Tuna Tar-Tart

I suck at everything. Probably more than you do. I enjoy experimenting with cheese and playing with glue sticks. You might know me from that other joint, LiveJournal.

Sep 052020
 

Hi. Just sitting here on a Saturday night while Henry is washing walls that need to be painted, and Chooch is watching Malcolm in the Middle, and I’m wondering where we would be right now on this long weekend if not for this piece of shit pandemic. And what do I do to really pour salt in the wound? I read old vacation posts on my blog! (Sometimes I go super analog and read my old teenage travel journals!)

Anyway, here is a fun one from when we accidentally stumbled upon Seoul Fashion Week, which is A HUGE DEAL. It was probably one of Henry’s least favorite experiences in Korea.

So yeah, enjoy reading words that I wrote two years ago! I’m going to go back to HGTV amateur hour.

***

For my quick Saturday update, I just want to talk about Seoul Fashion Week! I thought that it ended on Friday, but when we walked over to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, it was still happening! I mean, you have to be invited to the actual shows, of course, but there was so much to take in outside so much to Henry’s chagrin, we decided to hang around for a bit.

Everyone was taking pictures of EVERYONE so Chooch and I didn’t feel shy at all about whipping out our phones and cameras. There was this one girl escorting around a guy wearing something made out of magazines and plastic I think, so when I took his picture, she smiled and took pictures of us too but I’m convinced that she was actually photographing Henry because SUCH TREND SO STYLE.

“Sir, what are you wearing?”

“A Faygo snapback and Everfresh Juice brand windbreaker, natch.”

I’m telling you, when Middle Aged American Warehouse Manager style starts trending Fall 2018, you heard it here first.

Korean street fashion, though. At first I was like, “Wow, it’s cool that these models just hang out and let randos photograph them” but then I quickly realized that these are just super fashion-obsessed people who turn up to show off their personal style by lining up against a wall and baiting people to take their picture. I figured this out when the couple in the above photo noticed my camera and immediately stopped smiling and posed. It was incredible and I want everyone to react this way when they see me creeping with my camera.

Seoul is spoiling me!

Can this be Chooch’s future wife though, please.

I would totally wear that girl’s jacket and spent a good hour obsessing over it. I think it was pleather with some type of Big Bird fabric at the bottom and it brought back memories of senior year when I used to wear furry cropped sweaters and had a yellow one that everyone called my Big Bird sweater. I miss those sweaters and I miss Contempo!

I would wear this jacket too. I love outerwear.

Here’s Henry showing the kids how to really wear dad jeans.

My favorite part was before all the crowd photographing action, when we walked past a roped off area and a crowd of girls with their cameras pointed and ready. I wanted to know who they were waiting for, so we sat on a wall and observed. Eventually, a small fleet of super official looking SUVs rolled up, so Chooch and I walked over to the crowd to get a better look. Several fancy people got out of the first several cars and people started snapping pictures. I figured they were celebrities but Chooch and I were on a side where we could only see their backs.

But then some guy got out of a car on our side so we were able to see him very well. I still couldn’t recognize him though but when he walked around the car, the crowd on the other side started screaming hysterically. I found out later it was Jeong Sewoon, a singer/songwriter who was on the second season of Produce 101. He’s super cute!

The guys who got the biggest reaction were cool-looking even from the back but I have no idea who they were and still haven’t figured it out. I thought maybe it was several guys from Vixx but I don’t think they’re in Korea right now?

I found out later that Seulgi from Red Velvet and Key from SHINee were also there and I’m sad we didn’t see them! I would have died.

Meanwhile, we’ve been here for like 24 hours and Chooch is suddenly obsessed with designer sunglasses and shoes, and also “11 for 10,000 won” street socks (he stops at every vendor selling them) so I think he already has the right idea re: street fashion. Maybe someday he’ll borrow a pair of Henry’s jeans and be a part of Seoul Fashion Week himself.

ETA: Two week’s later and I’m watching vlogs on YouTube to try and figure out who was in my video and I think possibly some of the guys from either Pentagon or Astro?* I’m in the background of one of the vlogs I was watching and I’m stupidly excited about it lol.

ETA, Part 2: Two years later, and I can confirm that it was Astro, lol.

Sep 042020
 

OMG you guys, we’ve been so pressed for summer action around our clown house, that a 2-hour day trip to Erie was something that actually gave me the anticipation butterflies. I think that’s one of the only positive things to come out of this pandemic, is that it’s forcing us to appreciate the little things and just be grateful that we’re able to do anything at this point. 

But for real though, I woke up early Friday morning and was READY TO GO. Henry actually took the day off (SIKE! He still went in super early and came home around 7:30am, because he’s a fucking simp* for Faygo.) so we could have family fun time.

*(Chooch taught me this word and I always use it wrong.)

We started fighting almost immediately in the car so it was really like the Olden Times (i.e. 2019)! I forgot how annoying road trips are but also OMG I missed road trips! We fought over where to get our crappy road breakfast and eventually settled on Dunkin Donuts because they have Beyond sausage. Nothing more to really say about that. 

Halfway to Erie, it started POURING. Like, typhoon-style. I got really upset about this because it was beautiful (mostly) ALL WEEK but that dumb dick Henry was hemming and hawing about taking time off work and finally settled on Friday when there were no other days even left at that point, and also this is the second time  this week that I actually typed the phrase hemming and hawing so I think I am officially not a kid anymore, Toto. 

Speaking of Toto, we listened to yacht rock for a bit and that lovely Paul Davis tune, “Cool Night,” came on and I got so warm-feeling. I’ve always loved that song so much! Good ol’ Paul, he just wants to hold you by the firelight, and if it don’t feel right? You can go! No rapey vibes here!

(BENNY MARDONES COULD HAVE LEARNED A THING OR TWO FROM PAUL. )

(Quickly googles Paul Davis to make sure he didn’t lead a secretly despicable life.)

(OK, he seems to check out, dot dot dot question mark. But I admittedly left my Sleuthing Cap at the office, so I might not have really poured much energy into it. Also, his other big hit “I Go Crazy” always makes me want to die, FYI.)

Anyway! We decided that we’d make a pitstop to this place in Titusburg where there’s a lot of fish (it’s on Roadside America as “Where the Fish Walk On the Water” or something because it’s a feeding spot and they’re fatties waiting for those bread crumbs). We were in rural Pennsylvania by this point and I am sad to report that there are many corn fields supporting Trump 2020. I briefly considered canceling corn and Henry was like, “Yes please stop eating corn!” because he always has to scrape the kernels off the cob for me and he hates doing it like it’s suddenly a fucking chore to serve me?? 

While we were toiling around the backroads, looking out for Malachi and Isaac, I had switched the music back to Kpop because my heart was starting to ache without it. I can only go for so long without hearing the Korean language, OK? I put on this one Spotify playlist that I like, that features all the newer songs, and I somehow completely slept on the fact that Wonho (ex-Monsta X) recently came out with solo music and his first single is FU-HAHAHAHA-CKING BEAUTIFUL. Like, tears-spontaneously-springing-forth amazing. 

“I wish someone felt this way about me,” I said wistfully to Henry. 

“Me, too,” he mumbled.

OK, but please listen to this beautiful, heartbreaking song. I haven’t shovel-fed you guys Kpop as much as I normally do, so one video won’t kill you!! (And it’s in English.)

Then we got to the fish place but the fish weren’t at the surface because no one was there feeding them. 

But the seagulls were out and on high alert. 

It was just us and a van full of several disabled Amish people? Mennonites? I always get them mixed up, but I feel like one time we were at a nearby amusement park and there were Mennonites there on a field trip, so I guess that’s what was happening here too. I needed to pee super bad and there was a small group of them congregating over by the restrooms. They watched as I attempted to rip open a locked bathroom door, and one of them spoke to me!!!!! She said, in her German-y accent, “This one is not locked” and gestured to the one she was standing near with someone in a wheelchair. 

I was so excited!

Anyway, the bathroom was a real, well, dump as you can imagine for a public fish-feeding place. Pandemic or not pandemic, I washed my hands so hard that they were practically pure enough to fondle a Mennonite’s bible. Then I spotted some hand sanitizer near the soap and figured I’d go the extra mile because I might not very sane but at least I can be sanitary. 

Except that after I left the bathroom, I noticed that the sanitizer was not drying into my skin as I wrung my hands, but it was LATHERING. Apparently, I had been rubbing regular hand soap into myself and now I couldn’t go back and rinse it off because the MENNONITE HAD GONE INSIDE WITH THE PERSON IN THE WHEELCHAIR. I mean, I had bubbles floating off my phalanges at this point, and Henry was like, “You look stupid,” and then, “Now you look even more stupid” when I resorted to shaking rain water off of a tree and onto my foaming fists. 

