Jan 162021
 

Because there is nothing else to do but read books and daydream about the past, I was recently thinking about how we used to actually go and do really fun shit (for me) and then I would interview Henry about it later for my blog and he would rarely give any more than 2 word answers so I would have to use CREATIVE LICENSE and make up my own answers for him, and wow, those days were fun. Maybe I will try to think of a reason to interview him here soon (a conversation on Covid? DIY discourse) but until then, please enjoy the time we went to Warped Tour in 2016 and I tried desperately to get opinions out of him. (WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE HENRY INTERVIEWS? You can read them all here!)

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Much wow, this was Henry’s 8th Warped Tour (I think? I don’t feel like counting, but it’s less than my official tally that’s for sure because I’m more legit than he is). What this means is that he is basically a seasoned, grizzled pro at this point. Let’s ask him some questions about his long-term relationship with Warped Tour and if he plans on siring any illegitimate children out of wedlock with them, too. JUST LIKE HE DID WITH ME.

Do you plan on siring any illegitimate children out of wedlock with Warped Tour?

Say that again!? [WRITER REPEATS QUESTION.] I don’t know. Is that even possible?

There were several times when I went off on my own during the day. What did you and Chooch do that I missed?

We just walked around and got some Twix [they had a booth there] and Chooch spent some time in the water tent. We saw a little bit of Cold Rain but then he saw some vendor and then we ventured off. I don’t know, we just walked around and then he kept wanting a bucket hat. [There were some merch booths selling them because nothing screams POP PUNK like a bucket hat?]

Out of all the Warped Tours you’ve attended throughout the years, give us your top 3 worst moments.

Great, now I have to think. [He is seriously thinking about this too OMG. No wait, he’s watching something about the Kennedy assassination. No, he’s thinking again!]

#3. I don’t know what year it was, but having to listen to Katy Perry sing.

#2. Whatever year it was when it was 1000 degrees there and it was miserable. [I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that every year?? But this one year it was actually so bad that someone died, I think, maybe.]

#1. Breakdown 2016. [You guys I think he’s referring to the 87 times I wanted to leave last week because I’m emotionally cracked.]

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If you had a booth at Warped Tour, what would you be selling?

Individually-wrapped prunes. [LOL JUST KIDDING THAT WAS ME, THE WRITER, ANSWERING FOR HIM.]

Huh. What would I sell….[Literally, he has no imagination.] I don’t know. Let me think about that one.

[TWENTY MINUTES LATER] Your art, and meat products, because there’s way too much vegetarian shit there.

[Um, if he’s referring to the ONE tent that Peta2 has there, then yeah: SO MUCH.]

Kevin Lyman, the founder of Warped Tour, asks you personally for a list of bands to forever blacklist. I guess he feels an affinity to you because you’re both middle-aged with probably have the same amount of callouses. Anyway, what bands are on your list? GO HOGWILD, BOO.

Slaves

[Wow, this just in: Henry doesn’t care when disgusting, misogynistic bands like FALLING IN REVERSE and ATTILA play at Warped Tour, that’s why they didn’t make his list. Oh OK, privileged white male! Way to use your god-given Caucasian penis for good.]

It’s the morning after Warped Tour, i.e. DEAR DIARY TIME! What do you write on the back of the Faygo Red Pop label* about this year’s experience at Warped Tour?

I can’t have secrets and then tell you! [I won’t stop looking at him until he answers.]

When you look at me like that and start typing, it scares me. I don’t like your line of questioning. Too much thinking involved. Why can’t it just be yes or no answers. [Ew he just told me he doesn’t like my attitude?!]

*[That’s what I imagine Henry’s diary to be: a clump of Faygo bottle labels crumbled into a ball and punched under the mattress.]

OK fine, pretend like it’s a postcard that you’re sending Chris & Monica from the great bustling parking lot that is Warped Tour:

Is this a new question? Why would I write Chris and Monica a postcard?

[I’ll start it for you: DEAR CHRIS AND MONICA]

[I just asked Chooch the same question since Henry’s brain is creaking and smoking as he tries to think. Chooch would just write: ‘Sup.]

Dear Chris & Monica,

Having a great time, as always. [I think he’s sarcasming.]

Brought my A&D ointment which I have been applying liberally right around the TENDER AREAS inside my thighs. I wanted to wear booty shorts today but I had to wear regular-lengthed basic white man shorts on account of all the CHAFING. Thought we were going to leave early because Erin was being a psycho but then somehow we ended up staying later than ever before, wtf guys. I got to eat an ice pop and it reminded me of the days when I was a paperboy except that it cost approximately $8 more. Um, I bought my work-husband the Masked Intruder CD not because I’m thoughtful or anything but because he is my dom.

[OK fine, I might have taken some liberties after the “having a great time” line because I was tired of him sitting here saying, “Um…..uh…..”]

You seem less irritated about having to chaperone Chooch and me than you have in earlier years. Can you confirm this is because you’re sufficiently dead inside, or do you secretly LIKE WARPED TOUR now?

I think it’s a little bit of both. I like some of it and I’m pretty much dead inside because of you and Chooch.

But you hated Bled Fest – why?

I didn’t hate Bled Fest I just didn’t like it. I never said I hated Bled Fest! It was just too hot—and it wasn’t my type of music!

[Let me translate this for you, because I’m well-versed in reading between Henry’s blue-collared lines: Not enough booty shorts.]

 

Talk about how you’re able to sleep every year through super loud, heavy bands (the lucky bands this year were Secrets and Waterparks):

I don’t know it’s just something I can do.

[WOW GET THIS MAN ON AMERICA’S GOT TALENT.]

If Warped Tour was around when you were a teenager, what bands would you have liked to see in the line-up that was probably printed in the PITTSBURGH PRESS along with the date that the tickets went on sale so you would know when to go to KAUFMANN’S at CENTURY III MALL to buy them. I’ll just go ahead and start you off with Ted Nugent:

  1. TED NUGENT
  2. Iron Maiden
  3. Judas Priest
  4. Probably ZZ Top
  5. CCR
  6. The Guess Who

[Wow.]

[ED.NOTE: Don’t post pictures of illustrated weeners on Facebook because you will be reported for it and it will be removed, even if it looks like a Simpsons’ weener.]

Speaking of weeners, last year, that ginger-fuckerbitch Jonny Craig got kicked off Warped Tour for flapping his weener at his merch girl. Would you rather have Jonny Craig’s weener flapped in your face at such a close proximity that it gets tangled up in your beard, or would you rather get caught flapping your own weener at Jeffree Star and have him paint it with his lipgloss line? You can be honest, I won’t tell anyone:

Really? You’re not going to tell anyone? Pfft. [He just mumbled “Boy, you’re having fun with this.”] Probably the latter because I don’t like Jonny Craig.

2016 highlight:

Bradley [from Emarosa] hugging Chooch [during their set. Don’t worry Henry, I’m here to beef up your answers].

ON THE REAL HENRY, like how giddy do you get when Bradley talks to us?

How WHAT? Giddy? I don’t. I don’t need to get giddy; I have you two that get giddy and quiet.

[Oh OH, Bradley is totally his #mce (Barb, that means Man Crush Everyday).]

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In closing, what advice would you give another dad who is going to Warped Tour with his kids for the very first time? And don’t say “Drop them off”:

Well that was going to be my answer, drop them off. Since I can’t say that….um….bring lots of cash for merch and food. I don’t know what else….but I’m sure you do.

[Yeah, I do: FORGET ABOUT HAVING ANY AUTHORITY, OPINIONS, OR FEELINGS THAT DAY BECAUSE IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S ABOUT YOUR KIDS, SO STEP OFF, DAD.]

 

Jan 122021
 

The latest episode of Handmade By Henry saw him working diligently with fun fur because in my mind’s eye, I could not picture my Monster Squad poster framed any other way!

And by the way, The Monster Squad was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. My friend Amy L., whose grandparents lived on my street, used to come over my house after school so that we could watch the shitty copy that my mom recorded for me on a blank VHS, probably from HBO, because we both had the hots for Rudy. I STILL HAVE THIS TAPE! It has Monster Squad scribbled on it in CRAYON on a ripped piece of MASKING TAPE. The very beginning of the movie was cut off by those goddamn black and white squiggly lines that were ubiquitous with VHS, and it wasn’t until years and years later as an adult that I finally got to see the movie in full, after I bought the DVD, lol.

