Jul 022021
 

Ughhh I’m still so annoyed about this day but I will still take time out of my v. important life to write about it I GUESS.

On Sunday, Henry and I toyed with the idea of driving out to Waldameer Park because they have a new spinning kids coaster and they retracked their best coaster, Ravine Flyer II. But Chooch was all, “Jim-Jim wants to hang out and he doesn’t have a phone right now so I have to sit here all day like a lady-in-waiting and hope that he stops by like he said he would.” Henry still wanted to go but it felt WRONG to go without my coaster cred-collecting partner in crime, so instead Henry and I went to Moraine State Park for a hike(ish).

I should have known immediately that it was a bad idea when we parked and were met with all these WARNING signs about HUNTERS and DEERS and ARROWS.

ARROWS!!!

I was NOT trying to get impaled by Daryl-fucking-Dixon that day so I was straight panicking about this and Henry kept stammering on and on about how it wasn’t deer hunting season and I was like, “THEN WHY ARE THESE SIGNS HERE” and he was like “YOU WILL BE FINE” and then I cried, “BUT WHAT IF SOMEONE IS OUT HERE HUNTING ANYWAY HUNTERS ARE DUMB” and he was like, “Well the chances of you getting hit by an arrow aren’t very good because they’d have to be aiming for you” and I was like, “BUT I AM NOT WEARING BRIGHT ORANGE LIKE THE SIGN SUGGESTS” and finally Henry said, “Look, if you get shot with an arrow it’s because someone was actually aiming for you, OK” and then we heard voices over yonder and I fucking screamed, “ARE YOU HUNTERS?!!?!?”

“You’re an idiot,” Henry seethed.

They didn’t answer me though.

Anyway, the trail we were on was boring We went over a stupid bridge over top of algae-laden water.

There were people kayaking there and I said, “Ew gross” and Henry was mad at me again.

Then we saw a bunch of signs about ticks and Lyme disease so I forgot about Death by Arrows because now I was too busy obsessing over blood-sucking ticks.

Everything was fine until we veered off the main trail to visit some butterfly garden thing and I wanted Henry to take my picture sitting on this pergola thingie and he was taking really ugly pictures of me so I snapped because it was still June and the case study I performed on myself several years ago proved that June is the worst month for my temperament. *shrugs*

So you know what I did? While Henry was peering into a pond and smiling at tadpoles, I ran away. Originally, I was just going to walk back to the car…

…except I got legit lost.

I mean, I had a sneaking suspicion that something was wrong when I started passing shit that I didn’t recognize, like a field with tall bird houses strewn about, a really terribly-stenched pond, and then suddenly I was walking UNDERNEATH A HIGHWAY!? I was really getting scared. Meanwhile Henry was texting me and even though I was scared I was still in Psychological Game Playing Mode so I wouldn’t give him straight answers. Also to be fair, I had no idea how to answer his “where r u” inquiries. This went on for about 30 minutes until:

Henry said he figured I went back to the car so he started heading back that way (except that he was actually going the CORRECT direction) and then he got nervous when he passed two people who also passed us when we were heading the other direction and he thought, “Oh great, they saw me going into the woods with a woman and now I’m coming out alone” HAHAHA I wish they had called the police! Henry would have been SO HAPPY since he fucking stans the cops so hard.

When we were finally reunited, I started laughing hysterically while Henry was stepping into a full-body frown and that’s basically what it’s like to be in a relationship with me: A GAME THAT GOES TOO FAR.

Then we went to get ice cream which was honestly the only thing I definitely wanted to accomplish that day and Henry knew that because the night before I said, “I don’t care what we do tomorrow as long as it involves me deep-throating an ice cream at some point” and then I also reiterated the sentiment when I woke up the next morning. I needed a cold wet treat like some people need church.

Henry took me to this dumb place that had TOO MANY CHOICES when all I wanted was soft serve so then my brain started to short circuit while looking at the menu and then I panicked and ordered a twist but now it suddenly didn’t seem good enough after being presented with OPTIONS.

LOLOLOL that dumb face.

Anyway, we sat outside in the 95 degree sun and I was so angry because we were right next to the highway and the wind kept blowing my hair in my face and every time I would stop eating to move my hair back, so much of the ice cream would melt!! And you know what I did?? I blamed HENRY and I blamed that dumb ICE CREAM PLACE and then I THREW MY ICE CREAM IN THE GARBAGE and stormed off to the car!!!

Henry had that “oh boy here we go” far-away trauma stare in his eyes (actually, it looks pretty much like the picture above) and the drive back to Pittsburgh was super icy. He kept trying to make me still want ice cream though because if there is one thing he is so great at in this relationship, it’s sabotaging my diet.

So he stopped at this place called CUSTARDS and we were in line forever and then I lost my shit because another window opened and the girl was like I CAN TAKE WHOEVER’S NEXT and that was US except that the old bitch behind us was like YA BOI IT ME and Henry let it happen! So you know what I did? I said loudly, “LET’S JUST GO” and stormed back to the car for the third time that day. He was so mad! Haha—that’s all I was trying to achieve, I just wanted him to show his true anger instead of being like YOU ARE SO CUTE AND CUDDLY WHEN YOU ARE ANGRY TEE HEE because that shit is so lame, just fight back with me until I get the giggles and then we can move on with the day and go back to pretending that I don’t have numerous psychological disorders (both diagnosed and not lolol).

But then he went back to being determined to get ice cream into my system in an effort to cool off my boiling blood, so he went to some Tastee Freeze shack near his work where we have gone numerous times before and I got a small twist in a DISH because the only thing I want dripping down my wrists is diamonds (j/k I’m into cheap costume jewelry but I recently remembered the time that my grandparents bought me a tennis bracelet and where the fuck did THAT go, I wonder).

Then I ate my ice cream and was fine for the rest of the day. (I think. That was 5 days ago at this point.)

Oh and Jim Jim never showed up, apparently, so we COULD HAVE went to Waldameer after all 😩.

Apr 222021
 

Chooch and I were set free into the wild Sunday afternoon. I think Henry was concerned at first but then probably did the Risky Business sock-slide as many times as a 55-year-old can without getting winded.

One of the “coupons” we made for Chooch’s stupid Easter egg hunt was that I would take him geocaching. Henry actually created that coupon on my behalf BECAUSE HE IS SUCH A SWEETHEART, knowing how much I LOVE GEOCACHING.

Just a reminder*: I do not love geocaching.

*(I was perusing the pages of my very first vacation journal the other night and the amount of times I wrote JUST A REMINDER for things that weren’t actually reminders was hilarious and totally on brand for the idiotic, nonsensical style of writing that I would later grow into.)

I was really annoyed about this coupon on Easter, but then after we got a new car, the idea of driving Chooch to some random location in order to embark on a fruitless scavenger hunt was kind of appealing, I won’t lie. After scrutinizing the dumb geocache app for the entire morning, Chooch finally settled on a cluster of geocaches in some rando place called PALMER PARK in Donora, which is about a 30 minute drive from Pittsburgh, I guess, in a part of town next to the Monongahela River that I used to cruise through all the time back in the late 90s in my 1995 Eagle Talon, bitches. It’s also where I had a semi-tragic experience getting a new eyebrow ring put in, but that’s a story for another day, friendos.

So, we managed to find the dumb park with little to no effort, and thankfully it was a REGULAR park and not one of the gross industrial parks that dot the river along the way. We were screaming at those.

The first geocache was somewhere behind Pavilion #1, and Chooch found it before I even finishing trudging over to him. I guess this would be a fine time in this rickety blog post to explain geocaching to anyone who doesn’t know and doesn’t care enough to google: it’s this dumb fucking “treasure” hunting bullshit activity where you go to the geocache website or app and find coordinates and use the provided clues if needed. Then, if it’s a good geocache, you will find a plastic container in which there should be a paper log for you to record your name and date, and also a PRIZE to take, provided you brought something to replace it. We usually bring whatever junky little toys we find floating around a junk drawer.

For this geocache, Chooch took the little plastic toy duck that was inside and replaced it with this nude plastic baby, haha. I can’t remember why but I bought a whole bag of those babies one time.

The next geocache was within walking distance, so we left our car in the pavilion parking lot and walked farther into the park, where we discovered it was actually bumpin’ with people. There was a giant soccer field past where we parked, and a caravan of minivans was arriving in preparation for a Sunday game.

This meant that there were people around when we arrived at our next geocache: one of those dog poop bag dispensers at the edge of another parking lot.

Dog Waste Sanitation Stations | Pet Waste Disposal Systems

(Not the actual dispenser we were at, BUT JUST SO YOU KNOW WHAT WE WERE CONTENDING WITH.)

Based on the clue, it was 100% clear that this is where the stupid thing was supposed to be but we couldn’t find it. Surely they wouldn’t put it where the actual used bags go, but I also wasn’t comfortable sticking my hands into where the new bags were dispensed, because ew there could be spiders or needles in there!!

I lost my patience after approximately one minute and yelled, “ARE YOU SURE THIS IS RIGHT” and Chooch showed me the clue again and it seemed legit?!

“According to the log on the app, someone JUST found it today,” Chooch said. “Maybe they didn’t put it back?”

“WHAT AN ASSHOLE!” I shouted in my Big Mouth Screech, paired with wild gesticulations. I mean, I had absolutely nothing else to do that day but THIS WAS REALLY CUTTING INTO MY NON-PLANS!

Then Chooch started laughing.

“Look! The people who found it today posted a picture too! ‘Fun day geocaching wirth my hubby’,” Chooch mocked. And then, because we’re professional trolls, we started laughing at how “with” was spelled “wirth.” Then Chooch showed me the picture of the “hubby” and we started laughing even harder. “That’s who you called an asshole!” Chooch wheezed. “Way to go!” I mean I’ll be the first to admit that I would likely NOT call this guy an asshole to his face:

Sick Panera shirt.

Meanwhile, we’re still loitering around this dog poop stand looking SUPER suspish because we don’t even have a dog, like we’re indulging in some joint strange addiction of sniffing dog shit, who even knows. Anything probably seemed possible to the people observing us. Plus we were still giggling like dummies.

But then Chooch stopped laughing and murmured, “OMG look.” And there, across the parking lot, THE GEOCACHING ASSHOLE WAS STANDING A FEW YARDS AWAY “WIRTH” HIS WIFE.

And he was looking RIGHT AT US! Everyone else in the parking lot faded away and it was just the four of us, frozen in time, facing each other like the world’s most awkward showdown.

It was obvious to him that we were looking for the geocache, since he JUST FOUND IT. I didn’t know what to do so I panicked and waved to him.

“What are you doing?” Chooch hissed.

“HI! WE SAW YOUR PICTURE!” I hollered, holding up my phone, even though it was on Chooch’s phone.

“WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE THEM COME OVER HERE!” Chooch cried. And then, “ohmygod” as HUBBY and his wife meandered over to us. HUBBY was a large middle-aged metal head in a Pantera shirt, and his wife was, you know, a wife. I was being over-the-top friendly because I wasn’t sure if they knew we were totally talking shit on them minutes prior to this meet-up, and based on their unsmiling stone faces, I’m going to wager a guess that they might have?

Anyway, HUBBY said, “I take it you’re looking for this?” STRAIGHT OUT OF SOME LAME 1980s CAPER MOVIE, and presented Chooch with a tiny, thimble-sized magnetic capsule. I guess he took it back to his car to open it and write his name in the log, which was a narrow strip of tightly-wound paper that just barely fit inside the capsule. Then he showed us where he found it, which was on the metal stake of the dispenser, right above the compartment for the poop bags.