Eventually, the bathroom became vacant again and Chooch also had to wash his hands so we went in together and got to have Mother-Son Bonding Time while dry-heaving at the stench the Mennonites left behind. It was pretty bad. Henry went in after us and didn’t mind it though. His big man-man olfactory system is strong & can withstand even the toughest turd fumes with no complaints. 

I’m going to stop here, because I’m listening to a fun audiobook and I want to go back to that! Check back for part 2 which will basically just be a photo dump from the fake beach at Lake Erie. Thrilling!

 

Sep 022020
 

I’m here to finish telling the tale of my Staycation Day 4 and as usual I teased that there would be lots of action & drama but come on, we all know hyperbole was my first word (OK, third, right after I’m obsessed).

So what happened was that we finished our Zenith feast and Chooch & I decided to walk to Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee. I know, I just spent half of my last post ranting about how Starbucks is sucks and believe me, DD’s specialty drinks are no better but if I’m getting just a plain hot coffee or an iced coffee, it’s fine. (But they do piss me off a lot with their inconsistencies!!)

(In fact, I just FILED A COMPLAINT the other day and have not yet heard back!? WHERE IS MY $3 REFUND.)

OK so we get to DD and Chooch goes in to fetch the drinks; we always order ahead on the app so that one of us can just run in all hunched over like we’re sidestepping through a COVID landmine, grab the drinks and split. I was waiting outside and noticed that Chooch had the drinks, but couldn’t leave because some man was blocking the door with a stroller. I used my HUMAN INSTINCTS to determine that he needed help exiting since he was trying to push open the door with his back, so I went inside the vestibule and grabbed the door for him like a good sweetheart. 

As soon as I opened the door, vulgar noise pollution from  inside the store came billowing out because EVIDENTLY that guy was in the middle of verbal fisticuffs with one of the DD workers! The first thing I heard was him hollering about calling the police and that something was harrassment and the cashier was like GO AHEAD AND CALL THE POLICE and then he was like YOU DUMB BITCH YOU WORK AT DUNKIN DONUTS YOU CUNT and I’m just standing there holding the door open while he backs out with a stroller that it is halfway on its side with a small child in it!!

Chooch followed him out and gave me this raised eyebrow smirk, like, “wow that was real cool” and I was just super angry because that dumb Eminem-look-alike motherfucker didn’t even thank me for holding the door!!!

ALSO, HIS SUPERMAN MASK WASN’T COVERING HIS STUPID COKE NOSE.

Chooch said it was real exciting being inside the store while the fight was happening. There were other people in there too, standing in line for their weak coffees and donuts, becoming accidental spectators of this white trash Yinzer row. According to Chooch, the fight had already started by the time he walked in and there were no context clues to help him construct the fight’s origin story. Dammit.

We couldn’t wait to go home and tell Henry what he had missed! We made it all the way back to our street, a block away, when it started storming – HARD. So now we were like WOW THIS DAY HAS REALLY HAD LOTS OF EXCITEMENT because when you’re in the midst of a pandemic you’ll take any kind of action that doesn’t involve hand-washing and mapping hotspots. 

Halfway into our block, we noticed that a huge tree branch had fallen on a car! And not just a parked car, but a car that was actually driving past the tree. We were like, “OH HOLY SHIT” because it looked like it could have been really bad, and then Chooch screamed “Oh shit do you think Dad knows?” and I was like, “I’m sure he already has a 911 boner” because Henry is like Mr. Neighborhood Watch, a professional Boy Scout. I’m actually surprised he never pursued a career as a 911 dispatcher or started his own grassroots Pioneer Avenue Patrol Squad. 

But as we got closer to our house, we realized that the front door was open, so I said, “Oh yeah, he must already be standing there watching” but Chooch cried, “NO HE’S OUT THERE, HAHAHAHA!!!!” 

Yep, of course he was out there in the thick of it! My favorite part? HNC let him borrow one of his windbreakers, so they were matching! Like they were the official Pioneer Ave Road Crew!!!

And then a truck came by and Henry got to perform his favorite duty of all time: GIVING DIRECTIONS TO A TRUCK DRIVER!!!! YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH HENRY LOVES TO GIVE DIRECTIONS IN GENERAL, BUT IF THE LOST RECIPIENT OF SAID DIRECTIONS IS A BURLY TRUCK DRIVER, HENRY FEELS SO FULFILLED!!!

LOOK AT HIM DOING THAT THING!!!!

My other favorite part is that the whole time, he was holding the yard sign that Chooch got from his old school, congratulating him on graduating 8th grade. I thought he was using it as some sort of homemade traffic flag, but it turns out he was only holding it because the wind blew it into the street while everything else was happening and he got stuck holding it the whole time. It’s almost as good as when he was holding a baggie of raw chicken during another Pioneer Ave emergency. 

Sadly, Henry was not the one who actually through to 911!!! He tried to call when the branch first fell, but there was a high call volume so he hung up and directed traffic again. HNC’s wife was the one who eventually got through – I bet Henry gave himself a good old-fashioned flagellation that night. 

Anyway, once the cops rolled up, Henry was like, “I GUESS MY JOB HERE IS DONE” and let the “professionals” have at it. But HNC stayed out there! And then when some dude rolled up with a chainsaw to start sawing the tree, HNC brought out brooms and helped the cops sweep the debris off the street! What a suck-up!! 

(I can’t believe Henry didn’t stick around with this heroic custodial work. Instead, he stood on the porch and criticized the chainsaw guy; I can’t remember what for, poor form or something? His slowness at getting the chainsaw started? Henry was salty about something.)

I guess I should have mentioned way back there somewhere in the beginning that the family inside the car was fine, albeit very shaken. Henry said it was a family of three and the mom was in the backseat holding a small kid, so thank god the branch landed where it did!

“HNC came over and thanked me for my help afterward, but I was the one who was out there first!” Henry ranted later that night in a very rare fit of jealousy. Usually Henry is like the ultimate at altruism, but I guess even the most noble heroes want a little credit every now and then. 

We let Henry sit on the porch and cruise Reddit on his phone for the rest of the night. He earned it.

Literally just the other day we were talking about how nothing exciting has happened on our street lately but I guess no one thought to knock on wood. 

Sep 012020
 

This day had a super weak start. Chooch was crying about wanting some stupid Starbucks fruit drink and even though I hate Starbucks, like, it will be the my last resort of we’re out somewhere and I need coffee (this usually just happens on the driving part of roadtrips, and since everyone’s default Christmas or birthday gift is a Starbucks card, I usually at least never have to pay for it with my own money!). Luckily, we have three real, non-chain cafes within walking distance, plus a Dunkin’ Donuts for when I feel like slumming it so I’m set.

However, Chooch is being brainwashed by The Family Next Door (ie his brother and fam). Blake and Haley BOTH work at Starbucks and are extremely loyal to that bottom barrel chain. They will occasionally bring home stupid ass fruit beverages in exchange for Chooch’s babysitting services so now he’s hooked and desperately wanted one Wednesday night, so I promised him we would walk to the closest one (where Blake works) and he could get his stupid ass drink.

It’s about a 25 minute walk, and we stopped at the cool wooden playground in Dormont on the way to sit down and figure out our order on the stupid app that I had to get to store my stupid gift cards, ugh, stupid Starbucks. There was some little bitch at the playground called Fiona and we know that because her mom kept saying in a way that made me feel like she bragging that she named the bitch Fiona? Like, OK? Good for you, now cook on, ya dumb Shrek-stan.

Then some grandpa got all flustered because “too many people” were there now (coincidentally, he started spouting off about this right as Chooch and I arrived and sat down) and kept telling a kid in a stroller that it was time to go but then they weren’t actually leaving, they were just standing there while he kept wringing his hands and talking about how crowded it was and literally there were like 8 people there and it’s a really big playground and no one was any closer than 20 feet and also most of us were wearing masks (HE WASN’T). We literally weren’t even swinging on the monkey bars or breaking a sweat near any other human, we were sitting on a bench and ordering Starbucks!

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE COVID STUFF.

After we placed the order, we walked across the street to the shopping center where Starbucks is. I haven’t ever visited a Starbucks since the pandemic started, so I’m not sure if all the stores like this but there are green X’s outside the door with one tall table in the middle for the barista to come out and place the drinks. When we got there, some young-ish (in his 20s and did not appear to be overtly MAGAesque in any sense) was leaning against the table, bandanna half-assedly covering his face, telling a barista that his order was wrong. So she was like, “OK I will fix that” like wow what a shocker, we get there and immediately witness a Starbucks fuckup. A Starfucks.

No, that didn’t work. We won’t use that again.