Pin on Growing Up 80's & 90's

Phat Kids vs Classic Monsters | The Disbelief Suspenders Club

Yeah boi…

One of the movie theaters in Pittsburgh played this several years ago and I took Chooch. (Oh my Lord, that was seven years ago according to the date on that blog post!) Anyway, it was one of the best moments as a mom, to get to share this fucking amazing flick with my 7-year-old super impressionable kid.

Another fun fact about me and this movie: there’s a super beloved scene where one of the kids says, “whoa…wolfman’s got nards” and  that was actually a quote on my checks back when people used checks to pay for shit. When I started dating, he was like, “….really?” I had checks for another account to and those ones said “gave all the vampires back to god” which was a line from a Cold song, lol. I really liked having personalized checks OK?!?!

Honestly if you’ve never seen this movie, please do yourself a solid and rectify that immediately!

OMG I FORGOT MY BROTHER RYAN AND I EVEN NAMED OUR PET RABBIT “RUDY” AFTER ONE OF THE CHARACTERS, THIS MOVIE HAS REALLY  IMPACTED MY LIFE MORE THAN I THOUGHT LOL.

I also got this bitchin’ Pee Wee’s Big Adventure art piece from Billy Lilly on Instagram (his art is so pop-tastic and fun!). My kitchen was legit begging for this! This movie is also a huge part of my life and is one of the few movies that I quote from probably on a weekly basis if we’re being real with each other here (are we? I AM ALWAYS BEING REAL WITH YOU!).

In fact, I was training a new person at work last week and all I really knew about her was that she enjoys going to rodeos and I was trying to make small talk so I said, “The closest I’ve ever been to a rodeo is Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, haha” BUT SHE HAD NEVER SEEN IT SO THERE WAS JUST AN AWKWARD SILENCE.

I’m not really sorry for my gratuitous kitchen PDA because if you guys knew how shitty it used to be and how much I hated it, you would be in there doing precious floor-angels on that arcade rug, too. You really would.

That big empty area above the spice rack will one day be the spot of the pinball back glass. Henry finally ordered lights for it! But now we’re in the throes of Valentine season and drowning in orders from our card shops, so I guess all projects are on hold. :(

Out of everything, I think the neon sign is still my favorite. The kitchen would go down about 87 notches without it!

I actually make myself food now because I don’t hate being in there! I mean, the food I’m making isn’t anything beyond scrambled Egg Beaters and perhaps a can of soup or a microwaved sweet potato for dinner, but Henry is like WOW LOOK AT YOU GROWING UP!

I love that I can see Pee Wee from my desk while I’m working!

I’ll end this with a picture of this little sweetie, Penelope <3

(Impeachment tomorrow?)

Dec 232020
 

How you doing today, Lucy? You good, Mary? OK cool because I got a fun pandemic decorating tale for you today so if you wanna just go ahead and fluff your tuffet – go on, I’ll wait.

I think I mentioned in here recently that I really wanted to clean up the little hallway area upstairs (when I say little, I MEAN little – there’s just two bedrooms and a bathroom up there so the hallway is basically a rectangular block). There used to be this big, wavy metal shelf at the top which was fine when I lived alone but then HENRY moved in and started leaving random tools and other masculine sundry on the shelves, and then I accidentally put too many photo albums and journals on it and it always kind of looked like it was one hard gust of air away from toppling. Plus, Drew kept jumping on it and it was just a crisis waiting to happen.

Then I got the idea to make it the Cure corner, because with that Seoul subway sign’s impending arrival to the wall behind the couch, my Robert Smith self portrait was going to need a new home and it wasn’t going to be tucked away in the attic, believe me! This was one of my first eBay wins in 1999 and I paid too much for it to rot away under a pound of cobwebs.

So then it turned into, “Hey Henry, what if…” and this is the one thing I always say that makes him visibly clench, well, that and “I have an idea.” That one probably gives him angina though.

I think that Henry is really just in some weird Bob Vila groove now though because not only has he been tinkering away at my projects, but he’s also been fixing things on his own, too. Like things that I didn’t even realize were broken because I’m not an adult. He like, put in new plugs and stuff. In the walls. I don’t know, but he was doing stuff OK?!

All I did was tell him that I wanted to do this and he was like “OK” and took down the shelf and then asked what color the wall will be (at this point it’s more like “what shade of pink will this wall be?” and then he went to Lowe’s and got the paint and then, like, actually painted straight away and then when the first several panels of faux-plants arrived, HE HUNG THEM. Like, without me even having to nag! Has he finally realized that this is all it takes to keep the whine away?!

The first phase, it looked like this, and even then I was enamored! But I had a firm, clear vision of what I wanted the end result to look like, so we pressed on. First, I knew that I wouldn’t be happy with the picture hanging up there as it was. I should have reframed that thing years and years ago instead of leaving it in the plain metal frame it came in, but if ever there was a time…

We had recently bought a picture at Goodwill specifically for the frame because I planned to use it for a different project. It was too big for the Robert picture so we tried to find something comparable in a smaller size but we are still in the pandemic after all, and I’m extremely uneasy about being in stores, so after two tries, we quit. Then Henry was like, “You know, I could probably just cut down that frame you like and make it work” and I was like THIS IS WHY I STAY WITH YOU.

Literally, what can’t Henry do!? (Aside from completing my Seoul subway sign.)

FUCKKKKKKKK it is so beautiful, like something that would ACTUALLY be at the top of the stairway to Heaven.

The view from below.

Then FINALLY last night we had everything else that was needed: three neon lips and a strand of LED lights, and Henry got to work.

YES. YES, HENRY, THIS WILL DO.

Haven’t decided which other of the myriad Cure memorabilia in my collection will go on the adjacent wall. I also have a small table that used to be downstairs, and I’m painting it cherry red with a pink top that has sequined lip patches adhered to it, so look forward to that, Mary.

I couldn’t have asked for anything more once Henry lit this bitch up, but then he went rogue and installed an LED bulb in the ceiling fixture. HE DID THIS OF HIS OWN ACCORD!!!!

So now the whole corner is awash in pink! I imagine him standing in an aisle in Lowe’s, looking at the bulbs and muttering, “she wants pink? Oh, I’ll give her pink.”

Like I said, I really think the man is broken.

I want to get some extra fake foliage from the craft store and make some drip off the bottom so it looks like less of a severe cut-off there.

The print has a portion of what would become the lyrics to A Letter To Elise, which would be released on the Wish album.

“Could you make it so that the Cure is constantly wafting out of a hidden speaker somewhere up here?”

“We’ll see,” Henry mumbled. So I guess we’ll see, Lucy!

(Sorry, I’ve been doing Paul Eugene workouts again and he’s always talking to some imaginary Mary and Lucy and now I’ve picked it up like a bad tick.)

Dec 162020
 

Yesterday Chooch came downstairs and said, “I have to write a memoir in my creative writing class” and before the words even had a chance to hit the air and cool down, I was bounding up from the couch and shouting, “DID SOMEONE SAY MEMOIR?! THAT’S MY SPECIALTY!”

Anyway, he actually decided that he’s going to write about one of our trips to Korea as his topic! You have no idea how much this pleases me because usually, he picks really stupid shit like “that one time I was playing Pokemon Go and got a [insert dumb name of a stupid thing].” Or the time he had to write about something that changed his life and I was like “KOREA?!” but instead he wrote about when he watched the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Lily hates the sound of people chewing and then he realized that he also hates that and it amplified it in his mind so now he actually hulks out any time Henry is closer than 2 blocks away while eating. Even if it’s just a marshmallow. (I can attest though that Henry has a way of taking the softest most unassuming foods and sexualizing them with his mouth, ugh ew ew ew especially bananas, I’m SHUDDERING RIGHT NOW.)

I was cruising my blog archives and found this Chooch-centric post about our last day of the first trip, where we did a bunch of shit he wanted to do, and I was inspired to repost it. When you have a blog, you can do things like that. I’m laughing to myself now, but it’s a laughter void of any mirth because I just a memory of the time this dumb bitch started an e-feud with me on Twitter and was like, “AND ALL YOU DO IS WRITE ABOUT YOURSELF!!!”

Um…OK.

“Personal blog.”

***

 GOLDEN PIZZA AND NORAEBANGS: See also: Chooch’s Last Day in Seoul 2018

Can you tell that I’ve been supremely dragging my feet with these posts? I know it’s annoying to everyone else that I have approx. 87 posts about a 10-day trip and that we’ve been home for over two months and I still haven’t closed the book on it, but you have to remember that I’m the girl who can stretch Warped Tour into 6 blog posts plus a gratuitous Henry Interview Extravaganza.

And I’m not even sponsored!

So on that note, here is what we did for the rest of our final full day in Seoul, holy shit I didn’t expect to start crying as I typed that, yet here we are.

