Dec 032022
 

Oh my god, when I found out that NCT Dream was releasing a movie centered around their recent In a Dream concert, and that TWO theaters in Pittsburgh were actually going to be showing it, I bought two tickets immediately the day they went on sale. NCT Dream is the “younger brothers” to the main NCT unit, NCT127. I know, it’s confusing. SM Entertainment really does the most and their convoluted NCT conglomerate takes some time to really parse through. Basically, you can’t really be a moderate or part-time fan of NCT – you gotta be all in because there are so many moving pieces.

Anyway! I fluctuate between who I like more: NCT127 or NCT Dream. At this point, I have seen NCT127 three times (twice at KCON, and once at a full-fledged concert on their recent US tour) and I have seen NCT Drean NONE TIMES.

But I really think that they are my faves. They just make my heart so happy and I want all of the best things for them.

Watching this movie was going to have to be the next best thing to actually seeing them live.

Today was the day of the movie and I WAS FUCKING READY!!!

My Haechan pendant (designed by me, made by Henry) and a NCT lightstick necklace by the talented The Idol Collective.

My Cherry Bomb purse (this is actually NCT127) with my Renjun and Jaemin pins showing.

NCT Dream Dear Diary pin; Haechan Boom-era pin.

You guys, it didn’t occur to me until we got to the theater that I FUCKING FORGET TO WEAR MY NCT DREAM T-SHIRT. I HATE MYSELF.

“It’s going to be dark in there,” Henry reasoned. YEAH BUT…

P.S. We were only about 7 minutes away from home when Henry looked over at me and frowned because I WAS ALREADY STARTING TO CRY. Why do I have to feel so much?

“I should have brought Kleenex because I know I’m going to cry. I can’t help it! I care very deeply about NCT Dream. They’re on the same level as the cats and squirrels,” I said wailed.
Henry:

Henry mumbled, “Wow. So that puts me even lower.”

!!!!!

The girl in front of me took a picture of this so then I had to, too Henry sighed.

I sent this to Chooch, who was at work and “sadly” had to miss the viewing festivities. “Great, now I have to sit next to him while he eats popcorn in a silent theater.” Chooch and I are very much anti-Henry’s Mouth Noises.

IT STARTED WITH RENJUN RIGHT OFF THE BAT AND MY TEARS JUST FELL FREELY.

You guys. I thought there was no way for me to love these guys any more than I already did, but then I spent two hours with them in a theater and my heart was swelling to the point of explosion. This concert was a huge deal for them because it was at the Seoul Olympic Stadium, which is like the PREMIERE venue for artists to perform at in Seoul, it’s what they all aim for. It’s also only their SECOND concert (like, full concert of their own and not just like festivals, etc.) and the first one with Mark, who had “graduated” out of NCT Dream before they had their first concert because originally, NCT Dream wasn’t a fixed unit. It was intended to be a fluid unit with revolving members under the age of 20. So once Mark had his 20th birthday, he “graduated” out of NCT Dream. The fans did not like this one bit and demanded that SM reconsider, bring Mark back, and keep NCT Dream as a fixed unit with the original 7 members. Eventually, SM caved, put Mark back in and promised that the current lineup would be the forever-lineup.

Yeah, I was a mess at most times throughout this movie. My nose was running bigly and my stomach hurt from trying to silent-cry when I wanted so badly to big-sob. And I know you’re wondering: Henry only fell asleep once at the very end, for “like a second,” he said. To be fair, he legit likes them but will honestly fall asleep at any given opportunity. He would probably also fall asleep during a Ted Nugent biopic.

I’m glad that this was available in Pittsburgh and that I was able to go. Yes, it emotionally wrecked me but it was amazing to see so many of their songs as they performed them at their concert in Seoul. I am so proud of them and the huge crowd they drew!

Since the World Cup stuff is happening currently, I’ll end this with a video of them performing Trigger the Fever, which was the official song of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2017 (whatever that means) and Mark actually has a songwriting credit for this!

And here they are performing it at the soccer thing in 2017 (minus Jaemin because I think he was injured):

They were so young!!!

Afterward, Henry and I went to Angkor for some Thai food and I tried so hard to rehash the entire 2 hours but he barely had anything to say and just nodded a lot, but you know, that’s just Henry.

Sigh.

 

 

 

Dec 022022
 

The first time we went to Tennessee was back in 2011, with our good friends Bill and Jessi, who invited us to tag along on their vacation and subsequently causing us to fall in love with the area! The three of us woke up early one morning in an attempt to do some mountain shit. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I think the sole reason was because my beloved Roadside America app had suggested a place called Clingman’s Dome and it sounded super spacey and weird, so I wanted to do it. I mean, it was only an overlook thing that required a mild hike to reach, but it was still something to do.

I just had no idea that Chooch was going to have such an adverse reaction to this area! He was throwing such a huge fit (“My legs hurt!” “I’m tired!” “CARRY ME, WAH!”) that we were sincerely afraid he was going to alert any neighboring bears to our presence (though I imagine they’d probably have fled the opposite direction, take me with you, bears).

I was cruising through my old Flickr album for the 2011 trip last week, to stoke the nostalgia for our upcoming return, and when I saw the below picture, I thought, “Golly, gosh darn, wouldn’t it be a real barrel of laughs to recreate this shot with Chooch who is now 16 and taller than both of us?”

I posted it on Instagram as sort of an interest check but also to put it out there so that Chooch and Henry would have less room to decline my latest demand. I love doing that to them. “BUT I ALREADY TOLD THE INTERNET!”

We went to breakfast first on Monday with the intention of then driving straight up into the Smokies. EXCEPT GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS. The fucking ONLY ROAD that takes you into the mountains was CLOSED. I went into a tailspin over this. Henry immediately pulled into the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center while I basically cried and Chooch sardonically murmured, “Aw, that’s too bad. I was really looking forward to having  my picture taken. Shucks.” Henry was checking the GPS for alternatives but there was NOTHING. The GPS map even showed that the road was blocked off! The day before, there were high winds in the area so Henry guessed that probably a lot of branches and debris were covering the road and needed to be swept off.

I DIDN’T CARE! I JUST WANTED THE STUPID ROAD TO BE OPEN!

“Go inside the info building and ask them when it will open!” I wailed.

“They’re not going to know,” Henry mumbled, looking for something shiny to distract me.

THAT IS LITERALLY THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF AN INFORMATION CENTER, TO HAVE PEOPLE INSIDE THAT ARE PROVIDING INFORMATION!

I was just about to lose my mind when I glanced at the GPS map and noticed that the “ROAD CLOSED” thingie was no longer showing up on the map, so I whipped around to look out the rear window at the actual road and sure enough, the barricades had been removed!

I was screaming! Henry and Chooch were sighing!

The drive to Clingman’s Dome took about 30 minutes or so but it was so nice because hardly anyone was on the road. I think only about 3 cars had made it in front of us when the road opened so it was as nature intended.

What a huge difference from Saturday, that’s for sure. I believe only 2 cars were already in the parking lot of Clingman’s Dome trail as opposed to the 50+ plus the line of traffic going down the mountain that we ran into on Saturday. Has an empty parking lot ever been so beautiful.

Unforch, another big difference was that the weather on Saturday was BEAUTIFUL, sunny and totally hoodie weather. But on this day, it was drizzling/snow-misting, windy AF, and around 30 degrees (but felt like 20 degrees).  Chooch of course was only wearing a hoodie over his t-shirt, AND SHORTS, and Henry and I just had on light jackets. This was 100% hat and gloves conditions, people.

But I wasn’t leaving without the damn picture, so we set off onto the trail at the same as an Indian family. We had only been walking for about 3-5 minutes when we all collectively realized that, “HOLY SHIT, THIS IS THE SPOT.” I mean, it was pretty much exactly the same, even the log was still there. And then I started cracking up because you’d have thought we’d had been legit hiking the side of a rugged mountain for hours the way Chooch was reacting in 2011. But nope – just three minutes!

I pulled out the camera to take the shot, BUT HENRY BROUGHT THE WRONG LENS. So, this time it was me throwing a tantrum and Henry angrily stormed off to retrieve the correct lens. Meanwhile, three of the older members of the Indian family had cried UNCLE and were making their way back. One of them stopped and kindly asked if we needed help and I said, “Oh, no thank you. We’re just waiting for—-” and I blanked, not knowing how to refer to Henry!? “—our friend.”

He nodded and kept walking, but honestly, I’m sure Chooch and I looked like suspish hooligans, loitering on the side of the trail like we had just found a geocache of drugs and gold bars and Elvis’s molar.

Henry came back, jammed the lens into my person, furiously shrugged off his jacket, lifted Chooch up over his shoulder, and hoarsely hissed, “TAKE THE FUCKING PICTURE.”

I mean, it does look like the same spot, right?? I was actually shook that we found it.

 

Look at Henry so far ahead of us, lol. He was DONEZO after this. It’s been 5 days and he’s still bitching about his back pain. Oops. But, at least we made the memory!? RIGHT HENRY?

Oh shit, the hilarity of the comparison of these two pictures carried me through most of the drive home. I just kept going back and looking at it and cracking the hell up. I want to say that I can’t believe they went through with this, but c’mon.

I knew that they would.

You knew that they would.

They knew that they would.

