Mar 292020
 

Since there’s not much else going on in life during isolation aside from lounge wear and calling into meetings, I figured I would start a new “series” (but you know how I am with these things; I’ll probably do two and forget about it) featuring items around my house, tchotchkes and souvenirs that have little stories behind them, etc etc blah blah blah.

To start out, let’s talk about this stuffed hippo that I have had since I was 16, and in every place I have lived, he has always been out and about on display.

Please say annyeong to Steve the Hippo!

But, let’s back up. Like, back waaaay up to the summer of 1995. I was a freshly-minted 16-year-old on one of those coach bus tours through Europe with my aunt Sharon. These tours were always the same: a bunch of retirees, maybe some middle-aged couples, and then me, the lone kid. Lots of continental breakfasts where the hot chocolate is ACTUALLY OVALTINE, and hectic tours of one cathedral after another. And Sharon and I were so hot and cold with each other and more often than not, we would bicker and then go half the day giving each other the cold shoulder. But this time, on this particular trip, there was a slew of young’uns in our group and I could not have been happier. I had other people to sit with, walk with, eat with, and Sharon HATED THAT.

This tour consisted of mostly elderly people, still, but we also had Nick (14), who was traveling with his grandma; Amanda (15), Natalie (13), and Noah (10), who came with their single mom; Andrea (19) and Sarah (22), on a girls trip with their mom; and Greg (14), Steve (20), and Amy (22) who were with their parents. This was my favorite trip ever. Normally, when we had travel days on the bus, I would sleep or read, or stare out the window sullenly after having another argument with Sharon (seriously, oil and water, but damn do I miss her and these wild adventures she took me on), but now, I had friends to sit with and let me know you – we were total jackasses.

Sharon ended up befriending Andrea (who reminded me so much of Alanis Morissette – I was enthralled by her) and Sarah’s mom, Mary. When we were cleaning out my grandparents’ house in 2016, I found a bunch of cards and letters from Mary in Sharon’s room; they apparently had kept in touch for quite some time after the trip ended and that made me simultaneously happy and sad, because Sharon didn’t really have friends “in real life” so it was nice to know that she had made a somewhat lasting connection with someone from the group, but it also made me sad because I started to wonder about Mary – is she well? How are Andrea and Sarah? I was inspired to look them up on Facebook when I was still on there, and I actually found someone who might have been Sarah, but I felt weird about sending a friend request, like “Hi, I was just over here in Pittsburgh cleaning out my deceased aunt’s bedroom and found letters from your mom and so I did a deep-dive on the Internet and you probably don’t remember me because we only knew each other for three weeks in 1995 but wanna be friends?”

I guess it’s not that weird, really, but I was so emotionally drained during that summer in 2016 that I let it go.

Right before that trip, I had gone to get my hair cut at some shitty salon in Century III Mall called Shear Talent or something and I even brought a picture of Carrie Brady from Days of Our Lives with me and told the bald hairdresser that this is what I wanted, but he listened to my mom instead and cut my hair IN REALLY SHORT LAYERS, literally the shortest my hair has ever been, and it was actually traumatizing (oh, don’t act like you have never thought your life was over because of a bad salon experience!!!) and I remember wailing, “I NEVER SHOULD HAVE TRUSTED A HAIR DRESSER WHO LOOKS LIKE MR CLEAN!!” So, I went into this trip with relatively low self esteem. I was ultra-conscious about my hair cut and basically just didn’t want anyone to look at me.

But then one day, Mary looked at me and said, “You know who you look like? Drew Barrymore.” And just like that, my confidence soared. All these years later, and I still remember this so vividly, this nice woman named Mary from Michigan telling me I looked like some cute actress instead of the total toad I saw every morning when I looked in the mirror. She was being very generous with her compliments, though.

I know, you’re thinking, “I thought this was about a stuffed hippo?” We’re getting to that! I just get derailed sometimes.

Out of all the young people in our group, Steve was the one with whom I had the best rapport. At first, it started with just little sarcastic jabs here and there, but then I found myself looking for excuses to talk to him. I have always been super big into souvenirs. On one of our trips, I was obsessed with obtaining a collectors spoon (????) from each country, and I’m currently a serious magnet hoarder. But on this trip, it was all about key chains. And European key chains, at least in the 90s, were really hard to open. So I’d buy a key chain in every city and then sidle up to Steve and ask him to do it for me. Even if I could do it for myself.

I mean, I definitely have not outgrown this at ALL.

I totally had a crush on him—and even admitted it at one point in my vacation journal so you know it’s real—which probably definitely was not reciprocated by him because he was in college and I was some chubby, brace-faced 16-year-old from lame-ass Pittsburgh but our hyper-snarky love/hate banter always gave me that super minuscule inkling of hope that maybe THIS WAS LOVE.

In a truly passive-aggressive declaration of love, I bought a this small stuffed hippo at an Auto Grille in Italy, on a travel day from Venice to Florence. Back on the bus, we were trying to decide on a name for him, and I smugly said, “I think I’ll name him Steve.” And everyone laughed because you know, wow, Erin is insulting Steve, she must really NOT LIKE HIM AT ALL. (I was so fucking transparent.) All of the kids on the bus were obsessed with Steve the Hippo, for some reason. He became kind of a mascot and everyone would take turns holding him during the long bus rides.

Near the end of the vacation, we were on the bus, going to the overnight ferry that would take us to Greece. Natalie asked Steve, “If you were stuck on an elevator, who would you want to be stuck with?” and without even a millisecond of hesitation, Steve said, “Erin, because I’d like to get to know her better.”

My heart. My goddamn coal-chunk of a heart. I still get a little jolt in it when I remember this moment.

I mean, he also said I was the meanest person on the bus but that’s just because my flirting tactics are borderline-bullying.

Of course, we never kept in touch. And every once in a while, I would get inspired to Google him but always came up empty.

All of these years later, Steve the Hippo is still out and about, and oddly is one of the most precious and sentimental (and cheapest) souvenirs I ever brought back from one of those trips. I was inspired to write this because a couple months ago, I was leaving the bedroom and said goodbye to Steve the Hippo, who lives on my dresser, and Henry was like, “?” so I yelled, “DO YOU NOT KNOW THE STEVE THE HIPPO ORIGIN STORY?!” Needless to say, he was subjected to a much more winded and gushy version than you just read here.

While reading my vacation journal to get details for this post, I said, “Steve threw Steve the Hippo at me so I hit him. Oh look, Steve and I arm-wrestled!”

“Of course you did,” Henry mumbled.

Every time I look at Steve the Hippo, I think about how one time, years ago, someone chose me in the hypothetical elevator game. As I age and lose more and more of my personality, become more introverted and wallflower-y, and am having a particularly low self-esteem day, this memory gives me a boost.

Steve is the first guy there on the left.

On the last day of our vacation, we were on the bus en route to the airport and Steve was holding the hippo. “You’re going to go home and rip all the stuffing out of this thing, aren’t you?” he said to me. I joked that I was going to give it to my dog, but man, if he only knew!

If.He.Only.Knew.

(I wonder if he even remembers me?)

Mar 022020
 

The other day in the car, we had the regular radio on (weird, I know) and the intro to a very familiar song started to play. I screamed, “OMG IS THIS—-” but then it morphed into some dumb song which was decidedly not what I thought it was going to be. Yet another homogenous rapper sampling a really great song from my youth, that’s all. 

Meanwhile, Henry was still shook because if there’s one thing he loves to experience while driving, it’s my random, sudden loud outbursts from the passenger seat.

I had to Shazam the song on the radio, because I couldn’t for the life of me remember who sang the sampled song, other than it was three girls from the mid-90s who were signed to Michael Jackson’s label. 

Turns out the rapper is some Canadian, Tory Something (I already forgot) but now that I knew that, I was able to Google to find the name of the group AND IT WAS BROWNSTONE. Holy shit, I hadn’t thought of them in years and years but I had their debut CD and this song was a mixed tape staple of mine. Of course, I put it on Spotify while regaling Henry with the highlights of their Wiki page, such as how ONE OF THEM WAS FOUND DEAD in 2015?! She cut herself after falling in her home. Ugh.

Anyway, here is the song, please revel in its luscious R&B tones:

Oh man, this song brings back so many memories of crying over Justin Kail in 10th grade, lol. I was so pathetic.

This past Saturday night, Henry and I went to Sugar Spell Scoops because two of the Saturday flavors were calling to me: black forest and coffee cake. But as we walked in, and I mean literally as we crossed the threshold, BROWNSTONE’S IF YOU LOVE ME started playing, almost as if Henry had called ahead and requested it (that would never happen). This was such a mind-blowing moment for me that I blurted out to the shop owners, “JUST THE OTHER DAY I COULDN’T REMEMBER WHO SANG THIS SONG BECAUSE SOME RANDO RAPPER SAMPLED IT AND I HAD TO GOOGLE IT AND THEN I DID A BROWNSTONE DEEP DIVE, AND I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S PLAYING RIGHT NOW.”

They just laughed and one of them commented upon how the shop’s playlist is so random, but that’s just it: it’s not a song that you would typically hear on the radio anymore, let alone a vegan ice cream shop’s soundtrack. WHAT ARE THE ODDS. 

I dunno, but it made my scoops taste that much better. (Not that they ever need any help!)

It reminded me a little bit of the Boz Skaggs Rabbit Hole. 

On that note, I’m going to put on a Brownstone playlist while I continue recovering from the awesome stomach bug I caught after spending the last week sterilizing everything and taking my temperature every 20 minutes after so many people at work contracted the flu. At one point in the middle of the night, I was laying on the bathroom floor, sobbing into a towel, and promising God that I would be good if he would just put a moratorium on the vomiting. Ugh.

Feb 292020
 

Last week, Indiana Beach announced that it’s not going to open for the 2020 season and I was like WHAT YOU SHUT YOUR FACE INDIANA BEACH. While we only ever visited this amusement park once, it gave us a lifetime of memories (such Hallmark words coming from me, I must definitely have a fever, let me check—99.4!!!! THAT’S GETTING CLOSE!!!). I actually had been tossing around the idea of trying to make it back out to this park this summer, and I’m bummed that it won’t happen now (unless someone buys it! CEDAR FAIR?! THE KENNYWOOD PEOPLE!?!?) so I have been mourning the loss of such a unique, historic park by watching YouTube videos of my favorite coaster enthusiasts having fun on the Lost Coaster, which was one of the most unique coasters I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding.

I’m taking a break from my obsessive-compulsive temperature-taking and ritual hand sanitizer application to share with you, today, my day at Indiana Beach from 2014. RIP to a super quirky, incredibly fun amusement park in some small town in Indiana. Sigh.

****

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My criteria for planning a road trip is pretty simple:

  • Are there friends along the way that I can impose upon?
  • Does my Roadside America app approve of this route?
  • Are there amusement parks in the vicinity?

I’ve wanted to go to Indiana Beach (fun fact: not actually a beach) for awhile now, and it seemed logical to combine this with a long overdue visit to Michigan to hang out with Bill, Jessi and Tammy and also meet up with some other ladies I have been Internet friends with for YEARS. (More on that later!)

We had to drive through actual farmlands to get to Monticello, Indiana, at which point a man of about 100 years of age collected $7 from us and told us where to park.

Which was “anywhere in the wide open, empty parking lot.”

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We got there right when the park opened, and not only was it a ghost town, but none of the rides were running. We roamed around for awhile, getting turned away from the Hoosier Hurricane and wasting time at the shooting gallery. Also, the humidity was so bad that it felt like Hell with the lid on; my face took on the sebaceous sheen of a glazed Christmas ham in no time. It was disgusting. But not so disgusting that I would consider visiting the dilapidated water park portion of Indiana Beach, which was included in regular admission because the lazy river wasn’t running. God only knows why not.

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No thanks, dirty pastel water slides. God only knows what kind of fungi you’re getting ready to launch into my vagina. (I have phobias, OK?)