Anyway! Dude pulls his bandanna down and GOES INTO THE STORE. Like, face-naked Just strolls into Starbucks like it’s 2019 and he’s showing off his bare mouth & nostrils to the world, like HERE I AM, VIRUS! He goes right up to the counter and starts paging through some menu thing while he’s standing there. There were two girls standing outside with us (way ore than 6 feet away) also waiting for their drinks, and they were screaming, “OMG NOW HE’S TOUCHING SHIT!” and basically Myron Coping his every move. Then he started rubbing his face. And not just like a gentle stroke with a pad of two or three fingers, but fully palming his face with both hands and aggressively scrubbing like he was taking a dry shower in the middle of Starbucks, in the middle OF A PANDEMIC where we are told over and over NOT TO TOUCH OUR FACES.

THEN HE STARTED COUGHING. OMFGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG. Blacklist this guy from Starbucks—nay, society—STAT.

Ugh, and then my drink (some kiwi bullshit) was basic at best and I was like THANKS A LOT CHOOCH, but he loved his stupid ass fruit drink so whatever.

“Fiona’s still there,” Chooch casually pointed out when we passed the playground. “Let’s have a Fiona’s Over party.” Fuckin’ Fiona.

When we made it back to Dormont about 15 minutes later, we ended up behind that dumb grandpa and his dumb grandkid-in-a-stroller. “Ha, you caught up to us!” he laughed and I was like WOW YOU’RE TALKING TO US COVID CARRIERS. Sike, he was actually pretty jovial and we were the ones wearing masks, not him, so…

So all of that happened in the morning. We came home and I read for a bit and who knows what else I did, that was practically a week ago. I do know that when Henry came home from work, we had to go to Chooch’s new school to pick up his laptop since he’s cybering it for at least the first semester. That went off without a hitch (except for when Henry made 87 wrong turns because I guess he’s not as professional of a driver as he’d like some of us to believe.

Since we were in Oakland and that’s close to Southside, we ordered takeout from ZENITH because it’s been a minute since I stuffed my face with some of their glorious homemade vegetarian food. All three of us ordered the Toficken sandwich because everyone has to copy me. Henry thinks he’s so fucking special because now when he orders from there, they know who he is since I’m Instagram pals with the people who own the place and he gets this dumb schoolboy giggle. Anyway, they asked how the kitchen is coming along, which made me laugh.

Wouldja just look at this big boy, though? Shit.

OK, I’m gonna split for now and come back later with part 2, which is full of so much DRAMA and ACTION, you’ll be wondering when the Lifetime movie is coming out. And more importantly, if Kristy McNichol will come out of retirement to play Henry!

Aug 312020
 

Thank you, Green Sweater. I never knew how bad my desire was to see Taemin cocooned so elegantly by you. But now that I’ve seen it, I never want to not see it. I want to hug you while you’re resting gently on Taemin’s perfect frame. I want to softly twist your pretty tendrils, the ones that are lying atop Taemin’s shoulders, nearest his pretty chin. I want to admire your verdant hue as seen in the reflection of Taemin’s sultry eyes. I want to test your softness by pressing my face into Taemin’s chest. I want to toss what will likely be the equivalent to half my next paycheck into the air with wanton abandon so that I can put you on my Taemin cardboard cutout and bask in your heavenly perfection every day. Oh yes, I do believe the moment you descended upon Taemin was the angels’ cue to begin singing from up on high.

Oh Green Sweater, Taemints worldwide salute you for your service.

Aug 292020
 

Ok, listen listen listen, things finally started to get fun at the midway point of my week off. Henry GRACIOUSLY let me have the car on Wednesday (even though it’s MY car, but we are a one-car family and god forbid he should take the bus to work) so Chooch and I went hogwild. 

Literally.

We went to Round Hill Game Preserve!

Actually, and this is so very sad, we planned our entire day around Taco Bell. We’re an American anomaly in that we rarely eat fast food, but Taco Bell has always been my fave ever since high school when I realized, “Yo, I can actually order things that don’t automatically come stuffed with meat!” (You might know that I have been a vegetarian since I was 16.) Anyway, my go-to item at Taco Bell for like the past 20 years has been the 7-later burrito and when I found out last month that they were REMOVING IT FROM THE MENU in order to make room for “new items,” I literally thought I was going to set fire to the nearest church. (There are three right across the street from me so I wouldn’t even have had to go very far, I’m so…blessed.) Right around that time, the director of my department emailed me my choices for my annual birthday gift card and when I saw that Taco Bell was an option, I pounced on it, because now more than ever did I have incentive to pump my body full of faux-Mexican cuisine. Seven layers worth, as it were. 

But then I kept putting it off and putting it off and saying things like, “I already made too many poor food choices this weekend, we’ll do it next weekend” until finally, it was too late. I missed the bus to the 7 layer send off party, you guys. I AM SUCH A FUCKING ASSHOLE. I feel like I have been pretty adult-ish lately, what with all the dumpster fires smoldering across the world, but this was the catalyst that made me go off and post a whiny tweet because I LEARNED IT FROM THE “PRESIDENT” ok??

This brought back massive memories of 1999 when those corporate Taco Bell assholes took the veggie fajita wrap away from me and social media wasn’t around then but I HAD A WEBSITE (Ruby Red’s Sporkworld!) and I wrote this whole SAVE THE FAJITA WRAP mission statement, urging people  to call and write to Taco Bell. Lotta good that did. Anyway, I looked it up (my old website) and was pleased to see that it’s still partially intact, including the fajita wrap stuff! I showed Chooch and he was like, “wow. I am. so proud. of you.”

Well, enough about that for now. First, we went to Round Hill! I mean, after dropping dumb Henry off at his dumb job, ugh.

 

We got there early enough that it wasn’t too crowded, but I definitely did not feel comfortable not wearing a mask. Especially when we had to walk past some man sitting on bench, no mask, coughing and sneezing aggressively while chowing down on Cheetos. AMERICA, YOU GUYS. GOD BLESS IT.

 

It’s been a minute since I ventured out to Round Hill and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they added some new exhibits since I have last been there. For instance, I do not remember there being goats or llamas, but suddenly here they are. 

Another thing I for sure don’t remember is the sunflower field?! It was practically a corn maze! We had the most fun! I pretended like it was senior portrait time, and I mean, I’m pretty much halfway in between high school senior and senior citizen, so…

(Also, I hated my senior portraits. The photographer was such a fucking creep.)

Chooch always takes the best pictures of me because he makes me laugh so I actually look natural and not like I’m smiling through a kidney stone like when anyone else takes my picture. Don’t get me wrong though, I still had plenty of “EW DELETE IT” moments which make Chooch groan. Sorry I’m not as fucking photogenic as his perfect self, ugh.

There were a lot of people there who totally made us roll our eyes, but this section of the park was completely empty and we loved it. 

Before we left, we sat at the duck pond and instead of it being a place of serenity and cute duck sounds like we had hoped, the area was polluted by this shitty family who stayed way longer than necessary. It was a pregnant mom, four kids under the age of 7, and Grandma. They let all 4 kids throw pebbles at the ducks (the oldest boy kept wandering off to throw bigger rocks in the pond and luckily it was always in an area of the water not populated by ducks but Chooch recorded him anyway “for my lawyer,” he said, in case we witnessed any animal abuse. I fucking HATE when grown ass adults stand there and let children do stupid shit like this. OK, the tiny gravel/pebble pieces they were throwing in probably weren’t hurting anything but at the bare minimum, it was teasing the ducks into thinking that food was being thrown to them. But then, the youngest kid, who was definitely a toddler, had drifted off several feet from his family and fell headfirst down the hill, in slo-mo, nearly ending up in the very pond of ducks he had just been drizzling with pebbles. IT WAS SO FUCKING HILARIOUS. I mean, the incline of the hill was such that when he fell, he actually landed on his head and we were laughing so hard we had to turn around on the bench so that they the dumb adults didn’t see us, like when you get the giggles in the church and have to bury your face in the missalette, not that I know anything about that at all. 

We tried telling Henry about it later and he just looked at us with that disappointed smirk he gets, so we were like “guess you had to be there” and now I will say it to you, too:

Guess you had to be there.

We left shortly after that, driving through rural PA to the nearest Taco Bell. Chooch was pointing out houses that he liked, until he realized that nearly every house we drove past had TRUMP signs in their yards, one was like a fucking Trump carnival with a giant banner slung across their house and at least 30 signs of varying shapes and sizes (way more inclusive than any Trump supporter is toward actual human beings) posted throughout their yard. This house made Chooch violently dry-heave, which turned into almost-vomit. 

Honestly, it makes us so sick to see people blatantly supporting that racist piece of bigot-shit. 

Anyway! We made it to Taco Bell in White Oak and then laughed our asses off when we realized that there was a post office in the shopping center right next to us because Henry wanted me to go and mail something for him that morning since I had the car and I was like, “No. I will not be anywhere near a post office. Figure it out yourself” and then Chooch and I peeled out of the FAYGO parking lot, leaving Henry standing there to eat our dust, item-to-be-mailed clutched uselessly in one hand. 

We’re the biggest dicks ever to that man, haha.

