Aug 122022
 

Yo yo yo we’re currently en route to Wildwood and I’m not doing a TRADITIONAL LIVEBLOG but here are some PICTURES.

Chooch has been into reading again ever since Mexico (thank you to his new friends for inspiring him to read again! He’s currently reading Bullet Train (Bad Bunny is evidently in the movie and Chooch’s “Mexico Squad” are obsessed with him so I assume this is what instigated his desire to read the book?) and is having such a good time with it that’s he’s intermittently cracking up in the backseat and has already rated it 5 stars on Goodreads even though he’s only 1/3 done.

Meanwhile I’m reading this which is blah:

Stopped at the same rest area in Bedford where we ran into Bridget last fall!

There’s a cool wall of Turnpike artifacts that I never bothered to look at until today.

I thought they were CHEERSing their Starbucks but I dunno what was actually happening. Also it annoys me that anytime Chooch GRUDGINGLY lets me have a sip of his drinks, he immediately gropes for a napkin to wipe off the lid. Dude, I’m your MOTHER?!

We are currently driving thru the stinkiest stretch of Pennsylvania, holy fucking shit.

At another rest stop. This guy is stocking the pastry shelf and HIS GIRLFRIEND JACKED HER FINGER UP TODAY REAL GOOD BUT SHE WON’T GO TO THE DOCTOR.

Omg another rest stop!

I dunno why this is so funny to me but Chooch obv. does not agree.

Trying to get a picture of the super moon that’s been evading him all night.

We’ll be at our hotel in Somewhere, NJ in about 20 minutes (11pm) and then tomorrow we’ll have another hour to drive before WILDWOOD so I am signing off now byeeee.

Aug 092022
 
Oh man, after the Red Arrow, we went to Newbury Comics and spent a good hour there. I went straight for the kpop section and Alyson came with me! I thought she was just humoring me at first, but she stayed with me the whole time and asked me questions about various groups and why some albums came in big boxes while others didn’t, and I was beside myself with excitement to be sharing this part of my life with a friend! And Henry was in such a good mood that he was like, “I don’t care,” when I ran over and asked, “CAN I GET STRAY KIDS,  TOO??”
Anyway, here’s my haul! (Plus the GOT7 album that Alyson gifted to me!)

On the way back to Alyson’s, she asked me to put on Taemin and I was like OMG GLADLY. You guys, no one has requested that I put on kpop before so this was…it was just a good feeling. I felt truly happy and seen! And then back at Alyson’s, I unboxed everything and she was like WHO DID YOU GET? because photocard anticipation is contagious!

I was really just in the most happiest zone all weekend, I swear to G-Dragon.

Later that afternoon, it was ICE CREAM TIME. We drove across the border to Massachusetts for some homemade Dr. Davis Ice Cream.

They had “frozen pudding” as a flavor and I homed in this immediately because I had never heard of such an ice cream combination before. I was going to make Henry order it in case I didn’t like it, but then he asked if he could sample it. Thank god, because he let me try it and it was NOT what I was expecting, so he didn’t order it. I was anticipating something akin to a Pudding Pop only not shilled by a serial rapist, but it was more like a muted vanilla with a hint of cherry? It wasn’t bad by any means, but also not what I was in the mood for.
I ended getting birthday cake because that’s totally my signature flavor tied with red velvet, and also a scoop of Grahamtastic, which was in fact extremely graham and tastic. I loved both of my picks so much, but Alyson’s was the most visually pleasing out of all of ours and now I regret not snapping a pic, but she had bubblegum in a cone with chocolate sprinkles, and it was just had THE LOOK of SUMMER FUN to it.

And then Ryan got a banana split which made me have major ordering remorse because maybe it was actually a sundae that I was craving after all?? UGH I should have made Henry order a SUNDAE!!

Henry ended up getting pineapple coconut or something and it tasted fine but it didn’t HIT my SPOT. Maybe he planned it that way so I wouldn’t be stealing bites?? But then he went back and got a second scoop of butter rum or something, I can’t remember but it was definitely a nursing home flavor and also, it was delicious.

In my zone, my ice cream zone.

Next, we went to Brookdale Fruit Farm! Henry and I had a quiet fight (mostly through flared nostrils and dagger eyes) over my want of a jar of CARROT CAKE SPREAD which Henry thought was OVERPRICED and then asked, “What would you even eat this with?” and I scoffed, “OATMEAL OR WHATEVER I WANT, ALSO NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS” and then I said, “JUST FORGET IT” and put it back but he snatched it back off the shelf and then we had a tug of war in front of an old guy and I never want old people to think I’m a jerk so I let Henry take it but then when we was in line to pay, I grabbed it and put it back on the shelf and then spent the next five minutes mouthing, “DIE, I HATE YOU” to him when Alyson and Ryan weren’t looking but then I was OK once we embarked on our ORCHARD WALK.
I think I just needed to be walked.
We had so much fun walking around all the baby apples and posing for Alyson!

Alyson, looking for frogs.

And now for some LOG PORTRAITS…

I love this picture because Henry looks like he’s hoping to be abducted by orchard aliens, like, “GET ME OUT OF HERE, PLZ, I’LL TAKE ANAL PROBES ANYDAY OVER THIS LOG PHOTO SHOOT.”

Did somebody say….”individually-wrapped prunes??”

My repertoire of poses is very sparse.
I knew this was Queen’s Anne Lace but I never knew that the black dot in the middle was supposed to be “blood” from when she pricked her finger making the lace! Alyson was basically like an orchard tour guide!

Muskrat Watch.

(Also this is how I learned that in Alyson’s region of America, groundhogs are called woodchucks! I never knew they were the same thing!

I so badly want this to be a Ludacris-branded Honeycrisp.

Ryan was taking pictures of a butterfly so then I had to do it too because I’m a follower.

We walked so much! I appreciated that they knew I needed steps and placed me in a scenario where I could achieve my goal. And also that they’re both FitBit users as well and understand the compulsion of counting steps. I love being outside so much and this was such a nice vibe. We did lose Ryan for an extended amount of time though because we got sidetracked by MUSKRAT WATCH.

By the time we made it back to the parking lot, the actual farm store had closed and we were the only car in the lot.

Then it was CEMETERY TIME, which I already posted about and a quick tour of downtown Nashua, where I learned that this fancy restaurant used to be a whore house:

…and that Stephen Tyler’s mom is in a nearby nursing home and he’s sometimes spotted around town!

Eventually, it was time to say goodbye since Alyson’s work days start really early and we had a long drive ahead of us the next day. It was so hard to leave though! Relaxing on their back porch & chatting was so much fun and it really sucks that there is nearly 10 hours of driving time between us. I hope it’s not another nine years before we get to see each other again!

I feel really #blessed that I got to see Bill and Jessi, and Alyson and Ryan, all in the same month. They are all on my very short list of favorite people. Thank you for making time for us, Alyson and Ryan, and for making my birthday so memorable and sweet!

Aug 072022
 

Sunday morning, we picked up Alyson and then went to meet Ryan at his mom’s condo, which is in an old shoe factory and super trendy. I would consider dumping Henry and moving to Manchester, NH to live the single life in a swanky industrial condo.

The building kept some of the original factory things, which made it even more awesome. I am all for retaining history while repurposing a thing.

We got to briefly meet Ryan’s mom while Ryan was finishing up her breakfast – their relationship is adorable and is GOALS for me – although I’m not sure if being in a position where Chooch is my caregiver is something that I should really strive for.

Actually, I just started to clench up at the thought.

But the banter that Ryan and his mom was actually precious and entertaining!

After listening to some music Ryan is working on and dying over the in-progress track list of his and Alyson’s metal album about NOTARY THINGS, we drove to the nearby Red Arrow Diner, which is FAMOUS and real-life presidents have dined there! This is one of my favorite things to do when visiting a new place – dine at famous establishments!

Being scolded by Ryan!

“Now just so you know, this is a FAMOUS diner that ADAM SANDLER has frequented, so don’t go embarrassing me in here, you two!”

The Red Arrow is very very very tiny so we sat at the counter rather than waiting for one of the handful of booths to free up, and that actually turned out to be a great decision because it made me feel like I was a part of things. The two waitresses (Robin, pictured above, was ours and she was FANTASTIC and NO-NONSENSE) had some kind of fake-beef going on with the kitchen crew and it was pretty entertaining.

Henry sat on the same stool that once supported GUY FIERI’S diner-hopping buttocks so I had to immediately text my friend Bill, avid Fieri-hater, who responded with, “That is a cursed seat. I can only imagine the burden Sandra Bernhard carries.”

I brought a mug home with me!

Robin over there giving the kitchen crew a piece of her mind, probably.

J/K! Both Robin and the other lady would always say APPRECIATE YOU after yelling, “CAN I GET A MAPLE SYRUP?!” Also, it was such a tight and narrow space back there that observing both servers maneuver around each other was almost like watching a well-choreographed dance.

I look so tired here but I was extremely content – and hungry!

I had to send this to Chooch because when Romney ran against Obama, Chooch was a staunch hater. I remember being at work one night and Henry texting me that Chooch had popped off in Kmart about how he hoped THAT MITT ROMNEY would lose, lol – he was like 6 or something at the time but had a very firm politcal stance.

