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.

Sep 102020
 

Hello! Coming through with another kitchen update because the side of the room with the cabinets is FINALLY done.

To be honest, the cabinets and drawers were painted and put back on a few weeks ago but remember I told you that we had lost a drawer a long time ago? Well, I was waiting for Henry to essentially make a new one from a drawer front he found at some construction junkyard place. He found a drawer that was an identical match to one of the larger ones you see below and made the smaller drawer from that. He even BEVELED the sides, which I didn’t even know was a thing until now. This dumb kitchen makeover is teaching me so much. Anyway, the drawer he made is that dark blue one on the far right. It’s just a fake drawer and doesn’t open but it’s better than having a gaping hole there!

Ignore the MISSING TRIM over there on the left because HENRY CERTAINLY HAS.

Overall, I’m happy with how this turned out! I mean, we did the best we could considering we don’t own this house. The cabinetry is about as rudimentary as you can get but I definitely wasn’t about to put any money into upgrading that shit, and our bastard landlord has been updating the kitchens in all of his other properties when people move out, so when we finally move, he’s just gonna demo this entire room anyway! But anything we spent any considerable amount of cash on (basically all of the stuff on the other side of the room) will be coming with us anyway.

So anything that’s imperfect, like the old-ass counter top, is whatever. We originally talked about redoing it with epoxy but honestly, it’s not worth the effort.

Painting these doors was SO SATISFYING except that I almost passed out several times from blowing too hard through straws, and then there was one time where I suffered a considerable blow-back and got paint all over my face and hair.

Top blue drawer is the fake one!

The Corey cabinet pulls make me so happy everyday!! I can’t tell you how nice it is to actually want to be in this space. Usually I would run in to make my coffee and then do my best to avoid it for the rest of the day because it was such an actual pit.

Oh! And our fridge magnets came last week, and I really like how they turned out!

Chooch was like, “OK cool, my parents were alive in the 80s. What else do you want me to say?” when I was like “LOOK AT THESE PICTURES. LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THEM. WASN’T I FUCKING ADORBS??”

I mean, I really was though. I’m a classic case of “What the hell happened to her?”

Well, I can tell you that it all started to go downhill in 4th grade…

…and then I got braces in 5th grade….

…and also a perm…

…and gained like 20 pounds…

…and wore moccasins with socks…

I recently wrote a blog post about that picture up there of me and my DUMB BABY BROTHER RYAN (I love him now but when he was born I was like MY LIFE IS OVERRRRRRRR).

Yeah, now that I think about it, most of the pictures of me are from Wildwood and the ones of Henry are when he was IN THE SERVICE. Lol, age differences.

Over the weekend, I got Henry to do one of my favorite things ever which is MAKE THINGS LIGHT UP. He installed LED lights under the cabinets but had to do things like CUTTING WIRES and ADDING THINGIE-CONNECTORS and BLEEPY-DE-DOOS. At one point, while watching him thread wires into a thing, I asked, “How do you know how to do that?” to which he mumbled (probably with a pencil in his mouth), “It’s basic wiring.

OK Him-Man (that’s what the cats call him).

Anyway, it seemed to take forever and then he needed more of Something or Other and I had to wait TWO MORE DAYS for that Something or Other to arrive in the mail and do you know how much I hate waiting? I’m the queen of instant gratification. And Henry is one of those turtles winning the race type of people and it fucking infuriates me and then we get into a fight about it and he throws down his Wire Wand Tool Thing and huffs, “OK FINE IF YOU WANT IT TO LOOK LIKE SHIT I’LL DO IT FAST THEN” and then I’m like “WOW OK TOUGH GUY” and he usually sulks off to the back porch where he will sit and stew while scrolling through Reddit and then suddenly he remembers we need bread or milk or something and off he goes “to the store” which is his safe place. Usually, he will treat himself to a candy bar or some gross Hostess processed nightmare and then he’s ready to get back to work.

Like clockwork.

Anyway!! He finished it on Labor Day (lol the perfect day) and was like, “here’s your fucking lights” while probably envisioning jamming the remote control down my throat.

I’m so happy with it!!

Now he just has to do whatever it is he needs to do with the “switch” he keeps talking about to make the Conair telephone turn on the lights when the receiver is lifted. COME ON, HENRY. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT. FIGHTING!!

Meanwhile, I bought this vintage pinball backglass on eBay and it arrived today so now Henry has to add that to the list. He needs to build a lightbox-type frame for it and then hang it up above the spice rack.

Of course it needs to light up!

Oh and now that I’m looking at this picture, it reminds me that he never finished the cabinet pulls on this side of the room!! (Michael Jackson, Boy George, and Rick Astley – I literally pictured the first three singers that came to mind. Also, this made Chooch ask, “Who the hell is Boy George?” and I was like “You know who he is” and I showed him pictures at which point he was even more perturbed and said, “No I really don’t” and I was like, “Yeah, the Culture Club. You know—” and I started humming Do You Really Want To Hurt Me and by now, Chooch was looking at me like he just walked in on me cooking a pot roast, so then I queued up some Culture Club on Spotify and he was like I HAVE LEGIT NEVER HEARD ANY OF THESE SONGS, fast forward a few days and he’s all, “Alexa, play Karma Chameleon.” Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout, Willis.)

*DEEP BREATH*

What a dumb fucking family! I love it!