So we got our Taco Bell and then Chooch looked on A MAP and found a RIVER PARK in McKeesport where we could park and eat our lunch. If you’re not from around here, you might not know that McKeesport isn’t the greatest, most scenic area, but there is a river that people like, take their boats on. When I was little, my pappap used to take us to this place called Paulie’s Lookout for my birthday dinners because I liked that it was on a hill and it overlooked the river so I thought it was fancy, and also I would get lobster because I was That Little Rich Bitch. 

That place sadly closed down a long time ago and has since been completely torn down. :(

 

Our lunchtime view. Chooch was dying because I made such a mess eating my (vegetarian) chalupa which is so delicious but so unsatisfying and he didn’t drop even a single bean while eating his but in my defense, he had a goddamn crunchwrap and those things are so secure!

 

I made him pose with this random lighthouse in the parking lot.

Afterward, I was like, “I’M ON VACATION AND I WANT ICE CREAM” and Chooch was like, “OK you don’t have to scream it” so we went to The Scoop in, I dunno, West Mifflin or Munhall or something and we were the only people there and had the entire patio are to ourselves and it almost felt like it wasn’t a pandemic anymore until we got back to the car and bathed in hand sanitizer. 

Chooch was really dying at this place though because my cone cracked in my hand and I had ice cream all over my arm and wrist and face. He shook his head and said, “Wow, you’re so messy. The tables have really turned” as he Vanna’d his hands over himself to illustrate how clear of ice cream he was. Fuck you, Chooch.

Man, we usually would have had like 8459 soft serves by this point of the summer but alas, it was not to be. So eating this bad boy gave us some semblance of normalcy. And the actual cone was matcha flavored! It was so good. Sometimes you just gotta get down with some sprinkle-capped soft serve, son. 

Then later I had to go and pick up Henry’s sorry ass from work, so that was annoying. And then we had to go to the post office, lol. Basically, once Henry was done with work, the rest of the day was lame and boring. Sorry Henry, you know it’s true. BIG SHRUGS. 

Aug 282020
 

Chooch starts school (HIGH SCHOOL) on Monday, so we decided to do a tiny road trip to Erie (I mean, it’s only 2 hours away, so yeah – pretty tiny!) today as a last hurrah and to maybe try and make this summer feel like summer, even if only for a few hours. I’ll be back in a few days with a full recap of all the arguments and Henry bullying but for now, here are some photos of my almost-adult, who still would rather build things out of sticks than cooperate with his mother during a fauxtoshoot.

This shirt is from Blvck Cat. They’re an indie horror pin company and you should support them.

Probably thinking about his cat.

He won’t actually pose for me anymore so usually all the shots I get of him are when he’s in mid-something, looking like a mannequin.

Probably contemplating where to shove this.

 I kept saying, “Do something Taemin-esque. Pose like Taemin would” and he was just like, “I will not.”

Well, that’s that. I’m going to go and pass out now because even though it was just a quick day trip, I am clearly off my traveling game because I am absolutely fucking exhausted (and I also still have sand in my shoes, so I should probably attend to that).

Aug 272020
 

Not gonna lie, Tuesday was boring to the max. I finished reading The Vanishing Half and it was superb. I think perhaps that was the highlight.

I’ve recently been obsessed with walking to nearby Little Free Libraries and found one that was a walkable distance away in Dormont, so we did that at some point. I mean, talk about reaching for the stars, you know?

It took less than 30 minutes to get there and I didn’t see anything I wanted, but definitely LOL’d at the Leslie Sansone book!

There was one positive aspect of this walking adventure, though: inside the Little Library was a book by the person who wrote the Percy Jackson series which made Chooch remember that he never finished it because he couldn’t get book 3 from Libby (this was right when quarantine started and the libraries had shut down). I looked it up on the library’s website and it said it was available at our local branch PLUS I had two books waiting to be picked up, so later that afternoon, we walked to the real library, which as you know is like my favorite thing to do these days!

We had to go inside though because even though we requested the Percy Jackson book earlier that day, they didn’t include it with my books that were already on hold so Chooch had to ASK THE LIBRARIAN who actually was very nice considering that all the librarians are actual witches to Chooch, according to him. We had to wait for a whole ass minute while she went downstairs to get it from the shelf, and this was apparently unacceptable to the old man behind us so he left and we were like, “Wow, bro. Learn some patience.”

After we left the library, we went next door to the bakery and bought some cookies. While we were in there choosing what we wanted, the old man from the library came in and had to stand in line behind us again, HAHAHAHA. This time he actually waited though.

Hey. I warned you that Tuesday was boring.

Oh shit, as I’m writing this, I realized that I said that the JZZ BAR cat toy came (yeah it did) on Monday, but I think it was actually Tuesday. Look, my days are so fucking jam-packed with action and fun that I can’t keep track.

Um, what else. We came home from the bakery and I convinced Chooch to start watching The Haunting of Hill House because he didn’t watch it with me last year when it came out and I really think he would like it but he’s at that age where he doesn’t take recommendations from PARENTS so I had to resort to reverse psychology (“yeah never mind. it’s probably too scary for you. it’s inappropriate. you wouldn’t understand it”). It started storming while we were watching it so it made it even better! Well, for me anyway. He tried to front like it was “just ok” and he didn’t get scared at all and he doesn’t know if he will continue watching the series, etc etc. Whatever.

Then Henry came home and I was like WORK ON THE COFFEE TABLE. HELLO, THE COFFEE TABLE. So that happened. He painted more parts of it. I dunno. Everything gets done at the slowest pace imaginable around here and everything about Tuesday was so fucking boring that I’m actually falling asleep while writing this.

Don’t worry, Wednesday and today (well, just this evening) were much more exciting so STAY TUNED. Or don’t. Hopefully you have better things to read on the Internet! I’m about to unsub from my own damn blog after this one.

But if you still read this…thanxx!

Aug 262020
 

We keep getting all these reminder emails to use our PTO, under the guise of being kind to our mental well-being but really it’s because the firm doesn’t want everyone playing chicken with Covid and waiting until it’s safe to travel which likely won’t be anytime soon and then everyone will try to take off the entire month of December.

I’ve been taking days here and there but then I pulled the trigger and scheduled off for a full week this month and one week in October too, and here I am, smack in the middle of my “staycation” and don’t even bother asking me how that’s going because you guys all know how much I hate “staying.”

So far, most of the days have been the same as all the other days during Covid, except that I haven’t had to log onto work. I’ve just been spending lots of time with the cats and reading books. And cramping Chooch’s style.

(A few weeks ago, I had the department shared calendar up on my screen while I was working and Chooch was like, “Why does your name take up that whole entire line?” and I said, “Because I’m off that whole week.” He tone went flat as he said, “Yay. I’m so excited for me.”)

Anyway, here is a recap of the highlights from Monday and Tuesday because there were kind of some, I guess.

On Monday, I had the grand idea to walk to the neighboring town of Beechview after lunch. Usually, I would see the main street of it every day since it’s on my trolley route to work, but as it is, I haven’t been in Beechview since March! It’s not too far of a walk, and I pointed out that there is a big Las Palmas grocery store there (as opposed to the small, bodego-style version we have in Brookline) and this appealed to Chooch because there are some new flavors of Takis that he’s been wanting to try.

Bribing kids with spicy Mexican snacks is OK, parents.

On the way there, we walked down one of the nicer streets in Dormont and they had exercise suggestions taped to some of the trees, so we were jumping and spinning and then eventually realized at the end of the street that there was a scavenger hunt set up on that block, so I promised that we would walk home that same way so we could play. (Honestly, it was only like 25% for Chooch’s sake and the rest for myself – I like funtime too!!)

Then I took this picture of Chooch and hours later, when I posted it on Instagram, I yelled out, “OMG that’s so cool how you accidentally matched up with the background” and Chooch scowled and said, “I did that on purpose. I told you I was doing that as you took the picture!” SORRY, MY 41-YEAR-OLD EARS DID NOT HEAR THAT.

At Las Palmas, we went hogwild on Takis (I mean, we bought three small bags, but sure OK. Hogwild) and then I said, “We should be nice to your dad since he’s been working so hard on getting shit done around the house. I’m going to text him and see if he wants anything.” So I did, but then I forgot that I texted him and we were tired of being there after walking down, like, 3 aisles, so we checked out and left. Two blocks away, Henry texted me and said, “surprise me.”

I showed it to Chooch and we did the clenched teeth inhale. “Um, maybe we could get him something from Potomac Bakery,” I suggested but then remembered that I didn’t have any cash, lol, oh well.

Meanwhile, we treated ourselves to frozen treats at Alquisiras Paleteria, haha.

We walked past some older white guy who was like “ICE CREAM, HUH? LOOKS GOOD” and we jumped and said “yessir” like we were suddenly Mayberry children who just got caught jaywalking in front of the postmaster and he just kept pressing us for information about where we got them and I kept trying to answer but he kept cutting me off and saying, “THAT BBQ PLACE DOWN THERE, HUH” and like, no, that’s not where, but if you’re so fucking sure why do you keep asking. I started to wonder if he was undercover ICE and I got really uncomfortable.

