took it out of the box!

Anyway, this was the Horse & Pepper, which is:

Baked buckwheat veg paté, roast & marinated
jimmy nardello peppers, horseradish slaw, pickled
red jalapenos, and black garlic, on our naturally
leavened spent seed bread.

Oh for the love, this sandwich was DIVINE and, clearly, HEARTY. Honestly though I think the bread was my favorite part — it was so nutty and fresh! Although that horseradish really, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this but now I have to because it was the first thing that came to my head and now I am convinced I’ve been accepted into the 1970s Dad Club, hit the spot. 

Henry refuses to get food from here ever since the one and only time he went and hated every single person eating there alongside us. Look, I’m not a fan of the stereotypical vegan either, but when a place offers EASTERN EUROPEAN vegan cuisine, I will gladly suffer through hearing the lady next to me breastfeeding in Birkenstocks while talking about the new Surfjan record.

That being said, Henry ordered his own vegan food from the nearby pizza joint, Spak’s. I think he got vegan steak and cheese, and seitan wings. All I know is that I also ordered apricot cake that came with sunflower see ice cream and it really jacked me up a notch on the BMI scale and I was bloated for two days, but it was worth it.

Honestly the bread alone could have made a substantial meal.

Most of Saturday was spent watching Kpop stuff on YouTube, I can’t lie.

And then Sunday morning was SO BEAUTIFUL. Henry Oppa got up early and brought home heavenly baked goods from 350 Bakery, which I originally made fun of because I thought their name was generic, like it was probably their street address and that’s one of my pet peeves, when a business can’t think of a better name for their brand other than their goddamn street address, but then I noticed that there is a circle-y thing after their name so it’s actually 350 Degree and I guess that’s a little better.

Later that morning, I walked down to the local high school and did some laps at the track and it felt almost normal. I used to spend a lot of time at the track back when I would participate in the Law Firm walking challenges.

And then most of Sunday we painted. “We.” LOLOLOLOL.

Wait, let me back up. A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to paint one wall in the dining room purple and replace all the pictures and paintings that currently live on that wall with photos from Korea (what a shocker) in frames that have been painted the same green as our dining room chairs.

But then I was like WHY STOP THERE and casually came up with a color palette for all the walls in the dining room and then Henry diligently went to Lowe’s and purchased the paint.

So, remember the Get Stoked sign that Henry made for me a bunch of years ago? Well, it stopped working sometime in 2017. Henry was like, “I KNOW WHAT’S WRONG BUT I DON’T FEEL LIKE TAKING IT OFF THE WALL” because he really mounted that sucker to the wall real goodly. But now that we’re painting all of the walls, he said, “I might as well fix this while I have it off the wall” and he did JUST THAT Saturday night and it only took him like 10 minutes!

The secret is to make them think it’s their own idea, you guys.

But yeah, welcome back, Get Stoked sign! It will be nice to use it as mood lighting again if we’re ever able to have guests in the house. Sigh.

In other weekend news, I grudgingly started playing that stupid Among Us game that all the children are into lately because I was trying to use it as leverage to get Chooch to agree to a photoshoot on the day trip that we didn’t even take, but all that really happened was that I accidentally became low-key obsessed with playing it even though I have no idea what I’m doing and I’ve only gotten to be the Impostor 3x and also it bothers me that it looks like “impostor” is spelled wrong but it’s correct?! I literally thought it was some glaring typo and I quietly looked it up in the Dictionary app and wow, I was 41-years-old when I learned how to spell impostor. Imposter. <–yeah, it’s wrong! I wanted to see if the red squiggles appeared and they did!

I guess I will close that chapter in my life now.

Anyway, sometimes Chooch’s friends are in the game and one of them called me GAY like it’s a bad word and Chooch was like “bruh that’s my mom” and then someone got killed and I said “it wasn’t me” and everyone was like, “Ruby seems sus” and I got kicked off!!!!!!!! I WASN’T THE IMPOSTER! OMFG I SPELLED IT WRONG AGAIN.

Can’t this just be an alt spelling? Like color/colour?

Sunday night, I realized that I could change my language in the game to Korean and then it gave me all games with Korean people and I was screaming but Chooch was like, “YOU CAN’T PLAY WITH KOREANS. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE” but all I really had to say was “who??” and I know that word in Korean but then it was really hard to join a game because I kept getting kicked out by the hosts before the games started and Chooch was like, “THEY KNOW YOU’RE AMERICAN, YOU IDIOT, AND THEY DON’T WANT YOU” so then I changed the spelling of my name to a Korean version but even then I was getting kicked out! I was very sad but Chooch said it was probably because everyone in the rooms probably knew each other and were waiting for their friends to join.

I mean, it helped me sleep a little better that night, believing that.

Anyway, weekend was fine. Now I’m getting ready to watch this debate and I feel like I’m going to puke, like I’m the one going up there behind a podium. Fuck Trump!!

Sep 272020
 

Ok I don’t know why but one of my favorite things ever is watching idols eat, ESPESH G-Dragon and Taemin. Well, I was in for a treat today because Taemin did an Instagram live mukbang. With wet hair. In pajamas.

“Thank you Lord Jesus,” she whispered before screaming into her pillow.

Henry watched it with me because he’s Kpop Dad (earlier today he flashed his phone at me so I could see a picture of BTS’s Jungkook lifting his shirt and showing his abs; Henry scoffed and said, “This is pathetic. He’s got NOTHIN’ on Wonho.” He felt very strongly about it!). Anyway, henry happily sat through all 20 minutes of this and then at the end he said, “Now I want cereal” and he came back with a bowl of Cheerios.

The power of Taemin.

That’s all. That’s the post.

Sep 262020
 

(Random pic of Peenlop)

Remember in my last post when I mentioned that we were taking a daytrip to Maryland today to go to our favorite Korean market and stock up on makgeolli and soju? Well, I had been internally bugging out about it all week because I just want to be as COVID-compliant as possible and I definitely know that crossing state lines for Korean liquor is far from “essential” travel. But Maryland isn’t one of the states we’d have to quarantine after visiting, we wouldn’t be staying over night or eating in restaurants…and everywhere I look, I see people on social media getting on planes to Florida and going to Disney, so I felt like what we were planning should be OK, right?

But then this morning as we were getting ready to leave, Budget called Henry to tell him that they regrettably had no cars (our car has some mild issues that need attended to but it keeps getting pushed to the bottom of HENRY’S EPIC TO DO LIST so he wanted to be safe and take a rental). Henry reserved a car an entire week ago, but OK cool story Budget. So then he was going to rent a car from Enterprise at 8:30 this  morning but I was like, “Look. This is a sign. This was a dumb idea. Let’s just stay home and get more stuff done” and I could tell he was sad, but that’s how it has to be. I MAKE THE RULES. So now he’s at the local Asian market and that will just have to be good enough for him for now, lol. 

So I’m sitting here on the porch while the weather’s still nice enough for morning porch sits, drinking a latte, and I just talked to Chooch’s favorite neighborhood dog Spencer and his owner Bob, and now I’m writing in you, Dear Blog, because it feels like it’s been a while since we were freeform and candid with each other.

(Speaking of the porch, I’m really going to miss all of the pretty flowers when the stupid motherfucking piece of shit winter comes in and takes them all away. I really hate winter so much. I’m getting fucking angry just thinking about it and we’re only like one day into autumn.)

I mean, it’s also been a while since I really had much to say….

  • I was watching the sequel to To All the Boys…on my day off last week and some indie cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun was in it. Because this version was much slower and also the closed captioning was in, I learned something. “HOLY SHIT THATS WHAT CYNDI LAUPER WAS SAYING THERE?” I screamed and Henry just stared at me blankly so I repeated “when the working day is done????” Henry was like wtf did you think she said and that’s easy: “what in the world ohmmmmmblahhuhgirls they wanna have fun.”
    • Yeah, I was off on Monday and Tuesday and I can summarize those days for you real quick: I took copious walks and read books. The end. 
  • Sasaeng fan alert: I paid $3 to get exclusive texts from Taemin in the Lysn app and look, I know that he’s not sending them JUST TO ME, I’m not that much of a delulu, but he does actually send them because I’ve seen him do it in his Insta Lives, etc. and sometimes he sends voice recordings too and do I always know what he’s saying? No. But is it worth it? FUCK YES. I get so excited when I get the notification that he sent a message! He was really quiet the other day but that was expected because it was the day the SuperM album was released so I know he was busy, but yesterday there was a flurry of messages from him and he said he’s going to clear his schedule so we can eat together at 2pm (KST) on Sunday so watch me set my alarm. Anyway, sometimes I like to send screenshots to Chooch but he refuses to read them. I sent him one last night and then walked over to him at the computer to urge him to read it, but instead, he googled this:

 

  • Some guy just jogged past my house and I swear it was my old boss from when I worked night shifts at FedEx as a billing broad and it would be so quiet in that office and then he would suddenly appear out of nowhere blowing an airhorn and I fucking swear to god I have a little bit of PTSD from that shit. Great guy though, but I feel confident that every single person who worked there has attended at least 8 Trump rallies since then. When I worked there, it was during the 2008 election and let’s just say my Obama bumper sticker stoked a lot of racist fires. Ah, the joys of being a liberal woman in a workplace full of right wing testosterone.
  • Sorry, I took a break to chase a squirrel around the block, trying to feed him peanuts, while my cats watched with secondhand embarrassment from the porch.