OK, I was teetering back and forth between sweet vs savory breakfast but I knew we were going to get ice cream later, so I went with the caprese omelet and RYE TOAST which ended up being the star of the show for me, Bob. It was the type of rye I crave – the thick, fresh, marbeled variety! I was talking about this toast for a solid three days afterward and Henry was just like BEAM ME UP SCOTTY.

I have no idea why my fingers typed those words with absolutely no prompt from my brain because I have never actually watched Star Trek nor do I remember the last time I even heard someone say that? Sometimes I think I become briefly possessed by people I have nothing in common with when I’m writing in here.

I love these pictures so much. Great food and meaningful conversation with awesome friends – the best combo!

ROBIN!

Oh yeah! Then the servers went around and asked if it was anyone’s first time, and if so, where were we from. I was super excited about this – WHAT DID IT MEAN? WOULD THERE BE A CEREMONY?? Especially when Robin ripped several stickers off a roll, held them against her chest, and said DON’T LOOK!

Then the other server RANG A BELL and made an announcement, calling out the locations of the first-timers! She forgot Pittsburgh though and I was sad, but then she remembered and went back and gave us a separate shout-out which was really exciting until I remembered that we were in a region of Pittsburgh haters (THANKS, STEELERS) so then I was trying to hide my face, lol. Anyway, Robin made us put on the stickers and I did so happily. This is also when I realized that there was another roll of CLEAN PLATE AWARD stickers and from then on, I was on a mission to clean my damn plate to get the AWARD.

Of course I succeeded and I was so smug about it, since Henry’s plate wasn’t clean.

BUT THEN HE GOT A STICKER TOO?? I was incredulous over this!

“You still have beans on your plate!!!” I cried, but he tried to legitimize it by saying that they were on “the saucer” portion of the bowl and “were served that way” and that he wasn’t going to “eat them off that plate.”

Um, OK? Seems ridiculous to me, but cook on.

Alyson later commented on Instagram that some people’s awards were won fraudulently, and now FRAUDULENT, FAMOUS BAKED BEANS is part of our TOLHURT repertoire.

My sticker, which was won fairly.

Thank you.

Oh man, we also nabbed one of these for the road, which we ate later that night and I wish we had opted for the bulk package that they offered.

My verdict is that the Red Arrow delivers. I can see why it’s famous and I already can’t wait to go back and try some pie with a side of RYE TOAST.

Thank you for taking us here, Alyson! Good call!

Aug 052022
 

Please allow me to get a little out of order here and skip ahead to our Sunday evening in Hollis, New Hampshire, where we stopped to stroll about an old ass cemetery. In Pittsburgh, we don’t have any that are *this* old obviously so I was glad for this chance to ogle some 18th century tombstones, after a full day of Famous Diner’ing, Kpop shopping, ice creaming, apple orchard walking – all of which I will get to soon!

1743!!!!

Blending in!

We all split up and quietly observed the history. I was looking for either mine or Chooch’s birthdates because that’s what we do when we go on walks in cemeteries here and whoever spots theirs first wins. I didn’t see any 7/30 or 4/25, sadly :(

We were obsessed with the fact that GEORGEHENRY’s headstone was bigger than his parents and his dad was A DOCTOR! Probably the ONLY DOCTOR, even!

“What’s that finger-pointing symbol mean? I’m #1?” I asked, only moderately joking.

Hennry googled it and it apparently means that he’s going up to Heaven so I guess he’s the only one, because no one else had that.

Michael Myers in the Cemetery stance.

This one was my favorite.

I love how thin the headstones were back then.

Henry and I actually bonded a little over our shared disgust at the FONT that some of these headstones used, where the S looked like an F. HIDEOUS.

DISGUSTING!

Repulsive.

We were obsessed with this one because there was a 40-something age difference between these two.

Abigail and Ebenezer – classic.

DEATH BY ACCIDENTAL CANNON DISCHARGE, zzzzzzoinkers.

Lydia is such a great fucking name. Lydia and Enoch. I wonder if they were a fun couple, getting drunk on boot juice and spreading rumors about who has syphilis.

Man, this was a really peaceful, quiet interlude to an excellent weekend. I’m glad that it’s something we call could experience and appreciate together!

Aug 042022
 

I posted a bunch of these pictures on Insta and my friend Maya said, “Lots of genuine happiness showing through in these…” The Internet and social media definitely have so many negative contributions to life, but without it, I may never have made such true, real friendships, like with Alyson, and Bill & Jessi who we also had the opportunity to spend time with earlier this summer. It sucks that there is so much distance between us but when we get the chance to reunite, it’s literally a party and Maya is so right – you can tell that my smile is real in these! And Henry is, well, Henry.

Alyson and Ryan are both FitBit users so they understood my need to meet my step count for the day and suggested that we take a stroll through the nearby Greeley Park. I kept thinking of the metalcore band Greeley Estates and it was making me nostalgic for Warped Tours of yesteryear. Anyway, this park was so beautiful and forest-y.

Henry looks exactly the same in both shots lol.

I was really this happy all weekend!

The main attraction was the FAMOUS BATHROOM that serves as a backdrop for wedding portraits and the like. I can confirm that, for a public restroom, it really had the most majestic facade. Here’s a picture of NO PICTURES, PLEASE Henry.

Alyson snapped this one – we tag-teamed him and he was not pleased, lol. Two people obsessed with taking his picture? Oof!

I mean, I was drunk, but I didn’t think Henry was – this picture says otherwise!

Serious contemplation.

You guys, I love them so much, lol!

Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube People.

We had such a fun time running around like dummies, watching Ryan climbing a tree (Henry, alleged Tree Climber Extraordinaire according to his mom, suddenly “didn’t feel like” climbing the tree. SUSPISH.), and sitting on cannon things!

Henry found one of his beloved TOBY TREES so we all pretended to be pre-teen Henrys, tokin’ on Tobys. (I still don’t really know how/why anyone would smoke these?? I surely never did as a kid?!)

When we came back to the Wilson abode, Ryan and Alyson got to work on some clandestine dinner which turned out to be 순두부찌개 (soondubu jjigae)!!! I could NOT believe it and came very close to crying because it meant so much to me that they were willing to cook something Korean for me (ugh, apparently Henry was their consultant on this matter, but I give Alyson and Ryan all the credit!). I actually haven’t had any kind of 찌개 in quite some time so it tasted extra good and heart-warming!

Honestly, it turned out so great and was the perfect “I’ve been drinking all day” dinner!

And then a FRUITY PEBBLE CUPCAKE! It was so rich, a real chunky boy! Bigger than my fist! The cake itself was lemon, which is my second favorite cake flavor, next to almond, so I was super content. Korean food and a cupcake? The perfect birthday dinner!

As if that wasn’t enough, I was then gifted with the most recent GOT7 album and I screamed, especially when I pulled my bias Youngjae’s photocard! This was Ryan and Alyson’s first time watching a Kpop album unboxing and they were like WHOA.

“No one buys it for the actual CD,” Henry mumbled.

“Yeah, it’s all about the photobook and other surplus items they throw in,” I explained, holding up a sheet of stickers.

Ryan admitted that this was pretty smart marketing and now I want him and Alyson to do a whole boxed set with a photobook and stickers when they record their metal album about the notary stuff. (Alyson let me see her song list and it is EPIC.) She said she wants one of the pictures to be her angrily stamping papers.

I’m high-key obsessed with this album coming into fruition now.

Day One was so much fun! In honor of my new GOT7 album, I will end this with their member Jackson Wang’s new solo song, Cruel, which just came out last Friday and I watched it before we left for the weekend while Henry was doing all the work packing the car, and maybe this is why he forgot our entire toiletry bag and therefore had to make an early-morning Rite Aid run the next day.

 

Aug 022022
 

Ahhh I’m so excited for these upcoming recaps but also sad because it means the weekend is over. OK, lemme set this shit up for:

I always get depressed on my birthday – not because of AGING, although that’s NOT GREAT. I feel like I whine about this every other year so we’ll skip the history of my birthday depression this time and go right into the remedy: planning something fun so that I have a thing to look forward to. This year, Chooch would be missing my birthday because he chose Mexico over me, so I decided that I wanted to go somewhere for the weekend just to get away and have All of the Fun. I can’t remember why but my friend Alyson and I were engaging in our patented giddy texts – probably something about Hot Naybor Chris or Henry crossing the street, who even knows with us! And it got me thinking that I haven’t seen her in way too long! I had to go back in my blog to find the exact year, and I’m pretty sure it was the winter of 2014 when she was in Pgh to see a band she loved/was friends with and I hung out with them later in her hotel room, where we drank good wine and ate chocolate made by BOBBY BLITZ’S wife.

That was her third time here in Pittsburgh, visiting, and we had only gone to visit her in New Hampshire ONCE so it was definitely our turn. I asked her if she’d be up for it and she said YES and when my birthday weekend was one of the options she suggested, it felt like it was meant to be!

We’ve known each other since 2005, where we met on LiveJournal and I am so thankful that our long-distance friendship has managed to stay solid over all of these years. It’s not often that someone else scream-laughs over the same senseless shit as me!

We left Friday morning and the plan was to get to our hotel in Nashua around 9pm that night and meet for breakfast in the morning, but if you read my liveblog, then you know I managed to stretch Friday out until near-snapping point and we didn’t arrive until 1AM. LOL, sorry Henry.