Also, my thumbnails are the only nails on my hands that have polish on them and I still can’t be bothered to do anything about it.

We had way too much fun playing planetary peeping toms, you guys. Way too much fun. All streets should do this! Again, just like how the Little Library wouldn’t fare well in my front yard, I can’t imagine the people on my block getting their shit together and participating in something like this. I mean, I guess one of them could be “passed out drunk guy” because Chooch’s nemesis Larry can often be found in an inebriated supine state in his front yard.

Yeah, we had way too much fun doing this, lol. I was fine until we came across the one that had us touching our toes because my back, oh boy, my back.

(GO TO THE DOCTOR is what Henry and Chooch keep suggesting but I’m like, No I will keep watching LOWER BACK PAIN REMEDY videos on YouTube, thanks guys.)

The other notable thing that happened on Monday was that the cats’ new tunnel came! To be fair, only Drew cares about the tunnels and her other two are pretty beat up so she needed a replacement.

I didn’t realize that we actually purchased a JZZ BAR, though.

Oh! One other exciting thing happened! I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a picture of Taemin from when SuperM appeared on some Japanese show recently and I was like IS HE WEARING A CURE T-SHIRT because I could see what appeared to be the top of Robert Smith’s hair peeking out from underneath the blazer Taemin was also wearing, so I spent all this time scrolling through Instagram and YouTube looking for more photos and videos of their appearance and can confirm that YES, YES HE WAS WEARING A CURE T-SHIRT AND MY WORLDS COLLIDED IN THE PRETTIEST, MOST BEAUTIFUL EXPLOSION INSIDE MY HEART.

And that was my super exciting Staycation Day 1. Stay tuned for more thrilling recaps. Sigh.

Aug 252020
 

Insert obligatory CAN YOU BELIEVE [X MONTH] IS ALMOST OVER exclamation here. But for real, only one more weekend before it’s Back to School Time here in Pittsburgh. Even though Chooch isn’t physically returning to school just yet, I still have that lowkey summer sadness. 

Anyway! Happy thoughts. 

The weekend got underway Friday night with some porch hangs. This has been one of the few highlights of the summer – chilling with the cats on the porch. Drew and Penelope are both extremely skittish cats so it was pretty shocking when they both expressed (tentative) interest in coming outside back in June.

Penelope will only venture all the way out onto the porch once the sun goes down. But even then, every little noise makes her do the Scooby-jump and dart back into the house. 

Drew is much braver at night to the point where Chooch has to put a harness on her now, just to be safe. Haha.

Meanwhile, inside the house, Henry actually hung the neon sign! I was floored that he got it up on the wall on the same day it came in the mail and didn’t leave it laying on the floor for 6 months like he did with the Mouse Attack sign. The reason I’m so astonished is because there’s no electrical outlet on that side of the wall and he had to actually install one — I didn’t ask any questions, but there was a lot of drilling involved. 

Henry was an electrician’s apprentice way back in the say, or so he says, and he apparently apprenticed his ass off because he’s definitely done a lot of electrical wizardry here in our house. 

But you guys, I am so thrilled with how the neon sign turned out. It really brings the whole room together and fulfills the vision I had from the very beginning! Without it, I think some people might have been like “how is this an 80s kitchen though” but now the vibes are real. The other day, Chooch and I blasted In the Air Tonight while standing in the kitchen and it for real for real felt like Sonny and Tubbs were going to come through.

In weekend book news, I tried to pare down my TBR but only managed to knock out Such a Fun Age. 

Then I dumped all of the photos I brought home 4 years ago from my grandparents’ house into photo boxes, so now I don’t have a giant, beat-up box, a giant wicker basket, and multiple plastic bags full of photos loafing on my bedroom floor anymore. I didn’t even bother to sort the photos – I just fucking dumped them into the boxes and called it a day. There are like 5 decades of pictures in there! Fuck that. 

Sunday morning, Henry came outside and sat down and I was like WHY AREN’T YOU WORKING ON ANYTHING and he said because he was eating breakfast and I was like BUT YOU HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING YET TODAY TO EARN A MEAL. 

Don’t worry, after he ate, we went to Construction Junction because really funny story (actually it’s boring): we somehow lost a drawer. No, not during this recent kitchen redo, but like, years ago. We’ve just always had a gaping hole in lieu of a drawer for literally as long as I can remember but I feel like it must have happened 10 years ago when I originally wanted to fix the kitchen and Henry never got any further than painting (very half-assedly) the drawers and cabinets a teal color. He kept saying that that one drawer must have “dropped down” during that time, whatever that means, but I think what really happened was that he took all the cabinets off and drawers out, and in the process he broke one and just didn’t care. 

We had a party a few years ago and someone jokingly pointed out the gaping drawer cavity and I was like, “Oh yeah, I always forget about that damn drawer.” Like, I just got SO USED to a drawer not being there that I stopped questioning it.

But this time around, I was like, “hey Henry….what are we going to do about that missing drawer?” I mean, we spent so much time fixing this stupid room, and then what…just leave that ugly gap there? Like the sink area lost a tooth? 

So we went to Construction Junction, which is like a home reuse place that is exciting to me for about 2 minutes and then I’m like, “Can we go now can we go now can we go now.” Anyway, Henry managed to find a drawer thingie that was the same size as the bigger drawers we have so he was like I CAN GET IT DOWN TO SIZE AND BLAH BLAH BLAH and I was like “That’s fine, whatever, can we go now can we go now can we go now” so went to the check out and guess how much it cost? FIFTY CENTS, BOY.

Compared to like, $60 that Lowe’s and Home Depot wanted for basically the same small slab of crappy wood.

Thanks, Construction Junction.

See the gaping hole over there? Like, who loses an entire drawer though. I think Henry is hiding something from me. Anyway, he already cut the drawer to size and it just needs painted, then we will have normal-people kitchen cabinets and drawers! I can’t even handle it. This is also the first time I’ve been able to take a picture of this side of the kitchen without feeling rage!

This is the current situation ^^^. VERY CLOSE to being done! The handles for the drawers came in the mail today and I put them on all by myself! We also are getting personal photos of ourselves from the 80s turned into small magnets for the fridge; we need a cover for the ceiling light (Henry has vetoed EVERY SINGLE ONE I HAVE SENT HIM); we have a small curtain to make for the door window using fabric that features illustrations of Robert Smith, David Bowie, Siouxsie Sioux, Adam Ant, and Cyndi Lauper which I’m very excited about!; and Henry still needs to figure out what he’s doing with that sweet-ass Conair telephone I bought from eBay. I think that’s mostly it. Oh! I want to make a shelf out of several books published in the 80s, which is why the neon sign isn’t centered (I’m sure that was making some people on Instagram twitch!) and I also left some space above the spice rack in case I stumble upon anything in the future that needs to live on the kitchen wall. You never know. 

Here’s what it looks like from the back porch:

When covid peaces out, I’m having a big house party because we put so much work in this damn space and I need my friends to come over and enjoy it with me!

The best part is that now that all the big stuff is finally done in the kitchen, Henry has been able to move onto other back-burnered projects, like the coffee table, which is finally painted and put back together, just without legs and without the finished top. Then maybe he can finally work on the Seoul subway sign?!?! (Except that we promised Chooch we would redo his room before school starts since he’s doing online school and needs a good space in which to do so since I will working from home until at least the end of October at this point.)

I hate that this summer has been filled with so many adult things, like gardening and going to Lowe’s. :(

Also on Sunday, we went to 350 Bakery on the Southside to grab some, well, baked goods. We totally double-dipped this weekend because I sent Henry there right when they opened on Saturday to get us some hand pies. I really wanted to try their homemade poptarts though so we swung by on the way home from boring Construction Junction. I stayed in the car, and when Henry came back empty-handed, I started to clench, which is my defense mechanism when confronting UTTER LETDOWN head on. Yeah, they were sold out of poptarts, so he just left the line? Like he didn’t even bother to ply me with consolation carbs? So we left and for a solid 5 minutes in the car I ranted about how he should know that when I AM MENSTRUATING, I fucking NEED SUGAR so he should have JUST BOUGHT SOMETHING ELSE and he was like “do you want me to go back” and I was like NO BECAUSE YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE LEFT IN THE FIRST PLACE and so then he was like “OK we will continue to drive home” so I was like OH WOW IF YOU EVEN REALLY CARED ABOUT ME….so then he was like, “OK I am going back to this bakery no matter what you say, what do you want, something chocolate, or….” and I was like I DUNNO WHAT I WANT WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME DECIDE I AM SO SICK OF MAKING DECISIONS FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE JUST FUCKING CHOOSE SOMETHING FOR ME BUT CHOOSE WISELY BECAUSE IF YOU GET THE WRONG THING I FUCKING SWEAR TO GOD I WILL END YOU.