Nov 302022
 

I was so angry on Saturday. Henry actually got home from work early on Friday and we had discussed leaving earlier and driving all the way through to Gatlinburg, but then he decided to take a nap until fucking 3pm, so he stuck with the OG plan of driving to somewhere in Virginia and then continuing on the next morning. So, by the time we actually got to Gatlinburg, it was 11am on Saturday. I had wanted to get up into the mountains early! The plan was to go to Clingman’s Dome and recreate a picture of Henry and Chooch from when we were there in 2011. I was looking forward to it because it was a beautiful day for doing mountain walks, you know? Except, it was so incredibly crowded by the time we got there that we couldn’t even find a parking spot. Can you believe it?! It was like trying to park at fucking Disney, I don’t even know. And the worst part was that some BITCH in her pocketed leggings (Henry HATES when women wear these pants lol) got out of a minivan in front of us and ran through the lot which was horseshoe-shaped, when she saw that a spot had opened up on the other side. Literally ran across the grass that was separating the sides of the lot and stood in the empty spot so that none of the FIFTY (probably!!) cars in front of theirs could claim it.

When we passed her on the way out of the lot (after clearly NOT getting a spot), Henry called her a cunt and I yelled across him, “Must feel cool to be such an asshole!”

“Wow,” Chooch murmured from the backseat. Look at us, setting the Good Examples!

That felt good to get that off our chests, but it was still extremely disappointing that it was SO CROWDED up there. This was my first time really experiencing heavy crowds in nature and it was wild.  We were there at the same of the year, also on a Saturday afternoon in 2018 and it wasn’t even close to being this insane. We didn’t go to Clingman’s Dome that time around but the overlooks and parking lots for other trails were not even almost at capacity and when I tell you that there were people creating their own parking spots on Saturday, I’m not being hyperbolic. Henry thinks it’s because people are still super-motivated to get out and do shit after quarantine, but now that everything is $$$$$$$$$$$ more people are trying to have free fun.

I was really bummed about this (and projected my dissatisfaction onto Henry, as one does) but honestly, even if we had found a parking spot, there was absolutely NO WAY that we would have been able to recreate the picture we wanted without hordes of people being in the background. So, it was for the best, and we planned to get up extra early on Monday and revisit the spot before leaving for home.

But dude, listen. The best part about this failed drive up the mountain was stopping at one of the smaller overlooks on the way back down and befriending the cutest, sweetest crow!!

He was totally chill, you can tell he was very used to people (probably not a great thing) and was like, “Sure, you can sit as close to me as you want. Can I also get into your car and go into town with you? I have some errands to run.”

“OMG I HAVE NEVER SEEN A CROW BEFORE, WOWWEEEE!”

Chooch and I were competing over who could take the best picture of the crow, but Chooch sadly won. Only because he has the new iPhone and I don’t!! I don’t even know what mine is. It was the newest one available in the beginning of 2020, the Covid edition, I guess.

ILYSM!!!!!!

I wanted him to come home with me and chase the fucking hawk away, ugh.

Such a beautiful bird! A huge highlight of the day for me, for sure.

Nov 292022
 

We needed somewhere to eat dinner when we were en route to Tennessee on Friday and of course Henry put the burden on me. I hate that!! I can’t understand maps first of all, so I always end up finding a cool place, getting my heart set on it, only for Henry to say, “THAT IS NOT ON THE EXIT” like I know what that means.

I really hate him sometimes.

There was this cafe that was also a used book shop that had lots of vegan options and sounded like something I would love and I put all my eggs in that basket. Then of course, Henry was like THAT IS IN CHARLESTON, WV AND WE ARE NOT GOING THAT WAY but hello, he’s the one who was like, “Look for Rt. BunchaNumbers on the map and go from there.”  THAT IS WHAT I DID??

Anyway, I found a place in Davidson (? I think ?) WV called The Dish and it seemed appealing because they had housemade veggie burgers as well as brownies made with avocado. This seemed much better than going to a diner and getting stuck with either grilled cheese or a Gardenburger – not knocking either of these, and you know I love that greasy spoon ambiance, but I also wanted something healthy-ish.

Chooch was playing some dumb game on his phone called Bitlife all weekend and it was really embarrassing when he would say things like, “Now my mission is to become a pornographer” and the waitress would be lingering on the periphery. Or, “Great, 7 of my kids have measles and one just died.”

Henry and I are actually broken up but here is one of the last pictures we took together.


I had major regertz after seeing Chooch’s PB&J on a waffle that he ordered from the kid’s menu because he “just wasn’t that hungry” all of a sudden, but then was “starving” by the time we got to the hotel in Virginia an hour later. (I think we stayed in Virginia?? Yes, we did. I just had a flashback of passing the billboard for Dolly’s Diner and then going through the tunnel, and I think then Virginia happens.)

Oh you guys, my veggie burger was delectable. It came on a pita which was a nice departure from a typical bun! (Although the bun on ex-boyfriend Henry’s burger looked bangin’ so I kind of had double-regertz over that one.) There was avocado on this and a nice sauce that I enjoyed immensely. The only downside was that I ordered the veggie of the day – Brussels sprouts, which I love –  after confirming with the server that they weren’t going to be cooked in MEAT since nearly all eating establishments like to sully the sprouts in that way, making us veg-types the most sad. However, they gave me a baby portion! Literally like half of a palmful. I will say that they were cooked nicely and not all butter-logged and soggy. But still. I wanted more!

And then we split a warm brownie made with avocadoes, which Chooch frowned upon because he couldn’t wrap his head around this healthy ingredient substitute, but I thought it was just right.

Anyway, the whole reason I’m even writing this is because one day in the future, someone is going to ask, “What was that restaurant we ate at that one time…” and all I will have to do is check my dumb blog (if it even still exists) and scream out, “THE DISH! I WIN!” And also because I wouldn’t mind returning to this place the next time we’re driving out that way because it was delicious and didn’t make me feel shit afterward!

If you have any restaurant/diner recs that are on the route from Pittsburgh to Gatlinburg, let me know. I hate relying on Yelp, even though this time it worked in my favor!

Nov 282022
 

Leaving Tennessee today! It’s 6:46am and we’re packing up the room which involves us throwing stuff at Henry and saying, “Here put this in here.”

We woke up extra early to get to Crockett’s Breakfast Camp right when they open at 7 because for some reason I have latched on to this place after watching YouTube videos about it but it gets super crowded. We got here at 6:56 and there was already a small group of people waiting.

Chooch and Henry are not impressed yet.

7:45am: Back at the hotel so Henry can “go to the bathroom” before we check out. What you missed:

  • Henry being sulky that I made him order Aretha Frankenstein’s Griddle Cakes which are just thick boi pancakes made in a griddle because I wanted to try them but didn’t want my own order since it was too much for muh belly and also didn’t come with a side of PONE like the egg breakfasts do. I was obsessed with this mythical PONE and it turned out to just be a thimble-sized dollop of a mushy corn bread (almost like ChiChi’s, #rip) with cranberries. It was good but I wish I would have known that’s all it was.
  • The pancakes were GÜT!!!!
  • Our waitress had an accent and Henry was like IT SOUNDS CAJUN and chooch and I were like, “who were you talking to??” Because it was totally some sort of Eastern Euro I’m betting. Then we saw her name on the bill – JULIYA. So Cajun.
  • Had to check out the bathroom as per the uje. The broad in there with me left without washing her hands, ugh.

Last view from our balcony. We stayed at some lame SureStay / Best Western but it ended up being ok even though I threw a huge fit about it on Saturday just based on the parking lot, backside of the building lol oh, me.

9:34am Hoo boy we just had a great excursion to Clingmans Dome in the Smokies. I wanted to recreate a picture from 2011 and we tried to do this on Saturday but the mountains were SO CROWDED that we couldnt get even get a parking spot. So we came back this morning and it was basically snowing, soooo cold, but somehow we only argued once and very briefly??

I’ll post the recreation in a separate blog post because I used the DSLR for it.

11:00am: We’re only just leaving Pigeon Forge now. It took so long to drive out of the mountains and Henry refused to stop anywhere even though I purposely wore a nice sweater to have my picture taken in. But ok. Mm.

Stopped at a gas station in Pigeon Forge that was next to a Bojangles and as we were leaving I saw a sign for sweet potato pies so I made Henry go into Bojangles and get one but he had to wait ten minutes for new ones to be made and I actually hate saying this but it was lowkey worth it. McD’s-esque and the filling was so smooth and warm.

12:36pm: Starting to not be as sulky. Found a place to eat at in some rando’ Virginian town, stay tuned. Hopefully they’re actually open. Just sitting here in the meantime marveling over Renjun’s precious baby voice.

1:16pm: Made it to White Birch!

I haven’t had a golden latte in forever.

Guys. I got the vegan curry and it was…meh, sadly. It had huge chunks of crunchy onions and carrots that were barely cooked, stewed tomatoes (ugh), over rice and quinoa. I had to keep trying to eat around stuff and it didn’t even taste curry-ish, but more like a stew.

Chooch didn’t eat any of his wrap which I tasted and immediately wished I had ordered because it was delicious but Chooch is v. picky. So I guess that’s what I’m having for dinner.

Henry got a chicken salad sandwich or something who cares.

3:45pm: Henry made me drive for a little while and that was annoying. I’m actually still driving right now while I’m blogging JUST KIDDING I’m not an asshole.

5:44pm: this drive is so boring. I finished a book (Palm Beach Finland). It was ok. We have been listening to NCT this whole time. Chooch is laying in the back being a baby.

7:37pm: We just stopped at a rest area in Pennsylvania and I swear to fucking GOD this is not familiar even though we are on this route very often?? I feel like if it’s not new-new, it is at the very least a renovated rest stop but Henry is arguing that it’s not. I mean it was like sparkling, even the bathroom, and the vending area had an intense number of options and a SITTING AREA.

When we were leaving, I pointed out the numbers along the side of the door and asked if it was in case you wanted to measure your height and Henry said it’s there for when there is a robbery/crime so you know the approx. height of the perp?? I never knew this. I literally thought it was there in case someone felt like checking their height for curiosity purposes.