“It was really obvious where it was hidden, and I was going to actually hide it better, so if you wouldn’t mind doing that for me, I was going to hide it right here—” and then he pointed to an area on the dispenser that was literally right above the original hiding spot, and Chooch just shrugged his surly, disinterested teen shoulders and said, “Sure.”

Then the guy proceeded to tell us his name on the geocache site (which we already knew since we were making fun of it!!) and in order to bring peace upon the situation, I nudged Chooch and said, “What’s your name on there?” Chooch got RULL WEIRD and kept saying “ummm, ummm” while pretending to scroll through the app before whispering in the most defeated tone, “Choochie.”

(Later, he told me that he knew what his name was on there but just didn’t want to say it out loud because it was embarrassing and he was so mad at me for pressuring him, lol.)

Chooch and I awkwardly hung around the dog poop bag thing while the Couple Who Geocache Together Stays Together walked back to their car. “You called him an asshole,” Chooch reminded me. “I can’t believe you.” And then we started laughing our faces off because we are, of course, Forever Jerks. I had to sit down on a nearby bench while Chooch underwent the painstaking task of trying to write his name and date on the tiny paper scroll, because I honestly thought I was going to pee my pants. What are the odds of talking shit on another geochacher and then getting busted for it?

We eventually continued walking a bit farther into the park, and when the couple finally left the parking lot and drove past  us, they were both glaring out their windows.

So of course we started cracking up all over again. Thank god there were other people around or it would have been less funny, more scary, I think.

In other Palmer Park news, I spotted an actual metal slide, the kinds from my youth that have been replaced in pretty much every playground with  those dumber plastic ones. I was so excited to try it! Chooch went first and as he climbed the rickety ladder, he mumbled, “Wow, now I get why these slides are basically illegal.”

There was one other geocache in the park that Chooch wanted to get, but this one at the entrance. There was nowhere to park so I had to illegal park in some trucking company parking lot while Chooch crossed over the busy road.

“Don’t get hit by a car,” I called out, meeting my obligatory Mom Duty quota for the day.

There was a little man-made rock and mini waterfall feature around the sign for Palmer Park and the geocache was supposed to be there somewhere but Chooch eventually conceded defeat.
“I have no idea where it is and I looked like an idiot over there so I give up. Stupid [insert Pantera Guy’s geocache name here] found it earlier, I wish we had seen him so I would know where it was!”

YEAH, ASSUMING HE EVEN PUT IT BACK!!!

Jul 202020
 

It all started a few weeks ago when Chooch started an Instagram account for our cat Drew. It was incredibly annoying to witness as one would imagine, watching a teenager follow a cat around trying to get her to vogue, strike a pose, save a baby from a burning house so he could get a Boomerang for the ‘gram.

And then there was all the times we heard, “Great. You guys just ruined the video” when Henry and I would dare to talk to each other while a CF was being filmed in the next room.

Chooch, determined to get a brand deal (lol), took his excitement next door to his brother Blake’s house and filled him in on the scheme, at which point Blake decided that he was going to make one for his cat too. So Chooch overzealously decides to be Blake’s Instagram coach.

Which I thought was a terrible idea because Blake’s cat is a fluffy Maine Coon-esque tabby who looks a bit like my old BFF Marcy (RIP, girl, you’ll always be my #1) and people love cats who look like that. Chooch gave him all the hashtags he’s been using and then gave him shoutouts on Drew’s Instagram and then suddenly, Blake’s cat Ham got more popular.

“I told you that you shouldn’t have helped him!” I yelled, suddenly invested in this drama.

But at first, Chooch was trying to be the bigger person. “No, it’s OK because we made a deal that whoever gets a brand deal first would help the other person.”

OMFG.

And for the first week, all was sunshine and giggles in Catstagram City. Blake and Chooch (I mean, Ham and Drew) tagged each other in their stories and then hounded us to like their posts, etc. I saw Haley outside one day and she was like, “THEY ARE SO ANNOYING WITH THIS INSTAGRAM SHIT” and I was like “GIRL, RIGHT?” and she said that when Blake leaves for work, he gives her instructions to take pictures of Ham so that he can post them later.

But then one of Ham’s posts got more comments than any of Drew’s and when Chooch realized that it was a picture HE took of Ham, he actually started crying. “I quit!” he screamed. “I’m deleting Drew’s Instagram! This sucks!”

Then I started to get annoyed about it too because I’m super competitive by nature. So I came up with a plan for Chooch to hack into Ham’s account and make him say some “all lives matter” bullshit so that he would get canceled.

“No, I can’t do that,” Chooch said in a small voice.

“OK, BUT DON’T COME CRYING TO ME WHEN IT GETS WORSE.”

To be fair, Ham is very handsome but he’s also pretty boring and all his pictures look the same.

Finally, I was tired of being on the sidelines, so I made an Instagram for Penelope on Saturday, which initially annoyed Chooch, but then I told him, “LOOK, WE CAN TEAM UP. DREW AND PENELOPE CAN BE THE CUTE INSTAGRAM SISTERS AND OH BOO HOO, HAM’S AN ONLY CHILD, HE CAN’T SIT AT OUR TABLE.”

So, that’s what’s happening. And everything was pretty calm until about an hour ago when Chooch found out that Ham has been featured several times by various cat accounts and he is ready to torch Instagram headquarters.

Anyway, I don’t have a fantastic twist ending to this story, but if you want to help us and hinder Ham, here are Drew and Penelope’s Instagrams (LOL this might be one of the most immature things I’ve ever been involved in):

https://www.instagram.com/that_cat_bambi/

https://www.instagram.com/presenting_penelope

Yeah, fucking around with a kitchen and cat Instagrams is where I am right now in Pandemic Times.

[EDIT: OK I feel super guilty fake-trashing a cat, Ham is handsome devil and we love him! But yeah, follow our cats and not him, lol.)

Jul 092020
 

My original plan for 4th of July was to feast on food from other countries because once again I’m supremely annoyed and disgusted with America so…why celebrate it? I had a whole list of recipes for Henry to prepare but then we went and started a kitchen upheaval project and he was like, “Erin, how would you like me to do this without a functioning kitchen?” Oh, yeah. So, our unAmerican Feast has been postponed, but I’m sure I’ll still be hating my racist, pandemic-enabling country for quite some time so this celebration will be relevant no matter which day it gets moved to, I’m sure.

For years and years and years, we have hated our kitchen. The tile flooring was all cracked and coming up, it was ruined in one corner from when the ceiling was leaking a few years ago, and basically the whole room was just a dumpster fire because we let it get so out of control plus it’s small to begin with and we don’t own the house but we knew if we asked the landlord to make updates, he would raise our rent so we have been living with it. It sucks because our back porch is so nice but then you have to walk through the kitchen to get to it so we would never really open that up during parties because I was so embarrassed of the kitchen.

But then Covid happened and let me tell you something – the upside to quarantine is, well, having all the time in the world to fix shit. I was like, “Look, now is the perfect time to do something, ANYTHING, about this kitchen.” It made sense to buy new storage/counter thingies from IKEA because that’s something that we can always take with us if/when we move, and painting can always transform a room, but I was fixated on that floor. Finally, Henry found a reasonably-priced floor that he can install himself, and calculated that it would cost us less than $150 once it was all said and done.

SOLD.

So, as I said, that is how we ended up spending the long holiday weekend – with the kitchen floor ripped up and the rest of the kitchen spread out among the rest of the first floor. Basically, do not come knocking on our door right now because it is a fucking shit show up in here.

Friday and Saturday sounded like major construction was happening over here, with Henry using Big Shot Tools to rip out the old floor and then all the hammering required to lay down the plywood. I’m sure Blake & Haley were FUCKING THRILLED.

I asked Henry if doing all these measurements is annoying and he said that he enjoys it?! What a hammer-nerd! Also, note the chewed-up pencil. That’s either the work of our Son the Goat, or Henry desperate for sustenance because I wouldn’t let him take any breaks haha.

Anyway, since literally all that happened during the three-day weekend was kitchen stuff, all of the days blended together so I just realized, as I’m sitting here zoning out to Hwasa’s “Maria,” that I don’t think I’ll be able to do a very accurate weekend recap, so I guess we’ll just look at pictures and go from there?

Sometime on Saturday, I went with Henry to Home Depot to get the new flooring (gag, I know, but Lowe’s didn’t have the floor we wanted). I stayed in the car and listened to yacht rock (separate post on that forthcoming – I had a REAL TIME) because, no thanks. Anyway, I thought that since we got the floor that meant he was going to come home and immediately lay it down, but turns out that was false since it is now Thursday and our current floor situation is plywood, which is still an upgrade from what was there before, let me tell you.

After Home Depot, we went to pick up our pints at Sugar Spell, and saw this anti-masker dipshit on the way, although he is also holding an upside down flag, so I’m not sure what side exactly he’s on, unless he doesn’t know that it’s upside down? I mean, he doesn’t seem very bright. I actually made Henry drive past him twice so I could get a picture. Henry was thrilled to obliged, as usual.

Here are the pints we got! I didn’t know that Texas Sheet Cake was a thing, but oh mama, I know now. It was my favorite for a second, but as always, it’s so hard to choose a favorite out of their flavors! Each one of these has its own merits and how can I choose?! I will say though that the Strawberry Pretzel Salad was the first to be polished off.

Banana Graham!

Our big 4th of July dinner was…pizza. It was OK! I was irritated that Henry stopped working in order to eat, but whatever.

That night it was a firecracker battle in my neighborhood, and pretty much all neighborhoods from the sounds of it. There were some really classy ones being shot off somewhere behind the church across the street from us, so Chooch ran around looking for the source, and a good viewing spot. It actually ended up being one of the best fireworks experiences of my life, because of the excitement of it not being city-approved and us running all around in the dark looking for the best ones. I’m admittedly not too big of a fireworks person – I get bored pretty easily and I mean, they’re all pretty much the same, aren’t they? And I always hated trying to find somewhere to go that wasn’t going to be overwhelmingly crowded (I went downtown twice ever and will never fucking do it again, no thanks, I hate people way too much).

I always liked when my mom bought all the illegal ones back in the day and we’d go hard with them in her backyard because we lived on a private, dead-end street surrounded by woods so who cares?

We had to walk past this creepy church door on the way back and in the picture Chooch took, IT LOOKS LIKE THERE IS A GHOST ON THE STEPS INSIDE. But I’m too lazy to ask him for his picture to post here.

Sunday was another hot one. I think we were in the 90s pretty much all weekend, and into the week.

Porch hangouts were limited while the sun was up.

While Henry was toiling away in the kitchen, Chooch and I thought we would be nice and walk to Muddy Cup to get him (and us, obv., no altruism here) some refreshing cold brew.

Our favorite barista was working! It was nice to see a familiar face during this endless streak of months where we’ve really not been seeing anyone but the neighbors.

Meanwhile, Henry was at home, painting.

By the end of Sunday, we were left with a plywood floor, two painted walls, one partially-assembled counter-thingie, and the inability to eat a meal that requires any sort of cooking/preparation.

Henry explained to Chooch that he was going to have to put in some additional outlets, and Chooch cried, “You can do that??”

“I can do anything,” Henry muttered, and then under his breath, he added, “except plumbing.”

Wow, we got a real Bob Vila here! Get this guy his own show.