  • Oh shit, on Thursday, I worked late shift so Chooch was able to walk with me on my lunch break since he was done with school for the day (it’s been really weird going for walks by myself on most days now that he’s back “in” school). He was chatting away and I was like, “WAIT. NO, NEVERMIND. I thought I heard a goat, lol.” Then we took a few more steps and I heard it again! WOULDN’T YOU KNOW, THERE WAS NOT ONE BUT TWO GOATS in this random person’s backyard in Brookline!? If you’re reading this and don’t live in Pittsburgh, Brookline is a city neighborhood so, you know, it’s not everyday you stroll past pet goats in this area, but what a treat! City goats!
    • When I was growing up, we had sheep, ducks, mallards, and at one point, a donkey. But we lived on a private street in the suburbs, surrounded by woods, so that was less weird though I guess people were still like, “wtf you have sheep?” when they’d come to my house, and I’d be like, “wtf you don’t?”
  • Speaking of when I was growing up*, I’m in LOVE with the SuperM album and this is my favorite song (so far) and I want you to listen to it.

    • *Because this song reminds me of the smoooooooth r&b slow jamz I had on constant rotation back in the mid-90s, duh.
  • I have to laugh when people assume that Henry is in hell because of kpop and Korea stuff, but when he came home from work yesterday, he sat down and said, “OK, put it on” because he knew there was a new SuperM video and he wanted to see it, and then we had a nice chat about it afterward and that never used to happen back when I liked post-hardcore, etc. He would just be like “it was fine” or “Jonny Craig is such a douchebag” but now he says things like “I wish there wasn’t so much English” and I catch him smiling when it’s Taemin’s part DON’T DENY IT HENRY, YOU FEEL AFFECTION TOWARD THAT PERFECT SPACE ANGEL AND YOU KNOW IT. Henry also sat through 45 minutes of a SuperM reality show and chuckled openly and then watched episode 4 of Taemin’s reality show and laughed when he got everything set up for a BBQ and then invited friends over to do all the cooking for him, lol. Taemin is so relatable. 
  • Henry’s back from the Asian market and of course he got all the good snacks for HIS GRANDCHILDREN next door UGH. But at least we got banana kicks!

OK well now that Henry is home, Imma wrap this up because I have to make sure he starts his chores and also I’ve been tasked with finding a place to get vegan takeout for dinner tonight, and that’s definitely something I’m good at!

Have a good weekend! Listen to SuperM and Taemin’s recent solo release! Stan Taemin!

 

Sep 242020
 

Dear Diary,

Remember when we used to go on road trips and stop at cool places but now we can’t because god only knows how much Covid is swirling around these tourist traps? We’re actually taking a modified road trip this weekend to get Korean liquor in Maryland and it pains me to know that we will be passing cool things (probably) but won’t be able to stop. Unless it’s like some sparsely populated nature thing. 

But definitely nothing quirky like the SHOE HOUSE we toured five years ago. Here, please read about it. I beg you.

***

A few years ago, we were going to Lancaster, PA for a Pierce the Veil show and I thought it would be incredibly fun to stop at this storied house that’s shaped like a shoe in Hallam — a true road tripper’s wet dream. I had seen it on some local roadside attractions show and started obsessing. Like I do. Since it was off-season, I emailed them two months in advance to see if we could stop by for a tour. The reply I got was curt and also kind of rude. I don’t remember what they said exactly, other than it made me rage vocally at my desk. I mean, don’t live in a shoe  if you don’t want people to email you about it!!

Fast forward to several weeks ago. My anger had subsided a bit over the years and I decided to look the house up again since we were going to be in the area in a few weeks. The website announced that not only was this still peak season, but the house had new owners! I asked Henry if we could stop for a tour on our way home from Philly this past weekend, and he said yes, which leads me  to believe that he is either cheating on me or dying.

I excitedly told Glenn  that not only did I get my way about going to Philly, but Henry was also taking me to the shoe house!

“He really needs to stop rewarding behavior,” Glenn sighed. He was really happy when Henry initially said no to Philly because I came back from my break crying. But you know, THINGS CHANGE. It’s harder for Henry to say no to me in person, anyway.

The Haines Shoe House is really close to Rt. 30, so Henry couldn’t bitch about it being out of the way, like he did about every single place we stopped at on the way home from vacation last month. The man who built it in the 40s put it close to the highway so it cold be seen because it was essentially advertising his shoe company.

The tour is $5 a person, what a steal.

“Nope, I’m good,” Henry said as he handed me $10. Chooch wasn’t too excited about this either, but I was like, “DO NOT MAKE ME TAKE THIS TOUR ALONE, PLEASE, I BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD.” And he was like, “Yeah, a world full of stupid novelty houses to tour.” He and Henry just don’t get excited about these things.

After I paid the lady in the gift shop, she asked Chooch for his hand so she could stamp it. I stuck mine out too and she said, “Oh, no. We just do this for the kids.” She laughed a little and then realized my hand was still there. “But I mean, that’s fine, if you want a stamp too.”

“I mean, she basically is a kid, so…” Chooch said with a roll of his mean eyes. Shut up, Chooch.

She stamped my hand but didn’t even bother to re-ink the stamp first so it looks STUPID.

It’s supposed to be a shoe! You can’t even tell! Chooch’s was so much nicer than mine.

So then our tour guide came in and retrieved us. Immediately, she made a passive aggressive comment about not sitting on the furniture, because of course as soon as we entered the house, Chooch’s ass helped itself to an armchair cushion. But you guys, his leggggs. They were so tireddddd. He was so exhausteddddd. His life is so roughhhhh.

We learned some boring ass facts about Mahlon Haines and his shoe company. He was really into pimping out his company and even ran for Congress at one point just so he could essentially advertise his company with promotional compact mirrors. I didn’t know what else to say, every time the guide stopped talking and looked at me expectantly, so I just kept saying, “Wow, he was like, really smart.”

Chooch just looked really bored and annoyed the whole time, but I swear to god it was really cool to walk around and see that even the windowsills were curved. The guide kept encouraging me to take photos, and I’m so used to being told to not take photos so that I have to take clandestine spy-cam shots the whole time that I actually felt too nervous to take more photos than I did.

In the early days of the shoe house, Mahlon held contests for newlyweds to honeymoon in the shoe. In the honeymoon suite, there’s a laminated letter of marital advice he typed up for his guests. “YEAH, TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT!” the guide said when she saw me awkwardly taking out my phone. I felt so on the spot through the whole tour!

He really thought highly of himself.

My favorite thing about the house’s interior was the eccentric color scheme. The upstairs bedroom was mint and lavender, for fuck’s sake. I commented on this and the tour guide said that the new owners are actually in the process of repainting all of the walls neutral colors. “They’re trying to get the house back to the way it originally was, since the people who owned this for the last 15 years had it painted this way,” the guide continued, practically turning her nose up at the glorious hues. Apparently, they’re using old black and white photos as their reference. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. You own a house shaped like a shoe! Why try to downplay that with a neutral interior of beige and egg white? Go big or go home!

In the maid’s quarters, the guide said, “I bet you’ve never seen one of those before!” pointing at an old sweeper leaning against the wall.

“It’s a vacuum. Mu grandma has one of those in her house,” Chooch said, spitting chunks of ennui onto the floor for the invisible maid to sweep up. He was just not impressed by a single thing in this giant shoe, byt at least he was being quiet about it.


And then the guide instructed us to sit at the kitchen  table so she could take our picture, because that is apparently what all of the other tourists like to do. I got really nervous and stressed out because I hate having my photo taken and what if one of my furry-lovers sexted me while she was holding my phone!?

(Just kidding. I don’t have any furry-lovers. Yet. #Anthrocon2016)

But would you look at my happy face!? And Chooch’s pained expression.

Our guide said something about the arch at the top of the steps, so I took that as my cue to take a picture of it.

The tour was over after a soft 10 minutes. We found Henry in the parking lot, leaning against the car, and looking at boring Henry-things on his phone. Probably pallet DIYs and computer part auctions.  I made him go back into the gift shop with me because I didn’t have my wallet and I wanted a post card and a magnet to add to my growing tourist trap desk-shrine at work.

It’s actually pretty nightmarish, now that I really look at it. I found out later that Henry had checked in to the Haine’s Shoe House on Facebook, like he was actually so stoked to be there. He didn’t even go inside of it! What a shoe house poser fan.

There’s even a shoe-shaped doghouse in the yard. And Chooch wants everyone to know that he was “as calm as [he] was at the stroller place.” I asked him if he learned anything at the shoe house and he said no.

After we left, Henry kept asking me questions about the Haines shoe company and my response to every question was a solid, “I don’t know.” So, I guess I didn’t learn much either. Except that I need to do a better job advertising all of my crappy wares. Maybe Henry could build me a Jeffrey Dahmer-shaped house?

***

Today after work, I asked Chooch if he told any of his friends about the shoe house.

“Nah,” he shrugged. “I told them we went to Panera, though.”

OK, but Panera is not SHAPED LIKE A SHOE.