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Chooch killed some time at the shooting gallery, while I paced around, waiting for the adjacent Frankenstein’s Castle to open their dumb doors already. I refuse to partake in the shooting galleries at amusement parks because HENRY won’t teach me how to aim. So I almost never hit anything. And then I pout, which morphs into an inevitable Hulk Rage later on.

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Fuck you, Henry.

Lame Henry didn’t get the ride-all-day wristband because he’s too old to have fun at amusement parks now. But he sure does enjoy the ones with free general admission so that he can walk around and complain for nothing. I promise you, we broke up at least 87 times that day.

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The main (OK, the only) reason Indiana Beach made my list is their staggering collection of THREE dark rides. Two of them, The Den of Lost Thieves and the most-anticipated House of Frankenstein were basically the last rides to open that day. But oh, were they worth the wait.

The Den of Lost Thieves is a shooting ride, which I generally do not enjoy. Kennywood took out a great dark ride, the Goldrusher, and replaced it with a modern shooter-type dark ride and the only thing remarkable about it is how incredibly boring it is. I would gladly bypass this one every time we visit Kennywood, but Chooch always drags me on it. I hate waiting in line for it too! You wait and wait and wait only to get put in this holding room, like a foyer, where they force you to watch some animated portrait on a wall telling you the story of Ghostwood Estate and then the door opens and it’s a fucking free-for-all. Everyone pushes their way through so even if you were the first one in line before entering that room, chances are you’ll take a fanny pack to the groin and wind up 17 people back.

So when I realized that the Den of Lost Thieves was also a shooting ride, I was like, “Damn, we drive 8 hours for this?” But it turned out to be FANTASTIC! Old, musty and full of old-school scares. I loved the shit out of this ride. Especially since I got more points than Chooch.

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Another dark ride in the park doubled as a coaster! It was called the Lost Coaster of Something I Forget Who Knows. There was no one in line when Chooch and I walked past, so I shoved all of my belongings into Henry’s chest and bolted for it.

“Um…it’s gonna take a few minutes,” the older, orange-shirted ride operator said. “It got stuck, and I’m waiting for someone to push it back out.” Oh OK, no big deal, you guys. Rides get stuck like all of the time, right? And probably not back-to-back times, right?

He said something about the cars not being “properly weighted” and I was like, “Oh well if you’re looking for all of the weight, you’ve come to the right thunder thighs.” Four more people joined us right as a mechanic came grunting out of the fake cave, pushing the double mine cars in front of him.

The ride operator seemed confident that we had enough bodies to successfully propel the mine cars from start to finish, so we loaded up with me and Chooch and some lady and little girl in one car, and a guy and kid in the one behind us.

Awkward thing about this ride: four people fit in a car, but the seats face each other, so unless you’re with three of your homies, you get to stare at strangers for the next two minutes and I hate that you guys. Looking at people who are looking at me, it’s just…ew. Not for me.

This ride was pretty thrilling and volatile, just like a relationship with me! All of the ups and downs and whiplash and violent shoves. Will you need a PFA? Maybe! And then…nothing. It just stopped, right in the middle of the dark cave.

“Is it supposed to do this?” I asked the people in the car with us.

“I DON’T THINK SO BUT THE STEEL HAWG GETS STUCK ALL THE TIME,” answered the little girl in an octave only little girls can manage.

****Mental note to be wary of the Steel Hawg. (Which never opened that day anyway, so moot point.)

Anyway, guess what guys? We were stuck! I think this may have been my first time ever getting stuck on a ride, too, so thanks Indiana Beach! That’s a cherry I sure needed popped.

As if it wasn’t hot enough that day, now we were stuck inside some muggy faux-cavern, in a near-enclosed car, with no rescue in sight. I had sweat rolling into my eyes and mouth, I could feel it dripping from the backs of my knees, my whole person was slick with the moist essence of PANIC.

And I had these strangers staring at me and I had nothing to say other than nervous laughter and then the kid in the car behind us started to cry and his dad was mouthing off about how this was such BULLshit and Chooch kept meowing and I was like, “WHY IS NO ONE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH US OVER AN INTERCOM OR MORSE CODE OR CROP CIRCLE?!” And then finally, after a good FIVE MINUTES OF NOTHING, that same disgruntled mechanic came trudging up the track behind us, shouted an answer to a garbled voice over his walkie talkie, fumbled with some switches in the breaker box next to us, and then said “Enjoy your ride” just as the motor kicked in and we went STRAIGHT DOWN A HILL. Oh that’s right, we were stuck on the zenith of a hill and had no idea because it was so dark in there. So…that was definitely a thrill.

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Meanwhile, Henry had been dreaming of buying a taco all day. That’s what he’s thinking about in this picture, as a matter of fact. Indiana Beach has a taco stand that was apparently featured on the Food Network for some reason. I love me a good taco, but I knew that Indiana Beach was for sure not going to have a meatless option. So Chooch and I decided to get pizza and then Henry was going to get his coveted taco afterward.

Except that Chooch only ate one slice of his personal pizza and Henry acted like a motherfucking martyr and ate the rest of it. Like, who cares? Sometimes I think he does this shit on purpose, like he’s some Leftover Scraps Hero. OK, you ate three small slices of crappy pizza, good for you.

Oh, you ate the rest of Chooch’s waffle for breakfast? Well, FUCK Henry. Thanks for taking one for the team. Shit.

I knew all of his moaning and groaning over this would eventually paint a bigger picture, and I was right: Now that he had eaten Chooch’s pizza, he was “too full” to get a taco, and that was ALL THAT HE WANTED, you guys. A fucking taco, but now Chooch and I had ruined his life by having the audacity to get pizza for our own lunches. Last time I checked, no one was forcing pizza down Henry’s enlarged hatch.

I kept coaxing him to get a taco, but he was being such a bitch about it. He was acting offended almost, like he was on a porn diet and I was trying to get him to succumb to peer pressure by showing photos of naked broads going to town on tacos.

So bizarre. Maybe he’s trying to fit back into his SERVICE costume?

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Wistful thoughts over the taco stain on his shirt that could have been.

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Dreaming of brushing a taco with his moustache bristles to the tune of a Selena song.

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He had his chance right here! Going, going….

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Gone. This was right after he said, “I DON’T WANT ONE NOW. JUST FORGET IT.” Oh wow, someone’s come down with a case of the Erins.

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Imagining a lake where all the sailboats are tacos and he’s a great, venerable taco sailor.

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Not buying a taco.

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Yeah Henry. Don’t forget. Bitchbaby motherfucker.

(I think Mexico might find it hard to believe that the world’s best tacos are in Indiana.)

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Honestly was about to scratch a Will on my leg with a paint chip from this sad, downtrodden Paratrooper—it was such a janky ride! On one hand, I was like, “At least if we’re flung from this shoddy piece of mechanics, we have a 50/50 chance of hitting the lake and surviving” and then on the other hand I was like, “EW I DON’T WANT TO TOUCH THAT GROSS WATER!”

I’ve only ridden on one set of Paratroopers more run down looking than this one, and that was at the Washington County Fair.

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way, Indiana Beach. Just pretend like each umbrella is one of Tammy Faye Bakker’s eyelids. Go wild!

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Faces of Paratrooper survivors.

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That guy has what we call 1950s Indiana Swag.

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I love the Tilt-a-Whirl so much but not on days where elves are spooning viscous scoops of oil from my facial pores to use as liliputian love-stick lubricant. Let me spell it out for it: IT WAS HOT AND HUMID. I can’t ride spinny rides when I’m in the throes of heat stroke. But Chooch rode this three times in a row. God, good for you, Chooch. Why don’t you just write a song about it on your dumb keyboard, ugh.

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Obligatory ice cream cone shot. Can I get any more predictable.

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Seriously, these guys. I was obsessed. Also note: this was pretty much how crowded it was all day until late afternoon when the water park mysteriously closed down and a horde of Indiana’s finest invaded the park like beached whales.

Pale, so pale, very pale beached whales.

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This is not where I got my ice cream.

I haven’t even finished writing about this park yet and I’m already trying to con Henry into taking us to another one. I’M NEVER SATISFIED. Just ask the doves when they cry.

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I read some reviews online (because that’s what I do: read amusement park reviews all day long; I don’t have any friends to occupy my time, remember?) that complained about the employees were terrible. This was definitely not the case on my visit, because they clearly know I have a blog and want all of the glowing words written about them. I will say that I didn’t have a single run-in with surly orange-shirts all day. And I even left the park with two favorites: the dude from the Lost Coaster ride and this sweet Russian broad from the Hoosier Hurricane.

The Lost Coaster guy reminded me of the Salute Your Shorts camp counselor, Ug, in that he thought he was way cooler than he was and tried to act tough by yelling things like, “LIKE DON’T SIT ON THE RAILING!” But I guess he was still more intimidating than me because Chooch never listens when I tell him to get off the rail but when Ug hollered it, Chooch hopped off with a quickness.

I accidentally left my phone on the ride and realized it about 3 minutes afterward. When I ran back up the exit ramp to the ride platform, he was checking the next riders’ seat belts and casually holding my pink cell phone and it just made me crack up so bad.

“Hey, that’s my phone,” I said in faux-outrage and he put his hands up.

“I tried to chase you down but you were already gone!” he explained, handing it back over and we both had a good laugh. Why, I’m not sure. But I think I probably was definitely in the beginning stages of heat stroke by then so everything was funny to me except for things that Henry said/did/didn’t do because those things just made me inexplicably ANGRY.

OK, now let’s talk about the Russian. (I mean, after I type out hundreds of words that seem totally unrelated to a Russian broad, of course.)

A few days before we left for our road trip, Chooch acquired some sort of cut/scrape thing on the top of his ankle. Something about he went to kick a soccer ball, missed, tripped over it, bent his foot all the back and scraped it against the sidewalk. Then he proceeded to wear Converse high-tops, which ended up rubbing his scrape raw while forming a blister all at the same time.

So now he had a mutant cut/blister injury in addition to his foot hurting in general from being bent all the way back. He would be fine in the morning, but once he started walking too much, it would aggravate the wound and make his ankle get all red and slightly swollen.

The humidity that day, and also the OINTMENT (I love that people hate that word) that Henry slathered on the wound, made Chooch’s ankle too MOIST (hahaha) for Band-Aids to stay adhered for very long. So when were walking up the metal-grated steps of the Hoosier Hurricane coaster, Chooch forgot how to walk and fell, banging his ankle against the metal edge of the step below him, knocking off the Band-Aid and making him wince in pain.

Henry wasn’t with us, since he wasn’t RIDING anything that day, so I had to try to be a mom and tell Chooch things like, “It’s probably going to be fine” and “You’ll probably still have a foot after all of this is over” and “PLEASE START WALKING, I REALLY WANT TO GO ON THIS ROLLER COASTER.” As soon as we made it into the station, a super sweet Russian girl took down the chain for us and said to Chooch, “Oh no! What is happened to you?” But Chooch was still blinking back tears so I had to do my best to make it look like I hadn’t abused my child.

“There is first aid down there,” she said, pointing over her shoulder. She was really concerned about Chooch’s ankle, which was really endearing. But then we got stuck standing awkwardly next to her while we waited for the coaster to come back, so she made broken-English small talk about the weather.

“It is hot,” she said in a staccato.

“Yeah,” I agreed, struggling for words. And then after a stretch of about 30 million acres of silence, I thought of something else to say. “That, uh, humidity makes it worse.”

“Oh yah! The humidity is worst!” she agreed, and I thanked the arrival of the coaster for interrupting our cliche weather discourse.

She made sure Chooch and I were safely buckled into our seats and then said, “Enjoy ride!” and I secretly hoped it was meant just for us and not any of the other sweaty bastards behind us.

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After we got off the ride, Chooch ran ahead of Henry and me because he knows everything, including the way to the first aid trailer. Eight-year-olds don’t need parents, you guys. By the time we caught up and walked into the first aid trailer, Chooch and the park medic were just sitting there silently, Chooch on the edge of the bed and the medic at his desk.