8:14pm: we should be home in about 24 minutes so I’ll put this live blog out of its misery. Byeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Nov 262022
 

Our thanksgiving 2022 was quiet, small, and nice. We didn’t want to have a big dinner because there’s only three of us and we would be leaving the next day for Tennessee and the leftovers would perish. So we ordered some kind of lentil loaf thing from a local vegan place (they changed their name to something that I literally cannot remember but they used to be Tupelo Honey in Millville). It was good but Henry didn’t cook it right so it came out like stuffing and not so much a loaf. We also got pumpkin bars from them, and then Henry cooked a fake ham, Brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes. It was all we needed.

And of course, each other! Lololol.

I told Chooch that I invited Vlad to dinner and he actually went into panic mode.

Nov 252022
 

(Hello, I recommend reading this post first because I will be referencing people and incidents from that!)

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, around 9:30 and we were doing fuck all. In fact, I had just curled up on the couch with a book while Henry was working on something at the computer in the other room. Chooch was in his room playing dumb games with his friends.

I hadn’t even had a chance to open my book yet, when suddenly…

The front door opens.

I had about .25 seconds to run through the probability of this being either Henry or Chooch. Did one of them go outside through the basement, perhaps? And now they were coming back in?

But now there was a stranger standing in the doorway. He quietly closed the door behind him, then turned back into the room.

We locked eyes.

My mental People Rolodex is flipping at warped speed: WHO IS THIS MAN. DO I KNOW THIS MAN.

Now the man’s eyes are flicking around my house. “Oh…shit. I walked into the wrong house.”

“Yes,” I managed to whisper, half-paralyzed, not quite with fear but surprise. Shock.

This happened so quietly and calmly, that even Henry had a delayed reaction at the computer, not quite sure what is happening.

“Wow, this house is….I should go,” the man said, and turned to leave. Now I could hear Chooch creeping on the steps. He apparently thought it was Blake dropping off Starbucks for him after work and was shocked to see that, no this was not Blake.

“Yes, you should go,” I agreed, and now it clicked where I had seen this face before: he is one of the people moving in with Rob (please refer to previous post!) and he had also come over to Ruth’s on Monday to make sure was OK. Plus, I had seen him several times over the weekend moving stuff into the house.

So a stranger, but also a neighbor. But still a stranger.

“Do you mind if I just stand here and look around for a minute?” he asked.

Now here is the point where my constant need for praise and attention drop-kicked any remaining supply of rationality out of my cranial trap door. Since the pandemic, we have barely had anyone over here aside from family, Verizon guys, and plumbers. So I was kind of like, “YES, YOU MAY” which I know pissed Henry off, but hello I would like to note for the log that Henry was the last one in the house and didn’t shut the door all the way, so this is a very BLAME HENRY situation we have on our hands here. Also, passive Henry never once attempted to intervene.

Also, this guy was fucking high. Imagine walking into my house for the first time, incapacitated. This was around the time he finally introduced himself as Robert, the boyfriend of the girl also moving in with Rob who Rob said was his daughter but GET THIS: she is actually the ex-gf of Rob’s son, Brandon!? That is…weird? Right? That she’s living with her ex-bf’s dad and her new bf?

“Do you get high?” he asked, to which I immediately said no. “Oh, well do you mind if we smoke pot over there?” he asked, and I said that I didn’t care what he did as long as it wasn’t in my house (??) and he goes, “No, I mean, you can’t smell it through the walls, right?” I had to explain to him that he didn’t just walk into the wrong SIDE of his new house, he walked into the wrong house entirely.

“Well, we don’t share any walls since you’re all the way over there, so no, we can’t smell it,” I explained and then in my head, thought, “LOL that’s Ruth’s problem.”

Man, this guy (who was born in 1988, a fact I will never forget because he told me like 1,988 times and I wanted to be like, “THAT’S WHEN G-DRAGON WAS BORN!” but you know, we just met) had questions about everything. First, he asked if everything in here was for sale, like he thought this was a lighting store or something?

He’s still standing at this point, and I’m sitting on the couch wondering how much longer this was going to last before I had to tell him to leave. He was very quiet, calm, polite, totally high though. Henry wanted no part of this at all and LET ME DEAL WITH IT?! He told me later, “Oh, you seemed to have it under control. I assessed the situation and he didn’t appear to be a threat.” WOW, way to be the man of the house. Not to white Knight Henry, but imagine a petite Seth Rogen and that’s basically what walked into our house.

But then Robert started talking about the drama that happened the other day. “What the hell was up with that??” he asked, and I was like, “Buckle up, Robert, I’m an expert at Pioneer Ave information.” So now Robert is sitting on the couch and we’re chatting like old broads at tea time. I forgot that I used to be good at conversationing and peopling! Anyway, the irony was not lost on him that he essentially did the same thing as Johnny Cash, just in a much less sinister context.

You guys, he LET ME TALK ABOUT KOREA and that is all I ever want, truly.

I would also like to memorialize the fact that prior to this, I had put on a YouTube video about various things to do in the Smoky Mountains, nature-wise, and another extremely boring video had started playing with a super old man narrating in in a dry voice, like something you’d have watched in school on a day when you have a sub and they have nothing else to give you, work-wise. I desperately wanted to change it but the remote was on the other side of Robert. So I let the boring ass video play on like in some old bitch living in a wood-paneled RV.

I mean, that seems like the type of TV someone like that would watch.

About 30 minutes in, he mentioned that he was born in Romania and I almost lunged at him in excitement.

“I AM OBSESSED WITH ROMANIA,” I said in a very serious fashion, and he was caught off guard by this.

I will say it was frustrating though because he couldn’t remember anything and asked me numerous times what my name is and how long I’ve been living here. Henry said he texted Chooch at one point and said, “It’s like a revolving convo.” I demanded a screenshot of these texts for journalistic purposes:

Typical Chooch, only cares about his drink, zero concern for Mum’s safety.

Apparently during other parts, Chooch was hovering on the steps listening in and he and Henry were communicating through facial expressions. I wish I could have seen their faces when ROMANIA came up because I’m sure Henry closed his eyes in defeat and Chooch gave his fists a “NOW SHE WILL NEVER LET HIM LEAVE” shake.

So yeah, Robert moved to the States with his parents from Romania when he was 7 but he still speaks Romanian fluently and was just there this year to visit family! HE TAUGHT  ME HOW TO SAY HELLO HOW ARE YOU IN ROMANIAN BUT I ALREADY FORGOT.

Anyway, he stayed for an hour and then we wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving, he apologized again, and that was that. I got up and immediately locked the door behind him.

I immediately texted my brother, Corey, because he is so invested in the Pioneer drama.

Truly! That was not how I saw the night going. Look, I am clearly starved for conversation! I knew this was filling a void when I abandoned all of my filters and started giddily telling Robert about the squirrels. “And they love grapes, but they call them by the Korean word, podo!” (Henry texted Chooch at this point like, “great, now she’s talking about the squirrels.”)

Anyway, Corey and I are now exclusively referring to Robert as Vlad so as not to confuse him with Rob.

Chooch cautiously came downstairs a few minutes later. “OMG did he finally leave?” he asked, and then gave me a very disappointed head shake. Turns out he wasn’t worried that this guy was going to murder me, he was just annoyed because Blake had left his Starbucks in a bag on the porch and Chooch didn’t want to have to walk past Robert. He apparently texted Blake said he couldn’t get it right away because some guy was in the house.

Blake goes, “Who, dad’s new boyfriend?” (When Henry heard about this he mockingly laughed and said, “wow you guys are all so funny.”)

Chooch said, “No, some guy living with Rob. He just walked into our house.”

And Blake said, “Oh cool.”

OH COOL????

“I just can’t believe this happened two nights after you were telling me about the other time someone walked into the house,” Chooch said, and my mind is also a little blown about that too. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! (Aside from us needing to triple-check that the door is locked.)

***

“Wow, you wanna talk about someone who can talk…” Henry sighed, after Robert left.

“Oh I know right, I didn’t think he was ever going to leave!” I said.

“I was talking about you,” Henry frowned.

:(

I bet Vlad doesn’t even remember being here.

Nov 242022
 

Pardon moi if I have already mentioned this, but last winter, the new jackass priest at the church across the street put up a sign prohibiting people from parking in the church lot overnight. This presented an issue because that’s where a bunch of us on this block parked because our street is notorious for hit-and-runs. I mean, if you’ve even casually read this blog or followed me on Instagram over the years, you have probably known about at least one incident. In fact, Henry was even interviewed about this on the local news!

As you can see in the picture below, there are two driveways for four duplexes to share. House #3 has two residents and SIX cars. SIX!!! Two of them are FREE CANDY vans that don’t run and are just rusting in the back, a minivan that used to be permanently parked in the church lot was moved behind House #1, one was being stored in the garage of House #2 while the house was vacant, and then two of them are actually used daily.

The people who live in House #7 are just as bad. One of their cars is literally a Yellow Cab minivan. They also had a bunch of cars that were broken down and being “stored” in the lot across the street, in addition to someone’s extremely noisy work van (we’ll get to this in a second), so it’s actually no wonder the priest flipped his shit.