For the last night, we finally gave in to Chooch’s desire for SUPER KOREAN FUN TIMES, which involved pizza (specifically, “gold” pizza, more on that in a bit) and noraebang, which is Korean karaoke (literally translates to ‘song room’). Let’s be real, you can’t go to South Korea and not partake in some noraebang because it is a super popular pastime of native Koreans. There are noraebangs everywhere, on nearly every street, in alleys, in every neighborhood and district.

But first, he had to suffer through last minute souvenir shopping in Insadong, haha. What every 12-year-old boy wants!

This was when Henry abandoned us in Insadong because he wanted to exchange more money and Chooch somehow inherited two balloons from some people promoting the Alive Museum and then some older Korean man came over and tried to pretend-steal one from Chooch and even with a language barrier, we all managed to have a great big international laugh and these are the heart-warming things that happens when Henry abandons us.

The plan after Insadong was to walk back to the hotel, where Henry would meet us later with pizza procured from a place that Chooch had zeroed in on the day before when we were walking to the palaces. We figured we’d just eat in our room and then set off to Myeongdong for noraebang.

But then Henry came back and was like, “DON’T GET TOO EXCITED” because the pizza was just REGULAR, not GOLD. Apparently, the menu that Chooch saw was for a pizza place that was there previously and now this new one had a different menu which was all in Hangeul and hey you guys, I spent many months leading up to this trip trying to get Henry to learn how to at least read it and he was all, “I DON’T NEED NO HANGEUL.”

Yeah, until you do!

Anyway, Henry felt obligated to buy a pizza from this joint because he had already frustrated the guy working there enough I guess, and it was great pizza, you guys! It really was. But it was extremely similar to American pizza and it was not want we wanted. We wanted that Korean flair.

So we decided to venture on out to the Cheonggyecheon Stream where we saw a place called Mr. Pizza on our second night in Seoul.

But first! We got no further than across the street from the hotel before I realized I left my subway card in the room so Henry obediently went back inside to get it. For some reason, like we need a reason, Chooch and I were nearly peeing our pants in anticipation of seeing our hotel room light turn on, I don’t know why this was such a crucial comedic moment for us, but then it never happened because Henry was all, “I didn’t need to turn it on.” Whatever. At least Chooch nabbed this frameable picture of Henry on his way back to us:

I can only imagine what Chooch and I looked like to passers by, as our raucous laughter caused us to fall into each other like drunks.

This reminds me that I never talked about (lol, like this is a talk show) how we accidentally got lost from Henry the night before on our way to Hongdae. We were walking to one of the Jongno subway stations when Chooch and I stopped to look at jewelry in a store window. I thought dumb Henry knew we stopped but he kept walking and by the time we looked up from the window, WE WERE ABANDONED.

This was like the theme of Korea now that I think about it.

Anyway, we were mildly panicked because there were two subway stations near us and weren’t sure which one he was going to, so we chose the closest one and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And eventually, this happened:

He didn’t realize we weren’t with him anymore until he turned around to hand us our subway cards.

“You couldn’t tell that you didn’t hear us laughing anymore?” I asked.

“No, because I block that out,” Henry mumbled.

Random alley picture because I don’t even want to forget those narrow Korean alleys that pop off once the sun sets.

When we got to Cheongyecheon, we were excited to see that another night market was going on! It was so tempting to just pig out on all the food vendors there, but we had a fucking pizza to scratch off the Korea bucket list, goddammit. To Mr. Pizza!

Gold pizza level achieved!

So, one notorious thing about Korean pizza is that “gold crust” means that it’s made with sweet potato — I fucking love sweet potato but nothing is better than Korean sweet potato, my friends. It’s like candy. Also, corn! Somehow, corn is as synonymous with pizza in Korea as pepperoni is here.

I just asked Chooch what his Mr. Pizza review is and his eyes got all bugged out. “Yum,” he said, with a very ‘duh’ inflection.

But yeah, so worth it and I’m glad we didn’t settle on the other normal pizza!

I just also asked Henry if he liked Mr. Pizza and he said, “Yeah!” with an actual modicum of enthusiasm because he’s trying to keep me from leaving him so he’s suddenly Boyfriend of the Year.

Also, I was excited because I got to push the button on the table to get the waitress to come and bring us a box! I always wanted to push the button!!!

Afterward, we took  the subway to Myeongdong. I chose Myeongdong for our final night because that area rules and we hadn’t experienced it at night before then.

“Are you sure there are noraebangs here?” Henry asked, and I was like, “Uh yeah, le duh” because where aren’t there noraebangs, is the real question. Funny though how as soon as you’re looking for one, they’re suddenly gone, like those little trolls from Labyrinth were flipping over the signs before we walked past. Also, I did notice that most of these places don’t have any English on the signs, so unless it’s a really big, touristy noraebang with big windows in the front to let you see in, you might walk past 59 of them without ever knowing. So if you’re planning to go to Korea and want to sing your face blue in one of these joints, look for this word: 노래방

We eventually found one (not like we were bored looking for one though; Myeongdong is so freaking vibrant and upbeat at night, even on a Sunday!) called Sing Sing. When we walked in, Henry was like, “OH” because it reeked like a dive bar and was pretty dark and creepy, but I loved the atmosphere! It felt more authentic than the shiny, bright ones in Gangnam and Hongdae. This one felt like a place where locals would hang out, and we were definitely not the only ones there.

Henry paid the nice boy approximately 20,000 won for an hour and he lead us into our own private room, gave us a brief tutorial on how to work the remote, and then let us have our privacy to hold faux Produce 101 auditions.

Chooch’s first song was a goddamn Maroon 5 song and we were like, “Oh.” Then he sang something else that was dumb too, while I flipped through the book to find him something cool to sing.

Guys, the rooms even come with tambourines.

I had no intentions of doing any singing because I’m just not into that. And that’s when I saw it.

“Even the Night’s Are Better” by Air Supply.

Air Supply, you guys.

“Henry, you’re singing this with me,” I ordered, tossing him a mic and punching in the number.

“Wha—?” he stuttered, and then the song started and he was like, “Are you kidding.”

I immediately launched into my famous brand of shriek-singing on top of a bed of throaty giggles, while Henry mumbled along, and Chooch stared at me with the most appalled and disgusted look on his face.

“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!?” he cried when the song ended.

“God, I forgot how great I sing!” I said, and Henry was just like, “No.” I think it brought back his PTSD from all the Saturday nights we spent at McCoy’s on karaoke night. I think my crowning moment was the time I sang “Old McDonald Had a Farm” and called for audience participation. The weathered broad who ran karaoke there, DJ Danger (lol), haaaaated me with such a passion and actually got to the point where she would make executive decisions and veto my song choices.

WELL THEN DON’T PUT THEM IN YOUR SONG BOOK, BITCH.

Anyway, back to noraebang, we also sang SHATTERED DREAMS and Chooch was like WHAT IS HAPPENING AM I HALLUCINATING, OR….

“Ugh, I wish they had Skater Boi!” Chooch groaned, flipping through the book 7800 times. I knew they had it because I saw it but I lied and said they totally 100% did not have that song or any other Avril Lavigne songs because she has a lawsuit out against noraebangs, but then I felt bad and said FINE HERE IT IS, SING YOUR DUMB HEART OUT.

But the grand finale was Chooch and me dueting with….

CAN YOU GUESS?!?!

CALL ME MAYBE.

Our theme!

Oh good lord, we were so sweaty by the time our hour was up, and our stomachs hurt from laughing so hard, and my throat hurt from going ham on Air Supply, and it was just the perfect way to end our time in Korea. I especially loved how we could hear people singing in other rooms every time we paused to find our next song.

It was so good! Don’t skip out on noraebang if you’re in Korea! DON’T!!

Here I am in the noraebang bathroom!

Here’s Chooch under the noraebang sign!

Myeongdong!

We capped off the night with ice cream from Milky Bee.

My hand looks so weird here. Henry’s pose, tho.

On our walk back to the hotel from the Jongno subway station, we stopped at a snack shop and I stocked up on some Korean candies for my International Candy Pumpkin at work and had to snap this picture because I’ve had some these corn sticks in there before and at first my work friends were skeptical but then grew to love them.

OK, maybe “love” is a stretch, but they ate them. There were so many different varieties in Korea! Back at the hotel. Chooch and I collapsed and Henry did all the packing while muttering things like, “Just lay there, assholes. Sure, I’ll do everything. Don’t help me.”