“He just came in and sat down,” the medic explained. “Said he was waiting for some people.”

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And then Chooch relayed the entire, sordid saga of the Origin of the Wound.

He loves to talk about it. Last night, as soon as we got to his piano lesson, he sighed and mumbled something about his foot hurting. (Side note: that fucker is pretty much healed by now, so I guess he’s experiencing fantasy pains similar to Henry’s imaginary war wounds that don’t exist because Henry was never in an actual war when he was in the SERVICE.) “Oh no, what did you do to it?” his piano teacher Cheryl asked.

“Ugh, why does everyone ask me about it?” Chooch cried and I was like, “OH OK, MY LEFT FOOT, MAYBE BECAUSE YOU CAN’T STOP BRINGING IT UP.”

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Here’s Henry re-doing Chooch’s Band-Aid 3 minutes later.

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There was another Russian girl working the Cornball Express, another roller coaster, but she wasn’t as nice. I mean, she wasn’t a dick head or anything, but she didn’t go out of her way to smother us with attention like Hoosier Hurricane did. The other Cornball Express girl routinely helped me unbuckle my seatbelt all 137 times we rode that coaster (honestly, there were no lines to wait in). Chooch, who had quickly mastered the secret of the Houdini-approved seatbelts, kept crying out, “Oh for Christ’s sake, mommy!” Before eventually just not waiting for me anymore.

I seriously have never struggled so hard with a seatbelt in my life. It was almost embarrassing. Ok it was embarrassing.

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After hours of stalking Frankenstein’s Castle, those fucking garage doors were finally a’lift and we had the confusing task of trying to add dolla dolla bills to the Indiana Beach cash card thing. I forget to mention that this is one of those amusement parks where, if you don’t want to plan on riding much, you can load money onto credit cards and then scan it before you get on the rides. Even the ride-all-day wristbands have barcodes on them and everyone is required to stick their wrist under a scanner at the front of all of the lines. Waldameer Park in Erie does this, too. It’s annoying, but whatever.

Anyway, Frank’s Place wasn’t included in the ride-all-day admission price. Some dark rides are like that and while I’m not exactly sure of the reason (Chris? Can you help here?), I have a few theories, mostly that it’s a restoration thing. It was an additional $3.50 per person and BE STILL MY HEART, Henry actually paid for THREE. At first, I thought maybe there was some sad albino kid in line behind us, tugging on Henry’s bland heart strings and making him do charitable thangs. (I didn’t want to end on a rhyme. You understand.)

But no, he was paying for himself! Henry was finally going to not sit on a bench with his nose pressed against his phone, looking at Pinterest! (Honestly, Chooch and I made fun of him from every line in which we stood. Because why not.)

As soon as the ticket booth broad granted us admission, our nostrils were slammed with the unmistakable vintage bouquet of moth balls and Aunt Edith’s cedar closet of muumuus. It’s a smell that I love because it means old school amusement park. Fuck those flashy sterile, steel concrete jungles known as Six Flags.

I want that fancy dark ride musk.

If they bottled it as perfume/cologne, that’d be a surefire way to get me into your backseat.

(Oh come on, don’t pretend like you thought I was classy.)

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“I just paid $3.50 to walk through a fake castle with two screaming d-bags. I bet that taco would have also cost $3.50 and have been way less annoying.” – Henry, if he ever thought about anything.

After sitting on a bench and listening to a crackling recording about what scares we were about to encounter, a disinterested young Indiana Beach employee opened a door and ushered us in for the “OMG crashing elevator” segment. At first I thought this was going to be totally lame, and that part was, but then she opened another door and set us free, on our own, to shuffle through the guts of a mostly pitch-black haunted house.

Here is Henry’s review:

It was fun. I got pushed through by two scared little people. That’s about it.

Wow. Titillating as always.

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There were no scare actors, just the effective non-use of light bulbs, enclosed animatronic displays that managed to pop on when I was always the most unsuspecting, moving floors and enough enclosed spaces to make a claustrophobe fake their way through the rosary.

THIS IS A CLASSIC DARK ATTRACTION. One that keeps it real and doesn’t rely on modern, high-tech scare tactics. Let me put it this way: there are chicken doors located throughout the length of the castle and if Henry hadn’t gone in with us, I guarantee the first one would have a chunk taken out of it in the exact outline of my body.

This is the type of haunt you want to walk through with the person you’re obsessively crushing on or maybe the hipster you just met IRL on Tinder and want to terrorize in the dark with rusty hedge clippers while wearing your mom’s skin on your face. Butterflies!

I’d go back to Indiana Beach every summer just for another 10 minutes inside Frankenstein.

YEAH, YOU READ THAT RIGHT.

Feb 232020
 

We have a little more than a month before we leave for our mini-theme park Euro-trip so I’ve been spending most of my free time scouring the Internet and YouTube to ensure our itinerary is as padded and stacked as possible because I am super high-strung when it comes to DOING THE MOST AHHHHHH WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!

Now, I have previously been to several places we will be hitting on this trip, but I was a kid and sadly, unless I pull out the old travel journals, I have very spotty memories of these times which is pathetic because some of these cities I have been to more than once.

For instance, my only memories of Amsterdam:

  • Getting stuck in the elevator of the Pullman? Astoria? hotel we were staying at;
  • My Pappap finding a piece of glass in his dessert at the same hotel’s restaurant (I have a vivid memory of the dessert being a peeled pear, like straight of a can, sitting on top of a chocolate sauce pool);
  • Another time being in Amsterdam as a surly teenager and having a huge fight with my aunt Sharon and writing horrible things about her in my vacation journal, and then going on a tour of a diamond factory and her buying me a diamond ring for my birthday and being all, “Dear diary, I take back everything I said about Sharon; I was just tired and hungry. Oh yeah, and she bought me this cool ring!” And I definitely probably didn’t use a semi-colon though because I’m sure I didn’t know how to use those yet, but I mean, do I really know how to use them now.

And Cologne:

  • Milling about in a courtyard and walking along some slanted brick thing, the kind of things that usually have a tree or flowers in the middle, and I lost my balance and fell, sending my camera skidding across the courtyard, batteries popping out and rolling all over the place, and I skinned my knee too probably, that sounds about right;
  • Another time we were in Cologne and I was like, “OH HAY GUYS REMEMBER??” And then I began to do a mocking reenactment of The Fall and then accidentally fell again and injured myself;
  • I think it was also that last time, I spotted these two people who looked like the Gorgs from Fraggle Rock. The lady was straddling the man on a bench and they were slowly rocking back and forth and I was like look at those people, they look like Fraggle Rock and Sharon was all OMG THEY ARE HAVING SEX and then slapped her hand across my eyes and lead me away.

Brussels was the only city in Belgium that I’ve been to and we’ve opted for Bruges instead on this trip, but either way, my only memory of Brussels is seeing the statue of the peeing boy and fighting with Sharon.

We were honestly the WORST travel partners. I mean, it was ok when my grandparents used to travel with us because I could at least seek refuge and reprieve from Sharon in their room.

Anyway, now it’s hours later and this post inspired me to dig through the treasure trove of photos I took from my Pappap’s house when we were cleaning it out in 2016 and I actually found a photo that Sharon took of me in 1995 standing in front of that dumb thing I fell down when I was 10 and you can tell by my scowl that I loved having my picture taken. And right after this was when i was like HAHA I WAS SO STUPID LOOK AT ME I’M ERIN FROM 1989 NOT KNOWING HOW TO WALK and then I accidentally fell down.

Yeah. You’re welcome.

I also found a picture of this guy I was in love with from one of those trips and I have been wanting to write a travel memories post about him for quite some time now so maybe that will inspire me to do so someday when I feel less lazy.I really got away from my point here which is I really appreciate that I had the opportunity to do so much traveling as a kid and thank God I kept travel journals else I would barely remember anything. For instance, we are going to Frankfurt and I have to actually flip through those ancient tomes* at some point because I am not sure if I have been there before?!?! That’s…pathetic.

*(The best edition is the one where I was going through a phase when I spelled ‘really’ as ‘rilly’ and replaced any ‘s’ at the end of a word with a ‘z’ just BCUZ KAY GUYZ? And every paragraph was in a different color ink. Would you believe me if I told you I’m actually less obnoxious now?)

I tried to get Chooch to start vacation journaling when we took him to Disney in 2016 but he is super not into that at all so I guess at least he has my blog to fall back on. For instance, when we were hate-watching these dumb Australian travel vloggers who were in Savannah. They went to Leopold’s for ice cream and I shouted, “WE WENT TO LEOPOLD’S WHEN WE WERE THERE TOO!” and Chooch was like, “I wonder what flavor I got” and I said “Probably something dumb, here, I’ll check my blog.”

“Yep, as suspected: Probably Something Dumb,” I happily reported back.

I think I veered off track somewhere up there but the whole point of this post is that this is my first time traveling to this region of Europe as an adult and without the shackles of an organized bus tour so we will be in full control of the things we do and I want to make sure we do the right/best/most funnest things and eat all the good foods because unless stroopwafels weren’t a thing yet in the 90s which I find hard to believe, our stupid tour guide never made sure they found a way into our mouths, not a single time I was in Amsterdam, how can that be so!? That is just an example of the things on my Erin Returns: The Redemption Trip.

That’s just a name I thought up on the spot. It’s subject to change, a work in progress. We’ll see where it goes.

That’s all for today. I’m revisiting Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution program and today I started Workout 5 and still feel slightly nauseous from that so I think I might go and dry heave into a waste basket and then put myself to bed early WHO CAN BE SURE.

(Do I have a waste basket though? Is it just a garbage can?)

Feb 072020
 

The other night, I tried to start a fight with Henry because we’re not precious like Robert and Mary, but he didn’t take the bait. Anyway, I hadn’t listened to this song IN A MINUTE and the feels came crashing into me like the waves that Henry will never frolic in with me because he’s Henry and he doesn’t frolic or much of anything relationshippy, for that matter.

I never actually wrote about my experience meeting The Cure in Australia back in 2000, and I’ve been considering possibly transcribing my vacation journal entries from that trip on here, which I’m sure wouldn’t be embarrassing and a shit-covered cringefest AT ALL considering I was 20 and a million times more annoying than I am today at 40 and I am still pretty fucking annoying, so chew on that fat for a minute and get back to me.

I also have actual video footage of when I met them but it’s on an 8mm and I need to get that digitized at some point so I can blast social media with the excruciating 2 minutes of me stuttering and stammering in King Robert Smith’s face. It was…really something. Definitely not something that kept me up at night.

It’s weird to think that I was in a country that far away, pre-smartphone age, for a full week, and managed to come back alive when, at the age of 40, I can barely go to the store by myself. People who know this version of me usually think I’m fucking with them when I’m like, “This one time, in goth-rock band camp…”

(I actually had a weird moment in a taxi though on the way to the Canberra airport, where I 100% thought I was about to get raped, and I am not even exaggerating a little bit. That was a strange time.)

Well, if you’d be interested in reading something like (not an almost-taxi rape, but The Cure thing), then perhaps that will happen soon because I am in the mood for getting nostalgic, y’all. I get like this sometimes.

Jan 292020
 

This won’t be as good as a Sophia Petrillo Sicily Story, but….PICTURE IT: Brookline, 2002. Henry and I were still in the beginning stages of Dating, but I knew that I wanted him to move in with me. And that says a lot because I had been a solo-liver from the time I moved out of my parents’ house until then. So, basically like 3 years. Wow, such independence. I never asked any other boys to move in with me, and I barely even liked it when they stayed too long the next morning.

When I decided that I was going to ask the dumb oaf to move in, I did the right thing and talked to my landlord first. Now, back then, my landlord was the sweetest guy: super old, hearing aids in both ears, very approachable. (His son took over after he died and now we’re basically living in a slum even though Henry says I’m being dramatic but that is another story.) So my landlord sat me down in his office and actually talked to me like he was a parent, asking things like if I was sure this was the right guy, does he treat me well, etc. It was fucking adorable.