OK, now please familiarize yourself with the cast of characters as detailed below:

  1. Multi-unit house not affiliated with our set of duplexes (they have a different landlord). Residents include Chooch’s friend Marky who lives there with his grandparents, some older lone guy who recently broke his knee and fell in front of our house at 1am after getting out of the hospital and Chooch, unbeknownst to us, went out to assist him; a…strange older couple who we never have had any interaction with but Hot Naybor Chris refers to them as Johnny Cash and Buttcrack (her ass crack really does make an absurd amount of appearances). For the sake of brevity, we will henceforth refer to them as JC & BC.
  2. There used to be a couple from Kentucky who lived here and the cops were there so much, they should have been helping with rent. Tons of domestic issues. They were smoking with Marky’s mom and stepdad one night and caught their couch on fire. The husband reminded me of Johnny Craig. Anyway, they’re gone and now Rob* is moving in.
  3.  HNC and his wife who hates the squirrels and is the Pioneer parking dictator.
  4. The coolest people on the street!
  5. Henry’s older son Blake and his fam.
  6. Two older brothers. One is George and I don’t know the other guy’s name. They are nice enough but they did have an Oz sign in their yard for this last election, so. I think the daughter of one of them lives there too? She owns a boutique on the Boulevard and seems cool. They also have a cool dog named Zeus. Overall, no issues with these people but we also keep our distance all the same.
  7. Chooch’s nemesis Larry and his wife. She seems sane. I think she is also somehow related to one of the brothers next door to them? Daughter, maybe? I also think that their young adult son and/or daughter has been living there too?
  8. IDK, seem normal, no interaction
  9. IDK, seem normal, no interaction but it’s worth mentioning that this is the unit where my favorite ex-neighbor ROBIN used to live.
  10. Jackie’s house, has been there since before I moved in back in 1999. Not a rental unit. At this point, me, Jackie, and two other non-rental houses on the other side of her are the OGs of the block.
  11. The yellow lines that HNC’s wife had painted on the curb because she can’t pull out of the driveway if people park too close. If you park over the yellow lines, she will call the police on you. She did that to one of my old neighbors, but that was probably also because she was black. Sigh.

*OK, we’ll start this with a backstory about ROB. When I moved here in 1999, Rob and Jackie were married and had a son named Brandon. I think Brandon was somewhere between 10-12 and he was a little punk, if we’re being honest. I was 20 when I moved here and Brandon and some other neighbor kids glommed on to me IMMEDIATELY. I kind of became the resident babysitter, except that I wasn’t getting paid. But it wasn’t all that bad. I always had friends here with me and we would play with the kids in the yard. Brandon could be a super dick though and to this day, I am still convinced that he broke into my house through my basement in 2001 and stole an entire CD rack from my house. Even when I confronted Jackie about it, she didn’t deny it on his behalf, just said that if he did it, she unfortunately had not seen any of the CDs in her house. I was actually JUST thinking about this other day too when the whole Hoobstank topic came up because the night I was robbed, I was at the Dave Navarro show at Metropol and Hoobastank opened for him. I was with my friend Wonka and as we were leaving, the singer of Hoobastank (they were not well-known at all yet, no radio “hits”) was handing out samplers. Never one to pass up a CD sampler, I of course took one and I went to walk away, the singer called out, “Wait! Don’t you want me to sign it?” So that is why I have a signed Hoobastank CD in my collection, OK? God.

Then Dave Navarro said hello to me and let me take his picture as he was getting into his car and I floated home on Cloud Nine….only to see that the glass of my basement window had been broken.

Meanwhile, Brandon’s dad was the Street Drunk. Everyone knew Rob. He’d get hammered and like, stand in the middle of the road naked. There was this one story I had heard about how he was getting on a plane shortly after 9/11 and started screaming about terrorists and had to be dragged off the plane.

Rob and Jackie live far enough down the street that I haven’t had much interaction with them over the years, but Jackie has always been very kind to me and we still say hello to each other in passing. I have to laugh though because there used to be a kid that lived next to her who Chooch and Marky used to play with and for some reason they would always go in Jackie’s backyard and then she would yell at them. Chooch haaaates her to this day and calls her The Witch but if you ask me, this was just karma for all the times her dumb kid would darken my doorstep.

I guess it was about a year ago, I kept noticing that Rob was in and out of Larry’s house (House #7). I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but it somehow came up in conversation when Henry was talking to HNC one day that Jackie had kicked Rob out and gotten a restraining order against him SO HE MOVED IN WITH LARRY. Oh, I bet Jackie fucking loved that, still having to see his ass every day.

So then the NEW PARKING DECREE was issued and Rob, no longer having a driveway, had to start squeezing his noisy-ass work van onto the  street. Now, this is city parking and no one can “claim” that a particular space is theirs, as much as they want to. Most people just bitch about it quietly but NOT HNC’S WIFE. All it took was Rob parking his van ONE TIME in front of HER HOUSE for her to straight-up threaten him with a baseball bat. I’m not joking – it was a whole fucking confrontation and I have it on video. This was in April.

Things got pretty quiet on the parking front for a while. In fact, I eventually realized one day over the summer that I hadn’t seen Rob’s van in a while so I figured he must have moved, but then I quickly moved on because I didn’t actually care that much.

Two weeks ago, Henry and I were getting in the car to leave and HNC was fiddling around with one of his broken rapist vans. I asked him how he was doing and he groaned, “Oh just lovely. I’m getting a new neighbor. DEAD ROB.”

“Dead Rob?” I asked, not following.

“Yeah, you know, Rob from down there? He died then came back?* Anyway, his mom up to died and he sold her house and now he’s moving in next door to me.”

*(UM NO I DIDN’T KNOW THIS??? I GUESS THAT’S WHY HE DISAPPEARED FOR A WHILE? WAS HE IN REHAB OR SOMETHING?)

“I haven’t told Ruth yet,” Chris went on. “She’s not going to be happy.”

Then I immediately remembered their April altercation and had to chew on the inside of my cheek to keep from squealing. I managed to wait until Henry and I  pulled out of the driveway before LEGIT CACKLING over this. If you don’t know, HNC’s wife is like Pioneer Enemy #1. There is not a person on this street who has not suffered her wrath. I try very hard to tread lightly even though I want to confront her so bad every time she calls the squirrels bastards.

So HNC had to remove his spare car from the empty house’s garage since IT AIN’T EMPTY ANYMORE, FRIEND, and now street parking got a bit trickier because Rob has two cars that he needs to park on the street since HNC takes up the entire bottom of the driveway (we’re so privileged and grateful that he cleared enough space for us to park our two cars, thanks so much for providing us with space that we’re already entitled to according to our lease, but mmmm).

If you please go back up and refer to my handy illustration, you will see that there is a WHITE CAR parked in front of HNC’s house, owned by Johnny Cash and Buttcrack. Now, legend has it that HNC asked them nicely to kindly start parking their car farther up the street, more toward their own house, so that HNC can park the car that he actually does drive in front of his own house. Allegedly, they said they would and I guess they did so one or two times, but then reverted back to parking in front of HNC’s house. HNC says it’s because they like the convenience of this spot in that it enables them to more easily make a U-turn when leaving? This is such a wild rationale to me. I mean, that reason just seems dumb.

So HNC (or Ruth, I dunno – I wasn’t there) had to ask them again. Now, this is where things get curious to me because whatever happened next caused JC and BC to go over to HNC’s house on Monday afternoon. I was sitting at my desk working and Henry had just walked out the door to go to THE STORE when he called me and said, “JC and BC just walked up to Ruth’s house, get ready.” So of course I whirled around to look out the window. From my vantage, I couldn’t see JC because he must have been too close to Ruth’s front door, but I could see BC, who was standing on the sidewalk casually slurping on what appeared to be a milkshake.

Then I heard GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE! *SLAM* GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE! *ANOTHER SLAM* and then JC & BC retreated. Henry had just reached our car in the lot (we still park there during the day until the sign changes and says that we can’t) and said that he turned around in time to see JC lurching and slurring (Henry’s imitation of this was priceless, honestly) and Ruth slamming the door. “I guarantee she calls the cops,” Henry said when he called me again from the car.

Several minutes later, cop shows up. I was desperately trying to hear what was being said but there is never a reprieve from the traffic on this fucking street. But I could tell that Ruth was crying and she was obviously explaining the parking situation to the cop. Then the cop walked over to JC’s house. Henry was home at this point, and I said, “Fuck it, I’m going out there.” I mean, I wanted to know. And I didn’t want to rely on whatever secondhand nonsense HNC was going to give to Henry later.

Ruth was fucking shaking on her porch when I walked over. Rob, in the process of moving in, also came over to comfort her, which I thought was decent considering she had just threatened him with a baseball bat six months ago. But then as he walked away, she looked at me and said with total contempt in her tone, “And you know where HE came from” and pointed down the street toward Larry’s house. I’m actually surprised she didn’t spit at him as he was walking away. Good ol’ Ruth.

But then she went back to be being shook and told me the story:

She was in the kitchen baking a pumpkin pie (this was a key element to the story, apparently, because I have heard her tell the story so many times now and it always starts out this way) when she heard a light tapping. She assumed it was Rob hanging up pictures next door. Then suddenly, JC is storming into her house, lurching at her and slurring angrily (her imitation of this sounded just like Henry’s, like someone who had just woken up from oral surgery had immediately gone to a haunted house and was trying to scream with a mouthful of gauze and novacaine. She said that the only reason her door was even unlocked was because her daughter was on her way over. And I get it, a Monday afternoon, broad daylight, you don’t really think twice about unlocking your door in preparation for someone’s arrival. I can’t fault her for that.

But how fucking horrific, to be in your kitchen, listening to the radio and baking a pie, when some fucking drunk derelict comes bursting into your house?? And I am in no way condoning this, but it begs the question….what was the actual impetus of this? Like, what EXACTLY was said to them over this stupid parking situation that caused the guy to be that angry (he also seems a bit off too, to be frank) that he is going to walk right into your house when you don’t answer?!

There are missing pieces here. Or…maybe he’s just that fucking weird that this seemed OK to him??