I don’t even know how to end this. This was so much more than just a vacation, though. It was a dream come true and a really amazing thing to experience with my little family unit. But, all good things, am I right? We’re hoping to go back again next summer, because there are other cities we want to explore in addition to Seoul and Busan, and plus there was so much in Seoul alone that we weren’t able to get to.

So, if you read all of these or followed along with us on Instagram, thank you! You’re the real MVP!

“OMG I don’t want to hit ‘publish’ on this because once I do, it’s done. It’s over. It’s really over,” I just wailed to Henry. “UNLESS YOU WRITE YOUR OWN RECAP!!!!”

And do you know what he said?

“We’ll see.”

THAT MEANS YES!

Dec 032020
 

In today’s edition of “less pandemic panic, more memories that are manic” (???? Sorry, sometimes I’m a rhyming try-hard) you’ll find me reminiscing about all the carousel selfie funtimes I had in 2019. I like to trick the encroaching depression by focusing on shit that makes me happy and you know, maybe it’s just a Band-aid in the grand scheme of things but for now, it’s getting the job done.

The best part was that I had to go through so many amusement park blog posts to collect these photos and it made me so happy doing a little skimming here and there. 2019 was so tight. This current year is definitely making me appreciate it all the more, in hindsight!

The first amusement park we visited in 2019 was King’s Island that April, but I guess it didn’t occur to any of us to go on the carousel (do they even have one? Now I can’t picture it in my mind), but Chooch and I hit up some horsies a month later when we went to Waldameer.

Then in June, Chooch and I went to Conneaut with Janna and this is the picture that actually kick-started the tradition of CAROUSELFIES. Seriously, this picture makes me so happy, it was such a stomach-achingly hilarious day, and I should probably just put this damn thing in a locket, to be QUITE FRANK.

This technically counts as a carouselfie: at some ice cream joint in the beginning of summer. This is when Henry hijacked our tradition because wah wah wah he always have to be included even though he’s so lame and I just want to bully him right off the school bus but then he’ll go tattle to the internet and everyone on the internet always takes his side!!

Ugh, being inclusive is so hard sometimes.

The next amusement park we went to was Lotte World in Korea but it was ridiculously crowded and the wait for the carousel was like 2 hours. So the NEXT carousel we rode was in Tokyo Disney Sea! Henry actually took this without bitching!

In August, we went to Kentucky Kingdom and Holiday World in Indiana during a long weekend. Here are those carousels! You can see that Henry is really starting to get a feel for a plaster horse between his legs.

…OK never mind, he’s back to grimacing.

Then we went to Cedar Point in September! That was truly a weekend of ups and downs but our time on the derby ride thingie was pleasant (I forgot how fast it goes though)!

In October, we went to King’s Dominion in Virginia for the first time and had so much fun! SO MUCH FUN that I have literally no recollection of riding the carousel there. Side note: there was recently some thing on Twitter where people were sharing pictures of celebrities they’ve been told that they look like so I was like “cool I’ll play too” even though I never think I look like anyone I’m told (especially not Maggie Gyllenhaal but I used to get that one the most). I used to get Claire Danes a lot too, especially when I was younger and I never saw that one either but I just glanced at myself in this King’s Dominion pic and I kind of actually see it in this one!

Also, wtf are all those people looking at? I’m having major FOMO right now.

The first weekend of November (ie the last of the Halloween festivities at amusement parks) we went to Lake Compounce in Connecticut and Dorney Park in Allentown, PA and it was a legit wonderful weekend (don’t worry – we still bickered a lot, we’re the Appledales, after all).

It was super cold at Lake Compounce, but mild at Dorney. Just in case any weather groupies are wondering.

People kept telling me that they liked my jacket all weekend and Chooch was like “No, it’s ugly. I hate it.”

And then our very last carouselfie happened one year ago this month, at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. THAT WAS A FUN TRIP TOO BUT IT WAS FUCKING COLD, MAN.

Honorable mention: Chooch and I also went to Kennywood in August but for some reason we didn’t ride the carousel (we were too busy fucking with the coasters) but I did manage to take a moody pic of it because we left that night.

I wonder how much it would cost to get one of those little coin-operated carousels for the house….I could get rid of the dining room table and put it there. We could call it the diningsel. Dinner-Go-Round. Merry-Go-Lunch. Give me a break man, my brain is atrophied.

OK back to reality, a/k/a COVID-times. Have a nice night. If you dream about carousels after looking at these pictures before bed, you have to tell me!

Nov 302020
 

Even though it’s just the three of us here in our cozy covid pod, I didn’t want to just say ‘fuck it’ and like, order pizza or something, which is definitely something we have done on other holidays since we don’t really have anything else to do, family to visit, etc. So I suggested that we make a little spread of international delights, akin to what I had planned for 4th of July before we decided to tear up the kitchen instead.

(“Yeah but can’t we still do it anyway?” I asked Henry and he was like WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO COOK?? Oh…yeah. Lol.)

Here is the menu I painstakingly constructed only to have Henry prove at 11pm on Thanksgiving Eve that he only barely read it by answering, “Um…..” 4 out of 5 times to my questions of, “Did you get the ingredients for this?” He’s such a holidayfucker, I swear to god. Spoiler: IT TURNED OUT FINE! He was able to get the rest of what he needed at the Mexican grocery store down the street the next day.

  • fufu and peanut soup (West African)
  • Mamaliga (Romania)
  • baked apple sauce (Dutch)
  • Smolensk porridge (Russia)
  • Street corn salad (Mexico)
  • Sweet potato rolls (Portugal)
  • Mashed potatoes (good ol’ Merica, made by Chooch)
  • Vegan ham
  • Bibingka (Philippines)
  • Cherry pie (another American contribution by vanilla Chooch)

Pre-dinner, Chooch off-handedly mentioned that he wanted to try peppermint Schnappes after seeing Lily guzzle it on Dash + Lily so I was like OH WHAT THE HELL IT’S A HOLIDAY and let him have a sip.

Chooch’s cherry pie was the first thing that was done that day and proceeded to tempt us with its cloying aroma

I made bibingka all by myself! I lied! It was a box mix and Chooch had to help me because the directions were totally confusing. I was crying. But hot damn, this coconut milk cake was delicious. I learned about it from the book The Farm, which I did not like but at least it taught me about some delicious Filipino foods.

My apple sauce required the addition of speculaaskruiden which is a speculoos-y spice, I guess. Of course it was impossible to find but then I found a recipe with how to make it and it seemed easy until I sent it to Henry and he was like CARDAMOM PODS ARE $10, GRRRRR but he bought them and spent Wednesday night roasting, shelling, and grinding them lolololol. The next day, I was like, “WHEN DO I GET TO DO SOMETHING” and he was all, “Here, make your damn apple shit” and swept his arm toward a pile of apples and I was like, “OK, so do I just shove them in the oven?”

“No. You have to peel and cut them first.”

OH HAHAHA HELL NO. I was looking for something a bit less laborious, buddy. So he sent me away and then let me come back hours later after they had been baked and were ready for some mashing. I am good at mashing.

I did hurt my wrist though.

FAKE HAM. This was just from the store. Probably Whole Foods.

MY RUSSIAN PORRIDGE SHIT! It was really weird – fresh cranberry sauce (I MADE IT…wait, did I? No, I was supposed to I think but then Henry ended up doing it because I lost interest) poured over rice. This was our….amuse bouche? Maybe. Chooch HATED IT. I thought it was quite interesting and also good (a lot of people might think interesting means bad but NOT IN THIS CASE) and Henry was immediately coming up with ways to make it better, OK Boris.

Nope, not a fan.

Then we had our fufu course and you guys, I cannot stress enough HOW.GOOD.FUFU.IS. This is another food I learned about from a book and Henry first made it last spring at my request. The fufu is that yellow hunk floating in the soup, and it’s made from plantain and yucca (actually, there are variations of this depending on what region you’re looking at). Literally just those two things and water. It turns into a sticky dough that you then use an edible utensil for soup-spooning.

It is so insanely good with peanut soup. Holy shit, I think I want this to be our new Thanksgiving dinner tradition.

Romanian mamaliga is essentially polenta (Henry was like, “That’s exactly what it is, so…”) topped with a dollop of sour cream, and as a fan of polenta in general, I was not mad at all about this addition to our holiday menu.

This was another thing that Chooch DID NOT LIKE.

Our first time using the buffet!!

OH SHOOOOOT, these sweet potato rolls were bangin’. They were so dense and rich! I toasted one the next morning for breakfast and it was like a fucking gourmet English muffin. Henry added the recipe to his KEEPER pile.