But seriously, it really is amazing how Henry knows how to do all this stuff! He ripped up the floor and then replaced it with plywood underlayment or something, but it looks like a pro did it! We have the new flooring ready to go but we have to finish painting first and also Henry wanted to build the new IKEA pieces while the plywood is on the floor so that he doesn’t damage the new floor. We are about 60% done, I guess? But it took literally ALL WEEKEND with Henry hardly taking any breaks plus with it being in the 90s, I had to keep checking on him to make sure he hadn’t passed out. See? I care.

So, overall, it wasn’t your traditional “Independence Day” weekend, but it sure felt good to get shit done (or in my case, watch shit get done). I will continue to post updates as we go, but it is a frustratingly slow process because of like, day jobs and whatever. So while he’s toiling away at the Big Stuff, I’m biding my time by looking for accoutrements that fit the theme of the 80s Dream Kitchen. So far, I’ve purchased an Arcade game-themed rug, fabric to make a curtain for the porch door which is so amazing I can’t even describe it so you’ll just have to wait to see it, and I designed a neon light that I have HIGH HOPES for as long as I don’t have to, I dunno, take out a loan for it.

I hate COVID, but I’m glad to have this time to really focus my attention on things around the house because unless the landlord decides to give us the boot for some reason, we’ve got at least another 4 years here while Chooch is in high school because if I move, I’m buying a house and it’s not going to be in the city! So, we might as well put the effort into making small and reasonable (ie. cheap, lol) improvements.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great weekend and if you have a pool, I hate you I’m totally jealous!

Feb 272020
 

I don’t even know if that title makes sense because I don’t really understand ARMY terms.

Remember a few weeks ago when we were chilling at my dining room table, sippin’ lukewarm tea from chipped cups, and I told you that our neighbor HNC hates his newish neighbor? He’s this single guy who moved in after that fucking loud ass-crack baring dumptruck-driving slob-boy and his mom moved out last year. At first, he seemed normal. Ex-bartender, probably in his late 30s, doesn’t seem trashy but he does seem to hover dangerously on that Ed Hardy line, so who can be sure.

He moved into the other side of HNC’s house, so we don’t have to share a wall with him and have to deal with him as intimately as the HNC clan, but as I have explained in the past, we have a shared driveway which separates both houses. All four units have their own garages, but they are your typical narrow city caves that you can potentially park your car in, but who wants to chance nicking up  their paint job, you know?

But this guy doesn’t care, so he actually uses his garage. I have an issue with this only because he comes home after midnight every night, stereo BLASTING, and leaves his car idling in the driveway, which is right beneath my bedroom window, while he fucks with opening the garage door. So I am propelled out of sleep by his car’s bass. If there is one thing to know about me, it is THAT I FUCKING HATE THE SOUND OF BASS. Unless I’m at a concert or it’s coming from my own car, I absolutely cannot stand the sound of someone else’s bass seeping through my walls.

HNC has an an issue with the garage-usage because his kitchen is right above new guy’s garage, and new guy often leaves the garage door open while he’s out and since it’s winter, the cold air turns the cement walls of the garage into a veritable freezer, which affects HNC’s kitchen above.

So HNC will close the dude’s garage door when he leaves it open, which makes new guy get super passive aggressively belligerent. He wrote IN BALLPOINT PEN on the garage door “No trespassing” but spelled it “truespassing” so maybe HNC should counter with a dictionary page taped next to it.

In addition to my bass beef, I also had negative feelings toward the new guy because I had attempted numerous times to say hello to him and he ignored me each time and I HATE BEING IGNORED and also I am the Pioneer Ave OG Neighbor so better respect, bitch. But then my beef turned raw and murderous two weeks ago. It was FEBRUARY 12TH, NEVER FORGET. I had just come home from work, stepped inside my house long enough to grab the books I needed to return to the library, and then left again. As I was starting to walk along the sidewalk that crosses over our driveway, new guy came BARRELING up the driveway from his garage and NEVER EVEN STOPPED WHEN HE GOT TO THE TOP. He was going to just shoot right out onto the road, I guess, and then saw me at the last minute, but only after I had jumped back. Now that he was blocking the entire sidewalk with his car, I had to walk BEHIND HIM, through the driveway, to get to the other side of the sidewalk. I screamed, “YOU ASSHOLE!” at him, and I think he had turned around to say something shitty back to me, even though I couldn’t gear because all of his windows were up, and then in a flustered huff, he floored it and pulled out into oncoming traffic because he was too stupid to look, so a car blew their horn at him and he had to slam on his breaks and I just laughed and skipped away happily up the sidewalk, library books in my arm.

Apparently, HNC witnessed this but didn’t know it was me, because he was telling Henry about how the neighbor almost hit someone and Henry was like, “Was it Erin?” so he said maybe, unless new guy makes a habit of almost hitting pedestrians when he flies up and out of the driveway, and this could be possible!

Monday morning, I was walking to the trolley and HNC texted me! He said he was going to call the landlord that day and wanted to get an accurate account of what happened to me before he made the call. I was so excited! It was like giving a statement to the police, except I don’t hate HNC and I hate the police, so I was polite and didn’t use a shitty teenaged tone with him like I would have if it was A COPPER.

HNC asked me if I noticed if the garage door was open that morning, but I sadly did not, and the only thing I could offer was that when I was working from home last Thursday, new neighbor, who used to have a SLUT LIFE sticker on his car so let’s just call him SLUT LIFE from now on, came home in the afternoon blasting, and I mean blasting, Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” a song which I only know because ex-bff was obsessed with it when it came out because she likes shit music.

I felt really smug and satisfied that I got to be a big fat tattletale because we all know that is how I truly identify: BIG FAT PETTY WHISTLEBLOWER. Helping HNC made me feel like I was  part of a real gang, you know? Like I finally belong somewhere, my window-peering skills are being utilized after all these years.

However, after I hung up, I thought about HNC calling the landlord. That asshole didn’t do shit the whole time we had a heroin-ring kingpin living next door, or Boots who was over there Hulk-smashing the property and raping people. (Allegedly. But I really believe he was.) And the landlord was all, “Well, they’re paying rent, so. Call the police.”

And that’s what he told HNC about Slut Life, until HNC countered with, “HE WRECKED INTO THE GARAGE DOOR, FYI” and I guess that got the landlord’s attention because it’s a new garage door and he only cares about superficial shit like that.

I happened to have the day off on Tuesday when I heard a truck door slam and someone talking in  the driveway. I immediately locked the deadbolt (lol) and ran upstairs because I always have that underlying fear that someone has come to take me away. But when I got upstairs and spied out of Chooch’s bedroom window, I noted that it was some lady from a GARAGE DOOR COMPANY. She was assessing the damage (to me, it just looks like a little dent, but what do I know about garage doors) to someone on the phone, and I was frantically texting Henry pictures and as many of the fragments of conversation I could pick up over the steady traffic outside.

Henry was just like, “OK cool” because he has literally no investment in this drama at all.

THEN HNC CALLED HENRY AND RELAYED THE SAME INFORMATION BECAUSE AT THE SAME TIME I WAS SPYING FROM CHOOCH’S WINDOW, HE WAS SPYING FROM HIS BASEMENT DOOR!!! And then we both reported back to Henry, like he’s some Yinzer Charlie and we’re his bumbling amateur spy Angels. EXCEPT THAT HENRY NEVER ASKED TO BE IN THIS POSITION! But he has somehow found himself caught up in the middle, listening to reports from both me and HNC, and what he chooses to do with his information is beyond me but probably involves pouring it straight into the commode from the other side of his head, and flushing.

WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT. WILL SLUT LIFE HAVE TO PAY FOR THE NEW GARAGE DOOR (the quote was $600!) OR WILL HE SAY HNC SABOTAGED HIM? Oooh, winter is really heating up here on Pioneer!

Feb 122020
 

WEIRD WAVES

Two weeks, on a Sunday, Janna and I were walking back to my house from the Hollywood Theater in Dormont, having just seen Jojo Rabbit. (Have you seen this yet? It’s brilliant, and I rarely use that word to describe movies.) We were a block away from my house when two people were about to walk past us. I moved over to the right to give them room and noticed in my periphery that one of the people was looking at me and waving.

I glanced long enough to see that it was a young girl, maybe in her early teens? But again–just a very quick glance.

I waved back and then kept trudging along.

“Did you know her? She was really waving at you,” Janna said once we were a safe distance away.

“I have no idea who that was,” I admitted, and Janna said, “Well, she sure seemed to know you!”

I brushed it off, thinking possibly she was someone who knows Chooch, maybe someone from the teen center, and she just recognized me as “Chooch’s Mom.” That used to happen to Henry all the time when Blake was a teenager, because he was so popular.

It wasn’t even worth mentioning to Henry and Chooch when I got home that day; besides, I was too busy gushing about Jojo Rabbit to even give the waver a second thought.

RIDE REQUEST

One night last week, Henry left the house to go to “the store,” his favorite place ever. “The store” could mean: Aldis, Giant Eagle, Kuhn’s, Fresh Thyme, Shop N Save—I’m pretty sure Henry has a frequent shopper card for all Pittsburgh-area supermarkets. Just as we was about to get into the car, which we always park across the street from our house in the church parking lot, he said that a young girl approached him and asked for a ride to the Potomac trolley station. Henry, who unlike me, is adverse to giving rides to strangers, so he told her that he wasn’t going that direction, which I guess was true but who knows with Henry; he’s a habitual liar.

(He isn’t. I don’t think Henry has the balls to lie, actually. Or the imagination.)

So Henry embarked on his journey to The Store, passenger seat remaining empty.

While Henry was out, Hot Naybor Chris called him and apologized. Turns out, the transportation beggar targeted HNC first, but he had just gotten home so he sent her over to ask Henry instead, having spotted him in the parking lot. After Henry said no, she went back over to HNC and said, “He said he’s not going that way” so for some reason HNC was like, “Fine, I’ll drive you to Potomac Station.”

But, like all people who ask for handouts on the street, she continued asking for things. First, it was $2 for coffee. HNC said he didn’t have any money.

Then it was, “Can I use your phone?”

HNC said he didn’t have it on him, and then prayed that his wife wouldn’t call him, wondering why he had pulled into the parking lot and then immediately left again.

Anyway, I guess he got her to Potomac Station without her shanking him and digging out his kidneys, so that’s good. He told Henry that when he asked her where she lived, she said, “With Phil and my mom” like we know who that is. Turns out, she lives in the house on our block where the girl just died of an overdose two weeks ago, and Phil is that dead girl’s boyfriend. WTF.

When Henry came home and told me all of this, he described the girl and I was like, “Wait a minute…” and then he said, “I’ve seen her several times walking down the street and actually mistook her for one of Chooch’s friends, but she’s probably between 18 and 20” and that was when I realized that he had perfectly described the girl who waved me last weekend. Ew! So she must recognize me as a neighbor, yet that was the first time I had ever seen her.

Henry said that he was telling Blake this because at this point, knowing what house she lives in and how she has a mooching tendency, Blake shared his OWN encounter with her, which was that she knocked on his door recently and asked him if he has his license. When he said no, she walked away.

FURTHERMORE: Potomac Station is only a five-minute walk! Use your legs, lazy ass!

Night Knocks

Sometime early Monday morning, I woke up to urgent knocking on my front door. I rolled over and noticed Henry had already left for work. It was 3:45am. Maybe he forgot his keys…and also his phone….and was trying to get my attention?

I texted him.

“Is that you knocking?”

“No…?” he answered immediately. He was already at work.

Another series of urgent knocks and now I’m sitting straight up in bed with the comforter around me like a shield.

More knocks, angrier now. I was straight-up shaking in bed.