I found a lot of places online that make reproductions of pinball backglass but they cost just as much in some cases, and I liked the imperfections of a vintage piece, knowing that it used to live in a machine that was played by many. This particular glass was made in 1979 (my birth year!) and even though it’s not specifically from the 80s, it was on the cusp and that was good enough for me! According to the description on eBay, it came from the estate sale of an avid arcade game collector, and I hope that wherever that person now is, dead or alive, they know that it’s going to continue to be loved and admired!

Aside from all this, we spent all weekend looking for a specific type of frame so I could make the ceiling light fixture, which is about 75% done so hopefully the next time I come back with a kitchen update, it will be to tell you that we finally have a ceiling light that’s not just an ugly exposed light bulb (I know those are on trend, but not the one we have in our kitchen now!), the Coney Island glass is framed and hung on the wall, the telephone turns on the lights, and all of the trim is back on. OH YEAH, and the curtain is made, which I keep forgetting about even though the fabric has been hanging over a dining room chair for two months now and I’m actually looking right at it.

See?! That ceiling light is not cool.

(Henry is going to read this tomorrow and run away.)

Sep 082020
 

The day has finally arrived. I’m officially the mom of a ninth grader. This whole online-schooling thing really made it kind of anticlimactic though. There was no making him a lunch (THANK GOD) or sending him off with a new backpack.

Making sure his shoes are tied while I’m running around getting ready for work, making sure my OWN goddamn shoes are tied.

Nope, instead I popped into his room and asked, “Are you like, ready, or whatever?”

He was, but of course the entire school district was having technical difficulties so kids kept getting booted from calls all day. He got booted from his Civics class right when it was his turn to introduce himself, and by the time he got back in, they had moved on to someone else and he was happy about it. I would have been mad. I always liked introducing myself in classes (but typically hated speaking any other time, especially whenever I’d have to read my own writing OH LAWD SCRAPE ME OFF THE FLOOR). I remember on the first day of this Indo European Folktale class I took at Pitt (it was fantastic btw), I blurted out, “AND I JUST FOUND OUT I’M PREGNANT!!” after all of my responsible friends and Henry were like, “OK but let’s wait until you’re at least in the second trimester before making any announcements” and literally the next day I posted on LiveJournal and then branded myself as a weirdo growing a baby in a college class where I was already considered “old” (I was 25, god forbid) and every one stared at me every week like I was a science experiment they were waiting to change.

Another time, I was in a training class for some dumb cable company job and we had to go around and say our name with an adjective starting with the same letter and I was like DYING FOR THEM TO GET TO ME because I didn’t want any other “E” person to steal my word which I don’t think was going to happen because literally no one else cared about this challenge but me and when it was my turn, I stood up and cried, “EFFERVESCENT ERIN!” and everyone glared at me, and it really set the tone for weeks of regular glaring (only from a certain bitter section of the class; I was popular with thw bad kids and that’s all that mattered!)

WOW look at me, making this all about myself.

That’s super unusual and out of character for me.

Anyway, we’re in the middle of making over Chooch’s room but it’s mostly done and already much more comfortable for him than it had been. He had an Ikea loft bed which was really fun for him for several years but obviously he’s outgrown it so Henry dismantled it and now he has a regular bed on the floor and a desk that he doesn’t have to smash his head while ducking underneath his loft bed to access.

(I had definitely banged my own head off his bed many times while attempting to clean off his desk. (Or leave him naggy notes on his white board, lol, no not me.)

His new high school is so STEM-hardcore that he’s taking geometry, Algebra II, biology, and chemistry all in 9th grade. (Geometry and Chemistry this semester, Algebra II and biology next semester.) I mean, I had to take a full school year of each of those and still struggled, so I can only imagine how fast-paced this curriculum is going to be and I only hope that I do not have to get involved with any of it, thanks.

What strange times though. I mean, I’m glad that Pittsburgh Public Schools made the decision to go full-blown online learning (do we not call it cyber school anymore?) for the first semester, especially after seeing so many spikes happen around the country as schools reopen.

So, yay, go 2020-2021 school year. Rah rah rah. Boom boom hiss or whatever.

Sep 062020
 

I’ll try to make this short-n-sweet because who cares, but we made it to Erie and the rain miraculously held off the whole time we were there. This was great, but it also scared me a little bit because I worried it would make the fake beaches crowded. (They’re not really fake, but it’s not the actual ocean so it’s kind of like whatever and you know we must be pressed for action when I was like YAY WE’RE IN ERIE!!)

We had to drive past Waldameer Park to get to the entrance of Presque Isle and I was so sad—that’s the closest I’ve been to an amusement park since last year when we went to Silver Dollar City over Thanksgiving weekend. OH, THE PAIN, THE HEARTACHE. To really dump salt into the ol’ wound, you have to drive RIGHT UNDERNEATH Ravine Flyer II on the way into Presque Isle, and that is one of my favorite woodies.

Ode to COVID19:

You really fucking suck

But you sure make me

Appreciate the small things

 

Is that right? I can’t remember the haiku format and don’t feel like looking it up so instead I will spend the same amount of time typing out this sentence, also one time when I was doing Blogathon, I didn’t count my haiku syllables correctly and JANNA WAS A BAD EDITOR AND LET IT SLIDE and of course since it was LIVEJOURNAL, I got eaten alive. People on LJ were ruthless. That’s why back then I used to proofread my posts 8x before publishing whereas now, no one cares about my rookie grammar mistakes and bouts of brain-blackouts.

Oh shit, I can remember this one I accidentally used “don” instead of “dawn” and this one bitch was literally telling me how disappointed she was in me for confusing homonyms (homophones? SEE WHAT I MEAN??) and I’m pretty sure she actually threw a *cringe* in her comment. Whatever. She made really shitty art, so I guess we both suck.