When we got to Alyson’s Saturday morning, I ALMOST cried. ALMOST. I was just so emotional! Every year, I would write, “MAYBE <INSERT NEXT YEAR> WILL BE THE YEAR WE SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN!” and finally, 2022 was the magic year. YEAH. BOI.

The only request I had for the whole weekend was BREAKFAST AT PARKER’S MAPLE BARN. Alyson took us here in 2013, where she famously grilled Henry about TED NUGENT. 

I was irrationally mad that Henry and I both wore purple. Especially since his shirt is the shade of purple I like most. Ugh.

First we had to sit in the quarantine room and wait for a table. The hostess even came and SHUT THE DOOR and I started to panic because there was no handle on our side of it!! But then Alyson got the TABLE READY text and Henry strode right up to the door like he had built it himself with tools he carries around in his trunk, and wrenched it right open. We were so in awe.

J/K, no one cared.

But then as one of the hostesses was gathering our menus, she was talking on the phone / bluetooth the whole time about what sounded like personal matters. I was like, “Wow, I don’t want to say this out loud and bring down the mood, but this broad is being super rude.” When we got to our table, Henry kept going on and on about “was there in a hole in the floor?” and finally I snapped, “OMG what are you talking about??” and he was shook that we didn’t see the other hostess behind the register, laying on the floor.

“Oh, was that who our hostess was talking to?? I thought she was on the phone. I was going to say, wow she’s so rude” and Alyson said she was thinking the same thing!

I dunno, I just asked him about it again and his story is awfully convoluted. I have no idea what was happening. “Maybe there was a downstairs,” I don’t know,” he just said exasperatedly so now he has the hostess standing on steps to a storm cellar instead of laying prone on the wooden floor.

We saw SAID HOSTESS a few minutes later, walking about like she hadn’t just been allegedly lying on the floor, so I’m not sure what the hell Henry thought he saw. But now I’m obsessed with knowing.

The main reason I wanted to come here was for the maple coffee – I had never even *heard* of or considered the possibility of maple coffee before  my first visit to Parker’s and scoffed a few years later when STARBUCKS came late onto the maple scene.

It was just as divine as I remembered!

We all had delicious breakfasts but I think Henry won the fast breaking game by choosing DEEPFRIED over grilled when the waitress asked him how he wanted his side of French toast cooked. Holy shit I never want non-deepfried French toast ever again after tasting that.

Henry, post-bathroom emergence.

Henry took this so it is v. unflattering toward me but I need every picture of Alyson and me together so I did not delete! Also, one of the signs is in Korean! It’s the one on the righthand tree, all alone.

Basically the same picture but this filter always tickles me.

Alyson took this of Henry exiting the gift shop, where we bought maple syrup for Chooch and some candy.

After breakfast, we went the long way back to Alyson’s so that we could stop at a nursery called The House on the Side of the Road, I think? It was so cute! They give you small bags of freshly popped complimentary popcorn to eat while plant-perusing!

I bought these two babies and Henry said he was surprised that was all I walked away with. Trust me, I was eyeing up so many more!

Back at the Wilson Residence, we finally met Ryan, who put mimosas in our hands and we proceeded to have the most relaxing / sloshy afternoon, chatting about everything, watching Alyson angrily highlight a misspelling in her cocktail recipe book, and watching the wildlife in their backyard. Also spying on their neighbors, so you know I felt right at home!!

I brought Alyson some Narcisi wine because she was the only person who thought my brother Corey’s and my obsession with this place was funny. She and I alone killed this bottle, plus I took copious swigs of all the delicious frozen drinks she was serving up to Henry.

Yoooo, I was plastered! I drink so infrequently these days that even one drink hits me hard. But, it was my birthday and we weren’t going anywhere, so I kept drinking!

Then, and I can’t even believe this happened and Henry swears he didn’t tell him to do it, but Chooch Facetimed me from Merida!! He was at the beach with his friends and he even let one of them talk to me! I was probably slurring but he’s used to me being weird on the phone so he probably didn’t notice. Alyson got to talk to him too!

This is a good spot to end Part 1!

Aug 012022
 


Today was all car, all the time. We left Nashua around 8am after splitting a leftover birthday cupcake (thanks, Alyson!), agreed on an audiobook, and settled in for the long-haul drive. (A bit over 9 hours, plus all the inevitable stopping.)

I didn’t LiveBlog since we were audiobooking but I probably should have because the book was a ZERO STAR for me, son.

(It was “All I Want” by Darcey Bell, in case you care. I will probably have lots of mean things to say about it in my August book wrap-up.)

Anyway, that picture is from a NY rest stop. I thought the flowers were pretty, because I am 43 now and these are things that delight the Elder Eyes.


For lunch, we went to Apple Valley Restaurant in Milford PA (?). This was after we stopped at a Pilot where some tractor trailer had the audacity to block the exit and one of the Pilot guys had to continually get on the loud speaker to call out the truck # and chastise the driver in an overly friendly tone about how it’s rude to do so and other truckers are now blocked in and he is GOING TO HAVE HIM TOWED IF HE DOESNT COME OUT AND MOVE HIS DAMN TRUCK. Then he went back to showers today look for him there! The other guys working the counter were weighing in on this, how they can always tell which driver it is by the guilty look on their faces but how they will never come forward, and it was really quite something. Trucker drama. Wow.

I actually didn’t understand what the guy had done and Henry explained it to me but it sounded stupid aka I still didn’t understand.

But yeah Apple Valley was not our first or even second or third choice but the one place looked permanently closed, the other made me feel uncomfortable when we pulled in the lot (it was fast-foodish but there were a lot of people eating outside and the inside was packed), but Apple Valley claimed to have a veggie burger so winner winner.

Immediately I was mad because Henry asked for a booth and the only one was right by the lobby so I didn’t get to see the bowels on this wood-paneled eatery. I pouted about this for some time and then pretended to act like I was balking at the prices just to see what Henry would say and when he was like “we can leave…” I snapped, “OH OK SO YOU THINK WE ARE TOO POOR TO EAT HERE THEN?”

We stayed and it’s a good thing too because my veggie burger (which I was expecting to be OUT OF STOCK because supply demands / economy stuff I don’t put attention to etc) was actually pretty delicious. It had avo and also some wonderful pesto mayo on it.


Thick Boi! It was thicker than Henry’s Real Meat Burger!

Also I loved the fancy metal plates.

Our waiter was a young guy named Derrick but Henry thought he said Dick. He was ok but kept disappearing and the hostess had to go looking for me because he was probably out back filming TikToks.

Afterward, we checked out the adjacent candy store where I ended up coming face to face with what is now known as Megan’s Birthday Present, and then I spotted a Mr Gray Guy outside who turned out to be a Mrs Gray Girl so Henry went to the car to get peanuts and I fed her!!

Flying J is next to PA mountains, therefore making it an ok place to stop.

Me in the bathroom looking haggard because I’m 43 now and road trips are now very tiring for me.

We only stopped at one (1) Sheetz if you can believe that!! But it was memorable because Siouxsie and the Banshee’s “Kiss Them For Me” was playing and I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I heard that in the wild?! This was after we getting gas at Pilot earlier and the gas pumps were ensconced in the synthy majesty of Running Up That Hill.

And not nearly as unexpected but equally as audibly delicious, S vussudio was playing at some point too today – maybe at a Love’s?! Henry clearly tries to hit them all.

We finished the book about 30 minutes outside of Pgh and ranted about it angrily until we got home. The end.

P.S. The lowlight was the book in case you couldn’t tell.

Jul 292022
 

Good morn’. It’s 9:00am and we’ve departed for our latest weekend adventure. It feels like we left the house an hour ago but we got tied up in a long Dunkin drive thru line and are currently only in Cranberry. Lame.

I convinced Henry to take a slightly longer route to our destination, which will take us through NY instead of across the entire length of Pennsylvania. I’m so sick of making that same drive over and over. I did have an ulterior motive though – this route takes us through Buffalo and I want vegan füdz for lunch.

I brought this book along for the ride. I can go either way with Riley Sager (Henry hates his books) so we’ll see where we land with this one. You care.

I just held the door open for someone at GetGo and as I was making a gloating face to Henry, I almost crashed into the guy I held the door open for so now Henry is clowning me.

Henry got a Krispy Kreme at Get Go and I took a small bite because I don’t often have these things. I think they’re fine but I still don’t understand why people hyperventilate over them. I remember when my hometown got its first location and my family, who had grown to love them thanks to all the car show road trips they went on without me, the Family Pariah, went fucking nuts. Mostly my dad, who was obsessed with these breakfast sweets that are neither crispy nor creamy. This was back when my dad and I hated each other so I think I probably intentionally went into it being a bitter Betty, pre-hating them because I refused to agree with my dad on anything then lol oh teenage Erin. You were a fucking delight.

11:06am: We’re almost in NY! Lake Erie has been on our left for quite some time. I have been quietly reading my book like a precious Princess while Henry houses palmfuls of trail mix.

Made the mistake of asking Henry why gas prices vary by state and now he’s droning on about taxes, totally ruining Taemin’s “IDEA” which is currently playing, so I said “I’m bored now” as I looked longingly out the window.

“Always nice talking to you,” he sighed.