Without turning on the lights, I scooted over to the foot of the bed and peeked out through the blinds just in time to see a man quickly retreating down my sidewalk and then continuing on down the street. It was a chilling sight, but at the same time, it also looked like MAYBE it could have been Blake. The build of the man checked out, he was wearing a backpack, a coat, and a beanie in the style of one Blake Robbins.

“Maybe Blake starts work at 4am today and was going to ask me for a ride,” Henry texted, but our car clearly wasn’t out there so it didn’t seem to fit. Henry texted him, but didn’t hear back for several hours, because, you know, Blake was home next door and asleep like most normal people at that hour.

I was fucking shook. I mean, I don’t need to be a seasoned horror aficionado to know NOT TO OPEN THAT DOOR. And even if it was in broad daylight, I still wouldn’t have answered it. For god’s sake, my friend Tommy still makes fun of me for the time he and Jessy were over our house 10 years ago and I screamed and hid on the steps when the pizza man knocked on the door, AND I KNEW IT WAS THE PIZZA MAN.

So imagine me at 4am, shaking in my flesh boots, definitely not wanting to go back to sleep.

I kept texting Henry.

“What if he comes back?!”

“Why would he come back?”

“I dunno, to bring back up!?”

Meanwhile, after Blake texted Henry back later that morning, he went on to that the weird girl up the street has come back to his house several times since the first time, and that she looks strung out and half-dead each time. The last time, he called the police and the cops told Blake to call them again immediately if she shows up again.

And now we’re wondering if the knocker was this supposed PHIL, boyfriend of the dead girl?! It checks out—these people obviously live in a drug house and think it’s OK to just go around knocking on random people’s doors at all hours of the night, because what’s 3:45am to a druggie!? So now I’m on high alert in case either of these weirdos come back. I HATE THE COPS BUT I WILL NOT HESITATE TO CALL THEM IF ANY STRANGE FISTS TOUCH MY GODDAMN DOOR AGAIN.

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!

Jun 172019
 

There’s always some type of confrontation or strange activity going on in front of my house, especially on weekends, and you know I love to gleefully spy on this shit through my front window. Look, I’m not standing there waiting for it to happen but when the commotion is so loud, it distracts from my Korean lesson or playtime with the cats, I’m gonna pop my head out that window to see what’s what.

And it’s usually Chooch’s frenemy Larry drunkenly mowing the lawn at 9:30pm or motherfucking passing cars on our street; or maybe it’s Tourette’s ambling home from wherever it is that someone like Tourette’s spends his days, while screaming obscenities at the imaginary foes around him.

So Friday night, when my language studies were interrupted by screaming outside of my house, I was like, “woo hoo, here we go, Brookline weekend!” I wasn’t even going to give this trashiness any of my attention at first, but then I heard “YOU’RE A F*GGOT” being tossed around at incredibly loud volumes and that’s a big nope for me. I leaned onto the windowsill to get a better look-see at what kind of trash was oozing on by this time, and at first glance, it appeared to be a couple arguing. I did note that the woman was taller and hovered over him every time she turned around to get back in his face to call him the f-word again. I was impressed by the guy’s restraint. He just kept standing there, letting this broad pummel him with derogatory zingers, and when he did speak up, it was at a normal volume so I could barely hear him.

One of those times, after calling him the f-word for the fifth time in front of my house, I heard her spit. Now, I wasn’t looking directly at her when this occurred so I’m not certain if she spit on him or near him, but it was definitely her spit.

Then she said something about ruining mom’s night out, so I decided that maybe they were siblings.

Now they were further up the block, but she was still screaming her face off. She stopped and got in his face again, real close in his face, and said, “Look me in the eyes! I want you to see my face when I tell you that I have no respect for you because you’re a F*GGOT.”

I flung the front door open and Henry was like, “Oh no, here we go.”

“GREAT WORD TO BE CALLING SOMEONE!!!!” I yelled as loud as I could. She just kept stumbling along the sidewalk like she didn’t hear me, so I slammed the door.

By now, Chooch was also looking out the window.

“Um, that lady is like in her forties, and that’s a KID,” Chooch said, always the first one to point out how shitty my eyesight is.

OK now look, I was already fucking PISSED that this broad was out there using a homophobic slur as an insult, repeatedly, for the entire neighborhood to hear (there are kids on our street and bitches like her are the reason why kids keep growing up thinking it’s ok/cool/badass to use these kinds of degrading words). But now that Chooch pointed out it was possibly her SON she was saying this to, the rage shot up inside me so fast that I had chest pains and started to tremble with anger.

“We have to call the police,” I said.

“For what?” Henry asked with a shrug, donning his white knight helmet and flinging one leg over his steed. “She didn’t hit him. The police aren’t going to be able to do anything—”

“SHE WAS VERBALLY AND EMOTIONALLY ABUSING HIM, HENRY. THIS IS WHY CHILDREN FUCKING KILL THEMSELVES!” I shrieked. And then, “I’m following them.”

Chooch was 100% on board with this idea because we are the Brookline Vigilantes (remember when we saved a moth and found a lost dog!?), so Henry reluctantly threw on his shoes and followed.

I’m not going to lie, as I bounded down the front steps of my house, it occurred to me that maybe I might die that night. I didn’t know what kind of headcase I was dealing with, or if she was high on something with superhuman strength. This is the problem with Good Samaritanism these days — you want to do your part in keeping society safe and honest, but you never know at what cost. However, if riding the trolley to work every day has taught  me one thing, it’s that IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. That recording plays on a loop on the platform so it’s ingrained in me.

Well guess what, I saw something and I said something, but now I needed to do something.

Chooch and I had to jog to catch up  to them because they had already made it a block away before we started to follow. My plan was to follow at a safe distance and record her behavior if needed, and  then call the police, but as we crested the slight hill on our street, we saw the blue and red flashing lights — someone had either already called the police, or one had pulled over in passing.

When we reached that part of the sidewalk, we saw the boy standing off to the side, away from his mom who was swinging her purse around while drunkenly gesticulating to the cop.

“I’m so sorry about this,” the boy said to us, his eyes filled with tears. HE FUCKING APOLOGIZED TO US. This simultaneously broke my heart and filled my body with even more rage. Chooch and I both assured him it wasn’t his fault and I asked him if he was OK – dumb question, but I needed him to know that I cared.

He said he was OK, but I’m sure he wasn’t. He might have been used to this though, and that makes it even worse. I wanted to rip his mom apart with my words right then and there but…that wasn’t going to help anything and he didn’t need to hear that. He already heard enough for one night!

I wasn’t sure what to do at this point — was I allowed to insert  myself and tell the cop that I was a witness? Would that escalate the situation? WOULD IT BE ME GOING TO JAIL  THAT NIGHT?? You have no idea how angry cops make me. When Henry finally aught up to us later (lol, you didn’t think he jogged with us, did you?), he admitted that he was afraid I was going to get into it with the cop because UGH COPS.

We lingered several yards away from the scene, trying to figure out if there was anything else we could do. One of Chooch’s friends walked by with her brother and they were like WTF IS HAPPENING so we filled them in and they were like OMG and then right after that another one of Chooch’s friends (an older woman who walks her dogs around the neighborhood) paused on her way by and we filled her in too so she stayed with us for awhile and we talked about how awful it is that parents could act that way and then I realized at this point that I was starting to cry so I guess maybe deep down I don’t really hate kids that much, who knows. But this whole event really had me shook.

I couldn’t get that bitch’s screaming voice out of my head all weekend, so imagine how much worse it sounds inside that boy’s head.

Eventually, we kept walking around town. Henry said that by the time he caught up to us and passed by the scene, the mom was going on and on to the cop about how much better she is than everyone else. Yeah, you keep telling yourself that, HUNTY. We started coming up with scenarios, like maybe Dad told Son to go to the bar to get Mom and that’s what set her off. Obviously some TRAGIC thing happened to spark her shrill comment about how mom’s night out was ruined. Or maybe he had the “audacity” to come out to her, or she found out from someone else, and her vicious name-calling was aimed directly for his heart.

In any case, I don’t care what sparked this incident, no child deserves to be spoken to / screamed at that way, whether it’s on a sidewalk in Brookline or behind the closed doors of their house. I  just kept looking at Chooch, imagining myself going off on him like that, and I couldn’t. I could not picture myself, in any situation, attacking his sexuality or his self-esteem or confidence or TRUST IN ME. The safest place for a kid should be with his mom!

Do I ever yell at Chooch? Sure I do! BUT NOT LIKE THAT! It’s always over something like his shitty attitude and I never insult him or degrade him — it’s always me screaming about how I can’t stand the way he’s acting or something. And it’s not very often.

Henry NEVER yells though. He’s afraid of us, lol.

By the time we circled back to our street, a female cop was also on the scene. She was standing off to the side with the boy, both of them watching as the first cop was straight yukking it up with the “mom.” Honestly, they were carrying on like they were bar buddies, exchanging stories, and the “mom” kept doubling over in laughter.

It was…it was so fucked up.

Back at the house, Henry turned on his police scanner app, or whatever old dorks with cop fetishes like him use, just in time for me to hear a male cop say something about how he was headed back, it was just a “mom trying to parent her child.”

OH I’M SORRY, A WHAT NOW?

IS THIS WHAT WE’RE CALLING THAT?

“TRYING TO PARENT?”

Because what I saw and heard was classic emotional child abuse.

No, I didn’t see her hit him, but abuse comes in many forms.

Abuse is abuse is abuse. And what I witnessed was abuse.

And thus began my nightly hysterical rant about how cops are worthless while Henry tried to hide his toy sheriff’s badge down the back of his pants.

“Look, she probably didn’t give him any just cause to take her in,” Henry reasoned. “And the boy probably didn’t want to say anything against her.”

And deep down, I know these reasons are probably accurate, and that there really isn’t a happy ending in a case like this. He’s either going home with an abusive mom or being taken away from his home. I just kept feeling like I didn’t do enough though!

Finally, last night, I said to Henry, “Can’t I like, email the police or something?” At first, he seemed scared to answer me. But he ultimately agreed that giving my witness account of what happened might be beneficial, so he diligently looked on the Pittsburgh Police’s website for an appropriate person for me  to email. I ended up emailing someone whose title I already forget, but she’s a woman so I have hope that maybe she will actually read my email and take it seriously.  I explained in detail what I saw and that I strongly disagree with it being written off as a “mom trying to parent her child,” like he had just stolen a pack of gum and she slapped his wrist.

That’s how that sounds to me.

I also said that I would like there to be some record of this on file in case it happens again, and if possible, I felt that a wellness check would be appropriate here.

It’s been about 24 hours and I haven’t received a response, and maybe I never will, but I couldn’t in good conscience let this one go. I hope he’s OK. I hope he has people in his life telling him he’s loved and that he has worth in this world. I hope he has a good best friend or a teacher he can confide in. I hope this isn’t every day for him.

Dec 152017
 

I’m off work today and yet here I am, writing about work. Here are a few Reporting From Work moments that I want to remember, because these things always help remind me that at the end of the day, office life is alright. Except for…

The Great, Horrible G-Dragon Kidnapping

Late Wednesday afternoon, Wendy and Sue were talking to me at my desk, probably about how fantastic I am, or maybe that’s what was talking about, when Sue noticed my BIGBANG coffee cup. Wendy said, “Yeah, show Sue that other G-Dragon thing you have on your desk,” referring to the vinyl thingie that I bought at H-Mart and once adorned the G-Dragon Countdown calendar that Lori made:

I used to have him taped to the side of my computer monitor, but then he kept falling so now I just leave him to the left of my keyboard. I instinctively reached for him to show Sue, but my hand GRASPED NOTHING BUT EMPTY DESK-TOP. That was weird, I thought. I never move him from that spot. So I started shuffling things around, yanking drawers open, moving bottles of fake blood out of the way, tossing fake fingers over my shoulder…I even checked in my Fiji Mermaid’s fishbowl.