Isn’t it funny how people’s nastiness sticks with you over the years? LIKE CHEWING GUM ON RIBS. Or whatever.

Presque Isle has a bunch of different areas for you to park and be outdoorsy. We went to whatever this place ^^^ was first, and stupid ass Henry forgot to put the memory card in the good camera so he had to stalk back to the car in a huff while I motherfucked him from afar and Chooch was like, “I just remembered that road trips suck” and then it started to rain, hahahahahahahaha.

Anyway, I took some pictures of Chooch with my phone while waiting for Henry to untuck his weener.

There was bird shit everywhere, but aside from that, this was a pretty cool area of Presque Isle.

I’m actually kind of jealous of Chooch’s shirt and I need to try it on at some point because if it fits me, we’re sharing.

Then I made Chooch take a picture of me jumping by this lighthouse thing so that “it looks like we’re having fun” but I guess we were kind of having fun, well, maybe not Henry.

Chooch was just like, “I hate doing this.” Basically, we were relearning a lot of things that day, lol.

Then we got  back in the car and drove some more, looking for a good section of the beach which, I mean, how do you know? You can’t see anything from the little parking lots. But we found one that didn’t have many cars and got really lucky when we converged upon the beach and saw that there was just one other family there, flying a kite (that antiquated activity really seems to have made a big comeback thanks to COVID), and they were really far away.

So I got to take photos of Chooch in peace, well, not really because taking photos of Chooch is like taking photos of a magpie surrounded by Shiny Things; that kid is so fucking easily distracted. I had to keep snapping my fingers to get his attention just kidding I can’t snap my fingers, I was just screaming, “FUCKING STOP MOVING AND DO A POSE THAT TAEMIN WOULD DO!!!”

All he wanted to do was build a “beach house” out of driftwood and trash, so that’s what I had to contend with.

Henry and I actually left him and walked down to another section of the beach because I was antsy from sitting in the car so long and just wanted to walk. We saw a couple taking selfies and I was like “we should do that too so I can post it on Instagram and make people think we still love each other” and Henry was like “ok but I actually do still love you, so” and I was like, “Stop yapping and hold the phone up high so I don’t look fat, thanks.”

Anyway, every picture was shit because the sun was making me squint and also because I’m just bad at posing for pictures anyway, but then I saw this one on my camera roll and deemed it a keeper because god only knows what we were laughing at but I’m sure there were death threats being thrown around too.

We walked back to were Chooch was and pulled him away from his Lake Erie construction site to take pictures of us and Henry was like, “HERE I WILL JUST SHIELD YOUR BODY” since I’m always like, “No I look fat, delete it” and then everyone involved is miserable and tired of hearing me say, “just one more.”

Anyway, here we are trying to look “normal.” Then I was like “Lake Erie is boring and I’m hungry, let’s go eat” and Chooch was like BUT MY HOUSE! Fuck your house, bitch. Mama’s ’bout to show you how the Big Bad Wolf gets shit done.

So we left Presque Isle and Erie has like no good vegan/veg places so we went to Sheetz and got our signature MTO (that’s MADE TO ORDERS for you people whose lives are devoid of the best gas station ever known as SHEETZ) delights, also mostly because we still choose not to dine inside restaurants. We never used to eat out much anyway, pre-pandemic, but we DEFINITELY enjoyed patronized little family restaurants anytime we were on a road trip, so that was kind of a bummer.

Actually, we just drove past this one local restaurant the other day called Frank & Shirleys and I got this really depressing feeling deep within my chest, not because I was a regular and sorely miss their food or anything, but I had a very visceral flashback to the feeling of sliding down into a vinyl diner booth and wow. Lots of emotions. Never would have imagined I would have missed that sensation so much!

Wow. Where was I? Oh yeah, we had a Sheetz feast in the car, nothing too noteworthy, and then on the way back home, we took a detour to Hank’s Frozen Custard, where Chooch and I went last year with Janna. I had their daily special – black cherry – with a scoop of vanilla. It was OK but not nearly as good as I remembered it to be? It was also strange to see the corrals that they made in the parking lot to accommodate social distancing during the busier hours, but luckily when we went, it was still early on a Friday afternoon and only two other cars of people were there.

“‘Just OK.”

It was also dripping everywhere because Henry made me give him a taste and as soon as he did so, it was like he opened a custard dam and that shit just started dripping down in goopy rivulets and I was actually screaming about in the middle of the parking lot while he and Chooch just stared at me, calmly licking their tidy fucking custard cones.

Fuckers.

One final noteworthy thing happened, and it surely wasn’t when I tagged along with Henry later that night when he went grocery shopping (his least favorite place to take me because I simultaneously make him spend $100 more than he anticipated while also whining about being bored within the first 5 minutes). I saw a sign for antiques and made Henry turn around (actually, I yelled, “OOH ANTIQUES” and then waited for him to drive another mile before flipping and saying, “WOW SO I GUESS YOU REALLY AREN’T GOING TO TURN AROUND AND GO TO THE ANTIQUES PLACE THEN, WOW, YOU’RE SO FUCKING COOL” (see also: when Henry can’t remember if I’m his longtime life partner or 16-year-old daughter WOW THAT WAS CREEPY YOU’RE WELCOME).

Henry: Do you want me to turn around?

Erin: OMFG YOU’RE A FUCKING STOOP! CLEARLY YOU DON’T WANT TO OR YOU WOULD DONE IT ALREADY ON YOUR OWN ACCORD!!!