Anyway, the cop came back over at this point, so I excused myself and went back into my house.

“WAS ROB HOLDING A SHOT GUN???” Henry asked me.

“No, it was like, a vaccuum cleaner from the 80s,” I clarified, and that became my favorite part of the whole debacle. I can’t explain it, but I get big Beetlejuice vibes from Rob and him loitering on his porch with a vaccuum nozzle while in the middle of a neighborhood dispute is exactly the image I want to use on the imaginary cover for the straight-to-video VHS tape of this volume of the Pioneer Tales.

After the cop left, I went back over to Ruth’s because I genuinely felt bad and wanted to give her my number in case anything like that happened again. She invited me in and went through the whole ordeal again in depth and man, the image I have in my head of this weirdo pushing his way into her house, ugh. Shudder City.

A short while later came another explosion of expletives outside. I looked out the window just in time to see Ruth’s daughter Ashley rushing through the yard, screaming, “IF YOU FUCK WITH MY MOM AGAIN, I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU” as her husband was trying to hold her back. Then about an hour later, ANOTHER screaming match happened. I tried to get this on video but of course, fucking traffic and also there is no good vantage point from the inside of my house to be able to capture what goes on over on that side of the yard. But this time it sounded like both Ashley and her husband and both JC and BC were screaming threats and insults at each. Ashley and her husband kept sneering at them for being alcoholics and saying things like, “I can smell the booze on your breath from over here!” and then the cops showed up again, this time because JC called them and said he was assaulted by Ashley’s husband which I’m pretty sure is not accurate, but ok.

Later that night, Henry and I were telling Chooch about everything he missed when he was at work. I was reminded of the time when I first moved in and there was a guy named Paul who lived in House #5. People were constantly mistaking my house for Paul’s, peering into my window and calling out, “PAUL!” and I’m like, “Nope, next house.” Paul was basically like an eternal frat boy and was probably definitely selling drugs too, because he was very popular and always had people coming in and out. I told Chooch about the time that I had just gotten into bed for the night and stupid Jeff, my then-boyfriend, hadn’t shut the front door all the way which I found out when we were laying in bed and heard the front door open.

Then, footsteps.

The fridge opening.

Beer bottles clanking as they’re being put into the fridge.

Then, footsteps on the stairs.

Jeff, manly as he was, was straight-up cowering behind me in bed.

“Paul?” a stranger’s voice called out from the midway point of the steps.

“No, wrong house,” I replied.

“Oh fuck, I’m so sorry!”

Footsteps more frantic now, fridge door opening, beer bottles being removed, front door closes.

“Oh my god!” Chooch said.

“Yeah, it was scary and weird,” I laughed. Because I wasn’t murdered that night, so I can laugh.

There was also this one time when I had several friends over and we were all sitting outside drinking some shitty Smirnoff Ice probably, when some people got out of a car and started walking down my sidewalk toward my porch. We were all sitting on the sidewalk and these randos just like, stepped over us and kept walking.

“Watch this,” I mouthed to my friends, and then counted down 3….2….

The randos walked right onto my porch and opened my front door.

“Wrong house!” I called over my shoulder. “Paul lives down there.”

Paul still lived there by the time Henry had moved in with me, so he is also aware of this legendary part of Pioneer’s past. We shared some more Paul stories with Chooch and then briefly wondered whatever happened to him.

And then the next day, this happened?!

Highly doubt they were trying to reach THAT Paul, but still spooky!

I was telling some co-workers about this and how you know, once Paul moved away, random strangers stopped walking into my house and BOY, SO GLAD ABOUT THAT, DOT DOT DOT.

PART 2, TOMORROW.

Nov 232022
 

My brother Corey and I were traipsing down Memory Lane the other day when I referenced the time that my childhood best friend and I were “professional junior bridesmaids.” Corey was like, “Whoa whoa whoa, back up.  I don’t remember this??” To his credit, he was like 2 years old at the time and too concerned with drinking “strawbeddy” milk to notice his teenage sister walking down aisles in pink taffeta.

(Was it taffeta?)

(Do I even know what taffeta is?)

As I was filling in the missing pages of this chapter of the Kelly Family Story for him, it made me realize how actually fucking ridiculous this whole thing was. Let me tell you about it.

The year was 1992. My aunt Susie was planning a wedding with her fiance, Mark (he was fucking awesome, btw, and played in a cover band called Le Chic!). I don’t know whose idea it was, but I somehow got locked in as “junior bridesmaid.” And because my BFF Christy was basically an honorary family member to the point where my Pappap once offered to take her to Europe with us but her parents said no (I was sad!), she was also offered a supporting role in The Wedding.

If you’re reading this and you know me personally, you will remember that this was basically the impetus of what would become a lifelong fear of food / eating disorder / etc. for me because I was a preteen FATTY and my grandma made sure I was aware of it. God forbid I should ruin Susie’s wedding with my fat ass registering seismic activity as I Stay Puft’d my cankles down the aisle. So this was also the year that I became exercise-obsessed too. I was on Slim Fast (yep, at 11! Ask me about the lingering effects that had on my psyche) and working out with Denise Austin and Gilad every day. I remember feeling awesome at the last fitting when my dress had to be taken in, but also thinking that I was still fat.

Speaking of the FITTING, some memories I have of that:

  • being pissed because the adults got to drink champagne;
  • obviously hating Susie’s choice of dress for us (and let’s be honest, it was probably my grandma’s choice);
  • the saleswoman’s name being Rosemary but calling her Rosethorn behind her back because she kept sticking us with pins;
  • maniacally singing “Pop Pop Goes the Weasel” (some inexplicably popular pseudo-rap song that was v. popular in 1992?!) in the back of my grandma’s car after leaving the dumb bridal shop to the point where my grandma legit lost her shit and yelled at us. God first, I’m fat then I’m annoying on top of it all.

Fast forward to the wedding. I was 12 by then, I think?

Corey asked who even was in the wedding and all I could remember was Susie’s friend Lori was a Girl Scout (no, not like, in her youth – she was STILL a Girl Scout somehow? I can’t remember what the deal was but I know that Christy and I were majorly side-eyeing each other over this, back when we didn’t know that side-eyeing was a thing) and had once dated former Pgh Penguin Phil Borque but back when he was in the farm league. Interestingly, my mom was not in the wedding party (she probably opted out because anything that puts even a background spotlight on her is not my mom’s jam) and either was Sharon, the eldest sister, but this is not shocking because Susie and Sharon hated each other.

Luckily, I found these pictures. I have no idea who any of those dudes are or the first lady, but the blond is my cousin Zita: former lingerie model and former girlfriend of former Red Wings Chris Chelios. Lots of hockey…connections in this wedding party.

Susie and Mark have since divorced but Susie is still married to that hairstyle. (Not even knocking her – that coif works for her. I literally can’t imagine her with any other hairstyle. It’s her signature!)

But where this gets kind of weird is that my cousin Zita’s brother Chris (also my cousin, obvi, but also has the distinction AND HONOR of being my godfather) was also slated to get married that year, two months after Susie. So he’s at the wedding with his fiancée, you know, and someone on that side of the family thought it would be adorable if Christy and I donned the dresses again for a second strut down the aisle, this time at the wedding of Chris and Laurie.

I mean, I barely knew Chris, if we’re being honest. Super nice guy, but our families didn’t like, hang out. And Christy CERTAINLY didn’t know him! But yeah, OK. Sure. This is normal. We will be in your wedding too! Wearing the same dresses! Knowing NO ONE in the wedding party!

This wedding was actually kind of fun though. I have a strong memory of getting into the limo after the ceremony to go to the reception. The wedding was at some really nice church downtown, I think? I don’t know, but the reception was at the Embassy Suites near the airport, and I remember it being fancy AF. So, we’re in the limo, right? And all the adults are popping the champers and just, you know, popping off in general too. And this one groomsman, he was really starting to get loose in the limo and the lips, and he looked at me, gestured at me with his sloshing glass, and said, “Your aunt Susie is A BITCH!” Christy and I were like, “Ooooooooooh!!!!!” Anyway, he went on to tell us that he was IN LOVE with her in high school I guess, and she broke his heart or something, I don’t know, but Christy and I were sure to report back to Susie on this later.

The other thing I will never forget about this wedding was that the bride’s younger brother looked like a young Mario Lemieux (hockey again) and Christy and I were LUSTING.

At the reception, we mostly just ran around letting everyone wonder who the fuck we were, but at one point Zita snagged us. She was with her then-boyfriend, some much-older rich guy. She joked that we would also have to be in their wedding. “It’s going to be in Bermuda! We’ll fly you there!”

They never got married, and Christy and I never got another gig as the Pinkies. Probably for the best considering NEITHER COUPLE made it to their 10th anniversary.

Nov 222022
 

Cliff the Plumber returned to my house this morning, with some broad in tow. His wife? Sister? Just a random apprentice? I have no idea, but their working relationship was stressing me the fuck out. Cliff spent most of the time working through the hole in the ceiling while she was in the bathroom getting lowkey berated by him. I say lowkey because he maintained a monotone through it all, even when a piece of a pipe fell down and hit him (Henry said he thinks it hit him in the head lol) and she was like, “Are you OK?” and he very dryly said, “No. I’m not OK” and then continued working. Later, he quietly monotoned, “Ow. That went in my eye.”

o.O

I work from home, and my desk is literally in the dining room where he was working so this was awkward AF. I usually use Jabber to chat with my work-friends, but I didn’t want CLIFF to see that I was giving plumbing play-by-plays so I was covertly texting from my lap under my desk, like he was my manager or something.

At one point, Cliff had to go out to his van and when he opened the front door, he said, “Hi squirrel” so that was nice of Cliff to acknowledge that this is Squirrel Town.