I immediately accused Wendy of this because she thinks G-Dragon is dumb and was it just a coincidence that she brought up that G-Dragon keepsake? I THINK NOT.

Sue backed away slowly, clearly not wanting to implicate herself in whatever Great American Crime Story I was writing up in my head. Wendy profusely swore that it wasn’t her, and by now word was spreading that G-Dragon was missing mostly because my voice was getting louder and more hysterical by the minute. Todd walked past to go to the refrigerator and I cried, “TODD DO YOU KNOW WHERE MY G-DRAGON IS!?” and he was all, “What G-Dragon?” because now people were conveniently playing dumb and acting like they had NO IDEA what G-Dragon relic I was talking about.

“IT’S THAT VINYL THINGIE OF HIM! FROM WHEN HE WAS AT THE CHANEL FASHION SHOW LAST YEAR!” I kept using this as the clue that was really going to drive it home, jog that person’s memory. Like someone was going to exclaim, “Oh yes! The one of him in that confusing not-quite-beret!” But every single person I said that to just looked at me like I was a crazy person.

Naturally, my next guess was Glenn. I didn’t see it on his desk and I didn’t want to go through his stuff EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE APPARENTLY HAVE NO PROBLEM GOING THROUGH MINE so I started searching in shared areas, like the supply closet, expecting to see GD’s beautiful, shining face peering down at me but NOTHING.

This continued on when I got back to work yesterday. I immediately confronted Glenn and he was actually scared a little, I think. I think he knows better than to ever, EVER, move any G-Dragon artifact from my desk. He swore profusely that it wasn’t him and the fear in his eyes made me believe him. Lauren suggested that maybe it was Aaron, and I started to consider this and then without any evidence at all, I had him pegged as the perp. When I came back from getting water in the kitchen, I noticed that the supply cabinet door was left ajar – a notorious indicator that Aaron had been creeping around. He never shuts that door all the way! So I flung it open and started digging through things again, thinking that maybe I had actually overlooked GD when I was searching that cabinet the day before, and Aaron had come over to see if his work was still in play.

I still didn’t see anything, but I did find some soft Cars-themed balls on the bottom shelf, and Lauren excitedly asked me to throw her one. I thought we were going to have an impromptu game of Monkey in the Middle since this happened near Glenn’s desk, but then she never threw it back to me. I think she wanted it for her dog.

ANYWAY. I went back to my desk and moments later, I could feel Aaron’s presence nearby, so I spun around and hysterically asked, “AARON DID YOU TAKE SOMETHING OF MINE.” He seemed shocked at first but then coyly said, “Maybe…” but he was just playing along and actually had no idea what I was talking about so then I had to describe the missing GD and once again the Chanel fashion show did nothing to help.

“What did it look like again?” Lauren asked me a few minutes later, and I cried, “WHY ARE YOU GOING TO SEND OUT AN EMAIL!?” and she was like, “Um, no, I was just going to ask anyone who walks by….”

Anyway, I never did find him and I’m honestly beginning to think that I probably accidentally moved him somewhere, threw him out (Lord help me) or maybe he was stuck to my purse or something one day when I was leaving and I dropped him outside I AM THE WORST KEEPER OF G-DRAGON. But! At least I can just easily get another one (all the Kpop shops sell those things) and I’m thankful that it wasn’t the GD doll my mom got me, or the GD keychain Maya made me! Those ones are not replaceable.

“Erin’s Not Going to Know.”

Wednesday, while I was running around with my hands in my hair, interrogating people about the whereabouts of G-Dragon, I overheard Wendy say to Jeannie, “Maybe Erin Kelly knows” and Jeannie responded with, “Erin is NOT going to know!” This stopped me in my tracks. Challenge accepted! I called out, “Wait — I might know!” and immediately prayed it wasn’t something work-related that was going to illuminate my dumbness.

So Wendy started with, “Do you know that toy with the ring that goes around your ankle—-”

“SKIP IT!” I cried.

“Yeah! That’s what it is!” Wendy laughed, and I guess Jeannie was looking for one for her niece for Xmas but couldn’t remember what it was called, so then Jeannie and I looked at all of the options on Amazon and I was feeling so sad because I loved my Skip-It unconditionally, and even had one in my early-20s, but it wasn’t as good as the original one from the 80s.

“If it’s something an 11-year-old girl would like, of course Erin would know what it is,” Wendy said and then everyone within earshot got a great laugh out of that WOW SO SOON AFTER G-DRAGON WENT MISSING, EVEN.

Anyway, I kept going on and on about how much I loved Skip-It and how great I was at it, and finally Jeannie was like, “Oh my god, do you want me to buy you one, too?!” and I immediately said yes so I hope she wasn’t joking because I’m going to be waiting for this to appear on my desk every day from now until Christmas.

Secret Santa Reveal

We did our Secret Santa Reveal event yesterday and I am now safe to scream from the hilltops that I was Amber’s Secret Santa! And Wendy was mine! What a perfect scenario!

Of course as luck would have it, neither Amber nor Wendy were in the office yesterday, so Carrie gave me my gift from Wendy and then someone Facetimed Amber and made me open her gift while she watched through the phone and it was pretty awkward like being on a stage except we were standing in an empty hallway.

Amber had coffee/tea, Qdoba, and plants written on her idea list, and I decided to go the tea route because my childhood friend Chris (not of Chronica fame) is a beekeeper and I have been meaning to buy some of his sweet honey (literally!) for some time now. So one of the gifts I put together was tea-themed, with some type of loose-leaf tea blend from India because she likes Indian things, a tall tea cup thing and these little cuties:

Honestly, we got to do a honey sampling and I was like, “Can I move in here? I’ll help you bottle this stuff all day long.”

And then for the last gift, I wanted to combine all three things on her list into one, at which point Chooch suggested getting a tortilla and filling it with dead plant parts and tea bags. I went with my own idea though, sorry Chooch. Maybe if I was BARB’S Secret Santa, I would have used his idea, though.

I topped it off with some of the TOPSHELF, $8.99 a pound mystery candy from the weird international market by my house.

Eastern European Candy PSA

Speaking of weird mystery candy, I also filled up a bag from the $4.99 shelf for the rest of my co-workers to “enjoy” out of the Plastic Pumpkin of International Horrors. I got several that were large and had some generic Disney prince and princess on the wrapper. For some reason, I want to believe that the bigger the better, not sure where I could possibly be getting that from, so I had high expectations for these ones. I treated myself to one yesterday afternoon and immediately turned to Glenn, making the HAVE I BEEN POISONED??? face.

“This might be the WORST candy out of the whole bunch!” I cried. And Lauren just brought back durian toffee from Thailand, so this is a huge statement on my part. Let me try to describe it:

The base looks like a peppermint patty. Just a chocolate circle thing. The top has four small mounds of what I later learned was “cookie biscuit” when Lori read the wrapper out loud. An interesting structure that I was excited to bite into! But inside the chocolate, which by the way was one of the worst attempts at chocolate I’ve ever had, was that awful firm jelly shit that masochistic confectioners like to slip inside candy sometimes. I don’t even know what flavor the jelly was supposed to be. Raspberry perfume? But when shit really got deep was when the notes of the “cookie biscuit” swam to the forefront of my palate. I couldn’t imagine what I was tasting, but it was familiar. And not a flavor you want in your mouth when you’re eating something sweet. I was standing up at this point, unsure if I should spit it out, google the Poison Control number, write a letter to the President of the Ukraine and demand that the inventor of this candy be incarcerated.

And that’s when I realized that the taste in my mouth WAS BLEU CHEESE.

Chocolate candy with a bleu cheese aftertaste!!! NO, UKRAINE. GO FUCK YOURSELF.

***

Well, that was going to be the end of my work update, but then I was getting ready to leave the house to walk to the post office, I put my hand in my coat pocket and wondered what the strangely-shaped object was that my hand had grazed, and this is what I pulled out:

BUT HOW!? Either I did this by accident (but I honestly don’t remember and there was nothing else in that pocket that could have potentially been next to it on my desk that I would have intentionally grabbed while accidentally grabbing G-Dragon at the same time) or SOMEONE IS SABOTAGING MY SANITY. I’m off work today but you can believe that this investigation is far from over.

(Also thank god he turned up because I couldn’t remember what these figures are called when I was trying to find one online to buy.)

Nov 192017
 

Sometime in September, Chooch came home with an order form for some dumb Southern Living cookie dough that the school was pushing the kids to peddle, and I was like, “LOL you can just throw that in the trash because I’m not taking it to work!” Honestly, I hate fundraising bullshit, and I especially hate asking co-workers to buy things when most of them have their own children who are selling magazines and hoagies and slingshots and fidget spinners, I dunno what kids sell these days.

Flash-forward a week or two later. Chooch said he was going over his friend Wesley’s house and we were like, “Look both ways before you cross the street, don’t take candy from strangers, don’t talk to my Mexican taco cart boyfriend without me.”

He came home a few hours later and it turns out, that sonuva took the order form with him and actually made like 8 sales to random people in Brookline!? Of course, his Corgi buddy Bob bought two containers of dough, but I didn’t recognize a single other name on that form! “Oh, that’s the lady who lives next to Bob, she has a dog too. And that’s her mom, who lives across the street. Oh, and that’s Ed’s* girlfriend” because Chooch gets around, man. He fucking gets around.

*(Ed is the guy who owns the gaming place on Brookline Boulevard, and Chooch of course has befriended him because most of Chooch’s friends are adults so why not add another.)

Meanwhile, the order form is all ATTENTION PARENTS, PLEASE SUPERVISE YOUR CHILDREN. DO  NOT LET THEM GO DOOR-TO-DOOR, because the world sucks these days. If this was the 80s, cold-calling would be encouraged! HERE’S THE MILKMAN, SON, ASK HIM IF HE WANTS TO BUY SOME FUNDRAISER FRUITCAKE! He’d have come home with 348 sales!

Unfortunately, Chooch collected checks from two of the houses, and the separate instruction sheet that was sent home from the school says that no checks are accepted, even though the order form states otherwise. So while one of the checks was made out to Chooch’s school, the other one was made out to “Central Middle School” and we were like, “Wtf is this school?” and it turns out it was what the sample check on the order form had written on it, for fuck’s sake. So Henry had to take Chooch back to these two houses to exchange their checks for cash, which is how we realized that one of the lady’s lives in the house behind us, the same house with the garage window that Chooch busted a few yeas ago which turned into a summer-long odyssey of the husband repeatedly showing up at our door to remind Henry that he still had not replaced the window, because Henry is the king of procrastination, which is one of the things that his mom and I argued about last spring when she blamed me for him not doing all the things he promised her he would do and I was like DO YOU THINK HE DOES EVERYTHING I WANT HIM TO DO THE FIRST TIME I ASK HIM TO DO IT, LADY?! My god, guys like Henry are the reason why women have to nag in the first place.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Anyway, the point of this story is that as soon as I saw that he made some sales on his own, I suddenly morphed into Captain Competition and decided that I would take the order form to work and try to outsell him. Normally, people will bring this shit in and leave it on the table by the kitchen and let it sell itself. Not me. I kept the order form right where I could see it, on the counter behind Lauren, and flat-out accosted everyone who walked past with this super-aggressive opening line, “BUY SOME COOKIE DOUGH.” You’d be surprised how many times it worked! I even got Todd to buy a gluten-free tub, and Mitch too who almost definitely has never baked cookies in his whole entire life, good thing he has a wife now.