11:40am: a gaggle of Hell’s Angels just puttered past us and I was tempted to flip them off to see if Henry would defend me once we pull into the next rest stop and see them waiting for us. He asked me to please not. Now we’re talking about who kills more people: them or the Pagans and Henry said probably them because they’re “more nationwide.” I wonder if he knows that from when he was studying them to pass the admission test that he ultimately failed because he has NARC written all over him.

“Their leader just died,” he said (why does he know this?!).

“Was he an out of shape slob like the ones that drove past?”

“Well no. He was very skinny because he had cancer.”

That killed the convo.

12:03pm: at my fave rest stop in New York.

He was made because I yelled HENRY just so I could take this lol. Some kid stood at the glass and got a passing by truck to beep and I cried I WANT TO DO IT TOO but Henry muttered “come on.”

LEAVING THE REST AREA AND SPOTTED THE HELLS ANGELS. this was the best shot I could get because Henry didn’t want to get killed.

1:24pm: Just left Sunshine Vegan!

Ok, I loved it. Black-owned vegan establishments just do it better. That’s facts. First of all, we walked in and the owner’s son joyfully greeted us with the announcement that it was his moms birthday and I was like Lord what’s it like to have a kid who cares about your bday?? It was just such a welcoming atmosphere.

I got a po’boy (I’m obsessed with vegan shrimp done right and this was it), Henry got some type of veggie sub (he thought it was a burger lol), and we got a carrot “tuna” salad dip to share. It was all so delicious and I didn’t feel like shit afterward.

And oh my LORD whatever that green sauce is, I wanted to lick every runaway drop off the plate.

This dog’s name is Dinero and he hated Henry! Yessss.

2:14pm: Made Henry detour to some village called OAKFIELD for donuts at some okay donuterie called Sweet Ally’s. I actually couldn’t finish my fruity pebble donut and gave it to Henry but the few bites I had were ok. Nothing to write home about except I guess that is what I’m technically doing??

The best part was this small park behind the donut place that gave walking prompts!! I won at it.

Actually the highlight of this was when Henry was struggling to get SIRI to understand that he needed directions to Sweet Ally’s. She had us going to Utah at one part. I was laughing so hard and he legit yelled at me which made laugh harder.

3:22pm: Stopped in Seabreeze Park land to do some Lake Ontario stuff!

The public restroom here was like a prison cell!

4:03pm: Back in the car. Here are some pictures from our LAKE ADVENTURE which wasn’t much of an adventure but it was still nice to get out of the car and sit on a large rock above splashing lake waves while pretending it was the ocean.

Ok, stay predominating, preDon’s.

Anyway, Henry and I are actually really enjoying each other’s company amazingly even though I did at one point snip: Why can’t you just do what I want and keep your mouth shut about it?” He was like WOW but then proceeded to do what I want hahaha.

Also!! I asked him if he got me something for my bday (tomorrow!!) and he said but that he can’t give it to me until Chooch is back and if that’s my present…I mean, yay! But also, can I have STUFF too? I’m a very STUFF-centric bitch.

6:39pm: We’re at Eddie’s in Sylvan Beach for dinner and regardless of how the food ends up being, this restaurant is MY STYLE. It got mediocre reviews on Yelp for being DATED and LIVING IN THE PAST and NO RENOVATIONS SINCE THE 60s which is how I knew it was the right choice.

That vinyl / carpet combo!

Also, our waitress’s name is Hannah and of course it is because she looks like every Hannah over ever known. (She is very nice.)

News flash: Henry chose PEPPERCORN as the dressing for his salad. I have never known him to select this?!

And then it looked like bleu cheese and he said no it’s peppercorn so I was like HOW DO U KNOW ITS PEPPERCORN and he said because he could taste the peppercorns?! What do they taste like?! Peppery corns?!

Before we ate, we bought some tickets because GALAXI was running this time! Sorry Chooch but we snagged a coaster credit that you don’t have. (Although, he got a country credit that I don’t have so I think he wins this round lol.)

I thought Henry was holding his nose because he too was bothered by the STRONG currents of B.O. being tossed around on this carnival coaster but I guess he just had an itch. It was a really strong stench. Anyway, we thought this was going to be tough and janky but it was surprisingly pleasant! I was a fan.

Couldn’t pass this up! Did it get worse than last year somehow? It just felt like we were mostly in the dark and the “scares” were barely lit. Oh well, I only ride it for that nostalgic aroma of must and grease, and the sound of the pretzel cars turning corners. It’s a vibe.

After eating, I demanded that we walk around some more to digest. Because of all this LOLLYGAGGING, our ETA in Nashua is now 12:18am lolololol.

Today is just “casual driving day” or as Henry calls it “Never Gonna Get There” day lol.

I can’t believe I got milquetoast Henry to do this.

The ride operator was oiling the track!

“I bet he had to sign waivers for that,” I said.

“I bet he didn’t,” Henry said in his I KNOW THINGS tone.

Same day, different lake. This is Lake Oneida! I fell in love with Sylvan Beach when we were visited last September and that love is still going strong. It is such a cute little vacation town! I’m already pining for it.

Anyway, when we left, Henry made me drive for almost TWO HOURS. Ok, 90 minutes. But that was annoying because he always sleeps when I drive so I’m basically driving alone. And I wanted to read my book some more but now it’s 9:23 and dark so thanks Hank.

Well, I’m going to post this now since it’s going to essentially be tomorrow when we check into our hotel. I’ll update if anything noteworthy happens!!

11:50pm: Still in the car as expected but I just realized who our waitress reminded me of:

HOLLY J from DeGrassi, also can a Look be any more early-2000s?!

1:00am: we’re here. Good fucking night.

Jul 272022
 

Now that Chooch has a “squad” in Mexico, we’re getting less and less updates from him and that’s FINE, let the boy live his life, etc etc. But damn yo it’s excruciating being a mom over here waiting to be fed, yanno?

He sends us the dumbest pictures too and then doesn’t even tell us what they are so basically we’re at the mercy of the CIEE Yucatán insta. Let’s see what they shared during week 2:

Except for this! Chooch sent it to me because he went ice skating and had to exchange his skates multiple times and then got a BIG BLISTER. This was right after he went to the beach and got a BIG SUNBURN.

On Monday of Week 2, they made pinatas! I was definitely a little jealous because my Monday just consisted of screaming into the void, which is also known as Monday thru Friday.

Then one day, they went to a museum to look at ART and I did not know this until CIEE posted pictures.

Last weekend, they had an overnight trip to Vallodolid, where they went to the 7th wonder of the world, Chichen Itza, saw spider monkeys which he didn’t tell me about until I ASKED, and swam in a cenote. They ziplined too!

You guys, this is apparently his squad! Why was I worried about him going on this solo trip and being miserable? He always makes friends so fast!

I *am* annoyed that he was one of the few that didn’t have on the CIEE shirt. I’m sure he wasn’t paying attention and missed the memo, which is very on brand.

I think this is his Level 2 group. I’m pretty impressed that he’s only taken one high school year of Spanish and managed to place himself into the middle of three levels! I was laughing though because he told Janna before he left that he didn’t know any Spanish and she seemed concerned about this. I was like, “He’s probably trolling you, Janna” and she was like, “You’re probably right.” I mean, whose son is he?!

It’s so weird, but over the weekend I was going through some boxes of photos that I brought home from my grandparent’s house in 2016 and there was a stack of photos from when my Aunt Sharon visited the Yucatan in the 90s. Then, the same day, I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers and she was showing some stuff from her closet that she was donating to ThreadUp She held up a dress and said, “Here’s the dress I wore recently when I visited Chichen Itza” and then a picture of her from there popped up in the corner and I was like, “Wow. That’s a sign of something, I guess.”

Chooch’s squad again!

He’s only got one and a half more weeks to go and I have a feeling he’s going to be Mr. Miz when he comes home. I always fell into a deep depression/mourning as a kid when I would come home from big trips. Henry was like, “You still do though??” and then I remembered the Post-Korea Depression and laughed sadly. Yes, I still do.

Anyway, I’m excited to find out tomorrow on the weekly CIEE blog post what Chooch has been up to this week because as usual, no info. Which is fine, you know, live your life, bro. Be in the moment, etc etc!

Jul 182022
 

I’m sure you guys are shocked that my 16-year-old son is barely throwing me the tiniest of crumbs when I ask him mommy-centric questions like, oh I don’t know, HOW IS IT GOING IN MEXICO?

ARE YOU HAVING A NICE TIME?

WHAT ARE YOU EATING?

IS YOUR HOST FAMILY NICE?

DO YOU MISS ME?

WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?

I get one-word answers mostly. Well, it was REALLY dicey the first two days because his phone wasn’t working even though Mexico is included in his plan (I guess it took a few days to figure out what was up??) so he had to use Whatsapp to talk to us and I guess he didn’t like that so we barely heard from him and I thought for sure that he was having a shitty time and kept crying to Henry, “DID WE MAKE A MISTAKE???? THIS WAS ALL YOUR IDEA!!!”

I had to rely on the CIEE Yucatan Insta for pictures and updates.

THIS ONE REALLY WORRIED ME because he looks really tense?! This is unlike him!!!! Corey texted me and was like, “Um….???” and I was like, “Right?!”

But then he sent us pictures of the dogs at his host family’s house!

And this pretty church thing!

And a series of barrio pets!