But back to his plumber lady. He kept asking her questions through the hole and when she would respond, he would exasperatedly huff, “I can’t hear you!” like it’s her fault she has to communicate around a corner and through a hole, you know? My two least favorite moments were:

  1. when he slightly raised his voice and said COME ON, MAN. DO I HAVE TO COME UP THERE?
  2. when he lost his patience and snapped COME DOWN HERE NOW. And then he met her at the bottom of the steps (RIGHT NEXT TO MY DESK, FYI) and said, “You’ve done this a TRILLION TIMES. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?” She sputtered out an excuse but he didn’t hang around to hear it – he was already on his way up the steps to DO THE FUCKING JOB RIGHT.

I kept furiously texting Henry (WHO HAD FALLEN ASLEEP ON THE COUCH, BOY I’M SO GLAD THIS FUCKING HERO CAME HOME FROM WORK TO BE HERE WITH ME DURING THIS TRYING TIME) things like, “Can you please turn the TV on so there is some kind of background noise, because this is fucking awkward!?” You know what he put on? Some video of someone walking around a town and not speaking. There was like NO SOUND.

The whole thing took a little less than 2 hours, thank god. Afterward, they were washing their hands in the kitchen and openly discussing all the stuff in there. “That is really cool.” “Look, it’s Pee Wee!” “Oh, that must be from a pinball machine.”

Then CLIFF spent some time admiring Henry’s Seoul Subway Sign and Henry kept saying, “I AM MAKING A NEW ONE. IT’S GOING TO BE BETTER” and Cliff was like, “OK calm down.”

I mean, he didn’t say that but he was probably thinking it. Or maybe I was just thinking it loud enough for all of us.

The good news is that we FINALLY have new pipes, can use the shower again, and THE TUB DRAINS IMMEDIATELY so we’re not basically standing in bath water when showering. It only took actual decades for this to happen.

The bad news is that there is an even bigger hole in the ceiling and we are at the mercy of the landlord and whichever one of his goons he chooses to send to “fix” it. Henry is certain it’s going to end up being him so he’s prepared to bill the landlord himself.

Our Christmas party is less than a month away and I have a pretty good feeling that this hole will still be there, so if you see pictures of a random swath of Christmas wrapping paper taped to the ceiling, that’s uh….JUST PART OF THE XMAS DECOR, MOVE YOUR EYES ELSEWHERE.

Nov 212022
 

Hey from Pittsburgh. Today was actually quite action-packed as far as neighborhood dramzzzz goes but I will save that for maybe tomorrow because your girl’s gonna need more brain power as this will require some backstory for your reading pleasure.

So, for today, I’m just checking in with some quick updates:

  • CLIFF THE PLUMBER showed up at our house yesterday morning and was like THIS IS NOT WHAT I WAS EXPECTING which translates into THIS IS WORSE THAN I IMAGINED. He had a NOT HAPPY look on his face and kept sighing heavily. I mean, we have been telling the slum lord for YEARS that this was going to happen but he chose to ignore it and only SOMETIMES would actually send someone to do a quick fix. Then it would inevitably start leaking again and the ceiling would once again dal apart, rinse, repeat. Henry even patched the ceiling several times himself over the years. Anyway, CLIFF is coming back tomorrow morning to hopefully fix it for real. He said the pipe was so old that he could SQUEEZE it. My favorite part though was when he started to go upstairs and mumbled, “This is….interesting” because of the cloud LED ceiling I guess and then as he was leaving the house, he called out over his shoulder, toward the corner of the living room where all the cat houses are, “goodbye cats, I know you’re in there somewhere”. And then as he was walking out the door, “This…is a fun house.”
  • Henry always does this awful choke/hiccup thing that makes Chooch and me immediately groan and then mock him. Over the weekend, I finished my latest piece of performative art called Henry’s Choking, causing him to say he hopes that’s how he dies and then he stormed off LOLOLOLOL
  • Chooch made me do Heardle the other day because it was someone I liked and he figured I would get it immediately. I did not get it immediately. In fact, I did not get it at all and it didn’t even sound remotely familiar to me. “It’s someone you like! I distinctly remember you talking about him in the car one time.” This still told me nothing. Anyway, it ended up being Frank Ocean?! I was like, “Um, I liked Frank Ocean for like a millisecond before he got popular?! I definitely have never talked about him and I certainly wouldn’t have ever guessed this because I don’t remember a single one of his songs?!” THEN A FEW DAYS LATER he was doing Heardle again. He played the first second and I immediately said, “Oh, that’s Carribean Queen by Billy Ocean.” Of course I was right, and then Chooch snapped his fingers, “THAT’S who you were talking about in the car! BILLY Ocean.” Yes, that checks out. Anyway, the amount of times I get Heardle in the first guess drives Chooch up a wall. To be fair, this only works if the song is pre-2000s.
  • In more Heardle news, he was making me do today’s Heardle and I was like, “I truly do not know” and for some reason I asked, “Is it Hoobastank?” He goes, “Is that the band Bill really likes?” This made me pause because you might not know Bill but I know Bill and Hoobastank is 100% not a band he would like. So I shot Chooch with a series of question marks and he expanded upon this by saying, “Yeah because remember when we were at his house over the summer playing that game and he got so excited about the Hoobastank shirt?” UM YES BECAUSE IT WAS A JOKE?! I texted Bill later to tell him that now Chooch associates him with Hoobastank and he was like, ‘OK please fix that though.”
  • I finally framed the french fry bag that I brought home from Mr. Happy Burger last year! Only because I recently found it stuffed into a pocket of my travel backpack, LOL oops. Anyway, I love the orange and green so much! Coincidentally, we just bought paint samples in those same colors the other day but not because we’re pairing them together. I love the garishness of this gross 1970s color palette but only in small increments – even I have my limit!

  • I will end with a MV for Monday! I love B.I. so much!

Nov 202022
 

Hey-o it’s not Throwback Thursday or whatever but we are going to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge for a post-Thanksgiving getaway next weekend which has been lubing up my brain with fond memories of the last time we were there in 2018 and actually got along practically the entire time like a real life, functioning family unit so I started scouring the blog for old posts and decided to re-share this one in particular because holy shit, we had so much fun that day! It was like Henry realized that it was OK to kick back and like, I dunno, smile while letting us do whatever the hell we wanted. I hope it’s like that again this weekend and also HOLY SHIT how was 2018 that long ago??

Anyway, I’m super stoked for Dollywood (natch), specifically Lightning Rod so fingers crossed that it’s running (you never know!) and also for the chance to go to PAL’S SUDDEN SERVICE again! After discovering it during last year’s Thanksgiving trip to Georgia, I have been dying to go back.

I also want to eat at CROCKETT’S BREAKFAST CAMP in Gatlinburg, which somehow, we have missed out on the prior two times we were in teh area.

Oh my god and Dollywood’s cinnamon bread.

Goddamn, I love this tourist trap part of Tennessee so fucking much.

***

When we first decided* we were going to Tennessee for Thanksgiving weekend, I figured we’d get in sometime Saturday evening, have dinner or something, and then go to DOLLYWOOD on Sunday, because that was legitimately the sole impetus of this trip.

*(See also: when I decided and told Henry and Chooch we were going to Tennessee for Thanksgiving weekend.)

But then Henry was like, “Let’s just leave sometime Friday evening, drive halfway, and then have most of Saturday to do the Tennessee things.”  Who is this Captain Funtime Spirit using Henry as a host body!? I was stoked on this idea and we even got along the whole night in the car and only fought once on Saturday while still in West Virginia, when I was angry and had my typical knee-jerk temper explosion all over not being able to find my conditioner when I woke up Saturday morning. And then Henry told me to “end it” which is basically just the same as telling me to CALM DOWN which he doesn’t do anymore, but I can see we’re going to have a battle over semantics here soon.

We arrived in Pigeon Forge sometime around 1:00pm, I think. It would have been later than that if Henry had given in to my desire to tour the BUSH’S BAKED BEANS FACTORY. I was heart-broken when we drove past the visitor center and I saw tourists out there posing with all the baked beans signs, living their best gassy lives.

Once we hit that main drag in Pigeon Forge, the one that’s like the Las Vegas strip of tourist traps, Chooch’s eyes lit up like an orphan about to dive into a hot bowl of porridge.

Here are the highlights from Saturday, aka Every Single Thing We Did because it was such a great FAMILY FUNTIME day, as Chooch would call it. We love us some funtime.

POORLY PLANNED LUNCH!

Apparently, Pigeon Forge loves pancakes. There are pancake house everywhere! But you know what pancake houses are notorious for? Closing at 2-fucking-PM. So, no pancake houses for us. Then we were going to eat at some Cuban place I found on shitty Yelp but I got irrationally mad when we pulled up and found that it was in a strip mall-ish area. I didn’t want to eat in a strip mall! By then, we were halfway to Gatlinburg and I didn’t want to go too far away because we still needed to go back to our hotel so Chooch could change clothes for his Cool Boy Smoky Mountain Photoshoot since they let us check in but then the maid had literally JUST started cleaning our room so we just dumped our bags, hung out in the fitness room for a bit so I could walk like a freak on the treadmill after being in the car all morning, and then left for lunch.

So when we saw the Wild Bear Tavern, I screamed, “FUCK IT, JUST STOP HERE, I DON’T CARE.” Hilariously, it ended up being a German restaurant. First of all, German food and vegetarians rarely mesh well. Second of all, the last time we ate a German restaurant was in 2011 (OMG the same year we were last in Tennessee too!) and Henry and I both got major food poisoning. We were with two other people that night who didn’t get sick at all and the only common denominator was the apple strudel that Henry and I had for dessert so I guess we were poisoned by the Evil Queen? Henry has been terrified of German food ever since so he opted for a burger and Chooch and I both ordered grilled cheese from the kids menu and the waitress was just like, “Why did you come here, tho?”

