Hello from 2023 where I am currently stressing out over Chooch / college / etc. When I say it’s eating away at me…well, that’s a lie because then I would be actually losing weight instead of gaining weight, which is what all of this absurd stress is doing to me. IT’S FEEDING ME. Anyway, I was searching for something on my blog yesterday and this old post from 2014 came up which made me feel all nostalgic and sad. Also, it’s apropos because Pitt is in his Top 2 currently which is pretty cool. So I’m resharing this. Enjoy the pictures of 2014 Chooch *cries in Aging Mom*
Sometimes, Chooch and I give Henry a break and venture off on our own, except that by “on our own,” I mean “definitely with a chaperone.” Originally, Chooch and I (+ our chaperone Janna) were going to go to see The Secret of NIMH at the Hollywood Theater, because that was one of my favorite childhood movies of all time but no way does it still make me cry, OK? But then I saw that the sun was going to be out all day and I didn’t want to be in a dark theater during that, and it’s all about me anyway so I didn’t really ask Chooch and Janna if that was OK.
Instead, we went to Oakland because I thought it would be fun to show Chooch the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning, which is part of the University of Pittsburgh. (Maybe some people reading this aren’t from here, I don’t know! God.) I’d call it my alma mater, but I didn’t actually graduate and I’m not a liar.
On the drive there, I jokingly said I had to quit college because I became a mom*.
“To who?” Chooch asked, and then within a minute of me posting that exchange on Facebook, someone corrected Chooch’s grammar. Thank God for the Internet. But you know, I guess that’s my fault for typing my conversations verbatim, instead of editing to make my 7-year-old sound like a pretentious grammar douche and not, you know, a 7-year-old. He’s got the rest of his life to learn how to talk like Mr. Belvedere.
*(Anyway, this isn’t true. I quit because I was bored, frustrated and realized that college definitely wasn’t for me. I mean, it didn’t do much to help me, because luk att how turrible i still write-z0rz.)
As soon as I parked the car, I realized that I didn’t have my wallet which was devastating because the plan was to eat lunch there afterward and I’m not going to lie, I was already starving.
When you walk into the Cathedral, it’s like being swallowed by a gothic cavern. There’s this amazing Great Hall that would make Hogwarts’s figurative weener shrink; you set foot in it and it’s like being transported back in time. The Cathedral of Learning was my favorite thing about Pitt. It had been about 6 years since I had gone back, so the novelty of it was definitely there.
You know what else was there? Chooch’s Grand Canyon-esque echo. Just what everyone there wanted: my kid’s ever-running mouth in primitive surround sound.
The audio tour for the Nationality Rooms isn’t free, but the rooms are open to the public regardless, so we just took our own tour, renegade-style. Whatever that means. I’m on my fifth cup of coffee. This was just as well, because Chooch’s attention span did not allow us to stay in any one room for more than 3 minutes. (Except once, and it wasn’t even a nationality room; just a regular classroom as non-descript as Henry’s wardrobe.)
Chooch’s attempt at college math. In his head, this made sense.
A ceiling in one of the rooms, the nationality of which I do not recall because I quit caring after the fourth room when I noticed that Chooch was no longer carrying his phone and Bunny (I didn’t even notice that he brought that damn thing!) so we had to backtrack and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s backtracking.
(I just imagined myself having to backtrack in Alaska and I think I’m done with this day now.)
Chooch made a beeline for the blackboard in every room and immediately left his mark. In a lot of the rooms, there was the same writing in Chinese characters, so Janna and I started saying, “Looks like Chinese Chooch was here” and of course Chooch didn’t get it which made it even more fun to say.
We kept trying to get him to look at the shit in each room, but he was under the chalk’s spell. So basically, it was for the best that I left my wallet at home and couldn’t pay for the audio tour.
“Guys, come on.” Sometimes I really have no idea where he gets his independence, but that kid walked around like he owned the place.
Don’t worry, Chalkboard NARCS & Religious Zealots, I erased it. (2023 Erin: Wouldn’t it be funny if this was FORESHADOWING.)
Sadly, being a non-traditional student (and part-time to boot) didn’t leave me with too many fond memories, though a painting of Copernicus in the Polish room recalled a time when I made Janna enroll in the same Magic, Medicine and Science class, because see above where: I really have no idea where my kid gets his independence. This was back in 2004, Jesus Christ—TEN YEARS AGO. (See? I don’t need no college degree.) Anyway, that class was a piece of shit and our instructor was some young broad named Holly who hated us because we sat in the back of the class with some lady we befriended and we would literally sit there and write shit to each other in our notebooks while Holly and her class pets would go off on tangents about Plato’s Cave.