Anyway, great news! When it was his turn to enter the bakery (one customer at a time, plz), the girl behind the counter whispered to him that she found one extra poptart if he wanted it and he was like THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY FAKE MARRIAGE, BAKERY CLERK. And then she gave him a chocolate chip cookie for free so now he thinks he’s like big shit in the bakery circle.

I’m not even being melodramatic when I say that the poptart was fucking everything I needed and I’m actually kind of annoyed that I was generous enough to split it three-ways. 

That thing on the left is a chocolate babka which I’ve surprisingly never had before even though I am part-Polish and was born and raised in Pittsburgh but I am here to say that it was worth the 41 year wait. 

350 Bakery has a generic name, but their goods are anything but!

I’ve spent a lot of time outside this summer, reading books in the morning but I admittedly get distracted a lot because I like looking at all of our flowers and noting which ones have gone through massive growth spurts. Flowers are weird and fun. 

I’m excited to start planting shit earlier next year! We got a late start this season.

Well, that was my weekend. Boring house project things and baked goods. 

Aug 242020
 

Yikes, I guess I better finish this wrap-up before it’s September!

9. The Grip of It – Jac Jemc

The Grip of It

This is a horror novel about a married couple who buy a house for dirt cheap in some small town and shit starts happening to both of them, an old neighbor stares at them from his window, etc etc. The chapters alternate between the perspective of the husband and wife, and I really liked that, but…I also didn’t really care too much about them and therefore I didn’t really care about what happened? I think I gave this a 3 on Goodreads, and I remember (because a month was so fucking long ago) that I was really feeling the ambiance of this one in the beginning but then it just kind of lost steam for me. I wanted too much, I guess.

10. Big Summer – Jennifer Weiner 

Big Summer

My second Jennifer Weiner book, and wow was this one a lot different than “Mrs. Everything”! This was pretty unexpected because I went into it purposely not knowing too much and I honestly thought it was just going to be a fluffy beach read about a girl who reunites with an emotionally abusive ex-BFF just in time to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. It is SO MUCH MORE. I really adored the main character, her parents, the REAL best friend. This was just…another winner from Weiner, I guess you could say? Great summer read!

11. The Memory Police – Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police

This one gutted me. There is nothing feel-good or happy about this book at all, it’s pretty bleak. The memories of certain things are gradually taken away from the inhabitants of this small town, for example: One day, they wake up and it’s like “the fuck is that?” and it’s a bird, but then all of the birds have to leave the town and the Memory Police go house to house to make sure everyone has removed all traces of birds, be it a painting or a book about birds.

But there are some people who keep remembering, and the Memory Police are always on the hunt for those special individuals, so some people will hide them in their houses.

That’s the gist of this book. It’s incredibly well-written, I fell in love with every character, I cried. This book is incredible but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for something to lift you out of a depression.

Also, can we talk about how stunning that cover design is???

12. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Olga Tokarczuk

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

OK, OK, OK, listen. I was very on the fence with this book the whole time I was reading it. I kept losing interest and I think it’s because the main character was SUPER INTO astrology and I AM SUPER NOT so it would get way too detailed for me and I would be yawning into my palms. But then the book ended and I legitimately couldn’t stop thinking about it, for a good solid week I would say.

First of all, there is a great cast of characters here, and the main character herself, with all of her asides, observations, and palpable disdain for the local police (I feel ya, girl!), was SO LOVABLE and incredibly memorable.

Second of all, this is a quirky murder mystery that touched upon animal rights and vegetarianism, and ya’ll know I’m over here like “YES, TEAM ANIMAL!!”

I could see this being turned into a movie, with the Coen Brothers at the helm.

13. If I Had Your Face – Frances Cha

If I Had Your Face

I was on the waitlist for this Korean book for weeks upon weeks and I was getting so impatient, especially when a co-worker emailed me and said she was reading it and she thought I would like it and guess what? I FUCKING LOVED IT.

I mean, once I finally got it.

This book is about how much of an emphasis is placed on beauty in Korea. You know how much I love South Korea, but it’s 100% true and I can’t even white knight their society on that. I mean, as soon as you get off the subway in Gangnam, there are giant ads for plastic surgeons all over the place and people legit take “medical vacations” to Korea just to get some kind of cosmetic surgery done. Girls start getting eyelid surgery when they’re still in high school!

Anyway, this book follows a group of 4 girls in Seoul and shows how each of them struggle in different ways because of the ridiculous beauty standard. Each chapter switches over to a different girl and I really liked that, but only because each character was so interesting. Sometimes when a book does this, there always seems to be that one weak character whose chapters are a fucking drag to read.

I highly recommend this. I don’t think you need to be super into Korean culture or anything as prerequisite and just a heads up: anytime the book mentions a kpop star or actor, they’re fictional.

14. The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell 

The Family Upstairs

OK, Lisa Jewell. I see you. I love a good thriller and this one had me hooked pretty early on. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like her writing style (it’s very much like “Karen sits down. Karen picks up the glass. Karen takes a drink.”) but it ended up not being as distracting as I thought it was going to be. This is another one where the chapters switch off and it also does a timeline jump too – I admittedly was way more invested in the “past” stuff that was happening.

Plus, there’s some cult shit going on in this story and I am all about cults, so my interest was piqued.

I’m definitely interested in checking out more of Jewell’s books, because I am so picky with thrillers and this gave me hope that maybe I actually haven’t grown out of the genre.

15. The Wicker King – K. Ancrum

33158541

MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT. I picked this up because a booktuber raved about it and the pages themselves are so pretty with a little bit of multi-media action thrown in. It’s a (sort of love) story between two high school boys who have been friends since they were kids when one of them saved the other and they stayed friends even though they’re in two totally different social circles, but one of them has some sort of hallucinations about a wicker king and sees an entirely separate and fantastic universe layered on top of the reality and drags the other one down with him into a dangerous spiral.

I liked the concept of this book and it was certainly a quick read since so many pages were taken up with sketches and maps. But the whole thing left me feeling very empty. I didn’t really care about either of the boys. I dunno. Don’t recommend.

16. Like a Love Story – Abdi Nazemian 

Like a Love Story

Can I recap this book without crying? I don’t think I can. I really thought this was going to be some lighthearted YA romp but nope nope nope. This book follows three teens, one of whom is an Iranian immigrant and very much in the closet; one is extremely out and a huge AIDS activist; and one is the straight girl friend with a gay uncle who has AIDS and honestly he was my favorite part of this whole book.

It’s set in NYC in the late 80s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and honestly it shocked me how little I actually know about this. I think I have already touched on this in another post, but I was in elementary school when all this was going on and for sure didn’t know that protests were happening because of the pharmaceutical companies inflating the cost of the medicine that HIV and AIDS patients needed.

So the book focuses a lot on this, and how the Iranian character (Reza) is terrified of even riding the subway with a hangnail because what if he gets AIDS. I mean, it was heartbreaking.

Madonna also plays a big part in the book. Another thing I never knew back then is what a powerful beacon of hope she was for the gay community and how she had all gay dancers on her Vogue tour. I haven’t given a shit about anything Madonna has done since like the mid-90s but this book had me powering through all her old videos from the 80s and missing my childhood hardcore. It also made me feel like I would have been a big-mouth AIDS activist if I had been older in the 80s.

The day after my birthday, I went for a walk around my neighborhood and listened to the tail-end of this on Scribd. Yo–I was crying so hard that I had to duck into an alley to hide my open weeps. Goddammit for a YA book, this one got me hard. I wish that it had been out when I was a teenager. I think all teens should read this.

I’ll end this book recap of a picture of me from….1st grade? when I was Madonna for Halloween. Man, I didn’t appreciate that blazer nearly as much as I should have, that’s for sure. And you can’t really tell from the picture, but that’s def a giant crucifix on my chain. Also, fun fact: I HATED Jellies. All of my friends had Jellies in like every color but I hated how they felt on my feet, ugh.

I was obsessed with Desperately Seeking Susan. OK, I’m signing off now before I really row my canoe over Memory Falls.

Aug 232020
 

Chooch and I went on our routine late-night walk last night, after a big storm passed by. It made Brookline look even creepier so we decided to make it a photo-walk. Here are some filterless pictures.

My favorite part of the walk was when Chooch shone his flashlight into the window of a house and then ran, leaving me frozen on the sidewalk so if anyone looked out, HERE I AM! I DID IT!

I mean, Brookline alleys are probably safe at 11pm on a Saturday?

I didn’t realize that the firemen were “loafing” outside of the fire station, totally watching Chooch and I being iPhone creeps. They’re used to us though.