He sent all those to Henry and when I asked for a picture, he was like:

Once he got his texting ability back, he was like rapid-fire texting me with info and I was like, “OMFG THIS IS GREAT.” Yes, is enjoying his time there! Yes, he likes his host family! He is staying there with another kid, Julian, who is from Seattle and Chooch said he’s nice and they get along well. He just told me right now that they were playing soccer in the park last night at 8pm with a bunch of 9-year-olds lol.

I think he really likes that they get to hang out in the city center at night – I think their curfew is like 10:00 or something so they’re not out gallivanting until dawn or anything. And we all know that Chooch LOVES public transportation (no sarcasm) so he’s living his best life I’m quite sure.

I don’t know what any of this stuff is, he just sends it to me and then dips.

This was Wednesday I think and you can see that he’s smiling! I was 100% relieved by this point and am no longer worried. Yes, I miss him tons but my secondhand excitement is greater!

I think they kid next to him is his roommate.

This is his group’s sign thing, I dunno. He doesn’t tell me!

Other intel I’ve gotten from him is that there are 7 vegetarians including him but the rest are all girls and he doesn’t talk to them. OK cool. But it sounds like he doesn’t have an issue with getting veg meals, except for Saturday when he was at a restaurant and asked for a burrito with no meat and was given a burrito with cactus and pineapple and nothing else and said it was rancid and that he tricked into ordering it (??). And his host family went to the beach on Sunday but all I know is that his back got sunburnt really bad because, even though I sent him there with sunblock, he is a moron when it comes to applying it so I’m sure his back has lots of fun handprints all over it because that’s his signature sunburn style.

I’m telling you, if he was a girl, I’d have a deluge of photos and you’d probably have read about 4 guest blogs by now. Chooch is the worst! He is so much like Henry in that regard. I’m over here like YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. TAKE A MILLION PICTURES!!! SEND POSTCARDS!!! and he’s like, “here’s a picture of my Starbucks that looks like it could have been taken down the street from our house.”

(This is the Insta he created specifically for this trip because god forbid he should post stuff to his actual account that he hasn’t used since like 2020, IDFK.)

We’ll see how much intel I’m able to collect over the next week!

Jul 062022
 

We already chatted about Saturday in Michigan, and then strolled down Monday’s memory lane together, so now let’s grab some beverages of choice and you can attend my riveting recap of our Sunday! But instead of starting with Sunday morning, let’s just skip ahead to the evening, after we left Michigan’s Adventure.

Because I literally cannot do a damn thing in sequential order!

The park was about 3.5 hours away from where we were staying – it was all the way up in Muskegon and Henry’s weird logic was to get one hotel near Bill and Jessi and stay there for both Saturday and Sunday night.

Someone had REGERTZ.

I mean, the park closed at 8 so even if we had stayed until closing, we would have gotten back probably by midnight. Not ideal but not awesome either. So we unanimously opted to leave the park around 5 which seems like it would have been a great idea except that I found a town called HOLLAND on Roadside America and now I desperately needed to go here to see the windmill. I figured we could eat there and found a place with veg/vegan options that seemed good and Henry agreed to this plan for some reason, even though it was kind of NOT ON THE ROUTE BACK.

First, we had to stop at a car wash because Henry parked the car under a tree at the hotel so the next morning one whole side of the car was straight Pollocked with bird shit and various tree droppings. GOOD ONE, HENRY. Of course, it was on Chooch’s and my side so we had to see it every time we got into the car, ugh. It was so gross that there was no way we could wait until we got home to deal with it.

Car washes will never not be fun for me.

Then we got to Holland and you will note that there are no photos here of Holland and that is because it was a SUPER POPULAR TOURIST TOWN and not the little rural knock-off Netherlands that I had imagined in my dumb head. It’s also apparently a college town and the people we encountered as we walked to the restaurant were YUPPIES and other types that were not our kind of people at all. These were the rich leisurelies.

And FORGET EATING IN HOLLAND if you don’t have a reservation anywhere. There was a line out the door for the place I originally picked and then we tried some hoity toity pizza place down the street and the hostess was like, “It will be an hour wait” and we were like, “K bye.”

I was so mad! And also the windmill I wanted to see was located on whatever “Windmill Island” is but Henry said it was closed and honestly, he was probably lying but I didn’t even care enough to fact-check his ass at that point.

Henry said we were going to be driving past Grand Rapids though and suggested that I look for somewhere there. I found a place called Stella’s that seemed cool.

Unlike DUMB HOLLAND, downtown Grand Rapids was not poppin’. At least, not the area surrounding Stella’s.

It was sometime after 7 by now, and Stella’s only had a 20 minute wait. I gladly put my name in and we walked around the block a little bit while Henry kept saying, “How far are we going?” the whole time and I was like “OMFG GO BACK IF YOU WANT” Jesus!!

Never pass up an opportunity to turn Chooch into a wallflower! LOOK AT THE PRESH FACE.

The back of Stella’s was way more eye-poppin’ than the front!

Anyway, I got the text saying our table was ready before 20 minutes even passed.

Yo, I loved this place so much IMMEDIATELY. It was my kind of vibe: a little bit of punk, a whisper of goth, a smudge of rockabilly. Plus, Thundercats was playing on the TV at the bar!!

I don’t think Chooch talked to us at all. He was being a big crybaby because he wasn’t hungry and we were like, “WELL WE ARE, SO.” He did end up ordering something thank god – I hate it when he pouts and doesn’t get anything because it makes me feel weird as a parent and as I’m typing this I am overcome with the photo album in my mind flipping through mental snapshots of all the times I pulled that shit on Henry, lolololololololol. My favorite was when we were at a diner in San Bernadino when we were out that way for Coachella in 2004 and I was feeling A BIG WAY like literally having a major body image breakdown,, that I refused to order anything and then LEFT HIM THERE after he ordered so he had no choice but to stay there and eat alone while I cried in the car in 110 degree desert heat so who was the real loser in this scenario, lol.

I got a salad with fake chicken. It was fine and didn’t make me sick, and in this season of my life (I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT LOL), that’s all I can ask for.

Chooch got vegan wings and they were really good – they were super substantial, and he couldn’t finish them all so I was allowed to have one. Oh, and Anthony Green’s “Dear Child” came on at one point! Love when I can enjoy a decent meat-free meal in a cool bar with music of my youth(ish) playing. I have literally never heard an Anthony Green/Circa Survive song in public (non-concert venue) before. When I cried, “OMG DO YOU HEAR WHO THIS IS??” Henry paused for a second and then said, with REALLY SEXY CONFIDENCE, “Anthony Green.”

I mean, I can’t be surprised. I had been obsessed with Circa Survive since almost the beginning of our relationship right up until Kpop pushed everything non-Korean out of my heart.

I guess Stella’s is big on ice cream sandwiches because the dessert selection was 5 different varieties.

Henry and I got the chocolate peanut butter one to share and it was DELECTABLE. Chooch said he didn’t want one.

Bathroom selfie! See also: Not Dressed for Holland.

(Can I just note that these shorts are from some junior brand at JC Penney’s and literally the most comfortable shorts of my whole adult life? I had to finally accept the fact that me and jean shorts just ain’t happenin’ anymore and ever since then, I was able to open my world – and wardrobe – up to linen and other non-denim fabric shorts and I am finally able to be comfortable in the summer heat now! I have a bunch of different ones from the Kohl’s juniors department too because the options in the adult womens section AIN’T IT, SIS. Thank you. This has been Erin’s Fashion Corner.)

It wasn’t too notable in there, but the stall doors were mildly entertaining.

I came back to the table to see that Chooch now had an ice cream sandwich, all ready to go in a plastic container. He said he was going to take it with him and “eat it later” in the car but then had it 90% devoured on the one block walk back to our car, so.

What a great experience! I would hang out there all the time if I lived in Grand Rapids and had friends.

“You have us,” Henry said.

“Yeah as I was saying, if I had friends,” I re-emphasized.

Hilariously, we still didn’t get back to the dumb hotel until around midnight and the best part was that the ROOM KEY DIDN’T WORK ANYMORE so we had to wait for Henry to go back to the lobby and get it fixed, which was awesome because you know how when you’re past the point of regular exhaustion, your body starts to feel twitchy and like bugs are crawling inside your skin? Yeah, that was us Sunday night, waiting for the GODDAMN ROOM KEY.

Jul 052022
 

It’s just been “July 4th” for me for several years now – just some rando’ day we get off work, yay. Nothing to celebrate unless you’re proud to be part of a nation of mass shootings, a nation that puts guns and fetuses over people, a nation that hates women, a nation with enough types of racism, prejudice, and homophobia that Crayola could create a new box of crayons with an ugly-ass shade for each.

I want to say something like “I wish I could back to a time when I was ignorant to how shitty America is and was able to celebrate the 4th of July the way commercials and extremely biased text books told me to” but really, I wish I knew back then what I know now.

ANYWAYZZZZZZZZZZ.

(Speaking of Wayzzzz, I got to be in control of Henry’s Waze while he was driving over the weekend and why oh why (oh did I ever leave Ohio – sorry, there’s my Back to the Beach quoting tic acting up again) is it so relentlessly funny to me to comment “Stan <insert any Kpop group here>” on traffic alerts?! Forever Fifteen over here.)

This was our last day in Michigan, and I was stoked because Jessi & Bill were available to meet us for breakfast before we headed out!