Sep 222020
 

Like the title said, this is PART 2 of the August books. God, context clues, people! Pick them up!

9. Catherine House – Elizabeth Thomas

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I gave this 1 star only because Goodreads doesn’t allow ZERO OR NEGATIVE STAR RATINGS. What a shit book full of insufferable human beings. I was led to believe this was going to be a thriller or have at least SOME horror elements to it but it was so fucking dumb and I think I will never give “dark academia” another chance unless someone I actually know personally recommends it to me because the last 4 books I’ve read from that genre have made me absolutely mad.

I wanted Suspiria vibes! Or at least a main character to root for! But instead I had no idea wtf was happening except that all the students seemed to subsist on desserts which was actually the only appealing part of this piece of shit stack of words.

The worst part is that I listened to this on audio while I was painting my front door so now every time I look at my door, I think of how shitty this stupid book was.

Shame that such a beautiful book cover was wasted on this junk story.

10. Follow Me to the Ground – Sue Rainsford

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This (short) book is about a father and daughter duo who heal the people in their town. Doctors? Who needs ’em when you can go visit the creepy non-human family at the edge of the village and have them crack open your body and then bury you in the dirt.

The daughter, Ada, mostly goes through life not getting attached to the people in the village until one day she meets a boy, falls in love, and basically has to create a vagina on her non-human form in order to do the thing with him. And, as it usually does with LOVE, shit starts to get complicated.

I admittedly picked this up just because of the vagina part (it was talked about a lot on Booktube, OK?!) and to my surprise, I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would. Every other chapter is a short little interview-esque thing from various villagers who have either been cured by Ada and her father, or are just generally suspicious of them.

Super bizarre and fun to read and wouldja get a load of that book cover!?

11. In the Miso Soup – Ryu Murakami 

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I was really afraid to read this because for one thing: Japanese horror scares me more than other kind of horror. I mean, I’m haunted by various scenes of Japanese horror movies that I watched 20+ years ago, but certain images are seared into my brain.

I think some parts of this book might be added to my nightmare mental vignette.

This book follows a young Japanese man who works as a red light district “guide” for foreigners. The book starts out with him being hired by “Frank,” an American businessman who is really trying to live his best life while in Japan.

I will admit, it takes A LONG time for anything to actually happen in this one, but that’s not to say it’s boring. The buildup is slow and steady, and it’s told from the perspective of the guide, and while there is dialogue and a small cast of characters that are introduced as the story progresses, most of the book is a running internal monologue. So if that’s not your thing, skip this one.

When shit finally hits the fan, the violence made me feel queasy. If this were a movie, I’d probably have had to look away and said, “tell me when it’s done,” to Henry, lol.

HOWEVER!!! This wasn’t *as* traumatizing or horrific as I had been bracing for. Still, it was a solid read for me and I got so attached to our main character and kept screaming, “RUN!! JUST RUN!!” I really love Japanese horror.

Oh, and when I realized why the book is called this, I was a full-blown version of the “hmmm” emoji.

12. Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

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This has to be one of the most-hyped books of the year, and it took me forever to get it from the library. But, I will say it was worth the wait.

There is a lot of race explorations here and it was interesting to see how differently people reacted to the same situation, which was that a young Black babysitter is asked to come to the house of her employer relatively late at night because there was a non-tragic disturbance at the house requiring police assistance, and the mother doesn’t want her three year old daughter Briar to get upset, so she asks the babysitter to take her to the uppity grocery store down the street.

While there, another shopper (some dumb Karen) alerts the security guard that the babysitter may have kidnapped the kid, because *GASP* the kid is WHITE and the babysitter is BLACK. I actually thought the whole book was going to be about this, but as it turned out, it was just a quick scene in the beginning of the book, but it was interesting to see the domino effect it had on everyone. The babysitter just wanted to forget it ever happened, a (white) bystander recorded the whole thing on his phone and keeps pressuring her to sue, the mom of the little girl decides she needs to become BFFs with the babysitter after this happened and has major WHITE GUILT over it and does a whole lot of really cringey things throughout the book and honestly, I hated her. There was a lot of really questionable behavior going on under the guise of good intentions, and I kept getting a lot of secondhand embarrassment.

Like, the bystander at the grocery store? All of his friends are Black and he actually says the “n-word” out loud in front of his Black girlfriend, and like, I just can’t imagine EVER thinking it’s OK for me to say that word because I have some Black friends. This book is full of moments like this and maybe there are white people out there reading this book right now who never really thought about these things before – but now they are.

The one character that I REALLY LOVED and rooted for SO HARD was that damn little girl Briar. I mean, she was EVERYTHING. The relationship the babysitter had with her was so fucking wholesome and pure and if you think I’m sitting here tearing up while I write this, I will punch you in the nose, because ERIN DOESN’T CRY OVER CHILDREN.

But Briar, man. If she were my kid, I would never neglect her!!

Anyway, I went into this thinking that it was going to be some sweeping, pretentious literary fiction but it’s written with a very light, airy vibe. Which is deceiving considering it’s largely a critique of white savior complexes. Honestly, fuck that dumb mom.

13. The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

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Unless you avoid anything having to do with books, you have probably heard of this book by now. It is follows, over several decades, twin sisters who are white-passing. They run away from from home together when they’re teenagers and then become estranged from each other. One lives her life as a Black woman, and the other marries a white man and proceeds to live her life pretending to be someone she’s not. I didn’t care for that twin much at all, but later in the book, they each have a daughter and I actually enjoyed their stories even more.

Brit Bennett is an incredible writer and storyteller. I was actually nervous to read this because I thought it was going to be super dry and pretentious for some reason but nope – these sisters will suck you right the fuck in.

14. Sleepwalking – Meg Wolitzer

Sleepwalking

Meh. Talk about pretentious. This is it. I couldn’t wait for it to end and don’t even feel like writing any more about it.

15. The Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones

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Ughhhhh this fucker. It’s a horror story about these 4 Native American friends who have an…experience 10 years ago and then revenge is sought.

I haven’t read many (if any??) books written by Native Americans and I really enjoyed the little nuggets of culture that Jones tucked in through this story, and while it didn’t really scare me, the animal parts made me extremely upset and queasy so does that count as horror? Definite trigger warnings for dog death, hunting, etc. I was traumatized. And there was a LOT of human violence and gore in this book that didn’t bother me at all, so you know where my allegiance lies!

While the story was kind of “Eh” for me, I did really enjoy the writing and I have another book of his waiting for me at the library so I’ll keep you posted!

Jesus I am so bad at reviewing books lol.

Sep 212020
 

Today was a PTO day for me except that I woke up and couldn’t remember if that was today or next Monday so I had to log on and check for myself instead of texting my boss to ask her because I’d like to at least keep somewhat of an air that I have my shit together, you know? So yes, I was correct, I have today and tomorrow off. HILARIOUSLY, when I talked to Henry earlier today he was like, “How’s work going” and I was like, “I DUNNO BECAUSE I’M OFF TODAY, DUMBASS, I TOLD YOU THAT LIKE 7 TIMES” and he was like “SORRY I FORGOT” – little did he know that I kind of did too.

Anyway, I had grand plans of sitting down at the computer this morning with some nice hot coffee and actually writing in this thing for real like I used to do in the LiveJournal days, when I would be in a good writing headspace and have no distractions and I treated it like it was some professional thing that needed to be free of grammatical errors and typos, but here I am at 7PM with my laptop balanced precariously on my knees with book review and NCT videos oscillating in the background, and all I can say is, “At least I’m not writing this on my phone in bed” which is how way too many of my blog posts are written these days, lol, oh reality.

Wow, what kind of a fucking intro is this, even? All I really wanted to say was, “Here is what I did this weekend, before it’s next weekend.”

I was really looking forward to Friday because we had planned on ordering pizza at Spirit and it’s been a hot minute since I had pizza (when we first started tearing up the kitchen, we were eating pizza a lot and my body was really starting to reflect those choices). Spirit has some vegan options as well and we love to eat it.

Chooch’s choice was the #3 which is not vegan, but it IS meatless. It has clumps of pesto and ricotta and when I was eating it I started to think about when I was kid and how I would reject my mom’s stuffed shells because I hated ricotta, or thought I did, anyway. Wow, I was a dumbass. Adult Erin loves ricotta. I wish I knew the exact moment when I realized that I liked it.

My choice was the Vegan Supreme, which had like, vegetables and seitan on it, oh and an oatmilk bechamel sauce which now that I think about it, I’m not sure I even noticed it. I love real bechamel. Henry has made me vegetarian mousakka in the past and the bechamel is the best part. Literally every time I typed “bechamel,” I spelled it wrong.

Then we got the news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and suddenly, who cares about pizza. Can we just set the GOP on fire? IN A PIZZA OVEN??

Penelope is all of us in 2020.

On Saturday, I went to my mom’s to get some wallpaper that we found back when we were cleaning out my Pappap’s house in 2016. I’ve had some ideas for them (none of those entails actually wallpapering a wall with them, sadly!), but I have honestly even considered framing small parts of them too because all of the wallpaper from that house is fucking art.