Would I have liked to have invited my mom and Henry’s mom over for dinner? Absolutely. But it’s not worth risking their health (or worse: lives) just because we wanted it to feel “more like a holiday.” Maybe next year things will be safer and we can go all out, but for this year I was…thankful (ugh) to just share a nice dinner with these two goofs.

This is Chooch’s “I CAN HEAR YOU CHEWING” face.

Oh shit, and don’t forget the Korea representation!! Soju in the house! Wish we had makgeolli too but we would have had to travel to obtain that milky nectar of the motherland.

We had some vegan Sugar Spell pints too and that purple sweet potato casserole is a contender for my favorite flavor of theirs.

A little bit of e’er’thang.

My poor stomach felt like Stretch Armstrong after that smorgasbord.

To cap off the night, Chooch and I did the dishes and then indulged in our annual T-giving tradition of mocking birthday party videos on YouTube. I think we all got along all day, too?? COULD THIS BE TRUE?!!

Nov 262020
 

It’s 9:00PM already on Thanksgiving (2020 is on goddamn warped speed) and I am so tired and content. This was quite possibly the nicest T-giving my little fam-trio has had, because the pandemic brought with it LOW EXPECTATIONS. I will pop back on here sometime this weekend to give a proper recap but I wanted to use this day to say thanks to those of you guys who read this, whether we know each other in real life, became friends via the Internet, or maybe you’re a friendly stranger who occasionally reads but doesn’t comment: I’m thankful for you guys! I enjoy writing about the daily minutiae of my life and that anyone cares to read it really means so much to me. I don’t say thanks enough!

I also wanted to take some dumb family pictures to immortalize this Thanksgiving, which was blessedly sans arguing (mostly) and we all pitched in (mostly) and everything turned out wonderfully (100%)!

Henry and Chooch changed clothes IMMEDIATELY after this, so in the next post you’ll see them chowing down on Thanksgiving fare in their super-casual attire.

If Henry looks exhausted/harried, it’s because he was in the middle of cooking and I made him throw on a flannel and sit for an entire 5 minutes while we pretended to be at Olan Mills.

Anyway, I hope my fellow Americans found a way to maintain some traditions while not breaking any pandemic laws. Trust me, I’m not thrilled about how things are playing out either because our new-ish tradition has been to spend a quiet Thanksgiving at home and then go to an amusement for the weekend, and you better believe I was super bummed when summer came and went and an end to covid was still not in sight. I pretty much made peace with the fact months ago that we’d just be staying put for Thanksgiving weekend, and it’s ok. Life goes on (it might not though if you don’t follow covid safety measures!!).

And now I’m going to go and roll myself out of these jeans and into sweatpants, and maybe scroll through Instagram to check out all the pies my friends made. That’s my favorite part of Thanksgiving! ALL OF THE PIE. Speaking of, Chooch made a delightful one and I will talk about that in my Thanksgiving recap.

Byeeeeeeeeeee.

Nov 242020
 

Let’s be real, it’s been hard to make lemonade out of the dirty ass lemons that the coronavirus has chucked at us this year.  With all the staying-at-home that has been mandated since March, the one thing that has really kept me from spiraling out has been giving our rental home a refresher. I can’t even stress how much just a simple change in wall-color has boosted my mood!

But one of the biggest problems we’ve ALWAYS had is CLUTTER. We just don’t have a lot of room to put things (I mean, we’re not hoarders, but we’re…just messy. And by “we” I mean “Henry). After we redid  the dining room, I was like, “AND YOU NEED TO FIND SOMEWHERE TO KEEP THE CARD-MAKING SUPPLIES.” We have a shelf at the bottom of the steps, but that evidently isn’t enough because his supplies kept spilling out onto the dining room table, under the dining room table, next to the dining room table, on the dining room chairs…you get the picture. It’s his card-making station, you guys, and I can’t be too finger-pointer-y about it because we sell cards very consistently so he just got in a routine where he would leave the main supplies out, since he was “going to need them again tomorrow.”

Basically this is A LOT of words to say that we could never even sit at the table to eat because his paper cutter, his crafting knives, his tape, his envelopes, his etc etc etc, was always strewn across the tabletop.

So after we redid the dining room, he moved all of his supplies to the basement until we found a good storage solution. I knew from the start that I wanted a buffet-type piece that could be useful if we ever get to host parties again but also double as hidden storage. I didn’t want to buy something new though – I wanted to find something at the thrift store so that we could dress it up in my dumb aesthetic, which varies.

We ended up finding this really solid mid-century buffet a few weeks ago for like $60 and it was, um, very worth it because the manufacturer is a very good one (we found out that this piece could possibly be worth between $1500-$3000…good thing we used good paint?). As usual, I have no before photo but just know that it was ugly and like, off-white.

Henry finally put it back together last night and brought it up from the basement and I love it SO MUCH. It’s perfect!

We bought the cabinet paint from Lowe’s and the cashier was like, “THIS IS A GREAT COLOR.”

Yeah, no duh.

I knew before we even found a buffet that I wanted to use some of my Pappap’s wallpaper on it. I felt that the print from the master bedroom of the Gillcrest House was the perfect complement to the pink I picked (literally typed “pink I pinked” the first time). Henry used actual wallpaper paste-stuff and the sheets went right on the doors like it was made just to sit around for 50 years waiting for this moment.

I chose gold glitter ribbon as an accent because pink and gold glitter is my signature, like it’s hard to believe I wasn’t in a sorority sometimes, like hee hee, bitches.

Here’s what the wallpaper looked like in the Gillcrest master bedroom.

When I was a really little kid, I used to sleepover my grandparents’ house a lot and I would always sleep in that room with them. That room was fucking magical, the bathroom alone was like no other, and I am so happy to have a piece of that room here in my house, on a repurposed piece of furniture that will hopefully live on for many more decades. (I mean, I can picture this in Chooch’s house someday, can’t you?)

I just fucking love it and can’t wait until I can have people over here again so I can load it up with snaaaaax.

Henry was mad because I posted pictures of it on Instagram without including one of it with the actual buffet flap-things open. “THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT A BUFFET!” he yelled, because he wrote a thesis on midcentury furniture, didn’t you know?

Hilariously, when we first found this at the thrift store, it was SO UGLY TO ME, especially when Henry opened the flaps. I screamed, “OMG WHAT IS THIS????” and he calmly said, “A buffet…” and I was like, “Oh thank god, I thought it was some kind of exam table.”

Wheelchairs? Yes. Funerary paraphernalia? Fuck yeah. Exam tables? GTFO.

I have my limits, you guys.

True to form, Henry left the inside blank. I mean, I guess if he was refurbishing this to sell as a OOAK piece, he’d have gone the extra mile and fluffed up the innards, but we’re only going to stuff it with non compos cards supplies (and cats, apparently), so who really cares, you know?

Drew really fucking loves it.

“Thanks for the new spot!” she said.

So anyway, that’s my buffet story. It would have been really cool to have had this back when I had that vintage food party!

I must be officially old, because I’m getting all hot and bothered over attractive, yet functioning, storage solutions.

Nov 112020
 

Long time readers (lol) might remember when we got some cheap-ass coffee table years ago from the thrift store and refurbed it into a Mod Podge-sponsored photo album. Well…it didn’t hold up very well. All it took was one spilt water bottle to make the underneath stuff expand and bloat and then even after that a bunch of the photos didn’t age well (see also: I included photos of people who ended up being assholes and we no longer speak) so I mostly just kept the table covered.

I think it was last May or June when we decided to finally redo it and got as far as stripping off the old pictures and repainting it, but then Kitchen Redesign 2020 took precedence and the table just sat here with a piece of wood-stuff on top of it for, well, months and months.

Long story short, Henry mismeasured and then ordered the wrong amount of pictures and I was ready to take an axe to it and just buy some generic geometric thing from Target or whateverthefuck, but Henry was like NO, I WILL PREVAIL and then finally took speed or something and got the thing done last weekend.

Here’s what it looked like the first time around:

While all of those photos told a story and 90% made me smile on the daily, there were some that….didn’t age well. Because they featured people who turned out to be…assholes. You know how it is.

So this time around, I decided that I wanted to use photos that would ONLY trigger HAPPINESS. Obviously, those are pictures of my favorite people in my favorite country.

I am a super sentimental person and have always been a hoarder of photos. For god’s sake, pretty much the only things I took from my grandparents’ house was photo albums! I’m always looking for new ways to display photos because sadly I’m running out of walls. (See next photo, lol.)

Pardon the mess in the background, but everything around here is still very much “in progress.” Lol.