Chooch already didn’t want to pose for this but as I was taking it, I shouted, “MOMMY’S BIG BOY NEXT TO BIG BOY!” and he pretty much wanted to smash himself inside that hamburger and let Big Boy masticate him.

You guys, I took a picture this time!

Breakfast was fun! We don’t have any Big Boys left in Pittsburgh (that I know of, anyway) so it was fun being back in one. I got to tell the table about how Big Boy was the catalyst to my becoming a serial pen paller in the late 80’s/90’s (Henry has probably heard this story a dozen times at this boiling point in our relationship but he sat there quietly and indulged me). Back in the 80s, the Big Boy’s kids menu was its own separate entity. None of that getting a tiny after thought in the regular menu, kids got what was essentially an activity book with food offerings sprinkled in there somewhere between animal facts and a word search.

But on the back, that’s where it really got cookin’. Kids could submit their names and addresses for penpal purposes!! This was huge! I was always so excited to go to Big Boy so I could collect more kids to write to. Granted back then, our exchanges didn’t go much deeper than HI HOW ARE YOU IT IS RAINING HERE TODAY GOTTA GO TIME FOR DINNER! But it was an excuse to go to Kmart and buy Lisa Frank stationary! (I would later upgrade to better stationary stores, don’t you worry.) To this day, I associate Pirates baseball games with summer nights, laying on the floor of the living room and writing QUALITY CONTENT on unicorn’d paper while my dad watched the game on TV and summer bug sounds droned in from the window screens.

I REALLY miss the 80s a lot. Like, everyday a lot.

Eventually, Big Boy published MY name and address in one of the menus! It was like, my crowning glory as a youth. Maybe even greater than winning first place in a coloring contest in Mrs. Zombek’s 1st grade class.

(I hung on to that for YEARS….)

(….and clearly am still clinging.)

Eventually I graduated to the “cool teen years” of penpalling, where one would order address labels that would also include pertinent penpal-attracting stats, like your age and a hobby or two. I had one set that I remember vividly probably because I’m pretty sure I still have some and must have recently uncovered them, but they had Marvin the Martian on them (inexplicably – I was never actually into that??), said that I played tennis, and NO PREPS OR POSERS PLZ.

I mean, duh.

These came in handy for sticking inside SLAM BOOKS, which were tiny booklets started by one person who would put their info in it, send it on to one of their penpals who would also add something, and etc etc etc until the last page would get filled and that person was responsible for sending it back to the creator. I *lived* for these.

All of this was just the gateway to the real BIG BOY (not sorry) of penpalling, which was PRISONER PENPALS. Man, those were the days (as I shuffle through today’s mail and see that my death row pen pal has written to me).

Where am I going with this. Help me, I’m trapped in my head again.

OK I face-slapped myself back to present day. After our waitress asked us for the 57th time if we needed anything else, we felt that perhaps it was time to get rolling before she came back with the lunch specials.

I was overly excited that Big Boy had Korean won on their wall! Chooch actually pointed it out first, ugh, gotta give credit where credit’s due, I suppose.

I wanted to try and snag a stranger to take a full group photo for us but literally no one was coming or going. So Henry was all, “OH DARN, I GUESS I WILL JUST DO IT.”

Jessi & Bill are literally on the super short list of my favorite people of all time, no exaggeration, and I am so happy that we got to spend some time with them. I was sad to leave BUT they said that they might be able to come to the pie party (oh shit did I tell you, dear blog, that we’re having a pie party again after five years?? More later) in September so I’m not allowing myself to get too emo over here.

My favorite thing about them is that they’re not just friends of mine and Henry’s – they’re Chooch’s friends too! They have been in his life since he was like, 2, and he freaking adores them so much. Plus, they brought out his pleasant side all weekend and he was willingly telling stories and just being overall decent. I wanted to scream out, “There’s the Chooch I know and love!”

Don’t worry, as soon as we pulled out of the Big Boy parking lot, he was suffocated by all of our annoying traits and general parent-ness, so all was righted in our world again.

Sigh.

Jessi sent me their versions of some of the photos taken on Saturday and I’m cracking up because I hadn’t originally noticed the sign that says NOBODY PUTS BABY ON A UNICORN!!

OMG I loved this store and this day so much.

LITERALLY THE BEST PEOPLE YOU WILL EVER MEET.

Then we drove home with very little drama – no big fights, etc. Even though the three of us in a hotel room is usually cramped hell and I am dying for personal space fifteen minutes in, I really love our road trips so much. I’m glad that Henry was so agreeable when I was like, “Hey we should visit Jessi and Bill, and oh yeah, while we’re at it, we could also just pop right on up to Michigan’s Adventure…” and by “pop right on up” I mean drive an additional 3.5 hours, but sure why not!

Look forward to the Michigan’s Adventure recap here soon, or don’t! Dread it, even! I don’t care!

(Just kidding, I do care. I want everyone to look forward to my dumb blog posts. Wah.)

Jul 032022
 

Hello from Romulus, Michigan! That’s where are hotel is but we spent most of Saturday with our good pals that we haven’t seen since…2018???…Bill & Jessi at their house in Westland.

Just for perspective, Jessi gave me a photo of Bill & Chooch from the first time we met them IRL:

I think this was 2008?? Pretty sure Chooch was 2!

PARDON THE TYPOS: I’m writing this in the car, FYI

The drive up was rather uneventful – it only takes about 4 hours and it went by pretty fast surprisingly!

We got to Bill & Jessi’s around 1pm, hung out with their canine crew – Mabel, Zeke, and Priscilla! – and then went to lunch at Red Apple, my only request! They took us here twice in the past and I just really imprinted on the unchanged 1970s dark wood paneled interior.


I realized as we were paying that I didn’t take any pictures while we were there! No photographical evidence of my grilled cheese or the super ingenious table divider that can be lowered if you want to join the booth next to you (I WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!) because I was too busy explaining NCT to Jessi and internally exploding with excitement over hanging out with them again after all this time!

Never passes up the toy machines.

True words!

Then we went to Ypsilanti, which I’ve never been to before and didn’t even know how to pronounce until yesterday. We went to a street that had some cool shops and sort of had a Pittsburgh’s Southside vibe. There was so much I wanted to buy at the Unicorn store but settled on a furry shark journal – really stoked about it because I have been wanting to start journaling again and now I have a good reason.

I regret not asking someone else to take this so that Jessi could have gotten in this one with us – I failed to take a single of them and Bill yesterday! I am off my social snaps game, thanks COVID.

Oh god, when Jessi said I would love the Rocket, they were not kidding. I wanted everything!! I settled on a bunch of candy (they had salty Dutch licorice!) and a telephone-shaped purse that has a WORKING HANDSET! It connects via Bluetooth to your cell phone. Henry was so terrified when I found the locked case of novelty purses but I eventually wore him down (my wallet was in the car!) and he “let” me buy it.

Even Bill was like “WHAT THAT IS AMAZING” upon learning that it could be used as a real phone. Henry needs to lighten up and find his joy I think.

I was annoyed though because they had BTS Funko pop figures or whatever and I was like DO U SEE WHAT I MEAN, EVEN HERE! because we had been bitching to Bill earlier about how BTS has ruined a lot of the fun for us. Bill understood and validated my borderline hipster breakdown because it’s happened to him too obviously with other music though! And same with me too, for example Henry and I saw Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance when they played reallllly small venues and now you hear their music at like, sporting events basically.

ACTUALLY one time a few summers ago I was walking past our baseball stadium and heard BTS playing there!! Ugh I had forgotten about that and now I’m annoyed all over again lol.


Accidentally stumbled upon a rock store which had me tempted to start collecting again like I used to in elementary school when the mall had a dork store and my grandma let me buy this starter collectors box of rocks and I was all in for a few weeks like YEAH BOY I COLLECT ROCKS NOW but then never added to it.

Anyway, there was so much I wanted to buy here! And they have staff on hand to turn anything you buy into custom jewelry and that was ultra appealing to me but of course I didn’t see then sign on the door until we leaving. Meanwhile, Henry sat in a chair by the door and gave no fucks whatsoever about Chooch’s and my cries of “buy this for me!” echoing across the store. He is literally the worst.

Whatever the rest of us had a grand time touching every single rock for sale.


Next door was a new age-y shop where Jessi bought tarot cards and Chooch was looking for a Sobek statue and being generally weird and getting uncomfy over the Mother Earth statue.

I told him I wasn’t buying him anything because his room is a pig sty and whatever we bought him would just be usurped by clutter anyway.

Then we went down the road to Depot Town for some oddity store action (I wanted a Slimer painting but it was $1100 and I’m not that much of an art connoisseur; I settled for $10 sunglasses instead) and dinner at Maiz!

The chips & salsa were muy bueno! I dunno if that’s right but I can say it in Korean with more confidence upon request.

Probably bitching about his bike. Chooch is always having bike issues his whole life no matter what bike it is and always blames the bike or Henry even though it’s clear to the viewers at home that this is a CHOOCH PROBLEM.

Vegetarian trio of tacos! Everyone was stuffed afterward but I whispered psychically to myself, “I could go for some ice cream, shrug.”

After dinner, we parted ways so that we could check into our dumb hotel in Romulus and get screwed over at Dunkin’ (they had no cold brew or iced coffee – I hate mobile ordering because it never tells you that!) and then went back to Bill & Jessi’s for some puppy playtime and Jackbox action.