I’ll never forget this one time, I posed pictures from my Pappap’s house on my old LJ (OMG BACK ON LIVEJOURNAL, it’s amazing the shittiness from that era that has stuck to me like….gum on ribs, there I go with the old lady talk again) and some stupid bitch was like, “Wow that’s gaudy” and I was like “SHUT YOUR UGLY MOUTH.”

This particular wallpaper was from my aunt Sharon’s room and I specifically had it in mind for this lighting project that I want to do after seeing a picture on some upcycler’s Instagram; honestly, I was prepared for my mom to say that she threw the wallpaper out of that it got damaged, etc etc but instead she was like, “It’s in the garage, come get it” so I did and it was also the first time I got to see my mom since quarantine started!

(Not sorry that I’m actually taking the pandemic seriously. I haven’t seen anyone but neighbors — at a distance — since March!)

(And various co-workers on video calls. Speaking of, a handful of us had a virtual happy hour on Thursday and it was the first time I got to show friends the kitchen “in real life” so that was fun! Also super depressing. I want to have a party.)

OMG I GOT HENRY TO READ A BOOK! HERE HE IS READING THE BOOK! (It’s “He Started It” by Samantha Downing, in case you too would like to read it.)

(Don’t mind that package on the table next to him. It’s just that damn pinball backglass that will probably continue to sit there until next year because apparently Henry is just one person and cannot do all these projects as quickly as I want him to but I think that he would just not sleep as much, and maybe take some days off work, he could finish it all?)

Later that night, we finally began hanging Chooch’s pictures back on his wall. But then! Henry threw a minor fit!

“LET’S JUST DO THIS TOMORROW,” he said out loud to himself. “CHOOCH IS TOO BUSY WITH THE CATS AND SHE’S CRYING OVER TWEETS ABOUT DOGS.”

And then he just left us!!

I thought for sure Chooch would just sleep on the couch rather than clean his bed off (after Henry put all that stuff there only to quit and storm off like a little bitch!!) but he actually moved everything to the floor like an actual adult. I was impressed. I would have just slept in the car or something.

Then Henry and I watched “Winchester” which is based on the Winchester mystery house and it had several good jump scares but it was overall pretty stupid. I am just as good at movie reviews as I am with book reviews and I should probably quit this blog and just do that exclusively.

Sunday started out OK. I went for a walk and that put me in a good mood, and then there were new live Taemin performances (he’s been doing the live music show rounds in Korea, which is always fun to look forward to!) and Henry called out from his Greeting Card Prison in the dining room, “Is that a new one?” and then came in to join me because the other song Taemin has been promoting from his new album is Black Rose, and that’s Henry’s favorite!

The song is so good and of course the choreo is amazing, so I was inspired to post a clip of it on Instagram, explaining that it’s Henry’s favorite, etc etc and some broad said “He has the same music tastes as my 21-year-old daughter *laughing emoji*” and IT REALLY RUBBED ME THE WRONG WAY.

I GUESS YOU COULD SAY I WAS TRIGGERED. Because I know she meant it as a blow, you know? And not like “wow Henry is so hip” omg why couldn’t I think of any other word to use. Dude finally enjoys the same music as me, and now you’re gonna shame him for that, cool, thanks.

I didn’t realize that there were age and gender restrictions on music genres. If I want to listen to fucking KidzBop, I will….probably need to be evaluated, but still, who the fuck cares? Is it disrupting your life? I mean, assuming you don’t live next door to me while I’m hosting a psycho dance party for one.

I know the comment was meant to be a jab at Henry for, god forbid, liking kpop (but can we even classify Taemin as kpop? His music really transcends all those constraints and he records full albums in Japanese too), but I am just tired in general of the “lol you like the same music as my kids.” I got that when I listened to screamo, post-hardcore, pop punk, emo, and now I get it for listening to kpop. I’m so fucking sorry but I guess I missed the memo that once I turned 25, I had to trade it all in for adult contemporary, and, what? Kenny G? Please tell me what a 41-year-old lady is expected to listen to, and while you’re at it, better make a Spotify playlist for 55-year-old Henry, too.

My one online friend posts these friendly reminders every once in a while about how it’s not funny or cool to belittle someone or make fun of them for the things that they like. What is even the point of doing that?

*(FULL DISCLOSURE: I have totally mocked Slut Life on here for blasting Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” in the driveway BUT THAT IS DIFFERENT. THAT GUY SUCKS AND I HATE HIM. MOVE TO FLORIDA ALREADY, YOU DUMB DICK.)

This came so close to ruining my day. But then we worked on piecing together more of Chooch’s room, so that distracted me.

I picked out that party bunting and was so excited at how well it matched the new color scheme of his room. Chooch was just like, “Yeah it’s fine” because he IS AT THAT AGE.

The only contribution he had was suggesting that all of the cat art be clustered together above his bed, so that happened. I love that one in the middle so much! Henry and I bought it for Chooch at one of the Riot Fests from an artist who was vending there and you would think that I would have had that information available before I started typing this yet here I am, completely clueless as to who the artist is and which Riot Fest I purchased it at.

Today, I was walking around the ‘hood and saw that there is a house that just went up for sale on the street behind us, which is one of the super-few areas of Brookline that I actually like and have even said in the past, “I would never buy a house in Brookline unless it’s on x, x, or x streets” but before I even called Henry, I looked up the listing and it was OK but not something that made me excited, though how hilarious* would it be if I just made Henry spend the entire summer fixing up our dumpy rental only to turn around and move?

*(Probably not the word Henry would choose.)

Anyway, I’ll end this here with Taemin (A Singer For All Ages and Genders) performing Black Rose on Inkigayo (the show that has the sandwiches!) because fuck the trolls.

Sep 202020
 

Halfway through September and it occurs to me that maybe I should do a book-dump for August in case someday in the future, I’m on a life or death dystopian THIS IS YOUR LIFE game show and one of the questions is NAME THREE BOOKS YOU READ IN AUGUST 2020 and I’m like, “CAN I USE THE ‘CHECK MY BLOG’ LIFELINE??” and they’re like, “No you already used that for the HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU AND HENRY FIGHT AT RIOT FEST 2014 question” so never mind, I’m dead. We had a good run.

Let’s get into it. (That’s what some of the Booktubers say! I’m a loser!)

  1. Black Flower – Kim Young-Ha

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I wanted to like this so much more than I did. On one hand, I wonder if historical fiction just isn’t for me, but I don’t think that’s it. So this is a Korean novel about the emigration of 1000s of South Koreans to Mexico in the early 1900s, after being promised land and a better life.

First of all, I never knew that this happened, so I really appreciated that aspect of the book. And while I also appreciated what was clearly a lot of research and work by the author, a large part of this book just read like a textbook. There were times when I forgot that I had picked this up for pleasure and not because it was some course requirement. So by the time the ship transporting the Koreans reached Mexico, it had turned into something that I was slogging through. And that’s never a good thing.

However! I was pretty invested in quite a few of the characters (I will warn you that there are a lot of characters and it became hard to keep track of everyone, especially once they reached Mexico and became divvied up amongst the farm owners) so I pushed through.

I think I gave this a three because my takeaway was that I learned about a part of history that I definitely never learned in school and that was actually pretty fascinating. There was some war-stuff that happened once they were in Mexico and I am notorious to zone out when it comes to war of any kind. Even in Game of Thrones, I always had to ask Henry wtf was happening.

2. No Exit – Taylor Adams

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I left on one of the Booktubers I religiously watch one night when I went to bed, and Chooch migrated from the computer to the couch and got sucked into one of her videos where she talks about thrillers and the next thing I know, I’m getting this text:

So I requested it from the library and of course he never fucking read it so then I read it out of compulsion because I feel like a failure if I take something out of the library and don’t read it ugh. The whole thing takes place at a highway rest stop in a blizzard and I don’t really like…snowy books? Is that a thing? I mean, it was summer when I read this and it felt weird to read about people crunching around in the snow, and it also just made me miss rest stops which I never thought would be a thing I’d be typing since Henry has to constantly stop and pee on road trips and it’s so frustrating.

Anyway, it was fine. A thriller that was mildly thrilling.

3. Circe – Madeline Miller

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Circe is a retelling of, well, Circe. Man, I didn’t know anything about Circe going into this but hoo boy was she was treated like SHIT. I’ve never been much into gods and goddesses of any sort (Roman, Greek, Nordic, take your pick) but this was pretty interesting and entertaining. I listened to this on audiobook and the narrator had such a beautiful voice that I’m not sure the book would have really done much for me if I had just read it with my eyeballs (I was also anti-audiobook but this year has REALLY CHANGED me).

However! I did start to lose interest midway through. I think I ended up giving this a three?

The general consensus in the book community is that Song of Achilles is far superior so perhaps I will give that a try too. Otherwise, I think it might be safe to say that I should just go back to my cave of mythological ignorance.

4. Another Brooklyn – Jacqueline Woodson

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I fell in love with this author’s latest book, Red at the Bone, and I powered through this one in less than a day. A really powerful coming-of-age tale, very short, written in elegant prose. I liked Red at the Bone a lot better, but I think that I need to keep reading more of Woodson’s work because her writing actually makes my eyes tear up.