You guys, I became consumed by selling. I even told people that I would accept Paypal, so I was able to strong-arm Chris and Monica as well, by sending them pictures of their options. This went on for a week until it was time to return the order form to school, which is when we discovered that whoever NANCY is didn’t pay Chooch. “She said that she will pay when the cookie dough is delivered,” Chooch shrugged. “This ain’t no C.O.D!” Henry barked, prepared to scratch her name off the list, but Chooch was all, “WE CAN’T DO THAT! SHE’S SARAH’S MOTHER!” and we were like WHO THE EFF IS SARAH and apparently she is the lady who lives across the street from Nancy and also ordered a tub. Chooch was so certain that Nancy was good for her word, that he SPOTTED HER THE MONEY.

I am so glad there were no cameras on us the evening before the order form was due, because it was like we were all using math for the first time in our lives. It took all three of us to count the money and add the sales, twice, before we finally arrived at the same number. It was beyond stressful.

I know what you’re wondering: “But Erin, did you sell more than your son?” PFFT FUCK YEAH, YOUR GIRL DID. Chooch sold enough to get some janky prizes worth about $7 but more importantly, since he sold more than 20 tubs, he got to go to Pizza Hut in a limo, so even though he didn’t reach his lofty goal of 125 tubs which would have scored him a Playstation or whatever, he was very pleased.

And then I remembered that I was going to have to bring all this shit to work and distribute it, and I immediately regretted the choices I had made.

Aug 152017
 

My favorite Pittsburgh ice cream shop, Millie’s, recently opened a second location minutes away from where I work downtown. I thought it would be an awesome idea to skip out on one of our Monday meetings and get some Millie’s instead. I broached this idea to Boss Amber,  paired with the gentile insinuation that it could be a TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE. But Amber was like, “Um it’s ice cream, you don’t need to justify it” and an ice cream outing was officially scheduled!

This has been a rough year for our little group. We lost* two people – Amber1 and Gayle – and plus everyone has had to endure all my DAILY KOREA FACTS all year, so some fancy locally-sourced ice cream was just what we need to boost morale. 

*(I mean, they’re still alive, but still! We miss them.)

Guys, I got SZECHUAN ROASTED PEACH and it was to die for. The only way it could have been better would be it was, I don’t know, gochugaru roasted peach. 

Lauren got coconut lime, Todd & Amber both got Vietnamese coffee, and dumb Glenn probably got a scoop of Plain. Who knows, who cares. 

I took a group picture for our department’s Wiki page—I’m one of two people in our department with editing rights so every once in awhile, random Kpop pictures find their way into the limelight and everyone is all, “Ugh Erin Kelly.” 

On th way back to the office, some deranged street person sidled up to Glenn and started screaming about if Glenn took him to the ATM and gave him $100,000, he’d be his best friend. 

“I come out here every day, and no one bothers me. I come out here with Erin and all her friends come out to attack me,” Glenn mumbled as we crossed the street, leaving his new friend behind on the sidewalk.

****

Back at work, I was all hunched over, giddily editing our group photo, getting it primed for its public debut. 

After I posted it on our group’s page, I announced, “Ok our picture’s up!” No one said anything. I craned my neck to see if Lauren was going to our wiki page. 

She was not. 

Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer so I flat out told Todd to go and look at it. 

“I already saw it,” he said. “You showed us on your phone.”

“Yeah but….just go and look,” I urged, standing behind him to make sure he did it. It took him FOREVER TO GET THERE because he doesn’t have it saved as a favorite. Ugh. 

When he saw it, it took him awhile to register, but then he laughed. 

“Wow,” he said in a total #smh tone. 


Lauren, upon hearing us laughing about it, decided she better go and check it out too. I’m sure she was low-key worried because god only knows with me, you know? But then she started giggling too. 

I had to wait for Amber to come back from her lunch break, but when she did, I practically crashed into her desk and sat on her lap in my excitement to have her look at the picture. 

She doesn’t have our wiki page saved as a favorite either so I had to stand there doing the pee-jig while she clicked through 18 pages to get there. 

She didn’t catch it at first, but when she finally saw G-Dragon’s perfect face, she started laughing and cried, “You’re….so special.”

The best part is fielding questions from the people in our department who have somehow avoided the Kpop-mania on our side of the floor, after they go to our page for actual work-related reasons and see our picture. That’s just the new intern, you guys. Kwon Jiyong. <3

Jun 072017
 

I can’t believe how good this oatmeal tastes,” I said enthusiastically yesterday at work. 

“Ooh, what did you put in it?” Lauren asked. 

“Nothing,” I shrugged. “I just followed the directions on the box for the first time.”

****

OK, let’s back up.

Typically I eat cream of wheat or oatmeal everyday for lunch at work because it’s instant gratification and I can barely handle much else, other than slopping some fruit salad (pre-made by Henry) into a tupperware thing and praying that it doesn’t leak in my bag on the way to work.

If I’m feeling particularly whimsical, I will add some sprinkles to it. If Gayle has honey at work, I might add that too. Usually I have a bruised banana that will find its way into the hot slop, too.

I always tell Henry when it’s time to buy me more instant cereal for work, but sometimes — this is going to be hard to fathom for some so make sure you swallow first if you’re eating or drinking — I will go to CVS during my lunch break and buy it myself.

I KNOW.

ME!

I CAN DO THAT!

Recently, something crazy was going on with me and I tagged along with Henry to the boring grocery store (as opposed to the magical Asian markets, which I happily visit every weekend). I knew that I needed to restock on my work lunch stash, so I bought kids oatmeal (complete with dinosaur eggs, thank you) and some healthy oatmeal thing that had flax seed and whatever in it.

Turns out, that healthy oatmeal is a kind that I’ve bought before and I HATE IT! It turns out so watery, basically just warm cloudy water with grain things floating in it. Disgusting! Two days in a row I suffered through this sad-sack lunch, complaining about it at length to Glenn who had the Don’t Care glaze over his eyes, until something occurred to me yesterday.

“Maybe I should try to make it the way the box says to make it,” I said mostly to myself, reading the directions at my desk.

“Well, how have you been making it?” Glenn asked hesitantly, probably wishing he could recall his question.

NO TAKE-BACKS.

“Well, I dump it into my mug and then fill it up with the hot water from the spout on the coffee maker,” I said. “But then it just stays watery! Nothing happens!”

“Oh my god,” Glenn mumbled, and I couldn’t tell if that meant he was shocked my method didn’t work, or if he had just looked at a really great picture of G-Dragon.

So in the kitchen, I followed directions. I dumped the oatmeal into my cup. I filled the now-empty paper oatmeal pouch up to the line with water (not from the hot water thingie though – I’m not that dumb, you guys! Plus there is a warning sticker on it). Then I poured it over top the oatmeal and baked it in the microwave for two minutes.

And it exploded like a fucking 5th grader’s volcano science project. I had to take the glass thingie out of the microwave and clean it, ugh! Aaron walked by when this was happening and I sheepishly said, “I made a mess…”

“Is that your banana tea?” he asked, because one time he saw me cutting up a banana in the kitchen (with a plastic knife, don’t worry) and putting it in my coffee cup and then for the next year, he secretly thought I was literally adding bananas to my tea and expressed his concern (and disgust, probably) to Jeannie, who later told me about it and we had a great laugh.

Ugh, yes it’s my banana tea.

After I cleaned up the mess (burning my hand in the process), I took the remnants back to my desk and was amazed at how wonderful it tasted!

Glenn said I should have taken it out of the microwave every 30 seconds to stir it.

“Well, how would I know to do that if it doesn’t say on the box?” I cried, and he went back to trolling comment sections on fake news sites.

Later, I struggled to get the burnt oatmeal off my Goonies mug and considered just throwing it out and getting a new one, but then Gayle was like, “Just soak it….?” and hello, I know about that dish-washing secret, but the oatmeal was caked to the OUTSIDE of the cup too. I ended up just scrubbing it really hard and now my wrist hurts and I need to blame someone for this but I haven’t decided who yet. Probably Henry for not training me to be a grown-up, which by the way, he threatened to do over the weekend “in case something happens.” Something happens? Like he grows a pair and leaves?! Monica said she always just assumed Chooch and I would just move into Chez Chronica if that happens, kind of like she and Chris are our godparents.

I still should just get a new mug though. A G-Dragon one!

****

Today, I remembered Glenn’s sage cooking advice and stalked the microwave, stopping it every thirty seconds and giving the oatmeal a good stir.

With 45 seconds to go, I had a bad feeling. I could sense something wasn’t right, so I stopped it before the timer got to 30 and IT HAD OVERFLOWN AGAIN!!!!

Another day of cleaning the microwave! UGH. Where is Barb when I need her?!

Still though, it’s amazing how wonderful food tastes when you follow directions.

“Did the instructions give you options based on the microwave wattage?” Henry asked me on the way home from work, as we sat in traffic for an hour and he tried to resign from being my chauffeur.

“Huh?” I asked, scrolling through my Spotify kpop playlist.

“Never mind,” Henry sighed.  But then he had the audacity to ask me if I was trying to microwave the oatmeal IN THE POUCH, like I’m so dumb that I didn’t know to dump everything into a cup or bowl first, I AM SO INSULTED.

“It was so weird, it looked like it expanded somehow!” I gushed, as though I was telling the Story of Oatmeal for the very first time, to a bunch of pioneer people sitting on logs around a cauldron.

“That’s because it literally did expand. It absorbed the water, you idiot,” Henry sighed.

WOW. No need for name-calling!

“Anyway, who knew oatmeal needed to be baked. I guess I’m a baker now.”

“You’re not a baker. You cooked it in a microwave.

I’m going to try and bake other things in the microwave this weekend. Baked beans, probably.

Dec 132016
 

The asshole neighbors are still next door, and while things have (mostly) simmered down (knock on the wood of their severely damaged and beaten front door), there have been some new developments.

Since Henry talked to the landlord, it’s been mostly quiet over there. In fact, we started to think that Boots is living there alone now, like maybe the landlord was all, “Yo, I never said your strung out sex doll can shack up with you, get her out of there.” While Boots drives me nuts with the slamming and the stomping, it’s admittedly Phyllis’s gross smoker’s voice and hearing her scream lazily at him that really makes me feel psychotic.

So Tuesday through Thursday, we heard very minimal noise. An occasional opening and shutting of the front door, but NO SLAMMING. To the point where I was sure it was another person who was there, not Boots. Regular footsteps replaced the cinderblock-stomping on the stairs. I was able to sleep through the night! It was a fucking dream!

I was off on Friday. I heard movement next door, what sounded like the opening and shutting of cabinets in the kitchen, quiet sane-sounding voices. Maybe the landlord was there inspecting? Who could tell without x-ray glasses. But then I heard a dog barking. I looked outside and saw Boots on the porch with a Jack Russell and thought, “OH GOD IF HE HAS A DOG NOW, THEN SHIT’S GETTING REAL” and then I noticed, parked across the street, A U-HAUL. Nooooooo! My greatest fear realized! Boots was legit moving in! That dog probably had the house address engraved on its tag!

Thankfully, from my Concerned Neighbor Watch Post at my bedroom window, I determined that Boots was actually helping Chooch’s nemesis Larry move junk out of Larry’s house. The one thing I saw looked like an old furnace. I’m not sure how this matters to the story, but there it is. Larry eventually drove off in the U-Haul, and then a few minutes later, I saw Boots running down the street with the dog under his arm!?