Henry is the worst at games. His name was just “Henry” because he is uninspired. My name was Taemin’s Unni ;)

We played for hours and it was a hilarious time but also alarming when I realized how inappropriately genius some of Chooch’s contributions were. I mean, the first time he ever played Cards Against Humanity was also at Bill & Jessi’s and I think he was like 7 or 8 so he learned early at how to be the absolute worst human when playing these types of games lol.

We called it a night at midnight because we have three hours of driving this morning to get us to Michigan’s Adventure, otherwise I’d have guzzled another cup of coffee and settled in for more opportunities to be repulsively irreverent, my forte.

We are going to meet up with them again tomorrow morning for breakfast before we leave and I am going to have to make sure some group picture action happens at that time because I clearly shit the bed on that yesterday!

Jul 012022
 

I’m one of those people who suffer through buyer’s remorse with the littlest of purchases. The number of times I’m returning items of clothing that I could technically consider a necessity but also regret spending the money on is actually quite ridiculous – ask Henry, he’s the one who always gets stuck making the return lol.

But with concerts, I’m always willing to make the splurge. I do have to be pickier with Kpop though because seeing kpop shows ALWAYS involves a road trip. Pittsburgh sucks. Unless it’s a Korean classic rock band, then maybe Pittsburgh would book them. Because I live in a shit city, there have been tons of kpop concerts I’ve sadly had to pass on (like Twice – I would have loved to have seen them again since I only saw them briefly at KCON 2018!). And I have been admittedly also holding out bigtime for NCT127 to announce a US tour (I mean, congrats on the DOME TOUR guys that’s fucking amazing but can you come back to the US next please??) because I am prepared for them to TAKE IT ALL.

However, I haven’t seen a Kpop concert since November 2019 (Super M!!!) and have only been to one other non-kpop concert since COVID Days.  So I got tired of waiting and made the unilateral decision to buy tickets for me and Henry to see Stray Kids in Newark.

The tour had originally sold out pretty quickly but another Newark date was added so we got tickets for that one – and even then, it was slim pickings and exorbitantly priced even for our so-so seats. But I have genuinely liked Stray Kids since their debut (saw them at KCON 2018 too) and honestly had zero REGERTZ after completing the transaction. In fact, it was the opposite – I felt light and GIDDY.

And as it got closer to the date, I felt even more giddy! I forgot how fantastic kpop concert anticipation is! Chooch had the opinion of taking the second ticket but when he learned that the show was in Newark, he said, “Nope. I’m good.”

Because Newark sucks. Hard. Almost every Kpop concert I’ve gone to has been there, ugh.

We ate dinner nearby at Urban Vegan and then walked over to the Prudential Center where an unorganized frenzy of lines had already formed. Henry was like WHAT IS THIS and I was like “welcome to Kpop concerts, Gramps!” It wasn’t nearly as bad as KCON at least, where Chooch and I were seriously afraid we’d miss the start of the show because it took so fucking long to get inside. This wasn’t MUCH better though because people were just crawling through security, literally acting like it was a lazy walk along the bayou and not an obstacle to overcome before getting inside the arena. OMG, the shit that people try to bring in, like sis – you’re going to a concert not a goth sleepaway camp! Leave the spikes and backpacks full of WHO KNOWS WHAT in the car??

I mean, staff was walking up and down the sidewalk when we were still outside, yelling out everything that wouldn’t be permitted inside, and yet —

Anyway! We eventually got through because I didn’t have a purse and Henry left his spiked collar in the hotel.

Then we stood in line for merch and made friends with the people around us. Everyone kept trying to look behind the curtain into the seating area because there was all kinds of screaming happening and us seasoned fans were like “they are definitely not on stage yet” because it wasn’t 7:30 yet (name a big concert that actually starts on time) and the fact that the screaming was happening in waves told me that they were probably just flashing photos of Stray Kids on the screens to get the crowd stoked. I was not falling for this fire drill because I wanted to buy a T-shirt before they sold out just like the lightsticks!

Made it to our seats about 15 minutes before the show started. Everyone around us was grand. No beef with any of my section mates!

Our view wasn’t too bad considering we were trying to be somewhat frugal! Oddly, no one in the rows below us stood up not even once, so Henry The Old was super into that.

I posted this picture on Instagram and someone was like “sorry Henry didn’t have fun” and first of all, he did though? Well, as much fun as his Old Man Heart allows him to have. But second of all, there is literally no band in the entire world that will elicit any type of happy, energetic, exuberant reaction from Henry. He is HENRY ROBBINS, King of Showing Nothing. President of the Frowning Nations. Leader of the Ambivalent Army.

(Not BTS Army lol fuck outta here.)

As expected, they opened with Maniac and I was SUPER STOKED! The relentless screams around me were giving me so much life and energy and being under the same roof as these 8 stupidly talented guys had me losing my mind!

Whatever these blow-up leg thingies were, they were extremely startling! I didn’t even notice them being blown up!

I was internally exploding when they performed God’s Menu!!!! I really think this is my fave SKZ jam.

Literally the only “uhhhh” part of the whole evening was when they left the stage and it was “GAME TIME” – a video played on the screens and anytime the camera landed on someone in the crowd, they had to replicate whatever pose one of the Stray Kids was making in a picture. That part alone had me wishing I had a big hat to hide under, but the second game was even worse because it was a CHOREO game and I was like HOLY SHIT IF THIS FUCKING CAMERA LANDS ON MY UNCOORDINATED ASS, ISTG….while at the same time I was praying for it to choose Henry, lol. We both made it out unscathed, thank god. Henry was like I DO NOT LIKE THIS ONE BIT and I was like WELCOME TO KPOP WHERE YOU’RE EXPECTED TO ENGAGE AND PARTICIPATE. There was a very small window in my life where I would have been ok with this, and that was probably ages 14-19.

So…standard kpop stan age, haha.

Henry’s review of the Stray Kids concert: He was surprised that he knew most of the songs but only knew the names of the songs if they put it on the screen, he thought that they talked too much (lol that’s every Kpop concert, Gramps!), and he thought someone else was Felix (the only member he knows) until halfway thru the show 😂

He looks blank in all these pictures but he swears he “watched it all” and that it was “good.” His favorite song is Thunderous and he insists on singing the wrong lyrics in spite of my corrections, like a total dad. 😆

Anyway, this was a big deal because as I previously mentioned, usually when I go to Kpop concerts, Chooch goes with me and Henry just drops us off and sleeps in the car or explores the local grocery stores of whatever city we’re in, haha. Henry does like Stray Kids but is not really into the concert aspect of this lifestyle so it was kind of a big deal to get him to go.

There was another dad in the row in front of us. I asked Henry afterward if it looked like he was having fun and Henry cried, “He left for like a full hour!”

I’ve never been great at remembering the set list but I looked it up and this seems accurate for any Stays out there who desperately need to know:

  1. MANIAC
  2. VENOM
  3. Red Lights (THIS KILLED ME DEAD, HOLY SHIT, THE ROPES!)
  4. Easy
  5. ALL IN
  6. District 9
  7. Charmer
  8. Back Door
  9. Lonely St.
  10. B Me
  11. Side Effects
  12. Thunderous
  13. DOMINO
  14. God’s Menu (THIS MIGHT BE MY #1 BUT IT’S SO HARD TO CHOOSE)
  15. CHEESE (SOOOO INTO THIS PERFORMANCE LOL)
  16. YAYAYA
  17. ROCK
  18. Waiting For Us
  19. Muddy Water
  20. Silent Cry
  21. Hellevator
  22. TOP
  23. Scars
  24. Double Knot
  25. TA
  26. Victory Song
  27. MIROH (THIS SONG IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE “GIVE ME FIVE THAILAND” KPOP WORKOUT ROUTINES!)
  28. Star Lost
  29. Haven

I know I’m missing crucial information but I will come back and edit this as needed. I just really wanted to get it off my plate while it was still fresh from the oven that is MUH MIND and also because we’ll be gone all weekend. I’m really trying to be better at writing in this thing in a timely manner instead of waiting like 3 weeks to recap a trip to an amusement park or whatever.

The only bad part of this whole day was afterward when we had to STAND IN DOWNTOWN NEWARK for nearly an hour trying to get a Lyft or Uber back to the hotel. But other than that, what a beautiful night. I didn’t even hate our hotel room. And now I stan SKZ even harder and would certainly consider myself a legit Stay at this point!

Jun 082022
 

Dude the *only* thing I cared about at this park was the RM, Wicked Cyclone. I was keeping my expectations at like, waist level I would say. This isn’t an RMC that the enthusiasts rank very high in their RMC Glory List but listen Linda: even the worst RMC is better than most other coasters. You have to believe me on this. So maybe this isn’t the Iron Gwazi of New England, but I was still gonna stuff my ass in a seat and appreciate the motherfucking ride.

The line was not long at all, and at a park with good ops, I would guestimate that it was about a 20 minute wait. They had two trains running and the ride duration was not very long. So the line should have moved quickly. But oh FOR THE LOVE, the ops here were excruciatingly slow, like literally crawling. The ride crew was straight up meandering about the station, and it was just such a slap to the face of RMC. This park clearly doesn’t appreciate the glorious mass of I-box tracks that is Wicked Cyclone. Give it to Kennywood. (Well….maybe.)