Henry: *calmly turns around while daydreaming about how wonderful his stay in Heaven is going to be thanks to enduring years of my emotional abuse without stuffing me in trunk and pushing the car into a river*

I was actually looking for stuff from the 80s to get for the kitchen, maybe some coffee cups, etc., but what I ended up finding instead was this old Pachinko machine:

I kept ogling it and eventually even Henry got a little bit interested in it and then at one point we actually left and were about to get in the car when I started dragging my feet and saying things like, “I don’t know, I just feel like I’ll regret it if I don’t buy it. No never mind. Wait should I? No it’s fine let’s just go. TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!” and that is how we ended up going to Erie and coming home with a vintage Pachinko machine that honestly I only bought for the history and art of it, but now Henry is like cruising through Pachinko forums, determined to get it back to working condition.

He probably will, too.

I mean, after he finishes painting Chooch’s room, connecting all the LED lights together under the kitchen cabinets (“it’s basic wiring,” he said when I asked him how he knows how to do this shit), gets the old Conair phone to light up, finishes the coffee table refurb, finishes the Seoul subway sign (that’s a running joke in our house at this point except no one laughs), and helps me with my dining room gallery wall. I’m sure I’m missing some stuff here. I heard him mumble earlier today about needing to fix the lawnmower but I haven’t approved that.

 

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 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 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 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 122020
 

HEY Y’ALL just some words talkin’ ’bout the boring ass shit that my kid and I have been up to while stranded at home these days.

We have really been trying to make the best of this limited-option summer. Our summer breakfast club has been barely limping along, because neither of us really want to eat in restaurants so for like an entire week, we were like, “Donuts?” “OK, sure.” And then we’d just walk to Potomac Bakery, grab a donut, get some coffee across the street at Muddy Cup and bring it back to our front porch.

It is what it is, as…you know, the people say. 

It’s hard to find breakfast options that work as takeout, though. I mean, sunny side up eggs? Definitely not. Pancakes? Ugh, probably will get soggy.

THESE ARE THINGS YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER. 

So we’ve been trying to find places that have breakfast sandwiches. I noticed one day on a walk that another local cafe, 802 Cafe (which is such a fucking original name, it’s literally the street number, but OK) had “SPINACH ARTICHOKE HANDPIES” written on its sidewalk sign.

Hold up, wait a minute, savory handpies and they don’t have meat?! Fuck yes.

So Chooch and I went there on Friday and he was so annoyed because when the barista asked if I wanted them heated or to go, I said to go and he shot me that shitty teenager side eye like the barista was going to do anything different than I would do by nuking it for 90 seconds.

I mean, mine was fantastic but of course Chooch, already setting the tone for this breakfast session, was like, “it was ok but parts of mine were cold” which was his passive aggressive way of throwing it in my face that I told the barista we’d heat them up at home. God, why are kids such assholes. 

But yeah, the handpies were from a local joint called 350 Bakery (ugh, what is up with numerical names?! I hate them!) and I am basically obsessed. Which I know, how odd, since I rarely become obsessed with things. 

Ever since I broke my back [honestly, it’s been like a month now and I probably should go see a doctor but you know me, stubborn and whatever else they say about me behind my (broken) back], I’ve been using my lunch breaks to go for walks instead of doing whatever home workouts I felt inspired to do that day (usually cardio dancing!). Chooch has been going with me which means he’s bored AF at home to be willingly going on strolls with his mother. Literally, I never have to force him, he’s just like, “Let me get my shoes.”

We saw this cool sign on one of our walks last week:

I of course sent it straight to Henry.

We’ve been walking around one of the local high schools lately and I’m so mad that the track is locked to the public because I used to love walking on that thing, especially during the Law Firm walking challenges! I would walk so many laps, I would forget where the fuck I was. Those were the days. Sigh.

Yesterday, right before we left for our walk, I noticed that we were both wearing Dance Gavin Dance shirts so I made up a jazzy jingle about Mommy & Son Matching Shirts Let’s Go For a Walk Cha Cha Cha. Chooch was like, “OH HELL NO” and was about to change his shirt but then he was like, “fuck it” with a sigh, because ambivalence always wins these days.

Then I was like, “Oh, also, I have to return a book to the library” and he was like “FML” because he hates Book Erin so much and even the simple act of me dropping a book into the curbside book return bin makes him irate. Plus, I made him pose for a picture!

We almost had to go to the post office too but I got angry because there were people in line and I just can’t deal with covid-era post offices these days, you guys. No thank you. 

We went back to 802 Cafe though because I wanted an iced coffee to take to the playground, and Chooch was so embarrassed because I told the barista that we bought handpies from there last week and then he spent a good while mimicking me saying, “HOLY CRAP THEY WERE SO FREAKING GOOD” and called me a suck-up and I was like, “Who was I sucking up to? That cafe didn’t even make the handpies!” 

He just gets so mad when I find my voice (I call it the pre-meat company voice, from back when I still had a personality) and talk to strangers in public (as opposed to talking to stranger in private, which sounds way more scandalous and interesting…)

Anyway, I was trying to make nice with the barista because when we were there on Friday, I ordered a rose latte with almond milk and I caught that red bottle cap out of the corner of my eye and looked over just in time to see her tipping over a jug of Vitamin D above my latte.

“WAIT!” I cried out. “Is that almond milk?” 