I heard the dog barking again later, don’t worry. He brought it back.

I think it was actually Larry’s dog. Chooch knows everything about the neighborhood, most of all what kinds of dogs each house holds, and he verified that my description of the dog sounded like Larry’s. So I think Boots was just keeping Larry’s dog in his house so it wouldn’t run away while they had Larry’s door open? I DON’T KNOW, YOU GUYS, BUT THIS IS HOW I SPENT AN ENTIRE DAY OFF WORK. I HATE MYSELF.

Saturday, we heard Boots shuffling around, and still no sign of Phyllis. I was getting to the point where I felt that, if this was how things would stay, I could possibly accept Boots being my neighbor. Without Phyllis there provoking his temper, I wasn’t so on edge.

Still though, I worried about how things would go that night, when I had some friends over for a holiday party. Oh god, please don’t embarrass me Boots!

If anything was unraveling over there that night, I couldn’t hear over the noise in my own house. I hoped that it was annoying Boots! Sandy said that when she left my house, Boots was also leaving his house in a “creepy huff” and she was afraid he was going to abduct her and her girls, but she was at work today, so I guess Boots resisted the urge. I stayed up late that night, hanging out with Janna after my party ended, and Boots had visitors. It sounded like several men, and they were walking around and talking loudly for most of the night. One of the guys was driving a pick-up and he came and went numerous times. I turned up my radio super loud and put it against Boots’ bedroom wall and then I finally fell asleep around 2:30am. God only knows when that asshole went to bed.

Sunday afternoon, we realized that the window in Boots’ front door is busted out and he has a piece of cardboard taped over it. GEE I WONDER HOW THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED HE TAKES SUCH GREAT CARE OF THAT DOOR.

Later, all was bone-chillingly quiet next door, when suddenly, Boots started murdering his front door and bellowing, “MELISSA OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!! MELISSSSSSSSAAAAAAA!!!!!” and then he would kick the door so hard it would shudder our side of the house. Henry looked at me and said, “I honestly don’t think anyone else is over there?!” And so then I started to imagine that Phyllis (Melissa) was dead in the bedroom and he was so delusional that he thought she was going to come downstairs and open the door for him.

So now I wonder if he just has a habit of keeping the front door unlocked?

Anyway, I stood up and said, “OH FUCK NO, I’VE HAD IT” and Henry was all, “OMG PLEASE DON’T DO SOMETHING STUPID” but I was already whipping open my front door angrily. This man is not going to be satisfied until he splits his door in half.

Boots stopped pounding on his door and drug-drawled, “It’s just me, babe, sorry. Don’t tell [the landlord].” I gave him a death glare and made a disgusted noise, then came back in the house with a succinct slam of my door to punctuate the encounter.

HE CALLED ME BABE. Where’s the sewing kit, my vagina’s getting stitched up.

Henry heard him say “don’t tell [the landlord]” and we started cracking up, because clearly the landlord did talk to him and must have given him a warning. While we were laughing, Boots had entered the house through the basement and had begun his rage-stomp through the house, screaming his face off for Phyllis, who never answered him because she’s dead or something.

Later that evening, some man came to his house twice in search of him. He was knocking like a normal person, though he was calling Boots’ name relatively loudly. He left and came back later in search of Boots and I was like, “HE IS CLEARLY NOT HOME GO FUCK YOURSELF ASSHOLE” and Henry was all, “He’s not even doing anything — GET BACK IN THE HOUSE!” because by that point, I was throwing open my door like a wild woman looking for a fight. BOOTS IS RUINING MY LIFE.

I was home again from work om Monday but nothing much went on. I don’t think Boots even woke up until around 11 because I didn’t start hearing his footsteps until then. This is my life now. I am so fucking tuned in to every tiny movement on the other side of the wall.

I got home last night from seeing Citizen (<3) around 10:00 and while Henry was taking out the garbage, I saw a tall man walking through the yard to meet Boots, who was standing on his porch in shorts. The man seemed normal, and I think it was possibly the same man who was looking for him Sunday night. They went inside and had normal-volume conversations, which I could hear only because I muted everything SO I COULD HEAR. Now Henry thinks that maybe it’s his parole officer, because this is what we do in our spare time, sit around in our mismatched PJs, passing judgment and making crude character assessments of those on lower social rungs. (There are not many rungs lower than ours, so let us have our moment to feel better about ourselves, OK??)

Anyway, I know you were al worried but Phyllis apparently isn’t dead because I heard her fucking gross voice last night when I was trying to go to bed. I decided that I hate Phyllis more than Boots. I think I want to fight her.

The best part of my update is that while I was at work today, Henry said he was walking down the street to get Chooch who was at his friend Jaden’s house. He walked past Larry, who stopped him and said, “Hey, please don’t associate me with him,” and pointed to Boots’ house. “I’m trying to get rid of him.” If anyone knows Boots, it’s Larry, because they used to work together. So…sorry Chooch, but Larry is now our BFF and we must join forces to rid our street of Boots. I wish I had been there when this happened because I would have started asking Larry questions about Boots but dumb Henry was just like “Oh OK” and kept walking.

I need a new partner in my neighbor-spying game. Henry sucks.

Dec 062016
 

More things we know about our neighbors:

  • We are not the only people who hate them!

Monday evening was wonderful. Henry saw the neighbors leave in a blue car shortly after we came home from work, because now they have a car, I guess. This is a new development. It was around 8:30-9:00 that night, and as I mentioned in an earlier post this week, I was just trying to enjoy an episode of The Affair, motherfuckers. Suddenly, someone started banging and kicking on the neighbors’ front door.

I heard a man scream, “I see your light on, you cunt! Come out here!” So I thought, “Great, Boots is locked out again and is rearin’ to start another domestic battle with Phyllis.” But the more he banged, pounded, and kicked, the more it sounded less like he was irritated about being locked out, and more like he was literally ready to beat someone’s ass.

Then he started screaming again. This is when I began to realize that it wasn’t Boots after all. This was some other male. It sounded at one point like he said, “I saw what you did” — did he know someone in the house watched a person drown?! WAS PHIL COLLINS OUTSIDE MY HOUSE?

WHAT DID HE KNOW!?

The way this man was bellowing though, it chilled me to the bone; he was 100% raging in front of our house. He called the empty house everything from punk, prick, cunt, and faggot. And he was kicking the door with such force that it was making things in my side of the house shake.  I wanted to teleport back to m y childhood bedroom, lock the door, and crawl under the bed. But instead I just stood in the middle of the living room, in a frozen crouch, trembling. Henry ran upstairs to  try and get a look at the guy through our bedroom window, while I called 911. Hello, what if that guy comes to my door next, looking for those derelicts!? I don’t want to get caught in that crossfire!

While I talked to the dispatcher, I started to shake really bad. I mean, not that many like violence, but I really truly hate it. I know I’m into murder TV and all that, but when I see violence in real life, I want to throw up. I always think back to the time I was with Janna, my boyfriend Psycho Mike, and our friend Jon on Thanksgiving Eve in 1999. We were driving near the old Sun TV in West Mifflin (you care) when we came upon a man kicking the fuck out of another man’s head in the middle of the road. I got really upset and wanted Mike to stop the car and make the man stop, but he was like FUCK NO and sped away. I don’t think any of us had a cell phone then, either. A few minutes later, we were pulled over because apparently Mike’s mom’s car was similar to the car that the assailant was driving. I started crying and frantically tried to tell the cop what we had seen, but Mike and Jon were like STOP TALKING, LET US MEN TELL THE STORY, WOMAN. Ugh. Anyway, that was a long time ago (I don’t want to do math right now) and I still have random flashes of that night.

So I was pretty happy that the neighbors weren’t home because I don’t want to live next to a crime scene, you know?

Anyway, while I was on the phone with 911, the man finally gave up and stormed off up the street. Henry described him as being in his 40s, white, stocky, bald and wearing a dark sweatsuit. The dispatcher asked which direction he was walking, and then assured us that they would send a squad car but that if the man came back before then, to please call 911 again.

Um, YOU KNOW IT.

Then I got really nervous and started running around the house panicking because I really dislike cops and I go out of my way to make sure I never have to speak with them. “Will you do the talking?” I begged Henry, and come on, of course Henry will do the talking because he was born to be a hero. That fucking popo sycophant. Never forget the time he got to bro down with a cop the night there was a hit and run in front of our house.

“What if they come in here and mistake Trudy for a black man and shoot her?” I asked, and I promise I wasn’t even making jokes. I AM THAT LEARY OF COPS. Everything scares me these days.

“Why the hell are cops coming into our house with guns drawn and then shooting at a green mannequin!?” Henry asked incredulously.

“Because they think it’s a trap?? And they’re color blind!?” God Henry, try to consider all scenarios — that’s how you win wars!!

Guess who never showed up? THE COLORBLIND COPS.

But the neighbors did. They rolled up a bit after 10 and after a quick conference amongst ourselves, we decided that they should be given a heads up that some angry man was trying to break into their house and kill them.  So I sent Henry to do the dirty deed. I stood just inside the door so I could hear.

“What was he driving?” the daughter asked in her rough-ass hillbilly voice.

“Nothing, he was walking,” Henry answered. “He was bald—”

“Was he FAT?” Boots spat in his warbled mumble.

“I guess. He was pretty stocky,” Henry said.

“Yeah, I know who that is,” Boots said dismissively and then they went into their crack house and slammed the door with vigor. Literally no big deal, you guys. Some guy wants to kill them but they don’t give a fuck! Probably because they’re used to this kind of thing!

If I came home one night and Hot Naybor Chris was all, “Yo someone was trying to break into your house t murder you” I’d be driving to the nearest Amish town, put me in the fucking Witness Protection Program, here Chooch, don this fucking bonnet, your name is Ezekiel now.

So then I was just pissed! Fuck those motherfuckers!

“Wow, you want to talk about a group of strung-out people, holy shit, Erin,” Henry said as he closed the door and double-locked it. “They could barely even stand up straight! And the daughter looked a lot better when she had her hood up the other day,” he said, so I guess that means he hopefully won’t cheat on me with her now. (Season three of The Affair, you guys. I’ll be in a paranoid fugue state for the next few weeks.)

“You made contact! Now he thinks you guys are friends,” I said solemnly.

The rest of the evening was calm.

Until 4am. I woke abruptly to the sound of the front door being repeatedly slammed shut. Then Boots was running up and down the steps. Then the daughter started SCREAMING, “Mom! Help me!” in a deep, drawn-out tone.

Phyllis screamed, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT, GEORGIA?!?!” So hooray, now we know Daughter’s name is presumably Georgia!

But really, Georgia, what the fuck do you want at 4am?!

Then Boots’ garbled bark interrupted, and at this point, I was out of bed and standing in the hallway next to the wall because I’M UP NOW, ASSHOLES, MIGHT AS WELL SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.

As usual,  I couldn’t decipher what Boots was screaming about, but then Phyllis yelled, “I DIDN’T LOCK YOU OUT, YOU FUCKING WEIRDO!” and then it was 30 minutes of Phyllis calling him a fucking weirdo over and over and hollering about not having cigarettes, with random slams of the front door punctuating her nicotine demands.

They eventually stopped, but I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. They make my heart race, and not in some teeny-bopper Katy Perry song kind of way.

The next morning, I called Henry, who had already left for work before this went down. He said that when he was leaving, he saw Boots come out of the house and proceed to sit inside his mystery car. Maybe he was sitting in there and smoking Phyllis’s cigarettes!?