And of course I said yes but hello the bigger picture was that this dude could cook and do housework-y things, so yes, please move in, share my bills, feed me, stop me from vacuuming liquid out of the refrigerator (um, another story for yet another day). So now that I had the landlord’s blessing to add the dumb oaf to the lease, I went to the HARDWARE STORE – can you imagine me in a hardware store? And it wasn’t some big box one like Home Depot, either. It was this small-ass family-run joint that my dad always went to, called DANIEL’S HARDWARE, the kind of place where you have to turn sideways to walk down some of the aisles because the shelves are spaced stupidly. Anyway, I went to DANIEL’S to get a copy of my key made. Some dude did it for me, and I was like, “Wow, that was easy” and it was only like $2 or something, so that was something new that I learned that day.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, Henry came over and was all KISSY WISSY because this back when he was still trying to impress me and hoping that I would find his all of his baggage cute and charming, which would have been easier if the baggage was goldfish and not two kids, but I digress. Now, imagine the hearts boinnnnnnng’ing out of his eyeballs when he opens the pretty velvet ring box I’ve presented to him* and finds…

Nothing.

Because I forgot to put the fucking house key inside.

*(This is, hilariously, the only time a ring box was ever presented to someone in this house, NAH I’M NOT BITTER OR NUTHIN’ said Little Miss Unwed with a butcher knife behind her back.)

So, this key was a lemon. It was a real rough cut, and only Henry knew the “trick” to turning it successfully within the lock. But Henry never complained about it and has been using it without issue all this time.

Somewhere along the line, Chooch became grown enough to need his own key. This time, my key birthed a nice, competent copy. I think we had it made at Home Depot and I have a vague recollection of Chooch being all smug because he got to choose some novelty key design so his was “better” than ours.

Then, he lost it.

And found it.

And lost it.

Got a new one made.

Lost it.

In a pinch once day, I lent him my key, the golden master key, the OG key, the ride or die key.

AND THAT LITTLE SHIT LOST IT. LIKE, LOST IT LOST IT.

So now, Henry has to have a new key made using HIS degenerate mongoloid key so now we have two fucking aggravating piece of shit keys. One time, I had to use Chooch’s spare because I knew no one was going to be home when I came home from work, and, well….

Bad Key Killing Spree

One time, Janna was babysitting Chooch and they had Henry’s key and couldn’t get in the house so she had to go next door and get Hot Naybor Chris to help. I know what you’re thinking: “OK, fine, but that’s Janna. She’s nearly as bad as you, Erin.” BUT WAIT—-

A few weeks ago, I took the day off work while Chooch was home on Christmas break, and we went to the trampoline park, Taco Bell, and Crazy Mocha without a hitch. Can you imagine?! Until, that is, until we came home. We had Henry’s house key that day and of course, we couldn’t get in the house. I swear to god, I’m always waiting for this fucker to slice my hand and hit an artery and then someone’s going to find me unconscious in a pool of blood on the front porch and think, “Wow, I didn’t realize she hated her life that much” and I DO NOT WANT TO BE REMEMBERED AS THE GIRL WHO TRIED TO SLIT HER WRIST WITH A KEY AND MISSED.

That got dark but I don’t care! The street lights have been burnt out in my head for quite some time now.

OK back to the door. Thank god on this day, Blake was home so Chooch went over and was like, “Help us open our door” and Blake immediately cringed because he was on cat duty for us the first time we went to Korea and wanted to fucking kick down the door because Henry’s key pissed him off so much and I think he was really trying to hold himself back on this day because I was standing there but he was definitely lowkey raging and kept muttering things like, “WTF IS THE DEAL WITH THIS FUCKING KEY. OMG I FORGOT HOW MUCH I HATE THIS FUCKING KEY.” And then he did some breathing exercises and some arm-crosses, cracked his knuckles, and said to me, “There’s a trick to this, but I can’t FUCKING REMEMBER” and meanwhile, I’m blowing up Henry’s phone like he’s going to be able to coach us.

“Now…1, 2, 3, TURN.”

Or tell us what the magic word is.

Is it FIRE? Because I’m not above threatening the fucking front door.

After a solid 8 minutes of wrestling with this cursed key, it finally clicked and the door opened. Blake was so angry at this point that he didn’t even say anything to me, he just walked away and went back to his house.

This key is FUCKING SOUL-SUCKING.

I’m not going to lie, when I leave the house and know that no one will be here when I come home, I leave it unlocked. Henry hates it when I do this because we live on a busy street in the city, but wtf else can I do!?

YEARS this has been going on. YEARS. And then on Sunday, Henry got a package from Amazon – A REKEY KIT.

HENRY RE-KEYED THE DOOR WHATEVER THAT MEANS NEVER MIND I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS—IT MEANS I HAVE A KEY THAT ACTUALLY SLIPS INTO THE KEYHOLE LIKE A BUTTERED DICK:

This was big news at work today when I told….well, Glenn and Carrie. But they were like, “Oh shit!” because they know all about the trials and tribs about us Pioneer Ave Kids tryna’ get into the damn door. I’m mostly excited to get a new keychain for my new key! NEW YEAR, NEW KEY!

I know my old key, the OG Key, is going to wash ashore now that it’s too late.

Jan 242020
 

Is it weird to only listen to you favorite band occasionally, maybe even as infrequently as once a year? That’s how I am with The Cure, who, in spite of all the music phases I’ve tried on over the years, have never been dethroned as my All-Time Most Favorite Band In the World, bury me to Same Deep Water As You.

It’s because my emotional response to their music is so strong that I will likely expire prematurely if I indulge myself too much. But while I was reading the other night, I put on a Cure playlist and from there, Disintegration played in its entirety. Suddenly, it was winter of 1999 / 2000 all over again and I’m lying on a floor pillow in my sparsely decorated house, having only moved in several months prior, listening to this album on repeat, crying myself sick while seriously contemplating self-slaughter and now, all the way ahead in 2020, I’m wondering how I made it through that long, soul-sucking winter.

Those were some bleak times in my life. And I’d like to say something cheerful and uplifting about how The Cure saved my life and really pulled me out of the mental pit, but um…have you heard The Cure? My inner doom & gloom fed off their discography, which I played over and over again because I have always been one for torture and self-loathing.

Anyway, the other night while reading, only a split second of “Last Dance” had begun to play and I was already catching my breath and feeling that familiar lump forming in my throat. And then I just silently let myself cry a little.

That song is just as beautiful as ever but fuck does it rip me up inside.

Jan 202020
 

Today’s blog post is about two past phases I went through. Enjoy.

Disco Delite

I sometimes do walking/dance workouts on this one YouTube channel called Up to the Beat Fitness and one of her videos is disco-themed, which is pretty fun/hokey/hilarious to do. I was doing it as a filler workout over the weekend, while Henry was grueling away at the serial killer Valentine factory, aka in the next room over at the dining room table. The music of this workout made me super nostalgic.

“Did I ever tell you about the time went through a disco phase?” I called out to Henry, who murmured something that sounded like, “If I say yes, will you leave me alone?”

“It was in the early 90s when I was in middle school,” I began my tale while performing a sidestep/John Travolta finger point combo.

I remember VIVIDLY being at the K-mart (ew) checkout with my mom and eyeballing a rack of best of the decades CDs. They always had Billboard Top whatever from some random year, and I had a bunch of those already in my strange CD collection. But on this day, I noticed new ones: Disco’s Greatest Hits, Disco Inferno, Disco Delight. Coke-snorting mood music, basically. They seemed interesting to me, so I threw some in the cart. My mom was like, “that’s cool” because she never said no to me.

This is why I’m the way I am.

So, turns out, I REALLY LIKED DISCO. Like, it fucking SPOKE TO ME. The only thing was, it wasn’t “back in vogue” yet, or whatever, to like it. So everyone at school was like, “The fuck is a disco?” But I wanted to talk about it ALL THE TIME like I was on a one-way trip to motherfucking Funky Town. I think it was in 8th grade Language Arts where the class had to get into groups and write a skit for some reason, I already used up a chunk of 1992 brainspace on the aforementioned Kmart memory, so excuse me for being a bit vague here. Anyway, my group, I literally can’t remember a single person who was in it, but we did some sort of Brady Bunch spoof.

“I was Cindy.”

Henry mumbled, “Of course you were.”

I begged my group to let me add something disco-related into our skit and they were like NO NO NO YOU FUCKING STRANGE BIRD because I guess I was pretty strange back then (certainly not anymore) but for as strange as I was, I was also extremely convincing so in the end, the group relented and after the final scene, I got to “hustle” on in from the sidelines, stop in the middle and exclaim, “Disco delite!” and then dance away.

Everyone was like, “OMG wow” and it was never spoken of again.

Bonus disco memory: My mom suggested that I pop a squat and watch Saturday Night Fever since I was suddenly Groovy Erin, and while I LOVED it, the only thing that sticks out in my mind when I think about it was that it was the very first time I ever heard the word “cunt” (surprisingly not a common swearword in my middle school in the early 90s for some reason unless I was just hanging out with squares!?!?) and so I got to ask my mom, “Hey, what does cunt mean” and she was like, “DO NOT EVER SAY THAT WORD IN SCHOOL.”

Lol.

Side note: I made Henry do one of the Up to the Beat Fitness walks at another point over the weekend and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” was one of the songs in  the totally random mix, and I had to stop walking and do the pee-squat because I started laughing uncontrollably when I imagined Henry walking slowly through a grocery store, vacant eyes, savoring the borrowed time he had away from Chooch and me, while “I Will Survive” played overhead. He just glared at me when I told him this through laugh-wheezes.

Mumblecore & Me

In 2006, I became obsessed with this movie called The Puffy Chair.

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HOLY FUCKING SHIT, at the time I remember feeling like the earth was moving around me and thinking, “THIS FILM HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.” So then I made Henry watch it and he was like, “….
and then I made ex-bff Christina watch it too and she was like, “….” but to be fair, she was a fucking moron and Henry has literally no taste when it comes to cinema. From this movie, I became OBSESSED with Mark Duplass and then learned that MUMBLECORE was a legit genre of film. I was all-in, man. I needed to see everything. Now, this was before the years of streaming, back when you still had to order real life DVDs from Netflix, and actual video stores still existed.

In the back of the original location for the local cafe, Crazy Mocha, there was a small video store called Dreaming Ant. Between that place and the SORELY MISSED Incredibly Strange Video which I could walk to from my house, I was spoiled with the selections of student art films, Asian horror, international dramas…..and MUMBLECORE. If it existed, they had it and I went on a renting flurry.

Wikipedia defines mumblecore as:

a subgenre of independent film[1][2] characterized by naturalistic acting and dialogue (sometimes improvised), low-budget film production, an emphasis on dialogue over plot, and a focus on the personal relationships of people in their 20s and 30s.

Henry H-A-T-E-D it. So much talking. So many young people, just talking. Can’t relate. Put to sleep. Boo hoo.

And anytime I would try to explain it to friends and (pre-Law Firm) co-workers, they were like “That sounds dumz0rz.” So I got made fun of a lot.

One of my favorite films in this genre was “Hannah Takes the Stairs” which starred then-unknown Greta Gerwig.

“Greta Gerwig was in that movie and I would gush about her all the time and my friends were like no one cares BUT NOW THAT SHE’S DIRECTED LITTLE WOMEN EVERYONE IS LIKE OMG GRETA GERWIG BLAH BLAH BLAH, LIKE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO USED TO MAKE FUN OF ME!” I wailed at work last week to Glenn, who was like, “Don’t worry, I still don’t care.”

Sorry. I have been a little UP IN ARMS about this.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta Get Down Tonight.

Jan 182020
 

This was intended to be a Friday Five but then I went all in after work yesterday on putting the finishing touches on my cult & spiritual leaders Valentine minis which have been plaguing my brain since I first decided last year that I wanted to make them. Hopefully people like them, so look forward to that – should be posted on Etsy later today!