Oh shit! I forgot to tell you. A few weeks ago, Henry and I were strolling along the boulevard and as we walked past this Sacred place which I still don’t exactly understand but I love their window, I happened to glance in the front door and saw some woman laying on the ground, looking dead. I freaked out and called Henry over. “SHOULD WE CALL 911???!!!” I screamed. But Henry looked in and said, “The whole room [which is small!!] is full of women laying down. I think  they’re  meditating or something.” He seemed unconcerned about this but I was like WHAT IF IT’S A SUICIDE CIRCLE!?

“I don’t think that’s what it is. I think they’re OK.”

But I really wanted to knock on the door, even if it meant disrupting their chi, or whatever. In any case, we continued on with our walk and on the way back, everyone inside was now standing, so I guess I was just being paranoid as usual—UNLESS THEIR BODIES WERE BEING CONTROLLED BY THE ANCIENT MAYAN WARLOCKS THEY CONJURED.

Back when I dated Psycho Mike, his mom was SUPER into angels. I don’t just mean she had like, porcelain angel shit around the house. I mean, she did, but also she believed that angels actually existed and she would attend these angel events where other angel stans would congregate in a circle and like, try to make the earth move or some bullshit? I dunno, she was super into it and also super not into me so maybe I really do have a devil on my shoulder.

This is where Parker’s used to be. :( I’m still pretty broken up at their decision to close, but now that we know that Oak Hill Post is going in this spot, we’ve been stalking them by peering in the window to see what additional items have been added to the menu (they have a pretty gourmet-sounding veggie burger that the mere thought of is making Chooch and I pool our collective saliva into an imaginary spittoon) and of course some Korean-fusion chicken thing because Americans gotta ride that wave into Overkillville.

Pictured, you can see Chooch shining his fucking flashlight into the window like we are the world’s most transparent burglars.

Today is a new day, bright and sunny. Please excuse me while I resume bossing Henry around.

Aug 212020
 

It’d be a true feat if I can even come up with five things today because this past week has been a snooze and a half so let’s not even front and just make this a free-form, who-gives-a-fuck type o’ update (as if there’s any other type ’round here!).

First of all, I finished (mostly) my front door revamp. And my “mostly,” I mean that I have a trio of plastic tigers en route which I want to place on each tiny window ledge, and I also want to get two or three strands of fake jungle-like foliage to hang down.

I can’t remember if this was in my last update, but I added sheets of colored plastic to each window too and it looks really cool from the outside at night so I’m pleased.

I’m feeling super smug about this door only because unlike Henry*, when I start a project, I finish it. Chooch and I were coming home from a walk the other night and he said, “What if we walked in the house, and dad had everything finished?”

“Yeah, maybe if he was on a cocaine bender,” I scoffed.

“Ohhh…we should get him to start doing cocaine!” Chooch said giddily, rubbing his hands together.

*(See: Seoul Subway sign, coffee table redo, OH YEAH THE KITCHEN.)

Yeah, I know, the trim needs repainted big-time, but I leave the boring parts for Henry.

I’m telling you, I just don’t know what to do with myself anymore. I’m bored but I have so much energy but then my back is busted so I can’t exercise so instead it’s like “give me something to paint/desecrate/destroy.” By the time this pandemic is over, my house is gonna look like a fur coat after a PETA protest.

In kitchen news, my custom neon sign arrived! I have always wanted my own neon sign, something that I designed myself, and this was the perfect opportunity because it’s not an 80s kitchen without a neon sign!

It means “I’ll eat well” – something that you would say right before a meal, kind of like, “thanks for the food.”

Drew approves!

Henry actually has the cabinet/sink area almost done. He repainted everything and is in the process of putting the cabinets back up. The drawers are ready, at least! But man, this is taking forever. That side of the kitchen is still trash right now. I mean, we still have a drop cloth on the floor on that side. Sigh.

Here’s my precious Penelope! She’s still really enjoying being an Instacat. Blake’s cat hasn’t posted in a week so some of the edge has been taken off of the competition. Haha.

Oh! The other night, I was the 666th follower of one of our fave vegan joint’s extra-curricular pop-up, Chick Habit, and it was kind of cool because the main restaurant is called Onion Maiden and their whole theme is like, black metal and Satan (ooh, Satanic panic was big in the 80s, I should put some devil worshiping shit in my kitchen too) so it was apropos that I would be the 666th follower, but then CHOOCH wanted to be the 666th follower so he made me unfollow them so that he could screen record himself being the 666th follower and I actually gave in and complied. This is a seldom talked about sacrifice of parenting.

It was nice being the 666th follower for that brief amount of time, though.

I watched bits and pieces of the DNC this past week and man, it blows my mind that there are still AmeriKKKans who are going to vote against humanity.

I’m currently reading three books at once and it’s pretty stressful, but I wanted to read all of them so much and couldn’t choose just one!

Speaking of books, my local branch of the library opened for in-person book pick-up and limited computer use, but when Chooch and I went there on Thursday, it was like, “HELLO. WHAT DO YOU WANT. WHY ARE YOU HERE.” And we were so confused. I said that I thought the library was open again and the guard was like, “OK, I’m going to have you go up there and talk to the librarian” so I approached the librarian sitting at a desk behind a sneeze-shield and she was like “HELLO. WHAT DO YOU WANT. WHY ARE YOU HERE.” I said I needed to pick up some books I had on hold, and she was like, “FOLLOW THE SOCIAL DISTANCING CIRCLES TO THE CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK” so I did that and the librarian behind the desk was like, “HELLO. WHAT DO YOU WANT. WHY ARE YOU HERE.” So I told her I had books on hold and she was like panicked about this but managed to scan my library card on my phone without hyperventilating too much and then she gave me my books and was like, “YOU CAN FOLLOW THE ARROWS OUT” but on the way out, someone was coming in and we were at a socially-distanced standstill, like WHO GETS TO GO FIRST but the security guard waved us through so we burst through the doors and ran away. It was so tense. I have never felt more unwelcome somewhere (untrue, I feel unwelcome in varying degrees basically on a weekly basis) in my life. I mean, it’s not like they were still closed to the public and we forced our way in, Funny Games-style. We were wearing masks! And the proper way too, not the Karen way.

Anyway, next time I have books available for pick-up, I will just go back to the curbside option because that was entirely too stressful. Here’s my current (physical) TBR:

Two of those books are from local Little Libraries. I still want to make my own Little Library, but as I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t think the location of my house is very conducive to a successful Little Library.

Oh you want a Chooch update? Here’s one. He was sitting at the computer with an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts in front of him, watching stupid videos on YouTube and one of them had a jump scare in it, which made him throw his head forward for some reason and he crashed into the straw of his drink with his nose hard enough that he needed to put a bandaid on it and now he has this stupid mark on the tip of his nose that looks like dirt, or rust, and I can’t even look at him. Oh, and school starts on the 31st! The first 9 weeks (at least) will be done entirely online so we have to go to the school next week and get the school-supplied laptop, so at least he will briefly get to go inside his new high school.

Man, this situation is depressing. I feel fortunate that my kid is at least at an age where I won’t have to micro-manage him or play teacher’s assistant everyday. But I know he’s pretty bummed and stressed about not being able to meet his new teachers and classmates in person, and he’s afraid that it will be hard to make new friends but I was like, “Dude, you make friends online constantly. Just pretend it’s Discord.” For once, he gave me credit for having a good idea.

This past week was pretty &^(*^*^$^&%&*(*&) at work – nothing like majorly bad or anything, but just stressful things here and there, today especially, so when 5:30 rolled up and I logged off UNTIL AUGUST 31ST, I was like “BYE BITCHES.” Doesn’t it always seem like work is the worst right before you’re “on vacation”? I mean granted, I’m not going anywhere, but it will be nice to have a full week to just, I dunno, exist somewhere away from a computer screen. Henry is going to try to take a day off next week so we can maybe go somewhere local-ish and wilderness-y, a road trip lite. I suggested Erie since it’s still in Pennsylvania and his work only requires him to quarantine for 2 weeks if we go out of state, but he gave me a WHY WOULD WE GO TO ERIE look and I was like I DUNNO BC WE CAN’T GO TO KOREA?! OR EVEN CLEVELAND, FOR THAT MATTER!? God, everything sucks. Just take me somewhere. I will wear my mask and stay the fuck away from people, but please, let’s just go somewhere.

Hey, maybe this actually was 5 things?! I can’t count today. Please don’t make me count.

Aug 192020
 

I was texting with my pal Laura about how bored and sad we are in our covid bubbles, and it made me start thinking of all the fun we had when she was still living in Pittsburgh. Yes, she’s one of the many who escaped! Good for her! This place is….just ok.

Waaaaay back in 2011, I had this brilliant idea that we should go to two amusement parks in one day. Granted, the parks I had in mind are super piddly and can barely even be considered full-fledged amusement parks, but it still seemed like a super fun to say CIAO FOR NOW to summer of 2011.

I remember having a huge row with Henry over this (lol, not really: it was basically like this: he said no, I screamed, he said fine) because we had just come back from a week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and this was back when I was still working part time and money was tight yo, and not as in “cool” but as in “barely there.”