She stopped suddenly and if this moment had been animated, we’d have all froze while the stream of milk would be swirling in midair, looking at its watch and sighing. “Oh shoot, I’m so sorry!” she said, hurriedly capping the jug and pulling out the carton of almond milk, just in time. Sorry, Vitamin D swirl.  She kept apologizing and I was like, “I mean, I wouldn’t have died or anything…” Truth be told, I think I might be a bit lactose intolerant these days but the real reason why I hardly ever ingest real-ass milk anymore is the calories, lololol. God, I’m such a superficial vegan. 

(I’m not vegan, but when you consider what I eat on most days of my life, I probably live a 75% vegan lifestyle by sheer accident and laziness.)

Anyway, then we made it to the playground and he was happy for the entire 3 minutes he was able to enjoy life on a swing until I was like, “Oh shit, we have to start walking back or I’m going to be ‘late’ getting back to ‘the office’!” 

Today’s adventure found us walking to the used book store on Potomac. I wanted to find some good horror paperbacks from the 80s because I think they would make cool plant shelves in the kitchen. Just…trust me. I know what I’m doing. Unfortunately, I spent most of the time just looking for the horror shelf (yes! just one small shelf!) so that by the time the lady finally decided to help me, I was too aggravated to even care that much so we left. On our way out, she said, “Didn’t find anything, huh?” in this SUPER CONDESCENDING VOICE while making a “AW SO SAD” face and I was like, “She probably thinks we’re illiterate” and Chooch was like, “Well, you listen to audio books more than actually reading these days, so you probably are.” WOW RUDE ASS! And I will have you know that I’m selective about what books I listen to on audio and which ones I read with my eyeballs! I like listening to memoirs because they’re more personal and intimate that way, and I like listening to thrillers because they help my work day go faster. But most other things, I read! WHY AM I DEFENDING MYSELF HERE?!

Then we crossed the street and went to Muddy Cup for refreshments. I got a cold brew and when the barista (this older Black woman who we’ve only seen twice so far but she is SO FREAKING LOVELY) asked if I wanted room for cream, I said “Sure,” because I always add cream at home since we have a fridge full of fancy flavors. 

I LOVE WHEN MY ALLITERATION FLOWS SO FUCKING FREELY FROM MY FINGERTIPS!!!! 

We both misunderstood each other though and I caught her just as she was about to top it off with some half-n-half.

“No!” I said, probably a bit too passionately. “I have cream at home that I can use.” 
She was like, “Oh. OK.” And then I worried that I offended her; I mean, I know it wasn’t like, half-n-half from her very own teat or anything, but I feel like I came off as being super paranoid and sketchy, the way I said it like that. 

Also, I’m not sure my addition was right when I was leaving her tip on the receipt…

What a strange week of milk-centric cafe outbursts.

Here’s where shit gets good, you guys. On our way home, we were waiting to cross over this busy road called WEST LIBERTY AVENUE. There’s a crosswalk where it intersects with my street. The walk sign had just come on, and it’s a good thing that I’m a professional at crossing the road there (that’s where I would have to cross every morning when walking to the stupid ass trolley!!), because I know that cars in the right turning lane don’t always pay attention to the big fucking NO TURN ON RED sign and just love to squeal their way around that bend regardless of pedestrians.

So while Chooch and I were crossing, I was being uber-vigilant and it’s a good thing too because this big ass motherwhompin’ dumptruck came hurtling through and made that turn RIGHT IN FRONT OF US without stopping. The driver made eye contact with me too and just kept on going, forcing Chooch and me to stand in the middle of the crosswalk and wait. (And then of course that set the tone so the car behind him tried to pull the same stunt but I screamed OH NO YOU DON’T and it was a super old man who looked scared, so he stopped. Because you know, the light was red.)

Anyway, guess what company that dump truck belonged to? FACCHIANO!!! The same company that employs another driver who nearly turned me into a road pancake two weeks ago!!!

Oh I was fuming.

“I AM WRITING A LETTER!” I yelled. “No! I’m going to call them!” Chooch was like, “Oh god” so I opted instead to email them. I donned my Karen wig, went to their shitty ass website (they use WordPress, lol muy professionale) and clicked on the top dog’s email address.

“They’re not going to care,” Henry laughed when I called him screaming my face off. 

Anyway, here is my email. I made sure that I didn’t swear or make threats which is usually my go-to but I have learned that I am sometimes not taken seriously and perhaps considered “hotheaded” and written off, for some reason.

 

In the meantime, I went on Google and had a grand time reading some of the reviews this Shit Inc. has received:

  

 

LOL, OK Jimmy Dean. You stick to the sausages and leave the review-writing to the big kids. 

 

So basically, it sounds like being an inconsiderate fuck stick is what they’re looking for on CVs so keep that in mind if you’re ever finding yourself applying at this garbage dump of a company. 

I was super fired up at this point SO I LEFT A GOOGLE REVIEW, TOO. I AM UNSTOPPABLE. Meanwhile, I was emailing my team at work because I needed to vent and now they call me Karen Kelly.

Anyway, fuck off Henry, because Michael emailed me back within the hour!!!

I mean, OK cool – you stole a book title there, bro, and no I didn’t get the vehicle numbers, I was too busy clutching my pearls and fanning my ghost back into my body!! And also “IF THIS HAPPENS AGAIN”?? If it happens again, I will be calling the local news stations and I dunno, the Brookline Patch, lol. Get those mommies up to speed. And you better believe I’ll start a full-fledged smear campaign with stickers and yard signs. Everybody loves them some stickers and yard signs.

In fact, I might add some chalk messages to my social justice sidewalk tomorrow.

Back at work, Nate emailed me and said ERIN THEY UPDATED THEIR WEBSITE:

(Please note that is my employee ID which was taken 10 years ago and although I have recently had an updated photo taken last fall, whoever is in charge still has not updated it even though I have sent three follow-up emails and then gave up because COVID, WHO CARES.)