So anyway, here are five things that I have been putting off memorializing on this piece because I’ve had bloglock over the last few months – I think I still enjoy writing in here but I can’t be sure, and then there’s the lack of motivation because all of my energy is funneled elsewhere, so maybe the blog-era of my life is finally winding down? Here is where I perform a big, lazy shrug for no one to see.

  1. My Neglected Son–Wait, I Have a Son?

Several months ago, Chooch and I were on one of our nightly walks — you know, the ones where he oscillates between talking about school drama and new math (he had a math test the other day and practically swan-leapt out of the house, fucking weirdo) — when he so very casually mentioned that he had been interviewed by “some broad” at the teen center.

“For what? What about? Who was she? Where is this being published?” I asked in the spit-fire nature of an interrogating mom.

He shrugged. All I could glean from him was that it was something about the head of the teen center, Caitlin. And they wanted quotes from him because he’s “basically the face of the teen center.” Um, his words.

Well, on the first of January, I received an e-newsletter from the teen center – apparently he signed me up for this so now I can have evidence that I’m marginally involved in his teen center activities.

In the newsletter was this graphic:

CHECK OUT THAT QUOTE FROM RILEY, 13-YEAR-OLD 8TH GRADER…Yes, that is my son, putting his parents on blast for allegedly neglecting him and never being home. WOW JUST WOW OK SON. We get home at 6pm everyday, like most working parents, yet he stays at the teen center until 9pm anyway because he’s obsessed with being there! He even eats dinner there even though Henry makes dinner at home!? I called him out on this and he shrugged. “They took it out context,” he explained. “I also said that you guys aren’t home after school because you’re busy working hard.” YEAH, THAT SURELY SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING HE WOULD SAY.

So, that’s cool. One Saturday, Henry and I walked past the teen center while Chooch was in there and I said, “Should we go in there and officially announce ourselves as his parents so they know we exist?”

Henry considered this, then said, “Nah” so we continued eating our cookies from the bakery while walking home, and YES WE GOT COOKIES FOR CHOOCH TOO even though he is the one who abandons US but that’s fine. I’m not bitter.

Fucking teen center kidnapped my son.

2. Guy on Road

I was walking to the ATM the other night when I saw some commotion at this one intersection a block down from my house. Some guy was standing in the road directing traffic, and as I got closer, I noticed that another man was lying prostrate on the road with a small crowd of people around him, wailing, “I am in so much pain” and I’m not sure exactly what happened but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that he was trying to cross (AT THE CROSSWALK) and some OMG-IN-A-HURRY car came barreling up the hill and hit him. I HATE crossing the street here and I have to do it every morning on the walk to work (actually, I could walk on the other side of the street but then I would have to cross extra times and I am bad at crossing streets except that I just admitted to Henry that I have become better at jaywalking since working downtown because Pittsburgh is like the unofficial capital of jaywalking, not sure if we should be proud of that). Anyway, I can’t tell you how many people barely – BARELY – stop at the stop signs at this 3-way intersection and I have nearly been clipped numerous times after already establishing my right-of-way by making it to the middle of the walk. I usually have to do this really clumsy deer-run to the other side every morning because nothing makes me more nervous on my walks to the trolley than morning commuters because you know, they’re in a big hurry to turn the bend and sit in traffic at a red light.

Actually, there is something that makes me more nervous and that is having a brick fall on my head which recently happened – not the “falling on my head” part but bricks did in fact fall from the top of a building that I habitually pass by but luckily it happened late at night when no one was standing there. It was roped off by police tape for a few days and when I found out why, I did a cartoon *GULP*.

Anyway, back to the man. On my way back from the ATM, the whole rescue brigade was there by then and the street was lit up by emergency lights which is nothing new for Pioneer Avenue. I still don’t know exactly what happened, but I sure hope that guy didn’t die.

Unless he was a bad man. Then die, motherfucker. Get what you deserve.

Random Drew.

3. Geomi-Nim

I know I mentioned at one point that I had obtained a pet kitchen spider and named him “Geomi-Nim” which means “Mister Spider” in Korean but I don’t have a Korean keyboard on my work computer so I can’t type it properly. Well, he had a good long run (at least two months, I think?!) in four different locations in the kitchen, but I guess he ultimately either tired of me screaming Korean vocab at him and packed his shit and left, or he died. Because he’s been gone for a month now and hasn’t resurfaced, which makes me sad but Henry is just happy that he can use his container of sesame seeds again without being a literal homewrecker.

Anyway, here’s a picture I took Geomi-Nim in his third property. I miss him and his beautiful webs.

Also, I have no idea what gender he was because I refused to Google; look, having one mild-looking spider in my house is one thing, but I do not want my computer screen filled with threatening photos of spider species. Henry said that he thought spiders were genderless but I was like, “OK, explain then Charlotte, then” and he was like, “………that was a cartoon.”

4. ANGRY MEETING

Earlier in the week, we had a meeting to go over a new thing that is happening. During this, someone said, “But what about *boring work thing*?” and the person in charge of the meeting was like, “What are you talking about” and then I said, “Here is my idea for a work-around to *boring work thing*” and person in charge was like, “No that is dumb that won’t work” IN SO MANY WORDS so I was like, “OK” and went back to shutting down because this is my work life lately. Shrinking into the corners and hoping no one will look at me, lol.

About 10 minutes later, GLENN said, “Can’t we do *INSERT EXACTLY WHAT I HAD PROPOSED*” and person in charge was all, “Huh! Let’s test that out!” and I was sitting there with my mouth hanging open, thinking IS NO ONE REALLY GOING TO SAY ANYTHING so I did what I do best which is drop down to elementary school age, flap my arms in the arm, and whine, “THAT IS EXACTLY THE SAME THING I SAID THOUGH?!!?” and person in charge was like, “No, it wasn’t?” and I was searching the room with desperate eyes, willing someone to stand up for all that is right and take my side WHICH IS ALWAYS THE GOOD SIDE but no one did so instead of dropping it, I pressed on and said, “No, that’s the same thing I suggested and you said it wouldn’t work” and Lauren was like, “Maybe you said it a different way, I think” AND NO I DID NOT. Meanwhile, Glenn was over there wading in Smug Lagoon with a handful of old people butterscotch candies, looking so pleased with himself and I was like, “I WILL NEVER LET THIS GO” and true to my word, I spent the rest of the day fueled by that fire and made sure to tell everyone who would listen.

“I’M NOT SAYING I’M GOING TO LIGHT A FIRE OR ANYTHING, LORI, BUT MAYBE DON’T GO OVER NEAR GLENN’S DESK LATER,” I fumed, and Lori was all, “OMG you’re mad.” But Nate and Cathy consoled me afterward and both confirmed that I did, in fact, suggest the same thing, and Cathy, who always wants to give people the benefit of the doubt, said that maybe person in charge just understand fully at that time what the issue at hand truly was (she definitely didn’t, so I will agree with Cathy there). I usually don’t show my temper at work but this really set me off, primarily because it brought back some really bad, negative feelings from a former position I once held there and I didn’t like it. Bad memories. Stay in the past.

I mean, in what world does GLENN have a good idea, anyway!??!

I’m OK now though. I was invited to be a part of a brainstorming session for something else and the other people involved in this will not be so dismissive of my suggestions, so I am looking forward to that.

5. The Ring

Sometime back in 2003, Henry and I went to Salem, MA for a little vacation. This was still early into our relationship – we had been together for about 2 years at this point, I guess, and sometimes I look back on those times and think, “How did we make it to 2020?” Oh, I jest! Only a little. Anyway, while there, I bought this ring at one of the little witchy shops and I loved it, but then almost immediately after purchasing it, I accidentally wore it into the shower once and the soap/shampoo left the once-clear stone completely cloudy, so that you could no longer see the witchy design it was meant to magnify.

I complained about it a ton back then, off and on for at least 5 years I would bring it up, because I would still wear it sometimes in spite of the soap scum, which was in the underneath of the cabochon so I couldn’t reach it. I tried using a q-tip to scrub it but it was too big, I tried soaking it in jewelry cleaner, I tried witchy spells to cosmically cleanse it, but nothing worked! Henry. when asked for help, would  smoosh his mustache up while inspecting it and then shrug.

The other day, I wore it because like I said, I paid money for the thing so I’m still going to allow it to decorate my finger, you know? For some reason, I felt inspired to once again bring up my plight to Henry.

“Hmm, let me see that,” he said, taking the ring off of me. And then he got out one of his tool-things, popped the cabochon out from the prongs, polished its underside, and then put it back.

JUST LIKE THAT.

HE COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS 17 YEARS AGO?!!?!?

“I literally did not know that this was even a thing,” he said defensively, confused as to why I was yelling at him instead of thanking him.

So this leads me to believe that Henry just blocked me out for much of the early years, so should I be happy that he listens to me now, or pissed that he didn’t listen to me then? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Actually, I think he just hadn’t learned to fear me yet in the beginning. He’s learned a lot over the years about my INNER WITCH.

And I think that’s all I got for this belated Friday Five. Today I will be focusing on Valentines, Korean-learning, and reading. I got two books from the library on Thursday! ALL BY MYSELF!

 

Jan 162020
 

I needed background music while Chooch and I were having reading time on Sunday, and Kpop wouldn’t work in this sense because I always find myself focusing on the words to see if I can figure out any of the Korean (#obsession). So on a whim, I put on a dark synthpop playlist on YouTube. A MILLION MEMORIES AND WARM FEELINGS CAME OVER ME.

So, I’ve gone through a lot of music phases; some of them make me feel uncomfortable when I think about it because of the weird time of life it was, like when I was into very cold, angular indie-experimental stuff like Blonde Redhead and Deerhoof; I actually shudder when I think of those days. But when I was very heavy into synthpop, it was the very, very, very beginning of my relationship with Henry. I was obsessed with this label – A Different Drum – and used to buy all sorts of compilations from them. Henry, in an effort to win my heart, used to make me CDs of synthpop that he ILLEGALLY DOWNLOADED OMG. Can you imagine Henry, 35-years-old at that time, living alone in some weird apartment, burning synthpop CDs for me? I mean, it’s kind of cute.

Those CDs remind me of cozy winters, so even though it was unseasonably warm over the weekend, it still brought back waves of comfort as I curled up on the couch and read a book.

But then I had an idea!

I typed in “Synthpop workouts” in the YouTube search bar and was sad to see that there really isn’t much of a goth/synth cardio niche on YouTube. Look, I have been considering (only half-jokingly) of making my own amateur workout videos for some time now. My only problem, aside from being extremely awkward on camera, is that I have a difficult time moving while narrating what’s coming up and singing out motivational filler. I would want to do just super-casual and fun walking workouts, because those are my go-to videos on YouTube when I need to boost my step-count, I’m too tired/sore/sick for high-impact cardio, or I still have some energy to burn off after doing a strength-training workout.

I’m kind of obsessed with constantly moving. I don’t even watch my K-Dramas without walking in place (here is that part where I make a subtle hint for Henry to finally buy me that treadmill). But the walking workouts on YouTube are…eh. There’s Leslie Sansone, but her shrill Janice-from-Friends laugh gets to me. There’s Jessica Smith, but she always uses that generic cardio music which doesn’t help motivate me. I really like this one broad, Gina B, because her walking workouts are all themed to things like, “Walk to the 80s!” or “Disco Walk!” – so it’s fun because you’re doing these upbeat walking/cardio workouts to good pop music from past eras, and it helps keep you interested. IT DOES THAT FOR ME, ANYWAY.

But man, I would be so down for a synthwalk. Even the real morose dark synthpop still has that thumping bassline which, I truly believe, would translate well to simple box steps, grapevines, step-taps – whatever walks are in the arsenal.