But in the end, I won and Janna and Laura came along for the ride. It ended up being a really fucking fun day even though the parks are lame (I typed lamesauce and then yelled, “EW WHO AM I” and deleted).

Anyway, please enjoy these old photos of Chooch sans-front teeth while I go back to painting 740187408734087315 tigers on my front door. #CovidArtProject

****

First Stop: DelGrosso’s

All you really need to know about DelGrosso’s is that I got really fucking sick. I had just rode back-to-back spinny rides with Chooch, Laura and Janna (one of which was the Tilt-a-Whirl, and Chooch and I kept laughing because Janna rode alone; I am raising my child right, in case you haven’t noticed) before agreeing immediately to ride this thing called the Casino with Chooch.

Laura and Janna opted out.

First, Chooch and I had to stand next to an unoccupied seat, waiting for the girl running the ride to help us unlatch it while everyone who was already situated stared at us like they couldn’t believe it was our first time at an amusement park. The girl kept getting distracted, or she was just pointedly ignoring us, who knows; but I should have taken it as a sign and walked away.

Instead, we stood there like idiots until the door was unlatched for us (there were like, three whole steps to unlock it; no way would I have ever cracked that code) and then within one and half revolutions, I felt my equilibrium throat-fucking me.

Really, it wasn’t so bad: just some slight undulating motions as the roulette wheel spun us around, but then, joy of joys, it went BACKWARDS.

And that is where my first trimester of pregnancy came back to haunt me. I instinctively reached into my pocket for a peppermint disc, but I didn’t have any on account that I am not actually pregnant anymore.

Oh, look at Little Miss Thrill Ride Queen, nearly barfing all over the occupants of the Casino.

One more revolution, and it would have been that puking scene in Problem Child all up in DelGrosso’s.

After the ride ended and we waited to be released from our maximum security cell, Chooch skipped off into the horizon while I staggered slowly after him, finally nailing the zombie gait that I so pathetically pantomimed during my zombie self-defense class last spring.

Without a word to Janna, Laura and Henry, I slowly took a supine position on a bench.

“Maybe the train will be a nice break for you,” Laura suggested, so we all got in line for the most lamest amusement park train ride of all time. We didn’t make it on right away and had to stay in line for one more go-around. I considered sliding down the wall into a heap of sweat, stomach acid and minced stomach lining instead of standing with everyone else.

I was that nauseated that even standing was giving me the spins.

However, I was not too nauseated to laugh evilly when an older woman got out of her seat before the train started to take a picture of her family, only to lose her balance and fall back into the seat, sprawling across her embarrassed husband’s lap and absolutely cracking the fuck out of her shin.

It was a pure delight to witness. I guess it wasn’t all that exciting though because Laura and Janna admitted afterward that they must have missed it. It gave me tears, that’s how much I enjoyed myself.

The train ride did not help my churning stomach. I clutched the front of the seat with whitened knuckles, wishing the sunshine would un-blanch my complexion instead of coaxing the bile up my throat.

Afterward, I waved the white flag and collapsed on a bench. I urged Henry to take Chooch to kiddieland and encouraged Janna and Laura to ride the Crazy Mouse again without me.

“Don’t worry about me,” I moaned in the stoic tone of a fallen soldier. “I’ll be fine.” And then I wept behind the privacy of my sunglasses.

Everyone rejoined me after about 15 minutes and I decided that I needed to try and eat, so we all trooped back over to the food area, where Chooch and I sat alone on a bench, me with my head between my knees.

“Let’s go on the Wacky Worm again,” Chooch cheered.

I started to say, but then on second thought, I said, “Yeah, OK. Let’s do it.” And damn if that fucking ride didn’t make me feel better.

“Where were you?” Henry said when we found him holding a plate of pizza.

“On the Wacky Worm!” I shouted happily.

“But you’re sick…” he started.

“NOT ANYMORE, MOTHERFUCKER!”

Laura and Henry both wore black shirts because they’re in a pigment race gang.

We rode the Wacky Worm one more time before we left, while Henry stood sullenly off to the side and stared with disapproval.

“So, what did you think of the Wacky Worm?” I interrogated Laura on the way back to the car.

“It’s a…ride,” she answered uncertainly.

I’ll say! THE BEST RIDE EVER!

NOW LET’S GO TO LAKEMONT OMG 

The thing about Lakemont is that as far as amusement parks go, it’s puny. Nothing about it is really “new,” except this time when we were there, we noticed that one of the rides had been removed so maybe next year there will be an upgrade in its place. And how shocking that would be. Especially if it was anything manufactured post-1980.

But for some reason, I love the hell out of this park! People-watching is prime, the rides they do have are an amalgamation of bizarre and retro, and best of all—it’s cheap. Extremely cheap. We always go on the same weekend in September when Lakemont hosts some sort of Altoona craft bazaar, because it’s only $5 that weekend and there is almost no lines to stand in at all.

NOT EVEN FOR THE WINE SLUSHIES.

One of the bigger draws at Lakemont is a small wooden coaster called Leap the Dips, which also happens to be the oldest running coaster in the WORLD.

THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD.

It costs an extra $2.50 to ride it. They didn’t charge extra the last time, but I guess this is their effort to do everything possible to maintain and preserve it for future use. The old man who sold us the tickets was hilarious and teased us mercilessly. He wouldn’t hand over the tickets until I was able to tell him how much it would cost for three. This of course caused sweat-on-the-brain but I was able to answer before Janna and that’s all that matters.

It’s so old that the young farm-handish employee had to actually run and push our car to give it momentum. But not before making fun of my iCarly messenger bag. (He accused it of being Hannah Montana and I felt the vinyl flap featuring Carly and Sam’s mug heat up as it rejected his insinuation. )

Janna and Laura quickly learned the meaning behind “Leap the Dips” as they were nearly catapulted out of their seats when we went over the first dip and our car became airborne.

It’s one fucking rough ride. Henry won’t ride it due to the fact that it agitates his hemorrhoids.

Proof. 

Lakemont’s Wacky Worm is definitely the Toboggan (I finally learned how to spell it! Gold stars all around!). This was Chooch’s first time riding it and he took to it immediately. We must have been ejected from that vertical tube 20 times that evening. Such a stupid yet fun ride.

If we’re being honest, it was the guys running the thing that kept me coming back for me. They were hilarious and cute and coveted  my iCarly messenger bag. The thing with the Toboggan is that there is a lot of sitting around in the cars, waiting for your turn to be carried up through the tube and then waiting for all of the other cars to come back before being unlatched and set free. But these two guys would walk back and forth, antagoning us, showing us stupid magic tricks and just being all-around completely entertaining.

It made me remember why I enjoy Lakemont so much — the kids working there actually give a shit about their jobs and have fun doing it! What a novel concept!

OK good, I did spell it right.

Isn’t it majestic?

Someone watches too much 16 & Pregnant. (EDIT FROM ERIN IN 2020: wow, I think I might have been a lot meaner in 2011 :/ )

Moments later, I almost lost an arm and leg when Chooch stamped down on the gas pedal before I was all the way inside the car. It was a pretty great scene for all the people standing in line.

This was the first time I was actually proud of my kid. Not for nearly spontaneously amputating me (though I would finally have weighed less!), but as far as riding things at amusement parks go. Of course I’m already proud of his sarcastic, biting words; knowledge of horror movies; and independence in the kitchen. He rode the shit out of everything he was tall enough to ride and I felt like we were really in sync with each other that day as we frolicked from ride to ride; even Henry rode his fair share AND EVEN SMILED AT TIMES.

Considering we had spent the morning screaming at each other over money, the day ended up being pretty spectacular and Henry even held my hand at one point (!!!) and said he was glad he came along after all. See that? My brilliant day trip ideas SAVE RELATIONSHIPS.

Can’t wait to do this again next September! WHO’S IN?

***

On the drive home, Janna admitted to not being able to see, provoking Laura and me to nervously suggest in tandem for her to pull the fuck over. Since I was now driving, I told Janna it was her turn to entertain us, and after whining for awhile about not having any stories, she launched into this shoddily-detailed narrative about going to a party when she lived in DC but then ended up getting a chili dog instead and then parking in a loading dock by her apartment and eating it in the car. I kept waiting for the climax, at the very least a car-jacking, but nothing ever happened other than her eating a chili dog while illegally parked.

Kids, don’t blow off parties for chili dogs or you too will grow up to not have any stories to tell.

[Read Henry’s harrowing account of the day here.]

Aug 182020
 

Today is my FAVORITE KPOP IDOL’S birthday! Happy birthday G-Dragon! I will just be over here crying into these celebratory cupcakes from the Priory, hoping for a BIGBANG comeback sometime in the next decade. Sigh.

Also never forget when Henry happily posed for this picture in the cafe of G-Dragon’s pension last summer!