I was crying from laughing so hard and when I showed Chooch, he said, “Wait – they put your picture on their website? They really did that?” Yes, Chooch the Gifted. It’s all real. Shh, sweet boy, go back to naptime. 

I’m now scared of how he’s going to fare with online schooling this semester. 

Well, that’s all I have right now. My life is so exciting! Maybe if I had something better to do rather than roam around my neighborhood in a state of constant ennui, I wouldn’t be putting myself in the position of vehicular homicide so often!

Oh no wait I lied I have one more thing! On one of our walks last week, actually I think it was Friday, we passed a house that had a Little Library and inside was the third Elizabeth Acevado book I need to read in order to complete the trifecta, but I said, “I WILL GRAB IT ON THE WAY BACK” then I was preoccupied with finding a missing TURTLE because we saw several MISSING signs posted except none of them even mentioned the turtle’s name which made me feel like the turtle’s home was emotionally abusive and he ran away on purpose.

Ugh I get so distracted. Anyway, on the way back I was back in BOOK MODE because what else do I have to live for, but as we approached the block with the Little Library, I spied a young couple rummaging through it and I started blabbering to Chooch about how she was going to take my book and do you think she’s going to take my book and Chooch was like “well she’s holding a blue one and your book was read, oh wait she’s putting that one back…” and then it looked like she was going to go for my book but it was a fake out. Instead, she closed the door and they continued walking on, at which point I speedwalked (my back still hurts too much to run) over and snatched my book so fast.

“We should have a Little Library in our yard,” I said to Chooch. “But it can be like a creepy circus tent—“

“Oh boy, here we go,” he sighed.

Actually, we probably shouldn’t have one. With the riffraff shuffling past our house on the daily, it’ll just become a catch-all for vomit, syringes, empty prescription bottles…no. Just, no.

Aug 112020
 

Oh boy are you guys in for a treat (you’re not). I’m combining two old blog posts featuring Henry having a grand time at two (2!!) county fairs sometime way in the past. As some of you might know, we no longer attend county fairs on account of ME NEARLY DYING AT ONE back in 2013 or some such year.

But I guess since COVID has us quasi-housebound, even a janky-ass county fair is making me feel all wistful and wanderlusty these days. Anyway, two things to note:

  1. In the first recap, I got in all kinds of trouble for referencing Henry’s ex and she even texted him while we were in Tennessee after I posted it and said that she was going to knock my teeth down my throat or something and Henry was like, “Erin…what did you do?” and I mean, c’mon – it wasn’t really that bad. I can’t remember if it was worse and he made me edit it though.
  2. That “new friend Seri” in the second recap turned out to be a Single White Female (or “Fingle” as I originally typed because my brain hates doing anything extra once I log off work for the day) except that she was married. But yeah, wow, she exited my life like a fucking tornado and then when I didn’t care, she sent her husband to my house to talk to me, lol. OK, cook on, psycho.

OK, so now you’re all caught up! Enjoy these wonderful Henrycentric posts because everyone knows Henry is the real star of the OHE show.

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HENRY GOES TO THE FAIR: 2011

Henry claims to be “too busy”* to deal with my questions regarding his day at the fair, so I guess I’ll just share my pictures of him without his thoughts and dreams.

*(This might have something to do with the fact that we leave tomorrow morning for a week in Tennessee and I have done exactly fuck-all to help prepare for this.)

Remembering what it was like to have his ex-wife at his side.

Had Henry cooperated, one of my questions was going to be if he ever took his ex-wife to the fair on a date, but then I realized that was a dumb question, considering that’s probably where he met her: in the Grandstand during the tractor pull after accidentally knocking over her empty can of Schlitz-cum-spitoon and falling into her Loony Toon-tattooed saggy tits. (Henry was really into redneck things in the days pre-Erin. Thank god he met me and now knows the wonder of Warped Tour, Jonny Craig, television programming for tweens and Christmas picnics in the cemetery.)

Why so happy?

Then I was planning on asking him what had him smiling so much all day. Was it because we were hanging out with our news friends Laura and Mike and he doesn’t want them to see that he’s really nothing more than a gruff. blue-collared killjoy? But then I realized that the origin of his happiness was probably a toss-up between going a day without a jock itch flare-up and his ex-wife getting re-married.

Looking for a rabbit to boil in a pot on his ex-wife’s stove.

So, this picture was a happy accident. It looks like he’s trying to have a Hulk Hogan beard. Now I want to play around with options for Henry’s facial hair. Suggestions welcome. Maybe something ginger-hued a la JONNY CRAIG.

No, seriously—-who taught this man how to pose? Motherfucking Gumby?

Pedo Alert! Please put your non-descript shirted self back in your non-descript white van and vacate the premises.

Henry rode one ride all day! But it was just the Fun Slide. Our son was too embarrassed to stand in line with his own creep of a father, so he tried to encroach on the family behind him.

I wonder how bad this aggravated his hemorrhoids?

If I knew I would get an answer from him, I’d ask him if the Fun Slide lived up to its name, but judging by the way he was walking like he had just got done straddling a bull (or his ex-wife), I’d say it did.

And if I asked him what his favorite ride is, he’d just say “the ride home,” so why even bother.

He’s just lucky I’m at work and don’t have time to churn out a Goofus and Gallant.

 

THE MELON SHIRT: SUMMER 2012

When Henry came downstairs on the day of the Big Butler Fair, his torso was modeling a brand new nondescript t-shirt in a garish hue of jack-o-lantern.