So the other night, I cried out, “I WILL JUST MAKE MY OWN SYNTHPOP WALKING WORKOUTS!” And Chooch and Janna will be my back-up walkers (Chooch already said no and Janna doesn’t know yet but I guess she’ll find out if she ever reads this; say yes, Janna) and we will all black – maybe gowns? Robes? Stompy boots, for sure. And we’ll light candles everywhere, and in between the higher-energy tracks, we’ll do body-weight moves to a slower-tempo funeral dirge, maybe hoist a weighted plank, a move we will call, “The Pallbearers.”

Fun fact about the above song: I once listened to it on repeat for an entire 8-hour shift at this one shitty job I had where I worked with like 8 people in a basement until midnight, and then I genuinely wanted to fucking kill myself afterward. No hyperbole here.

This could be a good cool-down track. PASS THAT INVISIBLE ORB OF ENERGY.

I have a vision of Janna crying at some point, to help keep the ambiance in the room aligned with the tragic vibe of this Mind Side Out track, so perhaps this will be the portion of the fitness video where Henry burns her with a candle off-camera.

I was telling my co-workers about this on Monday and they were like, “Wow. Glad you found your….calling.” I mean, I’ve attempted and failed at making writing, photography, and art a career,  so hopefully fitness figurehead is where my true talent lies!

NO I TAKE IT BACK: My favorite Depeche Mode song would be the PERFECT cool-down song:

 

See also: Wendy 1999 for a scintillating story sort of about this song.

“So what, are you just going to use your phone to film this?” Chooch asked me in that AWESOME judgmental tone of a middle schooler bracing himself for impending parental embarrassment. But the fact that he’s thinking this far ahead means that he BELIEVES IN ME!

Anyway, hopefully this comes into fruition once I conquer my inability to say motivational things without stepping on my foot. I think it’s going to be way better than my idea from 2004 to open a Crucifixion-themed restaurant.

ETA: I was just filling in Chooch re:The Pallbearer move.

“You made me pause my movie for that?” Chooch snarfled, and Henry Buttinsky was all, “Where are you getting this ‘weighted plank’?” because when he’s not White Knighting, he’s standing in a corner with a needle, punching holes in my logic.

“I mean, it’s just going to be, like, a board with weights on it,” I shrugged, like what else would I use? An actual coff—-

OMG I NEED AN ACTUAL COFFIN!

Jan 092020
 

OK guys, it’s crunch time. January is the saddest month, with February following close behind, so it’s time to plan as much as fun activities as possible to beat the winter blues. We’re already down one weekend, and I must say, no complaints here on my end.

Saturday was GLOOM-HEHEHEHEHEHE-MY. All gray and moist, cold with a tinge of snow. Chooch ditched us almost as soon as he awoke because GOTTA GET TO THE TEEN CENTER OMG. He didn’t know what to do with himself during Christmas break because that damn place was closed. I kept sending him pictures of Drew and me, which really triggers him because Drew is “HIS CAT” but I was like, “I’m her best friend now since you abandon her all the time for the teen center.” If that made him feel guilty, I wouldn’t know because he certainly didn’t come running home from the teen center.

It was super dismal Saturday afternoon and that made me feel very tired, but I still met up with Jiyong for the first language exchange of the year. It was real fun because we talked about the differences and similarities of dating culture. So, one of the things I learned from watching k-dramas is that Koreans use this term called “some” to explain the stage two people are in right before they commit to officially dating. So they’ll say that they’re “in a some.” Jiyong asked with the western equivalent of that would be and I guess “flirting,” although that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to lead to anything since some people are just flirts by nature, lol. And I guess if you wanted to get super old-school, you could say “courting.” So I said that things were so different back in when I was in high school because cell phones weren’t a thing that everyone and their baby sister had – my mom had one but it was literally considered a “car phone” then and I remember it had this bulky vinyl case or covering, it was so strange. I told Jiyong that we would write notes and leave them in the person’s locker, or have a friend hand-deliver it.

“You didn’t have a pager?” she asked in disbelief, because I guess it was common in Korean for teenagers to have pagers in the 90s/00s?! I actually did have a pager, so it was funny to me that she mentioned that because, and correct me if it was different wherever you, Dear Reader, grew up, but in my area of suburban Pittsburgh, it was considered something of a…certain type of status symbol to have a pager, and it also subtly implied that perhaps you were a drug dealer, lol.

I had one (it was a translucent purple Motorola) because I begged my mom for one since I needed to keep up my urban aesthetic and my mom went along with it because she figured it was a way to digitally nag me. I had my pager soooo customized. I would always change the song that played when someone called it and I remember thinking I was SO CLEVER the time I changed it to Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell,” a song I only knew because it was on some movie soundtrack from around that time in the 90s although if I had a pager right now, it would be this song:

Anyway, I guess my first “boyfriend” and I were basically “in a some” because we only “dated” for like a month and in that time, the only time we saw each other outside of school was when we met up at a tennis court near his house so I could teach him to play tennis (look I know I a slut back then but this truly is not a euphemism) but then his super over-protective mom stood in her yard and screamed for him to come home after 30 minutes i.e, the amount of time it took her to realize her son was out with a girl thanks to one of his NARC-y little brothers. But yeah, I think we held hands once in school, maybe? And then that relationship ended when my friend Scott fought him in the boy’s locker room because Scott liked me too and then they both had to go to the principal’s office and I literally cannot imagine Henry ever fighting for me (or getting called to the principal’s office for anything more than being a flunkee) so at least I can say that at some point in my life, I was fought over. THAT IS PRETTY COOL I GUESS, if you’re into Disney Channel teen programming.

Also, back to pagers, I remember being super into calling random pager numbers to see if anyone would call back (I only did this when friends were over, I wasn’t that lonely and conversation-starved back then) which having my own private phone line made it easy to do. One time, this guy called back and said he WAS A COP?! I remember we were so scared – I can’t remember who was at my house with me that time, maybe Christy? But we were just like OMG OMG OMG OMG don’t arrest us.

My mom would always text me with a 9-1-1 and it was so annoying. Everyone knew that 1-8-7 was the real emergency number to use.

SHIT NOW I KIND OF MISS MY PAGER?! I think there’s even a picture of me somewhere with it clipped to my (overalls) pocket hahaha.

Jiyong also recently came back from visiting her friends in DC, and there are lots of H-Marts in that area (the greatest Korean supermarkets in America) so she made me a little treat bag of Korean snacks, bless her. I also think I’m getting better at annunciation?! That’s what she said, anyway.

Aside from that, I feel like my Saturday mostly consisted of incessant blathering about BIGBANG? That….sounds about right.

The next day, JANNA came over in the afternoon and we headed out to Sugar Spell Scoops for some sweet vegan delights before they go on winter hiatus for the month of January. I’m sad but really, I only go here once a month anyway so I’ll survive, and it’ll just make it feel more exciting the next time we go! This is how you look at things optimistically.

I had a scoop each of Pink Peppermint and Maple & Waffles. YEAH BOI. What more can I say? I have had some subpar vegan scoops before (AHEM MILLIE’S) but Sugar Spell is so consistently delicious. They don’t get that weird, dry texture that some vegan ice cream has – I honestly can’t eat most store bought plant-based ice cream. It just always has…a taste.

Meateater Henry even enjoys an occasional animal-friendly scoop. Here, he can be seen eating the Winter Break sundae, which he had made with peanut butter chocolate ripple. It’s filling enough for a burly lumberjack-type such as himself, and the best part is that I can scarf down two scoops and not feel like absolute shit afterward. Maybe I might be mildly lactose intolerant – Janna and I were just talking about this because she thinks she too might be and this is one of the reasons she, as a carnivore, does not bitch when I suggest going to Sugar Spell and not, I dunno, the Milkshake Factory or whatever the fuck.

If you live in or around Pittsburgh, or are coming in for whatever reason, I HIGHLY suggest stopping here. The people who own it are a freaking delight and the inside of the shop is so charming with a light witchy-vibe. Just be mindful that they’re closed for the rest of January and only open Friday-Sunday otherwise. (Just Saturdays and Sundays in the winter though.) Their pints are available at some local stores so you should check their website/socials for that information – LOOK AT ME BEING A RESPONSIBLE BLOGGER.

They also do custom ice cream cakes so that might be a fun change for Chooch’s next birthday, sorry Bethel Bakery.

I love that vegetarianism/veganism is becoming so much more prevalent and accepted in America. I rarely have those awkward moments at work lunches anymore where there’s nothing on the menu for me and I have to ask for something special or just get a house salad, hold the chicken/ham/bacon thanks.

I still laugh though whenever friends become newly meat-free and start asking me questions about tofu preparation and I’m just like, “Please see Henry, thanks.”

See also:

Don’t Ask Me About Tofu

After we filled up on ice cream, we brought Janna back to our house, where we force-fed her with Korean pop culture and she at one point made the mistake of murmuring, “That guy is really good-looking” to which I practically lunged at her while screaming, “WHO?! SONG MINO?!!? YOU LIKE MINO?!” so then I made her watch a bunch of Winner videos and clips of Mino in various variety shows and then I sent her his Instagram profile and then ran into the kitchen to scream, “JANNA FINALLY HAS A BIAS AND IT’S SONG MINO!” into Henry’s face while he was making kimchi (our house smelled like the ocean all day) he mumbled, “OK, I heard” but I’m sorry, this was a big deal for me!

Image result for song mino gif"

Overall, a pretty solid weekend. Cook on, mothercheffers!

Jan 012020
 

See also: It’s 2020! HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! 

A few months ago, I started seeing people post on Twitter about the best/worst things of the decade and I was like holy shit it never even occurred to me that the decade was ending??! And then I started thinking about my own personal decade and 10 years doesn’t seem that long but shit, I am a very different person than I was in 2010. For starters, I went into 2010 unemployed and in the lowest financial rut of my life. I started working at the law firm in April that year but it took years for us to climb out of the hole.

I started the decade mourning the metaphorical loss of a supposed best friend and it took me half of that decade to realize that she wasn’t a friend at all and suddenly, my life went on!

I left Facebook in 2017, which seems like such a minor thing, why would I include it here but look – I had always been SUPER into social media attention. I used to live for blog comments, Facebook likes, adding to the virtual friend collection—come on, I’m a narcissistic Leo. But I finally matured a little bit and realized that NONE OF THAT MATTERS! Now I write what I want to write, post as much or infrequently as I like, set my phone down for longer than 5 minute increments god forbid…I realized people were looking at me like I was a character and not an actual person and that’s when it suddenly seemed really appealing to dial it back some.Sometimes I even think about quitting this blog altogether and going back to old school journaling, but….writing with a real life pen on actual paper makes my hand cramp.

Now that I’m off Facebook, I stopped comparing myself to other people who post perfectly curated scenes of their life online, and instead I focus on my own life so that I too can do the things I want to do! There was no visit from Lady Luck here, no cheating the system. Just staying patient and positive, and being careful with spending, and that’s what got us to Korea when, just as recent as the beginning of 2010, we could barely afford to go to, I dunno, the county fair. I wish I had known at the beginning of the decade that I was capable of changing my life. I was chained down by really terrible depression and low esteem, that I really didn’t think my life could ever be “OK.” When people say “it gets better” – it really does, but what’s missing from that sentiment is that it’s probably not going to get better unless you want it to and are willing to put in the hard work. And it is HARD WORK. I really think that I had hit my rock bottom back then, and now that I know what that feels like, I never want to go back, therefore, I will never take anything for granted.

What else?? I still live in the same place but I finally realized that the all-white walls were seriously killing me so now my house looks like Pee Wee could film on location here and if you knew me in high school or when I lived in my first apartment, this makes so much sense because my living spaces were always an explosion of color, lights, toys (I had glow in the dark Slinkies hanging from the ceiling of my first apartment)…it’s just who I have always been and sitting here writing in my blog with blinking lights all around my periphery is just, I don’t know, comforting to me.

Health-wise, I entered the decade weighing around 200 pounds. I didn’t feel unhealthy and my check-ups were always fine, but I felt really uncomfortable in my skin. Finally got off my ass and did something about it (there are no magic pills or shakes that are going to make the pounds off, you gotta move and actually pay attention to your damn diet!) and am entering 2020 in the 130s which is something I never thought I was capable of. Now exercise is a huge part of my daily life and maybe Henry will say I’m borderline obsessed, but I guess that’s just my personality.