5. Broken Things – Lauren Oliver

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A YA mystery that I actually didn’t guess and was moderately captivating. However, there was this one character that just seemed to be “there” and she was so annoying and served barely any purpose. I kept waiting for some big reveal but it never happened. It kind of made me laugh a little though because it’s about this group of 3 girls who were best friends in middle school and so obsessed with this fantasy novel that they started writing their own sequel for it and I was definitely in a friend group back in middle school with these girls Kim and Kelli and we were really into writing stories but everyone knew that I was the best writer (lol) and Kelli and I had a huge fight because we just couldn’t write well together and then we didn’t talk for months and it all culminated into one giant blow-out in the girls locker in 8th grade where I slapped her across the face and knocked her glasses off and then a few days later, I was at the Halloween dance and some girl came up to me and asked me if it was true that I did that and I said yes and she said, “WELL KELLI IS MY FRIEND AND IF YOU EVER DO THAT AGAIN, I’LL KICK YOUR ASS” and then flash forward two years to when that girl threatening to beat my ass became one of my best friends ever, LISA. Lol.

I never talked to Kelli again though. I BET I AM STILL A BETTER WRITER THAN HER.

Anyway, this is one of those YA books that I think I would have enjoyed a lot more 20 years ago.

6. All Boys Aren’t Blue – George M. Johnson 

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I am super into LGBTQIA+ memoirs. Even if you think you have an open mind and you’re a “friend to all,” reading stories about what LGBTQIA+ people have had to overcome and are still fighting for is really one of the only ways we can truly have their backs.

George M. Johnson is a fucking DELIGHT. What I really enjoyed about this one is his relationship with his family. They are so loving and supportive of him, and even admit to not fully understanding a lot of the times, but they have his back nonetheless.

I usually choose the audiobook route for memoirs and it was even more impactful to hear these stories and essays read my George himself.

I am really bad at reviewing memoirs.

7. The Guest List – Lucy Foley

The Guest List

This is one of those super hyped books for 2020 and even though I started to see some mediocre reviews, I was really excited to finally get my hands on it (well, virtually, anyway). It was…not really that great.  There’s a wedding on some island. The entire wedding party is made up of fucking douchebags. There’s the wedding planner/owner of the property where the wedding is taking place. The “plus one” of a dude in the wedding party. The bride’s little sister. The chapters alternate between the POV of various characters and they are all pretty unlikeable.

Anyway, someone dies, OMG. But you don’t  know who it is until the end because the timeline alternates between the day before the wedding and the moment the person is murdered.

It wasn’t very thrilling.

8. Sodom Road Exit – Amber Dawn 

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I fucking adored this book. I don’t even know how to explain it but it’s a “going back home” story set in the late 80s about a Canadian girl – Starla – in her early 20s forced to leave Toronto because of debt and move back to her childhood home with her mom in a small town in Canada that happens to famous for its abandoned amusement park called Crystal Beach (IT’S REAL, I LOOKED IT UP AND AM NOW SO SAD THAT IT REALLY DID CLOSE IN THE 80S AND NOW I CAN NEVER EXPERIENCE IT).

She has a very strained relationship with mom and then starts being haunted by a ghost connected to the amusement park and now you’re thinking, “Oh OK this is a horror novel,” but IT IS NOT. It’s actually really dark contemporary, I guess? But also SO FUCKING FUNNY. Like, I should have counted the amount of times I said, “THE FUCK?” and laughed out loud, but I didn’t because I’m not a professional reader who takes notes, etc while reading.

Amber Dawn wrote the characters in this book so well that I felt a legit kindred with all of them. It’s the most rag-tag band of characters you can imagine, coming together in this fucking campground while the main character is being possessed by this ghost girl from a bygone era (some of the chapters are written from her perspective, too, and they are a real goddamn delight) and I swear to god, by the time I finished this, I hugged it to my chest and screamed, “WHAT DID I JUST READ?” and then laughed until I cried. I want a full series with these characters, do you hear me, Amber Dawn?

P.S. This book also taught me about Crystal Beach suckers which apparently is still being made from the original recipe!

*********

And that’s the first half! I think I only have 7 more books to recap – August was a light reading month, apparently, lol. I’m always looking for some books to request from the library (still cheering about it being semi-open again!) so please leave a comment if you’ve recently read something I’d like! My work friend Megan gives me lots of thriller recs, but I need some good, sick horror and contemporary lit too so fire away!

 

Sep 182020
 

Lol – lofty statements.

1. Brookline Gets a Veggie Burger

…and is this the best picture of it? Nope. But it’s the best you’re gonna get from me at least because I was in a big hurry to start gnawing at this beast and couldn’t really bother with angles and close ups, etc etc. This picture makes the veggie burger look like a Frenchman though. SEE IT?

Up until a few weeks ago, Brookline had zero veggie burger options. I mean, I could walk a few blocks away to Dormont and get one at Eat n Park but they literally serve Gardenburgers like it’s 1999 but without the party.

You guys know I loved Brookline’s sandwich shop, Parker’s, and shed legit tears when the proprietor (I just realized that I think this is one of my favorite words and it started in high school but that is a story for another time) announced he was closing in order to focus on the bar he had recently opened. Parker’s last day was about a year ago now, I would say, and it sat there, dormant for months and months until one day last winter, the paint changed from Parker’s signature bright blue stripes, to some plain blah neutral color that would be right at home in Henry’s basic wardrobe. I did a lot of muttering and foot-stamping over it because PARKER’S 4 LYFE, but I have to admit, every time I walked past (which is like every day because I’m a seasoned Brookline walker) I’d cup my hands around the windows and try to squint through the darkness to see if I could make out a menu on the wall or any semblance of a decor.

One night, Chooch was able to get a glimpse of the menu on the wall inside and he cried out, “VEGGIE BURGER!!!” I hesitated to get too excited. This could mean anything. A nuked Boca Burger, maybe dressed up a little with some Heinze pickles and enveloped in a Mancini’s bun? A sad attempt at a “homemade” black bean burger, dry as fuck, on a Wonderbread roll?

Then one day a few months ago, they painted their name on the storefront!

I checked them out and they’ve had an Instagram presence for quite a while because they’re not exactly new, it seems. I guess they have been operating as a pop-up at various local breweries (which would explain why I’ve never heard of them – I avoid any brewery event like the plague; that is NOT my scene) and have amassed a bit of a following. The food that they’ve posted in their feed is like hipster gourmet, if I had to terminology-ize it. (SMRT PPL MAKE UP WURDZ.) I was kind of like, “But is that gon’ fly in Brookline?” I remember when there was a rumor that the old Zippy’s Bar (a total Yinzer den) was going to be a wine bar, and people on the boulevard were buggin’ out over that (OK actually just the waitress at NO NAME CAFE, but if she was acting like, I can guarantee others were because, herd mentality. TRUMP TAUGHT ME THAT WORD.)

(J/k, I already knew it but laughed when he said herd mentality instead of immunity the other day and by laugh I mean I screamed OMFG I HATE YOU, YOU DUMB ORANGE PIECE OF SHIT.)

(This is why I lost 70847203947 blog readers. GET TO THE POINT, ERIN,  YOU STUPID YOKEL.)

On their Instagram, I saw that they have, in the past, created NUMEROUS versions of veggie burgers, and they all looked like BEASTS. You could tell they were “from scratch,” the buns looked artisinal AF, and they had toppings with names that only a true gourmand would understand. I was ready.

They opened last month and we ordered take-out (the only thing they were offering until this week when they decided to open up with limited seating and I’m like, “OK but did you not see that news report that came out over the weekend? You know, THIS ONE?

Adults With COVID-19 Twice As Likely To Have Eaten At Restaurants, CDC Study Finds

But OK, go on.

Anyway, holy.fucking.shit. This burger. It had goat cheese and carmelized onion jam and cucumbers and tahini and and and…it was PRECIOUS. Not like, “Aw, look how precious Erin looks when she’s eating an ice cream cone and thinking about Taemin” but THAT RING IS MADE FROM PRECIOUS GEMS INFUSED WITH THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. That kind of precious.

WOW. Just wow. It was a taste sensation. Not vegan, of course, because of the goat cheese, but if you’re just a regular veg like me or someone who enjoys a meat fast every now and then, this is where it’s at. I imagine even the most professional carnivore would enjoy sinking their teeth into this fake flesh.

And we also got a side of the “chipped cabbage” which booted every cole slaw I’ve ever had right the fuck out of my heart. This shit was fire. I mean, literally because it had Thai chilis in it that I didn’t know about and wow that was a nice surprise. (No really, I like spicy stuff.) And it had parsnip in it! I love parsnip! Such an underrated root vegetable! (It’s a root vegetable, right?)

So, on their Instagram, I kept seeing their regulars Q-tipping their dickholes* over the biscuits. So finally, I caved and told Henry to get some the other day. WOW BOY, ok. I get it. I get it now. I’m not a huge biscuit person, and usually find them to be too dry, but these ones are monstrous mountains of carb-fluff. I don’t even have any pictures because I inhaled mine. But they’re on the “sweets” section of the menu because they come with a side of lemon curd and some type of house jam. GOOD GOD DAMN. This is where it’s at.

The one I had ended up being my dinner that night and I was fulfilled. I will happily get another one soon for, um, photographical purposes. I’d do that for, you.