I chose this color scheme because it’s similar to the colors used on the palaces in South Korea, and I used photos from both trips and it was so hard to choose!

But the TV in the background, tho!!!!!!

Also, anything you see scattered around the floor is 99.9% of the time a cat toy.

Henry still has to fill the holes in the trim (HE USED A NAIL GUN AND ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT WAS HAPPY GILMORE’S CONSTRUCTION JOB BOSS) but I love how this version of the table turned out. And I can’t wait until we can have people over again so I can make them sit here while I point out and explain EVERYSINGLEPHOTO on this table, like some bizarre Pinterest-age version of a1960s vacation slideshow. Oh, brace yo’selves, future visitors.

I look at these pictures and feel like everything is going to be ok. You know that episode of The Walking Dead were Carol is like, “Just look at the flowers, Lizzy”? If you’re planning on killing me, just tell me to look at the table. Let these pictures be my flowers.

Maybe someday I will just project all of my photos onto the side of the house. The neighbors would love that.

Penelope thinks it’s just OK.

OK, I’m signing off now. Lemme know if you have any cool ideas for future photo display projects. I want to do something with amusement park photos next!

Nov 022020
 

Welp, to use the most annoying phrase of all time this side of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”:

IT IS WHAT IT IS.

Luckily, we’ve had, what, 7 months to get used to dashed plans and all the dusty nooks and crannies of our homes, so it wasn’t like Halloween was THE MOST DEPRESSING day of the year. And ironically, it managed to be one of the only Halloweens in recent years where I didn’t flip out over last minute costume malfunctions or the general concept of things not going my way.

God forbid.

I mean it was annoying when, for the second year in a row, Henry’s son took the kids trick or treating in some uppity suburban utopia which is whatever, but they live RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO US and couldn’t be troubled to bring the kids over for a second so we could at least see what they were dressed as. No, we instead had to find out the next day via Instagram. How fucking precious.

Oh well, they’re not even my actual grandkids so what do I care. It’s just outrageous how self-centered and oblivious that generation is. The one after the millennials. What are we calling that shit? Generation Z. Thanks, Google. Actually, looking at the dates, those two are actually the combined forces of Millennials AND Generation Z! No wonder why they have literally no life etiquette or courtesy. Or, as we call it in Korean, noonchi. 

It’s the 눈치 없다 generation.

I think Chooch was actually more upset about this than me, and Henry just shrugged it off entirely because Blake is just like him so he doesn’t really have the room to complain.

But whatever, on to better things.

Like Chooch’s costume!

We knew he most likely wasn’t going trick-or-treating this year (you know, being a big bad ninth grader and all), but it didn’t feel right not making a costume. I mean, nearly right up until the end I had begun to accept that my career as Halloween pageant mom really, truly was over.

“But Erin, you say that every year, etc etc.”

No, for real this time!

But then the damn VP debate happened and the fly nested in Pence’s helmet hair for a hilariously long amount of time, and the Internet went nuts over it, and I started screaming CHOOCH, WE HAVE A COSTUME!

We bought him a gaming computer a few weeks ago so he is pretty much at our mercy, at least for the next couple of months. So he was like, “Yes, ma’am that surely seems like a great costume idea and I will happily wear it.”

It also ended being one of the cheapest costumes we’ve made, as well! Those glasses were $5, the ski mask was from Henry’s work, the wings are made from wire hangers and wax paper, Pence’s face is made from cardboard we already had, and a few sheets of foam paper that came to like, $5. Oh, and the pipe cleaners were about $3, if even that. And Henry probably used a Michaels coupon because he is a seasoned craft store shopper.

Man, we just couldn’t help ourselves.

And yes, I made sure to give Pence pink eyes since his eyeballs were basically bleeding during that debate. What a gross man.

Most of the day, aside from costuming, was spent working on projects around the house and before we knew it, it was time for trick-or-treating to start. It wasn’t canceled or anything in our area, but we wanted to make sure it was safe on the off-chance anyone actually came to our house  (we live on a busy street so most of the kids tend to stay on the inner streets). I set up a bowl of candy on one of our wheelchairs and nestled a bottle of hand sanitizer next to it. We hid our Echo under a porch chair and had haunted house music playing all night which upset our cats bigly.

Last year, we only got one kid. This year, during a fucking pandemic, we got 4 groups! Plus the pizza delivery guy who I called back to the porch and forced to take some candy, lol.

Then we ate pizza and just chilled without having any arguments! It was actually a really nice, cozy Halloween in spite of the state of the world. Here’s hoping Trump gets voted the fuck out and we can get legit adults in the White House who will focus on working with the rest of the world to find a way to kill covid. Props to everyone who celebrated Halloween responsibly!

Oct 302020
 

Today is my last day of my annual Halloween Vacation and honestly, it doesn’t even matter because it’s not like I’m returning home from anywhere cool or having to actually go back to the office on Monday. It’s just been more of the same, but without sitting in front of the computer for 8 hours a day. I was going to post a Friday Five, but I don’t know that I can scrounge up an entire FIVE THINGS to drone on about, that is how motherfucking this week has been. Let me summarize it for you quickly.

I have:

  • read a bunch of books;
  • gone on A LOT of walks;
  • sort of helped Henry with a gallery wall;
  • carefully placed objects on some shelves that Henry made from neon acrylic;
  • shoved a spoon in some spooky scoops whenever the fuck I wanted;
  • said, “wow it’s raining again” about 4589 times.

Guys, seriously, I don’t think I have done anything else. I haven’t even watched a full horror movie, just had some classics on in the background while I stared wistfully at the wall and begged the cats for attention. I really DO NOT do the whole “staycation” well at all.

Here are some pictures of the shelves tho:

This shelf is on the “popsicle wall” and displays some things collected from my travels. And no, that’s not a weener, lol. It’s the top from some traditional medicinal liquor we bought in Korea. The camel and Coke bottle are both from Morocco; the vegemite and honey are from Australia, that weird broken vase thing is from Pompeii. The pictures are Chooch with two BIGBANG dads (Seungri’s and G-Dragon’s!). The little hanok is also from Korea.

And then this one is in the kitchen:

   

I like how it looks like it’s glowing. Anyway, Henry made these shelves from sheets of acrylic but it seemed like it was a pain so probably next time we will just buy ones already made and pay the exorbitant shipping from the UK, lol. (Although Henry has already been reading up on how to polish acrylic and apparently he needs a blowtorch and he seems pretty excited to try that out, so who knows.)

Oh I know! I also worked on Chooch’s Halloween costume but that didn’t take long at all. He’s not going trick-or-treating but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a certain costume and he half-heartedly agreed to go along with it so THERE, I WIN ANOTHER HALLOWEEN BATTLE, BOO YEAH.

Oh I knowx2! On Monday, I took a picture of myself to submit to the office because, since this year is my 10th anniversary, I have the opportunity to update my employee picture, which is hilarious because I tried to be proactive about this last fall, knowing that they circulate a giant poster of all the people having anniversaries (in 5-year increments) and I DID NOT want my current picture to be used because I look hideous and unrecognizable.  So Margie arranged for several of us in the department to have our picture retaken by some broad and it was incredibly awkward because I had to stand in her small office while she took my picture with her phone and I didn’t like a single one of the pictures but just said, “Sure, that one is fine” and that it didn’t matter anyway because she never had it put on our Firm’s directory even after I emailed her twice to remind her, and then the pandemic happened and I was like, “is it petty to still be upset about this or nah?” Finally last week I was like, “OK, enough time has passed and everyone is back to complaining about dumb shit again and losing perspective so I am going to email her again,” but then I forgot and a few days later, SHE EMAILED THE GROUP OF US WHO HAVE ANNIVERSARIES, giving us the option to submit our own picture to her!!!

Of course, I couldn’t pass up  the opportunity to be passive-aggressive and petty, so I emailed her and said, “Hi you took an updated picture of me last year but it was never put on Compass, can I just send you a new one?” LOL at my cry-babyness forever.

Henry was off (much to his chagrin since I did nothing but yell at him all day) on Monday so he had to help fashion a backdrop since we have no white walls left in the house thanks to Covid-redecorating. It was a mess and I yelled a lot, but I finally got a picture and then was annoyed because there’s a strand of hair in my eye but it’s the best one I took otherwise and I figured it will be so small anyway that no one will see, except for you – now it’s all you will be able to see!