OK, now I’m thinking about how I lost all 4 of my original cat crew  over the last decade and I’m starting to get depressed so I’m just going to say that the 2010s had its moments but I’m ready to start a new decade as an Older Person.

So that was my decade in a nutshell, and I won’t miss the first half of it at all. AT ALL.

2019 as a whole was a really nice year for me personally (I mean, politically and globally, we were fucked as ever so nothing new there). My only goal in life is to have as much fun as possible without, I don’t know, losing my job or whatever. I think we managed to cram in a lot of fun into 2019 (for Henry, my version of fun loosely translates into STRESS for him, or PAIN, like driving 13 hours to Silver Dollar City with a half-broken back):

And here’s my Top 9 Instagram posts, apparently:

The more I think about it, the more I realize that 2019 can honestly be filed away in the FUCKING FUN drawer. Of course, not every day was great. I still had flip-outs but I think I’m doing OK at managing my moods. (Somewhere Henry is reading this and muttering, “You might want to consider putting in some OT, ‘babe’.”) Having things to look forward to is what helps me get through the work week and combat the Sads. I know it’s not a cure-all, and maybe it’s really not much more than a crutch, but even just having small road trips on the horizon really keeps me giddy.

Not trying to jinx anything, but I think 2020 has the potential to be pretty great and I’m going to make sure I work hard to steer it in that direction! Hopefully kpop will be better this year; 2019 was super traumatic and depressing in that scene. Also, I hope 2020 is a better year for the environment. I’m going to try and make more changes to my own lifestyle as well for the environment’s sake. I keep getting angry at myself because I always forget to bring a damn canvas bag with me when I go to CVS and we have TONS OF CANVAS BAGS so there is literally no excuse. The last time I went to CVS was for a jug of milk and a bottle of Coke for the holiday party we were having and I was like, “NO I DO NOT NEED A BAG” but then I had to carry those damn beverages home and I only live a few blocks away but that shit got heavy after a while!

And if you’ve stuck with this blog til now, thank you! I will try to be less annoying/better at proof-reading in 2020 but I can’t make any promises. My brain is fried and I’m usually blogging from my phone in bed or on the trolley, but I will make some attempts to be more disciplined like I was during the LiveJournal years when I refused to hit “post” until I read the damn thing 17 times and then also made Janna proofread it but no one’s got time for that.

On that note: cook on, mothercheffers.

Dec 292019
 

Our Thanksgiving dinner to go set notwithstanding, it had been a minute since we last dined at Zenith, which is a damn crime because it’s not only my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Pittsburgh, but also one of my favorite restaurants in general all around. I mean, how many places do you know where you can eat a vegan fish sandwich, drink of pot of whichever tea you choose from the broad collection in a cabinet, and buy an antique mental institution wheelchair?

We don’t eat out very often, but even for as infrequently as we visit, the family who runs the place still remembers us and they really make it feel like you’re dining in their home—it’s so cozy and intimate and there is not even a HINT of pretension swirling around the rafters.

I’m not sure I have ever been here during Christmas, now that I think about it…HAVE I BEEN?! My memory is getting foggier and muddier, and I’m not handling it very well. Did I tell you that a few weeks ago, Margie at work asked me when CHOOCH’S birthday is, and with the UTMOST CONFIDENCE, I answered, “June 6th.”

THIS IS NOT CORRECT! That is Henry’s birthday! So I laughed and said, “OMG no that’s not right! It’s April 6th.”

Margie laughed it off and started to change the subject but then the blood began bubbling behind my cheeks as I realized that I WAS WRONG AGAIN. I could have just let it go but what if Margie has some ironclad memory and would always remember that it’s April 6th and then there would be this whole thing where she sees his birth certificate and notices a different date and then puts two and two together that Chooch was kidnapped and NO WONDER ERIN HAS NO MATERNAL INSTINCTS SHE IS NOT A MOTHER.

Sorry. That took a turn. I’m waiting for Henry and Chooch (?!?!) to finish making dinner and I think I’m light headed.

Foodwise, Henry actually enjoys Zenith. I know, it’s hard to imagine him not double fisting some bratwurst but he doesn’t mind going meatless every now and then. (He does not like tofu, though.)

However, Henry usually clenches up the whole time we’re there because I usually find some obscure thing that I need to have, like this hanging lamp from a church that I bought straight from the ceiling of the dining room as Henry and I ate dinner. Or the time Kara and I were having lunch there and whoa, who invited this clown to join us? Oh, right – me.

(Also, apparently I HAVE been there while the Christmas decor was up. My blog serves as my memory now so it’s a good thing I’m all about the HONESTY on here, lol.)

I’m not a big tea drinker but it’s part of the process to pick a fancy tea at Zenith. On this visit, I chose maple vanilla and it was AMAZE. I think sarsaparilla (REALLY THIS IS HOW THAT’S SPELLED?!) is still my favorite that I’ve ever had there.

Oh, and for those playing along at home, Chooch burnt dinner, which was a french fry recipe called “Hume Fries” from his new “The Good Place” cook book. We blamed Henry though because Chooch was supposedly only in charge of cutting the various carbs and Henry was responsible for the oven part.

Henry’s salad. I always appreciated how colorful the Zenith side salads are. None of that soggy, wilted iceburg lettuce and cherry tomato bullshit.

Henry opted for the seitan teriyaki entree – he’s a big fan of seitan, and I am too, honestly. That shit is the meat substitute that God wanted us to have. If more people would open their hearts to seitan, the world would be such a better place! HAVE YOU EVEN TRIED SEITAN WINGS?!

BBQ tofu sandwich – I don’t eat very much bread on my daily diet, so sometimes I crave sandwich buns. This was one so soft and honestly it was almost as good as the BBQ tofu spilling out of it, which btw was the perfect texture: firm but with a nice, springy bounce, like what Henry’s imaginary mistress Cheetah Girl’s boobs were probably like in the 70s.

Chooch got the black bean burrito but I didn’t take a picture of it because you know what a burrito looks like but also because he fucking gutted it immediately so it was basically inside out and looked like a Mexican crime scene.

Oh, and he also ordered an appetizer of buffalo hummus and pita “for the table” and holy shit you guys, is that what buffalo chicken dip tastes like?! I never had it before because I don’t think it was a popular party food yet back when I still ate meat, but I guess the hummus was supposed to be flavored the same and it was honestly the best hummus I’ve ever had and look, I live down the street from Pitaland and also, I’ve been to Greece, so.

If you go to Zenith, save room for whatever vegan Bundt cake option they have going on that day because it will blow your meat-mind, yo. Personally, my favorite will forever be the lemon poppyseed but the chocolate hazelnut hunk up there was *FRENCH FINGER-KISSES*

Chooch and I ditched Henry once the cake plate was licked clean and we walked around to explore. I’m always on the prowl for new things to add to my mishmashed collection at home. There is this old-fashioned pram hanging from the ceiling and I have had my eyes on that for years but I didn’t hound Henry for anything on this visit because we are planning an Easter trip and I am trying to be responsible with my monies but shit, it’s tough when you want everything.

One of the Zenith people came over while Chooch was tapping on an old typewriter, and I thought he was going to be like DO NOT TOUCH but instead he told us that he just recorded a song using the sounds of a typewriter as the background and I thought that was really cool and wanted to ask him if he has it online anywhere but then he distracted me by asking me how long it’s been now so I’ve been coming there and I had to think for a second but wow, it’s been over 10 years now. My first visit was with Kara in 2008!

If you ever go to Zenith, after you polish off the slice of cake that I told you to order, make sure you don’t leave without checking out the bathrooms. There are two, but the door on the left is my favorite. It’s owl-themed! I’m still a little sad because this room was originally painted blue, but it’s been green for so long now that it’s grown on me. I mean, it’s a room full of owls! The only thing better would be a room full of…G-Dragons.

Obligatory selfie.

Obligatory selfie part 2.

Such a selfie station. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been peeing in this bathroom long before Instagram was even a thing yet.

I keep saying that I want to start collecting these old light up Santas (and Easter bunnies!) but then I never do anything about it. Obviously I would keep them year-round in my house.

Ugh, the most nostalgic Christmas trees! My OCD would always flare up anytime the ones we had growing up would be missing lights. I wish I had kept one.

And that was our lovely Saturday afternoon at Zenith, a place that I do not visit nearly enough. One of these years, I will have my birthday dinner there like I have been saying I want to do for the last 10 years. (OR SOMEONE COULD PLAN THAT FOR ME, I DUNNO, JUST A THOUGHT. MY BIRTHDAY IS JULY 30, EVERY YEAR.)

Sep 302019
 

Today I was thinking about how I would like to decorate for Halloween at work, like the olden days, but I just don’t think I will have the time and that KILLS ME. I’ve only had the chance to do this 5x out of the 9 years I’ve been there, and I think my favorite was 2014: the year of the Funeral Parlor Desk. This one was fun because it enabled me to purchase items on eBay that some people might coin “morbid” or “gross” but for me, it was stuff that I wanted to have anyway, like vintage embalming fluid bottles, so it was a lucrative theme for me! Anyway, I’m sharing here the blog recap of the decoration process and the interactive portion of the desk too. It was fun but I remember being extremely frustrated when SOME PEOPLE wouldn’t play along. Like, you don’t want to win a prize? ARE YOU DUMB?!

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My theme this year is Funeral Parlor. I have several post-mortem photos that I keep on my desk year-round and I figured I would just build my Halloween theme around those this year. I’m still in the beginning stages, but so far, it’s really all up in Glenn’s face so that’s good!

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Candy urn. I burnt paper to make ashes and luckily I didn’t burn the house down since I was home alone while playing with fire. You should have seen the disapproving look Marcy was giving me!

It’s been surprisingly difficult to get co-workers to take some candy maggots out of the urn.

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Some light reading.

Today while Glenn was at lunch, I added some cobwebs to his desk too. “Wow. I was gone longer than I thought,” he dead-panned, and then I got all offended when he took it down.

“I had to! You taped it over my keyboard and mouse!” he said defensively. God, chill out, Glenn.

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Ugh, that paper in the background is  going to be the death of me. It’s just scrapbook paper but I’m three pieces short of covering the whole cubicle wall and I’ve already been to three Pat Catan’s (craft store) in search of more. It’s perfect though because it has a velvet-texture. That bottle is one of several empty embalming fluid bottles.

“Oh….you’re decorating again,” my boss said last Friday, after doing a double-take. I couldn’t tell if she was excited or scared, or a mixture of both.

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The next several stages are going to be really fun! I’m building up to the point where it will be interactive like the carnival desk of 2012. Glenn is just totally on the edge of his seat!

Today, I came up with an incredible idea that made me lose it at my desk. I confided in Mean Amber who said, “Wow. You’re a genius.”

“I know,” I said, but that came out all wrong.

What I meant to say was, “duh.”

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Things are heating up over at my desk/funeral parlor this week! (OK. Not really. I still have to lure people over by convincing them that I have Really Great Prizes under my desk.) The first week+ was more of just an exhibit of funeral shit. I was just getting my feet wet. My co-worker Colleen one day was like, “I mean, is this it?” and then apologized when my face fell and said, “No, it’s just that we all expect more!” And I understood. I gotcha.

So I came up with a way to make it interactive. Because who doesn’t like getting free shit? Even if it’s just dumb shit like candy and Glenn activity books. Basically, gross Glenn is robbing graves again and hiding severed fingers around the department. There are clues on the back of department-specific prayer cards (RIP Natalie’s Pizza Rolls that were stolen from the freezer) and anyone who finds a finger and returns it to Erin’s Funeral Parlor gets the aforementioned prizes! OMG!

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Printer 39 had to have major surgery yesterday. :( It was real touch-and-go but he’s back and only jammed for me once today….although, I think I only printed to it once.

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I know. It’s kind of dumb. But I just like making people happy!