Anyway, one of the things Holly would make us do was read a million pages of super-dry Galileo bullshit from our overpriced text book and then write an outline, except that she called it some fancy word steeped in academia because “outline” was too pedestrian. Turns out I was a natural at these bullshit papers, and you know who wasn’t? Janna. On the first one we got back, Holly had scribbled angrily in red marker about how Janna had PLAGIARIZED and to this day, this is the best thing that ever happened to me in college. Not making the Dean’s List. Not having my Creative Non-Writing instructor tell me I was her favorite student (hahaha). Not watching my College Algebra teacher repeatedly Windex herself in the face instead of the overhead projector.
No, it was Janna being accused of plagiarizing her HOMEWORK. That was the best fucking day.
Having to PeeSoBad in the Italian room.
Seriously, this kid. I tell him, “Go stand there so I can take your picture” and he does something Chooch-y every time.
Ladies Room Selfie. Yeah, that’s right. When Henry’s not around, Chooch loafs in the ladies room.
We walked past the room where I had an English Comp class and that made me think about the time Christina was visiting from Cincinnati during the spring of ’05 and she decided to come with me and hang out on campus while I had class. I specifically told her what time class was over and I made sure she had the room number memorized so I EXPECTED her to be waiting outside the door like a good fucking puppy at exactly 3:30.
Of course, she was nowhere to be found, and this was before either of us had a cell phone (I was notoriously anti-cell phone; she was just notoriously poor) so I marched all over the fucking Cathedral, breaking out into a sweat and eventually having to stop into the bathroom to pee because hide and seek has historically always revved up my bladder. Finally, I ran into her as she meandered out of a stairwell, no big deal.
“Oh, was class over early?” she asked casually, BECAUSE THAT BITCH THOUGHT SHE WAS EARLY. Do you know why she thought she was early? Because she never set her watch ahead for daylight savings time and she was actually an hour late because she was too busy lounging outside in the grass, watching people JOUST.
I was only That Mad because everything Christina did made me That Mad.
Thoroughly interested in reading about this giant tome of sheet music. Thank god.
I’d love to see how he sits in his actual 2nd grade class.
I found the aforementioned College Algebra classroom from 2006. “This is where I used to sit while you were in my belly, I mean, sitting next to me in your unhatched pod,” I sighed with maternal warmth to Chooch, who was 100% not interested.
Like so many dummies, I was forced to take remedial college math courses because my cumulative high school math average was not cutting it. (Somehow in high school, they kept putting me in advanced math classes even though I kept telling my guidance counselor that I was bad, just plain no good at math.) But I didn’t hate college math because I had the best instructor ever. Joanne was the fucking shit and quite literally gave me so many “a-ha!” moments from which I definitely would have benefited in high school. Her classes were the only ones I enjoyed going to and actually spoke to the other students. (I’m still friends with one of them IRL, actually. You know, as opposed to just in Toon Town.)
On the first day of that class, we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves. When it was my turn, I blurted out, “AND I JUST FOUND OUT I’M PREGNANT!” Totally taboo to make such a public declaration so soon into the pregnancy but I was so excited. This class was full of older, non-traditional students, so no one really shirked away from me like the younger students did in my geology class, but that might have been because my pregnant, bloated belly got stuck behind a desk one day, and that was when the professor had to go and get me a desk that had a detachable chair. That was a really awesome memory.
Anyway, this particular math class was split in two, but most of us ended up together during the spring semester too, and those sneaky brats, along with Joanne, had a fucking baby shower for me during class one day! (Much to the chagrin of the men in that class.)
I still get all teared up when I think about it. OK, sorry Janna the Plagiarist, but maybe that’s my favorite college memory.
(2023 Erin again: I hadn’t fallen down the K-hole yet – LOL OK that doesn’t work here, now it just sounds like I’m a drug addict and not a Koreaboo – so I didn’t realize in 2014 that the first thing written there in this picture is HELLO IN KOREAN. I actually assumed that I had written it until I saw that this was 2 years pre-lifestyle change.)
Report if you see bullying to the chancellor’s office, is what that is supposed to say, but Chooch kept saying “chandelier.” This was after he tried to force his way into said “chandelier’s” office. Thank god it was Sunday.
Like real life college students, we were starving and thirsty, so Janna suggested that we go to the basement and see if the vending machines took credit cards but they only took Panther Cards, which are the dumb college card things and Chooch was like, “YOU WENT HERE SO WHERE IS YOUR PANTHER CARD? USE YOUR DAMN PANTHER CARD!” But Mean Henry would never let me put money on my Panther Card because what…I’d use it to buy Adderall? Who knows. And even if I did have one back then, hello, I haven’t been a student since 2008; go get your own Panther Card, Doogie.
Look at me, giving my kid a taste of true college life! Spread your wings, Chooch!
Even though we were ready to collapse with hunger and thirst, we’d have been remiss to leave without taking Chooch to the 36th floor to take in the nauseating view.
Man. What a great afternoon.
When we went home to retrieve my wallet, Henry was lounging about like the goddamn Sultan of Brookline.
“I can’t believe you didn’t check in on us, not even once!” I cried.
“I knew where you were,” he said casually, so now I’m convinced he’s having me tailed.