Ugh she better fucking replace this old one!! I will never forget the day it was taken. I was a temp for the first 5 or so months I worked there so I only had a temp badge with a yellow circle in lieu of a photo which was fine by me. Then I was hired by the firm and one random day I came in to an email that was like, “Hello please come up and have your picture taken” and I was like, “TODAY?!!?” because, not that I was ever super put-together, but I remember being exceptionally harried and a general mess that day. Also, the lady who took my picture was the same one who took it last year and I remember she was asleep at her desk and I had to gently wake her up. Now she has her own office to take get some private napping in.

Wow, I guess I had more to ramble on about that I imagined.

Now I’m just waiting for Chooch to finish geometry so we can go for a walk to a cafe in Mt. Lebanon and get some of that hot bev bev.

I literally don’t know why I said that. I have never once called hot beverage that in my life. Sometimes I think I lose consciousness while I’m writing on here and the virtual spirit of Mona-Lisa Saperstein takes over.

I will leave you with two MVs that I am sincerely feeling deep into my bones today:

Obsessed with the eye imagery in this!

Janna’s ult bias is back with another banger!

Oct 282020
 

Sometime early Monday evening, my work friend Lauren texted me and asked if I would be willing to submit one of Chooch’s carved pumpkins because our department was having a pumpkin carving contest, but only like 5 people submitted one.

I mean, I’m not shocked. Four years ago, Carrie and I were in charge of organizing a Halloween party for the department and barely anyone participated, and this was waaaaay before the pandemic! I think there were 5 of us who dressed up. It was just super depressing. We just don’t work with very festive people, I guess. This is why I didn’t even bother to put  my name in the hat for the new party committee that was assembled at the beginning of the year, because I get so angry when the efforts are unappreciated!

Anyway, I didn’t pay much attention to the emails that went out about this last week because I knew I wouldn’t “be there,” since I’m off the whole week before Halloween and didn’t think I would be eligible because I’m sorry – I love my co-workers but I am not logging on to a WebEx on a day off!

Sadly, all of the pumpkins Chooch carved are half-rotted because of the hot weather we had been having last week, so I was like, “Ew, I’m sorry but I can’t submit a picture of any of those in good conscience” but we were actually already out when she texted me so I asked Chooch, “If we stop and get a new pumpkin on the way home, will you carve it?”

Chooch made some mumbling sounds that, when strung together and played in reverse while standing in a graveyard at midnight, loosely translated into, “Go fuck yourself.”

“There’s a cash prize, I think,” I added with a shrug and he was suddenly like, “Sure mother, this sounds like a swell idea; Father, please purchase the pumpkin at your earliest convenience.”

Now, I was only doing this to be a team player, and I have a hard time saying no to people. So I told Chooch it didn’t have to be anything magnificent which quickly turned into, “OOOH WILL YOU DO A G-DRAGON ONE!?” and he was like, “Wha—no!!!” So then I thought out oud, “You know what would be quick and simple? You could just do a 2020 and then set it on fire. Bam. Done.”

He liked the idea because it was easy, so that is why there was the stench of burning pumpkin cocooning our house Monday night and I’m here to tell you that it was a far cry from Yankee Candle. Yikes.

I got the picture submitted to Lauren that night and it was eligible for voting the next day. I didn’t think too much about it and then Chooch was like, “What’s going on with that pumpkin competition? Did I win, or…?” and I was like, “Oh shit, I didn’t think we were actually in it to win it” which is how you know 2020 has taken a toll on this tried and true Leo, because when have I ever entered a contest without the expectation of winning?!

“Did anyone vote for me?” he asked, and I was like, “I dunno, and I’m not logging on to find out. I’m on vacation!” But then on Instagram, my friend Colleen commented on the pumpkin and said that she voted for it so for a second I felt mildly inspired, enough to text Todd and say, “TODD.”

And then nothing else for a full minute because people love that about me.

“Vote for Chooch’s pumpkin.”

So he did, because hello, people do as I say around those parts.

Then I went back to not caring, aka “enjoying my time off” until later on in the evening when I saw that my friend Megan had texted to say that she and Chooch tied for first place! I actually found out about an hour after Chooch and I had a full-blown screaming match IN PUBLIC on our walk to Dunkin’ Donuts for beverage after dinner, when he tried to take credit for it and I was like, “Yeah, I mean, you carved it but it was my idea” and he was like, “No it was my idea, you just said to make one that said 2020 and I said yeah and we can set it on fire.”

UM – NEGATIVE. Why would I suggest to just carve 2020!? The whole point from the very genesis of the idea was to set it on fire! And if you know me at all, you know that I CANNOT STAND WHEN SOMEONE TAKES CREDIT FOR MY IDEAS EVEN IF THAT SOMEONE IS MY OWN SON, I WILL NOT HAVE IT. So we were actually yelling at each other next to a gas station on a busy street and you know what, I didn’t even care who was watching HONESTLY!! I even turned around and stalked off at one point but then I remembered that I wanted fucking coffee so I came back.

“You’re a typical Leo,” Chooch muttered when we were on our way back with our coffee. “You make everything about you!”

“And you’re a typical Taurus!” I slapped back. “FUCKING STUBBORN! ALSO, YES I MADE THAT ABOUT MYSELF BECAUSE IT WAS MY IDEA AND YOU WERE TAKING CREDIT AND I’M NOT GOING TO STAND THERE AND LET THAT HAPPEN!”

Can you guys see now why I never chose a creative route as a profession? I literally CANNOT work with others when it comes to ideas and creations and whatever.

It was so bad that I even called Henry and asked him to solve it for us since he was in the car when the whole thing was born, and he literally said HE DIDN’T KNOW because he is FUCKING SCARED OF US BOTH.

WOW THIS BLOG POST WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS ANGRY YET HERE WE ARE.

Anyway, then I found out that the pumpkin tied for first place and Chooch and I bonded over the fact that OUR JOINT EFFORTS paid off.

I mean it’s just like how I design the serial killer cards and Henry makes them, you know? I come up with ideas and then these fools execute them. The only difference is that Henry doesn’t mouth off like Chooch does.

Oct 272020
 

During these #UghTimes, it’s so important to forage for all the little things you can find that boost your mood. For my household, it’s treating ourselves to the occasional Sugar Spell Scoops pint presales. We were always just the casual scoop procuring customer pre-pandemic, but we really want to support this insanely good local business which is owned by the nicest, sweetest, cutest couple who have always been so friendly to us, and that really makes all the difference in the world. I used to be such a fangirl of another local ice cream shop, Millie’s, but a series of disappointing interactions with employees left me with a bad taste in my mouth (rivaled only by their sorry attempt at vegan ice cream) so I have happily giving Sugar Spell all of my business since then.

Plus, they do vegan ice cream BEAUTIFULLY and SKILLFULLY. The flavors they create are creative and artisanal, and soooo good that even Highbrow Hank will happily stick in a spoon. The pints are a bit pricy, but vegan ingredients ain’t cheap, yo. Which is why I thought FOR SURE Henry would be like, “JUST PICK THREE” when the entire collection of Halloween flavors was unveiled last week, but instead, he said, “Just get all of them.”

IT FELT LIKE CHRISTMAS!!

Until I remembered that the presales can often sell out quickly, especially when there are seasonal flavors. I have been (freezer?) burnt in the past by rolling up an hour or two too late, only to see the flavors I wanted are long gone. So now I will typically set a reminder on my phone to ensure I get what I want.

However!!!! I knew that this one in particular was going to be like Hunger Games, because every single flavor was special. And I wanted them all! So I devised a strategy: Henry and I would go to the site at the same time. I would get the first 4 flavors listed, he would get the rest.

And maybe if you have walked past our house last Thursday at approx. 7:02pm, you would have heard me screaming like Monica Gellar because while I was able to snag the first four pints, Henry’s phone was spinning on the checkout page. And he was just sitting there ever so calmly?!

“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO?!!?” I screamed at him, like he accidentally threw away the Hope diamond.

“I can’t get it to stop spinning. Just go back and place the second order yourself,” he shrugged with an “It’s just ice cream” nonchalance.

When I went back to the order page, TWO OF THE FLAVORS WERE ALREADY SOLD OUT, thank god they were the ones I already ordered though! So I tried to order the three that Henry failed to snag, but the pumpkin one couldn’t be added to my cart! I was FUCKING SCREAMING because it was the one I wanted the most.

“Just get the other two then!” Henry said, ready to slap me in the face with a wet fish to bring me back to IT’S JUST ICE CREAM reality.

So I got the other two and then spent a solid minute berating Henry for fucking up the system. Almost all of the pints were sold out at this point, but the pumpkin one didn’t have the “sold out” circle on it so I was confused. I tried to add it to my cart again, and Henry was like, “IT’S BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO SELECT AN OPTION!!” since it was the only one that had a GF/non-GF option, and I didn’t even notice it! So once I selected something from the drop-down, I was able to purchase it!