If you’ve ever ridden Steel Vengeance or even Twisted Timbers, you know that the ride operations on RMCs are TIGHT and STRICT. They don’t let you bring anything on the ride, there are no loose article bins on the platform. You go through a metal detector. They tell you repeatedly not to pull your own restraint down –  they will do it themselves. There’s even a screen  that counts how long each dispatch takes. The whole process is INTENSE AND EFFICIENT.

It was the total opposite of that on this one, lol.

But, we finally got our back row ride! Which promptly ended at the bottom of the lift hill, lol. Luckily, an evac wasn’t necessary but if we had to, it wouldn’t have been too scary since we hadn’t really gone anywhere yet. I didn’t really pay attention to how long we were stopped but it was probably somewhere between 5-10 minutes. They got us up and running pretty quickly and I was lowkey excited to have been stuck on RMC. Weird flex?

OK, honest opinion? DANG ya’ll. This little RMC was FUN. It exceeded my expectations too – not nearly as forceful as SteVe but maybe more along the lines of Storm Chaser at Kentucky Kingdom? It still had the crazy elements but the way it took them was almost GRACEFUL. Yeah, I’m a fan.

We only rode it twice since ops were so fucking abysmal, plus it seemed to break down frequently (like when we were in line for what could have been our second ride). The line never really got any longer than it was the first time we rode it but damn, Six Flags, get your shit together. You need to train your Wicked Cyclone crew accordingly if they’re going to be working on an elite coaster.

I would have loved to have gotten a night ride but the park closed at 8 and we clear on the other side of it when it was nearing time to leave. :(

Aside from that, I would say the lowest point of the day aka the most ridiculously long wait was for the fucking rapids ride which we only rode because it was after Wicked Cyclone broke down and it was right there. I’m fucking sorry, but when you even have shitty ops for the rapids ride, then you really should reevaluate what business you have being a part of the amusement industry because this was absolutely absurd and NO ONE was actively being amused.

We had to have been in that line for an hour and bitch I would never wait an hour for a water ride but that line did deceive me.

AND IT WASN’T EVEN THAT GOOD.

NO ONE GOT WET??

Plus, we were partnered with another group of 3 who came in from the Fast Lane line and the first fucking thing the dad said was, “Thank god for Fast Lane.” Yeah, how about fuck you.

OMG Chooch and I were so fucking miz.

Here we are mumbling, “Is he taking a picture, or…?”

Then we got right into another stupid-long line for Pandemonium, a family spinning coaster. Literally the dumbest rides had the longest lines. The line actually wasn’t TOO bad but not worth anything over 10 minutes, to be honest. Here we are waiting (Henry surprised us by saying he would ride it too!):

At one point in line, I caught Henry chuckling to himself. I put on my INQUISITION CAP and started firing away. He admitted that he was watching the Looney Tunes episode playing on the queue TVs and that he remembered watching it when he was a kid. Of course, Chooch and I took that as our invitation to mock him mercilessly. I literally can’t picture Henry being a kid and doing kid things. So, now we know that he:

Crazy stuff.

Some guy in line said to Henry in passing, “Hey man, nice hat – that’s a sick ride!” about his Velocicoaster hat, so Henry said, “Yes, it is” and I was SCREAMING ON THE INSIDE. HENRY MADE CONTACT WITH ANOTHER MAN IN LINE FOR PANDEMONIUM.

Anyway, we finally got on the idiot ride and at the last possible second, some teenage girl  slid into the seat next to Chooch, making it incredibly awkward and also balancing the weight a bit so that our car didn’t spin at all, not even a single time.

What a waste.

Anyway, credit #231 for Chooch, big whoop. At least now it was time for ice cream!

There were numerous ice cream places around but I was insistent on getting a cone from BROWN DERBY because I liked the looks of it.

Nothing spectacular (they had a real fancy bubble waffle ice cream joint that I would have preferred but it was CLOSED) but it was like 85 degrees out so ice cream was essential.

Henry promised Chooch earlier in the day that he would ride the gigantically tall wave swinger thingie with him because that, along with drop towers and Pirate Ships, are the only things on my DO NOT RIDE list. I’ll ride the regular-height wave swingers but those skyscraper ones can go fuck themselves, to be quite frank.

I sat down on the plush Six Flags asphalt and played on my phone while waiting for them. Apparently there was some huge ordeal when a large group of teen boys blatantly cut the line so Henry was frantically on the app trying to report them while another guy was on hold with Six Flags also in an attempt to report them. I didn’t  know any of this until they got off the ride and filled me in, which made me laugh because only the exact number of riders per cycle was let onto the final part of the line at a time, and when one of the groups was being let onto that final stretch, it LEGIT sounded like a house party on foot. Like all this uproarious…hootin’ and hollarin’ lol. I turned and looked just as this gigantic group of teens spilled out onto the last part of the line and thought to myself, “wow these kids like trouble with a capital T” because I’m a suburban housewife in a terrycloth robe, spying out the window with cold cream on my face.

This is who I am now.

Anyway, I was cracking up when Chooch and Henry were telling me this because while those kids were in that last part of the line, one of their buddies ran up the exit path and tried to cut with them, but they WOULDN’T LET HIM! They were like “no sir, you gotta get in that line way back there.” What hypocrites!!! Oh, this was so funny to me.

Here’s Henry and Chooch, finally in the next group to go on! People were annoying me so much while I was sitting down there, and my people I mean a young brother and sister recklessly playing with a ball that “some stranger” gave them while their mom only casually supervised from way far away under a tree. They were such brats! Actually, the girl reminded me of myself because she had very strict rules laid out for whatever game they were playing (literally,  they were just kicking the ball back and forth it seemed) and she was growing more and more furious every time things didn’t go her way.

Finally the mom came over and started yelling at them and then she confiscated the ball and started dribbling it so the boy sneered, “YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO PLAY” and she glowered with indignance, “Excuse me! I played basketball for two years in high school!”

Wow. Lol.

Anyway, she had HAD it with these brat-kids and told them that as SOON AS DADDY AND OTHER KID get off the swings WE’RE GOING HOME.

OK bitch, but you better follow through.

Little cutie I saw while waiting! ^^^^

CAN YOU SEE THEM lol.

Then we rode this Super Girl thing that was fun but the people in line in front of us were so obnoxious. Like, super loud adults because extremely touchy (a guy and girl kept playfully slapping each other super hard and it was driving me nuts) and one of the guys talked in a Donald Duck voice for a solid 5 minutes while his crew cracked up and I was like, “No, guy, that ain’t it” and actually told Chooch at one point that I was going to exit the line.

Like I could picture myself doing it in dramatic fashion, swan-diving into a somersault, rolling out onto the midway and coming to a stop at Henry’s feet.

But no, I stayed and endured. I knew that the line wouldn’t be that long because the ride cycles were short and we were due to be on the next one anyway.

My favorite part was the ride operator repeated numerous times over the speaker, “PLEASE DO NOT PULL DOWN ON THE RESTRAINTS; THEY WILL COME DOWN ON THEIR OWN” but the two dumb bitches in front of me who were a part of the ANNOYING HORDE, stuffed their asses in their seats and IMMEDIATELY wrenched down on the restraints.

DUMB-ASS-ES.

Then the ride operator came around to check everyone’s restraints and when he got to me, he LOOKED ME DEAD IN THE EYES, SMILED AND SAID, “Enjoy your ride” and I swear I did not hear him saying this to anyone else!!! Of course, he killed the mood when he tacked on “ma’am” at the end, but I will take it.

The park was now in the final hour by this point. Since we were already over by this side, I suggested that we ride that damn Joker freespin coaster again and Chooch was SHOCKED but the line was almost non-existent so I thought WHY THE HELL NOT. Turns out, we had a REALLY good ride and even though it was fucking horrifying, I got off the thing and admitted that maybe I was coming around to the concept of the 4D freespins.

People change. It’s called GROWTH, ya’ll.

Also got one last walk-on on Batman, and then made it to the carousel IN THE NICK OF TIME. Chooch was super thrilled.

Then we were tasked with the long walk back to the parking lot, where some young guy (19? 20?) was raging against his two friends over some incident that apparently occurred and he kept trying to push his one friend into a fence and the friend was trying furiously to restrain him in return. It was actually really scary to witness especially when the friend had to flat out bodyslam the guy in the middle of the parking lot to get him to stop trying to fight and the other friend (a girl) was screaming THAT’S ENOUGH and then walked away. The Mad Guy kept screaming about something that happened and how “no one there gave a shit” so was it work-related? School-related? I don’t know but I hope that nothing escalated later or the next day.

It was actually scary.

On the way out, Chooch was like I AM DOING A MOBILE TACO BELL ORDER and Henry was like “ok great” and then they fought over which Taco Bell location he should use, which is always fun. Then we got to the Taco Bell and there were like 8 cars in front of us, and I swear to god it was a longer wait than any coaster we rode that day at Six Flags. Like an hour. An actual hour sitting in a drive-thru, and then the order was all jacked up because it was two fucking stoners working in there alone and they gave Chooch all meat-items in his whatever-box and by this point, I was starving too but it was almost 10PM so I did my pouty baby sulking thing where I was like “JUST FORGET IT, IT’S TOO LATE TO EAT, I’LL JUST GO TO BED.”

Ugh, it was so annoying. Fucking Taco Bell.

The end.