“Nice orange shirt,” I exclaimed on a rocking bed of laughter and derision.

“It’s not orange,” Henry snapped. “It’s melon.”

As if that was supposed to make me stop laughing.

There are many facets of Henry’s life that I have my thighs squeezed around in a death grip, but his fashion sense is not one. I have made futile efforts in the past to get him to break free from generic, joyless threads mostly purchased from Wal-Mart but eventually I had to concede, wave the white flag, turn my attention to dressing my kid instead. Henry’s dresser full of boring, plain and Faygo-printed t-shirts is pretty much all he has left to his identity and manhood.

(It probably doesn’t help that I was trying to groom him into a singer from a post-hardcore band, swathed in Drop Dead Clothing sweaters and neck tattoos.)

My new friend Seri met us at the fairgrounds that afternoon with her husband Pete and their two sons, Aldy and Max. Apparently, Pete had originally attempted to wear his own nondescript orange shirt to the fair that day, but Seri made him change. So after the obligatory introductions were over, Pete and Henry had a special moment of “I can relate to you.” Henry’s first impression of Pete was probably a confusing cocktail of empathy and pity garnished with a burgeoning bromance twist.

Being plain.

However, when Pete was talking about his own orange shirt, Henry was quick to interject, “My shirt is melon, not orange.” My blue-collared boyfriend has turned into a color-snob hipster overnight. Next he’ll be insisting I call him my “cerulean-collared boyfriend.”

My brother Corey came out to the fair later that evening and when I texted him our whereabouts, I tacked on, “Just look for Henry’s orange t-shirt. It looks like he’s single-handedly promoting Halloween.”

And Snooki’s skin tone.

And Tang.

And the FLYERS.

No Orange Shirts Allowed on the Wacky Worm.

It was easy to spot Henry each time the rest of us lively non-old humans would go on rides; he would lumber around the fairgrounds, toting my iCarly messenger bag and wasting money on all the nearby games that he never wins and even if he did, no one would be impressed.

DON’T DRIP ICE CREAM ON THE ORANGE SHIRT OMG!

When I was on the ferris wheel with Seri, it was fun to seek him out in the crowds below, like Waldo on fire. But then I noticed that quite a few other men were also wearing bright orange shirts, though theirs were advertising plumbing companies, Harley Davidson, strip clubs and guns.

Seri mistakenly referred to The Shirt as “cantaloupe,” which made Henry snap for the 87th time that day, “MELON!”

I always thought cantaloupe was a melon, but I guess not when applied to the Color Wheel.

 

It’s surprising he would even let me this close to him after 9 hours of ridiculing his orange shirt.

Some day, I’m going to snatch all of his nondescript shirts (or “blank,” as Pete prefers to call them) and screenprint Jonny Craig’s face all over them.

Jul 302020
 

My French press broke last month so every morning, Chooch and I have been walking to various local cafes in order to get my AM fix, and even though it has been consistently in the 90s, yes, I still get a gigantic hot black coffee.

Luckily, I finally got a new French press and by that I mean I got a new French press immediately after my other one broke but it was a different size/style/make/model/whatever and I didn’t feel like reading the instructions to see what the water:scoop ratio was so it just sat there for three weeks while I shuffled through the early morning streets of Brookline every morning to get fix until Henry finally was like “for God’s sake” and showed me how to use my new French press.

Anyway! The point of this post is that some notable things happened during my coffee foraging days.

1. TOURETTES

OK look I say this all the time and I know I need to come up with a new name for my favorite local character and I suppose I could call him Dave which is what his name apparently is, but he’s always shaking his fist and screaming obscenities at garbage and I saw the movie “Niagara Niagara” so I clearly am a certified expert on the subject.

Anyway. Chooch and I had two (2) encounters with this vocal fella during Dire Coffee Days. The first incident was when we were waiting to cross West Liberty Avenue at the same time as him, and when the walk sign came on, some asshole in a work van nearly killed us by not recognizing the fact that he was prohibited from turning right on red, and he had to slam on the breaks when he was already halfway over the crosswalk! Tourettes (OK fine, let’s call him Brookline’s Best from now on) hollered, “WHAT THE HELL!?” and Chooch and I were like, “YES WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME SIDE FOR ONCE.” It really felt like we had experienced something special and deep with him, you know? Even though he never acknowledged the fact that we were standing there too.

Then!! That same week, Chooch and I were on the same route, because we were on a donut-kick* for a week where we found comfort and a simple pleasure in treating ourselves to a donut at Potomac Bakery and then skipping across the street to Muddy Cup for our morning refreshment. 

*(See also: the kitchen was still kind of a mess to be in and we used any excuse we could get to grab food that didn’t need prepared at home.)

As we were approaching the bakery, I noticed that BB was peering into the front window. Then he started mouthing off about something, fished around in his pocket, and crossed the street: 

“Maybe he doesn’t have any money,” I said and the briefly had a vision of me buying him a bag of pastries and him either being very happy or calling each breakfast bun a motherfucker while punting them into traffic. But it turns out, he was digging for his mask, which he found and then put on, only to come back across the street to the bakery. However, we made it there before him and there is a sign saying that only 3 people can be in there at one because it’s so small and, you know, social distancing is still a thing. There was already someone inside so I worried that he was going to be angry that Chooch and I beat him there, but it turns out occupancy issues are not his concern because he just flung the door open and strode right on in, but to his credit he did hunker back in a corner while the rest of us were being waited on.