I did get a side of spaetzel though which was drowning in a pool of melted, watery cheese so it was kind of like German mac n’ cheese I guess and not even close to being as glorious as the spaetzel my Pappap used to make for Christmas. He was the spaetzel king.

Chooch got like 3 new stains on his hoodie just from lunch because he eats like a three-year-old, so going back to the hotel afterward was imperative! Luckily, our room was done for real that time.

TRAIL MIX CHOKING!

Next up was the aforementioned Cool Boy Smoky Mountain Photoshoot! The highlight of this for us, don’t hate, was when we were driving back down the mountains to go  to Gatlinburg and Henry started choking on trail mix to the point where one lone tour dripped down his cheek and Chooch and I were going WILD over this. Then we were just like, “OMG please stop choking!” and it reminded me of how Glenn always chokes on peanuts at work. Good job being like Glenn, Henry. Anyway, Tuesday night, I was like, “Hey Chooch remember when Dad was choking on trail mix?” and  then we were crying because we were laughing so hard at the three-day-old memory and Henry called us a bunch of fuckers.

MYSTERIOUS MANSION!!

I wanted to do this the last time we were in Tennessee but it was before Chooch was wild about going to haunted houses and no one else thought it was a Super Great Idea like I did, so I did not go. But this time I was determined, and Chooch was pretty hyped up about it too. It took us a while to get through the Gatlinburg tourist traffic, but once we found somewhere to park, it was just a short walk from there. Henry was like, “I am not going in this thing, have fun” but had to come in anyway to pay for us, haha.

It was relatively “cheap” by haunted house standards ($13 for me, $8 for Chooch; something like that) and the ticket booth guy gave us the run-down in a melodramatic tone without making eye contact with us once. It was weird. But also, thank you for not looking at me, ticket guy.

Anyway, he sent us into a waiting room which was very dim and themed like an old-fashioned sitting room with a fireplace. There was a family of 5 waiting for us to join them, and then the ticket guy came over the intercom and told us it was time to find our way out of the room.

We were allowed to touch everything and push things, so that was really cool, and eventually we figured out that the fireplace had to be pushed in order for an entrance to be found. Every single person in that family (a mom, a SUPER TALL dad, a young son and daughter, and a SUPER TALL teenaged daughter) were absolutely paralyzed with fear and holding on to each other, so finally I offered to go first and they were basically treating me like a fucking hero, like I was some chick Van Helsing or something. It was HILAR. These people totally made the haunted house that much better for us, Chooch and I both agreed, which is no small feat because we barely agree on the color of the sky these days.

They were absolutely latched on to us and at first, I thought to myself, “Wow, this haunted house isn’t even that—-”  but then SHIT STARTED TO GO DOWN. Basically, without writing a goddamn screenplay, we were being stalked and terrorized by the same two or three guys and they were effective as fuck. One of them kept making a raptor-like sound in our faces, and at one point, we had walked up a staircase and were crossing a balcony-like hallway that overlooked the downstairs when one of them JUMPED FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HOUSE INTO THE HALLWAY WE WERE IN and I’ll tell you what, that family started a veritable stampede and I thought we were going to get turned into one a Pigeon Forge pancake for real. My throat hurt from screaming and laughing and scream-laughing! Oh shit, Chooch and I were cracking up so bad, this family was the limit.

At one point, the SUPER TALL daughter had my arm in a death grip, but she was pulling it behind my back at an uncomfortable angle, and then one of those guys came back to terrorize us some more and I was bracing myself for the crunch of cartilage as she snapped my arm back, but luckily I was able to break free. Her mom was holding on to my back and eventually realized what she was doing and said, “I AM SO SORRY. WE ARE REALLY DOING THE MOST RIGHT NOW” and I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to tell her it was fine. But real talk – if Chooch and I had gone through on our own, I might have had to utilize an emergency exit because it really like some real life terror situation at times. And the theming inside the house was great too, from what I was able to see in the flurry of hysteria going on around me. So damn good, would recommend. Exceeded expectations!

KILLING TIME IN G-BURG

We weren’t hungry yet so we decided to just walk around Gatlinburg and count how many times we got to say NOPE every time Chooch would excitedly point out some arcade or shooting gallery. Ripley’s pretty much owns eastern Tennessee, I’ve learned, so every other tourist attraction we passed had their name on it. We did some of that stuff last time, but ever since that duck boat tragedy last summer, I have been determined to boycott those motherfuckers so all I had to say was, “No, Ripley’s killed people” and then Chooch said, “Oh, I didn’t know” and NEVER ASKED AGAIN.

It was wonderful.

We walked by Christ in the Smokeys and I got a picture of Christ all dressed up in twinkle lights for Christmas to send to our friend Bill, who I dragged there along with us last time, but he admitted it was a real diamond in the rough. Of course it was!

Just in case I ever started to forget that we were in the south, we’d walk past a souvenir shop that had several pro-Trump novelty shirt hanging in the window. Yup. Cool fucking story.

MELLOW MUSHROOM!

We ate at the Pigeon Forge location twice last time we were there and all I could remember was that I had something with tempeh, so I wanted to go back because tempeh is one of my favorite vegetarian foods and also, we were in the South and my veg options were slim.

Admittedly, it wasn’t as great as I remembered, but it was still a nice dinner. Henry got the Holy Shiitake mushroom pizza so I could have a slice, Chooch got something with two different kinds of tomatoes and then remembered he doesn’t like tomatoes so he had to pick them off but supposedly liked whatever remained, and I got that tempeh sandwich thing which was great but not like, “OH SHIT I HAVE TO WRITE SEVERAL PARAGRAPHS IN MY BLOG ABOUT THIS” great.

I had a beer and I normally don’t drink very often anymore so I was pretty much plastered. Henry asked me what I ordered and I honestly have no idea, it was whatever the waiter recommended when I told him I only really like wheat beers. It was OK! I drank the whole glass! But it wasn’t very big, so….

We found the fountain where Bill almost actually drowned Chooch when he was pretending to drown him, lol.

(I know I’m referencing our last trip here so much but you have to understand that it was an epic time, and Chooch and Bill even have a commemorative book for it.)

Right after this, we walked past a bunch of small kids who were singing some song, that went like, “I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N” and passers-by were straight charmed by this Flanders-esque display of religion, but not us. We were gagging and trying to push our horns back into our scalps. There’s only one thing worse than kids and it’s RELIGIOUS kids.

We watched this guy poop out taffy logs from a machine. I also bought Ole Smoky moonshine taffy at some other candy store for work and Henry was pissed because my work always gets all the candy.

JURASSIC JUNGLE OAT RIDE!

After walking off our dinner, we went back to Pigeon Forge so that Chooch and I go on the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride!

Or, Oat Ride, I guess.

Now look, you don’t need to read the reviews to know that this is going to be a hokey trip through a glorified warehouse, but I NEEDED TO DO THIS. Henry kept saying it was going to be a rip-off, but he still handed over the credit card to the bored teenager working the ticket booth, and then he promptly went back and sat in the car while Chooch and I boarded a boat, or oat, with another family of suckers tourists.

That one dummy looks like a psycho Nick Jonas.

Sooooo…..it was actually pretty horrific in that I felt like we could have potentially been murdered in there. It was so dark (except for the jackass dad’s phone flashlight that he had turned on for THE ENTIRE RIDE because he was recording THE ENTIRE RIDE. Bro, that shit’s already on YouTube, don’t re-do it.) Chooch and I were especially terrified of the larger-than-life, extremely and inexplicably buff pterodactyl that was perched in anger above us.

We had so many questions.

I mean, I’m no dinosaur expert, but many things in there did not add up.

Overall, IT WAS FUCKING GREAT! Chooch started applauding sarcastically at the end, so then the mom of the family in front of us turned around and also started clapping but I think she actually meant it.

But yeah, if you’re into supremely tacky tourist shit from the 1970s, then this will be the jam to your peanut buttered travel itinerary.

I might still be drunk from that beer.

WHEN CHOOCH DIVORCED HIMSELF FROM THE FAMILY

We went back to the hotel after the Jurassic thing so we could drop the car off and just walk to play mini golf — HENRY’S IDEA! He must have been having so much fun hemorrhaging money on family time.

But it was hard to cross the big bad Pigeon Forge tourist highway so we couldn’t go to the mini golf place that Chooch originally chose and had to pick one of the dozens of places on the side we were already on.

So we chose Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure, where Chooch finally realized after all this time that he sucks at mini golf.

I was so giddy by this point of the night, and spent most of the time doubled over in laughter while Chooch was practically roid-raging over his inability to get the ball in the hole in less than 9 strokes while Henry was looking up flights for one from Knoxville to Pittsburgh.

I sincerely don’t know how we didn’t get kicked out.

But most importantly, I won! Taemin’s wife always wins!

Somehow we missed an entire hole, Chooch lost his ball right at the end which resulted in him having a major psychiatric break and so he stormed off back to the hotel ahead of us, I nearly laughed myself to death because I’m a great mom, and Henry kept mumbling about wanting ice cream but then he never got ice cream.

We made it back to the hotel and almost immediately crashed. It’s amazing that we managed to mostly get along so well!

(Although, there was one time earlier that day when Chooch was trying to make a video for Instagram and got mad later when he realized you could hear Henry and me arguing in the background. I asked him what we were saying and he said we were arguing about where something was and then he imitated me saying, “That’s literally what I just said” and I said that he made me sound like a sassy teenage girl. “Yeah. That’s because that’s what you sound like,” he said in a way that implied it was NOT a compliment. Rude.)