*(So one time, way back when I was on LiveJournal, I submitted my journal to this stupid LJ Review community that was full of the meanest, most pretentious assholes** you’d ever meet, including Yours Truly eventually, and everyone was like “A+ let this bitch in” except this one dude was all salty and said, “I mean her journal is OK but nothing to Qtip my dickhole over” and I thought that was the best review of all time and about once every 4 years, I like to sling that saying as an homage to the guy who didn’t want to let me in and never did end up liking me.)

**(I’m still friends with some of those assholes, lol.)

2. Corneal Capsaicin

Wednesday evening was a memorable one.

Henry wasn’t home from work yet and Chooch was loitering in the kitchen, mumbling about wanting something spicy for dinner. He called Henry to bitch about being hungry and Henry was like “there is plenty of food in the kitchen, you and your mother just don’t know how to make it” which always pisses me off when he says that, like he’s some Food Magician or some shit. They had some dumb argument about this which ended with Chooch yelling, “DON’T BRING ME FOOD HOME” and Henry said, “I WON’T.”

“Make some of that buldak ramen,” I shrugged, only half-caring because I’m a great mother.

Chooch was pretty ambivalent about this idea but set about putting water in the kettle (side note: do you use a water kettle? It is apparently uncommon for American households to use one but I’ve one for years which I use to make coffee and I would be lost without it).

So everything is going fine, and the ramen is done, and I come into the kitchen to grab a set of chopsticks because I just want a bite (THE CHICKEN FLAVORING IS ARTIFICIAL). Chooch has just finished squeezing the packet of sauce into the bowl and had turned around to go to the sink when suddenly…

“OMFG. I touched my EYE. I AM SO STUPID WHY DID I DO THAT OMG,” and I was like “Haha” and about to snare some noods with my ‘sticks when I realized that oh shit, my kid isn’t just being hyper, he’s actually scream-crying and dry-heaving into the sink.

He started doing a FIRE IN THE HOLE dance in the middle of the kitchen, half bent over, arms fluttering, squealing like a pig.

“HELP ME!!!” he screamed.

And I’m standing there, chopsticks in midair, paralyzed as I often am when confronted with Mom Duties.

Or, Any Duties.

“UM, SPLASH WATER IN IT!” I yelled over my shoulder, running to get  my phone, where I proceeded to Google, “HOW TO FIX PEPPER EYE.”

The first thing that came up:

Do not put water in eye. It will make the pain spread.

“OK, DON’T PUT WATER IN IT!” I yelled from the family room, to which he responded in a gurgle of snot and saliva, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME I HAVE BEEN WATERING MY EYE THIS WHOLE TIME” and then punctuated the sentence with an ungodly wail.

Now, I don’t know what this means* but whenever I’m confronted with a situation like this, my fight or flight response is, well, to FLY FAR AS FUCK AWAY, but also to laugh. I CAN’T HELP IT!

*(OK, look I know it means I’m an asshole, but I was hoping that some armchair psychologist would stumble upon this and reason that it actually means my empathy is SO INTENSE that the brain actually can’t handle the stress and just straight up splinters.)

By now I had found that the most common remedy is a cotton ball soaked in milk.

I swung open the fridge door and muttered, “Oh shit.”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I HATE HIM!! I HATE HIM SO MUCH! HE NEVER GETS MILK!!!!” Chooch screamed. Now he was rocking back and forth on the kitchen floor and I was trying so hard to eat my laughter that I was coming very close to peeing my pants.

Chooch meanwhile was still screaming about hating Henry and how it was all Henry’s fault even though he wasn’t home, and I was like, “YES, THIS IS HIS FAULT. DOWN WITH HENRY! LET’S PILE UP ALL HIS THINGS AND BURN IT!” I let the narrative take this turn while I quietly slipped into the into the bathroom, where I was able to unleash a minute-long torrent of hearty, wheezy laughter. I emerged, red-faced with tears streaming down my cheeks, so now it looked like I was sharing a sympathy sob with my son, like the good little fucking mommy that I am.

We had both been trying to call him during this whole fiasco but he wasn’t answering.

Do you know why? Because he stopped at Oak Hill Post to get me the aforementioned biscuits, LOLOLOL.

Here’s Chooch fanning his eye while trying to unsuccessfully call Henry for the 80th time.

Things had finally started to calm down when Henry eventually came strolling in through the front door with the stride of a man who did nothing wrong and we immediately started screaming at him.

“How was this my fault?” he scoffed.

“Because you weren’t here to make dinner!!!” we screamed in tandem, always in sync when Henry is the common enemy.

“What’s this!?” Chooch screeched as Henry handed him a hunk of something in foil.

“It’s falafel. I stopped at Pitaland.”

“I TOLD YOU NOT TO GET ME ANYTHING!!!” Chooch screamed and then started sobbing, because is nothing if not a flesh bag created to hold my access emotions. He flung it down in the counter and ran off screaming, “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!”

“Yeah,” I said smugly, biscuit crumbs spilling out of my mouth. “You made all the dominos fall.”

“YOU’RE THE ONE WHO TOLD HIM TO MAKE THE RAMEN!” Henry yelled. Shit. This is what I was thinking all along but kept hoping that the focal point of the hate stayed on Henry. I looked at Chooch, silently pleading with my precious (Not like, “THAT RING IS MADE FROM PRECIOUS GEMS INFUSED WITH THE BLOOD OF CHRIST” but “Aw, look how precious Erin looks when she’s eating an ice cream cone and thinking about Taemin) eyes.

I watched as Chooch connected the dots. “Hey! YEAH, YOU TOLD ME TO MAKE THE RAMEN!”

OK moving along!!!

3. WHAT? MORE SIDEWALK SAGA?

Remember when Chooch tagged a wet-cement sidewalk with his cat’s Instagram handle and then Henry was like THAT IS A CRIME and made Chooch think he was going to go to jail and then oh yeah the sidewalk belongs to his friend’s family up the street from us and her dad busted him when he went back up and tried to cover it up but Chooch failed to tell us that part until weeks later when he couldn’t take the pressure of his sins anymore and confessed in one long-winded blurt? Well, now the city is doing work on the entire street (gas line stuff? I think I have also seen the water company out there?). This has been going on for weeks now and is slowly working its way closer to my block. They spraypainted the areas where the work (aka THE DIGGING) will be happening and one of those places was The Sidewalk. We were like OH SHIT ARE YOU KIDDING but no, they weren’t kidding, because they started working on this week!

I walked by yesterday and there is now a huge hole in their yard and the sidewalk is gonzo.

Also, speaking of the road work, these guys doing the work are complete assholes. (Maybe they used to review LiveJournals!?) In the beginning, I used to smile and say hello when passing but they would just grunt or ignore me so now I have this bubbling hatred brewing from within and I finally upchucked a freshly baked Karen Cake from my mouth yesterday when I went for a walk and they had the sidewalks all cluttered with their manly accessories and machinery and then they PARK ON THE SIDEWALKS as well and loaf against their trucks, bullshitting with each other, while I’m left to zigzag from one side of the sidewalk to the other. I was on the phone with Henry and this is always when I’m the most passive-aggressive and feel emboldened to shout to him all the things I’m feeling about these people so that they will hear me and, you know, definitely not cry about it in their thermoses. But it still feels great to get it off my shoulders!

“AND THEY’RE SO FUCKING RUDE TOO! THEY TAKE UP THE WHOLE ROAD AND SIDEWALK AND THEN ANYTIME I TRY TO BE NICE AND SAY HI THEY IGNORE ME BECAUSE I’M JUST A LOWLY PEDESTRIAN WHO DARES TO SPEAK TO MANLY ROAD WORKERS.”

“Wow,” Henry mumbled on the other end.

“ASSHOLES!” I yelled over my shoulder. Then I went home through an alley so I wouldn’t have to pass them again HAHAHA.

4. Slut Life Moves to Florida

Remember that asshole who lives next to HNC and they had all kinds of drama and HNC wrote a letter to the landlord and name-dropped me in it three times because I was his ally? Well, HNC ended up signing a proverbial peace treaty with that dumb fuck because Slut Life’s grandma got involved and made him behave. I think what happened was that somehow they realized that have a family connection or something because it is SO BUDDY-BUDDY over there now and I hate it because HNC got me all fired up and made me the star witness of his imaginary trial and then abandoned me to steep alone in my solo-hate.

Yeah that’s right, I still hate the guy. He is so obnoxious the way he peels in and out of the driveway and into the road, never even looking before pulling out! Henry and I witnessed him nearly cause an accident three different times when we were sitting on the porch.  (Oh also Slut Life told HNC he doesn’t like Henry so we always laugh whenever we’re outside and he goes out of his way not to look in our direction haha.) Anyway, not only is he a truly shitty driver (he almost hit me, remember?!), he also has extreme anger issues and will fucking scream at other drivers in his grating high pitched voice – trust me, we have front row seats for his outbursts as they often happen when he’s pulling out of the driveway.

Well, I overheard him telling HNC a few weeks ago that he’s MOVING TO FLORIDA IN OCTOBER. BITCH, BYE!