By mid-morning, I was falling asleep at my desk. And then that just made me really angry. So I texted Henry and he said he was going to try and get ahold of the landlord again. AND THIS TIME HE ANSWERED! And HNC was correct, the landlord has been traveling and admitted that he hadn’t been in touch with those dildos. He also confirmed that he has Boots set up with some type of “fix up to live” arrangement, where he’s supposed to literally be renovating the house in exchange for reduced rent, I guess.

“Well, FYI, there hasn’t been any work happening there in about a month,” Henry told him, and then ran down the laundry list of domestic disputes, house calls from the cops, screaming and slamming doors at 2-4am….

The landlord asked if we think there are drugs involved and Henry was like, “Probably most likely yes.” The landlord said that sometime last month, he sent a plumber over there to do work, and the plumber apparently found the daughter unconscious on the bathroom floor?! The landlord told Henry that he was told she has seizures and Henry was just like, “Mmmmm……ok.”

Anyway, the landlord is super pissed and said that this arrangement is obviously not going to work out and that he’ll take care of it. BUT WHEN, LANDLORD?! DO IT NOW. I was so upset yesterday that I didn’t want to come home after work.

Last night, we went over Hot Naybor Chris’s house to fill in him and his Wife-Thing about the recent events because HNC kind of knows Boots from whenever the landlord sent over the (legit) contracting company to do work on HNC’s house. Boots was working for them at that time and was apparently kind of OK?

Here is what we learned from HNC:

  • Boots’ name is George.
  • That is HIS daughter, so I guess it makes sense that her name could be Georgia for sure.
  • The “older woman” staying there is just Boots’s “friend” who is going through a rough time because her husband recently died. But I heard Georgia call her “mom”?! Ugh I’m so confused.
  • He used to work with Chooch’s nemesis Larry*, who lives two houses down, and recently told HNC that he went over there and that “There is no way George is clean” so we know that George has definitely had a drug problem, and most likely still does currently.
  • Wife-Thing said that sometimes when she comes home during the day, Boots comes out of the house and gets all up in her face and she doesn’t like that ONE BIT.
  • HNC said one night he looked out his window and saw Boots dancing in his front yard. They have a blue porch light, so HNC said he thought to himself, “What, is my blue light turning him on?” DEAD.
  • When we started to tell them about Bald Guy (which Wife-Thing heard as it was happening, btw because probably most of the block heard it), HNC interrupted and said, “Was it Dave?” and then described TOURETTE’S TO US! It took everything in me not to blurt out, “OMG now I know Tourette’s name!!”
  • Wife-Thing confirmed that something not right is going on over there and that they will also talk to the landlord about it. HNC wanted to just go straight to Boots and “talk to him” but Wife-Thing was all, “DO NOT GET INVOLVED CHRIS!!!” I agree.

They never came home last night so I was hopeful that maybe the landlord acted faster that I thought he would.

“Maybe they went on vacation,” Henry suggested.

“To where? A tenement across the city?” I spat.

But don’t worry. They’re home again.

Octavia said these assholes are lucky it’s not her husband living next to them because he would have been outside with guns drawn by now and now I wish they lived here. Have you met Henry?? He is the most non-confrontational person ever! He’d be out there not with a gun but with…a wooden spoon, like “Guys, don’t be mad at us. I made you spaghetti! Taste the sauce! Let’s be friends!”

Ugh, maybe Bald Guy will come back and take care of this for us.

*(I have a Larry-centric blog post coming later this week.)

Dec 062016
 

Let’s go over what we already know about the mystery neighbors in the other half of my duplex:

  • they’re technically supposed to be “working” on the house for our landlord.
  • they could maybe be squatting, though??
  • they’re probably illiterate.
  • definitely smoke too much because I CAN SMELL IT IN MY BEDROOM?!
  • the main players are a man and woman in their 40s/50s.
  • the woman’s name is allegedly “Melissa,” as we learned last week when Man left the house, made it halfway down the street, and then turned around and started screaming, “MELISSA!” At which point she came to the window and yelled “WHATTTTT????” in her patented Yinzer trash throat scrape.

Where we last left off, Henry reported that the cops had made a visit next door one night last week, around 2am. He said they were fighting so bad that he was getting ready to call the police himself, but someone beat him to it. We’re speculating that it was her.

After this happened, I went to work and was ranting about how trashy and psychotic these people are, and how the cops were there, etc etc. And then I had a vision of the cops over there, breaking up a domestic dispute while Henry and I are next door, churning out serial killer greeting cards under the warm glow of our Christmas mannequin. And then I started cracking up because psycho pot calling the psycho kettle black.

WE’RE NOT TRASHY THOUGH.

Well…not as much as them.

Hot Naybor Chris confirmed that the guy truly does work for a contracting company, because he was one of the guys doing work on HNC’s house a while back. Apparently, HNC was there the day that the landlord brought this guy over to do work, because HNC got to go inside the house and said that our old neighbors really did a lot of damage. Which is crazy because we RARELY HEARD THEM.

The last day I heard them do any work over there whatsoever was when I was home on Veteran’s Day. I heard drilling, hammering, your basic construction noises. Now that I’ve gotten more acquainted with these idiots, I find it hard to believe that they’re capable of hammering a nail into the wall to hang a picture of an egg in a frying pan, let alone operate actual power tools. #concern

Why haven’t we called the landlord, one might ask. Landlord has been out-of-town, apparently, possibly even out-of-country. (His wife is from Japan or something, I don’t care enough about him to keep up.) Also, anytime the landlord has any work done to his properties, he is constantly over there, pacing back and forth in his cowboy hat. This guy is no-nonsense—Henry has a video of him wrestling a shovel off a guy from the gas company who dug up our front yard and then was going to leave without solving our issue. I’m not a big fan of our landlord, but I for sure was that day.

Anyway, ever since the domestic incident, I clench up every time I hear the door slam and then the STOMP STOMP STOMPing of his boots on the steps. Actually, let’s just call him Boots from herein. I know we’ve established her name is Melissa but let’s call her…Phyllis. Because that throaty smoker’s voice, man.

I hear Boots clomping his way through the house and my brain starts screaming to me, “HIDE UNDER THE BED, DRUNK DAD’S HOME AND HIS BREATH STINKS OF JACK AND PUKE!” Something like that.

Late Wednesday night, I heard the door slam and the house shake, and then I heard the stomping of boots up the steps. A short scuffle then BAM – the door slammed again. I looked out the bedroom window and announced in a hoarse whisper to Henry, “He’s leaving again!” I watched him walk down t he street, then stop and get into the backseat of a car that rolled to a stop right in the middle of our street.

The car continued to sit there and I was getting mad. YOU CAN’T STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR ROAD, IT’S A BUSY STREET! But then BAM — the door slammed again and out scurried Phyllis. She got in the passenger seat and the car sped away.

“Maybe it was their Uber,” Henry mumbled, already falling back asleep.

But then! The boots again! His muffled voice slammed up against our bedroom wall, and PHYLLIS started Yinzering back! THEN WHO WERE THE MAN AND WOMAN WHO LEFT THE HOUSE OMFG  THERE ARE FOUR OF THEM!?

Phyllis started screaming, “GO AWAY! GO TO YOUR OWN ROOM! LEAVE ME ALONE!” I was prepared to call 911 because I don’t fuck with this shit, but then it got very quiet. And then nothing for the rest of the night. Either they passed out or died.

****

On Thursday, while I was at work, Chooch was in the house alone. Henry was across the street in the parking lot probably having an affair, like he does, when he said he noticed that a guy was walking past our house and stopped. The man looked up at our neighbor’s open bedroom window, at which point Boot poked his head out, so the man kept walking. WELL APPARENTLY HE WAS STOPPING BECAUSE UNEARTHLY SEX MOANS WERE EMANATING FROM THE WINDOW, as Chooch proved by RECORDING THE SOUNDS WITH HIS PHONE.

“Um, it sounds like maybe she was hurt or something,” Henry said when they were telling me about it after I came home from work.

“No, I’m pretty sure they were doing it. Now my childhood is ruined,” Chooch sighed dramatically.

I listened to it later and congratulates on recording the audio of your first sex tape, son.

Totally doing it.

OMG I FEEL SO VIOLATED. I WANT TO VOMIT JUST TYPING THIS. NOW MY CHILDHOOD IS RUINED TOO.

The worst part though is that Chooch said it started with her saying “Help, help.”

Was this not consensual? Is he her captor?! Is the prequel to The Room playing out on the other side of my bedroom wall?

****

Friday was blissfully neighbor-free. Maybe they were dead? We kind of didn’t care.

But then Saturday morning rolled around. Henry was leaving to “go to the store” (i.e. cheat on me behind a pile of empty milk crates in the back of Giant Eagle) and he texted me excitedly because he saw Phyllis on his way out and she nervously said “Morning” to him. GREAT NOW HE’S GOING TO CHEAT ON ME WITH HER, TOO. Anyway, he said she looked young, like in her 20s and I said for sure that couldn’t be Phyllis then because I saw Phyllis once a few weeks ago when she and Boots were scurrying down the sidewalk with their gas station coffee. So now it was really starting to sound like Phyllis’s daughter is squatting there as well, and that’s who I saw leaving the house late Thursday night.

After Henry sent that text, I heard the basement door slam and Boots’ signature stomp began to shake the house.

“Don’t you think it’s weird how Boots always comes in through the basement?” I later said to Henry.

“Yeah, because he doesn’t have a key. The keys are in our house!” And then Henry reminded me that Chooch found keys in the front yard a few weeks ago, and how shortly after that, we heard what sounded like the basement door being kicked in. Because it sounds like Phyllis and Daughter keep Boots locked out, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

Meanwhile, I was sitting at the desk in my bedroom, painting. My desk butts up against our shared wall, so I had a prime seat for when the Real Phyllis woke up and started screaming because “YOU CAME IN MY ROOM LAST NIGHT AND TOOK MY BLANKET OFF MY BED!”

So now we know there’s at least a bed over there! And we think it was left there by the family who lived there before them because this merry band of misfits never actually moved anything in. So ew, gross.

Boots was all, “MWWAAAAHMWWAAAAHHHH” because I can never understand anything when it’s his turn to talk, he sounds like a fucking throatless hobo with three pairs of balls in his mouth. The next thing I knew, he was out on the front porch screaming at her, but she must have been standing in the doorway, because I could only see him from my bedroom window, pelvis a’thrust, arms flapping limply at his side. They were fighting over money at this point. I was barely able to discern the words, “OH YEAH OK, YOU BOUGHT IT, MMMHMMM” and if I were Phyllis, I’d have punched that Coke bottle eyeball’d motherfucker in the face. Ugh. Of course I didn’t have my phone, and by the time I ran downstairs to get it, they had retreated back to home base—the bedroom—where a fight over CEREAL ensued:

My phone shouldn’t be able to pick that up through a WALL. I’ve had plenty of neighbors living over there through the years, and we rarely could hear voices, only occasional bass from TV/radios. It takes some heavy-duty shouting to be heard through those walls.

And then they went quiet for most of the day. Later in the evening, they were gathered in The Room again, but they seemed to be coexisting peacefully so the sound of my radio was enough to drone out their slurred, cigarette-ravaged voices. They could film This Is Your Brain on Drugs commercials over there.

Pretty sure we witnessed Daughter buying drugs in front of the house that night, though.

Sunday: FULL DAY OF QUIET. We decided they must have fired up the caravan and visited some other crack den for the day.

TO BE CONTINUED because I’m still stressed out from living Part 2 last night.