Nov 192022
 

Henry and I were working on house projects all morning and then took a break in the afternoon to try out a new-ish bakery in my old turf, Jefferson Hills. It’s called Sabatello’s and it’s billed as Pgh’s first goth bakery so it had been on my radar since I used to be a fake goth from 1998-2001.

Actually, we were on our way to Michael’s for spray paint when I started whining about needing a treat, fucking mutt that I am, so that’s how this happened.

First of all, they have a purple door which I immediately embraced, and the interior is black and white stripes with purple accents and Halloween decorations sprinkled throughout.

The owner came out immediately to greet us and tel us about their offerings and she was the fucking cutest goth and SO FRIENDLY – I love friendly bakery people which you would think would be a prerequisite but I have walked out of Potomac Bakery numerous times with a SOUR TASTE IN MY MOUTH.

Can I just say that before delving into the descriptions of her baked goods, she took a moment to gush, “Your hair color is STUNNING.”

Girl. THANK YOU. I go to Bad Apple and Carly is an artist, I swear.

Ok anyway!! We bought an array of goods but I need to tell you about the cheesecakes, posing here in front of the Cure wall in honor of their goth roots.

Egg nog & white chocolate cranberry, good lord. The white chocolate cranberry one is my favorite. They were both so light and melt-in-your-mouth-y.

I’m going to make a habit of visiting regularly so that I can ingratiate myself into a friendship while eating my way through all of the cheesecake flavors.

Then we came home to Chooch taking a shower and all the water pouring out of the dining room ceiling so that was cool considering the waterfall was directly above one of the walls we’re repainting. Anyway, the slumlord is allegedly sending “Cliff” over, whoever the fuck that is, because the leaking pipe we have been reporting to him over and over for like 2 decades has finally rusted itself into oblivion so now we can’t use the shower/tub until “Cliff” fixes it.

It’s fine. Everything is fine. But if you don’t hear from me for a while, assume that I drowned in the creek I was attempting to bathe in.

Nov 172022
 

OMG when I unearthed this picture, I involuntarily lurched into full-body cackling. No, listen, Linda. Linda, listen. You have no idea the significance of this. June 1992, weekend road trip to Lake Chataugua for Liz’s birthday, accompanied by our other pal Kim; Liz’s parents and younger sister, Jane; and their golden retriever whose name I honestly cannot believe I momentarily forgot.

But before I tell you, can we first appreciate my denim shirt from Merry-Go-Round (probably, I’m assuming – that was my favorite place to shop in 1992 and also where I would later discover Cross Colors and Karl Kani and undergo a full-fledged lifestyle change which is something that probably doesn’t sound like me AT ALL), my TWA travel bag from a previous trip to Europe with my grandparents (UGH I WISH I STILL HAD THIS) with my vacation journal tucked like precious cargo in the front pocket, MY BANGS AND STUPID BUMP-THING THAT I ALWAYS DID (also, this was my SECOND PERM as if getting ONE PERM wasn’t enough for an entire lifetime and beyond), and in my hands is my Walkman which has one of two cassingles in it: “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, or “Damn…” by Sophie B. Hawkins. When I say those are the only two songs I listened to over and over that weekend, I am being sincere and without an ounce of hyperbole, not even a spittle of exaggeration. (OK, I also listened to the “Damn…” b-side A LOT too.

OK OK OK, so this picture cracked me up so hard because this was the day that my all-time favorite non-word was accidentally created.

Basically, Jane meant to say “probably,” but then she said “smrobably” instead. That’s it – that is the whole fucking story. Something that took exactly one second to enfold has made this much of a lasting impression on me that I THINK ABOUT IT SO OFTEN and even sometimes say it without even thinking! If I recall, Jane got pissed at some point because we wouldn’t stop saying “smrobably” and then she and Liz got in a fight about it and also this was the weekend that I learned what “unilateral” meant, through the context of Liz’s mom yelling at her for making unilateral decisions.

And then there was the whole PANOVISION debacle that is also something that I think of A LOT. Basically, it rained the whole time we were at Lake Chataugua so we decided to go to the movies at some point. I can’t remember what else was playing but it must have been really dumb stuff for us to unanimously agree to see Far and Away (or maybe it was just Liz who chose it and this was the impetus to the infamous unilateral decision dressing-down??), the very forgettable Cruise/Kidman movie. Kim was like going off the rails, gushing about how this was going to be so exciting because it was filmed in PANOVISION, so then Liz and I were like stoked too and the whole time we were watching it, I kept waiting for something to happen? Like, something pano-y? BUT IT JUST LOOKED LIKE A REGULAR MOVIE!?!? Ever since then, I notice the stupid “Panovision” logo at the end of like, EVERY MOVIE IN EXISTENCE, and it reanimates my annoyance all over again.

I texted this Lake Chataugua picture IMMEDIATELY to Henry with the caption “smrobably” and he was like, “???” WHY, AFTER 21 YEARS, CAN HE STILL NOT ACCEPT THAT THIS IS BASICALLY A CORNERSTONE OF MY LINGUISITIC HISTORY, A STAPLE IN MY VOCAB. (I think he’d like to put a staple in my tongue sometimes when I get on these smrobably kicks.)

OMG SHOULD I GET A SMROBABLY TATTOO. SMROBABLY.

(Wait, did we spell it “smrobably” or “smrobly”???)

Nov 162022
 
  1. Suburban Hell – Maureen Kilmer

Horror Lite. Like, the book equivalent of saying you want to watch a horror movie and then settling on Hocus Pocus. Good for people who aren’t really into horror but want something comfortably spooky to read in the fall. It was fine.

2. The Roughest Draft – Emily Wibberley / Austin Siegemund-Broka

Yeah, that’s what this book felt like, alright.

3. A Dowry of Blood – S.T.Gibson

Oh snap, I just realized this is #1 in a series! If you love anything Dracula-related, pick this up. It’s written from the POV of Dracula’s medieval peasant bride, as she’s explaining to Dracula why she…did what she did. I thought this was damn near perfect. I only wish I had been reading it under a tree in a cemetery. Yep, this was the perfect October read.

4. Her Majesty’s Royal Coven – Juno Dawson

HOLD THE PHONE. IT’S A 5-STAR READ. Phew, these come by so rarely anymore, so when I find one, I want to caress it tenderly and let it take Henry’s spot in bed. I can’t believe I almost returned this to the library before even trying it because I was overwhelmed with my TBR and didn’t “think” I would like this. OK, it’s about WITCHES. I was worried that it was going to be super dense with way too much world-building, but luckily, it’s similar to Harry Potter in that it takes place in the world as we know it, just….with witches existing.  The chapters rotate between the POV of a group of adult friends who all grew up together in witchdom or whatever, but as adults, we see that some of them have chosen different paths. There is a lot of LGTBQ+ discourse in this, gender identity, friendship, betrayal, BIG ASS PERSONALITIES THAT MADE ME FALL IN LOVE. I just loved it – it was exciting with biting dialogue and I actually understood the political shit going on. I can’t wait for the second book in the series!!

I could also see this being a really great TV series.

5. The Lost Years – Mary Higgins Clark

ONE STAR. It makes sense that I liked MHC’s books in middle school. But as an adult? No thanks. The way she writes, at least for this particular book, it’s like she assumes her readers are morons. Information is repeated OVER AND OVER. This book was lame & totally boring.

6. Daisy Darker – Alice Feeney

Oh wow, I forgot that I gave this 5 stars too! A 4-star for a thriller is usually very high for me, but there was something about this book that made me go all the way with it. The setting, the characters, the grandma, the VIBE. I kind of had a feeling about the twist but it was still a great time. It was cozy and perfect for October!

7. The Last Housewife – Ashley Winstead

Um, the fuck was that? I loved Ashley Winstead’s first two books with my whole damn heart and thought this was a shoo-in for the 5-star club. Wrong, bitch. First of all, it felt like someone else was writing this. I mean, it was borderline embarrassing to read at times. And the plot…no. It just didn’t work for me. I have this 3 stars but it was really more like a 2.5, Bob. I was not thrilled at all while reading this, and all of the characters were so painfully flat.

8. The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchison

…but then I read this one and it made The Last Housewife seem, you know, not so bad. Yeah, this was just so bad. I had a very hard time following the timeline, I didn’t care about the main broad/victim, the whole butterfly garden in general was like, “Wait, what? Huh?” No, this was trash. I should have listened to my favorite Booktuber Kat when I saw that she gave it a 2 and said “criminal minds s11e14 in a nutshell.” YES, THIS. GENERIC. And the parts with the cops were like, so stereotypical. This is apparently a series and I will not be reading any more, lol.

9. The Book of Cold Cases – Simone St. James

You know…I liked this. I wasn’t sure at first and thought I was going to be disappointed, but it was pretty interesting. I gave it a 4, maybe realistically it was more of a 3.5, but I was rooting for the main character pretty hard (she was a blogger lol) and the mystery kept me hooked.

10. We Spread – Iain Reid

OK. I went into this with the wrong mindset. I read “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” several years ago and love it so so so much, like, became obsessed with it and googled it and watched the movie (eh) so my expectations of We Spread was tainted. This isn’t horror. This was fucking sad. This is about aging, growing old, losing yourself. Iain Reid s a crazy-good writer, but I only gave this a 3 because this wasn’t what I wanted. This was definitely a “It’s not you, it’s me” situation going on here. I went in for the horror, thinking I was going to be scared to death, but instead all I got was….being scared of death.

***

So overall, not the best month for books. But hey: two 5-stars! That’s pretty fucking alright.