Chooch and I got our donuts and as we were walking out, BB was being waited on.

“I’LL TAKE THAT CHERRY ONE. YEAH. YEAH YEAH YEAH. YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH. THE CHERRY. AND THAT APRICOT ONE THERE TOO. YEAH YEAH. YEAH YEAH YEAH!! YEAH! THE CHERRY AND THAT APRICOT ONE. YEAH!” 

It was so exciting! As we stood outside of Muddy Cup, waiting our turn to enter, we watched BB continue his jaunt up Potomac. I wondered out loud where he was going and then remembered that I would occasionally see him on the trolley in the mornings back when “going to work” required leaving the house, and he got off at the same trolley stop downtown as me. I wonder what he does down there?!

2. MASK SHAME

One day last week, Chooch decided to make breakfast for us so I walked to Muddy Cup without him to procure our AM beverages. My favorite barista was working and I told her that Chooch was at home making breakfast and that’s why I was acting all tense but she probably thought to herself, “No, you’re acting the same as usual, weird and strung out with paranoia like you just lit up a church” but she just smiled and commented that Chooch and I seem to have a really great relationship and then I did that thing that I do where I get all self-deprecating to the point where now I’ve just painted myself as an abusive parent, so that’s how coffee-procuring went.

When I left Muddy Cup, I had a drink in both hands so I just left my mask on, because god only knows how many clusters of people I might have to pass on the sidewalk and now it wouldn’t be as easy to get the mask back on without stopping somewhere to set down the drinks, and ugh do you see how difficult my life is?

So, I’m walking home and thinking about how it’s a good thing that I opted to keep the mask on because I did in fact pass quite a few people, and not all of them were masked, and look I know there are articles out there that are like YOU DON’T NEED TO NEED TO WEAR A MASK WHILE WALKING ETC but isn’t it better to mask than not mask, as a general rule of thumb? I know I for sure don’t ever give someone a side-eye for wearing a mask while walking with no one around. In fact, good for them. THAT’S HOW YOU NORMALIZE MASKS!

I made it all the way to my block without incident, actually that’s not true, some asshole in a contracting company truck nearly ran me over when he failed to stop at the stop sign as I was crossing the street and the amount of times this happens is actually disgusting, and usually the person driving gets all indignant and throws their hands up at me like it would have been my fault if they ran me over and ruined their precious day. Usually this would happen on my walk to the trolley for work, because people are in such a hurry to blow through that stop sign and then….sit in traffic. 

But this guy was overly apologetic, which actually felt worse, because he was so over-the-top with his contrition that I feared he was going to pull over and want to talk it out or something. I was just like, *nervous muffled mask laugh* hoping that he would go away, but then after he let me (so gracious and cavalier!) cross the street, he made his dumb right hand turn onto my street and JOVIALLY YELLED OUT OF THE PASSENGER SIDE WINDOW about being “Sorry, again!” and then he made a joke that I didn’t hear so I just laughed along anyway and prayed that he would just drive off into the ether.

HE WAS ONLY BEING NICE BECAUSE HIS EMPLOYER’S NAME WAS ON THE TRUCK AND HE DIDN’T WANT ME TO CALL AND COMPLAIN, I AM PRETTY FUCKING SURE.

But whatever, I’ll take his overzealous niceness over what happened next.

I was THREE HOUSES AWAY from my own house when I approached a man who was, it appeared, cleaning out his dad’s house. I think the guy who lives next to Chooch’s nemesis Larry either died or was moved into a home because the son was bringing out all kinds of wheelchairs (too modern, not for collecting) and other medical equipment whenever I passed earlier on my way to get the coffee. Now he was standing near the sidewalk talking to some men who presumably had come to pick up some of this stuff, because they were wearing matching neon yellow t-shirts and drove a pick-up, unless they’re just in a neon gang or something, that could be.

One of the guys was all, “OH SORRY” and moved out of my way even though he wasn’t actually in my way but I appreciated his noonchi (that’s Korean for SELF-AWARENESS/TACT). However, the supposed son of the home owner sneered at me, “There’s more than  6 feet, I think you’re fine.” 

I didn’t understand what he meant at first so I just nodded and kept walking, but then I realized, what a bitch ass motherfucker, he was shaming me for wearing a mask. And then, to the mask-wearing woman who was directly behind me walking her dog, he said, “Oh what, no mask for your dog too?” 

I was so pissed after I walked into my house and just kept replaying that dumb slob’s stupid ass remark over and over, but then I was momentarily distracted because Chooch was done making breakfast and I was starving but also wanted to make sure that he didn’t damage anything in the kitchen hahaha like I would even know, so I forgot about it for a bit but then later on when I ranted about it online, my friend Shawn was like, “and then did you pull down your mask and cough on their baby?” NO BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T HAVE A BABY BUT I LIKE THE WAY YOU THINK. You know how sometimes shit like this happens and it doesn’t fully register in the heat of the moment until you’re removed from the situation? That’s how this was. 

It’s been a week and I’m still angry about it. Why are we still being bitch-babies over masks? Just fucking wear one so the rest of us can not die/stop having video meetings/send our kids back to real life school/go on our postponed vacations/ride a fucking roller coaster/etc. I don’t even care if these pieces of shit wear MAGA masks because at least it means THEY’RE WEARING ONE. 

Anyway, those are the most exciting experiences that I had while having to leave the house every morning to get coffee and the whole time I was writing this all I could think was “hoo boy I can’t wait to finish this so I can go and make coffee using my new French press” and you know what? THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM GOING TO DO RIGHT NOW. Have a blessed (???) night.