5. TAEMIN HAS BLACK HAIR AGAIN

This was originally going to be about how I’m still getting emails for other Erin Kellys and last week, I received an e-gift card for $150 CAD from Barbara Kelly, who even included a sweet note and I was like, “Barbara, you are lucky that I believe in karma and don’t want to cash this in and then get hit by a Facchiano truck” but I have already written nearly 3000 words on a FRIDAY FIVE, ARE YOU KIDDING, so instead let’s watch this video and be so excited that Taemin has black hair again!!!

 

Sep 162020
 

If I still had a really sharp memory and retained dates as well as I used to, then I would probably always associate the weekend of 9/12/20 with the book The Great Believers and how it shattered my heart, but as it is, I can barely even keep my years straight anymore, let alone singular weekends within those years.

But yeah, I finished that book Saturday morning and it was a real time, but I’ll talk more about that when I do my September book wrap-up, which reminds me that I haven’t even done the August wrap-up yet, I’m just really on top of things over here, what can I say.

Another thing I’d attribute to this past weekend is the fear that paralyzed my heart Friday night when I was sitting on the couch, probably watching Taemin videos, and then the sound of shattering glass and steel cut through the tranquility of the evening. There was that suspended moment where the mind races inside a frozen body, trying to figure out what carnage awaits, and then everything catches up with itself as you realize that it was just a mason jar filled with steel balls for a Pachinko machine, knocked off and split open by one of the cats during their psycho acrobat practice.

It was probably Drew.

The weird thing is that, and I am not joking, probably 5 or 10 minutes before this happened, I had glanced over at the cats chasing each other and I thought in my head, “Someone should move that mason jar, it’s going to get knocked over” but then I got distracted by whatever I was watching, probably Taemin videos, and then…well the rest is history.

There were just shy of 300 steel balls in that jar, and I’m still finding strays.

Then came Saturday, the day I sadly finished that book and had a total eclipse of the heart.

Is that even what that means?

It occurs to me that I have no idea what that even means.

Anyway, not important. What IS important is that we got patbingsu from Bae Bae’s and I was almost in tears because red bean is MY FAVORITE BINGSU FLAVOR. They were sold out of it for the longest time but when I saw that I had it this weekend, I couldn’t focus on anything else.

We took it to the cemetery to eat it and then Henry had to go to his job, which was nearby, to let one of his drivers back in so he was like CAN I TRUST YOU AND CHOOCH TO NOT KILL EACH OTHER IF I LEAVE YOU HERE and we were like WE WILL BE FINE so we walked around and competed to see who could find their birth date first on a tombstone and Chooch found his like 5x and I never once found mine so then I was like THIS GAME SUCKS and realized that we had been there too long so I called Henry and was like WHEN ARE YOU COMING BACK FOR US and he was like MY DRIVER ISN’T HERE YET but we threw a fit and he was like GOD DAMMIT so he came back and got us before he was done doing his dumb Faygo stuff and he was so pissed and then we had to go back with him to his office while he finished his manly man man Faygo shit which is the most boring thing in the world so joke’s on me I guess.

That night, Henry and I watched the movie adaptation of a REALLY GOOD HORROR BOOK we read together (listened to in the cemetery!) “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” and…ugh. I had hopes for this because Charlie Kaufman directed it and the cast was solid (the acting was phenomenal) and honestly, so much of this was great. The book has a lot of dialogue between the main characters while they’re in a car, so I wasn’t sure how that would translate to film without being a snoozefest, but it was done very artfully; actually, the whole film was just one big two hour existential art piece, if we’re being honest here. It was stunning to look at, and the little clues sprinkled throughout made me giddy, but can we talk about dat ending, tho.

No, we can’t, because spoilers, and also because I don’t have the energy or passion to care about it anymore, because I spent all day Sunday mulling and stewing over how disappointed I was. If you’ve read the book, you will PROBABLY hate the ending of the film. If you haven’t read the book, you will probably be like WTF to the whole enchilada.

(I don’t know what’s up with me lately, but I think I’m turning into a midwestern mom from 1981. Last week I saw “hemming and hawing,” and earlier today I said that my pumpkin spice latte from Potomac Station was “nothing to write home about” and Chooch was like, “WHAT” and started cracking up and I said, “What? That’s a real saying” and he said, “Yeah I know but I’m laughing because YOU said it.” So, I dunno when I went to bed and woke up a Mom, but here I am world, the pot roast is in the oven! Now bring me my Aquanet, turquoise track suit, and strap some LA Gear on my footsies because I’m ready for my Jazzercise class.)

Then on Sunday, Henry went and picked up our Sugarspell pints! I forgot to set a reminder the last time and all the flavors I had my eye on were already sold out that same night, so this time I was prepared and thank god I went to their website at the exact time the presale started because the pumpkin cinnamon roll flavor sold out in THREE MINUTES. That’s insane and I’m sad for all the Johnny Come Latelys out there but feeling pretty smug that I was checked out by 7:03 and got the ones I wanted. The other ones I got are peach crisp (so refreshing!) and chocolate mousse which I am scarily addicted to. It is SO SMOOTH AND RICH, and I mean, I know it’s in the name but it tastes JUST LIKE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE.

Sometimes I can’t even believe that this is vegan.

But the real star here is that goddamn pumpkin cinnamon roll. WOW. You know how more often than not, pumpkin-flavored things are so synthetic and artificial? This tastes like your great-aunt Mildred made a pie using pumpkins from her motherfucking farm while wearing a gingham apron and I’d say butter churned from her own cows, but then this wouldn’t be a very vegan-y review. Anyway, I’m just trying to say that this tastes like a stroll through a pumpkin patch on a perfectly crisp fall day with the hint of a jaunt through a haunted house later that night. And you’re probably wearing a really cute red flannel under the perfectly-distressed denim jacket too.

And the back is peppered with patches from the best 80s goth & synthpop bands.

And you’re not wearing a mask because WE BEAT COVID but you ARE wearing a really soft and warm cowl scarf. It’s probably burnt orange and you don’t care if it clashes with your flannel because you’re the kind of person who has a very specific fall fashion aesthetic and sets reminders on their phone for vegan ice cream pint pre-orders.

I consulted with Phil and he agrees that this pumpkin ice cream is completely worth the hype.

Later that afternoon, we went to Oakland (oh don’t you worry, we never took our masks off once) because eventually Chooch will be going to school in real life and this is where that will be.

I mean, not HERE specifically. But I had some classes in that beast and now that I only have like $3000 left in student loans, I’m kind of starting to miss it a little…should I go back? NO. I’M KIDDING.

Oakland is the home of Pitt and CMU as well as Chooch’s new high school so I have to admit, it kind of felt like we were preparing to send him off to college. “You can walk to the Carnegie Library after school! And there’s a Korean fried chicken place that has TTEOKBOKKI! And and and!” I was also pointing out various buildings where I had classes (“My vampire class was in the same building as the science classes and one time we had to evacuate when there was a fire in the chemistry lab,” I said, lost in the memory, while Chooch just stared at me. Then finally, “You took a literal class on vampires?” Yeah I did, sonny boy. One of our homework assignments was watching The Hunger (in my heart, David Bowie isn’t dead because he’s UNdead) and we did an entire unit on LESBIAN VAMPIRE FILMS.) but no one really cared. Henry just kept murmuring “mmhmm” because my college days were really stressful for him, I guess, probably because he feared I’d meet an older professor and run away with him, because that’s totally on brand, but mostly I think because of the debt I was racking up.

Even the dinosaurs are smart enough to wear masks.

Well, I don’t think anything else super spectacular happened. So that concludes another weekend wrap-up.

Sep 152020
 

Look, I’m still riding the Taemin Wave over here so just be quiet and let me get this out of my system lol.

Today I want to share the stage that Taemin did for my favorite song off his new album, Nemo. When I first heard it, I was immediately transported to my childhood bedroom in 1994/1995, talking on the phone/writing pen pal letters/ generally brooding in bed with BET’s Quiet Storm on my tiny TV. I was obsessed with 90s slow jams, and Nemo gives me that distinct retro vibe. I’ve said it before on here but there is something about his voice, the whispery huskiness maybe, that brings to mind Anita Baker. I will never take back that statement and I don’t care if HENRY HEARS OR NOT because I do!

Anyway, I was just watching an interview/behind the scenes thing he did and he said that Nemo is his favorite song from the new album and that he was inspired by the 90s r&b that he was listening to, BAM!!!

Um, yeah. Whew. Let me collect myself.

Ok so you should watch this and decide for yourself and let me know what you think:

And while we’re here, might I also suggest the stage he did for Black Rose, where his choreography nearly shot me through the roof? THOSE FORMATIONS.

I sent this to Janna last night and she said nothing so maybe I should take the hint. Lol nah.

This boy has more talent in his pinky than all your faves combined, I fucking swear to god.

Ok I swear my next post will be non-Kpop/Taemin related. Probably. Maybe. I hope. You hope. We hope.

Sep 132020
 

Dear friends and foes*,

I am currently reading a book about a roadtrip and it’s bumming me out more than all the dystopian books I’ve read this year about viruses and pandemics. I miss hitting the road! But I’ve also been enjoying taking some strolls down memory lane and being grateful for the fun experiences we’ve had over the years.  Tonight, I want to (re)share with you the time I made my cohorts take a detour on the way home from Chicago to a town called MUNSTER in Indiana, so I could frolic in a psychedelic grotto. (AS THE TITLE OF THIS BLOG POST INSINUATES.)