IT TOOK THREE SEPARATE ORDERS BUT WE GOT ALL FLAVORS! And every single one of them was sold out within 15 minutes, it was insanity.

Then it took a good hour for my heartrate to go down. It is literally comparable to purchasing kpop concert tickets, ISTFG. In the moments leading up to the order form going live, I get the Ticketmaster queue stomach cramps and pee-jigs. Whew!

Sunday was pick-up day and Henry said when he went inside to get our pints, Amanda the Scoop Genius said to her partner, “Oh, I think they have like 127 orders.” Lol.

We are not usually this indulgent (I think the most we ever purchased at one time was 4, but usually we just get 2 or 3 and they will last us a good while!)  but it’s Halloween and we are sad. This makes it feel more celebratory!

l-r with descriptions taken straight from Sugar Spell:

  • Vampire’s Blood (you can’t tell in this picture but once we dug in, the blood swirls were poppin’!): sweet cream base with coagulated blackberry red wine reduction. (The red wine is the fucking flavor burst we all need right now.)
  • Wake the Dead: Black coffee base with GF cookie dirt and white chocolate skulls. (Apparently, this contains activated charcoal!)
  • Wolfman’s Lint Roller (Henry’s favorite): First of all, how fantastic is this name? It’s chocolate coconut ice cream with chocolate coconut fur, chocolate syrup slobber, sliced almond claws, and puffed rice ticks.
  • Trick or Treat: PB ice cream with caramel ribbons, crushed peanuts, candy-coated bits, house-made PB cups, and topped with an assorted spooky shaped chocolate. (Fun fact: Chooch always corrects me because I say CARMUL and he says CARA-MEL, yet whenever I read it, I pronounce it his way in my head.)
  • Witch’s Brew: lavender ice cream with matcha whipped cream swirl and bubbling cauldron sprinkle spread. (Um, hello, a mash-up of two of my favorite flavors in the entire world???? This one had a lot riding on it.)
  • Ecto Cooler: You guys, no description needed. This literally tastes JUST LIKE THE HI-C VERSION.
  • Pumpkin Cookies & Cream: self-explanatory!

So….at first I was like, “do not make me choose a favorite” but I’m going to say it: Witch’s Brew and Vampire’s Blood have my heart. ALL OF THE FLAVORS ARE TO DIE FOR (haha) please don’t get it twisted, but if I had to go back in time and ONLY choose two, it would be these two.

Mmm, coagulated blackberry blood, boiiiii.

I’m so grateful to be in a position to support small businesses during these dark times. I know at the end of the day, ice cream isn’t essential, but giving your mental health some TLC definitely is, and what better way than treating yourself to fun vegan ice cream while knowing that you’re helping to keep a local shop afloat AT THE SAME TIME? All while wearing a mask, of course!

I love this place so much that if they had a street team like Warped Tour-type bands used to have in the 2000s, I’d sign up and pass out stickers on Brookline Boulevard for sure. I might even make sampler CDs of kpop groups to go along with it. There are a lot of ice cream/dessert-themed songs in kpop land, like this one!

 

Oct 052020
 

While the White House Virus continued to spread, we were over here in Brookline redoing the dining room.

Being home almost 24:7 since March has REALLY made me angry about the state of our house. I have already mentioned this like a hundred times, but because of Chooch’s school, we’re not actively looking to buy a house right. (Long story short, anyway.)

(Unless the perfect home presents itself to us like a bride on her wedding night, then I guess we will talk.)

ANYWAY! There really isn’t anything WRONG with our place, aside from the fact that, well, it’s just old. It needs remodeled, but if the landlord does that while we’re living here, our rent will skyrocket. So, I can deal with the oldness, but what I can’t deal with is just the CLUTTER and disaster zone feel of the place. So much of that stems from our card business. You would be SHOCKED to see all the supplies and equipment a small Etsy greeting card company requires. Our dining room table is unusable 90% of the time because Henry has card-shit stacked everywhere. 

I just want to NOT be embarrassed when friends unexpectedly drop by (though, the probability of that happening any time is slim) instead of nervously laughing, “HAHAHA IGNORE THE TABLE” or grabbing garbage from someone who is en route to throw it away in the kitchen and screaming in the tone of a tweaker, “HERE I’LL GET THAT FOR YOU” and then slipping in through a 3/4 closed kitchen door before anyone can see what lies behind it. Well, we can definitely erase the kitchen from the Rooms of Shame list!

The dining room was also the only room left on the first floor with, GASP, white walls. This is the room where I work from so I was really starting to nitpick at it after spending so much time in there. I knew that at least getting some color on the walls would be a step in the right direction. Once that happens, everything else starts to fall into place and trust me, I’m pretty sure Henry was clenched while he painted the walls, wondering what else was in store for him. 

Don’t even pay attention to the shitty floors. They’re well beyond anything we can do to make them look presentable. Also, who else has cat toys on the floor in every picture they take of their house? Our cats are literally toddlers. 

Anyway, these were the first walls Henry the Painting Man painted. The dining room table used to live beneath the Get Stoked sign, but I made Henry take the middle part out of it (why did we even need such a large table? There are only 3 of us! I think we must have put that center in it for a party a long time ago and then never removed it) and move it to the other side. We’ll get to that later!

I need to find a credenza or a buffet to put against this wall now, hopefully something that has enough storage to stuff the overflow of card-shit (we have an entire shelf at the bottom of the steps that’s reserved for just card shit, but it’s still not enough, ugh). Ideally, I’d just like to get something second-hand so that I can paint it.

Henry snapped at one point. He was particularly angry with that purple paint because its coverage was terrible. We had to go to Lowe’s to get more and there was a young couple there blatantly not wearing masks and I was SO FUCKING ANGRY. FUCK YOU. 

Actually, the purple wall was the first wall I wanted to paint, several months ago. Because I had this image of filling that wall with picture frames painted the same color as our dining room chairs, and how poppin’ with that look against a deep purple!? But I didn’t want the entire room to be purple because that’s so dark, so I started looking for various color schemes involving a purple of that shade, and that’s how I landed on the yellow, orange, and berry shades of the other walls and once we brought the samples home, I realized that it held a striking similarity to the original Popsicle brand popsicles, and while maybe that would deter some people, it made that much more confident in the chosen palette. 

It just feels so fun!

We took down the curtains, which were a very dark and heavy maroon velvet that took up almost the entire wall. So now we’ve gained back a bunch of wall real estate and the table looks so cute over there! This is where my dining room table was when I first moved in way too long ago, so I was v. nostalgic. 

There’s really not much we can do about the computer desk. 

These curtains are 100% from Target’s kids’ line, Pillowfort, but THEY VIBE SO PERFECTLY!

We have a small wooden table that the printers usually live on but it’s in the middle of getting painted yellow.  Also, imagine that purple wall full of pictures of Korea inside frames the color of the dining room chairs. Le sigh. I have a bunch of the frames painted already, but I need to get some pictures printed. 

Don’t worry, we never eat at the table anyway.

That small wall behind Drew isn’t finished yet – the other two wall colors still need added to the stripes. Henry was supposed to do that tonight but he was allegedly “too tired.” Mm, ok. Sure. 

 

It’s so nice being able to walk through this room now without zig-zagging and weaving and tripping over Henry’s industrial paper cutter. I want him to just get a card table and make the greeting cards in the basement but every time I suggest it, he does that murderous mustache twitch, so I guess that’s a no. 

Popsicle vibes or naw?!

So right now, the entire right side of the room is basically a cat playground. Also, our light is consistently missing at least two bulbs at any given time, lol. I’m going to replace that soon, anyway. That light came with this house and I’ve never liked it. 

But yeah, that’s how we’ve been constructively spending our time. It only took a pandemic for us to stop living like slobs in a junkyard. To our defense, we were always doing shit and going places, so we never had the time or money to devote to the house! But who knows how much longer we’re gonna be on house arrest – I want to not feel like the walls are closing in on me. Our place isn’t perfect but at least I’m not full of hell fire every day when I wake up and come downstairs. 

Sep 132020
 

Dear friends and foes*,

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

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

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

***

September 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love the woodwork of this shrine!

OH SHIT SON, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

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

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

But I did it.

For Christ.

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

My fucked-up knees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE FUCK, HENRY?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“SO YOU LIED,” Chooch pointed out.

CAN IT, CHOOCH.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yessssssssss.  I need my basement to look like this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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