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Glenn actually laughed real laughter when he read about his latest dastardly deeds, and he has been excitedly telling people, “You have to get a prayer card to get a clue! Did you read the newspaper article? IT TIES EVERYTHING TOGETHER!”

OK, he only actually told one person this. But still! He seemed excited!

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One of the prizes is The Great Glenn Activity Book. I was sitting here at work last Thursday when it hit me: GLENN COLORING BOOK. But then I was like, “No we need activities, too!” And then Mean Amber (new nickname in the works) said that a Where’s Glenn would make her really happy. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE:

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“It’s nice to know that my favorite band is Village People,” Glenn mumbled last week when he found the extra crossword puzzle I accidentally left on the printer.

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The next phase was to bake funeral biscuits. Obviously here you will read between the lines and know that this means Henry baked the funeral biscuits. It was a Victorian tradition to give these gingersnap-esque cookies away at funerals. So basically what I’m saying here is that my Halloween theme is educational, OK?

They’re made with molasses and I’ve had to listen to Henry bitch for two days about how disgusting molasses is after he presumably chugged it straight from the bottle.

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(Yes, I used food coloring markers, thank you for your concern!)

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Some prizes!

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Henry and I watched reruns of Dexter while packaging the cookies last night. Each one is individually-wrapped in a paper pouch, sealed with wax and wrapped with a black ribbon. Funeral biscuits don’t just get plopped naked on a tray! Respect.

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My work-friends seemed pretty skeptical at first, but once they found out that Henry baked them, they were like, “Fine. We will eat one of your dumb cookies.” Everyone is still alive, you guys!

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Of course The Shiny One got a skull and then made me take a picture of her before she went around gloating to people. Sandy got a skull-less cookie and immediately blamed Henry.

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THAT WAX SEAL, THO.

Henry has been a pretty good sport about all of this. Even when we had to go out of our way on Sunday to get the dumb wax seal stamp. (My choices were a fleur de lis or wedding bells.) He’s been on the ball with the Great Glenn Activity Book one-man printing press.

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 “How much time did you spend on all of this?” Jeannie asked me in her typical “you need help” tone.

“I mean…let’s just say I haven’t been cleaning or washing the dishes lately,” I answered. I always joke that I have too much time on my hands, but the reality is that I don’t have enough. Not nearly! And I get so caught up in ridiculous ideas and projects that other things suffer.

“She hasn’t fed her kid in a week,” Glenn joked when someone was commenting on all of the details I’ve put in around my desk.

He’s not entirely wrong…

 

Apr 112019
 

After Halloween, Easter is my favorite holiday. I guess it’s just because I have spring fever, definitely not because I’m a Religioso, plus also it’s another holiday that revolves heavily around candy and chocolate.

Anyway, this old post from the Easter season of 2015 popped up in my blog stats, and I got all kinds of nostalgic! This was one of the best Easter-esque memories of all time and I have to share it again as a Throwback Thursday because I’ll seize any opportunity to mention Janna’s Robitussin abuse!

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I Kind of Threw a Fit: The Story About a Girl & Her Robitussin
April 2015

A few weeks ago, Janna sent this devastating message to my cellular phone. Naturally, I sent it to Corey and then also posted it on Instagram with the hashtags #JannaWhite #Heisenjanna #JannaMakesMeth and Corey immediately piggybacked with #JannasDoubleLife #JannaPaystheToll and #LockYourMedicineCabinets

I was laughing so hard about this that I started to see sparks in my vision. Henry of course was scowling because he just doesn’t understand. It’s the generation gap, I think. Probably.

A couple nights later, Janna and Corey came over because we were going to attend a Tenebrae service at my old friend Brian’s church. Brian is actually the music director at the church; he doesn’t own it. I haven’t seen him in years (he lived in Nebraska for awhile) and I’ve always wanted to attend a Tenebrae service, so this seemed perfect. Janna agreed to go even though she was sick, and she showed up at my house with an entire box of Kleenex in tow. And then Corey said he wanted to go too, because Church on a Saturday night?!?! Yes, please!

I tweeted something about this and Barb immediately said something along the lines of how we better behave, which made me crack up, because what a horrible idea, Corey and I going to church together.

On the way to the church, Janna told us the Robitussin story. In a nutshell, she tried to go through the self check-out line and it wouldn’t work so a clerk had to come over type in codes and then that still didn’t work, so then they made her go to a regular checkout line, at which point she was asked for her ID and she didn’t have it on her.

“I kind of threw a fit and just slammed the bottle down into the candy bars and left,” she said, and Corey and I were crying over this image of Janna hulking out over needing ID to buy cough syrup. Then apparently she went to the bathroom and when she came out of the stall, the manager was waiting and accused her of stealing the Robitussin and taking it into the bathroom to slurp it in privacy, so then she had to take the manager over to the checkout line and prove that she left it there.

The whole point here is that Janna was sick as fuck and had a coughing fit during the Tenebrae service and had to excuse herself, which made Corey and I start cracking up in God’s House. It was even worse when she left, because she had been separating us, so now we were able to see each other laughing, and that just made it worse and oh god, my kidneys. I had to turn to the side and cover my face with my hair so that I wouldn’t see Corey in my periphery and that hopefully none of the somber church-goers would notice that I was red-faced and crying in the back pew. (Yes, we were smart enough to sit in the back pew.)

Meanwhile, some old man in front of me had pulled out his phone and was blatantly recording the service and kept slowly panning from left to right, so I was like, “Well, if this dildo is going to be so obvious, then I’m at the very least going to grab a quick Instavid.”

So I did, but then it started PLAYING BACK AT FULL VOLUME. I was like “Abort! Abort!” and ended up accidentally deleting the video in the end, but at least no one seemed to notice what was happening because the real life singing was so loud.

Janna eventually came back and Corey and I were bracing ourselves for another laughing fit, which started as soon as we heard rummaging in her pocket for a cough drop, followed by the rustling of the wrapper as she opened it.

Maybe I should quickly inform you what a Tenebrae service is. It’s like a Roman Catholic church thing that happens around Easter. It’s supposed to start out with all these candles lit, right? And then as the service goes on, the candles are extinguished one by one until the church is all dark by the end, and then there is supposed to be a loud bang, signifying the earthquake that followed Jesus’s death, and then everyone is supposed to leave in silence.

These things did not happen. Some candles were snuffed out, that part is true. But the overhead lights stayed on the whole time and there was no apocalyptic bang at the end! I was pretty bummed about that, because in my mind, this thing was billed as a Scary Church Event.

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Actually, now that I’m looking at the poster, it says nothing at all about Tenebrae. I KNOW THAT THE FACEBOOK EVENT DID THOUGH.

Luckily, the music and the singing were actually really sad and beautiful (Song of the Shadows, y’all), which obviously is my favorite kind. One of the soloists is an attorney-by-day, and Corey and I were obsessed with her. She was also in the Miss America pageant once! Maybe I’m making that up! I can’t remember! Where’s my program when I need it?!

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I paid real money to light a candle! I didn’t cheat the church! #newleaf #Ijustlikefire

We were going to just leave after the bang-less ending, especially since Janna was feenin’ for her ‘tussin, but then Brian grabbed the mic to thank everyone for something and urged everyone to stick around for the reception. And then he said the magic words:

Sugary treats.

Corey and I exchanged looks of exaggerated merriment. “Sugary treats!” we mouthed to each other around Janna, who was looking like she might pass out at this point.

We followed those “in the know” out of the church and across the street into an adjacent building, where tables of sugary treats were set up in a small room. Right before we entered the room, Janna had a truncated coughing fit and some old man amiably commented that “uh oh, someone sounds sick!” I almost died. Janna was drawing attention from The Olds. Maybe they could have a cough drop exchange in the parking lot.

We were among the first to forage for sugary treats, THANK GOD.

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It was difficult to be so close to the parishioners because I was giddy. The Laughter was threatening to eject from my mouth at any given moment, so I made sure to not make eye contact with anyone. I filled my plate with the critically acclaimed sugary treats and hightailed it to the back of the room, where Corey and Janna joined me and we proceeded to stand in a suspicious circle, looking totally out of place, and giggling nervously. The unfortunate part of our location was that it was near the garbage can, so a steady stream of church-goers kept interrupting our heretic huddle in order to pitch their empty punch cups.

Finally, Janna had enough of this and brusquely picked up the trash can and then slammed it down a few feet away from us, so it was just chilling alone in the middle of the floor. Corey and I were like, “HOLY SHIT, JANNA IS SO VIOLENT WHEN SHE’S SICK!” She had this “Nothing is funny right now” look on her face, which just made us laugh even harder, and there is a thing that you should know about my brother: he has a REALLY LOUD LAUGH. The kind that ricochets off walls and bald heads and causes all eyes to fixate on us. It is simultaneously hilarious and embarrassing.

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I think this picture was taken before Janna slammed the garbage can down.

Some old lady came over and asked, “IS THIS ON?!” because there was a coffee maker on the counter next to us. I was like, “Bitch who knows?” She pushed a button and cold water squirted out, so she was like, “I guess not” and then walked away. Even this was hysterical to us. And then another old lady attempted to get water out of a water cooler but it was empty, so she shouted, “YOU’VE GOTTA BE KIDDING ME THERE’S NO WATER” and then Janna pointed out that there were bottles of water on the counter, so the lady was like, “I’M TAKING ONE” and then stormed away. I think Corey wanted her to be his spirit animal. He was pretty entranced. Everything just seemed like a blatant parody that night, like all of these people were walking caricatures put in this room just to test our resistance to cracking up. Newsflash: our threshold is ridiculously low.

I wanted another peanut butter thing, but I was afraid to go back to the table because the room was way more crowded and everyone knew each other, which meant they knew that I didn’t belong. IT WAS SCARY.

After awhile, I decided that we looked too suspicious, so we went out into the hallway to wait for Brian, and this is where I honestly came very close to peeing my pants, so I cried out, “DON’T MAKE ME PEE I’M WEARING A SKIRT!” and possibly people heard this, but everything was So Funny!

“I feel like we’re a sleeper cell,” I blurted out, and Corey was like, WTF is that so I explained it to him and he was like, “WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT!?” I don’t know, actually. It seemed to make sense at the time because we moved in a tight huddle everywhere we went, like we didn’t want religion to penetrate us.

Corey kept hashtagging everything that was happening (there was even a #tenebraeslut!) and Janna was like “#canwegonow” but I wanted to say hello to Brian since he invited me there, after all. We ended up having to go back to the church to see him, because he had slipped out of the Sugary Treats Room to go back to his office. On the way there, Janna reminded us for the 87th time that she was really sick, so I told her she could just wait in the car as long as she didn’t spill her syrup everywhere. But she just sighed and trudged along after us.

Brian gave really bad directions to me via Facebook messenger so we ended up in parts of the church that we probably shouldn’t have been. (Corey started to walk into a room right behind the altar and came backing out in a hurry, waving his arms in an “abort! abort!” motion. He said there were two men back there, reading the Bible.*)

*(Literally reading the Bible, you guys. This isn’t some weird Altar Boy euphemism.)

We eventually found him, and it turns out the problem is that I just didn’t understand “front of the church” versus “back of the church.” So we had a quick reunion with Brian, who pelted Janna with a handful of cough drops for the road, and then we left before the whole Church thing started to make us soft, like we’d start picturing Jesus frowning at us every time we started to laugh at Janna’s pratfalls. The whole night was almost funnier than the “Janna Stole Her Mom’s Car” incident.

Almost.

Janna was like, “I NEED TO GO HOME AND DIE” — which obviously is drug addict speak for “I need to go sit on the bathroom floor and drink my Sizzurp” — so she left as soon as we got back to my house. But Corey stayed for awhile and we giddily filled Henry in on the evening’s events, and he laughed at exactly zero parts. Then Corey drew a picture of Janna drinking Robitussin and we were both crying while Henry shook his head disapprovingly and Chooch drank in the bad influence filling the air around him.

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