So, here it is. Read it or not, but I’m going back to my book. (He Started It by Samantha Downing – I AM TOTALLY HOOKED.)

*(It’s OK! I hate-read my own blog every now and then too! And then grudgingly go into edit mode to fix the copious spelling errors.)

***

September 2017

Way back when I was live-blogging our boring-ass drive home from Chicago, I mentioned that we stopped at a religious-y place and that it would get its own blog post…and then of course it got put on the back-burner. But tonight I finally sorted through the pictures and I AM READY TO GET THIS CHURCHY BLOG POST PARTY STARTED, BOI.

Let’s start with a quick backstory: the first time Henry and I went to Chicago in 2014, I stumbled upon this place on Roadside America unofficially dubbed “Ultraviolet Apocalypse” in Munster, Indiana. I begged Henry to take me here on the way home, but then I saw that it’s only open on SUNDAYS. Ugh, leave it to a church to only be open on Sundays.

What it actually is: the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery founded by Polish friars who emigrated to the US in 1950. But the big ticket item is the man-made grotto on the grounds, which is three-stories tall and fashioned from 250 tons of sponge rock–I had to look this up because I actually thought it was made from geodes. From what I read online, parts of the grotto are illuminated by black light and the photos I saw looked like the holy version of black light posters sold at Spencer’s.

This place was MADE FOR ME. Religious AND tacky? Take me there.

I looked it up again during this last trip and noticed that it said you could call ahead to schedule a tour. So while we were in the Lincoln Park Zoo that Sunday, I made Henry call (begrudgingly so) and he confirmed that the broad in the office said that the grotto would be open, especially since Monday was a holiday (Labor Day).

HOT HOLY FISH FRY, I WAS GOING TO THE GROTTO!

I couldn’t wait to finish breakfast the next morning and set off to Munster, Indiana, which thankfully wasn’t very far out of the way. We rolled up into the mostly empty lot but I did notice the occasional parishioner moving to and fro.

I wanted to save the grotto for last, obv., so we casually strode around the grounds, looking at the Stations of the Cross like we were knew what we doing, and oohing and awing at the statues. I know the general consensus is that I must be a fucking asshole at places like this, but actually, I’m very respectful and truly enjoy being around these things, even though I don’t have a lick of faith left in my Hell-charred bones.

And surprisingly, Chooch is also very interested in these types of places too, and we get a lot of joy out of reading plaques and running our fingers across the cold marble faces of saints we’ve never heard of.

The grounds were so lovely, and it was still early enough in the morning that it felt like fall, so Chooch and I happily wore hoodies.

I love the woodwork of this shrine!

OH SHIT SON, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Except that those steps were so hard and cold, covered in puddles and razor-edged pine needles. I was in pain (which was the point, I guess, because Jesus died on the cross, etc.) and at one point took my hoodie off and tried to use it as knee pads but that proved futile and I only ended up sopping up the puddles with it.

Meanwhile, Chooch scrambled up to the top like he was being chased by Jason Voorhees and then gloated for the next hour because it took me an extra five minutes to pull my fat body up to the top.

But I did it.

For Christ.

Henry, on the other hand, was like, “Nope” and walked around tp the other side where reverence wasn’t required.

My fucked-up knees.

The steps Henry took didn’t go all the way to the top, so he asked us what was up there.

“Um, I don’t know. Jesus on the cross, I guess,” I mumbled, pulling pine needles out of my busted knees.

Beneath this was an underground level which featured Jesus’s tomb, but the door to it was locked. I was half-expecting that though from reading the tips on Roadside America. And it was time to check out the Grotto anyway, so I wasn’t crying too much about it.

EXCEPT THAT THE GROTTO WASN’T OPEN EITHER!!!!!

HENRY!!!!! YOU SAID!!!!

Helpless, we walked back to the parking lot. “Maybe we should look for someone,” I said, and we walked over to the church, which had a few old people inside praying.

“That one guy looks like a priest or something but I AM NOT INTERRUPTING HIM WHILE HE’S PRAYING,” Henry rushed to finish before I could even ask. And the office had a “closed” sign on it.

THE FUCK, HENRY?!

So we hung around in our car like total fucking creeps for the next 30 minutes, deliberating. I didn’t want to leave, not after coming this close after three years of attempts. At some point, an older broad rolled up with a young kid, and we watched them waltz right on into the closed office! So then I got it in my head that she worked there and she became my new target.

So we went into the office too and it was completely dark. We noticed the lady and the boy went into the chapel, which was connected. They were just chilling on a pew and again, Henry was like, “I AM NOT INTERRUPTING PRAYING PEOPLE.”

Back to the car we went. We were just about to leave when another car pulled in and a lady in a pink shirt got out. She also had a small kid with her. The other lady came out of the chapel and was talking to her, so then we deduced that it was actually Pink Shirt who was in charge around there. She was pulling bins out of the back of her minivan, which made us feel like she worked there. Like maybe they were filled with Bible Study props or something.

It became clear that Henry wasn’t going to be proactive about this situation, so Chooch and I got out of the car and approached Pink Shirt.

“Let me guess, you’re here for the Polish school, too!” she asked happily. Immediately, something about her reminded me of Clea Duvall and I felt instantly at ease.

“No, the Grotto actually!” and I dove right into my sob story about how we came from Pittsburgh—-

“—Not just for this, I hope!” she interrupted with a laugh. “I mean, it’s great, but….”

I explained that we were coming home from Chicago, that I had been trying to see this place for years, and that someone in the office told us that it would be open that day but it wasn’t.

“Hmm, you’ll need to see Father [John*]. He’ll be able to help you,” she said.

*(I can’t remember his name, one of the perils in waiting a million weeks to blog about these things. #amateur)

I asked her what he looked like, and she laughed and said, “Polish!” but then she set down her huge plastic bin of Polish school supplies (maybe??) and brought Chooch and me into the office just as Father was emerging from the chapel.

He was a robust older man in shorts and a tshirt and I 100% never would have thought he was the guy I was looking for.

Pink Shirt explained to him our predicament and in a thick, beautiful Polish accent, he exclaimed, “Oh I don’t know who would have told you the grotto was open today!”

I shrugged and said, “My….husband spoke to a woman when he called the office yesterday.” Chooch shot me a sneer when I said ‘husband’ and later I explained that I didn’t want to say BOYFRIEND. ‘Husband’ sounded more legit since we were in a church, and not “Hi we are a couple of heathens and this here is our child born out of wedlock. Toss us them there keys to the grotto.”

“SO YOU LIED,” Chooch pointed out.

CAN IT, CHOOCH.

Father was super harried. Turns out he was the only one there that day, which meant he was getting pulled in a million directions. “Oh boy, let me see,” he sighed, blowing frustrated air up into his face. “Give me five minutes. Uh, go look at the church or something,” and he spun around to see about getting the key.

I LOVED THIS MAN. I loved his earthy accent, I loved his utter refusal to hide the fact that he was seriously annoyed by me and my ill-timed request, I loved that even though he was busy he was willing to pause his actual church work to help some dumb broad from Pittsburgh see a roadside attraction.

Long story still long, Father John found a dude to open the grotto for us! Which was fortuitous to the handful of people who had arrived in the interim and now got to reap the rewards of my relentless puppy dog-eying the Polish father. (He was a friar maybe? I’m not sure.)

No pictures, no words, can do this place justice. Walking into the grotto, I expected to be disappointed. Ok, not disappointed….but maybe the sense that this wasn’t worth the trouble.

Nope. Did not feel this way at all. It was an operatic “ahhhhhhhhhhh!” moment and I immediately began to touch EVERYTHING (later Chooch would point out a sign that said “do not touch the walls.” Oops.

This grandfather/grandson power duo happened to be there as the doors were unlocked, so Chooch and I went in with them and let the little boy be our tour guide. He kept yelling, “GUYS, COME ON!” and his grandfather would just chuckle and say, “Let them go at their own pace.” But we humored the kid and let him tug us through all three levels of the beautiful grotto.

Yessssssssss.  I need my basement to look like this.

There were various pieces of quartz and crystal* encrusted in some spots of the walls, which was why I originally thought the walls were made from split open geodes.

* (?? I’m not up on my geology—I did so terribly in my geology class at Pitt because it was during the last trimester of my pregnancy and I didn’t fit in the desk because it had an attached chair so a janitor had to find me another desk and I was having hot flashes constantly so that’s what I think of when I see things like this)

Henry wasn’t with us, and it turns out he was stopped by another guy from the church who didn’t speak English, and that guy went into the closed gift shop and brought out a guide for Henry to borrow. So Henry got to walk through on his own with a book of info. Like he even cared!

After being mesmerized by the grotto, we walked back over to the holy steps to see if the tomb was opened now too and it was!

It was bigger than I imagined, with several alcoves, one of which had the next ultraviolet spot of the whole joint:

It was breathtaking, honestly. Even Henry said he was glad we stopped and things worked out, because it was worth seeing. It made my heart feel so big and swollen for a little bit (probably until around noon when I started to get hungry).

If you are ever in the Chicago area, I highly recommend taking the detour to Munster, Indiana. Just make sure if it’s not a Sunday, you’re prepared to hunt down some Polish Fathers for assistance.